Sunday, April 2, 2017

Sunday Walkabout 4-2

this looks like trouble to me
Well, here we are…it’s Sunday once again.

With the Boss back on the hill, we were both ready for things to return to “normal”. However,  we must re-define the word for a while. Right now, normal means a lot of sitting and more than a little napping while he regains his strength and stamina. And, that big ol’ incision site will take some time to heal.

he was bound and determined
to wash eggs
Before leaving the hospital , the physical therapist gave him orders for NO BLT. No…no…they didn’t change his diet. (he was a little worried when he first saw that…he loves a good sandwich) That means NO bending, lifting or twisting. Do you realize how limiting that is? For a go-getting, take-charge kind of guy this is already getting a little old.

walking on the driveway
don't look at all the work to be done

He had been worrying over getting the broilers out on pasture ever since he went in the hospital.
He does have orders to walk. He’s doing laps up and down the hall. (we have a little house, so it’s LOTS of laps that get boring fairly quickly) So, he’s gone out and walked laps on the driveway as well. But, unfortunately, when he goes out there he sees and hears all those Springtime projects clamoring for attention. My reassurances are falling on deaf ears.

broilers eating
and eating
and eating
 He was worried it was too cold, he was worried that the tiny chicks couldn’t stay in the shop, he was worried I would hurt myself. Every day he said something about it, sometimes multiple things, multiple times. Since it’s generally a two-person job involving the tractor and wooden chicken crates, I understood his concerns. I was wracking my brain for a manageable solution.
broilers on moving day

Prior to surgery, we had made the decision to run the broiler pen down the garden path rather than in the field out back in hopes of making pen moves slightly easier for me to handle alone. This also put the pen much closer to the brooder, so I hoped the actual move wouldn’t be a big production.

But, I was still stymied as to a mode of transport.

Inspiration struck as I was standing in the reefer getting potatoes. All those empty potato hoppers had holes in them (for ventilation) and lids. They were fairly small and manageable since they are plastic... Hmmm

What if I plopped a few broilers in each one, put them in the trailer of the garden tractor and hauled them to the field pen? It would take a couple trips, but, I decided to try it. I don’t know if God smiled down on me and made the broilers extra cooperative, or I have stumbled onto some new model…but, I got them in the hoppers, got the hoppers in the trailer…

…and Eureka!
I sent this as a text to the Boss
"hello from the broiler pen"

I moved those broilers…all by myself. Without incident or injury, I might add. I think the Boss was more than slightly impressed with my ingenuity.
broilers snuggled down to go to sleep

Then it was time to clean out the brooder. That job involves a shovel, some elbow grease and hauling a couple of loads of chicken poop to the compost pile.

cleaning the brooder
makes good compost for the gardens
Glamorous? NO Pleasant? NO But, crucial to getting the tiny chicks out of the shop (which was beginning to smell like a barn) and imperative to keeping the whole cycle running somewhat smoothly (the email about the arrival of batch #3 came yesterday).
a box of baby broilers

Batch #2 no longer fit in the tiny shipping box they arrived in. I found a big box destined for the trash, tucked them inside and transported them to the brooder (after it was cleaned and readied). They settled right in.
settling in 

Mid-week Blondie came to help me de-worm the sheep. This was the first time she had the opportunity to see our new handling facility in operation. She remembered the days of sheep rodeo roundup which had everyone cussing and sheep running wild. She was pleasantly surprised that the two of us could get all the sheep medicated in about a half an hour without cussing, fussing or injury. Although, it didn’t make for any good stories.

Then,  Valley Feed delivered the week’s feed (and put it in the feedcans for me)  I can’t thank them enough! Yep, Wednesday was a big success.

While we were working the sheep, it became obvious that those last two yearling ewes (the ones I had kind of given up on) were indeed bred. But, I had absolutely NO idea when they would lamb. I admit to some bad management at this point, and pretty much left them to their own devices. (It was bad management that got us in the predicament in the first place)

Until I looked out the office window to see one of them lying in the winter paddock, her legs stuck straight out and her belly protruding oddly. Well, now…cuss words followed.  

this doesn't look good

But, upon closer investigation, nothing was actually happening. She didn’t seem in any distress. So, I set a timer on my phone (I’d check back on her later) and headed off to the next thing. With Opening Day of the Market looming, I really didn’t have time to play nursemaid to a sheep.

On my way elsewhere, I heard strange commotion from the barn. It continued, so I abandoned the job at hand and launched an investigation.

Imagine my surprise to find the other yearling ewe had just given birth to a lovely little ewe lamb of her own! The commotion was new mama trying to communicate with this weird little creature who kept trying to follow her. The baby was still wet and slimy, but looking for a meal.

new baby

I helped mama dry the lamb, clipped the lamb’s umbilical cord and stuck them both in a jug pen. When I left, mama sheep was munching contentedly on alfalfa hay and baby was positioned at her side, slurping away at a milky lunch. That was an unexpected success.

Between jobs, I would check back on the worrisome yearling. She was moping around the barnyard and acting “off” while all the other sheep were enjoying the first grass of the season. I didn’t relish the thought of searching for her in the middle of the night, so I finally corralled her in the barn and stuck her in a stall. She didn’t show any interest in any of the tasty tidbits I offered her. She just laid down again with her feet at odd angles and her belly protruding. At that point, I resigned myself to the fact that she was probably going to succumb like her sister before her and got on with my day.
That may sound heartless, but honestly, there are times when you know there is just nothing more you can do.

Oddly, she seemed to start to enjoy her isolation and the special treatment and made some improvement.

By now it was time to get serious about Market preparation and stop thinking about sheep.
green garlic before processing
(looks like a mess, doesn't it?)

the garlic is cleaned and trimmed

clean garlic ready for bunching

green garlic ready for supper prep

I had very low expectations for the Market. I had never done the Market alone (and really didn’t want to this time). We didn’t have much stuff to take. We still haven’t re-planted after the incident with the rats, so there aren’t any greens. Without greens, some customers don’t even stop. And, since I’ve never attempted to drive the truck and trailer, I was going to be confined to whatever I could cram into coolers. Definitely low expectations.

On our first Market day, the Boss made $66.50. Our total has never been that low in all the years since. However, I figured if I cleared that, I’d be happy. God was good and we made a far sight more. So, I must say, we were both more than satisfied with our total for the day (even if it wasn’t anywhere near our usual amount).
Market set-up 4-1
no surprise that a number of folks didn't recognize me

However, I must say, it was an excruciating day at the Market. Repeating the story over and over, dealing with other folks’ shock and dismay while maintaining some level of composure was a challenge. But, I truly appreciate all the offers of help, the expressions of concern…and the Boss says THANK YOU for the cookies, the flowers and the cards. He’s bound and determined to make it back next week. (we shall see)

late peach blossoms survived the cold
we may have peaches after all!

After a full day of much-needed rain on Friday, we had gloriously beautiful Spring weather for Opening Day. There were a number of new vendors and lots of enthusiastic customers. Everyone seemed happy that winter was over and the Market was opened. It was good to see our customer-friends again. I had the rather unsettling, but amusing experience of being flirted with by a four-year-old…and then an 84-year-old. (words fail me here…but, giggles abound) All in all it was a good day. And, just like that…we’re off and running for the 2017 season.

While this certainly isn’t what we planned for this year, we’re going to make it work. Every day gets a little better. And, I continue to remind myself of the doctor’s words…for a bad situation, this is the best possible scenario.”

Oh, I almost forgot…

last lamb of 2017
When I walked in the barn to do chores at o-dark thirty prior to the Market…I found that the last yearling (the one in isolation that I had given up on as a lost cause) had indeed given birth to a healthy ewe lamb with absolutely no human assistance. Mama and baby both were doing well. And, thus the sheep saga ends for the season…on a successful note, no less. That in itself is reason for rejoicing.

I hope you’re having a Happy Sunday! 
 rain and rainbow over Mbrk

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


  1. You certainly are making the best of a "bad" situation. It must be incredibly frustrating for your husband to be confined to just walking. Funny about the no BLT, though! I'm glad for you that those two mama sheep needed no help with lambing. Hope you have a good week and the Boss continues to heal and feel better. -Jenn

  2. Oh my Barb - what a week! It is never ending on the farm - right? Glad to hear the sheep have all given birth and all are well! Glad to hear the Boss is on the mend - and that you are moving on day by day. I do have to ask what process you and Blondie used to deworm the sheep. I want to come up with a system and would love to hear your set-up. Thank you and God Bless!

    1. Thanks for reading, Tracy!
      I'm not sure if you mean how we handle the animals to work them...(I'll have to work on a post with photos...which isn't happening right now) or what we use to treat the issue...(we rotate antihelminthics in response to the parasite load...again, another post another time).
      If you're looking to build something, I would check out Premier1Supplies.Their stuff is really nice (and really expensive) My husband uses their catalog for his inspirations, re-creating the effect with the stuff we have on hand.
      Hope that helps somewhat. I will try to write an informative post when things reach some level of normalcy again.

  3. Hello Barb. Have not checked in on you and the Boss lately. I'm so happy that the surgery was successful and that he is on the mend. I know how frustrating it must be for him to be sidelined right now, but it so important in the long run.

    And look at you, stepping up to the plate like the pro you are. Brilliant move on the broilers and congrats on your solo market day. And bless those 2 ewes for cooperating like that. Here's hoping the weather will settle into something normal. Now if only the rest of the world would setting into something more normal too. Take care.

    1. It's good to hear from you, Kris!
      As for "normal"...I'm afraid we're going to have to re-define the word.
      Best to you!

  4. It must be so nice for the Boss to be back home again, and you both getting back to a little bit of routine again. There is always something to do on farm, but it quite comforting to be in that routine. I have been thinking of you both.

    1. Thanks so much for the kind thoughts! I truly appreciate them.