Thursday, July 28, 2011

Quality Control

I was washing some fleece the other of those 95 degree days........ and we have a perfect spot to lay damp wool to dry.  Our old concrete patio runs the length of the south side of the house and putting wool on a clean sheet on the hot stone is like putting a pizza in the oven - done in about 10 minutes!  (OK, that's an exaggeration but not by much.)

So I stepped out to check it's progress and found that Cleo was already doing quality control on it, checking for softness and resilience.

Ahh, purrfection.

Comfy or not, I had to pick the fiber up before chores, so nap time had to end.

Get up?  I'm not sure how that concept applies to me.

But I'm still tired, see?

Well, if I have to.  It IS almost chow chore time.

Cleo LOVES Holly - all the cats do - and quite often she tries to follow us down the road when we go for a walk.  In this case, we just had to cross the road to go into the barn, but she was still all happy to be walking with her pal.


Holly considers herself queen over the cats and sometimes she ignores them when they try to rub on her or even avoids them if she's not in a mood to be sociable, which is pretty rude, but they always seem to forgive her lapse in manners.  And that's a great quality in a friend.

Friday, July 22, 2011

It's Soooo Hot.......

........ that this is the temperature INside the house.

Because I'm cold if the temp is less than 68, I must. not. complain.  And I can take it, really.  But I feel sorry for everyone else who's suffering, like the sheep and the hubby.

So what fun farmy thing did we do today?  We sent a tractor trailer load of ear corn from our corn crib to PA.  At 7:30 this morning it looked like this.

Tractor powers elevator, elevator carries ears to trailer.

I offered to spell Andy with the shovel but he was kind of in the zone so I just brought water.  Andy is the shirtless one, the other guy in the crib is the truck driver and the guy in red is 'helping' the trucker.  I hope he's getting paid enough.

Wow.  That looks hard.  Maybe I'll just watch for a while, you know, to see how it's done.

By 10:30 they had emptied 3 bays of that crib and moved to another crib to finish the load with some older corn.  We don't want to sell all we have until we have enough from this year's crop for the sheep this winter.  If this drought continues we might not get any corn from what we planted.  When you can, you plan to have enough extra feed so that a crop failure won't be a total catastrophe. The weight scale down at the truck stop showed they had loaded just under 27 tons.

After lunch Andy headed to Penn Yan with corn to be made into grist for the sheep.  The lambs are still getting a creep ration especially since the pastures are withering.  You know it's bad when the weeds are dying.  Before heading out he got the boiler going ( ! ) so that I'd have hot water to wash wool.

It's so hot the cats have melted.

Ugh.  I'm boneless.  Help me.

Hang in there Calvin, it's got to cool off sometime soon.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I Need More Time..... get done all that needs doing.  I've decided that there should be 2 more months squished in between July and August and I would be in better shape.

We did finish first cutting hay last Sunday.  Almost 5,000 bales, mostly after July 4.  Waiting on second cutting alfalfa but we need rain to bring it on.

In the meantime, I should be working with wool (and I AM, really!) but guess what else needs attention?


Great, big, fat, sweet blueberries.

LOTS of blueberries!

Many bushes of blueberries.........

About half the bushes......

I can't say it's too much of a good thing because I could eat these until I look like Violet in the Chocolate Factory .  And they freeze like a dream so there are pies and cobbler in the distant, wintery future.  Hard to imagine winter when it's currently 83 degrees IN THE HOUSE.  Sheesh.

You can tell it's hot when the cats flatten out like they were hit by a steamroller or go to extremes to catch a breeze.  Yesterday Dexter accidentally pushed the screen out and fell into the bushes.

Into the bushes - Ha ha, very funny.  Try wearing fur all summer - see how hot YOU get!

Oh, boo hoo.  Cry me a river, kitty.  I'll be out there, picking berries.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Graduation Day

We got involved with making hay and got a little behind on other things, but yesterday was a Big Day for the ram lambs - there were officially weaned from Mom and went to live in the upper barn with all the big boys.  We don't castrate the boy lambs as we're never sure when someone might want to buy one as a breeding animal, and also they grow more quickly with their full load of hormones.  It's also just unnecessary in our situation since we have a way to completely separate them from the ewes.  So right around the 4th of July (when they start getting real pesty with the girls) we put them on the trailer and bring them up to the Baa-chelor Pad.  They have a fine time as adolescent boys eating and then sitting around, butting heads and jumping on each other and NOT harassing the girls.

Camp?  We're at camp?  What's 'camp'?

Ram lambs are so easy to work with compared to ewe lambs.  The ewe lambs are full of high drama like teenage girls - they scream and throw their hands into the air, roll their eyes and run away for no reason.  The boys are like surfer beach bums - all laid back and cool about everything and willing to go where you want without too much arguement as long as it doesn't look downright scary or difficult.

OK, this looks familiar.

We have a creep area set up as in the lower barn with vertical rollers set too closely for the big rams to get through so the lambs have a safe place to eat a little extra hay, a nibble of grain at night or just hang out without the big rams bossing them around. 

Dudes, check it out..... you can see the whole yard from back here.

Um, yeah, that's cool.....but do you see my mom?

Some of the little boys are more needy than others and they called for their moms for the rest of the day and off and on most of  last night, but by this morning they were pretty well adjusted and got down to the business of just grazing and learning their new boundaries.

Grass is grass no matter where you are....let's eat!

Congrats, boys.  Have a great summer.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Consider the lilies of the field......... they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin..........

And yet I say unto you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Hay Fever

Finally...FINALLY....we have a streak of hot dry weather and can get some more hay baled.  The plants are pretty mature, but it was impossible to make hay up to this point because of the weather.  We make the traditional small square bales to feed the sheep.  It takes about 4500 to carry the flock through the winter and have a little cushion besides.  Some people prefer to feed big round bales outdoors, but in our case a) we already have the equipment to make the small bales and b) we don't have a good way to feed the flock outdoors. 

Notice the bale in mid-flight courtesy of the baler's "throwing" belts

And here are a couple of full wagons. 

Two of five

We have five, and try to orchestrate the work so that we don't have more than 5-7 wagon's full per day.  Why don't we cut more, especially when the weather is favorable?  Unloading more than that per day is pretty hard when it's just the two of us (and takes time - if we're trying to unload wagons we aren't baling hay).  Each wagon carries approximately 135 bales, and at about 40 pounds per bale that's almost two and three quarter tons per wagon.  Times five makes thirteen and a half tons that we each have to move by hand - me taking it off the wagon and putting it on the conveyor and Andy picking it off the conveyor and stacking it in the mow.  That's about all we can handle at a time and stay standing!

And the hot weather has also brought out the lilies, just in time for the 4th of July.

Red lilies for the 4th of July

Happy Independence Day!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Just Work

The other day we noticed a lot of smaller birds yelling and unhappy around the corn cribs.  Turns out this is why.

Click to biggify and look at the corner of the crib roof.

We have quite a lot of the northern harriers (marsh hawks) around and this enterprising individual discovered that there is a squirrel highway from the woods to the cribs.  Ee-Zee Pickins.  He was surprisingly tolerant of us working around the upper buildings.  We saw him for a couple of days and then either the slow, stupid squirrels had all been eaten or he just decided that sitting like a vulture was beneath him.  Now if we could just get a falcon to come pick off pigeons.

We had time to go through the whole flock and weigh everyone, check eye scores and deworm where necessary.

Dewormers, charts, calculator and digital scale head

Every sheep takes a turn getting into being put into the holding box Andy built to fit around the scale.  Stand on the scale, get weighed, get your conjunctiva looked at, get a dose of dewormer if necessary and go on your way.  Repeat in about 4 weeks.   We don't have a dedicated chute area so we have to erect panels and swing gates to make the smaller spaces we need.  We hate to chase sheep and they hate to be chased.  Adults set their brakes and protest being put in, and lambs leap out if you don't hover over them.  By the end of the session we were all tired of the process.

I'm in a box.  This can't be good.

There was an interested audience to the process - this nest of barnswallow babies.

Come closer.  We'll turn and poop on you.  Bwaa-ha-ha-ha!

 And enough time to do a little badly needed yard work.


Whew!  Thank you!

And still plenty of work left for another day.