Sunday, January 3, 2016

Sunday Walkabout 1-3-16

So, here we are…time for the first little farm tour of 2016.

This was not a scintillating week here on the hill. Actually, I don’t know if we have ever had a scintillating week here on the hill.

New Year's eve...another day...another rain shower

It rained again.   A lot. It’s been a soggy, sodden mess.

That didn’t seem to slow the hens down in their clean-up assignment. It is amazing how very little is left in the garden as they venture further and further afield.

However, the ewes don’t benefit from all the muck and mess as the thick mud gets stuck between their toes. (sheeps’ hooves have two separate parts) This causes them to limp most pathetically.

ewe hooves in the mud
and there's not a thing we can do about it

 And, limping sheep require that the shepherd (that would be me) catch said animal, pry the muck out of their foot and check for any injury. This is not a real fun job as the pregnant ewes are quite large…and fairly grumpy. If left unchecked, this can turn into inflammation and possible infection, rendering the sheep lame. So, a watchful eye and prompt attention is necessary. My other concern is that the pregnant ewes are already somewhat ungainly. Without four sound feet, they can trip and fall, injuring themselves and any unborn lambs.

 Fortunately, there is only one limping ewe at present!

another foggy day

…and the weather is finally drying out!

The Boss’ priority job was to rebuild the propagation table in one of the greenhouses. It had been in constant use for well over 15 years and was beginning to show serious signs of age. (read…it was falling apart) He pulled it all out, built a new and improved version…and we’re ready to go for 2016!

Since, I know someone is wondering… What IS a propagation table?

Here’s a quick explanation.

The propagation tables are simply large trays filled with sand (to act as a conductor) and heating cables and a thermostat. The cables provide bottom heat for the seeds and seedlings, promoting good root development. This in turn allows the plants to grow far more sturdy than those seedlings started in the kitchen window or under grow lights. The table is built to exact measurements to accommodate the seeding trays. 

leveling out the sand base

placing the heat cables.

This method has allowed us to grow superior starts for years, cutting down on our investment in plants and giving us a good start in the garden. And, it also allows us to start seeds year-round.

However…as with all good things, there is a down-side. Which, unfortunately, made itself known in the other greenhouse (again).

just the shells are left behind
The warm sand, combined with moist soil and abundant seeds provide the perfect environment for mice. No matter how hard we try…they appear from nowhere…and EAT the seeds.

And, they always eat the more expensive seeds…or the seeds that I REALLY need to grow. Which is what happened this week.  After I spent some time cleaning up the greenhouse, I seeded some kale and spinach. We really need more kale and spinach! (there is NO end to the demand for spinach and kale)

I didn’t give a thought to mice. (mistake #1) I usually cover the flats with screen to protect the germinating seeds. But, we have these little things that supposedly “repel” mice…and I figured they were working since I hadn’t seen a mouse in quite some time. (mistake #2)

When I went back the following morning to open the greenhouse…there was a trail of destruction. The potting soil showed evidence of digging and there was a trail of empty spinach seed shells. The rotten little bugger had quite the feast!

Before breakfast, I set mousetraps while muttering under my breath…”I hates meeses to pieces..." This is not the first time this has happened…and I’m fairly certain it won’t be the last. But, I must say…that is not my favorite way to start a morning!

And, then I needed to re-seed everything. So, it’s costly as well as annoying. But, what else can you do? Living in the country and growing food…you are going to battle with mice and other rodents…it’s just a fact of life. There’s always something out there that wants to eat our food products just as much as we do. …and all those wild critters have absolutely NO intention of sharing...or becoming paying customers!

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the following morning I got even more frustrated as the intruder managed to eat the peanut butter I used for bait withOUT getting trapped. Oh, mouse…this is WAR!
I will prevail in this one…you can count on it.

With the propagation table re-built and the mousetraps set (again), the greenhouses are just about ready for the growing season. I need to do a little more organization, buy a few bales of potting soil and get all the seeding dates finalized…oh, and place the seed order. I reckon I should get that done this afternoon. Hopefully, I will catch the mouse BEFORE the seed order arrives.

weeding in the hoophouse
it's even muddy in there!

There are a lot of other things that need to be done and calendar is already filling up for the week ahead.

…and there’s talk of a big change in the weather…and even the possibility of that “s” word that I don’t like. I will try to ignore that for a while longer. But, it IS January…

There seem to be an awful lot of things on that calendar that I know was completely blank just a couple of days ago. So much for the “off-season”. 

...time is flying once more.



We may even see the first lamb this week! 

…on that note, I better head out to the barn. (when I get back, I'll get some photos together and get this piece posted)

Thanks for stopping by. 

I hope you’re having a Happy Sunday! 

first sunset of 2016

Come back and “visit” again real soon.


  1. Looking forward to your first lamb and a photo on your blog Barbara. Not looking forward to any of that S word - if you get it over there we often get it here eventually.

  2. We envision a Moat of Peanutbutter encircling the greenhouse....
    Just trying to be helpful, we remain
    your loyal servants, m & jb

    1. What an awesome idea!
      The Hershey plant over in Draft gets peanut butter by the "traincarload". (seriously) I wonder if they would let me have one? lol
      Thanks for the idea, m and jb. :)

  3. What a beautiful start and end to the day. Loved reading all this post.

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