I Am No Sheep OB/GYN

As I shared in earlier posts, I have twice believed that we have passed the point at which more baby sheep could be born. This belief was based on when George died. Being wrong twice vexed me, so I looked up sheep gestation info again. Somehow I was a whole month off. Obviously in hindsight this makes perfect sense.  Also, based on how Pebbles looks she is still pregnant with twins. Based on my new calculations, she will have the babies any time within the next 12 days. 

But I’ve been wrong every other time I guessed. 

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Unbelievably Exciting Morning

Whoa nelly we have had a doozy of a morning!  The craziness started when I went outside to mark where I wanted a load of topsoil dropped.  As I walked past the sheep pen I had to do a double take.  We don’t have a lamb with a white spot on it’s head.  We do now!  Dorothy, our friendliest sheep, had a ram lamb this morning.  He is really cute, white on his head like he is wearing a hat, and white socks on his back legs.  Everything else is black.  He is really cute.

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Later, when the baby was taking his nap, I went out to make sure the roots of all the plants that had arrived yesterday were still damp.  While on my way out, I heard a bird that I didn’t recognize, and it was really loud.  I followed the noise to a tree, where I saw a bird that looked like my quail.  I immediately started running!  When I got to the quail hutch there was only one quail in it.  There were a bunch under the hutch so I ran to grab some nets.  The boys and I were able to catch 6 more so we have seven in the hutch, one in the tree, and one MIA.  During the craziness the three year old woke up the baby.  What had happened was that while I was filling the quail food, the new lamb actually fit through the fence so he was outside the fence.  I ran over to get him and forgot to go back to the quail.  The door to the quail hutch swings down, but it is bent enough that they were able to get out.

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Oh yeah, we got 10 yards of topsoil for potting the fruit.

Posted in DIY, Family, Farming, homeschool, homesteading, kids, Opinion, Outdoors, Preparation, sheep | 9 Comments

Drowning in Plants

I ordered fruit trees, nut trees, grape vines, berry plants, and some landscaping plants last fall to be delivered this spring.  Originally they were to be delivered in the middle of March.  I figured that wouldn’t work as the ground might still be frozen so I pushed it back to the middle of April.


The fruit shipment


Yesterday the shipment arrived, literally minutes after I finished reading an article about how the weather in Michigan is going to be much colder the next two weeks.  So rather than plant all of the material in this shipment this weekend as I had originally planned, I am going to pot them or plant them in trays, and keep them in the barn until it gets slightly warmer.

So this afternoon I went into emergency mode, trying to figure out what I needed to be able to plant everything and keep it in the barn.  I think I have enough containers and my wife picked up a bunch of aluminum baking trays from Dollar Tree to plant the berries and grape vines temporarily.  I am hoping I have enough buckets for the trees.  I also went to Tractor Supply and bought some Sphagnum moss and a couple bags of compost soil.  I also went to Costco and got some more potting soil, I am hoping I have enough.

The real kicker today was the second delivery I received.  A couple hours after the fruit delivery was made by Fedex, a UPS truck rumbled up the driveway.  The driver left two boxes next to the barn door and as soon as I saw them, I knew what they contained.  My brain flashed back to last fall, when I contacted the company from whom my dad had always bought our bare root evergreen trees.  I inquired about obtaining 100 Colorado Blue Spruce and 100 Norway Spruce in the largest size they had, which was the 10-16″ range.  They sent me an invoice for which I don’t ever remember sending a check.  My wife believes I did, but at this time that is neither here nor there.  A couple weeks ago I remembered the “order” and since I under the impression that a check had not been sent I emailed an apology and asked that if they still had trees in that size.  I told them I would be interested in 100 only of the Colorado Blues and that I would pass on the Norways for this year.  As of this time I have not received a reply to that email.  They had always been hard to get a hold of, and I understand that this time of year they must be unbelievably busy.  But, today I received all 200 trees.

This weekend rather than planting fruit trees, I will be potting them, and if I am lucky I will be planting evergreens.  The Spruces are more hardy, and shouldn’t be affected by the colder temperatures.  They are from a nursery in Michigan so they should be hardy to the temperatures.  The fruit trees are from Missouri, and some have budded so I am more worried about them.

If you happen to live local to me, and are interested in a few spruce trees, let me know.  I definitely don’t need all of them and I will sell them to you at a very reasonable price.  Fortunately I have help coming Saturday afternoon, but we also have other things going on this weekend.

Wish me luck, this weekend is going to be crazy.


All of the plants


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Garden Fence – Phase 2

In an effort to be as productive as possible with what time I have, yesterday afternoon I took the baby outside with me to work on the fence. The weather was beautiful, upper sixties and sunny, with a slight breeze. He watched from his stroller while I worked and the rest of the kids helped or played.

I found the post driver and was able to get all of the T posts in place. There were twenty posts in all. I still need to get the wood posts in the ground, I guess that will be phase 3.

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In the main pasture I made every fourth or fifth post a wooden one. In the garden area I am only using wooden posts at the corners and at gate locations. The runs are shorter, and while I may let the livestock in the garden area after the garden has been spent for the year, it should still be plenty strong.

Until next time.

Posted in building, Chickens, DIY, Family, Farming, Garden, homesteading, kids, orchard, Outdoors, Preparation, sheep | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Chicken Math

Chicken math is a well know concept among those with chickens.  At it’s core is the fact that chickens don’t use addition, only multiplication and exponents.  Case in point, here on the Homestead we were recently down to five hens.  Then we were offered a free rooster, which put us back at six chickens.  Next, I happened to see a post on Craigslist that was offering 6 three week old Rhode Island Red pullets for free.  The couple’s plans had changed and they were looking for a good home for the pullets.  Why not?  So we now have 12 chickens.  Did I mention that I have ordered 24 chickens to be delivered later this month.  To say that the new chicken coop is climbing up the “To-Do” list is an understatement.

The couple who gave them to us were very nice, they had just decided that this year wasn’t the year to get chickens for their situation.  I happened to be in the right place at the right time.  I did offer them a dozen and a half eggs since they wouldn’t be getting any from their chickens this year, and they happily accepted.  So we have some baby chicks chirping in the brooder.  Not only do I need to build a large chicken coop, but a transitional coop for these six to move to when the next 24 arrive.  It will be multipurpose though.  Something that I can use for meat birds, an infirmary, or isolation unit.

Fun times.

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Garden Fence

Sunday morning before going to church the older boys helped me mark out the fence posts for our garden/orchard area.  They were very helpful with helping set up the 100′ tape measure, running the string line, and marking where each post will need to go.  It was nice to get this marking out task done before going to Mass and the great weather was good for the soul.

After Mass and spending the afternoon with friends I was hoping to get some of the T posts pounded before needing to get the kids to bed.  When all the excitement happened with the new ewe lamb, plans changed.  After checking on mom and baby and fawning over how cute she is we were able to use the tractor to get all the T posts and wooden posts set out near their final location.  At least that was a step in the right direction.

Since this was the first time the tractor had been out since it had gotten warmer, everyone wanted a ride.  It was definitely worth taking time from pounding posts to see the joy on my kids faces, and honestly as a big kid myself I had a good time too!

Hopefully this week I can get all of the T posts set and get the post hole digger set up on the tractor so we can work on getting the gate and corner posts set this weekend.


This is the corner closest to the sheep pen gate now

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More Sheep

We were blessed enough to spend the afternoon at our good friends’ house. The kids got to play, the adults got to visit, and I learned how to set up a zipline, which I of course now want.

When we arrived home I was all set to start pounding posts (which will be talked about in another post shortly) when my son said, “Look, there’s another baby sheep!”

It’s a little girl and she is really cute.

I managed to catch our other two girls and their udders felt full so we may have more babies yet. But I have been wrong every other time I guessed.

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More Buckets!

I have posted about it before, but thought it was worth doing so again as we come into outdoor/gardening season.  Free buckets can be had at numerous places.  Pretty much any place with a deli or bakery has food grade buckets.  Most of them throw them away if no one asks for them.  So ask!  Tonight I was at Costco, I had met my wife there.  She left before me and took the kids while I did some shopping.  Normally when I am at Costco I have the baby in his car seat in the basket of the cart and my two daughters in the seats up front.  There is hardly room for the items we are buying let alone buckets.

So tonight, with a mostly empty cart, I took advantage and went asking for buckets.  They had several two gallon buckets and a few tops.  I told the gentleman that I would take them as is and wash them myself.  He felt bad and told me to go and do my shopping and that they would be clean when I got back.  God bless that man.

As you are aware, buckets have a multitude of uses, and food grade buckets more so.  I am toying with the idea of making chicken waterers and selling them on Craigslist so I will begin stockpiling buckets.

What non-traditional way do you use buckets?



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New Roo

As I mentioned here, we had to dispose of our last rooster as he was attacking people and I can’t have that.  My intent was to be rooster-less until the chicks that we get grow up and keep at least one rooster from them.  Best laid plans, right?

Less than a week later a friend of mine texted me asking if I wanted a rooster.  Someone he works with had an extra rooster and was looking to re-home it.  I told him as long as it was friendly I would be interested, and he responded that their kids picked it up and it had been hand raised.  So we have a rooster again!

He is an Icelandic so not nearly the size of Big Red, but he is far more colorful.  He is pretty skittish, in that he stays away from people.  The kids would like to be able to hold him, but I don’t think they will be able to catch him.  As long as he doesn’t go after people and he is good to the hens, I don’t really care if they can catch him.

I am not sure I will breed him on purpose, although if one of the hens goes broody and he is the father I would be ok with that.  Icelandic are supposed to be very hardy and good foragers, even if they are a bit smaller and lay a smaller egg.

He has yet to figure out the wind flaps covering the door so I am still having to put him in at night.  He has been perching right next to the door.  I am hopeful that he will figure it out soon, or as the temperatures rise, I may remove the flaps.

He doesn’t have a name yet, so I will have to update you on that when the kids give him a name.  He definitely adds some color to the flock as he is red, orange, white, and black.  Lastly, his crow is kind of funny, because it is so high pitched.

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Is That an Egg in Your Pocket, or are You Just Happy to See Me?

Easter Sunday I went to morning Mass.  Nothing out of the ordinary, right?  Helped out greeting, talked to some friends and then I was off.  Before heading home I needed to drop off my dad’s miter saw and some bags of grass seed at my parent’s house.  Then I was off home.  Upon getting out of the car when I got home, I had a wet sensation on my left hip.  I reached down and felt for what it could be, my hand returned with yellow goopy stuff on it.  I was starting to get worried.

Then I reached into my coat pocket on that side and felt….  egg shell.  That is when the light bulb went on.  The day before, Saturday, I had checked for eggs later in the day and there was one, which I slipped into my pocket and apparently forgot about.  So I went through all of Easter Mass, which included me hanging my coat over the seat and leaning back on it, lugging my dad’s heavy miter saw out of my and into his car, before the egg finally broke upon me getting out of the car.  It’s a miracle really, what a mess I would have made of Mass had it broken there.

Of course this isn’t the first time I have left an egg in my pocket.  Last winter I ended up at the bank on Saturday morning after coaching basketball.  I reached into my hoody pocket for some checks to deposit to find another kind of nest egg.  I offered it to the tellers but I think they were too surprised to accept.  Needless to say that was the first time they had been presented with an egg at the bank.

I love my life.

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