28 May 2008

Wooly Lawnmowers

Why dig out the string trimmer when you have sheep?

After all, that's what makes a great lawn, sheep grazing on it. So we fenced off the front of the house for the sheep. We did have to put some jug panels up on the stairs to prevent sheep from coming up onto the porch and making themselves at home. I figure we've got about a week of grazing here for the 32 yearlings and wethers. They like to run under the porch, at least until I walk on top and then sheep come exploding out from under it. They are enjoying the fresh grass.

25 May 2008

Late Snow!

Yesterday there was snow down on Jumbo Mountain. I didn't get a picture, it was off and on cloudy and by the afternoon it had melted. I don't remember when we had snow this far down the mountain this late in recent years although we can get snow as late as June. It was sure pretty although cold. The rain we got here will certainly help the new pastures get going.

18 May 2008

Planting, Marking, Lambing and more

Lots has been going on and I haven't updated this very much since we've been so busy.

The white shed is now completely gone. It sure looks different out there now. We still have a few of the foundation pieces that need to be removed. They are rotten logs embedded into the ground so it will take a while.

We also had a major hail storm on 8 May. I thought that it took off lots of the apple blossom buds but it only took off stuff near the top. The ground was white like it had snowed and the sheep were all racing around and very upset.

During the storm one ewe put her lambs in the dog house we had for the guard dogs from this winter. These lambs seemed to really enjoy being out of the hail. Several other ewes also figured this out and so there were several lambs from different mothers in there at one time.

On the 12th of May the two fields got planted. We are using a mixture of meadow brome, orchardgrass, smooth brome, ryegrass, wheatgrass, festolium and oats as a nurse crop. We'll see how it all grows this year and frost seed a clover next spring if we don't have too many broadleaf weeds. The fields got planted just in time. Starting that evening and for the next day we had rain. We got almost 3/4 of an inch of rain, just perfect to settle the seeds in and get them started. We still have to get the field marked and ready to irrigate but the rain was perfectly timed.

By the 16th of May the orchard was in full bloom. In spite of the hail and the snow later we still have a lot of blossoms. When you walk out into the orchard the trees hum from all the bees. There are also a lot of moths and hummingbirds that are pollinating the flowers. We might actually have some apples this year if the blossoms are any indication.

The orchard looks really nice in full bloom in spite of its age.

Yesterday the fields got marked. Today we have to get all the irrigation pipes installed and start watering the fields.

Lambing is winding down. We are pretty much at the end of the time for the primary rams to produce lambs. So far we have had 60 live lambs and 3 stillborn ones. 42 ewes have lambed and there are 15 left to go. Tomorrow we plan to sort out the ewes that have not yet lambed and separate them from the ones that have so it's easier to locate them. I suspect that none of the remaining 15 will lamb until the second period which won't start until the first week of June. All the lambs are growing well and I'm really pleased with their overall quality.

07 May 2008


We're getting down to the last of the demolition projects on the farm. This old shed was near one corner of the front field. The wooden supports had been eaten by horses and the siding was just particle board that had been painted. It didn't have any foundation, just some old treated telephone poles and was not able to be moved to a location where we could use it.

So we tore it down. After sawing it in half Ken pushed it over with the tractor so we could reach to tear it all apart into pieces that will fit into the small construction dumpster. Ken filled up one dumpster and we've got maybe 1 or 2 more loads before it's all gone. None of the parts were able to be salvaged, they were all rotting and in very bad shape.

Once this is gone there is only one more real demolition job, the removal of the old apple cellar that is caving in. That may take several more years, it's going to be a big job once we tackle it.

More Disking

Several passes later and the front field is looking pretty good. Still need to disk it once more to break up theclods but we should be ready to plant later this week. As soon as it's planted and marked we'll have to hurry to get the irrigation pipes set up and get water on it.

The field below the guest house in the old pear orchard is also coming along. More rocks turned up there. The horses are still in that field and they were not to happy with the tractor work.

04 May 2008

Disking the Field

Our front west field is being disked now to prepare it for planting. We don't have a big enough tractor or disk to do this sort of work on the fields so we hire the job out to custom farmers in our area.

We're going to put it back to permanent irrigated pasture. We will be planting a mix of grasses this year that we can either graze or hay as needed. It's unlikely we'll get much feed from the planting this year but we can let it grow all summer and then graze it off this fall after a major frost and it stops growing. We will eventually add in clover but not this first year in case we have to do any spraying to kill broadleaf weeds. We can always frost seed clover in the spring if the weed load isn't too bad.

We had originally hoped to be able to do rotations of grass and various annual forages but all we do when we disturb the ground is plow up a nice new crop of rocks so for us a permanent pasture is the only viable option. It will be nice to have this all done though. It will give us many more options for grazing for the sheep and we might even get a bit of hay in some years. Our front pear orchard field will be done as well.

Sheep Mathematics

Caridwen is a sheep math wizard, or at least an A student. She can count to three. Not only does she feed all three lambs but if she has only two she goes in search of the missing one. The way this years' lambs are running and bouncing around at very young ages keeping track of three at once is a big job.

Last year when we made up sets of triplets we separated them and fed the lambs with creep feed and the moms some grain. Caridwen is a big strong ewe and looks like she is feeding all three for now. So we're just going to watch and wait and see how she does. We can always separate her and feed her and the lambs extra of she starts to lose body condition.

02 May 2008

Final Electrical Inspection

Jake finished all the electrical stuff except 1 fixture and a couple of outlet plates but the inspector came and gave us the final check-off on the electrical.

This is great news, Ken can fill the trench now and we can finish up the fencing on the west side of the new shop.