Friday, April 30, 2010

Graduation Day

John's chickens graduated today from a cardboard box in the guest room to their new chicken coop in the barnyard.
Now all the animals can begin to get acquainted. Beau is very interested. Their squawking scared Sarah.

It was the perfect day for moving day. Tonight and the next few nights are suppose to be nice-- in the 60s. A couple of nights ago we had a frost.

I set them up with a red night light from my head lamp. Now they just have to get used to being outside and night sounds. I am a little nervous for them but they should be fine. I think they are going to love the outside world.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Today I went to the CO OP to get a couple more pieces for the fence project. I was looking for something to attach the positive wire from the controller to the perimeter fence. I did find some little hardware pieces but there were several in a package and I needed one and you needed a crimping tool. So I find a young girl who works there and we start talking and then she calls in Laura. Laura was my teacher today.

Richard Bach says in ILLUSIONS "Teaching is reminding others that they know just as well as you". Laura said today "we are women --we can do it" (or something like that) and then said we have to use our imaginations and do things differently. Well, that was just what I was telling myself yesterday but it didn't makes things any easier. I proceeded to tell Laura the story of the grounding rod and she took me over and showed me THE tool. She told me with this tool small people like us can do what others can do. It pounds in T bars and ground rods and that kind of thing and you stand up on the back of a pick-up truck to get it started. That is what I was doing the other day when I was trying to pound in the ground rod in a different location but I didn't have THE tool.

It is so exciting knowing that Laura and others like her are out there and I am not alone. I feel like I am going through farmers initiation-- like I have proved myself worthy of holding the answers of how things are done on a farm but I don't think I will ever achieve the full fledged title of farmer (too many hours and too much equipment). That is O.K. I just want to get some things done around with some kind of efficiency.


I think tomorrow I will be able to test the new temporary fencing and Beau and the girls will be so excited after watching me today and trying to climb over their pasture fence.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The time it takes

Today I was reminded about why I don't accomplish much somedays but I don't know what to do about it. The mission was to get a ground rod 4 feet down into the ground.

I decided I was going to have to dig a 4' deep hole with a post hole digger so I spent a half hour looking for the post hole digger. Finally, John finished the project he was working on and came down to look. He found it right away buried under something. Then he asks me what I am going to do with it and when I tell him he says you don't dig down you just pound it in. Four feet down through clay and you just pound it down? Now this ground rod is around 9-10 feet long so I ask him what I should use to cut it. Then he tells me you don't cut it you just pound it in the ground. He volunteers to do it and I excitedly awaiting this miracle feat. He goes around behind the Barret Grocery barn and comes back with his 6' saw horse and goes into the barn and comes back with a huge sledge (maul?) you can't call something that big a hammer. He gets up on the high horse and starts pounding. There was NO way I could have gotten up there and lifted that sledge high enough to drive the rod at all. I know because I was trying to drive the rod in the other day in a different location and decided to back the truck up and get on top of it and try to drive the rod with a sledge a fraction of the size. Today, at least I got to hold the rod so I wasn't completely useless. Ten minutes later, the job is done plus the the solar charger is on a mounting block custom cut and mounted on a fence post. Beau and the girls get very excited when they see saw horses and power tools-- they always have ever since John built them a barn.

Because I am not strong enough to do many things I want to get done I am always looking for another way. And for some reason the other ways I come up with always involve much imagination and alot more time.

I guess I will just keep on trying and when my dear, sweet, wonderful husband volunteers to help I will say THANK YOU -and maybe make some chocolate chip cookies.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A quiet day in the barnyard but a busy one for me

Rosemary, my longest standing friend (since 1968), is visiting from Maine. When Rosemary comes we do alot but we just do what comes to mind at any given time So you never know what we are going to accomplish in the end. Today we washed some fleece, dug trenches for asparagus roots, carded some alpaca Rosemary brought me, spun some alpaca, went to the CO-OP to pick up some fencing stuff, made dinner, knit some and I can't remember what else.

Before all of this I cleaned the barn and talked to Beau and the sheep. The critters were pretty low key this morning -- just scratching on all their favorite things

and eating lots of minerals. It is funny how sometimes I don't see them eating their minerals for a long while and then it seems like they can't get enough of it.

"got minerals"

Tomorrow we are going to do river stuff with 4th graders but hopefully I will have time in the afternoon to dig a 4' deep hole for a ground rod for the new electric fencing. The girls and Beau will hopefully have another quiet day in the pasture and I told them they could probably go out in the afternoon. They love traveling.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

And Annie makes 6

Annie, the smallest of the sheep and one of the Finns, was shorn today which completes shearing for this season unless I get motivated to even them up a little. They are a bit shabby. Actually I do have one small area of Sarah that got missed. Beau will get sheared next month because llamas don't tolerate the cold as well as sheep. I think I mentioned, one of the sons of the woman I got Beau from is going to shear Beau. I am interested to see how that goes.

Annie, though small, took a long time. She was nervous like Mira and kept her head down most of the time. Sarah stayed with her and was great.

Looking back on the whole affair, I don't know if I would change anything for the next time. I have already forgotten the hard parts (except for the last 2). Maybe it would be good to start with Mira and Annie next time. Someone remind me.

I am SO impressed with Karen and my abilities as sheep shearers but not ready to hire us out yet.

On to the next project---- rotational grazing.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The week long project

It is a GOOD thing we only have one Mirabai!!! She was by far the toughest and had so much fleece. I didn't think we would EVER get to the end of shearing her.

Mira is one of the friendliest of the 6 sheep. She always comes up and wants me to rub under her chin. Today, that was all she wanted me to do-- instead of shearing her. She was almost like a dog (don't stop). As soon as I would get my shears again she would flip out. She is the one who always plays tough and yet she was the scaredest of all. Karen said maybe she just didn't want to ever get her hair cut.

Well it took forever and she sort of broke the sheep lounge chair which was my fault BUT we finished her. Yay!!!!

Here are some photos.

Mira before getting shorn.

Then she was like this for a week while I mustered up the energy to try again.

We did it! I owe Karen BIG TIME.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

You Just Never Know

Today being Sunday, I wanted to take it easy, But then I remembered how much I have to do this week and how my days are going to be broken up with stuff I committed to in the outside world, So I decided I better get another sheep sheared.

Some day I am going to find an efficient way of getting the sheep I want where I want but it wasn't going to be today. I had planned to shear Annie because I was solo today and I certainly wasn't going to attempt to finish Mira alone (more on that later). Annie is the smallest Finn sheep and I wanted to know what I was in for before shearing Sarah. The Finn have different fleece, different skin, different tails, different faces .... The Finn are also more skiddish or at least mine are.

Though not efficient, at least I have learned how to go with the flow and be flexible so when Sarah (the bigger Finn) and Amelia ended up in the pen I decided it was Sarah's turn. I was trying to decide if I should flip her or try to get her in the new sheep lounge chair when I realized I had her backed into a corner and she wasn't trying to go anywhere so I started clipping.

Sarah was a dream to shear! She didn't get anxious and pant heavily, she didn't jump the fence TWICE (like someone I know), she didn't go in circles or flip around, she stood still and licked my fingers and turned when I wanted her to. Amelia on the other hand, wanted out and crowded us and kept stepping on my foot. We ignored her as long as we could and then finally let her out.

Sarah looks Beautiful and now I have two black sheep. The neighbors driving by must think I have new sheep. Even Mira seemed to think so. With Sarah pretty much done (except her belly and one piece I missed up top), that just leaves the smallest and finishing the biggest.

Reading this makes it sound like the sheep are really shabby looking but they really aren't too bad considering it was my first time shearing. Pictures tomorrow or soon.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


When our girls were young, SHEEP IN A JEEP was one of their favorite books. We would read it over and over and every time I would cringe at all the trouble those sheep got into.

Today, I was having lunch down at the cabin and hanging out with the sheep while they grazed the cabin lawn. I was thinking the sheep are getting calmer and not running around and around the cabin as much so I stopped getting up every few minutes to check on them. Then I suddenly realized no sheep or llama was in sight. I did a quick run around the cabin calling them but no sight or sound. I ran up to the barn to get a bowl of grain and went to see if I could find a trail.

Yes, there is a small break in the fence but it is way back away from the succulent grass and not easy to see. I wonder who found it. As I headed into the woods that goes down to the spring and down toward the road, that classic childhood book came flooding into my mind.

It really didn't even help knowing Beau was with them. I couldn't believe how quickly they were completely out of sight. I picked up their trail and called them but no answer. More sheep stories racing through my mind, I took the direction of the house instead of the deeper woods and the road and spied Beau in the front yard. I am so glad sheep, unlike cattle, stick close together and there they all were.

The sheep all gladly followed me back to the barnyard to the sound of grain in a bowl but Beau held back a ways contemplating his options. Beau will come back for grain but it is always in his time so he looks smarter than the sheep.

Enough excitement for today--I think I will work with some of the new shorn fleece for awhile.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Half way done.

This was Charlotte a few days ago.

Not quite done but mostly. Charlotte's fleece seemed much thicker than the last two. It took a long time to shear her but the new lounge chair helped.

How different she looks. Not only is her hair short but it is black now. The sheep took a bit longer to realize it is still Charlotte but Beau knew. He didn't seem fazed. She is also much smaller and that must throw them off. I know it is all about smell but still they looked at her differently.

Next is Mira -- she will either be easy or a week long project (I will know tomorrow) Stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

One down 5 to go




WE DID IT!!! I started Hildegard Saturday and got the saddle area done. Then I gave H. a few days off and Karen and I finished her today. H. says YAY! Hildegard was actually very patient and fairly cooperative but she let me know I was taking way to long. I think she came out looking pretty good though and NO blood.

And she still has friends even though she looks different.

It really wasn't hard just time consuming.

Hildegard looks so young now. I am getting my hair cut tomorrow I hope it doesn't take as long AND I hope it makes me look younger.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Counting sheep

I know you have all been waiting for this title.

Our pasture is slow to come in with the sheep and Beau eating all the time and it is just slow so I have been trying different ways of moving them to different areas where "the grass IS greener".

Today, I didn't have much time so I let them go over to the cabin lawn where the grass is much longer and great. When they go over to the cabin I expect them to just hang out and graze in one area for awhile but no; they keep moving around and around the cabin. I want to sit in a chair by the door and get some work done like emailing our accountant in MA with some info she needs or other such stuff I should be able to do while watching sheep but here is what happens-- one sheep will get over enthusiastic about an area and run there which makes everyone else think she has found something special so they all run that way out of sight around back. For some reason this makes me nervous so I get up and check on them. As time goes on I wait a little while longer and they eventually come around again---- 1,2,3,4,5,6. Beau would be content hanging out in one spot longer but when all the sheep leave what is he going to do?

Every time I give them hay I count to make sure they are all there. One time there were only 5 and I had to find Hildegard. This was last year at the end of the growing season, I think, and they were all foraging and coming back with vines attacked. Hildegard had managed to get tangled in one of those huge bittersweet vines big enough for Tarzan and Jane. I had to go untangle her. Good thing I counted that time.

One thing for sure though, I don't count sheep at night or I would have nightmares all night about one or two missing and having to go find them.