Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A good mail day!

Today marks the first time Spee-Dee Delivery stopped at our house for me! Usually when their white truck pulls into the yard they are delivering car parts for my husband. This week they sent a bunch of the stuff I ordered for the sheep came today.

Everyone helps unpack the box.

It was like Christmas. Everyone was excited to see what was in it. The local farm stores cater to the needs of cattle and hog hog growers, as they out number the number of residents of the county. I ordered several items from Premier1. They cater to sheep growers. The best thing is that they are based in Iowa.

Good mail days means good boxes to play with and mostly likely bubble wrap.

In addition to my drench gun, nutri-drench, and a few pieces of fence tensioners for our high-tensile wire there was the charger for our electric fence. My husband, who has a degree in electrical engineering was so excited to see how well it has been built-- including the crimps on the wires, and the construction of the box.

Ooh look at this...

We opted for a solar charger as we aren't for sure what our final fences will be located and getting electricity run to the appropriate location. J just admits that he's turning in to a hippie who will soon start dressing in all sorts of stereotypical "hippie" attire.

Honestly, I think he's just as excited about the arrival of the sheep as I am. By the time we had the box unpacked, E-minion (who has strep throat) ran off with the bubble wrap. I-minion had taken over the box and Baby O was scheming his way to get into the box. We're waiting for one more box to come, this one will have our portable netting fence that we'll use for temporary fencing and movable paddocks.

I've received confirmation that my shipper will be picking up the woolie beasts on or about April 6, and they'll be making their way to Iowa, after that. Our shipper has four other stops before he arrives in Iowa. If I had to guess, they'll probably be here around April 11 or 12. That's just a total guess on my part, and I'll update when I have a better idea of when they arrive.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sheep and Death

We raised sheep when I was little -- like really little. We moved off the farm in 1984, just after I turned 5. I vividly recall my parents joking about one sheep having a brain, and with two sheep you have half a brain. Since sheep are flocking animals, an individual owns more than a couple, you've diminished sheep brain power significantly. Really sheep can't be that unintelligent as they've survived for thousands of years and really can thrive in almost any environment.

Since my quest for sheep formally began, I've heard several more tidbits about sheep and their likelihood of keeling over. My favorite, from a co-worker who also raises sheep: "Sheep die and then they get sick."

Folks who are around sheep regularly know they can be pretty sneaky and don't really show symptoms of being ill and when you realize they're sick and then it's pretty dire.

J, who has never been around livestock, spends his free time reading books about sheep, namely Storey's Guide to Raising Sheep, and he's a little disturbed by the health section talking about all the diseases and issues sheep can and do come down with. So much so, while working on the fence J was channeling the sheep saying things like "Oh, I'm tired, I don't think I'm going to go eat, so I'm going to die." Or "I'm bored today, so I think I'm going to die." Or, "I haven't had any energy drink to day, so I think I'm going to die."

Last night at supper while we were discussing fencing, I-minion decides that to try his own hand at a sheep death joke. Here's what he said "We wouldn't want to the fence to not be square, because it would upset the sheep and you know they might ..." At that moment he cocks his head to the side and clicks his tongue, indicating the sheep's demise.

Well we're going to do our best to make sure the fence is square. We've settled on high tensile wire, likely five strands, and the option of electrifying. Since we're expecting a cold, rainy weekend, we'll probably pull out the remaining woven wire fence that is so squished a 5-year-old can step over it without problems.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Operation Sheep Preparation

This weekend was a busy one at our Mount Olympus. The family fencing expert, my older brother Dan, came down to help us get things ready for the arrival of the flock I won from Juniper Moon Farm earlier this month.
Uncle Dan, Fencing Expert.
We haven't come to a consensus about the best way to fence in the total property, but we're getting closer. One thing that we agreed to was that the sheep would live in half the machine shed -- which up until now has been the home of my 1949 International hot rod and 1969 Lincoln Continental, and the inside area that our dogs have access to from their kennel.

Saturday morning we started by moving the cars and cleaned everything out. It was cold, rainy and relatively icky in the morning. We raked the dirt floor and ran the magnet bar over the entire floor and picked up several pounds of nails and other random pieces of metal.
Baby O helped pull the supplies where we needed them to go.

Then we settled on the plans -- three small pens that will serve as lambing jugs and a place to keep sick sheep will be located on the north side and open up into a larger pen. Then using old metal cattle panels were installed outside the building so the sheep will have a place to play.

By 10:30 Saturday morning, we had a plan and I was heading into town to pick up posts. A short break of soup and sandwiches to warm up, it was time to dig post holes. Everyone took a turn digging.

I-minion digging a post hole.
Once we got past the first 18 inches of compacted dirt and frost it was relatively easy to dig -- a vast difference than the fence I helped build in an area that probably should have been a gravel quarry -- lots of rocks and hard digging in clay.

E-minion taking her turn at digging.

Four posts were dug, tamped in, and then came time to scavenge wonderful 2x10s and 2x6s boards to hang on the posts. The boards came from our large barn. One side has fallen down, and the roof is gone. It's unusable now, but has a lot of great wood. The boards were originally part of the hay mow and pens/alleys inside. These boards are HEAVY and honestly 2 inches wide. Most new lumber that says it is 2x6, is more likely an 1 1/2x6.

I wasn't able to help as much as I would have liked, as I was main cook and kid wrangler. Baby O spent a fair amount of time playing in the dirt, and eventually napped in his stroller. The afternoon while he was sleeping, E-minion and I went inside and matched a batch of cake donuts for everyone to snack on. Once again, forgot the camera.

By supper time, we had the majority of the fence in, including rails along the inside walls, to make sure the sheep won't push the wall out. And EVERYONE was filthy and tired. The minions all bathed and crashed.
Baby O played hard, and was obviously in need of a bath.

Sunday we started with the side panels of the lambing jugs, and debated gate construction -- but we decided to wait until we had hardware for hinges and closures before finalizing the plan.
The north side of the building, and will eventually become the three lambing pens.
At the end of the weekend we have to round up bedding and a few bales of hay and we're set. We need to build four gates, and round up another big tub for water -- my plan is to snag Rocky and Jasmine's big tub for water to meet the immediate needs.
The main inside pens, looking south. The wall is actually doors that open to a large pen outside. The far left side of the picture will be hay storage.
This next week's tasks include rounding up the medical supplies, hay and bedding (which will be in the form of baled corn stalks and are easily available here). We are also meeting with the Natural Resource Conservation Service to discuss cost share options for rehabbing the pasture areas, as we intend to graze the sheep as much as possible.

The sheep will be leaving Juniper Moon early in April, and will arrive a few days later.

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Successful Quest

Thank you everyone who voted to help me in my quest for sheep. I won! My much dreamed about theoretical sheep will become real sheep -- in the fleece!

I haven't worked out all the details yet, but I will be the recipient of a flock of Cormo Sheep and Angora Goats. Guess who will be doing a lot of fencing in the near future?

Once I have some things finalized, I'll post them here. Once the sheep arrive, I'll be sure to post lots of pictures of them.