Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fall is creeping upon us

Well, now that the cook shack saga is almost over (need to write a postmortem and create a "how to" notebook) I am back at the farm.  I went into town on Monday and got some free pallets and some more cow panels.  I had a heck of a time getting the "cow panels".  The clerk was some girl fresh out of high school and had been there less than 6 months.  I told her I wanted a panel four feet high that was located right next to the hog wire panels.  She had no clue and I did not know they were called "cow panels".  It took 15 minutes to finally get someone who knew what I was talking about and what I wanted.
sheep pens and barrier for wintering sheep.  Now if someone else could just do all the work...

 So I used the pallets to create two baby pens in our barn lean to.  We are going to use them to lock the momma and brand new babies together for about 3 days.  I also made a gate and chute on the end of the lean to so that we can herd the sheep in at night and lock them up!!  No more wandering around at 0300 in cold dark, half dressed with a flashlight looking for newborn lambs!!  I am stoked about that.  Since we are still having to lock the chickens up every night anyway, it isn't even an extra trip.

 Here is the old milk shed entrance.  It no longer has a gate on it.  I used an old metal gate (on the far right side of the picture) last year to keep the cows out of here.  I stored the hay here last winter.  This year we are going to let the sheep stay in here during the winter.  They will be able to come and go as they please during the day and get locked up at night.

Here is the addition I made using pallets and a cut panel of fencing.   The cut panel is attached to the pallets and acts as a gate. When the sheep are in the barn it can be closed at night and they will be stuck in the barn all night.  During the day the large green gate opens and becomes part of the path to allow the sheep free access.




Here is a side view that better shows that.  The panel will swing over and connect to the corner of the barn.  The green gate swings shut also keeping the cows out of our pasture.







Here is the inside of the old milk shed attached to the barn.  If you look in the far left side you will see the floor drooping.  It is also drooping in the far center.  So I had to fence that all off, add two baby pens and bring a feeder in so I could feed hay inside.  I hope to keep it dry all the time this year and teach the sheep to come when we call.  There are two that come every time, but I would like them all to do it.  I figure we can get that behavior in place this Winter.
Here is the completed deal.  I have a fence on the far end to keep them away from the damaged floor (remember, this section of the barn is on the demolish and reuse plan, I just haven't had time to do it yet).  I have a feeder and the pens are built.  I just need to add some USB board to the pen floors and walls so it will stay warmer.





I spent the last two days wiring the chicken coop for power.  It should have been easy.  I already had the conduit in the ground.  I spent 4 hours trying to get a single wire through the conduit.  What a pain in the butt.  I had to finally dig out the end next to the coop and cut off the bend.  Too much glue and it would not make the corner.  I only installed one outlet on the outside of the coop and one inside the coop for now.  That will get us through the winter.  Next year I will wire in a light and a switch and a light for the supply room in back of the coop.  One more outlet in the baby area so I can hook up a heat lamp easily.  As an added benefit I put an outside outlet on the back of the old house.  I still need to add an outlet out by the cars...  When I get the barn redone I think I will trench a line over to the barn.  I just want lights and one outlet for a water heater.  I really don't want to have to carry hot water all over the farm in the Winter.  We have frost free hydrants so you can use them in the winter as long as you immediately turn them off!!  (I really don't want to have to replace any more of those, they are expensive and a pain to dig down and replace)
We are going to have two sheep slaughtered on October 1.  An older neutered male and our neutered baby from this Spring.  I will let everyone know what it costs when it is all said and done.  We are guesstimating around $4/lb by the time you add cost of lamb, slaughter cost and cut and wrap cost.  Now the side benefit of that is they are all grass fed and very healthy free ranging animals.  It may end up around $5/lb.  We are just not sure.  Live weight is $1.25/lb last time we looked.  These animals are around 130#.  $65 is the slaughter fee and I am not sure of the cut and wrap charge.  We did not end up with any more sheep this year.  I would like about five more this year, but I have not had time to hunt around for a good deal. 
The pheasants are everywhere.  It is going to be a good year for hunting.  The deer are coming in and eating my plums off of the trees.  I did not get any golden plums.  Oh well. 
I did can some leftover tomatoes from the cook shack.  28 quarts!  We are set for the winter for tomatoes.  The chicken yard still smells like burgers and grilled onions.  I am sure it is from the grease that was mixed in with the compost.  The compost is gone except for a few onions. 
The chickens are starting to lay more consistently.  We are getting around 15 eggs/day now.  I am hoping to get that to 20 in October.  I have my light on a timer and it is going now.  They are getting 17 hours of light every day (optimum hours per some research paper I read on chicken production).  The chicken door accidently got shut yesterday.  I suspect one of the sheep tried to stick their head into the coop (the sheep like chicken food) and knocked the door down.  When I went out to lock the chickens up they were all perched on the step and ramp going into the coop.  I had to pick them up one at a time and toss them into the lit coop.  Some of them voiced their protest fervently.  One even tried to peck me, but I was onto her.  A few of the Silver laced Wyandottes are peckers, so I was ready.  She didn't get me.