Thursday, June 17, 2010

one fence down, one more to go (really 4 more)

The Ram pasture fence is done!  I had told Annmarie it would be done and with the sheep eating the barn lot up I needed to be done, plus the weather was supposed to turn bad on Thursday so Wednesday was the perfect day to get finished.  Not so much.  I drove through rain on the way home Wednesday morning.  I got my two teenage nephews to help out on the fence.  As soon as we started fencing it started to rain and kept raining until the last hour.  It took us just over 3 hours to finish the other half of the fence.  Not having to sink any posts or reinforce end posts cuts a lot of time.  The weather was very miserable but still not bad enough to drive us inside.  I had to give an inclement weather bonus to the boys (Annmarie's suggestion).


 I will quietly proclaim that the fence is now sheep proof (very quietly, maybe even a whisper).  We turned the sheep loose into this pasture, but they are currently in our front yard again snacking away.  We actually had to go get the older twin babies and carry them across the small creek because they would not cross and momma left them.  These are her first babies.  She's not as attentive as we might hope.

This is the completed fence looking Northwest.  I had to reload the rock crib with rocks.  The cows used my corner crib as a scratching post last year.  I may need to run a hot wire on the outside of the fence for just that reason.  We even ran sheep wire (woven mesh wire) along that small stretch between rock cribs.  I actually need another rock crib halfway between those two.  I tried to drive a post into the rocky hillside and it is kinda in but won't take any pushing on.  So, eventually I will have to add another rock crib.

This is looking Southeast.  Near the center of the picture you can kinda see my gate.

I lost what we thought was one more chicken on Tuesday night.  Annmarie showed me the carcass on Wednesday.  It was the same as last time, no head and eaten from stomach up.  Literally.  Only the gizzard was left, other than the bones and wings.  I moved the live trap into the chicken yard and put the dead chicken carcass in as bait.  When I was doing this I noticed a hole going under the chicken coop, it normally has a grapefruit size rock in front of it, but the rock was moved.  The cats were getting under the coop so I had moved the rock into place earlier.  I moved the rock back in place

You can't really see it, but just to the middle left of the photo with the trap is where the hole is.  I didn't think much of it at the time.  When I went out to lock the chickens up for the night at 2100 the rock was moved again and my dead chicken was missing!  Of course the trap had not been sprung.  So I put the rock back and put a tin can in front of the rock so I could check on it again in the morning. At bedtime, 2300, I couldn't help myself.  I grabbed the pistol and flashlight and made a nighttime patrol.  I spotted three cats and all the sheep but no predator.  Well, in the morning the rock and tin can were pushed to the side and the hole was open again.   I believe whatever is killing my chickens is living under my coop!  Nothing like being close to your food source.  So after grumbling to Annmarie last night about my predators choice of accommodations we came up with a plan.  We had to opt out of all poisons as we have too many animals running around.  We have some leg traps out in the old machine shop.  If I set a couple and stick them in the hole and stake them into the ground and put the rock back then I should only get my predator.  Every one else will be safe.  So today I will do that.  At this point it is all out war.  Even if it is couple of our cats, I need to stop the killing or I won't have any chickens left, because it was not just one chicken yesterday.  I counted the chickens last night when I locked them up.  I lost 3 more chickens Tuesday night.  I only have 20 laying hens left.  If I were to attempt to buy an adult laying hen it would cost me around $25-30/each.  But if you figure each hen lays around 280 eggs/year and I sell them for $2.50/doz then each hen lays around $58/year in eggs.  So I am losing big time, not to mention that they don't start laying until they are 6 months old.  The chicken killer must DIE.

Here is a picture of the newest lambs (coffee flavors).  We moved them and momma into the old wood shed for a few days due to the cold, windy, rainy weather.  This keeps momma in one place and allows the babies to get stronger.  We will let them out next week to run with everyone else.  Our next ewe is due in a couple of months.  I am hoping she has twin girls also.  This is machiatto nursing.  You can almost see her wagging her tail!



And this is for Doom.  He is trying to go all artistic photography on me so I thought I would throw this in for him.