August 7, 2005:
I spent the weekend doing the usual farm chores. I moved the goats to a new patch of blackberries to eat. I canned peaches and made zucchini bread and butter pickles. I watered everything and rotated the sheep and cows. I trimmed the hooves of the buck goats and wormed them. I moved them into the regular pasture as the other goats are out back on the blackberries- the bucks can have a little more space of their own. I fixed the hay barn so hopefully less water will creep underneath the hay during the rainy months (which are most of them!). Tom mowed the yard- which is a big undertaking- and cleaned up the garage- another big task. A busy and hot weekend!
Today I started out by weeding the garden and thinning the corn. Then I sold the last lamb of the year-Sasquatch. It took a bit to catch him as he was in with the Highland cows and the rams.
After that I used a pitchfork to clear out the pen that the bucks were in all winter. That was quite a chore. I figured since it was cool and cloudy out this was the day to day hard labor. After that I strung up some electric wire along the top of the fence where we have the donkeys and put the bucks in there. I felt bad having the bucks in a pen for so long, but Cody is such a jumper I couldn’t contain him anywhere else. We’ll see if this plan works. Finally I did the animal chores and now I’m making Chocolate Zucchini cake. We have so many this year I’m getting creative with it!
August 17th: Today was fencing day. They say good fences make good neighbors. I’m not sure about that, but it helps protect the animals from predators, traffic and poisonous plants. I moved the electronet portable fence for the goats into a new patch of blackberries. I ate quite a few ripe blackberries in the process too. And I finally finished placing electric wire across the tops of all of out woven wire fencing to keep the cows from rubbing their big heads on it. We are all cross- fenced so we can rotate our grazing. We rotate the sheep and cows about once per week. Grazing cows and sheep separately is supposed to help with internal parasites too- I’m not sure about that though. The photo above is of our barns. The large one on the left came with the place. We store some hay in there but it’s mostly shelter for animals. There’s pens in there we us for a variety of purposes- lambing and kidding pens, separating a sick animal, reintroducing the rams after breeding… The barn in the front is where we store the majority of our hay. It was actually built at my old place and we had it brought here. It was mostly built from a fallen tree on my place that was made into lumber with a portable sawmill. I sure hope it lasts awhile! I’m planning on putting in a barn owl nest box this fall. They’re supposed to help with rodent control plus they’re getting more endangered as there are less barns accessible for them to nest in. Now I’m getting creative with zucchini. I’m making zucchini pickles, zucchini pies and zucchini casserole. I planted 4 plants this year for some unknown reason and after all the cooking above I still have one huge zucchini left. I’ve already make chocolate zucchini cake and zucchini bread too!
September 7th: Last week I was sick so spent most of it holding the couch down and watching the horrors of the Gulf Coast on CNN. This week I’m feeling a little better and was able to finish staining the barn and the rabbit shed. We’re hoping this’ll help preserve them a little longer. I trimmed the hooves on all of the goats and wormed them. I then moved them into their electric net fencing with a fresh patch of blackberries to eat. Then in the afternoon I noticed a coyote along the back fence approaching them. I chased him off with the dogs and had to move the goats back into the near pasture. All the animals are accounted for, but it must be a pretty hungry coyote to be that close in broad daylight. Kinda scary for us as well as the critters. The only other news is that I picked up a floor loom on Monday. It’s a low castle jack loom. I’m not sure of the brand but it seems to be functional. I’m planning on taking a class this fall. I’ve woven small projects on a small table loom that I have so I’m really looking forward to weaving on a larger scale. I also received pencil roving from Stonehenge Mill. It’s from our black and white spotted ram and she was able to process it so the color varies in the roving. I’m looking forward to spinning this into a variegated yarn for socks.
This weekend I was on call- which means I have to able to work when I’m called. That means I can’t get dirty or smelly like I usually do around here. So ti was a good opportunity for me to learn about my new loom. I took yarn from our two llamas and made a scarf! Next weekend I’m also on call but I’m signed up for an on-line Shetland lace workshop. It’s go at your own pace so I should be able to participate. I spun up some of our ram Lewis’ black and white fleece this weekend so I could it ready for this. Lace yarn needs to be finer than the yarn I usually make for socks and sweaters so I had to make some up specially for this project.
Today I was off so I started winterizing the sheep. That is trimming the wool that would just get muddy this winter, trimming their hooves and worming them. I managed to get 11 done before my back told me to stop. I’m planning the breeding groups for the fall too. I think I have it all worked out whose going to be bred to who and where they will hang out for the month while this is occurring.
I made more zucchini bread again last night- this time whole wheat cinnamon zucchini bread. My next project will be zucchini apple coffee cake.
Last weekend our beagle managed to sneak out under the front fence, and we spent the morning trying to find him and fearing the worst. We finally found him cowering in a patch of blackberries behind the neighbors’ barn. So I spent part of today putting up up an electric net fence in front of the front woven wire fence to provide us some extra security against such escapades.
We still have evidence of coyotes out back so I brought the goats out back to eat blackberries for the day, and the dogs and I kept a close watch. I brought them back in this afternoon.
I did the usual animal chores and am noticing that the grass isn’t growing much- we’ll probably start feeding hay soon.
I went through my stash of yarn to find some for my first weaving project on my new loom!
I picked some apples and crab apples from our orchard. The Gravensteins and Akanes were ready. We also have Centennial crab apples which help contribute tannins to our hard apple cider. The Liberty’s and other aren’t quite ready yet, but we should be pressing cider the beginning of next month. There really aren’t many Asian pears on our trees this year. I wonder why.
Now I’m going to make zucchini lasagna.
Today I got the rabbit pens cleaned out and prepared the two doe pens for having babies- hopefully in two days. I also repaired the shelter that’s in the field with the Highland cows and the Shetland rams. The cows had ripped down the electric wire that was supposed to keep them away and started removing the siding. I nailed the siding back up and put in electrical tape that they hopefully will not remove.
I’ve started feeding hay now- about half the usual wintertime ration. The weather’s cooling and the daylight is a lot less so there’s less grass growth for the critters.
I plan on trying to make corn chips from some overripe ears of corn I have. I also plan on making zucchini lasagna for dinner. I picked some more grapes for eating and the asian pears for eating and making asian pear butter with. Our asian pears tree did not produce nearly as many pears as usual but that’s probably a good thing as they usually make way too many pears for us.
The photo is of a chick standing on the back of one of our ewes, Gwynneth. This chick was hatched by an araucana hen of ours. The chick is black but is starting to get some golden feathers on the neck. The hens pick hay and stuff out of the wool of the sheep so I don’t mind them on the sheep at all.
September 28th: I finished winterizing the goat and sheep today. The sheep have all had the butt wool clipped off and any other felted wool or tags. They’ve had their hooves trimmed and been wormed. They also were given an intranasal vaccine against respiratory viruses. I also gave this to the goats and the cows. I had a winter with pneumonia in some of my sheep and goats a few years back and lost one sheep because of it so since then I’ve used this vaccine and never had any problems. I put all the sheep and goats in their breeding groups today. The two rams each have three ewes and the bucks have 4 does. I’m breeding earlier this year so the kidding and lambing will be happening in February this year instead of April.