Friday, January 7, 2011

Weekly Farm Wrap-up

Tyr, our registered Icelandic ram, with Isa in the background
It's been a busy week on the farm. Sunday, Jared and I spent the day setting up the portable electrofence and moving the sheep into their new grazing pasture. We also began putting perimeter fencing up over the pasture fence with the hope that it will offer the sheep a little more safety from predators (read: neighborhood dogs). We still need to make a gate to go over the large opening in the fencing along a fairly busy road.We also talked with some neighbors adjacent to the pasture we're using about grazing the sheep on their property- so far people are very open and willing.

Monday, Jared built some small grain feeders out of pallet slats, they are easy to move and transport and a perfect size for the sheep.We took some time to relax and consider garden plans for Spring. Our furnace stopped working on Monday night so we had to make a late evening run to Fred Meyer for space heaters.

Tuesday, Jared had to do the hay run to Hy-Grass Farm Dairy to pick up a load of orchard grass alone, so I could be here when the furnace repair person arrived. The problem was a relatively easy and a not too expensive fix; now the furnace is working as it should and the unused space heaters returned. Tuesday afternoon, we did some hoof trimming as little Thistle was limping a little. One look at her hooves and we knew why. We've trimmed them twice since she arrived on the farm in October and still they grow back very poorly. Until we see a major improvement in hoof confirmation and growth, we'll be trimming her hooves twice a month. Every other sheep at our place needed a little hoof maintenance but overall looked good. We also checked for signs of ewes being in heat and saw only one girl looking like she may be cycling. Later in the day, we checked on Vaca and the calves. They are healthy and happy however Vaca seemed a little more ornery than usual.

Wednesday, Jared was back to work so I got a lot of things done around the house. I took a new grain feeder over to the Icelandics and they loved it! Tyr ate most of it, even though the girls need it more than he does.

Thursday was moving day! the four Soay ewes and three Icelandics that have been living down the street on a neighbor's property were moved to some lush, fresh pasture in Redmond. I met Charmaine at the neighbors where we worked together to get all the ewes loaded up in the back of her pickup truck. The wethers had never been apart from their mothers but seem to have adjusted okay. Charmaine also needed to transport the stock tank and a bale of orchard grass from Spencer's to Jutta's, so we tied them to the roof of the cab. I guess they made it there okay. When I went to check on our Icelandics, they had somehow pulled the ground clip off the grounding rod, so the fence had no charge for I have no idea how long. I reconnected everything but the charge on the fence was very low. I was concerned about the low charge, so I checked on the fence again at 9:30pm and it was at 8,000 volts as it should be!

Today has mostly been housekeeping and record updating, along with some hay clean up at John's place so as not to kill off all the wonderful pasture while it's dormant. Cold weather is heading this way for the weekend, so we'll see what it has in store for us.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

We're news!

Thanks to Urban Farm Hub for posting this blurb about our urban sheep project!

The Farm vs. The Weather

The cold, sunny days have moved into slightly warmer, drizzly days. The nice hard ground has thawed back into mushy, muddy wet ground. The sheep at our place have moved again into the chicken run as there is no longer beautiful sun to bask in. They spend the day lounging in the alfalfa stalks, chewing their cud, as the chickens scratch around them, at some points taking the time to pick some piece of vegetable matter out of a sheep's wool. The Icelandics living on John's pasture in Renton are now using the portable shelter, the ground no longer shows where the frost fell around them as they slept last night in that lush green, now previously frozen grass.  While I look forward to Spring, something about the cold, sunny days makes me feel renewed. Being outside is refreshing and the ground feeling solid under my feet feels forgiving, not like the mud giving way at each step I take. What a change 5 or 10 degrees can make.

In the perpetual game of The Farm vs. The Weather, I know the weather will always win.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year

I'm sure most farmers weren't watching the ball drop in Times Square or out drinking champagne in silly hats last night. 
We were in bed by 10 O'clock, and up by 7.  Since it has been only 20 degrees, we had to swap out frozen chicken waterers and break up the ice in the watering troughs.  Since our remote sites are self-contained, we don't have outside electric- so no extension cords and trough heaters! 
After the actual "work" of chores is done, it's nice to sit back and just watch the animals to see how they are doing in the weather- seeing the bare spots on the ground where the sheep have bedded down for the night (you would think sheep would huddle together for warmth- they don't) and the frost on their outer wool, and watching the chickens peck scattered grain off ground that is too hard to scratch.
The cold seems to have made all the animals more gregarious, walking up and looking straight at you like "can we come in the house now?"