A Day off…

Wow!  How do Roy’s days off become so busy?!

Roy decided to make his 3 day weekend a 4 day weekend and managed to get today off from work.  Of course we know what that means for us…getting caught up on lots of projects before winter sets in and being busier than ever!

We’ve been clearing more of our property for pasture and setting fence posts to eventually fence in another couple of acres of woodland for the sheep.  We’ve left plenty of trees for shade, but took out just enough to open the canopy to allow grass to grow.

It’s been growing like crazy, by the way, and I’ve been asking Roy when we could put some temporary fencing down there to let the sheep graze and help him out by browsing with the weedy overgrowth.

Well, today was the day!

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Roy set some fence posts this morning and did some weedwacking along a path so that we could lay temporary electric fence around about an acre of the new pasture.  This afternoon we turned the ewes and lambs out on this new terrain.  The reactions were mixed!

Millie – our most senior ewe (shown above in the header picture for the blog on the far left, checking to make sure all is safe around them) — just couldn’t seem to settle in.  She nibbled here and there, but was clearly undecided as to where she was and where would be her resting spot.  You see, Millie is like a cat  – she likes to find a comfy spot from which to chew her cud and survey everything, but here in the thickets her view was obstructed and there were no real “comfy spots” to be found – at least not initially!

For the most part, the others all got started nibbling at this and that.  Some decided to stay along the road and eat the grass.  Others ventured into the thicker weeds, jumping off rocks and little hills, clearly enjoying their new digs!

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Lily seems content!

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Lisa’s eating the tall grass like mouthfuls of spaghetti!

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Birta’s found a good spot!

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Meahwhile, back to our normal end of the week chores…I headed up to the hen house to do the weekly cleaning.  I grabbed the wheelbarrow and a pitchfork and started to open the gate, when I heard a huge kerfuffle of angry hens and notice a lot of flapping near their house!  I looked over to see lots of chickens flying around…and then I saw why!  Trying desperately to grab one of them was a red tailed hawk!  I was only about 10 feet away from him/her and I was so glad I was!  I dropped the pitchfork and grabbed my hat and starting waving it and screaming for it to go away!  I’m sure the neighbors were wondering who I was yelling at!

 

Thankfully chickens are really not that dumb.  Their collective fluttering and smart move to go under the henhouse seemed to preserve their life this time – along with my yelling, I guess!  That hawk finally gave up and flew up to the peak of the roof of our house.  Maybe he/she hadn’t completely given up.  But I stood my ground, hands on hips, and stared him down until he took to flight once more – breezing by us as if to say, “I’ll be back!”  He then headed off to the woods.  It must have been 20 minutes until those hens came back out from under the hen house, by the way!

 

Our evening was probably the most interesting, though.  It was time to bring the ewes and lambs back to their home pasture for the night.  The fencing there is permanent – much more secure for them to stay in all night AND for potential predators to stay OUT!  Roy and I headed down around 7:30, as dusk was fast falling.  We hoped that the ewes would have brought their lambs close to the gate, ready to go “home” for the night, but unfortunately there were only 11 of the 18 there ready and waiting.  If there’s anything we’ve learned as shepherds, it’s that you don’t try to move part of a flock without the other part.  It just doesn’t usually work in the long run…and long run is what we had.  We needed to move the sheep through 3 gates to their home pasture, which meant through a couple of other pastures that of course they wanted to visit…but I’m getting ahead of myself.  First we needed to join the other 7 with the flock.  Question was, where were they?

 

I walked to the far end of their new area, and there, up near the fence, were the other 7.  They had gotten themselves into a thick area from which there was basically only one way out, and with dusk falling, they really weren’t finding that way out on their own!  And of course by now the other 11 have followed me (it was so cute!  I wish I had a camera!) to the other end of the field, so now we not only had to flush the 7 out from their predicament, but also join them to the 11 and drive them all to the exit gate which they had only just went through for the first time today.  Suffice it to say, it took a bit of running around, but eventually we got them all going in the right direction and drove them home before it was completely dark out there!  Here’s hoping that tomorrow goes a little easier!

 

And so summer unofficially comes to a close this weekend.  The barn swallows have already left us.  The days are getting shorter and shorter.  The lambs are getting bigger and bigger, and many have been presold already, and many have totally endeared themselves to us.

The weekend has only just begun!  What other adventures await us over the next few days?!

Warming ourselves twice…at least!

Many a wise farmer has reminded us that “wood warms you twice!”

 

We’re learning that, year after year!

As we clear new wooded pastures for the sheep, we’ve been providing fuel for our winters.  The past two weeks have seen us loading and emptying trailers near the splitter, splitting and stacking cord after cord of wood.

 

“What is a cord of wood?” some may ask…

Cord (unit)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A cord of wood

The cord is a unit of measure of dry volume used in Canada, the United States and New Zealand to measure firewood and pulpwood. A cord is the amount of wood that, when “ranked and well stowed” (arranged so pieces are aligned, parallel, touching and compact), occupies a volume of 128 cubic feet (3.62 m3).[1] This corresponds to a well stacked woodpile 4 feet (122 cm) high, 8 feet (244 cm) long, and 4 feet (122 cm) deep; or any other arrangement of linear measurements that yields the same volume.

The name cord probably comes from the use of a cord or string to measure it.[2]

 

Because we never stack this perfectly, we’re never quite sure of how many cords we use each year, but we can usually eyeball an amount that we start with, and depending on the severity of the winter, we usually end up with some left over.

 

So, as we load the wood and split and stack the wood, we definitely get warmed at least a couple of times!  And of course, when we burn it over the winter, we will warm ourselves in a much more pleasant fashion — in my case, hopefully with my spinning wheel in front of me!

Here sits an innocent pile of wood, blissfully unaware of what is about to become of it…

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“Hey, Woody.”

“Yeah, Chip?”

“What the heck is that over there that I see in the distance?  I can’t quite make it out.”

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“Oh, ,wait…it’s becoming a bit more clear to me now…”

 

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“OHHHH NOOOOO!!”

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Yep, sorry Woody and Chip – you are about to be divided and conquered by the infamous “Wood(y) Splitter!”   Say your prayers, boys!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sunday meeting of the Tree Swallows

Well, it finally became obvious to me today that I was completely wrong earlier this year when I thought that purple martins had found our martin house!

In the spring, about the time that the martin scouts should have been looking for new homes, we saw some birds that looked like juvenile martins – with light colored breasts.

They hung around the martin house off and on for quite some time – but we never saw any adults. I knew there was a possibilty that they were not martins and were instead tree swallows, but I SO wanted them to be martins that I quickly ignored that possibility!

Well, this morning God made it quite clear that they were NOT martins.

A whole huge flock of tree swallows (ALL had light colored breasts) met this morning on our power line out front — presumably organizing their migration south or something!

Though I’m disappointed we didn’t attract martins again this year, I’m actually quite pleased that we have tree swallows! They’re great insect catchers, and are beautiful to watch in their aerial acrobatics! We will miss the swallows – tree and barn – when they leave for the winter, but we always know they’ll miraculously come back!

Farm to table…

Nothing like parking the tractor down back and coming up to a beautifully set table of your own veggies!

Had a “farm to table” dinner last weekend…Roy was finishing up grilling our own chicken to complete the meal!DSC01401

Luigi’s a “Mama’s boy?!”

Hey…what are you looking at?  So what, I love my mama!

 

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And if I’m really  nice to her, she might let me have a little more milk.  Let me just sneak under here…

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Hey!  I said…”What are YOU staring at?”  Now are you gonna make me come over there and have a little chat with you?!

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Or maybe you just want to take a snapshot of my magnificent face…Is this my best side?  Yeah…I’m such a ham…um…I mean “lamb!”  I’m such a lamb!

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Yes, boy – you ARE a magnificent little ram…I hope someone will want to add you to their flock soon!  You’re gonna make a great dad some day!

Around the farm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not much blogging lately!  We’ve been keeping busy with the garden, moving the sheep around the farm, harvesting seasoned wood for our fuel for the winter, keeping the pastures watered during this dry phase, which was thankfully broken by some nice heavy rains today…

 

 

Boomer and Drover have been keeping up with the lawn mowing out front!

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The beans are in full swing right now!  We’re eating them and freezing them as fast as they can be picked!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We ended up with a huge crop of basil this year.  In previous years it seems as if we could never grow enough of the stuff!  Now it’s in abundance!  We’ve been freezing it as pesto and individual leaves, but this week we tried drying some as a means of preservation..

 

We layed it out on paper towels…

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Put them in the microwave covered with a second paper towel…

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About 90 seconds later, they’re dry…

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We can store the leaves this way for use in the winter.  I’m not convinced, though, that they have as much flavor as they do coming from the freezer…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My first tomato sandwich of the summer!

 

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In the midst of everything going on here, Roy found time a couple of evenings to help our new neighbor lift some of the framed parts on his new post and beam home!

 

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We picked our first apples, which I now know to be “William’s Pride.”  We had planted several varieties, so it took a little time to work out which ones these were.  They are one of the first varieties of red apples to mature.

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The weeds are finally getting a bit overtaken by some of the mature plants in the garden, but second and third plantings of things like lettuce, peas, beans, and fall plantings are trying to fight their way into the garden, so we’re still doing battle with those weeds!  We did add a new working partner to our mix – a Troybilt Horse rototiller!  What a weed-eating beast THAT is!

 

Tomorrow we are set to enjoy a farm to table dinner – right here in our own home…BBQ red broiler chicken, accompanied by sauteed greenbeans, pickled beets and freshly picked sweet corn!  I’ve been waiting all year for this!  There is nothing quite like an entire meal you grew yourself, right here on the farm!  That’s what it’s all about!

First Apples!

First Apples!

We are quickly approaching our 5th anniversary here at Morning Star Meadows! Shortly after moving in, we planted some heirloom apple tree saplings, courtesy of Hurst Family Farm (Thanks, guys!) This is our first year of a “bough bending” abundance of apples! Here are the first two ruby-red beauties! Now how will we divide these between the 10 of us?!