Saturday, October 20, 2012

October's Bright Blue Weather

This season is beautiful, but fleeting.  Temperatures are low enough that you need a jacket even on a sunny day.  The humidity is generally down and the sky is a deep but chilly blue.  It's good to go out and enjoy autumn as it's over all too quickly and the year moves toward the end.

The last bits of green pasture.........
The last brave flower.......
Milkweed seeds throwing themselves into the winds of fate..........
Critters headed into the corn rows to fatten up before winter......
The trees shouting the end to the growing season......

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
    Robert Frost

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Gray Monday, Brighter Tuesday

The week started with frost on the roof and a gray damp day.  The pasture is getting short, but the ewes are still enjoying getting outside and meandering around.

We had better fall color on the trees this year than I would have thought given the drought this summer.  We've already had a lot drop now, especially the ash.
The ewes have put some good weight back on after the hot summer and weeks spent eating hay.  Here Gilly shows a nice full figure which I'm sure the ram will appreciate.  Pearl, on the left in the background, needs a serious coat change.  That will happen in the next two weeks.
From this angle I'm not sure which Cotswold ewe this is, but she has a pretty head.  The moorit in the coat to the right looks startled at the thought of breeding season - at least I think so.
Today was much sunnier.  While walking I found this little guy sitting in the road.  He or she has damage to the edges of its wings and was happy to ride along on my hand all the way home.  Looks like it's been a rough end of summer.
I put him/her on this daisy growing on the protected southwest side of Andy's woodshop.  I don't know if daisies are tasty, but the sun was warm enough to coax him into opening his wings a little more.

I like to think I made its afternoon a little better.  It brightened mine.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Winter Firewood

Ideally, we would be working on next winter's firewood  supply.  We used to work a whole year ahead so the wood could season properly.  The year that Andy's dad passed away threw the schedule out of kilter and we never really got back to being a whole year's supply of firewood ahead.  Burning freshly cut wood is not optimal, but ash is your best choice if you have to do that.  We have a lot of ash in the woods.  Yay.  Unfortunately it is succumbing to ash decline, so stands of it are dying like mad. Boo.  Of course, that also means that we don't have to be too choosy about heavy cutting in any particular area since it's dying anyway.  Sigh.  Yesterday we went to the woods to get a good bunch of trees cut down.  Once on the ground, Andy can spend a day winching them up out of the woods and arrangeing them for easy handling.  You can cut and split wood out in a field when it's spitting rain or snow, but walking and working in wet woods can be hazardous.  No need to risk falling - working up firewood is likely to make one sore enough.

So, Andy finds a good candidate.
He cuts them such that the tops fall downhill, making the butt end of the log closer to the field where the tractor and winch wait.
A lovely shower of bright yellow leaves sprinkles down each time, shaken loose by the falling tree a bit quicker than nature would have done.
After he's felled as many as he wants to deal with in one session, the winch is put into play.  First you drag the cable to the log...
Chain it firmly on and then trek back uphill to the tractor.  Engaging the PTO causes the cable to wind back on the spool, pulling the log along with it.  This particular tree had gotten hung up in a neighboring one, but was still no match for the winch and quickly became horizontal.
Up and over the bank into the field and pulled into line with the rest.  He pulls the entire tree out of the woods and cuts the tops off out there.  You can get a lot of nice small limb wood from a tree top.  The parts that are really too small to mess with can be pushed back into the edge of the woods with the tractor bucket later. 

At least the work will be done on the flat without brush and branches underfoot.

"Mom, I LOVE the woods.  Let's do this every day!!"
Er, you'll have to talk to Dad about that, Holly.  Too much fun is likely to wear him out!