Sunday, June 5, 2016

Sunday Walkabout 6-5

sheep shearing day

This week’s walkabout is all about teamwork, girl power and the transforming qualities of a good shower.

Well, now, that got your attention. Didn’t it?

Most of the country marked Memorial Day on Monday with picnics and swimming pools. Always marching to the beat of a somewhat different drummer, we sheared the ewes.

More specifically, Blondie sheared the ewes. This has been our “mother-daughter” time for a long time now. And, I generally write a post as a tribute to GIRL power… You can click HERE to read those. But, somehow the writing just didn’t happen this year. I’m sorry about that and I hope her feelings weren’t hurt. Because it wasn’t because we didn’t appreciate her efforts. We did.

Last year, the Boss and I took on the task ourselves. Read this. So, we REALLY appreciated Blondie’s willingness to take over her old job. But, it seemed only fair to let Blondie skip last season…she was 6 months pregnant at shearing time!

shearing begins
But, she found her old shearing groove quickly and things went fairly smoothly. We were both pretty amazed when she clipped one old gal out in just over four minutes! She was pretty proud of herself since it’s been nearly two years since she sheared a sheep.

No record time…the world record is currently held by Ivan Scott (Ireland) in Castlepollard, County Westmeath, Ireland on 4 April 2010. And the time? 37.90 SECONDS! Yes, that did say SECONDS. We’re talking FAST!

Here’s a video of a record shearing time.

Pretty amazing.

Shearing time gives us the opportunity to clip hooves and de-worm the ewes for summer. That’s my job. 

clipping hooves

And, we had the Boss help catch the last few since everyone was getting a little tired of the whole ordeal.


And, with that…another year’s shearing is done.



Since he has to be kept separate from the ewes (until breeding time in August) the Boss and I will put him on the “list” and hope we can get that job out of the way in the next week or so.

With the shearing job out of the way, and sunshine in the forecast, it was time to get some more stuff planted.

hauling mulch
While I did my “Monday town run” on Tuesday, the Boss set about getting ready to plant the peppers and the okra. He’s in charge of tillage, irrigation and fertilization. I’m in charge of seed starting, planting and mulching.
okra plants

pepper plants

…and those jobs go in the DONE column.

The lambs needed de-worming again. The warm, wet weather is all too conducive to explosive parasite growth, in this particular case, tapeworms
(Monezia expansa). While tapeworms aren’t quite as deadly as the Barberpole worm Haemonchus Contortus, they do keep the lambs from growing well. The first batch of lambs heads out to the processor soon, so we want to maintain our current growth rates.

Another “half hour” job and we were done with another day.

The winter squash planting was the next priority job.

He tills, hauls…I plunk and mulch…he irrigates…we’re DONE!
setting up irrigation

spreading mulch after planting

winter squash job - DONE


…and now it’s time to harvest!

No, not the squash…the garlic scapes.

the first scape of 2016

What…you may ask…is a garlic scape?

To hear our most passionate and devoted garlic scape customer talk, you would think that it’s the perfect food. He can wax poetic on his favorite seasonal indulgence…although on second thought, he will take back that stellar assessment because he’s concerned that someone else may buy them and he might miss out on the bounty!   
harvesting garlic scapes

Garlic Scapes are what would eventually become the “garlic flower” of hardneck garlic. Now, before you get all excited about “garlic flowers” and saving garlic seeds, you need to know that most of the seeds are actually sterile (they won’t grow) and if you’re wanting to raise garlic you would be far more successful to plant garlic cloves (garlic planting 101 will be another post). And, order to have big, beautiful garlic bulbs, the plant cannot be allowed to put its energy into “flower” production.

lots of scapes

 By cutting the scapes, we provide the plant with the best conditions for bulb production and provide our customers (and ourselves) with a delicious garlicky treat. Here's a link to an old post with a RECIPE.

It’s been very hot and steamy lately. 

the dewy broccoli looks like waves on the ocean
the first cauliflower
heat causes cauliflower to turn purple

steamy sunrise

So, we took advantage of that and sprayed thistles in the alley. If you read last week, you know that we found that vinegar and salt were incredibly effective. Particularly because the lambs seemed to enjoy the slightly pickled thistles. The Boss filled the backpack sprayer with vinegar and I tagged along with a bucket of salt. The lambs quickly followed, munching on their new-found favorite snack.

spraying thistles with vinegar

salted thistles

munching on pickled thistles

Again…teamwork!  After a couple of days, the thistles are mostly gone. (at least for the season)

A little more mowing, a little bit of seed starting, a trip to the dump and what do you know…it’s time to prep for the Market again.

As the Boss headed out into the dense fog toward the Market (hoping that both wheels would stay on this week) I set about the farm chores for the morning. More than once it has been suggested that morning chores could wait until after Market, that I should just head to town with the Boss…

it was still foggy and steamy when I drove in at 6:45

Following the big rains, the early morning air was incredibly steamy, it was like swimming through the atmosphere (the humidity stood at 93%) and the beams from my headlamp bounced back off the moisture in the air, rendering it fairly useless.

With the lambs and chickens fed and watered, I headed out back to the ewes, broilers and ram paddock. Even in the fog, I could tell something wasn’t quite right. Ordinarily, all the animals make a fair amount of commotion at feeding time. The lambs call out as they jostle around for the best place at the feeder, the hens cluck as they slowly exit the henhouse in the darkness. The ewes start complaining that they are still waiting for me to get their breakfast delivered and Angus generally voices some sort of editorial on the day as well.

Except, he wasn’t.

I listened for his deep, gravelly BAA-AA to echo through the darkness over the rest of the pandemonium. Nothing.

I thought I could see him through the dark and the fog, but I wasn’t sure. He didn’t answer when I called him. And, worry began to course through my mind.

Finally, I got to him in my appointed rounds. Only to find that he had his head stuck THROUGH the fence…UNDER the feeder. Did I mention he was stuck in the super rigid, heavyweight, cattle panel fence that surrounds the feeder? I have no idea why or how he managed that. I do know that there was no way I was getting him out. I tugged, I pushed, I said a few bad words.  And, I wasn’t about to hop in the ram pen, in the dark, by myself, with Angus. He’s not the sweetest animal to begin with, and he was downright crabby at his current situation.
Angus- stuck UNDER the feeder
in the foggy darkness

I was hoping against hope that he would just miraculously spring free. But, that wasn’t happening.

This was going to take some TEAMWORK. I put a call in to the Boss.

He suggested bolt cutters (which I had already thought of…but, cutting holes in fencing is always a last resort…better get a second opinion) I headed through the jungle-like atmosphere back to the shop to get the tool.

Which, of course, I couldn’t find.

Another call. Which my phone dropped. And another…

he was not happy that I was wasting time documenting the whole thing

Eventually, I got hold of the Boss, found the tool, “swam” back to the ram paddock through the rain-soaked grass and the humidity and with three small clips, freed the agitated ram. Yes! Girl-power. (nah, more like old lady gumption) A quick assessment revealed that he was indeed his usual self. Meaning, he snarfed down his breakfast with gusto and bellowed for more. I don't think anything interferes with Angus' appetite.

As I walked back to the house for the umpteenth time, I rejoiced that we have made it a priority to do farm chores before Market. Angus never would have survived the heat of the day stuck in the fence like that with his full fleece and no opportunity to get a drink of water.

...and a funny Facebook post
(you should "like" us to see more farm stuff)

…and it did make for a good story at the Market!

The Market was a hopping place with good music and lots of customers. Check out the Boss' photos.

…and it didn’t rain!
great Market day

I’ve told you how this place runs on teamwork. I’ve given you a couple examples of girl power. But, you’re probably wondering why I mentioned the transforming qualities of a shower. After a week of working sheep, harvesting garlic scapes, going to the dump, AND spreading mulch, you probably think I mean that WE were transformed. Well…we did smell better, but transformation is a pretty strong word.

I was actually talking about the ewes. Look how the big rain transformed those grungy woollies into eye-popping whiteness!
before shearing

The first rain after shearing always makes them looks so clean and lovely.

Between the bright white ewes and the lush green grass, sunglasses might have been in order. This beautiful sight won’t last long (especially since the rain makes mud…) But, they do look nice for a short while.

…and that was the week on the hill.

Hope you’re having a

Happy Sunday! 
there's no place like HOME

Thanks for dropping by. Come “visit” us again real soon!


  1. Brilliant example of teamwork throughout the week. And all's well that ends well!

  2. I'm so impressed with the sheep shearing! Your cauliflower looks so good! We have some garlic farmers up where we live and they also harvest the scapes. You will see roadside stands advertising them. I've never tried them, however. Have a wonderful week! -Jenn