After two and half hours of digging on Friday I had managed to clean out about Six feet of the barn. It's slow going. I had already broken one tine on a pitchfork and bent another one on a second pitchfork. It sucked. I finally decided to see if I could fit the tractor inside the barn. It fit through the door with a couple of inches to spare on each side. Unfortunately, I had dug a trench for a panel and had the tractor on three tires trying to keep it from falling onto its side. In 30 minutes I managed to dig out more than I could of done in five hours by hand. It was enough to get the panels in place. I used to always tell AnnMarie that the tractor would not fit into the barn. Funny how when I have to do all the digging suddenly I figure out a way to make it happen!
This plan to get ready for the sheep sorting threw me off finishing the tile floor on Friday. AnnMarie had went out on the back hillside Friday evening to bring all the boys into the ram pasture. There should have been 22 animals there was only 12!! We are not sure what is happening. We have not seen any predators but the grass is very tall. I need to mow but the mower has been out of commission. They called Friday at noon to tell me it was ready, $1000 to get it rebuilt. I went into town late afternoon to pick it up before heading to work. We are going to have to contemplate the cause of this loss. This could be a cougar, wolf problem. We have not seen anything harassing the sheep or cows since our dog problem. Whatever it is the sheep are far easier to kill than the cows
We had to get up early on Saturday so we could be out sorting at 0700. AnnMarie let me sleep in till almost 0630. This was very nice as I had gotten in late. We called Sarah to get her to come out and help us.
I wore my "sheep sorting apology" shirt just in case. AnnMarie started out by running both dogs together. This caused much swearing. I went to the barn to finish getting it ready. At one point Annmarie called us into the ram pasture as she needed a human fence because the dogs would not listen. I offered my assistance, T-shirt turned toward her, as she impaled me with her narrowed eyes and proceeded to tell me where to put my offer. I made a great silent fence after that. Sarah and I had just had this whispered conversation in the barn about me helping run the dogs. I had predicted this outcome. Not sure why I offered, probably just to rile her up a little. She gets better looking with a little ire in her blood.
We ran the boys into the chute and sorted off two boys and the ram then ran them out of the barn back into the ram pasture via the swing gate. We managed to get the mommas and babies in through the front of the barn. Tanner was helping us also. He was more like reluctant boyfriend help. We needed 29 sheep from this group to make our agreed upon 40. Unfortunately, were counting on 20 from the back hillside not 11. So we started sorting off everything we thought was three months old off that could be weaned. We herded the keepers into the almost empty hay room, this kept them distracted. Our buyer showed up about 2/3 of the way through the first sorting. He was talking to her as I was on the other end of the chute. Turns out the sheep he bought from us last year turned out great! He was surprised at how fast they put on weight and their low maintenance. He said that our sheep are learning to forage at a young age because of our pasture type. Their mothers teach them to look for food. He wants to buy sheep from us every 2-3 months. The reason we were going to downsize again is because we cannot find a consistent buyer. If he would take all the female babies before 5 months old we would never have to run two herds. This does mean however that we will need to run the sheep in nightly so we can tag and band and pay better attention to our genetics. We talked about getting a cull color ear tag for the girl babies so we can easily sort, green=good. I wonder if they make a gold tag= $?
So we tossed back several females and we put the ram back in with the herd. We might be able to produce 70-100 babies a year maybe 150 we will have to see. This is enough money to get us our winter feed! Now that we have the hay loader we can have it delivered on a semi truck and unload it. This will give us a much better price.