Mo Bloggin'

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Archive for the tag “fence”

Charmed, I’m sure

Out for a forage; Pebbles and her 8.5 month old lambs - Fergus to the right and Minnie the black in the middle.

Out for a forage; Pebbles and her 8.5 month old lambs – Fergus to the right and Minnie the black in the middle.

Sometimes I think I lead a charmed life.  Scratch that.  I know I lead a charmed life.  The Universe conspires on my behalf regularly, and this past Sunday was proof.  It’s hard to remember sometimes, especially when I’m slogging back and forth to the 9-5 on weekdays and doing tasks that don’t particularly stir my cocoa (but do, however, pay the bills).  Like most of us, I’m still looking for the sweet spot, finding the Work that fits, blows the hair back, energizes, AND provides. But I have to remember, too, that baby steps are being made, and that the good days aren’t a reward so much as a preview.

I spent most of Sunday doing just what I wanted, with no chores or duties (though a few of the latter that I’ve put off are still waiting…), staying fully present and enjoying the gifts of the life I’ve created for myself.  First and foremost, I didn’t get out of bed until after 1:00 p.m. !!  I can’t remember the last time I had a lazy Sunday that was as deliciously lazy as this.  I don’t indulge myself to this degree but a few times a year, and Sunday was one of those days.

I was up at sunrise, as usual, (not too difficult, this time of year) to feed and potty the dogs and make a cuppa

Pal and Daisy, sleepy snuggly

Pal and Daisy, sleepy snuggly cute.

tea for myself, but crawled back under the covers as soon as I could.  The dogs seemed to feel the same way, and snuggled up next to me as I read and rested my eyes (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) for another two hours.  At about 10:00 I got up and made a nice homemade mocha and had some breakfast for myself (slow cooked oatmeal I’d put on when I fed the dogs) and curled up with a couple of magazines (I subscribe to too many to count, and am perennially behind).  It was just what the angels ordered.  Sometimes sleeping in and lazing around in bed feels like wasting a day, but this was more of a treat and even though the day was half over before I was vertical, it felt perfect and more like I’d accomplished something rather than wasted time.

It’s been cold and mostly clear for the past week, and a welcome change from the previous week’s downpours.  The near-freezing daytime temps make it impractical and even impossible to do much outside in the way of yardwork, but it’s still too beautiful to spend the whole day inside the house.

I boiled some water to go out and thaw the sheep’s water.  They don’t drink a lot of water, so I didn’t feel too horrible for not getting out there until midday.  And it’s not like they come running over, parched, when they realize there’s something besides a cap of ice on their water bucket.  The chickens’ water is a different animal, and when it’s freezing like this I pull their big waterer out of the coop and instead use the smaller, one gallon waterers, which are easily filled in the house, and easy to carry out to the coop.  I keep one of the waterers in my bathroom tub overnight and when I filled it and brought it out to them, two hens drank greedily of the lukewarm water I put out there.  I took the frozen-solid one from the coop and put it back in the bathroom tub to thaw and be ready for the next morning.  It’s not so cold that it’s freezing up again during the day, but it will freeze again overnight.

I didn’t do much else but putter around and soak up the goodness of my little life here.  I let the sheep out, of course, and they were happy to be out, and especially with the garden pen opened up so they could get in there and glean.  After their work, the still thriving (and still bug ridden) kale plants are now just chewed stalks, and the chard plants pretty much decimated.  The rutabaga tops are gone (I think the rutabagas are fine) and the mustard plants were nibbled with relish.  They made a few deposits in exchange, and then wandered off in search of something green and still edible.

I did a fence check, since it’s been a few weeks since I’ve done so, and found a huge windfall on the east fence in back.  A cottonwood tree that died

Checking the back fence line.

Checking the back fence line.

years ago, while still not very large, had broken off and landed on my fence.  I was able to lift it off and move it into the duff nearby, Daisy attacking it with vigor once I laid it down.  If it had been a maple of the same dimension I probably wouldn’t have been able to move it as easily as I did.  It was punky wood (though I realize saying that is kind of redundant, given it being a cottonwood),  with a trunk about 6 or 8 inches in diameter and about 8 feet long, with plenty of insect frass and sawdust, and more than a few woodpecker holes.    The fence was in pretty good shape, and I pulled it back upright and used a pair of pliers to tighten it up.

A dozen yards or so down from there I found evidence of something digging to get under the fence.  This is the second time now that I’ve found this – the last time was a month or so ago, near the corner post to the south.  I’m not sure that whatever it was made enough headway to get under the fence, but it was industrious work nonetheless.  I’m thinking it’s probably a coyote’s work, or possibly domestic dog.  As I did last time, I filled the hole with large rocks, downed limbs, and sections of downed tree trunks that I was able to move.  Something wants in, with my chickens providing plenty of incentive for an easy meal.  In fact, last weekend I had a hawk attack, and though the target (my rooster) survived, it was a good reminder that they are a huge attractant and an easy target.  I keep them penned when I’m not home (they weren’t penned when the hawk attacked, AND the dogs were inside), and they’re pretty smart about getting themselves into the coop when threatened (I have seen them running for the coop, rather comically, when there’s a hawk circling seriously overhead), but it wouldn’t take much for a coyote or dog to rip through the chicken wire of their pen.  The property fencing is woven wire, so not something one can get through without wire cutters, but digging under or going over the top isn’t outside the realm of possibility.

Just throw it.

Just throw it.

I spent several hours outside with the dogs and critters.  It wasn’t so cold out that one couldn’t stay warm easily, but everything was too frozen to do much work (leaves frozen to the ground, garden soil frozen) and I meandered around enjoying the sun and fresh air and time with my animals.  I’d cleaned out the sheep shed the day before, so there wasn’t anything pressing to do besides toss the ball for an insistent Farley, and work with Daisy some to get her used to the Monster.   The Monster being her new job, carting (more on this in a future post).  All in all it was a good day, long overdue, and the kind that doesn’t come along often enough.  And one I plan to repeat as soon as I can.

Getting to know you...

Getting to know you…

May Day and beyond

Another two weeks have flown by.  It’s been an extra productive two weeks, with another to follow this week.  First of all, the fence is completely in, and it’s wonderful!  They did a great job especially considering some of the terrain and conditions and it’s a work of beauty; it is so nice to let Farley out the door at night and in the mornings before work without having to leash walk him.  The clearing alone was a job, never mind planting all the fence posts and putting up 1400 feet of field fence with two gates.  I still haven’t figured out how much this adds up to, with regard to how much is left unfenced, but will get out and do the math at some point.  I need to know how much of this is pasture, too, so when I get the critters I plan to get I’ll have an idea what it can support.  I’ll buy hay as needed, but the plan is to have the goats/sheep keep the property cleared and thrive on what grows here rather than import fodder grown elsewhere. 

I moved the hens into the coop last weekend, and they’ve bonded nicely with their new home.  I put up a small (tiny) makeshift pen until I can get to making a nice sized run.  As ridiculously small as the pen is, it’s still larger than their tractor’s space.  I didn’t let them out of  their coop/pen for the first five days, then opened up the door one evening and kept my fingers crossed.  Normally they’ll return to their home at dusk – I just wasn’t sure if they’d see the tractor and think they needed to get in that!  Nope, they returned to their castle and egg laying, such as it is, has continued without a hitch.  Right now I’m using a cardboard box for a nest box, mainly because I haven’t figured out where I want to put the next boxes permanently, though the hens are also improvising and making nests in various places.  The straw bedding  is several inches thick, so they’ve picked a few quiet corners and done their own thing, which is so nice for them.  They love their roosts, and most nights all but a couple are perched on the top roost, about four feet off the ground.  Life is good. 

The chicks continue to grow and are now outgrowing their box in the garage.  They’re nearly ready to move outside – there are four of them that still haven’t feathered out sufficiently to go outside full time (nights), but they’re enjoying the days in the sunshine. 

We’ve had four days of fantastic weather after a week of subnormal temps.  It dipped into the 30s several nights at the end of April and into May and set a few low temperature records.  Combined with the rain coming down in buckets, I was glad I hadn’t switched out of my winter parka yet.  It’s sunny and warm now though, and the nights have been clear and cool-ish, just like May is supposed to be.  And unlike last May’s July heat.  I’m glad it’s back to normal.

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