Yesterday was very productive, having Tex come out and help has really allowed us to take on some projects that had just been getting pushed to the side. We started the day by tagging and banding cows. Now mind you we knew there were three babies that needed to be tagged but until we catch them we don’t know their gender. Last time Annmarie did the tractor trick and they came out of the lower pasture to follow the tractor. This time she and Tex went outside and then I did the dishes. I saw the cows up on the back hillside so I ambled on out to the tractor with my coffee in hand and proceeded to drive up the back hillside. I figured the cows would follow the tractor. I proceeded to drink a lot of coffee on my way up the hillside. Well as soon as I got on top of the hill the cows started running in the opposite direction away from the tractor. Cell phones might sound like a great communication device but after the third time your wife calls you when you are supposed to be helping move cattle its time to ignore the phone. As soon as the cows heard the tractor they ran back down to the gate I always bring food in through!! Who is stupid now? By the time I got down off the hill I had just enough time to open the barn lot gate and they pushed the cows inside. We had them sorted in under 10 minutes. It took me about five minutes to get both testicles on the larger calf into the rubber band device. The calf kept peeing on me. I persevered but after 220 lambs I am a lot better at them. I have only done 18 steers and I messed up the first three.
We sorted off the cows to sell this fall. There was supposed to be two, there were three. So now I have to sell one more cow and Annmarie has convinced me we need to use her shared spreadsheet app she made in Airtable. We need to be able to keep track of days born and how many we have on hand. She inputted all three new calves into the system. We have sorted them off and they are now in the upper prime field. It has lots of green grass and running water. They are not happy about being sorted off of their mothers. We will have 7 cows for sale next year. We will finally have our numbers up.
I had to go to town and pickup gates for the front of the machine shop. I had to buy multiple sizes to get them to fit right as I cannot adjust the opening of the shop. I had to buy 10 gates for around $800. The 50 yards of gravel cost around $900, four days of labor cost around $600. Not to shabby for an incredibly useful space and a lot of it!!
We had to alternate attaching gates inside the opening or outside depending on whether we needed to fill in space or use less. We even managed to get most of them to match. Its hard to believe that they are on a slant from the left side to the right. I spent some time and spread out the rest of the gravel. While I did that Tex mounted 6 sheets of plywood into the hay area. We don’t want the hay scraps to fall back into the cleaned out area. He go six sheets up and I need to go buy six more to finish the wall separating the hay area and the rest of the shop.
While we were hanging gates Annmarie was taking a nap! I spotted the evidence that evening when I came inside. I was incredibly jealous. Tex also cleaned up all the junk behind the machine shed and dug out a drainage ditch. We will get it filled with gravel in the next week or so. This should help the moisture inside the shop also.
We are supposed to get a big winter storm today. So far the sun has been shining and the temperature got to 43F and now its 21F and snowing. The best part is we only have a slight breeze and not the predicted gale that is surrounding us. I spotted the quail this morning out in the front yard and this evening they were on the back hillside. I counted over 21 quail! If they can survive the next two weeks with snow on the ground we should have a huge population by the end of the summer. We usually only have 4-8 quail by the end of winter. This could make the population boom!
The back runoff creek is running clear. It has dropped several inches over the last few days. Our rock we use to measure it is now visible. Hopefully, the snow will stay in the mountains and melt off slowly. This is our wish every year but it doesn’t always happen.
The hay is running low in the barn so I moved a ton of alfalfa into the barn and out to the old lamb shed for the ram. We are going to start feeding 1/2 bale in the morning on top of the 1/2 bale we feed at night and we are giving two scoops of sweet mix in the morning. The ewes are getting skinny! The lambs look amazing!! You would never be able to guess that the oldest one is only six weeks old by their size
Zeke has figured out how to get out of the yard again. He dug out under the fence near the creek. He is so devious. I almost need to line the creek sides with wire directly under the fence to stop this problem. I tossed another 50# rock in his hole to slow down his escape. If he wants out again he will find another way, there is always another way for a Border Collie.
Annmarie, Sarah and I went out to the barn today to tag and band the rest of the babies. We caught nine babies and four were boys. The triplets were all boys!! We wanted to save any girls from that set as their mother is fantastic but no luck. We still have a few ewes that are not delivering. They are the jumpiest sheep of the bunch and we think the ram had a hard time doing his business with them. So the plan is for us to put the ram back in with the main herd next week. This should get us back in sync for more lambs in 7 months.
Our current numbers are as follows:
12 singles (35%)
18 twins (52%)
4 triplets (11%)
34 ewes birthed
4 pregnant ewes pending birth
55 lambs dosed, tagged and banded
On our farm and alive 162%.
I came home early today from work so we could catch up on the lambs. We had to bummer out a second one on Wednesday and it was not able to stand. After talking with several people we think it may be a Selenium deficiency. The trouble is there is not a really good salt lick for sheep that delivers selenium. The one for cows has a toxic dose of copper for sheep. They do make a paste you can feed them so we got some. I also picked up some more buckets and straps and plastic salt holders with predrilled holes in the bottom so the water doesn’t make a mess. After stopping at the feed store I headed home. We had decided to get this all done during daylight hours and we always underestimate how long it will take.
I told Annmarie we might as well tag and band at the same time. That way we will know who got medicine. So we chased all the babies and mommas into the barn and Annmarie got the three moms and four babies in main population with two extra ewes into the barn and we locked everyone else out. That left one mom and one lamb outside with the ewes. She had also managed to separate out two ewes and four babies this morning into the far pen in the barn. I usually just sit down on the barn floor and let Annmarie bring the lambs to me. I had to go into an unused corner of the barn to get a couple of piles of clean straw to toss down where I wanted to sit. I laid out the medicine and the tags and bander on each side of me and she proceeded to start catching babies. We did the combo area first and there are times you would think we killed the little boys. Some do not like the rubber bands on their testicles. They keep backing up after it happens in the hopes of getting away from the pain. After anywhere from 5-30 minutes they start behaving normally. The other reaction is to just sprawl out on the straw and appear to have died. It also goes away in 15-30 minutes. If you are going to be melodramatic you might as well draw it out.
We then snagged the four lambs in the middle part after kicking the two adult pregnant ewes out. We opened up the entire barn after snagging the two sets of twins on the end and pushed all done herd into the baby area.
Now we have 24 ewes left in “General Population” or “Gen Pop” for short per Annmarie. I get a kick out of it every time she says it. Only 23 have not delivered a lamb yet. We have had 17 ewes give birth for a total of 30 lambs in our barn. This gives us a reproductive rate of 176%!! This is very good. If you counted the two bummers and the one I found dead as live births we would have 194% birth rate, Annmarie tells me I cannot manipulate the numbers this way and only get to count the live lambs we have in the barn.
So the current numbers are as follows:
17 ewes birthed
23 ewes still pregnant
30 lambs tagged and banded
It has been another long week. Annmarie kept telling me to slow down or I was going to make myself sick. I spent all day on the couch today sleeping cause I am sick. I am not sure if her words were prophetic or a curse, lets just poll all married men to get a final answer.
I did take it easy one night! I have started to work on cleaning my dog tag maker! I only used water, cotton rag and some 320 grit wet/dry sand paper to clean it up. There are some very precise rails, tracks and flat stops that need to be polished. I spent two hours working on it and barely touched it. I also realized some tools are required. I really need to take each piece off and clean it then reattach it. Luckily, it is so old I only need a standard screw driver, and an open end wrench. The trouble is I need a stubby screwdriver or an angled one and the same on the open end wrench. So I ordered special tools on Amazon and they are here except for my special open end wrenches. Those should be here next week. I will attack it again when I have all the tools. I am going to try and add up all the hours it takes me to just clean it up and get it functional. At this point I am going to estimate a 100 hours and I already have 2 hours into it.
The Expert came out to look at our predator problem. We had a very good discussion and I will call him after the wheat has been harvested. He is going to set up some traps and get a predator contract resigned. The farm used to have one so we will get a new one signed. So our farm will be added to the arial shooting plan. All in all I was very happy with the interaction. He remembered Ted and Tom and all their sheep. He also loves lamb, states it is the best meat of any animal. I agree with this statement.
The momma cow and baby stayed in the corral and milk barn area for three days. We fed them and used our 35 gallon water trough. It was incredibly hot but the cow would go in the barn if she wanted shade. I had to wait for help to get that calf tagged and banded. I went over and took out some alfalfa hay for them and fed 1/3 bale and set the other outside the corral so she could not get at it. I also moved the last of the hay from winter into the barn lot for the soon to be food cows to eat extra on. This was what the lazy alpaca were eating on instead of foraging. So the slugs found my stash of hay for the cow and started eating on it! You know they are lazy when they have to lay down to eat.
My nephew came over on Tuesday and we went out to deal with the calf. Annmarie was going to film us but we didn’t really give her time and had the calf pinned pretty fast. The nephew went for the all hands on deck approach and just jumped in and tried to grab a front and back leg and drop it on its side. He ended up on the ground and holding one back leg with the calf near a gate and a corner. I jumped on it and pinned it down then he climbed on top of it. We were right next to the gate hinges. This is important because I had a hard time finding two testicles. So I kept asking him to move the calf around a little bit to ease the abdominal muscle tension. There was a yellow jacket nest in the end of the gate. He got stung twice in the ear before we finally just grabbed the calf and slid him three feet away from the gate. It took me about five minutes to find both testicles and get them into a rubber band. The calf is a little old and you have to pull the scrotum through then kinda pop each testicle past the rubber band. I got them both so in a few weeks the calf will have no testicles. We tagged him in the right ear also. I did verify i had the right color tag this time but just in case all our cull animals will be tagged in the right ear if we are selling them. So even if I mess up gender the ear will tell us which ones to get rid of. I need to look but I think its number 13 or 14.
We then had to chase them out onto the back hillside and out with the other cows. Our no nutter bull has torn up our fence in front of the barn to get near her so he needs to be two fences away from her. She ran to the top of the hill so our nephew went up and chased her down while I opened all the gates ahead of her to get her out with everyone else. I really like the picture that Annmarie took below.
We then went over and finished working on the bull corral. We got the last four posts set in gravel and put up all the used feeder panels. The panels are heavy so we used the tractor to drag them over to the post line. We also had to use the tractor to lift sections of the panels so we could hook in the next section. The only thing left to do is to add the cow panels and chain everything to the wooden posts. I do need to finish filling the last rock crib and put up four wooden boards. After that I need to clean out the old wood scraps and all the old fence materials. I also have about four fence holes to fill in. I also need to drag the ground and level the area out. Once that is done I need to install the water trough. I may need to put In a couple of gold fish in the tank to keep it clean. I am at 85% completion! In three hours I could have the fence done the rest is to make it safe and provide a spot for water. The water trough will hold 235 gallons of water and we are not going to use a pump. I will be hand dipping water from the spring into the trough. I just thought up a bucket arrangement I can attach to a railroad tie that has a hose attached to the bottom that I can just bucket into it and then the water will flow into the trough so I don’t have to try and throw the water through the fence. That will make a mess.