Well we are still here, perhaps a bit chilly but we are here. Our farm has been covered in a deep blanket… I mean smothered by a layer of snow. Normally I am all for branches covered in a liberty layer of white and a clean fresh snow to make fresh footprints in however not now. My chickens have chosen to stay in their coop for three weeks now meaning I also haven’t had any farm fresh eggs either. The horses and sheep have also preferred to stay in their shelters as well. Henley and I have been hiding in our house as well as it’s really just to cold to do anything outside. Cabin fever has reached a critical level here at the farm and I’m sure my husband is wondering how we will possibly wear all the things I’m knitting up. I hope all of you are stay safe warm and dry as well!
As you all know the first day of fall happened recently. For me this is a not so gentle reminder of the ginormous list of things left to do before winter. My amazing husband Jeff has a full time job outside the farm (required to support my wool habbit) so I try to get as much done alone as possible.
This past week I decided it was time to move the sheep closer to the house up on the hill. I chose to do this for many reason but they all mostly add up to making winter life easier. I am hoping that Purdy and the sheep living closer to the house will make them a bit less skittish. I might be able to make friends with the crazy llama.
Purdy did resist the initial moving plan as Jeff has mostly been the one feeding her in the morning which makes me less familiar face to her. I ultimately chose to leave Purdy behind to move last as she was not on board with my plan (and fight ing with Purdy is not my favorite sport).
Lately Gus hasn’t been super reliable working as he has been getting a lot of ideas of his own how things should be done (we’re working through it). I chose to not take Gus down as I thought my sheep were well enough bucket trained and we would be going through not well fenced pasture … boy did I misjudge that choice!
I had my bucket of grain, my aunt was gracious enough to come and help watch Hen during all this. That turned into why don’t you just wear Henley and you can help (two are better than one right!). So I opened the gait shook my grain bucket and they all stared at me like yeah… we don’t go over there so nope. Purl being the only sheep I can count on to run me over for grain came over and was grateful for the snack until I put a halter and lead on her and handed her to Annie. I told Annie to start walking hoping that the rest would follow purl and my bucket of grain… nope. After 30 minutes in the super hot weather for New York in September I almost had them all to the gate I needed them through (I make a great herding dog when needed I just lack a good bite when it’s really needed) when Ewestace decided she was no longer on board and was going back to her pasture … with her friends in tow. It was at this point after quite a bit of colorful language that I went to get Gus.
I won’t lie to you I saw all the ways this could go wrong in my head. Gus isn’t super strong at his driving and lately he has been very quick with everything. My big willow girls are in heat and have been extra difficult for the dog which just creates more pressure all the way around. I sat Gus down on the front porch where it was just the two of us and had a pep talk. I told him how naughty Ewestace had been and how I really needed his help and shouldn’t have doubted him in the first place. I told Annie to open the gate when the sheep got there and they could come in a bit quick. I should add that all this time Purl was oblivious she was all alone and was happy as a clam to be hand grazing with Henley and Annie.
Gus and I went all the way down to the middle sheep pasture to get be able to come behind the sheep. Gus made a lot of arguments with me about how driving sheep isn’t exciting and his flowing locks won’t be able to blow in the wind he creates on his bueatiful outruns. I won’t repeat what I said back to him. In the end Gus did everything I asked of him he did it immediately and correctly. It might not have been the most beautiful thing we have done but it took him less than 5 minutes to do what I had been working on for almost an hour.
In the end I left Purdy in the middle sheep pasture alone to think about her life choices. She was very dramatic trying to convince me I was making her die a slow painful death. Jeff was able to help me calmly walk her to the hill after he got home with no problems.
Gus got many cookies for being such a good boy and saving the day. Lessons learned … don’t doubt all the hard work you out into your working dogs. You will always have something that you are working on with them but that doesn’t mean that in the end when it comes down to it they won’t step up and get the job done for you.
Fall is upon us here in upstate NY and with that the rush to get everything prepared for winter. The girls will need to be sheared next month along with trimming their feet. This will also mean I will have five more fleeces to take to the fiber mill to be made into yarn. We have made a nice area on the hill to allow the sheep to winter closer to the house to make chores easier in the winter. The new chickens are integrating nicely with the adult hens and everyone is getting along nicely. I am hoping to get in some nice knitting time on my porch while I watch the leaves change this fall.
Over the weekend we got so much accomplished to finish up before winter comes. It happened that a warm front is passing through so we were thinking about the coming winter on an almost 80 degree day. Sunday morning we woke up early and got Lola pig into her travel box to take her to the butcher on Monday morning. We chose to do this early so that not only would my Mom and I have Jeff’s help but if anything went wrong it wouldn’t be 6:30 in the morning and dark on the morning we were supposed to be dropping them off. Luckily Lola pig with a little encouragement from Jeff got into her box and seemed pretty comfy in her thickly bedded house for the night.
The next thing we did yesterday was to get the three wooly sheep sheared. A good friend of ours came over to shear the sheep for us which was a huge help. I was so surprised by how heavy the individual fleeces were! Originally we had planned to shear the woolies in the pasture and use the electric outlet from the truck, well that didn’t work out. This progressed to driving the sheep one by one over to the horse barn to use that electric (Luna was not pleased). We got The Little Buffalo sheared easily then it was Luna’s turn. For some reason her fleece did not agree with the shears so we had to take an intermission halfway through shearing Luna to go to Tractor Supply to get a new blade. In the end all three Longwools got sheared (my Purl was an angel of course). Purdy wasn’t initially certain we returned the same three sheep to her that we had taken but eventually she realized they did in fact belong to her.
My Mom made a wonderful pecan pie yesterday that was amazing! Later this week we will finish the chicken and rabbit shelter and then we should be pretty well set for winter to come. Soon it will be time to start thinking about what the planes for next year will be. I am already starting to think about what seeds I want to order for my garden next year!
I have started packing the house which is extremely stressful, I took this opportunity to learn something new. I have started knitting! I started with a hat then for my next project I decided on some nice relaxing…lace. Right, so a giant lace blanket may not have been the most appropriate stress relief. I have ripped out the same row twice now so I moved onto working on the fabric basket tutorial to take a break. This basket is turning out very nicely and I can’t wait to post the tutorial! I also got to meet the farmers that I am get my wool sheep from today, my future sheep are very cute and very large. I hope everyone is enjoying the spring weather!