Thursday, May 24, 2007

Our mentor's new colt... we've been waiting for this

Tuesday mid-morning, we finally got the call we've been waiting for... Lola had her colt!

Bev and I raced over for pictures and to assist with moving both Mom and baby to a clean paddock. In the process, I even got to name him... "Cool Hand Luke".

Since then, we've been helping her daily with the "imprinting". I hold Lola, the mare while Dixie works with Luke. He's used to his halter and can be rubbed all over. At first, his butt was real ticklish, but with work... he now stands still.

We're laying him down, checking his feet, rubbing his belly and down between his legs... he's so cute... just closes his eyes and enjoys the pampering.

Mom (Lola) is just fine as long as she can see what's going on.

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Posted by Shari Thomas @ 1:24 PM :: (0) comments

Monday, May 21, 2007

It's picture time! Photojournal update of farm projects

It's been a while since I've posted pics of our little ranchette and the progress we're making...

First, here are some comparison pics of our chicks. In each case, the 3 wk old pic is top and the 4 wk old is bottom. Now you can see why I said "scratch the junior roost!"

First up... our new screen door, and how Mindy feels about it.

Chicks with the new watering platform:

Feeder is getting a little crowded... the new, larger one got here this last weekend.

Look Mom, we know all about these roosts!

Oh, what's this? I know I can find a little solace and maybe some "spilled feed" up here.
Here's what the chicks haven't seen yet... their new "run" that's not complete yet. We still have to put up the fence and netting.

Our other major project has been the new greenhouse. Mom has wanted a greenhouse for years and here, it's a real necessity. We can extend our growing season to match that of more "normal" areas. Instead of having to wait until almost June to plant seeds outdoors, we can get started in early spring. Also, we we'll have a place to shelter the late stuff from that "end of August" killing frost.

The overall: 20 feet by 12 feet by 8 feet 6 inches bolted into railroad ties that are dug into the sand. They'll be "tied down" with six fence posts and long lag bolts.

Here's our rather crowded sheep pen. Quadrupling it's size is one of our high priority projects. Along with that, we'll be extending an underground water line and frost free hose bib.

Aside from that big guy in the middle (our Ram named Aljinon), these are the new additions.

Our "bummers", Freezer (the black one) and Crybaby (ewe for our flock).
Lastly, here's Dusty. This is Cindy's two-year old Thoroughbred "project" horse. When he wants to, he can be very gentlemanly and sweet. In reality... Cindy has way too much respect for him (after being kicked really hard) and he has no respect for much of anyone.

And now for the front of the house...

We've had an ongoing project tearing out Tam Junipers, and then chopping/dragging out their roots. Finally, our neighbor who promised to bring his backhoe has returned to construct his home. That backhoe made short work of this mess... will get new pics when the current windstorm dies down.

In the meantime, here's our first raised bed area and a peek at how nice the other side of the yard looks without the ugly roots.

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Posted by Shari Thomas @ 1:39 PM :: (0) comments

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Hunkering down... windstorm in progress

So much for completing another project. We've got the raised bed boxes dug into the front yard... just barely.

Got chased out by a wind/sand storm. The forecast for today was "in the 70's and breezy, winds 15 to 25". Right now, it's 81 degrees and the wind is sustained in Enterprise at 20 mph. Highest gust has been 38 mph... and that is at the southern end of the valley (somewhat protected).

We've got dust kicking up outside to the point where visibility is down to less that 1/10 mile.

The animals all hunker down in this stuff. The sheep turn their backs and lay down. The horse goes into his stall and stands with his back to the wind. The chicks are pretty oblivious to a south/southwest wind as their windows face east.

The dogs are all inside napping... If they even think they have to go out, they wait as long as possible.

Our cars get pretty sandblasted and when it's all over, we'll have a couple feet of tumbleweed by the back door in front of the garage.

There's just no being outside in this stuff. If it's still blowing at feeding time, we'll delay as long as possible until just before dark. Trying to get the hay from the wagon into the feeders is a real trick as it's sometimes hard to even stand up.

Thank God for an air-conditioned brick house.


Posted by Shari Thomas @ 1:45 PM :: (0) comments

Friday, May 11, 2007

Scratch the "junior roost"...

Don't need the "junior roost". The Plymouth Barred Rock pullet chicks have discovered they can fly up to the real roost. I also saw one of the White Rocks... dunno if it was cockerel chick or a pullet.

We're progressing on the screen door, having cut the lumber. Hopefully Bev will return home from work this afternoon with the brace/connector plates and other hardware.

This morning was a surprise.

Aljinon, our ram had gone over a short fence to join the two little bummer lambs. I was about to enjoy a peaceful morning coffee watching the hummingbirds and orioles when I heard the lambs making quite a commotion.

I knew they hadn't seen me and were crying for their bottles... must be something different... it was.

Fortunately, he's a pretty placid boy and didn't hurt them. He wanted their hay, the big glutton.

I spent an hour and a half moving sheep by myself as Cindy had left for work and Bev was leaving. I've found when you exercise patience, they'll eventually go where you want them.

To secure the little ones, I had to risk putting "Mama" and her twins into the big pen. This shouldn't be a problem, except that Chiquita (our PolyPay) is a real "bitch". She even keeps the ram in line.

First I managed to get Mama to move with only a short detour in the unfenced area leading to the hay wagon. Luckily, I managed to corral the twins in their original pen. All this time, the bummers were on the loose. They're so tame they were under my feet the whole time. Finally, Mama went to the big pen and with extra hay, the bummers joined the twins.

Game on!

Chiquita chased Mama and tried to nip and butt her for about 20 minutes. After a while with some extra hay, they settled a bit. That was long enough for Mama to want her twins.

Now I had to get creative as their not tame like the bummers. And, I wanted only the twins, not the bummers in the big pen. By quickly constructing a temporary chute from the lamb pen to the big pen, and using Mama's call, the twins got to the big pen safely.

After observing them for an hour or so, it looks like the sheep have settled in and there are no more major territory challenges.

This evening we'll be making adjustments to the fencing... gotta do that at zero cost as this month's funds are dedicated to chicken stuff and greenhouse stuff.


Posted by Shari Thomas @ 11:53 AM :: (0) comments

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Peeps are growing... expanded their home

Oh boy, the little chicks are rapidly becoming young birds. Monday they turned 2 weeks old and got the run of virtually the entire coop.

The coop is 8 x 8 and built on a concrete pad that was already here. Their outside run hasn't been fenced yet, but will extend about 32' west of the SW corner and 25' north of the NE corner and then complete the rectangle. We'll then divide the pen diagonally back to the NW corner, establishing two separate runs.

I'm finding an inward opening screen door made from 1/2 inch hardware cloth would be a perfect addition. That way I can leave the door open and also when I want to go inside the coop, it will sweep the curious birds inward.

Tomorrow we're building a "junior roost" to help the youngsters get up the the bigger roosts. I found one dropping, so someone has been working on their flying skills.

As soon as I see birds flying 4 feet or higher, it's time to clip wings. These are all heavy breeds, so don't really expect to repeat the process more than twice as they're growing. After a while, they'll learn flying isn't something they have to do.

The final home for both water and feed will most likely be below the nest boxes (which aren't completed yet).

Our plan is to hold off on a lot of the final construction until we can let the birds outside in about three weeks.

One thing we did learn, and will be correcting is that our big black lab could dig her way into the coop with not much effort. She's dug into the engineered "plywood" enough to get our attention. Now a roll of flashing is on our list. We'll be installing it around the coop base and up the corners.


Posted by Shari Thomas @ 10:50 AM :: (0) comments

Monday, May 7, 2007

Change is the constant here... I'll be training a horse

Last week was one of "those" weeks.

Just after I wrote the last post, we had a quick family meeting...

Bev was asking us to approve her reasons for leaving the job she got in St. George. You see, she's a cancer survivor, and the chemotherapy really slowed her down. She's a retired cop and thought sure she could handle a dispatcher's position.

Unfortunately, learning the new computer system and having to type while carrying on two different conversations, was more than her stress level could handle.

On top of that, fuel and food was costing about 40% of her take-home pay. And gas just keeps going up.

We all agreed that it was best. It would get her back on a regular schedule instead of shift work, and with Cindy going back to work at the farm, the income difference would be minimal.

After that, we settled in for a week of nasty weather... wind storms, rain, maybe snow and sleet. About all we did from Tuesday to Friday was go out to feed while struggling to stand up.

Bev returned to her "old job" driving the Senior Center bus. Thursday included a trip to St. George. Since I'm 61 and eligible to ride the bus... I am able to do the "animal feed" shopping and bring it back on the bus. At least that's the feed that is bagged and any other equipment we can fit into the bus. Sure beats spending our gas money!

This weekend, Cindy, Bev, neighbor Dixie and I attended the "Downunder Horsemanship" seminar by Clinton Anderson. What an awesome time. Cindy and Dixie are the horse owners. In fact, Dixie is a breeder/trainer. Bev and I both love to ride, but have never owned our horses.

Starting later this week, I'll be working a horse under Dixie's tutelage.

While I grew up riding horses, took a couple years of English riding lessons, and earned my "horsewoman's badge" in Girl Scouts, as an adult, I've had very limited time on a horse. I don't really remember doing any "ground and foot work" with any of the horses. So this is all new territory for me.

About those fence post holes... we managed to fit everyone into our current configuration. We'll dig a little later.

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Posted by Shari Thomas @ 4:13 PM :: (0) comments

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Yikes! More sheep still...

Ok, now we be sheep herders for sure!

Last weekend our neighbor, who has been so helpful to us came for help from us. She and hubby are giving serious thought to leaving the desert for Colorado. Her kids are settling there and she'd love to be closer to them. Also, employment for hubby (a welder) would be much better.

Anyways, she offered us her four Merino ewe's at a really good price. The original plan was that we'd get them when they move and could make payments on them.

Wouldn't you know it? She lost her "trade hay for horse training" deal, so no more feed means she has to disperse her flock immediately. She got a really sweet deal on her PolyPay flock and we are now moving the Merinos and lambs to our pen.

Yesterday was the first "roundup" day... No pics as it's wasn't the least bit pretty. Cindy got a good trampling and will have some 'splaining to do at her next mammogram (this week).

Here are pics of yesterday's success.

This is Annie. She's a yearling Merino. Until we get Dixie over here to clearly identify each one, I'm at a loss to say if she's bred, had a lamb and lost it, or has not yet been bred.
This is Beulah. She's a real prize as she dropped quads this year. She's "Freezer's" mama and those are his surviving brother (black w/white face) and sister.
We'll be keeping the sister for our flock, while raising the little boy for Dixie's freezer. In return, she'll give us some of her lambing equipment. Ain't it nice to have good neihbors?

Monday we enlarged the brooder as the peeps are now a week old. They've nearly doubled in size. Next week, they'll get pretty much full run of the chicken coop... This is gonna be fun.

We've added some boards for roosts and the concrete block for a combination roost/toy. They now have almost 27 square feet of space.

In time, we'll name the hens, but the cockerels (save one or two) will be nameless and headed for our dinner table and freezer by fall.

Don't hold me to this... but we may be adding another horse, too. Eventually we want to have 3 horses so we can all ride together. I'll need to find a Welsh Pony for myself as my legs are too short to hoist my lead-filled butt into the saddle on a full-sized horse.

Last time I rode (in 2000) I had to stand on the wagon tongue to mount a beautiful Appaloosa. At that time a friend and I were traveling The Oregon Trail and were doing a short Wyoming segment by covered wagon and horseback.

Ok, time to get out of here and start digging holes for fence posts. We have to enlarge our pen and get some lambing jugs built as our own ewe's are both preggie. Don't ya just love it?


Posted by Shari Thomas @ 10:59 AM :: (0) comments