31 March 2008

Shearing Day

Saturday was our sheep shearing day. Friday we picked up Eifion. That was the good news. The bad news was his shearing equipment in his luggage didn't make it on the same plane he did. He tried to shear the first flock with my Lister shears and got it done but it was clear the rest of the 30 or so sheep to shear on Friday were not getting done. We got them all rescheduled to Saturday and Sunday. The lost luggage came in at 7pm and we finally got home about 9:30. He shore 2 rams to test all the equipment and then went to bed. Next day we got started at about 8 am. He did the rest of the boys first as it was starting to rain and they were not under cover. The girls all had coats on and so even a light rain would be ok. Then we started on the pregnant ewes. Here they are in the sweep waiting to have their coats taken of and get shorn.
Here is Ken taking the coat of a sheep in the chute. We had helpers, three neighbor kids and our friend Monica who were most welcome. Eifion got through all 118 of the rest of our flock by 1pm and we stopped for lunch. Many of the fleeces are really nice and the sheep were all in good shape.
With our flock done we set off to try to do some more that had been rescheduled. He did 31 at once place then 4 at another. Home for a good mutton steak and wine dinner.

Sunday we started out again with several stops. 2 at a winery where we also got a bottle of wine to try. 2 more at a new place for a person with her first sheep. 6 at another new flock and the 4 more again a new place. We had a person flake out on us. I'd called to confirm that we'd be there on Sunday several days earlier. But when I called to say we were heading there next I was told that they had already gotten their sheep shorn. They didn't even have the courtesy to call and tell me to cancel our stop! I was rather angry and they will not be able to get their sheep shorn again by anyone I help with.

Next stop was for 2 groups totaling 20 sheep. 5 of them hadn't been shorn in two or three years and they were a breed that is supposed to be shorn twice a year. Eifion soldiered on and did an excellent job but it was very tough going. He charged more but not nearly enough for that amount of work. Last stop of the day was for 15 more dairy sheep. Then home to dinner.

This morning we woke up to about an inch of snow after major rain, hail and wind last night. I'm just glad we got all the sheep done as you can't shear wet sheep and it would have been a real disaster if the storm had arrived a day or so earlier. We took Eifion to the airport today. I think his planes got all messed up as the flights have been delayed or diverted but he hasn't called so I assume he's managing to get home somehow.

Next sheep job: vaccinations, federal flock inspection and wormer before they go on pasture to lamb.

25 March 2008

Chickens and Geese

The geese are out in the small pen beside the barn during the day and we've gotten our first goose eggs. We're pulling the eggs from the geese for sale as eating eggs until we decide whether to let them raise goslings. We still don't have a slaughter facility that can handle the plucking process. We can process geese if we skin them. I'm not sure whether any buyers will buy skinned geese since crispy goose skin is so good. We've got a few more weeks to decide as we need to keep the first few eggs from each goose anyway. Hatching rates are usually better for later eggs.

The chickens are also now out most days. It depends a bit on what construction is going on whether I can let them out. We don't need chickens helping the workers build the shop. They sure love it and are starting to lay more eggs. The Hamburgs are still not doing well, this is their last year. I've tried several varieties from several places and none have ever done well so they are off the list as egg laying chickens. The stars are still the Golden Campines. Tough chickens and they are laying well now and have been all winter. The Brown Leghorns are also doing fairly well as are the Brabanters. It's nice to see the chickens enjoying the first grass and bugs outside after such a long hard winter.

Getting Ready to Shear the Sheep

This weekend is the big sheep shearing day. Saturday all the sheep get shorn and I'll have a bunch more wool to skirt and get ready to sell. We had hoped the shop would be done so the wool can go upstairs in the new skirting area but it's not going to happen. I'll be storing the boxes of wool under the hay barn until the shop is done then move it up there for skirting.

First step is every year we re-build the shearing sweep and setup. We set up under the hay barn so we can't have it set up until most of the hay is fed out. Each year it's a bit different as we try to improve the flow of sheep from pens, to getting coats off, to shearing, to back into the pens. It's hard to see but this year we are doing the entire system with wire jug panels. Shearing will happen on the plywood floor and I'll do a preliminary skirting of the fleece off the shearing floor. I just hope I can keep up with Eifion shearing. I'll probably never be as good as the wool handlers we saw competing in Wales in 2006 but I am using many of the techniques they used.

We try to have extra help on shearing day. Our regular helpers can't come this year so we are trying some new folks. It should be ok but it's going to be interesting teaching new people how to do all the various jobs.

Insulation and Drywall

Had a bit of a bobble trying to update this blog so expect a lot of posts all at once today.

The insulation people came back and finished blowing in the insulation while the boom truck was delivering the drywall. The drywall contractor was right on time and moved fast. Upstairs there are a lot of corners and angles so it took a while but it's looking good.

Getting the upstairs all done.

Downstairs there was too much insulation and the drywall could not be installed properly so they pulled some out. It made a huge mess but Ken cleaned it all up over the weekend.

That meant they could get started on the taping Monday without spending a couple hours shoveling insulation into garbage bags.

18 March 2008

Electric and Some Insulation

Shop is progressing but slowly, the rough in electric was mostly approved by the inspector. Just have to bury the feed line as soon as the ground thaws enough to dig. The insulation subcontractor was here to put the stuff up that holds the insulation in. We are using blown in cellulose. Yesterday most of the shop got insulated and there was only about a half a day to finish but they never came back today. Our contractor was on the phone to see what the hold up is. We are scheduled to have dry wall loaded in via boom truck tomorrow and it may not happen since the insulation isn't done yet. Ah the joys of sub-contractors!

But we are making progress.

02 March 2008

24 Hours

Yesterday was the first of March. Full on spring, mud season well underway and water everywhere. Ditches are starting to run high and we were able to use the pump to fill the horse and sheep water tanks from the pond. The driveway had actually started to dry out a bit. Mud around the house and barn was just getting going.

Today it's back to winter. Woke up to about 3 inches of new snow, wet heavy spring snow. It rained first so what little was dry is now mud under snow. Now it's starting to clear and the temperature is climbing. I bet this will melt fast.

Shop Electric

Jake's been working on installing the electric service for the shop. Lots of wires, outlets and switches to get installed. Still waiting for the garage door to come in. Stuff is moving along well though.