29 November 2009

Solar Update

Well it's been almost a year since we installed the solar hot water system to provide both domestic hot water and supplemental heat for our radiant floor system.

Several things we learned early on that have not changed over time.

We need to plan on doing most laundry and major hot water use in the afternoon on a sunny day to avoid using the propane heater.

The high angle of the panels means that we did not need to make any covers for them during the summer. We may still need to make a cover for one panel for the times around the fall equinox when we are not using much heat in the house yet but the sun is lower so the panels are getting more energy.

We had a couple of instances where we got some sort of bubble in the system and the panel temperatures soared and the pumps would not turn on to circulate the fluid. We've purged the system again and hope we have solved that problem.

Overall we reduced our propane usage by about half over the whole year. We may do a bit better now that we know more about how to handle the system.

The payback period for the system is still very long. Total installed cost was approximately $17,500.00. We saved approximately $1,600.00 in propane this first year making the payback almost 11 years. That could change if the price of propane goes up but also has changed a bit as the price went down from last year to this.

I still think in the long run it is a good idea.

19 November 2009

Sheep AI Experiment 2009 Part 2 - Sync the Ewes

Next on the sheep AI project is getting the ewes heat cycles synchronized.

We put CIDRs in all the ewes today. First group will be the AI girls. The second batch is a control group that will be bred via a live cover ram to test the sync procedure.

Here is Beatrix, Ken and Caren after the procedure with the rest of the live cover ewes looking on.

10 November 2009

Ewe Sorting and Some Lamb Vaccinations

We got one batch of the ewes sorted out. This group will go to the live cover ram as a control for the AI procedure. They are all now sorted into the breeding pen and have had their fall dewormer to kill the nose bots. The potential AI girls are now in the other pen closest to the sweep. I still need to sort out 2 of them as possible butcher sheep.

We also got the ram lambs dewormed and the late lambs got their second shots. Still have to do the ewe lambs as well as deworm adult rams and the AI girls.

We've got a batch of potential butcher ewes selected as well. Ten will be going to slaughter next week so no wormer for them.

04 November 2009

Sheep AI Experiment 2009 Part 1

Today was doing part one of the 2009 sheep AI experiment with USDA-NAGP people.

Today we collected semen from 14 adult Black Welsh Mountain rams.

Each ram has his picture taken in front of a size marked tarp for future reference.

No pictures of semen collection. It takes all of us to hold the ram so no one spare to take any pictures.

Afterwards we collect blood samples for B. ovis testing and additional samples if required for genetic testing and DNA sequencing.

The semen is evaluated, processed and frozen in liquid nitrogen in the temporary lab we set up inside our workshop.

We will collect all the rams again tomorrow.

03 November 2009

Feeding Sheep

Sheep are in the winter pens now. Here are the ewes eating hay and later a nearly empty feeder.

We are going through more hay than normal, but we also have more sheep than normal.

A good selection of ewes, ewe lambs and ram lambs for sale if you want your own flock of little black sheep.