Sunday, April 9, 2017

Sunday Walkabout 4-9

You know, the Boss sure does a lot of stuff around here!

I have known and acknowledged this fact for quite a while…but, now that he’s confined to light-duty (well, make that NO duty) I have a much deeper appreciation of his contributions and my reliance on him.

‘cause quite honestly, this week has been a challenge to say the very least.

I can honestly say I’ve learned a bunch of new things and tried my hand at jobs I never thought I could accomplish alone…and quite honestly, never wanted to.  It hasn’t been pretty and it hasn’t been easy, and I have had to ask for more advice/insight/direction than I thought I would…but, I can say that I did it!

time for the first move
First job for the week was getting the broiler pen moved. The whole idea to pastured poultry is PASTURE. This means that the whole pen is moved on a regular basis to fresh grass so the chickens can (in theory) eat the grass. If left in place, the pen gets truly revolting in short order and all the “fertilizer” produced by the broilers will actually kill the grass. The pen has retractable wheels that make the pen easier to pull in a line along the field. Every day (or every few days) the entire contraption (and the birds inside) moves to a fresh spot. In your mind’s eye, this works like a dream, chickens ranging along through the countryside, eating fresh grass as they go. In reality, broilers are big and fat and not very energetic. They aren’t really that interested in the grass, they prefer to plunk down right in front of the feeder and eat. I’m pretty sure they would just sit and eat until they popped if given the opportunity. If they just had television…they would be the epitome of couch potatoes.

The first move is always a bit of a challenge. Since they just want to plunk and eat, the idea of getting up and walking along with all their pen mates apparently isn’t at all appealing. There is a lot of squawking and complaining…and occasionally some inopportune sitting. As the pen rolls along the field, there are little hills and hummocks that keep the pen from sitting squarely on the ground. Occasionally, the chickens get left behind and the pen rolls right over top them. Of course, the chickens are caught and returned to the pen. But, I can assure you that the only time a broiler ever shows any enthusiasm for movement or speed is when he/she is being pursued by the big chicken-catching net. The escapees seem to get some sort of perverse pleasure out of the short-lived chicken rodeo.


However, all’s well that ends well and they were returned to the pen relatively quickly. We’ve got this figured out now…and there aren’t that many more moves until this batch fulfills its destiny. (Good thing! I lost track of how many folks asked about fresh chicken at the Market)
back to sittin' and eatin'

As always, the weather was a big player in the week’s work schedule. It was supposed to rain. Yay! No…wait. That’s definitely a game-changer.

in one day 

we had clouds

brilliant skies

more rain

another rainbow

Tbone was going to come plow and he and Blondie were going to help me plant potatoes… But, the rain in the forecast changed all that. We put that job off for a week.


That box of onion plants was begging for attention. The plants had arrived far earlier than I thought I had requested (they arrived while the Boss was in the hospital) and they had been languishing in the shop for quite some time. If the Boss could show me how to use the tiller…
checking out the farm

He managed to get out back and give me a short tiller tutorial. He also told me how to correct the broiler waterer issue and showed me where he thought the electro-net for the sheep might be…

And, I was off and…tilling.

There are certain things I have purposefully NOT learned around here, fearing that if I know how to do it I would find myself with a new job. However, I now see that line of thinking was fairly short-sighted and this week I have had to add LEARNING NEW THINGS to the ever-growing to-do list.

planting onions
each rubber band on my wrist represents about 60 plants

Tiller lesson over, it was time to get down to the business of planting onions. I got about 1000 onion plants in the ground, fertilized and mulched before the rains set in. At this point, I don’t know if I will get the rest done (and honestly I don’t know if I care) but, we shall see how this week goes. For the moment, we moved on to more pressing items.
all done for now
let it rain!

There is a reason the old-timers call this the “hungry time” of year. The urge for something GREEN seems impossible to ignore.

Surely, you’ve noticed it yourself. Even folks who don’t like salads are eager for something fresh in the early spring.

The sheep were feeling this urge. Mere words fail to describe how badly they “needed” green grass. Now, let me point out that they had hay. Plenty of nice hay. In the barn. Hay that just last week was greeted with a mad rush to the feeders.

But, the call of the green grass…
I don't know how they did it...but, there they are...eating green grass. (where I didn't want them to be eating)

this one didn't quite make it through the fence

They staged a protest every single time they saw me. They didn’t even have to see me. I called out the kitchen door for the dog…the sheep heard my voice and started bellowing.Watch this! It was deafening and annoying. And, one more thing that needed attention.
they went OVER the fence
they went THROUGH the fence
(look closely) the one in the back is going UNDER the fence

They couldn’t go back to the winter paddock, because they broke the fence, making the entire front of the farm accessible. (I told you the call of the grass was strong!) I spent more than a little precious daylight chasing lambs and doing emergency fence repair.

evidence of a paddock break

I wanted to put them out back where the fence is most secure (a matter of safety for the tiny babies) but that would require a fencing job. 
what I had envisioned...
sheep grazing the hill on a spring day
We don’t have permanent fence behind hoophouse #1 because during the winter we need access for possible snow removal. So, we use electro-net during the season. This is quick and easy to install. However, we have approximately 10 thousand (slight exaggeration) different pieces of varying lengths stored in various places. And, the Boss couldn’t remember which one worked the best. And, of course, the piece I chose was just ever so slightly too short, so I had to roll it up and find another piece. With that completed, I figured I was good to go…
ready to fence

If I put the sheep in the newly repaired winter paddock momentarily, I could open the gate to the back half of the farm and we’d be in business.
As an explanation here…last spring, I didn’t take any sort of precaution before opening the back gate in the early spring and I got run over. Seriously. The entire flock trampled right over me! I even had little hoof-shaped bruises on the backs of my legs. With the Boss down, we can’t afford for me to get hurt…so, I wasn’t taking any chances.

However, my fence repair didn’t hold up to the call of the grass…and for the second day in a row, I had sheep where I didn’t intend for them to be. Oh…argh!

little lambs are a special kind of stupid

Any sort of sheep round-up just wasn’t happening. (believe me, I tried) That green grass had them in a trance and the only hope I had of moving them was to wait until they’d eaten their fill and they headed back to the barn to ruminate.

Fortunately, that did indeed happen. They’re finally out back where I wanted them, eating their fill of grass, which is what they wanted all along. I guess everyone is happy. And, it is much quieter!
nobody's complaining now

spring sheep

figuring out grass

Each time the Boss walked along the driveway on his daily laps, he noticed how tall the grass in the gardens was getting. Now, Tbone was coming to mow the lawn over the weekend, but the gardens are a special concern. The Boss uses the smaller mower to mow the paths between the beds in a particular pattern. Maybe I could mow them?

I’m not a fan of lawn mowers. (particularly our Gravely) I’m pretty sure the lawnmower hates me. Since we live on the side of a hill, all four wheels of the mower never actually hit the ground at once (and it feels like you’re going to fall off or over the entire time) and I’m certainly not a fan of thrill rides…so…quite honestly, I would probably run the sheep around the house and I don’t really care if things get “shaggy” looking. But, the Boss was depending on me.

didn't take any pictures of mowing
I was too scared!
Despite the fact that I now have sore muscles in the oddest places (from being tense while going free-wheeling through space) and my knuckles are probably permanently whitened and the steering wheel may be damaged from my death-grip on it, I mowed those gardens!

Just when I was feeling a little proud and accomplished…I had moved the broilers, fixed the fence, planted the onions, moved the sheep, mowed the gardens…I looked at the weather forecast. And, there it was…SNOW in the forecast. Come on, you’ve got to be kidding me! Like some bad, belated April Fool’s prank, the cold weather was making a return (right after I planted all those little onions) and bringing with it gale force winds and the possibility of an inch of snow. The snow wouldn’t really be problematic, but the winds and low temperatures (wind chills of -4*) could be. So, off to find the row cover.
row cover adventure


I think I'm gonna fly away!

Installing row cover here on the hill is always a challenging experience. Because without fail, every time you even pick up a piece of row cover, the wind begins to blow. Wrestling with a 40-foot piece of fabric in the wind is never fun…doing it alone was next to impossible. But, I did it! 
I did it!
Just in time for it to rain...AGAIN

(not surprisingly, after 3 cold, cold days…it is going to be nearly 80* tomorrow, so I guess I will have to take the row cover back off in the morning…)

The Boss was bound and determined to return to the Market on Saturday morning. He managed to clean the garlic and wash the eggs himself. I packed the rest of the stuff. Since the Boss is still on medication, I was volunteered to drive to town. Did I mention that I had never driven the truck and trailer before? Did I mention that we had to leave at 5am?  (YIKES)

It required a wake-up of 3:30am to get chores done and the trailer packed prior to leaving for Market. Freezing temperatures made for another interesting wrinkle in events. And, I left my death-grip fingerprints on another steering wheel as we headed into town. But, we made it safely. (and back again) And, we had a pretty good sales day, too.

He did it!
He got to the Market!

Everyone was amazed to see the Boss at the Market. Particularly since it’s less than three weeks post-surgery. We truly appreciated all the words of encouragement and concern.

He was glad to get out and get back in the swing of things. But, what nobody realized was just how tiring that trip was for him. He spent a good portion of the Market day sitting in a chair (he’s generally up and managing the market) Then, he slept for nearly two hours upon our return home. (and I think he’s still rather tired today) But, he says he’s feeling better every day.

It was a cold morning at the Market!

This week I want to say a big thanks to our friends Phil and Deirdre of  Harvest Thyme Herbs who brought us a lovely, tasty meal and some interesting conversation this week. We've known the Armstrongs for a long time and they have blessed our family repeatedly throughout the years. Thanks y’all! We truly enjoyed both the meal and the visit.

And, THANK YOU to Tbone (and Blondie) for mowing the lawn. We look much tidier, I’m sure. I really hope you don't mind me sharing the photo below.

This is what I will always think of when I think of Tbone and lawnmowers...
Tyler and Amanda 2008
Love you!

Hope you’re having a Happy Sunday!


Thanks for stopping by…come back and “visit” us again real soon!


  1. Glad to hear he is on the mend. Yes it is certainly hard to have to take on jobs done by one's other half. I have learned that the hard way over the last few months.

    1. Oh, Pat, I'm so glad that you took the time to read and comment!
      You've been in my thoughts ever since I read your heartbreaking news. Sending much love and many prayers your way.

  2. WOW - it is good to see the Boss up and around! Please remind him to take it easy!! It is humbling to have to depend on others for help. I truly think God reminds us quite often that it is a good thing to call for help! Whether it be prayers to him, or calls to friends. We can all use a little help here and there. God Bless!

  3. You are amazing and I hope he's right as rain very quickly.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Carmen!
      We're getting there a little at a time.

  4. You are indeed wonder woman for managing to be two people and managing all these new chores. Thank goodness for some help from your family and friends.
    You have incredibly determined sheep so I hope they have finally settled with their Spring pastures.
    It is great news that the Boss is feeling better but he must remember that healing takes time. The pace of life is faster but the body recovering is not. So take those naps and no lifting.
    I hope you have an easier week.