Archive for October, 2006

Army humor

Monday, October 30th, 2006

Got a good joke today.  Mike – pass this on to your brother, I’m sure he’ll appreciate it.

Private Jones was assigned to the Army induction center, where he was to advise new recruits about their government benefits, especially their Serviceman’s Group Life Insurance (SGLI). It wasn’t long before the center’s Lieutenant noticed that Private Jones had almost a 100% record for insurance sales, which had never happened before. Rather than ask about this, the Lt. stood in the back of the room and listened to Jones’s sales pitch. Jones explained the basics of the SGLI to the new recruits, and then said. “If you have SGLI and go into battle and are killed, the government has to pay $200,000 to your beneficiaries. If you don’t have SGLI, and you go into battle and get killed, the government has to pay only a maximum of $6000. Now,” he concluded, “which bunch do you think they are going to send into battle first?”

Shearing time

Sunday, October 29th, 2006

Yesterday was shearing day here at the ranch.  We’ve got five sheep.  They were five wooly sheep…now they are five naked sheep :)

Catching sheep is an adventure in itself.  There is equipment available to make this job easier – squeeze shoots, loading ramps, trailers, etc.  We have none of this stuff.  Our sheep transport is my pickup with a camper shell.  To get the sheep in the truck, we made a small catch-pen, and lured them in with food.  I then proceeded to corner them and essentially tackle them, pick them up, and stuff them in the back of the trailer.  BTW – sheep do not seem to enjoy having their tummies rubbed vigorously while being held in the air.

What’s really amazing to me is that sheep seem to be passive-aggressive.  When you’re trying to catch them, they will run and do anything they can to avoid it.  When you grab them, they will squirm and wiggle and try to get away.  Once you have them picked up, they go totally limp and quit any attempts at resistance.

Shearing was fun.  I learned how to give sheep immunization and wormer shots.  I also learned how to trim sheep hooves – a very different (and easier!) process than trimming horse hooves.  We ended up with five bags of very high-quality wool.  It may sound silly (especially for a guy) but I’m suddenly interested in learning how to spin yarn, and knit.  Ah well, I’m secure in my masculinity, and I’ll sic my wife on any one who questions it (so just keep your witty remarks to yourself Mike, or it’s red-headed death for you!).

All in all, it was a very satisfying experience.  Maybe it’s dorky, but I really like the whole farmer/rancher thing.  I’ll have to add some more pictures – before and after shots.  Sheared sheep are really very amusing to look at.

Project complete

Saturday, October 21st, 2006

So, our new baby William is two-weeks old now, and believe it or not, I’ve found the time to start and complete a little project here on the ranch.

Our chickens have been living in their “summer residence”.  The coop they’ve been in consists of a rectangular frame that is 12′ x 8′, and has some 16′ cattle panels arched up and held in place by the frame.  It has a tarp over it to keep the rain out.  Looks like a miniature Quonset hut with a blue tarp on it.  Very light and airy for warm summer nights, but not so good when it starts to dip into the thirties and lower.

Today, I finished the “winter lodge”.  It’s not a work of art by any stretch, but it’ll keep the rain and snow off, and block the wind, and should be nice and toasty for chickens and ducks.  The new coop is approximately 9′ x 4′ and 6’6″ tall, and is all wood, except for some tin on the roof.  It’s got lots of roosting space, and six nesting boxes built in.

The new coop was built on the cheap.  I think I spent a grand total of $55.00.  We had a lot of material on hand, but it wasn’t the best stuff in the world to work with. 

After we bought this place, we discovered a junk/dump pile out on one edge of it.  I think every piece of property that has more than five acres has a dump on it somewhere.  It turns out that ours had some useful stuff in it.  There were three large pieces of plywood covering up a nice stack of 2x4s and 2x6s.  They were of varying lengths and some were rotted in spots, and I filled a coffee can with the nails I pulled out of them, but there was enough to fill the bed of my pickup completely.  I used all of the plywood, but I still have a stack of 2x4s and 2x6s left.

Consequently, the new coop is built like a tank.  It’s framed with 2x6s.  Overkill?  You bet…but it was free overkill ;).  I used the plywood for the roof, and some 2x4s for the sloped part of the roof.  I had two pieces of waffle board that were 4’x9′ and several other odd-ball sized pieces that were useable.  They came with the last house we owned, and we brought them along with us.  That’s why the coop is nine feet long…’cause I had the waffle board and I could use the whole thing to build the long walls with.  Quite a few of the 2x6s in the dump pile were 12′ long so it worked out pretty well.

It was a nice learning project, and I’m pleased with it over all.  I need to get some of that spray-foam stuff to seal up some of the gaps (a lot of the lumber in the dump pile was warped, so there’s gaps at the corners of the building).  I’m going to paint it before too long.  I think we’re going to paint it so it looks like a little house on the outside…windows with flower boxes and little people looking out and such…may as well have some fun with it.

My four-year-old “helped” me on this project.  It took four days of work (about 16-20 hours over four days), and she was there every day with me.  And it turns out she really was a big help.  She would bring me nails and screws, and the hammer and tape measure, and whatever I needed.  She was also very helpful with the chalk-line when I needed somebody to hold one end of it down.

In hindsight, I wish I had taken some pictures of the project as I was working on it.  Next time I guess.  I’ll definitely get before and after pictures when we paint it though :) 

Introducing William!

Thursday, October 12th, 2006

Ladies and Gentleman, Boys and Girls…here he is…the baby you’ve all been waiting for!  (Well, the baby WE’VE been waiting for!)

William Bernard Jackson!!!!

More pictures available here.