Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Second Busy Day

Friday was the first perfect day to bale that we've had all year.  Clear, low humidity and hot.  Andy had the second half of a big field down and ready to rake.  We did the regular morning chores and after breakfast we let the main flock out to graze.

The bottle lambs always come out last and have a habit every day of bucking and kicking as they go off the crest of the slope behind the barn.

We thought they would rush down the hill to the new pasture but they stood yelling for guidance.  Andy said  "Tough luck, Charlie, you gotta find that lower pasture,"  and they would have found their way there eventually but I decided to remind them where to go.  I started down the hill and they followed readily.

Half way down they collectively "remembered" the gate was open and took off on a run past me.

Except for sweet little Flopsy who was thrilled - thrilled! - that Mom was coming to the pasture too.  She got as far as the end of the gate and had a crisis of indecision - go with the flock or stay with Mom?

Everybody else scattered to the far edges and corners.

I should be flattered that she would still rather be with me than the rest of the group, but now I had to get her maneuvered near enough other sheep that I could sneak away while her view was blocked by others.

It's pretty hard to resist that little face.

Being out in the lower pasture did give me a view of the back side of the barns which I don't see very often.  The grove of locusts has gotten so big!  And the faint moon over the middle silo is kind of neat. 

I did manage to get Flopsy interested in grazing with some friends and worked my way out of her line of vision and got back to the barn without her trying to follow. 

The boys we had moved the day before were having a busy time exploring the pasture and finding the fencelines.

Andy raked the field of hay into windrows while I ran to town to do some errands.  After lunch we had three and a half loads of hay to get in the upper barn so that we would have all five wagons empty for the day's work.  By the time we were done with that the hay had finished drying sufficiently that it could be baled.  He got started and I brought the rest of the wagons one at a time and also brought back loaded ones as they were filled.

Coming back from that part of the farm is another favorite view of ours.

The hay is overly mature but there is alfalfa in it and it didn't get rained on at all so it's actually got good color and reasonable nutritional value.  This half of the field made over 660 bales so we're up to around 4200 now.

Rain is predicted now for a few days so we'll turn our attention to other things.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The First of Two Busy Days

Yesterday morning we were finally able to organize ourselves to wean the ram lambs.  Right after breakfast we set up the scale in the lower barn and ran the flock through in small batches.  All the ewes were weighed, eye scored and dewormed if necessary.  Happily, not too many showed signs of being affected.  At the same time we caught out all the ram lambs and put them in a holding pen.  The procedure took four hours.  The ewes and ewe lambs were turned out and the ram lambs waited for us to have lunch.  Afterwards we trailered them (fifty-nine total) to the upper barn in three batches.  Once they were settled in and finding their way around the barn's floor plan we walked the fenceline of the pasture they'll be turned into.  A few big tree limbs had come down on the fence over the winter and Andy took the chainsaw to them.  Three posts are leaning but the fence itself is just stretched a little, not broken.  The posts will be replaced as soon as possible but the lambs likely won't bother the weak spots for a while since they have nice pasture to graze.

Then we went back to the lower barn and let the remaining flock down into the farthest pasture.  It's nice and lush so letting them get partially filled up in the current pasture before letting them go there was a way to keep them from eating too much. They knew right away that a gate was opening and there was no problem enticing them down the hill.

After that we unloaded a wagon and a half of hay.  That filled the storage space in the lower barn.  The rest will go into the upper buildings.  By the time we brought them in for the evening the sheep had really filled up and the trudge up the last incline was sloooow.  Holly helped.

We took dinner up to the boys and they seemed a bit confused but not overly alarmed.

I think that's our supper.

Everyone had a surprisingly quiet night.  Let's see what tomorrow brings.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan

Some days go more smoothly than others.  Our morning toast and coffee is a good time to coordinate the day and try to make our time the most useful that we can.  If we plan our tasks sensibly we can work together on some things and separately on others and not spend too much time waffling about what should be done next.

This morning started out cloudy and fifty-two degrees - nearly freezing by my standards.  It was supposed to clear off and be the start of about four days of dry sunny weather so making hay is the top priority.  Andy planned to mow the other half of a field he had started last week, but wanted the forage to dry off some from the night's rain.  To use up part of the morning we weighed and dewormed the big rams in the upper barn. 

Jared, foreground.  "This thing again?  I'm outta here."  (Mr. BB, in the background) "Good Lord, what is it?!"
"They put you in the box and work this latchy thing and you have to stand there."

"Yeah, well, I'm just going to sit here until it's my turn.  I have to conserve energy for breeding season, you know."

All right, that's over.  Back to the pasture.

When we had finished and taken down the equipment Andy put on his heavy coat and went to mow hay.

I had some phone calls and email to attend to, then went to town to run errands.  After lunch Andy finished the mowing and then turned around and tedded the field to hopefully help it dry a bit faster.  I pulled a Cotswold fleece off the shelf for someone who needs Santa material but once into it I realized the wool is too long for her purpose.  She needs locks four to five inches long and this is mostly seven.  I know someone else who could use this one so it's going back on the shelf while I look for a shorter one. 

When Andy had finished the field work we moved some yearling ewes down from the upper barn where they had been since lambing (had to make room in the main barn) and put them back in with the main flock.

They loaded easily thanks to Mr. Bill the wether, who is very adventuresome and thought climbing into the trailer was COOL! and so of course the yearlings followed.  They were really chatty when we unloaded them into the barn.  Of course they remembered being there and were commenting loudly about returning.  The flock was out to pasture so nobody really paid much attention to their arrival.

They ran around like big lambs jumping and bucking.  Of course they've been outside up there, but this was a different pasture so of course it's better.

A few of the group finally broke away and went into the large pasture.  The big girls were unimpressed and didn't even bother to get up to say hello.
This black yearling got over being silly and went right to grazing.
She knows her name even in a new setting.
Hey, Large Marge!!

Tomorrow we hope to weigh and deworm the ewe flock and pull the ram lambs out (weaning, finally!) and take them to the upper barn to live with the big guys. Let's hope that plan works as well as today's did.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sunday Stills - The Colour Red

Summer is a great time for seeing red even without tomatos or watermelon.

Bee Balm

Coral Bells
Farm equipment - this is part of the hay tedder
The old, original section of the barn
Sumac at the base of a silo
The flower part looks like cockscomb on steroids
This sumac is in the edge of a field.  I should look these fuzzy guys up to see what they'll become

Honeysuckle with berries.  Looks downright Christmasy
No red, you say?
Surprise!  (A handsome and docile Blinded Sphinx)

You never know where you'll find red.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Most Excellent Adventure

The big day finally came and we loaded up the truck and we moved to Beverlyyyyyyy.

No, just kidding, we loaded up the truck and took six of this year's lambs to Thecrazysheeplady at Equinox Farm.  Which is way better than moving ANYwhere.

Julie came along as co-pilot which left Andy and Red both alone to struggle on without us as best they could.  Heh.  We stopped at a rest area in upper Ohio and had lunch from the cooler of goodies we brought while the lambs had a chance to get a drink of water carried from home in the vinegar jugs.  I use a lot of that in dyeing.  The picnic tables were close by so we left the back gate open for extra air circulation.  They were totally happy - a little on the warm side, but so were we.

"Do you think you brought enough water?  Seven gallons might not be enough!"

We stopped a few more times along the way and the trip took longer than we had planned - almost twelve hours.  Due to road construction and big congestion delays in Cincinnati we didn't get to the farm until late evening.  As soon as the sheep were off the truck and Hank the Wonderdog said hello they all went right to grazing in gorgeous deep grass.  And Sara went right to taking pictures.  She is one of them there professional and artistic peoples who takes photos a whole lot nicer than mine and you can see them on her blog.

Hank was so happy with new friends to guard that he went belly-up and got a good scritching.

The next day one lamb went to his new home at a neighboring farm but the rest barely noticed.  Two more will be going to another farm this week and Sara will keep three.

The rest of the weekend we did all fun things connected to the animals.

We fed the sheep treats..........

Mmmmm, Cheerios are best right out of the box!

Gave the horses some love.....

Handsome Hickory with his grazing muzzle (worn to reduce grazing lush grass and prevent founder)
Fed the Adventure Chickens some table scraps.....

Stale crackers and grit!  Yummy!
We watched the sheep mosey out for grass......
......from the porch of the Wool House.
All too soon the blissful weekend with our generous hosts was over and we headed home.  We went back on different roads than we came down on and took the Ole Agusta Ferry across the Ohio River.  It was a first for me and lots of fun!
It had just dropped someone off on the other side and turned to come back for me.  You park your vehicle at the designated spot so they can see you and they come and fetch you.  No waiting, you don't have to have a whole load of people, you can get out and walk on the deck as they go across the river..... very cool!
The tug pushes the platform up to the "dock" which looks more like a concrete boat launch than anything.  Once it stops you let the riding car off and then drive down the ramp and onto the steel deck.
The ferry is name the Jenny Ann.  I wonder who she was, who meant so much to someone that they named the craft after her.

The water was muddy from the recent heavy rains everywhere.  There were branches and a little trash too, but mostly tree debris.  A really big fish jumped while we were in the middle but we only caught the landing splash.  Darn.
It was a great trip and a return visit can't happen soon enough!