To ensure a sheep's good health, they need to only be on the same pasture for no more than three weeks. This allows for parasites from becoming an issue, which is a sheep's worst enemy. So, today we moved them to another part of the pasture which meant moving the division fence. We use temporary fence for now, so it entaled the use of several hands to get it from one field to the other. By this fall, we hope to have permanent fence to partition the different areas, but for now we move it every three weeks. We've got it down to a science, so it's not too hard to do. It just takes time...and plenty of help. The sheep immediately appreciate the new clover they get to devour on their new home, so the move to them is welcomed.
This spring came with our youngest's first real farm responsibility. Chicks. Fifteen baby chicks arrived to the mailbox while we were working in the tater patch, and it's been a job for her ever since. She made sure they had a heat lamp on them for the first weeks, while supplying plenty of water and food. She's even cleaned their temporary pin and now their very own coop. She gets right in there and picks them up and loves on them like only a five-year old has the imagination to do, talking to them like they are her dolls or her new best friend. She doesn't seem to mind that they don't speak back, except in their chirps...
If summer weather could continue to be like it has been this week, I'd vote for it year-round. What gorgeous weather to wake up to, work in, and end the day with a throw over your lap on the porch swing. Of course, reality is about to kick in with the hottest temperatures in five years...it was good while it lasted, with anticipation of its return.
Today comes with a beautiful start. The air is cool with no humidity, and the birds are full of song and flight. It makes for a fantastic day to clean out the barn, stack hay, empty a water trough (it's a cemented tractor tire that has a drain that doesn't allow all the water to empty), and clean up an area of tin and pipe that needs re-stacked. Glad I've got good help.
Today was a productive day. Not a lot of hard work, but progress was made. The morning started with garden work: hoeing out the weeds; putting up a fence to support the heavy tomato plants; picking cucumbers, lettuce, onions, peppers; and graveling potatoes.
We then put up an arbor for our young grape vines. We put in posts and attached a bull panel to them for the grapes to vine their way up. We hope to have lots of grapes to pick for juice and jam in the years to come. Fingers crossed...
The day ended with cutting some firewood from a downed oak tree on one of our property lines. By the end of that task, there were contests won and lost over who could split the wood the fastest. It's amazing how fast work can get done when the title of the strongest splitter is at stake. That meant more than the monetary value awarded...not much can be bought with $5, unless you are a teenager who needs to buy gas, and all the money put away helps...
Summer Sunday mornings come with breakfast on the porch while the sun comes up over the house. This morning, the kids woke up to homemade banana bread before heading off to church. After enjoying the company and felllowship with our church family, we caught up with the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and the cousin. There's nothing like Nanny's cooking, and the laughter that everyone enjoys around the table. Life is good.
This Saturday found us in the barn bright and early in the morning. The sheep needed weighed, vaccinated, and hooves trimmed. Like most farm animals, a bucket of grain will lead them anywhere you want to take them. The little ones don't pay much attention to the grain, but they will follow their mothers everywhere.
Once the sheep were put in the barn, each sheep was put through the chute to be weighed, vaccinated with CDT, and then placed in the tilt table for a hoof trim. This was one of the first times that we used this new contraption, which was heads and shoulders above the chair we used before. Trying to wrangle 27 sheep into a chair the places them on their back just wasn't appealing anymore, especially now that we have 150+ lb. ewes and one big ram. Besides, they seem to be far more comfortable in the tilt table and the trimmer doesn't have to break his/her back trying to get to all four hooves.
This whole processs took us about 2 hours, while the morning air was still cool. It's easier on the animals and the folks working them to get things done while the sun is coming up.
While we were in the barn, the chickens and the baby chicks were never silent nor still...
Bruce and Amy Fitzwater of Joker Ridge Farm, where life is always busy and front porch swinging is a good way to end the day.