Monday, December 10, 2012

Time to Clean Up Our Act

That time of year has arrived once again. 

The ewes were approaching the end of the green grass supply…lambing is time is nearing…so…


Years ago I saw a bumper sticker that made me laugh…

I Observe National Barn Cleaning WEEK…January 1st to December 31st!

Our time with dairy cows saw us mucking the barn at least once a day, sometimes three times …when the weather was bad and the cows didn’t go outside. The low-tech approach that included a pitchfork and a wheelbarrow added to the drudgery. It didn’t take long to understand why lots of farms have skid-steers in their equipment arsenal.

Thankfully, each sheep doesn’t create the 90+ pounds of excrement that a cow can produce. (If they did we would be in some serious trouble!) Our biggest frustration with the sheep is the amount of wasted hay.  I suppose I shouldn’t say WASTED…nothing goes to waste around here.  Even the stuff we clean out of the barn is incredibly useful. It becomes SUPERMULCH.

To say the ewe girls love their hay in an understatement. You should read THIS.

We don’t have the space or equipment to make our own. So, we really appreciate our neighbors who make the dried delicacy for our bunch.

Once the sheep head out to greener pastures in the early Spring, we begin to use the SUPERMULCH in the garden.  The tomatoes and various squash plantings  benefit greatly from a thick layer of mulch that helps to keep the moisture in and the weed pressure under control. It has the added benefit of little bits of “fertilizer” mixed throughout the mulch.

However, even with the liberal use in the early planting season, we don’t use it all. There’s always a fair amount that stays in the barn until the big cleaning day. This year, the supply seemed more than endless, and the big barn cleaning job never made it to the priority list.  It took a serious look at the calendar to finally give a sense of urgency to the job.

The Boss scoops as much as he can with the tractor bucket and hauls it out to the gardens.  There it will break down over winter and provide some much needed organic matter for next year’s crops. Since the tractor is fairly small and the sheep shed arranged for its accommodation, he is able to get most it out fairly easily.  Then, I get a fork, clean the corners, and he hauls some more.

This year, there were at least forty loads that went out to the gardens.  …and I have no idea how many we pulled out during the season.  

That’s a lotta “fertilizer”!

Completed job - clean is most certainly a relative term

With the cleaning job behind us, the sheep have come back to the barn, and the SUPERMULCH cycle will begin once more. 

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