22 June 2008

Chicks are Growing

The baby chicks are growing well and feathering out nicely. We already turned off the big heater and now only have a couple of heat lamps for them at night. Soon we'll be able to turn those off too.


Baxter Painting is here to do the shop. We decided an all red shop would be too glaring so instead are going for white body and red trim. It's still bright but should be nice and cool in summer.

12 June 2008

Right at Home

I guess the pile of wood shavings mulch makes a great bed/lookout area!

Sheep and Chickens

The spare sheep has settled right in. He hardly even moves now when we go outside. He is eating the hay for the horses and donkey and we've had to move sheep away from where he is. I sure wish he'd head on out to somewhere else.
The new batch of chickens is growing well too. They are now off the main newspaper litter and on pine shavings. We still put the food and water on paper. Four have died but the rest are doing well.
Meanwhile it's time to put the adult rams and the ram lambs together into one big ram bunch. We sorted out one old ram who will go to slaughter at the end of this month and 2 who are sold and will travel together to their new place in a couple of weeks. The rest of the rams, all 27 of them, are now crammed in together in the mixing pen. We start out with a bunch of hay bales in the pen and the feeders full. It's small enough that if they all lay down at once they cover the floor with sheep. The idea is not to let them get a big enough space to be able to run and bash each other too much. By the time the hay bales are gone they are getting better. We slowly open up the pen giving them more and more space until in a couple of weeks they are now one big ram bunch. It takes a while to get them to sort out who's boss but this has worked for us for several years and seems to be the best way to integrate the youngsters with the old boys.
The ewes, lambs and replacement ewes are now all in one bunch grazing. Pastures are doing well and the lambs are growing well. We should be getting 30 days weights this week and we'll see how they are doing then but just looking at them most are looking very good.

07 June 2008

Spare Sheep

We have a spare sheep today. A Rocky Mountain big horn ram. A young one by the look of the horns. He was in the grazing pen with our sheep out in the yard. We scooted ours back into the corrals and took down the fencing. That's the end of the grazing the front lawn for a while I guess.

The guard dogs do not like him and bark at him a lot. They ignore deer so I'm not sure why they think he is a threat.

06 June 2008

Snow on Mt. Lamborn & Chicken Arrival Day

6 June and there was fresh snow on Mt. Lamborn this morning. At least this time I got a picture. Over the last day we've gotten almost half an inch of rain and the Grand Mesa got 4 inches of fresh snow. The rains will be really good for establishing our pastures.

Today was also chicken arrival day. We raise some chicks each year. Usually we get both meat broilers and some laying hens but this year we decided to just raise one batch of meat birds. Our hens from last years chicks are doing well and should last through another winter. We buy our chicks from Ideal Hatchery in Texas. The baby chicks are packaged and sent via the post office. We get a call from them early in the morning as soon as the truck arrives with the mail.

We went to town, knock at the post office back door and get our box of chicks. Then home to the already prepared brooder. I now dip each chicks beak in the water as I take them out and count them. We ordered 100 and Ideal shipped 104. That's to cover any early losses. The chicks are looking bright and alert and doing well. I think waiting until later in the year is a good idea.

I know that all hatcheries say not to use newspaper for baby chicks because it can cause problems with their legs. But their suggestion, burlap, is not available locally. We used to be able to get some feed in burlap sacks but now it's all in paper bags. So I use newspaper and try to get them off and on to shavings as soon as I am sure they are eating well and know what the food is.

The red broilers we get grow a bit more slowly than commercial white broilers but they are much more active foragers. Their color also makes them less of a target for the hawks and eagles. We expect these birds to be at slaughter size the end of August.

04 June 2008

The Woolevator

The new shop second story is a long ways up there. When we stored wool in the old Red Barn loft you could toss the wool boxes up and the person in the loft could catch them. But the new shop is much too tall for that. While going up and down the stairs may be good exercise, when there are something like 100 fleeces to move that's a lot of trips even if you carry several at once. West welded up the crane, we added an engine hoist and Ken built a wooden platform to hold the boxes.

So we had a wool elevator made. Here it is being installed. The idea is that you put the boxes on the platform and use the hoist to haul them up. When it's not in use the crane assembly can swing back into the shop upper story and you can close the doors.
Today Ken and I moved all of the 2008 fleeces out of the hay barn an used the woolevator to get them up to the second floor of the new shop.

It worked really well and was easy to do. Once the fleeces are up there my plan is to set up the skirting table and do final skirting and preparation for sale upstairs. I do a preliminary skirting as we are shearing but this is the final more detailed skirting.

There's plenty of room to store the unskirted fleeces, the skirted and packaged for sale fleeces and still put in all the looms and have space to hold fiber guild meetings or do other craft work. I can't wait for the final bits to be done.