Friday, March 30, 2012

Pictures as Promised

Some people just have dogs to welcome them home after a day away. I have first the chickens and then the sheep. Beau is not always all that enthusiastic but I know he loves me.

Here is my new lid for the soaking or washing tub.

The birdhouse I made yesterday. Can you see the perch?

My new gate to get out to the hedgerow, now with 4 trees and 4 shrubs.

click on pictures to enlarge

Much was accomplished this week and the week isn't over yet. Went to the Liabilities Issues workshop today and came home with loads of new information and some new contacts.

Tomorrow is Ruckus Day. Yay.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

"What Day Is It"

It stays light way too late here on the farm and tonight I didn't even stop at dark. Another busy day and warm in the afternoon so I worked outside morning and evening and did other farm related things in the middle of the day.

Tomorrow, I am going to a workshop sponsored by the Fields of Gold agri-tourism group, on liability issues on the farm. Unfortunately, liability insurance is a necessary thing in this country. I won't go into all that here- I'll just say, I am going.

I got a new lead on a shearer from VA Tech. Today, I kept trying to psyche myself into thinking it might not be too bad if I end up shearing just incase it comes down to that.

Picked up 4 bales of straw from my favorite place and caught up with Sheri on what she is creating with wool these days. Also, found out I could get some more fleece washing bags from them for less than $1 a piece (somethings are still a bargain). I read a new article on washing fleece that is the best article I have found thus far. Learned a couple of things I have been doing wrong. Now, I hope to have consistently good fleece to spin.

John made me a wooden lid for my big wash tub- really cool. I am so luck to have this guy in my life. I asked him if he had a 32" square piece of plywood I could have to put on top of my tub. He asked me if I wanted it round like the tub and I said, "sure" and threw in "with a handle on top".

Jen sent me an email with a picture of some felt birdhouses a couple of days ago so I decided to make one this afternoon. I think it is a good idea because wool is very insulating. I am going to hang this first one out by the barn. Sorry no pictures today- just didn't think about it. I will post pictures of this weeks accomplishments, tomorrow.

The sheep have been good about the electric fence. When the sheep and Beau are in the lower pasture, I have to run a wire across the driveway to connect to the electric. It is higher than the sheep but not Beau. Beau was quick to learn how to duck under it though. He is smart and polite llama. Must be nice to not have so many things on your mind that you focus on the fence. Last night I was putting hay in the hay feeders and touched the top wire. Fortunately, I filled the side where the electric is off first, so I didn't get zapped. And I remembered long enough to be careful on the second hay feeder.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Back To Work

It was nice to get away for a weekend. Went to DC to see the cherry blossoms and some memorials. The animals were cared for by neighbors but I guess it RAINED (some say several inches).

Today, my big sweetie helped me finish the fencing on the upper pasture. It is electric and Mary already got zapped. I told her I was sure I would get zapped, probably more than once. We put a gate in so I could continue planting the hedgerow.

The sheep and Beau are enjoying the new area and John also helped me redo the electric fence down below ( now electrified). The animals had no respect for the fence before it was electrified and made a mess of the wire. I hope it will work better. The sheep are SO wooly right now that it will be hard for them to get zapped except maybe on their noses. As we were finishing up John already had to remind me not to do something I was going to do. Thanks John. Maybe I won't get shocked until tomorrow.

Did some carding of some of Charlotte's wool and Beau's soft llama coat. I love having everything up in the shed even if it isn't quite organized. Lots of light but out of the sun. It is going to be a great place to work during the middle of the days.

Can't believe how long the grass is already. Some areas need to be mowed. It is going to be a long mowing season I am afraid. Can't have the sheep do it all because the grass in the yard is too rich for them for much more than an hour after eating hay for the winter. There is plenty of grass for awhile in the lower pasture but again a little at a time at the first of the season is always a good practice. We got busy today with the fences and the sheep had to remember on their own to go back to the barnyard. They are so smart.

So much Spring work to do but, I think, I too should do it gradually.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Home Grown Medicine

The hedgerow is started. The first resident is a tulip poplar (click on photo), waiting to join are a couple of ash trees, a crabapple, some viburnum, a redbud tree, and some goldenrods. They are hanging out for two days until the electric fence is up.

This hedgerow is going to give the animals the nutrients they need as well as some good ole medicine that they pick out for themselves. It is also suppose to eliminate the need for a fence to divide the main pasture.

I can't wait until they are able to select their own medicine. I have been selecting for them and it is complicated. Two days ago, I ordered a gallon of Garlic Barrier and it came today. It is concentrated garlic juice and very strong smelling. I spilled about a teaspoonful on the kitchen counter and washed it right away. A little while later, I went down to give some to the animals. I put it on some grain -- mixed with molasses, pumpkin seeds, and dry thyme. The critters have had a history with a milder version of garlic juice and it didn't phase them. I am so glad they took it readily. When I came back to the house and opened the door I could still smell garlic --potent stuff indeed. Hope it works well to deter parasites.

The 10 drops of turpentine mixed in 1 oz of linseed oil really helped Mary a couple of weeks ago but now I need to get to a point where I don't need to take such drastic measures. Today, I was reading the difference between linseed oil and flax seed oil. They both come from the flax plant which also produces linen. The difference is apparently in the way it is produced. Linseed oil is made by heating the seed to a high temperature sometimes using chemicals. Flax oil is usually cold pressed. One article said the difference is that linseed oil should not be taken internally. Another article I found, written in 1812 by Dr. Peter Smith in the Indian Doctors Dispensatory, said he gave his whole family linseed oil for worms. He used a teaspoon of linseed oil with a teaspoon of sugar or molasses. I think it is a conspiracy telling people not to take linseed oil internally, because it is so much cheaper than flax oil. Who knows about the way it is made now though so maybe I will try flax seed oil the next time.

There is much to be learned in the way of dispensing medicine so I hope the hedgerow grows very quickly.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

New People, Places, and Things

One Branch at a time, I am clearing the new extension of pasture behind the garage/barn. It's actually going pretty well.

Last sumer, I looked at the area and thought "would be nice but a lot of work", a few weeks ago I looked at it and thought " if I am going to do it, I better do it soon". A few days ago I thought, "might not be so bad". Then I started and it is going amazingly well- the clearing- we'll see about the fence.

A few hours later......

We are done. The fence actually went up rather quickly, after I finished the clearing. John helped and that made a huge difference. And NO rocks and many soft places.

We let the animals into the area and at first they didn't notice the fence was moved.

Then, Sarah noticed some longer grass on the line between the old and the new and then went a little further. Gretta noticed the rose bushes; she's one of the more enthusiastic browsers in the flock.
Some were a little nervous at first but then most went to explore.

Some went back to the other side and got hay out of the hay feeders instead. Some creatures are always happier with what is familiar. It is funny to watch sheep check things out closely. They are always scrutinizing what I am carrying . They don't like new tools they haven't seen before. I always forget I am carrying something new and they all look at me and run and I can't figure out why they are afraid all of a sudden and then I remember I am carry something that they don't recognize. The other day, though, I was down in the lower pasture with them, knitting with circular needles with a ball of yarn down the front of my jacket and many of them came up one by one to see what I was doing. They were fine with the knitting. All the animals are leery with new people around but they get used to people quickly.

It is amazing that this big project can now be checked off the list- yay! And earlier in the week Kathleen helped me do the new bed by the door for lettuce, greens, and peas. Yesterday, we dug up two trees that needed to find a new home. L. from the native plant society, was very glad to send them off.

Still some big projects to go, but the list is getting shorter.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Mental Ramblings

With this full moon, I have not only been awake at night with my mind spinning and coming up with all kinds of new ideas, but also I have been having wild dreams. I am So sleepy.

Bill and Kathleen are here and some projects are getting done. Tomorrow, we are setting up the electric fence between the barnyard and the pasture and maybe designating the hedgerow area. That will be a big accomplishment.

I keep looking for Jumpin Jack, I miss him. I guess it was worms that were the issue; the day after, Mary was very sick. I have been giving her all kinds of treatments- more details later. She seems to be doing much better, but has a ways to go. She is stronger than she has been in a while. Very interesting. Too tired to write, but important to make notes. I have learned a lot in the last week. More later.

The weather has been spectacular; things are beginning to dry out. Still very soggy in some areas but I have ideas to correct the problem in the future. I have been cleaning up the barnyard and the new green grass is so wonderful to see. The sheep have been migrating from place to place and loving it. They have also been doing a lot of running and jumping. Sure seems like Spring but it is much too early.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Death is a Part of Life

Especially, living on a farm, I think I am closer to "Death is a Part of Life". Yesterday morning Jumpin Jack died. He was a sweetheart. He was never a vibrant sheep after his worm issues last summer. He was always a bit slower than the others but he maintained. I had just started giving him a tonic that I thought might help and a couple of days ago he seemed a bit better but alas, I woke up yesterday and he was dying.

I was sitting on the ladder in the barn, Monday, with some hay on my lap and Jumpin Jack and four others were eating the hay. I remember thinking " this is good, he still likes me after I give him the medicine and he seems a bit better".

So what was it? I really don't know. No coughing, no any noticeable symptoms just not peppy.

I gave him his space in the last couple of hours and watched the others come check on him. I checked in on him but most sheep are stressed more by human contact so I talked to him and then kept doing chores around the barn and barnyard. He did not seem to be suffering in any way so I let him die in peace.

I was given a beautiful day to lay him to rest next to Hildegard. I did shear him after he died since he had a beautiful full fleece. I will make something special to remember him by.

This was always one of my favorite pictures of Jumpin Jack