Friday, November 21, 2014

Lookit, Mom, Lookit !!

Holly saw a junco picking grit off the dirt just outside the breezeway door.  She was fascinated watching him hop around and wanted to get him. so. bad.

 Can I has that leetle feathered mousie??
I would love him and hug him and squeeze him and bite him.  And call him George.
She is grim death on rodents and birds look like airborne mice to her.  There was a Chicken Incident a few years ago where someone's pet bantam lost some tail feathers here.  In fairness, Holly didn't go searching for the chicken - it had been riding in the cab of the truck with the kids (!) and they let it out.  No permanent damage done but had the oldest boy not been fleet of foot to the rescue..... eeesh.

Now if there was just a way to get all the pigeons around here in a room with her for 10 minutes.  ;-)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Austerity Budget

Times are tough.  Our cats are reduced to sitting in "wish-it-was-a-box" boxes.

"Seriously?  This is the best you can do for me? "
Cheer up, Calvin.  Christmas IS coming.....Santa Claws might bring you something better.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Back To The Woods

It was starting to snow lightly when we finished morning chores but it wasn't enough to prevent Andy from cutting some more trees for firewood. Here he's already cut out the wedge from the leading side of the tree - that lets it tip in the direction you want it to fall - and now he's cutting the backside to release the mass and let gravity take over.  Where he stops and looks around the trunk he's checking to see that his chainsaw bar is aiming properly toward the inside angle of the wedge. Sorry the lighting is weird - the phone was more concerned with the light sky than the ground.

Holly went along of course - couldn't let her miss a good woods outing.  Since deer season starts Saturday (gun, that is - bow season has been going on for a while) we weren't sure who might be in the woods scouting around so we made her nice and visible.

She really doesn't mind wearing her vest.  She poked around in the leaves behind me for a while and when it became obvious that I was parked instead of going walkies she came and camped out at my feet.  As soon as the chips had settled she had to check out the downed trees.
This tree had a streak running down one side similar to the mark it might have had if it had been hit by lightening at some point.  Andy walked the length of it trying to decide if any part of it could be used as a log to saw into lumber and she followed him.  I tried to catch her running the length of the tree but she was too quick!  Once she started going onto the skinnier branches Andy lifted her down as he was afraid she'd fall off.

It was snowing harder after he had been cutting for an hour but by that time he had dropped enough trees to keep himself busy for the next few days.
I was cold and looking forward to warming up with toasted cheese sandwiches and tomato soup for lunch!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Take a Coat - Winter's Coming

A sheep coat, that is.  But they aren't for warmth - the sheep have that well in hand - they are for cleanliness of the wool.  Pastures have stopped growing and have been eaten down as short as we can allow - the plants need some reserve to survive the winter and start growing in spring.  Now that we have officially reached hay feeding season and pasturing is over the fleeces need protection from the dreaded VM (vegetable matter) that contaminates fleece and renders it undesireable to hand spinners.

We went through the flock yesterday to weigh and deworm as necessary and put coats on everyone that's not a Cotswold.  With our good hay feeders the Cots seem to be able to shake enough chaff out of their fleeces that the benefit of coating would be minimal compared to the extra effort and risk of felting under the coat.  The sheep coat 'closet' consists of four large Rubbermaid totes holding clean, laundered coats in sizes from little lamb to gigantic ram.  Some have been patched rather a lot.
The coats have a solid panel across the brisket and straps that go around the hind legs.  Slip it over a sheep's head and step their legs through the straps.  Voila - coated sheep.

The Cotswold lambs that were shorn early last month have already grown back a lot of wool and have no need of a coat for cleanliness or warmth.  (We did coat some shorn Cotswold yearlings last spring because they got chilly with NO wool).
Freckles:  "No fair!  Why can't we still run naked too?"
This was likely the last warmish sunny day we'll have for a long time.  The forecast now is for rain, dropping temperatures and then snow..... more snow.....cold.... etc.  The flock (except for breeding groups of course) spent the day eating and wandering from one area's hay feeders to another and just hanging out in the yard enjoying the sun and the view.

Peanut:  "Being outside is OK, but you get more scritches when you're inside."
Smart little sheep.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Off to the Woods

Getting in enough firewood for the year is always a big job.  In a perfect world there would be time in the summer to cut some now and then and by this time of year there would be plenty - maybe even some to start the following year's supply - and all Andy would have to do would be to get it stacked down cellar and out by the other boiler that heats our two shops. 

To date, we are not living in a perfect world. 

However, today was a perfect morning to get a bunch of trees on the ground so that's what we did.  Once they are on the ground Andy and I are both comfortable with him working alone to limb them out and get the logs home but the actual felling of trees is not something a person should ever do without another person present in case help should be needed.  Too much can go wrong even when you are careful and following the rules. 

Holly loves the woods.  She stays right near me while Andy is cutting but it's not because she's scared.  She actually does. not. care. when the trees creak and come crashing down.  Doesn't even flick an ear.  She just knows that until we're done she has to stay right at my feet.  Once he takes a break and I start walking around then she knows it's OK to explore the downed trees.  The first thing she does is hop up on a log and start walking it.  We never taught her this, she decided it was fun to do and will almost run the length of a tree.  Kids.

"Yep, Dad really killed this one."

Andy went to the truck to get the gas can.

"Where's he going??"
"He's coming back, right??  It's too nice out to go back home!"

But we weren't done yet and Andy did cut quite a few more trees.  (This was all ash that was in poor shape anyway).  He had quite a bit of work laid out by the time he stopped.

Despite all the trees and branches crashing down around it I noticed this lovely feather clinging to a low branch.  It's so downy and fringed that I'm thinking owl.
After Andy had cut enough trees to keep himself occupied for a while we went for a scouting walk down the hill to see where more likely firewood trees were located.  Basically, everywhere we went there were trees that could/should come out.  Sigh.  So much work that could be done.  A stand of trees is like a garden and while you don't want to make to too manicured it's best to take out trees that are dying or damaged so the healthy ones can do better. 
One fun part of the walk was a visit to the beaver pond.  It's literally just about at the farthest and least accessible corner of our property so we don't go there too often.

We didn't see the beavers but their paths up the bank and into the brush were muddy and well travelled so we know they're in there somewhere.
"Beebers?  Aren't those little wimpy things that make screechy noises?"
No, beavers are strong beefy critters with great big teeth that can chew down trees.  Apparently they are sometimes overly ambitious and chew down trees that are too big to cart off.


All in all it was a very pleasant and productive morning - probably some of the last nice weather we'll see this year.
And I brought that feather in to try to take better pictures of it to show how pretty it is.  I couldn't do it justice.



You do see some of the neatest things in the woods.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Howll-oween !

"Ugh.  Really?  I have to wear this?  There had better be some real treats coming..... or you might find a 'trick' in your shoes...... just sayin'. "
May all your treats come with no tricks attached today.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Gem of a Day

Tuesday's weather was a real gift at this time of year.  We reached the mid 70s with a stiff wind and bright sun.  Knowing we probably won't see another like it this year made it all the more worthy of appreciation. 

The bulk of the flock had a grand day outside.  The breeding groups ( rams were put with their groups Monday) are in the barn but as we're only breeding 37 ewes this fall it leaves the largest proportion free to continue pasturing.  We opened the farthest pasture to them one last time and they stayed down there a long time before trooping back up the hill to get a drink and have an afternoon siesta.

Some chose to sit in the shade of the barn and trees (not that there was much shade from the trees - it was more a philosophical statement on the part of the sheep) and others settled down in the full sun.  'Melted' might be a better word, at least for Velvet.

Bacardi, with Tahiti behind her.

Pickles, with Ida to the left.

Snowflake, almost alseep with her eyes open.

Clunk.  No sense pretending...

Snubby, dozing........

Daisy must have been elected for guard duty.  You hardly ever see everyone down and sleeping.  Usually at least one ewe is up and half way alert.

Angel sat like this for a couple of minutes.  I've seen some other 'overly large' sheep doing this occasionally, clearly thinking "I don't really want to hoist myself up but I'm so full it's not really comfortable lying here, either."  What a dilemma.

But some kids just don't want to go down for a nap.  These two are telling each other stories.

While the sheep were enjoying an leisurely afternoon Andy was putting a tire back on one of the tractors.  The valve stem had leaked over the winter and the calcium chloride the tractor tires are loaded with corroded a big chunk of the metal rim.  He found a metal shop that could weld in a metal patch - no small feat since the area had multiple convex and concave planes all bent into an arc - and he picked it up yesterday.  The newly painted area is the repair.

Once the rim was mounted back in place he had to drill a new hole for the valve stem to come through, but it was such a nice day to work outside the task wasn't unpleasant.

A stiff wind kept the flag snapping.

Even the barn spiders were hard at work.  We leave a nightlight on in the barn and there are always webs right around it.  A 24 hour diner!

This is an especially pretty one.

Of course, if you're a senior citizen you don't have to work as hard and are allowed a few extra kitty kibbles now and then so it pays to stay handy by, like Natasha.

"I didn't get old by being dumb."
"Did somebody say something about kibble?"
Clem isn't that old.  He's the guy that checks the breakroom for doughnuts four times before lunch.
"I heard that!"
It's in your employee files, too.  Just so you know.