Sunday, March 13, 2016

Sunday Walkabout 3-13

a sure sign of Spring!

Wow! It has been a productive week here on the hill.

I do love a productive week.

Although, I must admit, I don’t  care for the sore muscles and tiredness that come along with a good week’s work. But, that’s why I appreciate Sunday (and ibuprofen) so much.

Things seem to move along at warp speed this time of year as new jobs pop up at every turn.  The weather has been incredibly warm and it is really beginning to look like we pretty much missed winter weather this year. (no complaints from me about that)

finishing up the field pen

The Boss completed the broiler pen early in the week. But, before he could put it in position in the field, Angus needed to move out of the tractor shed and into his own paddock. 

I think he knew something was about to happen.

Time to try out the ram hauler!

I must admit, I had my doubts about this contraption. But, anything would be better than some of the ways we’ve attempted to move rams over the years. Herding a single animal with flocking instincts is difficult and trying to lead an animal that isn’t halter-broke is a nightmare…so, you can believe me when I say this worked like a dream!

He walked in, he rode along, he hopped out…and presto…he’s re-located.

isn't he handsome?

I don’t think he was too thrilled to find that he was still all alone, but he has adjusted nicely. The ewes aren’t so happy…they know when the Boss fires up the tractor that something is happening. And, they can smell that fresh, green grass and they keep standing at the fence protesting their unfair confinement.

one more load of hay
They were somewhat consoled when we picked up the last load of hay from the hay guy. We aren’t in the desperate straits concerning the hay supply that we were this time last year, but, we had the hay on reserve, so it was important to follow through and pick it up. Besides, this way we’ll be ahead for next year. A big thanks to the kids for helping the “old folks” unload and stack. 

moving the pen to the field

new pen in position and ready for birds

With the ram moved, the broiler pen completed, the hay stacked and the tractor parked in the newly cleaned tractor shed, the Boss finally completed a project he started last season. He put gravel and pavers in the processing shed. Not only does this look nicer, but it will give me a level place to stand on processing days. I can’t wait to try it out.  I do need to scrub the walls and the sink and we’re ready for the season. But, it won’t be long. Just five weeks to the first processing day…

Let’s face it...the season is rolling...we might as well say it’s Spring.

While some folks might note the first robin or daffodils as the first sign of Spring…for me, it’s algae in the stocktank. The first stretch of warm weather brings a bloom of green scum that has to be addressed on a regular basis. It’s not particularly good for the animals to drink the algae and the best way to clean it is to use a scrub brush. There are water additives out there that keep the algae at bay, but most of them contain levels of copper that would kill the sheep.  Someone suggested goldfish, but, I can imagine how the little fishies swimming around their noses would make the sheep freaky. 

So, I just keep scrubbing…
so clean and tidy...

However, my reason for being in the barnlot had nothing to do with the stocktank or goldfish. As unbelievable as it might seem, given this week’s amazing temperatures, this time last year we were digging out from a nearly a foot of snow! The only way to get the creep feeder clear for the lambs was to use a shovel to remove the snow and open it up. The metal shovel left deep gouges in the top of the feeder that were starting to rust. This was only going to get worse...and a creep feeder with no top is of no use. And, while I keep asking for another creep feeder, I want an additional one, not a replacement. They are not cheap, so we need to take good care of what we have. Good thing I love to paint!


It just wouldn't be a barn job without a little helping NOSE from "Girlfriend"!

finished feeder back in use

But, even my paint job failed to impress the sheep. They are seriously hung up on the scent of fresh, green grass...out there...
it won't be long until it's time to graze once more

Although, honestly, I don’t know how they can smell it, because to the uninitiated, this time of year is just plain stinky. I can guarantee you’re not aware of any “fresh floral scents” as the sprayer trucks, spreader trucks and tractors head out to get the fields ready for crops. I have heard more than one farmer refer it as the “smell of money”…and, while that may be true, it’s a little odoriferous when the wind is blowing just right. Read this old post about “spring spreadin’ “  Click HERE.  

compost on middle garden
We did our share of spreading, too---although on a much smaller scale. The Boss put compost on the middle garden before plowing it and the back garden. The middle garden will see broccoli plants in less than a month...and ‘taters will be going out back real soon. I spread the compost out over the asparagus patch in hopes of a bumper crop---in another month or so.
finished asparagus patch

plowing the middle garden

you have to look closely...but, there are signs that Spring IS coming!

In other news, "lamb racing" season is in full swing. It's hilarious to watch and we have absolutely no reason to ever be bored. 
look at the extension!
look at the muscling!

racing is on an endless repeat cycle for a while in the Spring
...and there they go the other way...

With time getting ever shorter until Opening Day, it’s time to get serious about the hoophouses. 

There is a WHOLE lot of work to do.  One day, I put in some onion sets (for green onions) and some seeds, turned on the irrigation system and went on my way.

When I went back later to weed the green garlic and shallots, it was evident that the water had never gotten to my completed project. Not only had it not gotten any water, there had been a flood on the other side of the hoophouse.

An investigation was launched.

Apparently, a rat found that hoophouse living suited her quite well.  Can’t say that I blame her. Protection from the elements and fresh groceries 24/7 and an old hay bale made for a most luxurious rat habitat…but, I guess a water supply proved to be a problem. So, she ate a three-inch hole in the supply line hose. Every time I turned on the water, a flood ensued just below the rat housing.

eaten hose

If you’re wondering how I know it was a rat…oh, I know. I’m really surprised all of Mbrk doesn’t know. I picked up the hay bale that we were using to insulate the irrigation regulator from freezing…and the rat looked at me from her lovely little home. I screamed. The rat looked terrified and scurried away. The dogs came barking furiously to the “rescue”. The hens (who were enjoying the hoophouse weeds right outside the door) all shrieked and flew off.

Then, I found a rat nest. Fortunately, the rat had not yet had the babies as the nest was still in pristine condition. I’m sure all of Mbrk is grateful for this, because I cannot convey to you the ruckus that would have ensued if I had put my hand into an entire nest full of baby rats!

repairing the rat damage
The Boss was summoned and the system repaired.

The shallots and green garlic don’t seem to have suffered from the extra watering, although I now know that it is much better to water AFTER weeding. My gloves may be dry by next week…and my jeans smell like algae and are covered in mud. And, I don’t know when I will be able to wear my boots indoors again. But, the weeding is done.
I am SO excited about the shallot crop!

Ah, yes…Spring.

The hoophouses will be the focus of our full attention in the upcoming week. (and I’m really hoping that the rat is too traumatized to ever attempt to move back in) Those little seeds I started a couple of weeks ago have become healthy, hearty seedlings that are just waiting to be transplanted. I love putting the transplants in the ground, it looks so beautiful and holds such promise.


beautiful sunlit lettuce

…and that was the week on the hill.
all tuckered out after some serious "lamb racing"
I hope you have a Happy Sunday! 

Thanks for stopping by…come visit us again real soon.

P.S. It's National Ag Week
…does Ag mean anything to you?

1 comment:

  1. Oh Barbara, that made me laugh. With regard to the rat problem (we have such problems in winter too) I have to say - there are just some times in life when a man really does come in handy.