Veal anyone?

Saturday was the day we were supposed to sort the cows, tag & band the calf and create three groups of animals, the pregnant ones, the impregnators and future food. We thought this was going to be fairly simple and take a couple of hours. As always when working animals and having some basic expectations things did not go as planned.

Mr Professional came out to help, we started with the cows in the upper field. This let us sort off the new calf. Annmarie got the calf into the chute with no fuss. Mr Professional and I both attempted to get it banded while the calf was standing. It was old mean green tag bittie’s baby so of course it had one testicle that did not want to descend. This seems to be genetic and is one of the reasons we are getting rid of her next year. We sorted them and even left a pregnant cow in the back of the corral as bait for the cows on the other end of the property. When I looked up on the back hill side the cows were right behind the house. Annmarie and Mr Professional when out to push them in. I followed a few minutes later but noticed that the cows were not coming toward the house, they were walking away. I walked back to the house and got both border collies. The cows went all the way down to the schoolhouse before Annmarie got them turned around. The dogs and I waited about half way down the field and then worked on pushing them up toward the house. The cows of course went over into the other field by my mother-in-law’s house and had to be pushed out by Annmarie. This group of cows had the bull, one nutter and most of the six month calves that needed to be weaned. We sorted them and had all the pregnant cows, all six, in the back pen. The bull, the ram and one nutter all went into Alcatraz with virtually no fuss. We did discover that our ram, male sheep, is so comfortable around the cows because he is the boss. Our 1000lb bull was running away from him when we put both of them in the cow milking area.

We had all the calves sorted but the two left in the corral. Mr Professional and I started to push the pregnant group back behind the barn and across to the gates leading down stream. About half way across the ram pasture I heard this banshee yell. I of course cannot tell what is being said, just the banshee yell again. I hollered back and more banshee hollering occurred. At no point in this “communication” did it occur to me that there was a problem. All she had to do was push two calves over into the back lot with all the other calves. Should not have resulted in banshee screams. My cell phone started ringing, turns out the banshee hollers were a cry for help. Both calves decided to jump the fence, for no good reason, and one of them caught its back leg and was hanging nose on the ground from the top of the fence. I grabbed some fence cutters from the old house and went and cut on my barn lot fence to let the stupid animal loose. It tore off down by my mother-in-law’s house. I walked down with Mr Professional to just push them back into the lower field. They were crazy!! Before I knew it they had ran down the entire driveway and were seen leaping over our cattle guard and running out onto the road.

This required some planning so we got a lasso, fired up the side by side and went into the house to get the border collies. When we sort in the corral we have to put the collies in the house or they run alongside the corral or sit and stare at the animals and keep them out of pen simply by staring them down. Annmarie was going to drive the pickup but as we started loading up the vehicles I spotted both calves on the upper fence line behind the house. They had already ran down to four corners, up the road and into the upper CRP field and now were running along the fence line looking for momma. So Annmarie and I each took a dog and headed up to the CRP, I went up the bottom to open a couple of gates hoping we could just push the calves down off the hillside into the lower pasture. Mr Professional took the side by side around and onto the road and into the upper CRP field. By this time Annmarie and I had walkie talkies. We bought two $20 amazing radios and they work! Way better than a cell phone. The calves just kept running, I ended up at the far end of the place and Annmarie was all over the CRP field. We lost sight of one of the calves and I finally gave up and just walked to the house to get the pickup. I drove into the CRP field at the far end and picked up Annmarie. We drove over and tried to herd the single calf in through the open gate. Nope! It broke and tore off into the CRP again. I finally stopped the pickup and got out with both dogs and let Annmarie drive. About that time the calf bolted and she floored it and tore off in the pickup going 50 MPH in the CRP. I was fairly certain she did not realize there are some huge boulders hiding in the CRP, this was later confirmed that she did not realize this pickup breaking possibility was present. Mr Professional ended up diving off of the side by side and tackling the calf. Annmarie ran over and put the lasso over its head and held it down while he tied the rope off to the side by side. I was still walking over to them and they had gotten the calf hog tied by the time I got there. The neighbors drove up in their side by side letting us know that our other calf was over the hill and had already jumped through two more fences and disappeared into a wheat field. Since Annmarie had been hollering for a 30-06 cure to this debacle I opted to just call it quits and hope the calf came back, either way we were good with our decision. Her pedometer said we had walked 6.5 miles already for the day. The calf in the back of the pickup got untied about half way back to the house and Mr Professional had to just hold on until we could get into the correct pen.

The next morning after a wonderful pancake breakfast, Annmarie calls me as she heads out to church that the calf is in our wheat field and I should go open the gate. By the time I got my coat on and walked out to the front yard in my slippers the calf was already down by my mother-in-law’s house. I walked down, in my slippers, hoping to just open the same gate I tried the day before. Big surprise the stupid calf ran down the driveway and across the boards on the cattle guard. I had placed two sheets of plywood across the cattle guard the day before in the hopes the calf would find its way home. At this point I am ready for the 30-06 cure to cattle wrangling also.

I went and got the side by side and was going to drive down the edge of the wheat field and hope to cut the calf off at four corners when a young man drove in the driveway to tell me our calf was out on the road. We devised a plan where I drive down to four corners and open the gates and keep the calf from running by and he pushes it toward the open gates. It took about 20 minutes but it actually worked. It took me another 15 minutes to get it in the field with its mother, definitely a momma’s boy. We have decided to give it a couple of weeks before trying to sort it off again. This time we are going to sort it off in the chute, run it into the horse trailer and drive it the 50 yards to the correct pen and just let it out of the trailer.

Animal sorting gone awry

Well it is that time of year again, and I would love to say that sorting the animals went smoothly but since I am unsure if it has ever gone smoothly this would be counted as the worse.  Again, I would like to thank Coronavirus and my own inability to communicate my feelings and concerns in a manner that the female species understands.  I do realize that this is a failing on my part and grunts and reassurances are not a substitute for honest open conversation, for which I am not particularly good at.  That being said, it was brutal.

The cows needed sorted as we had an interested party in buying two 6 month old weanlings.  Plus we have a brand new calf, only three days old and by far and away the cutest calf we have ever had on the place!  He has a white shaped heart on his forehead.  New calf on the ground means no dogs to move the cows, they went along pretty good until they got to the near end of the orchard and my mostly down fence.  I am going to have to take a weekend and put the tunnel to the gate in so they do not balk near the gate and they don’t get hung up on anything.  We managed to sort the cows fairly easily and Annmarie was able to sort off the baby and catch it by herself!  We hardly ever get to them this early and it was a pleasure to work on something so small.  Luckily, I was able to find both testicles and got him tagged and banded.

We had the one nutter that is now four months old that needed to be banded.  I lined up our fabulous $50 calf table, that has been out in the weather all winter, and we were ready to go.  The calf probably only weighs around 300#, mind you it takes two grown men to take down and hold a 100# calf so it can be tagged and banded.  The calf table failed to perform or it did perform as expected from a $50 wonder, I think this depends on your perspective.  I broke the up/down bar for the neck guard using a cheater bar.  It was an abysmal failure and now we have a one nutter that will need to be pulled off in 2 more months.

Sarah and I tagged the last lamb that needed it and put the two ewes out with the main herd.  We had one lamb get out and after 20 minutes of chasing it around and it refusing to go through the open gate we gave up.  It eventually made it over by the yard and I let it in the yard then let everyone else inside.

Last weekend, the child and I worked on grouting the bathroom backsplash.  It looks amazing and I am very happy with how it turned out.  I will start moving electric outlets and light switches this week so we can install the blue pine tongue and groove boards on the wall.  I need to get the wall behind the toilet and next to the toilet installed before the plumber comes.  I am super excited to see how it turns out.

Annmarie embraced the use of the sheep as a lawnmower this week.  I am personally thrilled by this development and by the end of today they will have mowed down the yard to a very low level and I can ignore the lawn for another two weeks.  The only bad part of this process is the dogs start to smell like sheep all the time.  They also eat a lot of sheep poop, its like candy.

I also did my part of the taxes which is adding up all the expenses and income and collating it so Annmarie can input it into our taxes.  I knew we had to spend more due to the hay shortage last winter from all the heavy snow and then we bought even more hay to get us through the winter plus we purchased all the hay equipment, planting equipment and a side by side.  Wow.  Ouch almost $37k in equipment.  I know we needed to do it as we spend a lot annually for feed but I was surprised.  I should not have been but sitting down at the table and going through every individual receipt really brings it home.  This would be why I have to do it so I pay attention to where the money is going.

Yet despite all the angst, the heartache, the pain and hard work I still love it.  I love that my wife cares enough to try and get me to slow down.  It is days like this that I am reminded of why I do it.  What else would I do with my life?  Why would I do something else?  I ask myself this every once in a while but I never find a better answer.  So in this trying time take care of those you love, do what you can to help others and be cognizant that burning the candle at both ends is hazardous.

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Sheeporoma!

 

 

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We were supposed to be done with lambing, it’s just that not everyone got the message.  Sarah went out this week and discovered a set of twins.  They got put into the momma area under the stairs.  The babies did well and today we went out and banded and tagged all the sheep in the momma/baby area, kicked them out with the main herd and moved the twins and their momma into the baby area.  Now we no longer have to carry water to any sheep!  This is one of our main goals in life.  We could not get the three untagged lambs running with the main herd as they were still out on the back hillside running around with everyone else.

When you walk through the barn lot it looks like the testicle fairy has been busy.  There are little fur bags with double bright orange rubber bands all over the barn lot.

Three days ago Annmarie opened up the back hillside to the sheep.  Within 3 hours they had figured out how to get under the fence at the creek crossing.  We just gave up and went out and opened up the hillside gate.  I cannot lower the fence over the runoff creek as there is a ton of snow up in the mountains and it was 64 degrees F today.  Once the runoff creek picks up the sheep will have a harder time crossing it.  So far its just a skinny little thing that has been running for a couple of months now.

I finally took all the cardboard items I had been stashing in the dining room and burned the twig pile I had been creating in the orchard.  We needed it burnt as this area is going to become our Lavender grow area.  It still needs a new fence and an animal lane to get to the side gate so we can still move sheep and cows around the garden.

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If only all studs could be this lazy

These are not Siamese twins, some sheep are just greedy.   They were trying to get more grain than was their due and figured that crowding their way in would work.  Sarah wanted to know what to do about them.  She thought that she would have to cut the feeder apart to get them loose.  I told her to just ignore them and continue feeding, they would get themselves loose.  They figured out how to get out of the feeder on their own with no human assistance.  Just like a cat figuring out how to get down from a tree!

On Sunday, Sarah and I went outside and worked the sheep.  We tagged and banded all the babies and turned everyone loose into the main herd.  It took almost three hours in the barn to get everything done.  I even hung some hooks for the buckets so you can now find a needed bucket quickly and they are out of the way.  26785DDE-C95E-4B9A-9048-23236CEAEE45

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It seems like a fairly simple idea, but not one we had put in place.  I blame all of the LEAN projects I have been doing at work on getting the right supply to the right place as fast as possible and as conveniently as possible.

I am still working on the upstairs bathroom.  I really want to get it to a place where I can lay down tile.  I cut the first piece of hardiboard with the skilsaw and had dust everywhere!  It took 20 minutes for the dust to settle down on the breeze porch and I still had to open two windows to get it.  I switched to a utility knife and breaking it along th escorted line afterwards.  It takes longer but there is no dust.  I just need to get the 3” tall wall pieces installed and the bathroom backsplash done and I can start painting the Redgard water sealant on.  That is going to be key to making it waterproof.

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Annmarie and I are tired of lambing season dragging out.  The ram was definitely taking his time.  We have been lambing since Christmas and are just over half way done.  We are in serious discussions on getting a second ram, maybe that will spur some competition?

 

 

 

The Tractor is Back!

I picked up the tractor on Christmas Eve!  It took them a week and one of the connectors has been pieced together from three different fittings.  It now has a rear hydraulic takeoff with its own lever.  I will now be able to control the angle of the sickle mower and raise the back hatch of the hay baler so it can drop off the completed bale.  I just need to get the lights fixed and working on the roll bar.  I have to move them and attach the new rear facing light as the first time I put them in the wrong spot and lowering the roll bar caused us to destroy one of the lights.  So now I am on the second light and a second wiring harness and the lights have not even worked yet!

While I was in the parking lot at Bimart I had a couple come up to me and ask my opinion about my tractor.  I gave a whole rundown, cost and time savings benefit and the do’s and dont’s.  I walked them around the tractor and spent 30 minutes espousing my love of this machine.  They were convinced they needed one and thanked me for being honest.  This beauty has been used and she shows some wear and tear but keeps on chugging along.  03A20B3A-4531-4178-A8A7-D7780660DE32

I came home with the tractor and had to feed cows in both spots so I pushed large bales around, moved the feeders over the new bales and even spent some time scraping the road clear of alpaca poop.  Annmarie finally called me to ask me what was going on as she thought I was playing with the tractor.  Adult men do not play with tractors, we work with tractors any man could tell you that.  It was nice to be back on it.  I could do 2 hours of tractor work every day and not think it was work.

We had two of the old maps framed and I hung them on our wall.  The maps are from 1886-1912.  We have about 15 left to frame, but it is going to take us a few years to get them all done.  They are of various cities and railroad yards of the surrounding area.

Annmarie and I went out this morning to tag and band the three lambs that are currently out in the barn.  The first one was out with the main herd.  We went into the barn and closed the door so no one could escape.  I slowly waded into the sheep and spotted the untagged baby.  I tried to grab it but it snuck by me.  Annmarie wanted to run all the sheep through the chute but it takes 15 minutes to set it up so then she suggested just squeezing them all at one end of the barn and then I could wade in after she shut the gate.  As she was moving one of the panels I spotted the lone lamb again, I crept up on it and got it isolated.  It started trying to dash side to side and squeeze by me, as it leaped up into the air to get past me, I dove reaching out with my left hand and snagged it out of the air in a flying tackle and ended up longwise on the barn floor in the straw, I had her!  The amazing part is by the time we were done with all three lambs I ended up with no sheep poop on my entire body despite rolling around in the straw with a lamb.  We had two girls and a boy and we moved the momma and babies in with the main herd.

On the way back from the barn, I told Annmarie about my plan to collect 300# rocks and put them on the hillside.  She accused me of wanting to spend time with the mistress (tractor) when there were other things to do.  So instead I worked on mounting the flood lights on the tractor.  I had to run to Pilot Rock for some large hose clamps but I managed to get the lights all installed.  I even mounted a separate on/off switch into a piece of grey plastic electrical conduit and clamped it to my roll bar.  So now to turn on the flood lights I turn on the head lights then turn on the flood lights if needed.  I wired in the flood lights through the tractor lighting circuit.  I need some pins for the quick connect and will have to order them in.  My next project is to order a conversion kit for the “buggy” to put in a large deep cycle battery under the driver’s seat and a trickle charger.  This way we don’t have to worry about it starting whenever we want it to run.

I also need to get the machine shed wired so I can install lights and I need another metal cabinet for tractor parts.  Plus, I need to get the sprayer motor changed out to the new one with double the flow volume.  DC05D1FC-F261-4AC5-ADFF-6B3AE2351FA7