Winter is coming. We had snow in the foothills this weekend but a warm wind came in the last two days and melted most of it off. We are feeding everyone at night around the barn. The cows are right outside the fence near the barn, the horses in their new enclosure off the barn and the sheep inside the barn. All this close proximity makes it nice, we just don’t have to move the hay as far. I cleaned up the house some more, picked up piles and found spots and put stuff away, also filled our trash can. I can go on thinning binges were everything gets pushed out of the house. I want to get the library downstairs rearranged and I think we are going to get rid of our yard sale couch, on the breezeporch, and instead put another love seat up there and move an old rocking chair into the library. The old couch will go to the burn pile.
On Monday, for Veteran’s day, Sarah and I went out to the orchard to burn the wood pile. This is the second largest burn pile on the farm. The one on the upper hillside is huge! It is where we piled all the unuseable wood from the barn remodel and various other wood piles discovered in the barn lot. Our orchard burn pile is mostly composed of trees that have been blown over or limbs from various trees all over the farm. I had dragged the big pieces of multiple trees onto the pile but we still had a lot of little branches to pick up. Sarah wanted to know if we could roast marshmellows once we were done, I said sure. I sent her out with a large paper bag full of newspaper a lighter stick and asked her to start the fire as I got ready. I did tell her to ball up the paper and to start it on the SE end of the pile. Twenty minutes later when I went outside there was a thin stream of smoke from the NW corner of the pile from some smoldering paper. No flames, no wood burning. I then proceeded to start the fire in the SE corner of the pile, sheltered from the wind with lots of single sheets of newspaper balled up (previous lessons as a pyro as a child can come in handy). The fire took off in no time with the wind fanning the flames.
Let’s back up a few days. Sometime last week, we had the sheep in the barn, and I said to Steve, “It’s almost time to start locking them in at night.” He disagreed, and none of the moms-to-be were side-splitting huge, so I didn’t argue. We’ve been bringing the sheep in at night for feed, but not locking them in so that we have the opportunity to inspect the herd for new additions before they head out to graze in the morning.
This evening, Zeke and I were bringing the sheep in to the barn, and one of the ewes was lagging quite a bit behind the rest of the flock. I was concerned, so I moved to a better vantage point so I could see if she was hurt. She was not hurt. She had two little lambs with her! It’s too early for lambs! Based on the gestation time for sheep, these babies were conceived sometime around June 20. Unfortunately, we have no idea who the father was. We had several wethers who were not actually wethers (we call them one-nutters), as well as our new Barbados ram, so everything born this year will have to be eaten or sold. No keepers in the batch. That said, they sure are cute. Photos tomorrow.
It happened some time last week, I lost a chicken. I found the carcass outside the chicken coop mostly eaten. I knew it was coming, there was a lone chicken that had decided it did not want to sleep in chicken knox. Its stupidity needed to be rewarded so I just let it do its own thing.
I am all caught up after this post. I will make a pinky promise to do better and try to be more timely in the future. We have been using Zeke every night to put the sheep in the barn. We have not been locking them in at night just putting food out and letting them leave whenever they want. Usually, they will spend the night in the barn and leave while it is still dark in the morning. They haven’t been eating hardly any hay, so there must be more out on the back hillside and pasture than there looks. The horses have been picking at their food, the only one who has been eating their nightly allotment is the cows. We have been feeding for the last 10 days.
We moved the cows out to their winter pasture. For us this means out front of the houses on the main road into the property. This lets us feed over the fence just outside the barn and keeps the cows, horses and sheep all in their separate area so there is no food competition. Everyone has been working on taming the cows. The adults will let you feed them apples directly from your hands. The bull seems to like women better than men. He waves his horns in the air for an apple then lets Sarah rub his head between his horns. Our goal is to be able to just walk up and rub on them. It sure makes them easier to work around. The babies are still pretty jumpy.
The chickens are going places! The babies got moved out to the baby pen, I cleaned it all out and set it up with a five gallon bucket and the drip waterers. This system works great and doesn’t make a wet mess all over the ground from water gettting thrown around by the chicks. We still have eight naked neck turkens running around and getting bigger every day. I have been keeping the heat lamp going for them and not only does it keep the chickens warm it keeps the water from freezing as it hangs near the heat lamp. I got the light timer reset and the egg production has been steadily increasing, we are getting around 10 eggs per day now. I still had three hens that needed to be culled and Sarah came to me saying they needed a chicken’s foot for her current play at school so on Saturday I snapped necks and removed a foot, Sarah plucked some feathers for decorating the foot. The old hens went up to the boneyard. The foot was then placed in a dry coke can in which I had cut the top off and filled with table salt. Today we decided that it was not drying out fast enough so we changed out the salt and put it in the oven in the salt bath at 170 degrees for a few hours to speed up the drying process. Once it is dry Sarah can attach the feathers. It will be a cool prop for the play.