Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sunday Walkabout 10-11-15

smartweed (or knotweed) in the early morning light
I love a productive week!

When the three days of cold, blowing rain finally came to an end on Monday morning, we were more than ready to get things done. And, believe me…there was (and still is) plenty to do.

Thankfully, we didn’t incur any real damage from the rain, the precipitation totals were nothing like we had expected, so we didn’t have any residual flooding issues to deal with. But, I must say, it gave us a new appreciation for the sunshine!

Monday’s priority job was processing broilers. 
plucking chickens
The job went without a hitch…no, wait…we had a small delay because the scalder didn’t get turned on early and we had to wait for it to heat up. It wasn’t a huge deal and we were still done by lunchtime. One odd observation from this batch of broilers…less than 30% of the birds were roosters (it’s usually about 50/50). Since the hens don’t finish out as large, the final weight on the whole batch was lower than usual…but, it is what it is. (they still taste good)

Before the backlog of chicks could get sorted out, the Boss had to repair the field pen.

a wheel that can't roll is not a good thing
While he has every intention of building a brand-new pen sometime…right now was not the time. (add another job to the “off-season” list) But, a movable pen that is nearly impossible to move is not a good thing. So, following his instructions, I picked up a couple boards on my town run so he could work on the repair.
with the new wheel mechanism in place
we're good to go

While I waited for him to finish so we could work on the broiler round-up, I cleaned out the lambs’ mineral feeder.   
lambs' mineral feeder

The nutrients available in the grass vary with the weather but it’s important to maintain some sort of consistency at all times to keep the lambs healthy. By giving the lambs mineral free choice, they will eat it when their bodies dictate a need. You may wonder why the mineral feeder has a little fin on top and why it can spin around. This allows the feeder to move in the breeze and theoretically the mineral stays dry. Otherwise, it becomes a big clump and the lambs can’t eat it. In all the wind and rain last week, the salt in the mix absorbed a whole lot of moisture, the fin didn’t do a bit of good and there was a big puddle of water inside. When it mixed with the mineral, it made a sort of cement and rendered the entire feeder useless. If I had simply dumped more mineral in the feeder, it would have just compounded the problem. So, for the first time in farm history, I ended up digging mineral out of the feeder with a trowel, drying the entire thing and then leaving mineral for the lambs.
cleaning the feeder

sheep mineral
 I must say, it’s always something new!

Another first was discovered elsewhere in the lamb paddock.
Wool on barbwire meant that a lamb had indeed had her head UNDER the fence. (the barbwire is supposed to deter anything from going under the fence) I had actually seen her with her head and neck stretched way under the fence to eat leaves, although I honestly couldn’t believe my own eyes. Now, why she needed to eat leaves with an entire paddock of grass available is truly beyond me, but…who can understand how (or IF) a sheep thinks. The quickest, easiest solution was to line the fenceline with chunks of firewood. Let’s hope she doesn’t get through that and go wandering through the community…eating leaves.

They seem pretty content...for now...

With the field pen repaired, the broiler round-up began. 

The last batch of broilers for 2015 is now housed in the back paddock where they will move on a daily basis until they are processed the first week of November. And, yes, we are already praying for good weather!

That meant the Boss could clean the brooder for the layer chicks.
The layer chicks will spend several months in the brooder before joining the layer flock. So, while we clean the brooder in between flocks to cut down on any possibility of disease transmission, this time the brooder had to be extra clean.

The chicks also needed a little “cleaning” before they got to their new home. (and that was my glamorous job) Since the weather was SO cold and damp while they were travelling from the hatchery, they got slightly chilled in transit.  This generally leads to some sort of digestive issues and they get “the runs”. This means that their little behinds get all pasted up with poop and they have no way to clean themselves. If not corrected, all sorts of ailments can ensue. So, on with the rubber gloves…

Then it was time to get the soggy shadecloth dried out so we could pack it away until next spring.

Ordinarily we pull it off the hoophouse, lay it in the garden and roll it up all in one smooth action. This year, we have the entire garden planted in brassicas that are still growing, so we couldn’t do that…and it kept raining, so the cover was soaked. Not good for storage. After leaving it in an unused part of the garden for a while, it was folded and tied and put away, bringing us one step closer to the “off-season”.

Somewhere in the midst of all that “excitement”, the FedEx guy dropped off my much-anticipated garlic/shallot order. Unlike the main crop of garlic that will be getting planted outside in the next week or so, this would be planted in the hoophouse for green garlic in the Spring. Green garlic is simply immature garlic, used for its crunchy green leaves and stems and delicious garlicky taste.  It’s a great treat in the early days of Spring.

The seedstock was gorgeous!  

Completely unlike last year’s order.  Last year’s seedstock was horrible. It was rotten and moldy and the vast majority couldn’t even be planted. It took two months to straighten out the billing and the crop was nearly a complete loss.  With all these beautiful cloves, I am hoping for a bumper crop this year!


completed job

While I was planting garlic and shallots, the Boss was finally getting around to re-fencing the ram paddock.
installing fence

trimming trees

fencing on a beautiful day

 Years of weather had not been kind to the old fence, and rosebushes and weeds hadn’t helped anything. So, he ripped everything out, bought a load of livestock panels, trimmed the big trees out back, located his fencing supplies and started his job. If you remember a couple of weeks ago I showed you his “anniversary” present…the MANSAVER.

This was the first (of many) projects where this new tool would figure prominently and he was excited to see if it worked as well as advertised.  The mansaver is an air-driven fencepost pounder. This saves the Boss’ shoulders the repetitious work of banging each post into place by hand. Not only does it save his rotator cuffs…it made the job go incredibly quickly.

Watch the video below for a little demonstration.

Rather than spend at least a couple of days on the job, he was finished long before afternoon chores. And, it is a matter of “working SMARTER, not harder”…no matter what anyone might say.
admiring the finished job

All in all, it was a great week. We got a lot done (we actually did a lot more, these were simply the highlights)…
the brassicas are just beginning to ripen

the greenhouse is full of transplants
inside the hoophouse
early on harvest day

we actually saw the sun every single day (although it did rain on Friday for a little bit)

early morning light

fall colors are starting to show

a beautiful sunrise motivates us for the day

…and the Market was an astounding success. (with just six more markets for the season, we hope every single one is this good)
love those empty baskets!

Hope you are having a Happy Sunday!
it's definitely FALL!

Thanks for stopping by.  Come back and visit us again real soon.


  1. Sounds like a very satisfying and productive week Barbara.

    If you haven't read my post on the farmer's nieces Blue Faced Leicester champion do scroll back a few posts on my blog to read it - I am sure you will find it interesting.

    1. I did see the post about the farmer's niece and her Blue-faced Leicester. He is very striking! And, she is a talented photographer! The farmer must be so proud.

  2. I look forward to your weekly report of the farm. I t is always a good feeling to have accomplished so much and so much easier when the weather cooperates. The final photo is beautiful with the vibrant colors and your grazing sheep. i hope you have a lovely Sunday.

    1. Thanks so much for commenting, Cheryl! And, thanks for reading.
      Have a wonderful week!

  3. Such an interesting post, as usual.. Love the Boss's "Look,ma, no hands" as he stands back and
    lets the Mansaver pound in the fencepost.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Sheila!
      I thought that look on his face was perfect and was so glad that video FINALLY loaded. lol
      Have a great week!