Monday, May 28, 2012

Mowing done!

I did it.  I finished all the tractor mowing in a single day.  I started first thing (for non farm people that is 0730, and for those farm people I was awake at 0530).  I must be getting more proficient at tractor work because it only took me about 20 minutes to remove the box blade and install the mower onto the tractor.  I only had to swear a few times and take my gloves off twice. I told Annmarie tonight that I am not a REAL farmer.  I had ear muffs and goggles on while I mowed.  The tractor is very loud and running the mower makes it worse.  The dust is everywhere.  I tried to mow last year without goggles, but I couldn't see. 

I mowed the entire barn lot, ram pasture, around my mother-in-law's house, along the driveway, in front our house, around the machine shop, a huge forest of thistles outside the pasture and an entire loop around the upper pasture creek and fence (1.5 miles).  I had to gas up a second time after five hours on the tractor.  At one point when I was mowing along the back fence the cows came up to the fence to see me.  I though it a little odd as they had been running around for the last couple of days wild out on the main pasture.  I opened the gate for the sheep and forgot about the cows. 

Annmarie came out with Zeke a leash and we went out to get the cows then the sheep.  Since we didn't know where either of them was we started on the lower pasture.  I had not seen anyone but a doe and some mice when I mowed the upper pasture.  Annmarie was directing the dog, this becomes important later.  We saw some critters on the upper end of the lower pasture.  We hiked down the hill and halfway up found out that it was cows.  Annmarie started directing Zeke (on the leash) to herd the cows to the barn lot.  The cows started to overshoot the gate and I started trying to give commands to Zeke.  This didn't go over well.  It is kinda like backseat driving and tolerated about as well.  So I had a pissed off wife and a worthless dog.  The cows were too far so I turned Zeke loose and told him to get the cows.  He took off and chased them, circled them up a few times ran them back toward us and back over to their original starting point.  Totally ignored me the entire time.  Then he ran them to the bottoms and went off to get a drink out of the creek.  I finally caught up and clipped him back on the leash. We then walked down towards the cows, who promptly ducked under the horse fence my brother-in-law just finished, two strands of old barb wire at chest height.  The cows just went under it.  We hiked another half a mile and the cows ended up going past the gate and into the upper pasture. 

It dawned on me that I was screwed.  The cows would not come in and it was all my fault.  If I had not tried to back seat drive then it could have been a failed attempt of someone else.  Nope, my fault.  Plus, I let the cows out in the first place.  I had an epiphany.  The cows may come to the tractor.  So I grabbed a bale of hay, in the process the sheep had put themselves in the barn lot, so I lured them into the back barn lot (sheep escape proof).  I jumped on the tractor drove over and loaded the bale.  Meanwhile, Annmarie and Zeke worked their way uphill of the cows.  I drove over and started doing my "here moo cow" impression.  It worked.  The cows walked past the gate then came back and into the barn lot.  They never did come over and eat the hay I dumped out for them.  We walked a few miles just trying to get the cows.  The cows need to stay close to the house.  The sheep come back with little effort and the dog and the sheep seem to have the nighttime routine worked out. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Barn progress

Yes, it really is going to take me forever!  I do make progress and it is moving forward, it just feels like I need about 40 hours in the day and energy for 30 of them.  Life happens and other things come up so the barn cannot eat up every waking moment.  I tell myself that repeatedly.  Tomorrow I need to break out the mower and see if I can get it to work.  Which means the barn is on hold until late next week.
Morning photo.

I followed the plan.  I tore up the floor.  There were lots of nails and most of them were rusted but still sticking out of the boards.  I finally decided that I would just cut them off with a sawzall.  There was no way to pull them and there were lots of them.  The floor does look a little (lot) uneven, but I just keep telling myself that it is a barn.  It has stood for over 100 years and I am just making it stronger with these improvements.  It will be okay. 

Not a chicken predator, just one of our cats.
When Zeke and I went out this morning we had to let the chickens out of the enclosure.  My automatic chicken door is not working.  I really think it is a great conspiracy. I even broke out my electrical tools and voltmeter.  The transformer is working and there is power going past the on/off switch.  It could be the light sensor, but it is on the back of the control board.  I will have to message the maker of the wonderful auto chicken door and see if he has any ideas.  So we are back to locking the chickens up every night.  I have been putting out the trap at night just in case.  I let the cat out, a little shake and then the door is opened. 

Do you see anything wrong with this?
Just for future reference, you should start tearing the floor from the opposite side of where you are going to stack the boards.  It is not necessary to use your tightrope skills to finish the job.  Now in my defense the wind was howling and with the roof being gone on the far end it creates a wind tunnel.  The dust kept blowing in my face.  By doing it backwards it minimized the dust eating.  The boards are very heavy.  Old lumber is very very hard.  I am infinitely grateful to be using an impact driver to install the screws.  I am not sure I could have done it with a screwdriver.  As it is I broke eight bits installing screws into this old wood. 

New floor going in.
 This is tongue and groove.  I had to add an extra runner to catch the short piece on the left side.  I reused a few of the old floor boards.  I had forgotten that when installing tongue and groove, don't nail/screw down the previous row.  You will not be able to install the next row.  Two rows will always be free floating and every time you install a row you screw down the third row back.  I really feel that once I get a solid day to dedicate to the floor I can come close to finishing the whole center portion all 11feet 5 inches wide.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Barn Floor continues

Day 1 progress 20 sq ft.
 As you can see the barn is a mess.  I have been trying to move stuff out of other areas and the barn has been accumulating the extra wood.  Eventually, I will end up moving everything as I want to complete the entire floor.  I had to move my drill battery charger out to the barn.  Using the impact driver eats up batteries.  It makes putting screws into this old wood possible.  The only real problem is you have to wear hearing protection the whole time you are working.  The impact driver is very loud.  I have managed to break four phillips driver heads so far.  I had to go to the hardware store and buy more screws.  It was an expense I really didn't consider.  The screws go for $3/lb.  I bought 16lbs and probably already had 4lbs.  I'll bet by the time I am done with the barn I will have put over 100lbs of screws alone into the job.  Amazing really.  I am getting faster.  On Friday, I finished 31 feet before stopping. 
Day 2 progress 120sq ft.

One of the things I noticed was the side panels are going to have to be replaced.  The old ones are broken, cracked and falling apart.  Once I get that side of the floor completed I will pull off the rest of the boards from the inside of the wall. 

I pulled off and replaced the wall boards.  The floor is not very level.  Even after I jacked up the outer wall and repaired it.  Not a big deal, enough screws and the whole thing will stay together regardless.  I emptied out the center so I could start working on it.  The center is almost 12 feet wide.  Which works out well as I have some 8ft long tongue and groove flooring for this section.  I swept the floor after clearing it and started scraping it to get the rest of the sheep dung off.  After talking with Annmarie and having a barn intervention it was decided that I would rip out the center section of flooring so that there aren't multiple heights of flooring.  I jerked a couple of pieces up and they are dimensional lumber, 2 inches thick.  Same of the boards running long ways under the flooring.  Of course the support boards are not on even 4 foot centers.  This will cause me to add one or two more boards long ways 45 feet.  I am going to salvage the boards I rip up off the floor to use as new underlayment runners.  I will hopefully only have to add one runner but two is the maximum I will have to add.  They I just need to alternate four foot sections on the floor. 

Day 3, right side completed.

I did find three blue eggs out in the barn on top of some old gunny sacks.  Unfortunately, I did not know how long they had been there so I broke them open on the ground.  I knew there was another hiding spot, I just could not find it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Barn floor

I went out to the barn to start working on the floor.  I had to put some supports in the wall first and then worked on the four foot wide pathway.  I got five feet covered and screwed down.  I am leaving 1/4 inch gap between every board.  I was going to but them against each other, but decided some air circulating was needed.  I covered a whopping 20 square feet in 1.5 hours.  After measuring the floor it is 22 feet wide and around 60 feet (I didn't measure it going off old measurements I remember) long.  This means I have 1320 square feet of floor to recover.  In other words I did 1.5% of the total floor in 1.5 hours.  So the floor alone is going to take me 100 hours! Or in real time 2.5 weeks of 40 hour weeks.  This sucks.  I have windows, doors, a new front and roofing to do.  My help starts in two weeks and he is going to be mostly for the roof.  I am going to have him tearing down buildings so I can get the roof up and in place.  I need to pick up the pace!  Unfortunately, I need to mow and spray weeds before I can devote some serious time to the barn.  So here is to hoping I can squeeze in some barn time.  I may just end up working on it every night for couple of hours after dinner, at that rate it would only take me two months to finish the floor.  This is going to be a long summer.

Predators Beware!

Spring weather.

It was another long day today.  I was up twice in the night thinking I heard a chicken in distress.  The first time was around 0100.  I jumped up, ran over to the window and listened for any further ruckus.  No more noise so I went back to bed.  Around 0410, I heard the death squawk of a chicken, I leaped out of bed and ran around the bedroom looking for my glasses and some pants.  I eventually found both and ran downstairs for the shotgun.  I know have a light and laser attached to the shotgun so I turned those both on and ran outside in my slippers.  I spotted a cat running outside the coop, but no predators.  The automatic chicken door was closed and when I did a head count there were 22 hens and 1 rooster.  Which means I lost another hen earlier in the week, but Zeke had found that body.  I came back in and was unable to go back to sleep. 

Barn in the evening.

When I got home today we set up the infrared remote chicken camera.  It will transmit to a base receiver remotely and can see in the dark!  We tried to get the auto record to work, but the chickens running around on the ground would not trigger it to record, so we set it to record every night from 2300-0500.  This way if I hear a chicken squawk, I can just get out of bed and look at the monitor.  No predator = more sleep.  Way cooler than scrambling for clothes and running out into the cold half dressed.  The camera only transmits 100 feet or we could use it in the barn for the sheep.  The other problem is it requires power.  There is not any power in the barn.  Good thought though, may keep this in mind as the receiver will take four cameras and cycle between them.  I am ready tonight for any predators.  I will set the live trap also before I go to bed. 

Dexter cows.

The weather is awful, rainy and the wind is blowing.  The cheet grass is heading out and needs to be mowed.  The weeds need to be sprayed again.  The chicken coop needs to be dug out so we can get some more babies.  The crap pile outside the barn still needs to be moved so we can work on the outside of the barn.  Lots of stuff to do. 

Booties for sale.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Cowboy wannabee

I knew it was going too smoothly.  Apart from waking up at 0dark30 (0445),  today had been perfect.  The pickup was gassed and ready to go with the trailer all attached.  I was on the road by 0700 with two insulated mugs of french press coffee (real cowboy like coffee with cream and sugar)!  I followed the instructions the lady from Thomas Dexter ranch gave me over the phone with no wrong turns.  At one point it was such a beautiful day you could see all five major mountains in the cascade range on HWY 97.  It took a couple of hours to get the cattle.  She had another customer present and he was even greener than me.  She had me back the trailer up to the corral which I did with no external directions and only jockeying the trailer twice.  She even commented on my great trailer driving.  I am getting better but I think luck played no small part.

Dexter cows in our back barn lot.  These are one year old.

 I had to stop in Biggs Junction to get fuel both directions.  The next 100 miles had one Podunk gas station.  Fuel costs seemed to be my biggest expense.  I am at 330 miles now and have filled the pickup gas tank three times.  I will end up with 1/2 tank left by the time I get home but fuel will have cost $200 for 400 miles.  No wonder everyone wants to buy local.

I was 60 miles west of Pendleton and on schedule to be home by 1615 when the trailer started to shimmy.  I thought it was the road.  It got worse when I sped up.  Luckily, I spotted the rest stop sign in a few miles and pulled over. I checked the pickup tires (ok) and moved onto the trailer.  The passenger side rear tire (dual axle trailer) has a huge chunk missing out of the tread (1/3 tire).  I am sure it was causing the shimmy.  I now regret not grabbing my speed handle (tire changing wrench shaped like a cross).  Luckily after digging around in the pickup cab junk pile, I came across a very large crescent wrench (or "adjustable wrench" as my father would say).  I manage to break the nuts loose but when I am looking at the front tire next to it I see lots of metal radials.  The spare tire is split down the middle and there is only one.  The only jack I could find is the one that is standard for the pickup and it won't lift the trailer off the ground so I can change out the tire.  Not too mention that I would still run the risk of the other tire blowing up at any moment.  I just gave up and called Annmarie to get me Les Schwab's phone number.  I called the Hermiston store and had them bring two new trailer tires out.  It was only 75 minutes from the time I called until they showed up.  Pretty dang quick.  The guy had both tires changed and back on the trailer in 15 minutes.  It took almost as long to do the paperwork as it did to do the job.  I wrote this blog while waiting for the tire guy.  All this was a paltry $320. 

Magpie nest.

Annmarie and I did go out this morning to check on the magpie baby.  It had not managed to find its way back into the tree.  I caught it and Annmarie held it while I fished out a ladder and climbed up the ladder to put the magpie back into the tree.  When I was almost to the top of the ladder the magpie jumped out of my hand and onto the tree.  It was fine when we left this morning. 

Magpie baby we put back in the tree.
The cows did fine and are now in the barn lot.  They survived their ordeal.  The Dexter lady did give me a few more facts.  Adults weigh in around 750 pounds.  They take over two years to get their full growth.  These cows only weigh about 300# each.  She isolates the young cows from age 6 months to 14 months so they don't get pregnant early.  She runs the bull with the heifers year round.  Gestation is 9 months and most of these cows will throw single babies.  You can milk them if you tame them down.  She typically slaughters steers at age 2.5 years.  A carcass weight is minimum of 50% to as high as 65% of live weight (this is very good). 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Ready for cows.

I finished fixing the two sections of fence, I burned up this winter, today.  I installed a new latch on one gate and fixed another gate.  We are all ready for cows tomorrow.  I picked up the borrowed horse trailer (thanks Julie) and gassed the pickup.  I will head out first thing as it is a four hour drive each way.

I changed out the post hole auger for the box blade on the tractor today.  With the box blade being stored in the old raised sheep jug area, it was at the right height to just back in.  It only took me 15 minutes to unhook the one piece of equipment and hook up the other!  I was very happy.  No two hours of swearing and trying to figure out how to lift something several hundred pounds by myself.

I went out and did another chicken count tonight.   We are down to 23 hens and 1 rooster.  I have lost three hens this year.  One died of natural causes and two to predators (Predators 2, Farm 0).  Still need to get some sunflower seeds to use as bait.  I had to adjust the light sensitivity on the automatic chicken door.  It closed tonight and left three chickens outside the coop.  I had to chase them back in.  While I was running around chasing the chickens into the coop I found a baby magpie hoping around inside the chicken yard.  It could not fly.  It should be big enough, the thing was bigger than a robin.  It is hard to fly over a six foot fence.  It probably fell out of the tree and just could not get going again.  I left it alone in the chicken yard and shut the outer door to the yard so a raccoon could not eat it.  Hopefully, it figures out how to fly soon.   

Monday, May 14, 2012

Picture update.

Annmarie's completed silk shawl for Sarah's prom and future use.
Here is photo of the completed 100% silk shawl drying out after being blocked.  It turned out incredibly well.  If Sarah takes care of it, it will last a lifetime. 

Treasures found buried in the outside wall of the barn.

Walkway I am going to cover over with 2x6s.
End of the barn that is going to be reworked. 

I am going to rework the large door on the left and make a sheep sized sliding slot door.  In the middle of the picture you can see part of the wall is sheathed in that is were the honey bees are hiding.  I am going to leave the old draft horse tack hanging on the walls. 

Granary chute, this will be taken out and hopefully some stairs added. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Barn Work.

I managed to get back out to the barn today.  We moved the horses off of the orchard and into the barn lot.  They want to make a dust pit in the corner near the road, not very much soil there and the plant life is already dying.  So we started sprinkling that area.  I may have to hit it with the tractor, remove all the rocks, level it and plant some grass seed.  It isn't a very large area so it would probably only take me one day. 

One of our sheep miscarried today ewe #11 had a stillborn boy during the day.  We remembered tonight that there is a dead pine tree with needles still attached out in the orchard.  Pine tree needles can cause miscarriages.  So tomorrow I will go out and torch the dead tree to get rid of the pine needles.  Not supposed to have babies for another 1-2 months minimum. 

I made it out to the barn.  It took me three hours to get all the crap out of the outer wall, scrape the floor clean (section is only 4 feet wide x 50 feet long) and sweep it clean.  I am going to install 2x6 on the bottom part of the wall one foot high to keep the crap out and provide a sturdier barrier.  Once that is in place I will fix the walkway with a new floor.  But tomorrow it is burn the pine needles and fix the fence.  Once those are out of the way I can work on the barn. 

The lady who we gave our bummer lambs to, had a cougar get into her pens and kill five sheep, two lambs ran themselves to death trying to get away from the cougar.  So far no livestock kills for us.  I did hear there is a raccoon in the neighborhood again this year.  So tomorrow I will buy some black sunflower seeds.  They make great raccoon bait and the cats don't like them so they will stay out of the live trap. 

Progress is incremental.

I have spent the last two days catching up.  Annmarie found a trailer!  A distant cousin of hers had one and will let us use it for the day (thank you Julie).  I have the cows lined up for Thursday of this week.  This means that the barn lot fence has to be fixed by then.  I went out and finished digging the two post holes by hand.  The first one just had loose dirt, which is to be expected.  The second one had two very large rocks in it that I had to pry out.  It is no wonder my shear bolt broke.  I did go to the dealer and get a few more bolts.  So it is ready for some more action.  I have one more hole to dig out by our cattle guard.  Both new posts are set in the ground. In some things I am catching on.  You never want to set the posts and then just put the wire on them immediately, they don't set up as well, even if you tamp the dirt down when setting the post.  Letting the post sit idle for a couple of days lets it settle and firm up.  This week I will take the wire off the burned up posts and attach it to the new ones.  The cows will not be able to get out. 

I finished underneath the barn yesterday.  I installed two more supports and added three 2x8 cross beam supports to shore up the two cracked and replace the broken one.  No I did not remove the old ones.  I just jacked up the floor and pounded them in place and let the floor back down.  They are not going any where.  I just leaned the old wood panels against the barn to keep the sheep from sleeping under the barn.  They were making a mess.  Eventually, I am going to have to figure out how to close up that end.  For now it is low on the priority list.  I decided that it was time for the floor.  My help is not going to be here until next month.  This was prom weekend so my soon to be graduated help is still busy, and when I am available we will be on vacation or camping for two weekends making middle of June the starting date for my help.  The floor is something I can do alone.  I moved all the wood and sorting chute from the outside wall path.  The barn has a heavily built center with two four foot wide paths on each long end.  The reason was a human path on each side and a middle area for the draft horses.  I wanted to work on the outer wall pathway.  I had been pointedly ignoring the fact that there was three feet of sheep dung trapped between the outer wall and some inner 1x12 inch boards.  As I was cleaning up the floor I poked though the bottom board on the wall, it was rotten.  I ended up having to rip off the bottom board the whole length of the wall and dig out the sheep shit with a hand trowel.  (My father got a hand Corona trowel, cast aluminum, for his birthday which I had to have so I bought one, it works great!)  I found one old clear whiskey bottle, one 1958 7-UP bottle, three flat cats, old plastic bags from sheep drench (Annmarie's father), countless pieces of baling wire, 10 old horseshoes with handmade nails in them, and lots of old rotten leather bridles.  I am only about 2/3 way down the wall.  I did open up all the windows for ventilation and an end door, but I still inhaled a lot of hay and manure products.  Definitely, going to wear a mask to finish it all up.  The worst part is a large portion of it is falling through the floor, so I am going to have to rake under the barn when I am all done. 

Zeke and I went to put the sheep up on Friday night.  What a knot head, he didn't want to listen, only to run around and chase the sheep, what a teenager.  So after three times trying to move them to the other end of the field, I had to calm myself and just keep Zeke near.  Once he got calmed down, and stayed close we made it to the other field.  I opened the gate for the sheep and they panicked and were jumping over an equipment wire gate.  Morons were bouncing off it , trying to go through it and Zeke was laying down.  One of the sheep ended up cutting itself up on the barb wire and bleeding all over our bridge.  The sheep are doing fine.  We moved them into the orchard with the horses as it was starting to grow out of control.  The horses could not keep up.  The horses chased the sheep around for about an hour to establish dominance and since then they have been comingling without any problems. 

I did get the power cords all strung out to the barn, tools in place and drug my compound miter saw and stand out to the barn.  I am ready to tackle the floor, as soon as it is all cleaned up.  I will most likely drag my old cheap table saw out there also.  After that the only thing I need is a third extension cord and my Sawzall.  I need the Sawzall to cut in the windows and doors in the outer walls of the barn. 

Donna (my mother-in-law) had our go to contractor (Lee Herman Construction) put metal on the entire back of the machine shop.  He said it was touch and go after he removed the wooden siding he thought the hole thing might fall over.  There was a large section of the supports missing on the tall side (Ted, Annmarie's dad had knocked them out with the tractor when he was getting hay, his fine motor skills were leaving him) causing the barn to be very unsteady.  A couple of the main supports inside were broken also.  Lee replaced those and shored up the inner wall.  It looks good, the plan is to do a side at a time. 

The weeds are dying this time around.  The stinging nettles wilted within 24 hours.  In a couple of weeks I should really be able to tell how things are doing.  The grass is growing so fast I am going to have to break out the mower soon.  There is always something to distract me from my current project.  Sarah is going to move the large pile of sheep manure this upcoming weekend with the tractor. I need it out of the way so we can get at the entire front of the barn without working around it.  None of these things include emptying the old granary so I can tear it down.  It will take two days to empty the granary, two entire days with the tractor and pickup and trailer in use.  I am going to have to use my hired help wisely to get the maximum assistance possible. 

Jason and I are going to do the front of the barn.  I have a couple of small metal working jobs for him and I am going to offload all the scrap metal I have piled around the place onto him.  I figure he will need to make at least three trips just to get all the scrap.  This should be the last big push for the scrap metal.  After that I will fence in a scrap area where my pile is now and we will throw the occasional scrap onto that pile.  I want to get all the scraps contained into one area so it is safe to mow without hitting some large chunk of steel.  Eventually, I would like to use a metal detector to go over certain areas and finish cleaning them up. That is many many years away.  In ten years I would like the place to look like a well groomed park. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Beautiful day.

The weather was fantastic today, not too hot or cold and the sun was shining.  I went out and sprayed weeds for 4 hours to start off the day.  My little 2.5 gallon hand sprayer got a work out!  I upped the concentration of the chemicals a little more than last time.  Some weeds didn't die the first time around.  I was trying to go low and it did not work out well.  I think I have one more patch of stinging nettles still to spray.  The Mule (four wheeler) is getting fixed in the shop still, it needed a new motor.  Once it is done I will rig the boom sprayer up on it again and then I can spray the bottoms and hillside.  An acre is a square approximately 70 yards to a side.  I had to figure that out so I would know how much spray to put on an acre.  So in a couple of weeks I will have to spray again.  I really want to get on top of the weeds this year.  I can already see the difference on our front hillside.  The weeds are vanishing. 

I crawled up on the barn roof today to see if I could salvage any thing from the roof that blew over.  I was hoping to salvage the main supports.  Not happening, they are all busted up or cracked.  So I am going to have to yard it off with the tractor, break it up and burn it.  Not good for anything.  Unfortunately, those 2x6 boards are 20 feet long.  Not as easy to come by as they used to be.  I am going to check out the supports from the grainary roof and see if I can retask them to serve as the new roof supports. 

I found the chicken's hiding spot out in the barn.  I had been looking every where but could not find it, and actually, I did not find it, Zeke did.  They are laying on the stray under a tarp.  I found 30 eggs in the nest.  I had to throw them all out as they could have been a couple of weeks old.  Now that I know they are laying there we will check it every day.

I put in two more supports pillars under the barn today.  Only one left, the bad news is I have broken one cross beam (so warped when I straightened the main beam it broke), the two next to it are cracked.  So now I have to shore up the beams with another three beams.  2x8 inch beams only 10 feet long, so not hard to find or fit in. 

I tried to attach the post hole auger to the tractor yesterday.  It would not fit.  The hydraulic arms were too far apart.  I called the dealer and they put me off and left a message for the salesmen.  I called again today to talk with the salesman and one of the parts guys explained to me how to fix the problem (I had to let out some slack in the swing of the hydraulic arms).  I mounted the auger and promptly drove over to use it.  The first hole was carefully done, I slowly lowered the auger.  The second hole I tried to power down the auger and broke a connector bolt (fails on purpose so the shaft is not damaged).  I only managed to get two holes dug before I broke it.  Now I need to get a handful of those bolts to keep on hand.  Learning the hard way...

Thursday, May 3, 2012

New Ram

New Katahdin cross ram.

I listed Lucky for sale today on Craigslist.  As I was double checking the listing I noticed that someone in Pendleton was listing a Katahdin X ram for the same price.  I messaged that person, who responded right back.  She liked the look of Lucky (was wanting to add more color to her flock) and was willing to trade straight across.  Just like that, four hours later she was out here trading rams.  The new ram is an off white color and a little smaller than Lucky.  He was being fed in a pen, dry hay only.  In a few weeks we will see how he looks after getting adjusted to all the green grass he can eat.  She looked at our camel backed ewe and we opted for another trade!  She has a 1 month old lamb that once it is weaned we will swap for the camel ewe.  All in all it worked out well. 

Zeke, getting ready to chase the sheep. 

I had to give the new ram some probiotics before turning him loose.  I managed to chase him into the loading chute (he is not near as tame as Lucky) and was trying to catch him.  I caught a horned head just below the ribs on my right side when we dived at each other and he leaped into the air.  Damn sheep.  This is the number one reason we will not own any sheep that weigh over 150#.  Once he got his probiotics we turned him loose and I went to chase the sheep back into the same area. Zeke ran around while I stood on the hillside and hollered.  Zeke pushed the sheep to the wrong gate.  So I had to go open the gate, while I was doing that Zeke decided to exert his dominance on the new ram.  He ran over and jumped on the ram, harassing him until we called him off.  He is a firm believer in getting the upper hand early now.  The ram did not want to back down.  I expect they will go a few rounds before Zeke establishes dominance.

I am still looking for a 2 horse trailer so we can pickup the cows.  I just need to borrow one for a single day.  Everyone has a gooseneck.  Stupid problem to have. 

The chickens were definitely hiding eggs from me, 25 chickens laid 20 eggs today.  There is one chicken who got out of the pen and is now wandering around trying to get back in tonight.  She will figure it out or someone is going to have a snack this night. 
Mika, in the orchard.

Sheep sorting completed

Rooster with the pliable hens.
Every year I say that the sheep are not going to be let into the yard and every year the lawn gets out of control and we let the sheep eat it down.  This year is no different.  I have boycotted mowing the lawn and Sarah always has a reason there is not enough time to mow.  The lawn is over a foot tall and even our mower cannot get through it.  It rains every 2-3 days and simply does not dry out enough for the mower to make a go of it.  I chased the sheep in the yard in an attempt to shorten the grass.  It usually takes about a week for them to eat the whole thing down.  This process is very rough on my roses.  The sheep love roses.

Sarah and I tried to catch the two whethers (neutered male sheep) while everyone was in the front yard, but the sheep just kept running in circles around the house.  We spent 30 minutes chasing the sheep.  Zeke attempted to help, but in the end most of the time was spent teaching the dog to stay and not jump on the sheep when they got close to him.  In the end we had to chase all the sheep over to the barn and into our square pen.  Once there we verified all the ear tag numbers again as one baby and one ewe had ripped out ear tags again.  The baby boy was retagged in the other ear.  The ewe has ripped out tags out of both ears now.  So she cannot have any more tags. I documented her color so we can identify her.  Once the two wethers were isolated we chased them into the barn so I could weigh them.  Did not happen.  A 90 pound animal leaping four feet off the ground at breakneck speed is not easy to catch.  We gave up after 15 attempts.

This has led me to reconsider the sorting chute I was going to build outside the barn.  I think it is going to have to go into the barn and the scale is going to have to be built in.  Otherwise I am not going to be able to get a weight.  So I need to make some jugs (creches for newborns and moms) and now a sorting chute inside the barn.  Starting to get crowded inside.  Still trying to decide if we need a ramp off the back of the barn.  More decisions to make.  After I get the barn leveled, I am going to have to stop work on the barn to get some more fencing completed.  I need to fix all the fence I burned up and fix the gate that goes into the CRP so the sheep cannot get into the CRP.

The farm with the Dexter cattle called yesterday and will hold three heifers and a young bull for us.  I just need to find a 2 horse trailer.  I keep trying to rent one, but not having any luck.  Two different people offered trailers but they are 5th wheel setups and I cannot tow a 5th wheel.  I need to get these animals picked up so I need to find a trailer.

I counted the chickens last night, only 25 hens and 1 rooster.  We lost two hens last month, one just died in the coop and one disappeared.  Now the magical vanishing chicken may reappear as it could be sleeping out in the barn.  I had to lock the chickens up in the chicken yard for a few days.  This is going to throw off my feed consumption but the chickens were hiding their eggs so well I could not find them.  Hopefully, a few days in the coop will get them back in the habit of laying in the man made nests.  

Our rooster, an Easter Egger.