Like a walk through the country side living on a small farm is full of daily surprises, sometimes wonderful and amazing, and other times puzzling and sad. I hope you will walk with me as I live out my dream of living on this tiny farm. You will come to know the dogs, cats, Shetland sheep and chickens that make up this farm and what goes into keeping them happy and healthy. Come and join the journey with me.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

They say necessity is the mother of invention.....

Saturday was a beautiful day. We'd had rain, high humidity and storms the day before, but when Saturday dawned the air was clean and crisp. It was a perfect morning to get some outside chores done. Unfortunately I had a sick sheep so that took some time and alot of worry (more on that later), but I was finally able to get to moving some cattle panels around to enclose a new area for the girls to munch on. These next few weeks will be their last 'hurrah' on fresh green grass, before I close down things for the winter. The pastures aren't tall, but there is some nice growth that can take a couple weeks of grazing. I'm not sure who invented cattle panels but I sure would like to thank them! Moving panels is fairly easy---several of the shorter panels can be flipped on their side and dragged along to the new area (although Boone makes this task MUCH harder, by jumping on the moving panel). Some wire to hold them together and you have a pen! After I got that set up, I moved on to do some long over due cleaning of barn pens. Most of it is fluffy used straw, but the bottom 4 inches or so will be wet stuff mixed with the straw. A while back I read about someone who moved straw out of the barn on an old bedsheet. Since I don't have a tractor and bucket, and its really too much hassle to try and manouver the yard tractor and wagon into the barn area, I've expanded on and modified the bedsheet idea to fit my own situation. Since I feed round bales of hay, I use smaller tarps to cover the tops after feeding to keep down on the rain that seeps into the bales. These tarps don't last very long--maybe one season, so I have several of them around. They are the cheapie tarps you can buy at your local 'mart' store . I use a piece of binding twine and tie one end on each corner (where the grommets are) on the shorter side of the tarp. I then lay the tarp out flat, with the twine side pointed in the direction I'm going to drag it. The beauty of it is, you can get it as close as possible to where you are mucking out. Once you have it loaded---and if its fluffy straw you can make a big load before it gets to heavy--or a smaller load for the wet stuff--its time to 'harness up' and pull. I step inside the twine, pull it up and usually let it rest against my belly with my hands between my belly and the twine---then I pull like a workhorse! If you've not over loaded it for your pulling capacity, it should slide along easily to where you want to dump it. Very handy and cheap little contraption. It also works well for light weight brush hauling. I'm 'eventually' going to teach Boone how to pull, once I get a harness, so I'm hoping he might actually prove to be useful. We worked on it a little yesterday with him 'hitched' to the tarp, I was actually doing the pulling, but he was learning to walk in front of it. I usually end up dragging the tarp to the garden area and dumping it there. The only thing you have to be careful of, is to make sure you haven't made the load so wide it won't squeeze thru your gates or doors.

You want me to pull what??

Later in the afternoon, I did some yard and garden work---mostly pulling weeds and some of the garden plants that are done producing. The yard needs mowed but I'm at war with my push mower and we've come to an impasse it seems.... it won't start--no matter how many fits I throw.

I also had to go into town to pick up syringes and a new mineral tub for the sheep. This is the first tub I've gotten them, so am curious to see how they will like it. So far they have turned their noses up at it. The blocks I normally feed don't last very long as the sheepies act like it is candy. This tub has a heavier molasses base and is more gooey, for want of a better word. It has minerals and protein additives in it. I'm hoping it works out well. I did notice that there were hoofprints were one of them STOOD in it this morning! The tub weighs about 50 lbs and cost $23, which if it works out will be cheaper in the long run than the blocks. Only time will tell...


Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Hi Tammy,

Do you use blocks instead of loose sheep minerals? I've always heard blocks don't work as well for sheep; they don't get enough of what they need and can break teeth.

Boone is VERY impressive! It's been years since my friend's dogue died, but I don't remember him being that massive. It's probably just my fading memory...


Tammy said...

Hi Michelle,
I use the blocks, but they are very loose and crumbly and they eat plenty of it! (They last about two weeks--tops). They will chomp big bites out at a time... I'm trying out this newer gooey stuff, but so far no takers--just little hoof marks. I haven't used the loose minerals because the chickens run with the sheep during the day and I haven't figured out a way to keep them OUT of the mineral (I have to feed the blocks out of the hay feeder, as the chickens will eat/destroy one that is within stomping distance!)

Yes, Boone is a BIG boy. I'm not sure how much he weighs--the last time I had him in he was about 110 pounds, but I'm thinking he is closing in on 125. He was terribly underweight at 60 lbs when he first came here about 10 months ago. He is a pretty good boy, but is so massive and strong and so totally unaware of it, so he isn't very careful! ;-)