24 January 2008

Siding & Trim

Construction continues at a rapid pace. Batts are being added over the top of the siding, door and window trim is being installed and the flashing for the roof is going up before the dormer siding is done.

The upstairs has been turned into an additional workroom with saws and all sorts of activity. The entire building is looking really nice and I'm amazed at the level of detail that goes into finishing the siding on the dormers and getting everything installed properly.

17 January 2008

More Construction & Farm News

Construction is proceeding at a rapid pace. All the rest of the windows and doors got installed. The stairs got roughed in and we can easily get up and down to appreciate the views from the upper floor. I sure like going up the stairs rather than climbing the ladder!

The siding got delivered and already a lot of it is installed. We are using a concrete composite board siding with batts over the top so it will look like the old red barn but be more fire resistant. We will have to wait until spring or summer to paint the building. It's much too cold to do any painting now. Eventually it will be red like the old restored barn but for now it will remain grey.

The heating contractor was up to measure for the heater and we'll also have a swamp cooler for cooling in summer. While the actual furnace may not get installed for a while we need to size it and get the vent pipes out the top before the metal roof is put on.
Electrical wires have to be run and all lighting installed. We haven't even decided what we want where. I know that we'll need a lot of electrical outlets. Every construction project we add more outlets and we still never seem to have enough where we need them.

Our weather has been very cold, we haven't gotten above freezing for the last 10 days. This makes it really hard to work outside so construction starts after the sun comes up and the wind dies down and ends early, before the sun goes down and it gets really cold.

Our sheep are eating a lot of extra hay to keep warm but otherwise seem happy. We have some ongoing problems of keeping the water heaters plugged in and water tanks unfrozen. Bored sheep like to play with the heaters.

Our biggest excitement was coming home one morning after taking 4 sheep to butcher to find a coyote inside the new elk fence. We tried to shoot it, but missed and it actually climbed up and out the new fence! Our guard dogs aren't able to run the entire area because that is where the horses are. It was discouraging to know the coyotes can climb such a tall fence. I thought they only dug or climbed smaller ones. It proves the point that predator protection has to be multi-layer in our area. Even really good fences are not enough to keep our stock safe.

11 January 2008

More Tyvek and the Crew

The crew from left to right, West, Warren, Bill and Brian. Today they got the outside framing done where the stairs are going to go and the Tyvek on the west side of the building. Tomorrow more windows will go in and tyvek installation will continue.

08 January 2008

Tyvek and Windows

Major progress today. The front porch is now covered and the Tyvek is now started. Even more exciting is that the first 2 windows are in.

Next up is framing and putting in the stairs, and the rest of the doors and windows.

07 January 2008

Winter Again

It's winter again. Our January thaw has ended. We got between 8-10 inches of snow last night. Today is the day to put the backup rams in with the ewes. So Ken had to shovel a path to open the ram pen gate. I was able to catch both boys fairly easily but Hadwin took Ken for a run and they ended up falling in the snow. Both are ok though and Hadwin is now trying to see if any ewes are in heat. Carey the other backup ram is also very strong and it took both of us to get him safely into his breeding pen. They will stay in for 3 weeks before they come out.

Snow is good, it provides our irrigation water for next summer so we like the snow. I'd just prefer it to come in smaller batches and not all at once.

05 January 2008

January Thaw

The big storm predicted for western Colorado has so far only sent us rain and created a huge mess. Right now it's raining over the frozen ground and once it does cool off and freeze, the driveways are going to be one solid sheet of ice. The worst part is that the snow pack is melting. We need snow not rain. Every January we get a period of thawing. It's normal but it is always a bit unwelcome. Ah well by February we'll be wishing it was this warm. Sheep are unhappy, it's wet it's muddy and there aren't any nice clean snow cones to eat.

Shop Construction Update

Thursday the construction crew got the back section covered. All the plywood and the underlayment was installed. Things went really fast. The back overhang into the orchard pasture is going to make a nice shelter for sheep in summer.
All the doors and windows arrived on Thursday as well. They will go in soon, once the front porch is covered and the entire building is covered.

04 January 2008

Sheep Sorting & Dewormer

Yesterday we got all the ewes resorted into their secondary breeding groups and their fall/winter wormer done. We have to deworm with ivermectin drench after a hard freeze to kill the nose bots that infest sheep. Well we had a cold snap, then warm weather and there was a hatch of flies so we held off doing the dewormer. Then it got so cold that the thought of sticking a metal tube into delicate sheep mouths was horrible. Yesterday it warmed up enough that with a bucket of warm water to store the drench gun in we were able to get all the ewes done. Ewe lambs got done in the last weather hole. Still need to do rams and ram lambs but there aren't as many of them. We're now also set for the backup rams to go in on Monday.

For those who have no clue what drenching means. It's not soaking the sheep in some sort of nasty pesticide as some folks think. Drenching is giving a carefully measured dose of a parasiticide via mouth. It's been called drenching for hundreds of years. A lot of people seem to think it means the same in sheep management as it does when someone gets drenched and soaked to the skin but the terms are different. For nose bots the only effective drug is ivermectin. It's a synthetic version of the same chemical found in some soil funguses. Its drug effect is carefully controlled unlike the natural version but it's very safe. Ivermectin is used in human medicine to kill internal parasites too.

The sheep equivalent of getting soaked was the old way of dealing with external parasites like sheep keds, ticks, lice and other nasty critters. It is called dipping. I've never heard of anyone still dipping sheep for at least the last 30 years and if it's still done at all it's very rare. Dipping was the only option to deal with external parasites until the development of safe pour-ons. Now if we have to treat the sheep for lice or keds we can pour a measured amount of an insecticide on them, much like you would use a mosquito repellant. The last time we did it we used a pyrethin based insecticide. We no longer have to rely on vats of nasty chemicals and the disposal problems that creates when you are done.

Our flock rarely gets infested with external parasites. So we only use an insecticide when we need too. But the nose bot comes every year and it can cause sheep deaths. We try to reduce next year's infestations by killing all the larvae when they are resting inside the sheep over winter. The fly can travel so it's not perfect but it's our only management option. We have until the weather warms up again to get the rest of the sheep done.