Ridgetop - our place and how we muddle along

Ridgetop

Herd Master
Joined
Mar 13, 2015
Messages
1,773
Reaction score
4,589
Points
343
Location
Shadow Hills, CA
So for those who have just tuned in - and those restricted to their home by this virus quarantine who need cheering up ;)- I am starting from the day our new Dorsets came home in 2010. As most of you know, we had already had several small flocks of breeding sheep when the sheep were in 4-H between 1988 through 2004. They we had a hiatus of several years during which time we only had horses, Josie the Mule, and our dogs. That was the time period during which we attempted to clear our fields via ourselves and our children, large checks to brush clearance firms when the children left for college, our horses, and again large checks to brush clearing firms. Although 2 of the boys had returned fro college, they were working full time and did not have the time to devote to brush clearance to the degree we needed. Finally, we decided to go back into sheep to avoid the large outlay of cash to brush clearing firms. Now we just have large outlays of cash for sheep equipment, etc. :hide

I will just start by saying it took me about 6 months to find Dorset breeders (other than show stock breeders) willing to sell a few ewe lambs and a ram lamb. They offered to haul the sheep down from northern California to us for gas money since they would be on their way to a herding trial. Naturally we jumped at this offer . . . .

The day in May arrived when we were to receive our small flock of weed whackers. Our sons were home for this event. Excitement ran high as we crowded around the truck to help put the new sheep in the barn. They would stay in the barn pen for several weeks. Confining new animals in their stalls teaches them that the barn is where the yummy grain is fed. It would take another several weeks of intensive herding to teach them to enter the barn at night from the pasture. We were experienced livestock handlers We did not anticipate much trouble. :lol:

The 4 lambs were in a large wire cage structure inside the pickup bed with a camper shell. We admired them and discussed how to get them out, down the narrow stairs and into our lower level barn. Unlike Eileen and Jim, we did not own any herding dogs. Unlike our 4-H sheep, these were not halter broken or tame. We looked at the sheep, they looked at us. Finally it was decided to line the men up at the back of the pickup so they could grab the lambs as they came out one by one. The cage was opened and the men braced for the onslaught of wild lambs. The lambs crowded into the front of the truck bed and looked at us. A bucket of grain was produced and shaken to encourage the lambs to get out and get the goodies. There were no takers. This was somewhat anticlimactic.

Since all 3 of the 6’ 200lb+ men declined to climb into the camper shell to wrestle the lambs out of their cage, we changed tactics. Eileen and I both refused the tentative suggestion from our men that one of us climb in and get the progressively wilder lambs. According to Ridgetop’ custom, we all turned to look at the youngest child present. DD2, age 15, was sent to chase the recalcitrant animals out. As DD2 climbed into the cramped camper shell the sheep milled around restlessly. She got to the front of the pickup bed and opened the cage gate. Nothing happened. The sheep jostled each other, apparently oblivious to the offer of freedom through the open gate. As everyone gave DD2 contradictory instructions on how to chivvy them out, one of them accidentally got through the open cage gate. Slamming the gate on the others, DD2 adroitly pushed the confused lamb out the back into the arms of one of the waiting men. 2 more lambs followed this procedure. One by one 3 sheep were carefully led, herded, and wrestled from the back of the pickup cage into the barn. The last eweling would not approach the opening of the truck carrier. As DD2 maneuvered around to chase her out to the waiting arms of the men, the lamb realized she was ALONE with this small human. Like a bullet, the small eweling launched herself dead center into the chest of my brawny son, laying him out on the driveway with a hoof print on his forehead. She raced for open ground – through a gap in the fence, and onto the 5 acre field where the horses and mule watched in shocked surprise. Like a comedy movie 7 people stood frozen before running after her onto the field. Dogs were barking, horses galloping and the mule, who dislikes dogs, couldn’t decide whether to go after the dogs she knew or the white fuzzy thing she wasn’t sure about!

Towards the steep sided gully the fugitive headed. Once down its steep sides with their chest high scrub brush loaded with thorns, she could easily find hiding spots. She would be about as approachable as Brer Rabbit in his briar patch. Amid cries of “Don’t let her reach the gully!” we raced after. Sprinting heroically, my track star son headed her off. She turned toward the front of the acreage. Pursued by a screaming mob (picture the townsfolk chasing Frankenstein but minus their pitchforks and torches!) the terrified lamb circled the 5 acre field several times with us in pursuit. Beginning to tire, the lamb slowed toward the front of the field to take stock and look for a way to escape. Meanwhile, having successfully charged and driven off the house dogs from her personal space (all 5 acres) Josie the Mule came galloping past us toward the lamb. Unaware of her danger, the lamb paused to look at a fellow quadruped. This was her undoing. Josie thundered up with teeth bared and neck outstretched. Suddenly realizing that this was not a friendly welcome to the pasture the ewe tried to bolt towards us. Josie overtook the lamb and lashed at her with a hoof, catching her in the head, and knocking her off her feet. This was horrifying. We were afraid the lamb might have been killed. Running to the lamb’s aid we shooed Josie away to inspect our newly purchased eweling, now possibly just lamb chops. Apparently, people are right when they say sheep are so dumb they have solid skull between their ears. The lamb, wobbly and slightly woozy, staggered uncertainly to its feet. She was captured and carried triumphantly to the pen by three panting men.

Still gasping, we staggered to the patio to recover our strength. Refreshments were consumed, injuries bandaged, stories of memorable livestock escapes told, and the type of lifelong friendship forged when people have been through a hellish experience and all survived. Our new friends finally departed for their dog herding trials with another crazy livestock story under their belts.

Sooooo . . . The new lambs are in the barn, being fed delicious alfalfa and grain twice a day. This is our clever plan to train them to return to the barn every evening after grazing on our hillside. They would learn quickly. Such is the stuff that dreams (and nightmares) are made of . . . .

Every day we fed our new jewels their alfalfa and grain. We admired their sturdy forms, length of body and delicious looking legs and loins. We dreamed of little lambs gamboling across our field. We could practically taste the juicy roasts and chops. However, in order to bring the sheep into the barn at night they HAD TO BE TRAINED! By only feeding them in the barn we rationalized this would be an easy job. All our other animals loved being in the barn where the yummy hay and grain were fed. We had to chase them onto the hillside field to graze during times of heavy growth. They would congregate outside the gate, crying mournfully at their expulsion. We decided the optimum amount of training time in the barn for our new darlings would be a month. A month of happy alfalfa and grain feeding, and they would realize where the good stuff came from. Four weeks to acclimatize and recognize that we were the purveyors of such delights. Oh Ridgetop! so experienced and yet so foolish . . . . :gig

The day came for the next step in their training. Uncertain about our small force's ability to corral them on the 5 acre field, and worried that Josie the Mule aka Sheep Killer might decide to have another go at them we decided to turn them into the small 100' x 110' pen below the barn. The barn didn’t open directly into this field, we had to drive the four sheep out of their stall, through the barn, make a right turn and go down 12 steps to the pasture gate. It sounds easy and with trained sheep it would have been. However, these were field sheep and they did not know us. But they were used to being herded by dogs though, so we felt we could herd them just as easily. We were not novices in the area of livestock containment or movement. Granted our other livestock had been halter broken and raised by our children as quasi pets. No problem, we put up barriers like we had often done when herding the children’s pigs through the scale. With our barriers in place, we opened the gate and tried to turn them into the lower field.

The first problem arose when the sheep refused to leave the pen. Despite the alfalfa, grain, and soft words of love we had lavished on them for a month, they didn’t trust us. The pasture entryway is narrow, with a long staircase down past the old milk shed from the 10’ x 10’ flat space which is all we have outside the barn The entrance to the barn is the right. Across from the barn entrance is the workshop and a small sloping area that is fenced off. Just past the workshop on the left is the ramp leading up to the driveway and gate to the large field. Straight up from the barn at the base of the ramp are the stairs to the driveway. They are narrow. This staircase and entryway were fine for the dairy goats who came when we called their names, knew the milking routine, and wanted to come into the barn to be with us. It was fine for the 4-H flock that had been hand raised and halter broken by children. It is very crowded and difficult to work in with sheep that are not friendly or tame.

Spreading out around the path to the pasture, blocking all possible escape except to the lower stairs to the pasture, we opened the gate. Tensing in anticipation of the rush for freedom we expected, we waited. And waited. Instead of calmly sauntering out and down the steps to freedom, looks of suspicion greeted us as they crowded into the farthest corner away from the open gate. They knew this pen and liked it. They weren’t sure they liked us. Here they would stay.

Sighing in defeat, I entered the pen and moved around behind them to push them on their way. Instead of running out through the open gate, they ran in circles around the pen trapping me in the center of their frantic rush. As I tried to break their endless circle and aim them for the opening, one accidentally exited the pen. The others didn’t even notice. The sole escapee, realizing she was ALONE, doubled back and tried desperately to rejoin her friends inside the pen. Moving swiftly to intercept, 2 people did a fancy dance step around each other and the ewe. They managed to keep her from reentering the pen but also blocked the gate for the other sheep to exit. Finally, turning the escapee down into the field they realized the annoyed calls to “MOVE OUT OF THE WAY” were directed at themselves. Positioning DD2 on the lower slope to block the single eweling’s reentry, we all resumed our positions. I again tried to move the now tired sheep out through the gate. One by one they found the exit and trotted down the steps to the pasture. Within 10 minutes they were happily investigating our small pasture and nibbling the waist high brush. Congratulating ourselves on our sheep expertise, we adjourned to the house until late afternoon. We knew that all we would have to do was open the gate, shake a bucket of grain and they would come running into the pen. They hadn’t wanted to leave it so we knew they would want to return to it.
:lol::lol::lol:

For 20 years we had kept our livestock with Great Pyrenees livestock guardian dogs. All 5 Pyrenees had been roamers. Impossible to keep within our fenced acres, they kept the entire neighborhood safe by driving all predators away from everyone’s property within several miles. Pyrenees can climb a 6' chain link fence using their extra toes. I have seen a 120 lb. Pyreees bitch squeeze through a stock panel with one wire missing like a cat. We decided not to get any more Pyrs. Although we loved their gentle nature, the neighborhood had changed. There were fewer livestock people and more traffic. Roaming dogs do not make for good neighbors.

With no guardian to patrol at night we needed to bring the sheep in every evening. No problem! The sheep had spent the past two weeks eating grain and hay inside the barn. They would recognize where the good stuff came from and come in for their evening feeding, right? Wrong! Blithely we went down the stairs to the barn, then more stairs to the milking shed. The small pasture gate is at the corner of the milking shed. Remember I said our land was steep? In the 40’ feet to the pasture gate the ground drops more than 12’. The barn is 4’ below the level of the driveway. The milk shed is 8’ below the level of the barn. Once you reach the pasture gate, there is a drop of almost 2’ more into the pasture itself. There is about a 10’ slightly sloping swath below the milking shed with another 12’ x 12’ pole barn attached to the side of the milking shed. The walls of all these structures are actually retaining walls. Once in the pasture the ground drops steeply to another fence 100’ down. On the other side of the fence it drops precipitously into the gully. The grade varies from 40 to 60 degrees until you reach the bottom. The other side can’t be climbed by humans without ropes and tackle. Only sheep, goats, dogs and predators venture there. Luckily, we had been smart enough to turn the sheep into the upper small pasture for their first foray into our property. In the barn, with much noise and rattling of grain buckets we filled feeders and replenished clean water. Confidently we went to the pasture gate and opened it.

Nothing met us on the other side. The sheep were huddled together in a lower corner. They were grazing, oblivious to our calls and shaking of grain buckets. With sinking hearts we realized that they would now need to be trained to come in from the pasture when called. We discussed animatedly (a Ridgetop’ euphemism for heated argument) which of us would have to scramble down and herd them up. DH was out, aside from his bad knee, he felt all animals loved him and would approach too close to the animals. Many was the time he had scattered a herd just as they approached the loading area. For the same reason he was not allowed to man the pen gate. One position was assigned. DH was placed slightly above the aisle that would allow them access to the driveway and parts west. Again, in time honored Ridgetop fashion, the position of chaser was assigned to the youngest family member. DD2 was instructed to go below the sheep and slowly move them up hill. In the barn the stall gate was left open for the sheep to enter. The 2 flanking positions were taken up by DS1 and DS2 while I moved below to ensure that no one broke back from DD2. She was to keep the sheep moving upwards – if a sheep broke away I would send it back to the flock.

This was a maneuver we had practiced many times in over 20 years of livestock keeping with our 4-H children. On a ranch populated by children and their animals, nothing stays where it should! Unfortunately, everyone except 15 year old DD2 was grown now. Whereas in the past I had been the leader calling directions to my trusty herders, all of a sudden we had too many chiefs! DH around the corner at the top of the stairs couldn’t see the action. He came down to the pasture gate to watch and began to call out conflicting orders. All of us yelled back that he was to return to his assigned position. As DD2 began to move the sheep up they broke towards DS2. DS1 yelled needless instructions to him which he ignored as he headed them back into line. The sheep next broke towards DS1. Now DS2 was yelling instructions at DS1, which he ignored in his turn. The sheep, disturbed by the shouting decided to turn around and run past DD2. I managed to turn the flock back before falling and sliding down the hillside. Both boys turned to look as I floundered in the bushes. The sheep, seizing their opportunity, split right and left past them and circled below DD2, avoiding me where I was struggling to my feet. After more “animated discussion”, we regrouped and approached the sheep again. This time when the boys took up their flanking positions, DD2 and I moved in unison to herd the sheep upward. As the sheep approached their position, DS2 and DS1 widened their circle to let the sheep pass them. We had forgotten DH who had again left his post to watch the amusing little scene below. Pushing the sheep slowly towards the gate we looked up to see him blocking it. Once again the sheep scattered and ran. All of us joined in a scathing denouncement of our husband and father’s performance in the matter of sheep herding. Defending himself weakly, Marv retreated to his position where, unseen, he continued to call out instructions. Finally, we managed to get the sheep into their stall in the barn. Probably they were tired and just gave up.

This scenario was repeated every morning and evening for the next week. After the first few days, turning the sheep into the pasture could be accomplished by one person and our barriers. Bringing them in was another story. It was all hands mutinously on deck for the debacle. Gradually it got better, until one day the miracle happened. The sheep met us at the gate waiting to go into the barn for their grain feed. When we opened the gate they crowded past us to get to their stall, knocking painfully into us. We learned to step aside when opening the gate. The next step would be the large pasture, but since they now knew they would get grain at night in the barn it was a simpler procedure. Josie learned to accept the sheep as livestock, not dogs. She and the ram began a strange but beautiful friendship.

Life fell into a pattern. In the morning we would feed the horses and mule. We would then let out the sheep, which would run onto the large field and graze all day. At night they would stand at the pasture gate waiting impatiently to be let into their stalls for their ration of rolled corn. The brush began to thin and the sheep grew fat. After one or two painful incidents we remembered to step aside as they rushed through the gate.
 

Ridgetop

Herd Master
Joined
Mar 13, 2015
Messages
1,773
Reaction score
4,589
Points
343
Location
Shadow Hills, CA
No wonder you named it Ridgetop, although Cliffside would be fitting too, lol.
Yes, when we moved here I was afraid my littlest ones, ages 2 and 4, would tumble off the side of the hill! I actually wanted DH to put a fence around the flat space of the property. That would only have been about 600 sf! 30' x 100' of driveway and about 30' x 100' space that is now out front patio and "mini yard" overlooking the valley. :gigEverything else was steep until we dozed in a pad for the Doughboy pool. There was a flat space adjacent to and 4' lower than the driveway where we built our barn.

As the quarantine grows more boring here are some pictures of our place so everyone can be properly grateful they knew what they were doing when the purchased their nice flat ranches! When we bought our experience was limited to rabbits and chickens, so we were just impressed with the views. I didn't occur to us that climbing up and down these hills could be a problem. We were so young and naive. Next time though . . . .

Here is what we worked with for 30 years -
1. IMG_5616.jpg Looking down the first set of stairs from the driveway. Solid white wall on right is barn. Right next to milk crates visible on upper left is the workshop. Bubba is on top step to give you an idea of how narrow the stairs are.

2. IMG_5611.jpg Bottom of 4' of steps going down from driveway. From here you can see down past barn and milk shed on right, and through pasture gate. However, the land is so steep if you want to check the sheep in that pen you have to go down all those stairs and peer over the gate. Even then you might have to walk down into the pen to see the bottom of the pasture!
3. IMG_5615.jpg Flat area at bottom of driveway stairs. This area is only about 12' x 14' maybe. Picture taken from bbottom of ramp (behind me) to driveway built for horses. Sheep don't have any trouble with the stairs. You can see opening into the barn with the wire gate. Building below the barn is the old block wall milking shed. It is 10' x 20'. Bubba is on left and Angel is giving herself a scratch in the middle of this picture. You can just see the step into the workshop at the bottom left of the photo.
4. IMG_5613.jpg Another steep, narrow set of stairs down to milk shed door on right and pasture gate. At the bottom of these stairs is a small landing then another 2' drop into the lower pasture. The retaining wall to the left fences in a tiny sloping dirt area off the back of the workshop.
5. IMG_5614.jpgSemi flat or light sloping are about 12' wide at the bottom of the staircase in #4 above. The rest of the property disappears into the gully far, far below, You can see the lengthwise dividing fence, This fence was only partially standing at the time of the above story and there was another fence to the left of this picture. We later removed the left fence and repaired the one seen in the right upper side of this photo. We can't decide whether or not to replace the one on the left which would give us another long narrow small pen.
6. IMG_5617.jpg You can see how the "slight slope" rapidly becomes a treacherous fall into the gully! the tiny white dots in the corner of the fence below the toad are Bubba and Rika keeping an eye on the rider.
7. IMG_0825.JPG 10' x 10' Shelter below milk shed showing window into milk shed.
8. IMG_5626.jpg First step up from the small pasture gate. Building on left is milk shed, wall on left is retaining wall holding up hill.
9. IMG_5624.jpg Stairs from doorway up to milk shed up to barn landing, and then stairs to driveway.

You can all pat yourselves on the back for not having to work on this terrain We used to drag all our hay down the stairs into the milk shed to store it. Grain was bought in bulk and shoveled in to 50 gallon metal cans 9rats chew through plastic storage cans in about a week). These 50 gallon barrels of grain were wheeled down in to the barn on a dolly. While we could feed the first group of goats through the windows of the hayshed we soon had too many to keep in that small area. Then we had to drag those flakes of hay all the way up the stairs to feed 5 horses, 100 goats, and 20 sheep. Twice a day. The steepness of the terrain is why we never raised steers. Only replacement heifers and calves. of course there is some advantage to this property - due to the lack of level land all our animal barns for lambing and kidding are only about 30' from the house!

When we clean pens in the barn we have to do it by hand - no tractors can fit in there, we shovel everything into wheelbarrows and carts and drag it up the ramp, onto the field and dump it in a compost pile. Sometimes just dump it over the cliff into the gully. Now of course we use the large green trash containers provided by the city. The city charges us $5.00 for every 30 gallons of green waste and the containers are 60 gallons and 90 gallons. sp each barrel costs us $10 to 15.00 monthly. Trash containers are $10.00 for each 30 lbs. of capacity and the barrels hold 60 gallons, so $20.00 per month. Horse manure containers cost $10.00 for every 30 gallons. The containers hold 60 gallons so think $20 per barrel per month again. One barrel holds the waste from one horse for one week. We had 5 of these barrels and I finally was able to convince DH to return them since we have a ginormous gully that we can fill. Duh! We do need the green barrels since we have clippings, brush, etc. that needs to be dumped in them. At the moment our blue recycle barrels are free. That is good since they are 90 gallon barrels. All our paper, cardboard, cans, bottles, plastic, etc. go in them. DS1 recycles the aluminum and plastic drink bottles for cash.

We use the milk shed for storage now, and tore several tons of hay on one side of the barn and the other hay in a shed on the field where is it easier to feed the mule, the rams, and the field sheep. The barn hay is reserved for lambing ewes in jugs, and ewes with young lambs in the creep pen. During the summer when we can get hay cheap and have no lambing ewes in the jugs we can also store hay in the main barn. We still have to carry it down the 4' staircase and stack it.
How we dream of moving to lovely flat east Texas. :thumbsup With plenty of water for irrigation of our fields. And of course our own hay fields!

Any time you want to complain about having to haul your hay or grain to a barn, look back at these pix and have a good laugh at Ridgetop! We are obviously insane not to have given up on animal keeping years ago! :hu And when you consider that we have actually enjoyed doing all this, remember that this was our first "ranch". We were too dumb to know it could be easier. Apparently we are still too dumb to give it up! :lol:
 

Attachments

Baymule

Herd Master
Joined
Aug 22, 2010
Messages
18,355
Reaction score
44,843
Points
793
Location
Northeast Texas
I'm looking at your pictures thinking, "Gee, that place shore ain't wheelchair friendly!" In Texas, that gully would be dammed up and made into a pond. But if you did that, you would have a very interesting empty hole. Dusty perhaps, but interesting--maybe to a sand lizard.

I had a good chuckle over your Dorset herding experience. Sheep are smart enough to never do what you want them to do. But once they realize what the feed can means, they would do back flips to stick their heads in the feed can and rip it from your hands. I have a wether that climbs up my back while I am fumbling with the elaborate, perfectly functional zip tie loop that secures the top of the pipe that makes up the end of my wire crappy gate. With his help, it takes both hands to close the gate, so I clamp the coffee can between my knees, while the others dig at the back of my knees to get the feed.
 

Ridgetop

Herd Master
Joined
Mar 13, 2015
Messages
1,773
Reaction score
4,589
Points
343
Location
Shadow Hills, CA
I bought the animal cookies Mike recommended. I have tried to feed them to my ewes and lambs. they look at me like I am trying to poison them. I tried to put a piece in Snowflake's mouth. She refused to take it. I finally dropped it on top of her grain! Eureka! She nibbled it up! :weee

Then she spit it out! However, they were not wasted - DH found them and the giant jar magically emptied to half full.
 

Ridgetop

Herd Master
Joined
Mar 13, 2015
Messages
1,773
Reaction score
4,589
Points
343
Location
Shadow Hills, CA
Since March 8 . . . .

I have been too depressed to post here. After the lambing problems, loss of one ewe and her lambs, and euthanizing Snowflake’s mama more bad stuff happened. Bad news from my sister who is not working in Washington state, her husband is in continuing poor health. Then FDIL’s grandfather died of the virus this week. His sister (great-auntie) tested positive for the virus as did one of FDIL’s sisters. The whole family live together but luckily FDIL tested negative. She lives here but had been there for a visit before Grandfather got sick. Then we got very bad news about out dear friends – Yes, their cancer is back in advanced stages. Everyone is bored at being home because of the virus. People are starting to snap at each other and we can’t even work outside to get away from each other due to the continuing rain over the past several weeks. The weather report occasionally mentions sun or dry and cloudy but as all weather reports they LIE!

Still the forage is coming up well which will mean another year of limited hay feeding. Hopefully hay will be cheap again this summer and we can stock up. For those of you not accustomed to California prices, “cheap” alfalfa means about $12.00 a bale instead of $16.00-$18.00 per bale. However, alfalfa is a high protein feed, so not as much grain ration is necessary. In fact, our Dorpers do very well on just alfalfa and a small nighttime feed of barleycorn.

On April 9 we finally put down our poor prolapsed ewe. DS1 had increased the dose of painkiller she was getting from the vet and for a week or so she seemed to perk up. April 8, she did not seem to respond to the pain killer doses and looked worse so DS1 immediately told me that we needed to get Dr Dave out. I called him and left a message. He came out the next day and put her down gently. First something to relax her and then the final dose. It was very quick. We left her in the pen with her lamb, Snowflake, while waiting for dead animal pick up. It was a more natural separation that way. I am so glad that it is over because even though we knew it was better for the lamb, we hated to see her like she was. Over the last week the rectal prolapse which had been retracting and reappearing just remained out. The purse string repair of the vaginal prolapse had been giving way for a couple of weeks and had finally let go resulting in a partial vaginal prolapse. She was getting worse. Snowflake is just 6 weeks old, but able to be weaned. She was not gaining much weight in the past couple of weeks which told us that her mother was probably not producing as much milk as she should have been. I am glad it is over. I ordered some lamb grower ration for her to mix with her small amount of barleycorn. It will have extra minerals and vitamins to take the place of mama’s milk.

Snowflake needs a bath since she is covered with blood and dirt residue from mama’s prolapse. She is very tame and I am going to keep her in the jug for a while. She is too small to turn in with the other lambs and their mothers without a mother for protection. I’ll take out some dividers so she has a little extra room in the jug. She is very bouncy. DS1 says she probably has a drug habit from the painkiller he was giving her mother. I am going to halter break her so she can be a Judas ewe if we need a leader to go somewhere. She belongs to Elizabeth so having her be tame is a good thing. Of course, the grandkids have “owned” other lambs before – when they want to know which one is theirs, I just point at the flock and say, “She’s over there”. Since all our sheep are white, it works. LOL

We were able to finish emptying the rented Connex during a lull between storms. The desk got into the house through window which DS1 and DS2 removed. Ds1’s old desk replaced the table I was using. That table was moved into the spare room and I set it up as a desk for FDIL who is working from home, it will also be useful as sewing table, and craft or game table for the grandkids eventually. DS1 got some shelves for his room over the desk (the desk he had which I now have had a built-in hutch with shelves). I hung a lamp on the wall over the table desk in the spare room and we are now all set.

I found a small oak cabinet designed to go over the toilet when emptying the storage unit. I had purchased it several years ago to use in one renovating one of the apartments. I did not need it after all but kept it for possible future use. We have a plain mirror over the sink instead of a medicine cabinet in our master bath. I did finally install a medicine chest behind the door for meds but it is not enough. The minimal storage in our bathroom results in DH leaving all his stuff on the counter. I hate cluttered counters and have decided to hang this cabinet behind the door in the bathroom below the medicine cabinet which I recessed into the wall. I can’t inset the OTT cabinet into the wall since it is too deep (7”) but there is enough room behind the door to hang on the wall. It will need a finished top since it is designed to be hung on the wall over a toilet. Since the top portion would not be seen, it is not finished. I have a piece of stained and finished oak shelving in the shed that will match so once the rain stops for a bit I will cut it to fit. I don’t know if having this cabinet will help DH put away his stuff, but at least he can’t say he ha no where to put anything. LOL

DH and I are considering doing more fencing on our property while the ground is soft. We would like to have another 1 or 2 sheep pastures so we can confine groups of sheep where we need the grass cut. DS1 checked with the fire department to see if we are going to have to cut everything by the end of April and they have extended the date to June 1. With all the rain still coming it will be difficult if not impossible to cut this wet forage. In addition, they probably can’t spare the fire fighters to do the patrols to do brush inspection. I think our date will actually be July 1 since different areas have deadlines a month apart due to when they feel the worst fire danger occurs. Antelope Valley, which is a high desert area, actually has a deadline 1 month before the San Fernando Valley, so if they are extending the first deadline to June 1 ours might be July 1. Maybe. That gives our ewes enough time to clear more of the forage off.

We need to bring in a couple of loads of gravel and sand to dump in front of the barn where it is getting very muddy. Gravel and sand will give us better footing there. We also need to put some of the gravel and sand in front of the main pasture gate for the same reason. The third part of the load needs to be put inside the sheep tipi shelter since it has become a water filled pit with all this rain. The ewes have dug it shallow when they go in it to sleep or rest in the shade. No the poor ewes go in and stand round looking sad in the downpour because they can’t lay down in 4” of water and mud! At least when they are out on the field they can shelter under bushes and trees. There is a 12 x 12 3 sided shed below the old milkshed and it can be accessed off the field but when we put them up at night, they don’t have access to it. We need to put up more fencing on the old fence posts along there and use that as another night pen with a shelter for ewes and lambs, or older weaned lambs. We also need to fence down the hill in back to fence in some of the pasture we need to cut during fire season That way we can confine the sheep in that area and have them completely clean up the area. So much work on that steep slope! UGH! If we were on the flat, we could use the tractor to bang metal fence posts into the wet ground. When the ground is dry, it is like concrete but now it would be fairly simple. Maybe DH and I could try it with a post setter and single jack while it is wet.

After seeing what happened to Fluffyflock’s sheep shelter and Mike’s and Bay’s suggestions of stock panel hoop shelters, I am thinking about trying them. We have two 20’ Connex containers on the field with 20’ separation between them. We want to roof over this open span to make either a hay shed, or sheep shelters. Corrugated roofing would work there. DH originally wanted to store his hay inside one of the boxes but it might be better to build a roof between the Connex boxes and store the hay in between them. We could put up a stock panel hoop shelter behind the second box with a fence around it to keep Josie the Mule away from the delights of yanking off the tarps. The Connex box would help protect the hoop shelter from the strong winds we get up here. Not sure what would work. We need to buy more stock panels. We have cut ours in different sizes to make pens. I will check with Tractor Supply – there is one about 50 miles away. I want to try the hoop shelters but DH and DS1 both insist tha th tarps will shred from the wind. DS1 says he has an idea about shelters he will work out. Hopefully before our poor ewes drown.

Wethers are on schedule to go to the butcher next week. The ewelings weigh enough to go in with the selected rams at 7 months old. We will weigh again this weekend. Weighed April 11 and smallest wether is 90 lbs at 5 months old. Others right at 100 lbs. Need to arrange a butchering date with my guy. Once they each 100 lbs. their rate of gain slows considerably and it is not economical to keep them. This year they reached these weights without any creep feeding at all. I did order some grain for the new lambs, in particular Snowflake, since she was only 6 weeks old when her mama went down. I will see if I can push them a bit and get them to the butcher earlier. Although with all the forage they might not need to be pushed.

April 10 was DH’s birthday and DD1 brought the grandkids over to see their grandfather. They stood on the porch. sang Happy Birthday to him, and blew us kisses. Then they left their birthday cards on the porch. Granddaughter ran down to the barn to visit Snowflake.

We have n=been ur new big walk in scale on all the lambs lately and we love it! We run all the ewes and lambs into the barn from the field. Then shut the barn gate. The scale is in a jug so we run in a couple of lambs and shove them one at a time into the scale. Write down th weight and tag numbers, then get another one or two. Finally we run all those sheep back out onto the field. Then instead of chasing the babies into the creep and catching them, we just run all their mamas into the barn. The mamas eat off the haystack, while the lambs are easier to catch since they can't scurry down the hill away from us. They get weighed and returned to the creep to scream for mama while we complete the weighing. Finally the ewes are sent back into the main pen to join their screaming lambs. And a nice time is had by all. I LOVE our scale!

On April 11 the largest ewe lamb weighed 113 lbs. at 6 ½ months old. Smallest ewe lamb 90 lbs. at 5 ½ months old. Ewe lambs will go in with ram at 7 months old – they will be large enough too. I will just leave them with rams until bred since some lambs don’t come in and breed right away. I do think the largest ewe lamb has already been in season though. My fall lambing ewes have dried up and are cycling. This weekend we are going to weigh the ewes to check condition and weight, drench for worms, trim hooves, vaccinate again, and start flushing if necessary. The fall lambing ewes averaged 153.2 lbs. on January 11. They have put on weight after weaning so hopefully they won’t need much flushing. I hope to get the ram harnessed up and in with the chosen ones in 2 weeks.

This plan means that this weekend DS1 and DS2 will finally assemble the squeeze and place it in the chute pen so I can use it to trim hooves. I can't wait to use it! DS1 is also planning a way to rig a shade for me for this summer - I whined just like my grandchildren and it worked. LOL Otherwise we can just use a pop up picnic canopy. I used to have some metal barbell weights that I threaded hay ropes through to weigh down tarps over hay stacks. I wil locate them and they will work for the canopy.

Breeding is approaching . . . . I think I will put 3 of the 5 ewes due to be bred with Axtel next week. The 2 nice younger ewe lambs are by him, but I lost 2 of the 4 Axtel breeding ewes I bought. Those Axtel ewes have month old lambs on them and won’t be breedable until late summer or fall. All four ewelings will go to Lewis. . The 2 ewes who produced Axtell lambs will go with Moy. Once the spring lambs are weaned, those ewes will be sorted into two groups as well to join either Axtel or Moy. All the spring lambs are out of Lewis, but I only got one ewe lamb. Lewis is an excellent ram and his only ewe lamb is Snowflake, the pretty little orphan. She is looking better and better every day. Finally, after all the ewes are marked and another 6 weeks have passed since the final markings, I will pull those rams out, combine all the ewes, and choose one ram as a clean-up ram. Breeding is getting so complicated! Oh, for the days when I had only 1 ram and no choices! :idunno LOL I just need more fenced pastures so I can separate my sheep into breeding flocks.

My favorite on-line sale is approaching again on May 15/16. I am not sure if I will have enough money to buy anything this year. Our tenant in Yelm is self employed and has notified the management company that he will have trouble making his rent due to the Covid. He has been a good tenant and I don’t have a mortgage on the place so I can afford to let the rent go for a couple months. He is trying to scrape up partial payments and will make it up later. However, that income was my “fun money” – “fun money” means cruise and sheep buying money so I might not be able to swing purchasing any new ewes this year. On the other hand, we won’t be cruising. Not only will the Covid curtail lots of operations, but our dear friends and traveling bridge companions are each battling a return of their respective cancers.

If everyone is in the same boat, some good stuff might go cheap at the sale though . . . . :rolleyes:

And little Snowflake needs a companion since she can’t be bred for many months . . . . :hide

Maybe a nice spring ewe lamb will go cheap . . . . ;)

I do need some more chute gates and panels and the pick up point for the lamb and panels is the same . . . . :yesss: Road trip!

DH1 has found the ACBL bridge at home website so we have been playing on line. He has also been filling the raised planters with dirt and composted horse manure. He was going to do this last month, so I could plant roses. Now it I too late to order the bare root roses so we will try to get some tomatoes and squash planted I think I will also order some nitrogen fixing inoculant from Burpee so I can plant Italian pole beans. It is too bad that my tomatoes did not do well last year since now would have been a great time to get them out of the freezer and can them. Maybe I will have DS1 pick up 15 lbs. of Granny Smith apples and make applesauce. Or not . . . .

Somehow I pulled a muscle in my back under the shoulder blade doing NOTHING! :somad It hurt to breathe, cough, or sneeze since it expanded my rib cage and pulled the muscle. Several days on ibruprofen and a heating pad and I thought it was fine BUT I reinjured it doing NOTHING again! :barnie So I haven't been able to hang the cabinet in the bathroom, or do anything since I couldn't move or even breathe deeply.

So much rambling on about nothing – this Covid virus has a lot to answer for!
 
Top