Thursday, November 24, 2011

New pac boots on new snow

It's Thanksgiving Day in America. I'm thankful for warm feet.

My old pac boots blew out. They developed a crack in the rubber, and so whenever the snow was slushy, the felt liners would get wet, and my feet would get cold.

This was no fun for me. Since I have to go out every day to tend the sheep, I prefer to have dry feet.

The old boots came from LL Bean and so we took them back to the store and received partial credit of $51. But I didn't like the looks, nor the price, of the replacement LL Bean snow boots. At $210, they were expensive, and they weren't even what I think of as proper snow-pacs. All futuristic-looking black plastic, they might not have looked out-of-place under a Darth Vader costume.

So we went online and discovered that although the LaCrosse company has also switched to fancy new boot types that look like they come out of the "Transformers" movie, they still sell their old-style classic Snow-Pac.

At $110, these were good value. I've had a previous pair of LaCrosse snow pacs, and they work great.

With the serious winters we get up here, you have to take boots pretty seriously if you want to be safe and comfortable.

Warm feet are happy feet.

I gave my $51 LL Bean store credit card to Aimee. She'll spend it.

The snow arrived early Wednesday morning, and it blew pretty well until afternoon. As soon as it stopped I went out with my new boots to start up the tractor and plow.

Then I took some pictures with my forty-dollar camera. I had to switch to the "macro" setting to snap the new boots, and I left it there for a shot of a layer that was happily laying until I disturbed her with the camera, and this ewe-nose.

Tillie, our number one sheep, wanted to get in on the camera action.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Laundry machine mangled

Here's the filter of our laundry machine, a GE front loader only five years' old. Those stringy shreds are plastic swarf from the guts of the machine. The inner basket became out-of-round somehow, and tore these shreds off the tub.

To the point where not only did it make a horrible noise and have to be shut down, but the tub became perforated by the wear in several places.

I off course stripped it down completely to inspect the damage, and then priced the parts online. The half-tub section we needed was $160, the stainless steel basket $545.

We went to Home Depot and bought a new model, slightly larger and stronger, on sale for $499.

But we went for the extended warranty this time.

Now I have our garden cart loaded with laundry machine parts. I have to waste them. They look brand new. I may try to sell them online.

Low dollar, though.

Hopefully someone can afford to fix their machine, that way.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Apples for sheep and Haggis's cough

We had Open House at school today -- a hundred and thirty students, as well as parents and even some grandparents, came to visit. As a result, Aimee and I were both tired when we got home and both took a nap. Aimee's still asleep.

I woke up feeling better after an hour or so, and went out with Haggis, AKA coughalopagus these days, to see about some sheep treats.

Our neighbors apple tree has shed all these golden delicious type apples, which are very sweet and tasty for sheep after so many frosts. Their sugar content must be sky high. The sheep crave them, and so do the whitetail deer, who come out of the woods at night to eat them, and then melt away in the early morning before deer hunters see them

The sheep saw me filling the buckets under the tree and started bleating for apples before I was anywhere near done.

In other news, Haggis has been back to the vets and has his diagnosis: He has laryngeal paralysis, not lymphoma.

This is a good thing, as such things go, because laryngeal paralysis is a good deal less terminal than lymphoma. He's going to die of old age in a few years' time, not cancer in a few short months.

This is a satisfying diagnosis too, in that it explains all his symptoms, the coughing, the inability to cool down in summer, even the response to his exposure to the cellulose insulation.

It doesn't make him feel any better to know any of this, but we're glad he's getting better. He has to take cortisone tablets twice a day, and we upped his rations because he lost so much weight. He fell to seventy-four pounds from eighty-eight. He's especially spoiled because it's hard for him to eat dry kibble because of his sore throat.

Now he gets a whole can of dog food, not once, but twice a day. With a cortisone tablet stuck in it.

What a spoiled puppy. He spends much of his day sleeping off all this overeating, lying still and trying not to cough.

Monday, November 7, 2011


Bentley, our new ram, arrived Friday causing quite a stir among the ewe-thful inhabitants of Womerlippi Farm.

But he was unable to get directly down to the job for want of some work on a secure pen for him. Rams are inherently large and rambunctious critters and need to be pretty well caged in 24/7. The population of the Great Farm may be low these days but it includes one pensioner and one toddler, either one of which could easily be hurt or even killed by a charging 250 pound ram, and so we needed to be sure that our animal was secure.

I started Saturday by making an eight-by-five foot shed-roofed ram shelter. This didn't take long. I used the nail gun and the miter saw, among other labor-savers.

Then came the problem of moving it to the right spot. Made using two-by-four hemlock with plywood sheathing, the new building was heavy. This had to wait for a couple of hours on Sunday, after we discovered Bentley pushing his way through the woven wire field fence to get to the ewes. He was easily disentangled, by the simple expedient of pulling on his back leg, but it was clear that he could pop the welds on the fence anytime he felt like it, unzipping a large ram-sized hole for him to toddle through on some lustful adventure.

Seeing the writing on the wall, I was off to the Farmer's Union like a shot, to get some sturdy welded cattle panels which seem like they will hold him.

One half of his pen was already fenced with pig panels, made of the same quarter-inch steel rod as the cattle panels, plus two strands of barbed wire. This arrangement may eventually need to be replaced with the taller cattle panels.

Bentley secured, I did the usual Sunday chores, and then jacked the new shelter up a couple feet off the ground with the vehicle jacks and jack-stands. While it was so conveniently situated to save my back, I gave it two quick coats of white waterproof and rot-proof paint.

The next job was to take the sides off the utility trailer so the ram shed would fit underneath the jacked-up shed. This also went fairly easy.

Letting the four target ewes and Bentley out into the Back Forty to get them out of the way, and thus at the same time beginning the official Womerlippi Farm mating season, I used the Bolens tractor to maneuver the ram shed into the proper position. Then came the metal roof, which I'd left off to save some weight and to give me less width to get past that coppiced ash tree in the ram pen.

By late afternoon Bentley and his harem were suitably imprisoned.

All in all, I'm content enough with the fruits of my labors.

I think he can still get out if he wants, by going right over the pig panels and their barbed wire, but the five foot cattle panels stand between him and the baby and granny ewes, and as long as that remains the case, I don't think he'll escape. But as soon as I have an extra hundred dollars, we'll switch out those pig panels for cattle panels.

I don't mind the expense. We'll need them for the pigs anyway.

Here's a shot of Bentley in action. I have to say, he is an energetic fellow. Molly here got the proper treatment several times during the afternoon. But his doohickey doesn't seem to extend the way it should. It seems to remain quite firmly sheathed.

I do hope this isn't a problem. This ram has been an expensive project.

We can probably afford more cattle panels, but I don't think we can stretch to Viagra.

Friday, November 4, 2011


Here's "Bentley", AKA "Birch Branch 30," our new ram.

Bentley motored over from Pittston today, albeit in the back of an ordinary American farm pick-em-up truck, not a swanky British motorcar.

He had scratched his nose somewhere along the way, and so had to be sprayed with Blue-Cote, but other than that he seems fine and certainly has a suitable set of equipment dangling behind.

I say suitable, because Mr. Bentley is what you might call a journeyman, and he has a journeyman's job of work to do, which is to impregnate the four ewes that we have ready to breed this season.

(There are two "granny" ewes, Tillie and Jewel, and four baby ewes, but they all have to be kept away from Mr. Bentley, lest he molest the yearlings before their time, and so he doesn't trouble the grannies.)

Of course, the arrival of a new ram was cause for some stir among the ewes.

"Hello sailor!" "Why don't you come up and look at my hay sometime?"

Unfortunately, the grannies led the pack.

Dirty old ladies. At their age, too.