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.


pollyhyper said...

Wow, that's a lot of work, but it will all be worth it when your flock settles in!

Anonymous said...

Looking good Mariah! Getting ready for your new sheep is so much fun, and even more work, but it looks like you've got a good plan and those sheep will be nice and cozy.
Are you going to pick them up or having someone bring them out for you? I'm so excited for you!

Mariah said...

We're having them shipped in. My husband's pickup (a big 1-ton diesel truck that just eats miles comfortably) is out of comission at the moment, thanks to a frame off restoration.

Melissa said...

Awesome! I can't believe how much headway you and the other winners are making in such short time. I'm awed at the amount of work, planning nad organization it takes, and that you all have. I am SO happy for you all - I'm sure the flocks will be healthy and happy and a dource of joy to you all!