Friday, May 29, 2015

Complaint Department

"Hey, is this the complaint window?"

"Well, not really, it's just the window I happen to be working on.  Do you have a complaint?"

"Yes I do!  I want to know why you're over there having fun without ME?!"

"I'm working out here, not playing."

"Well, that's dumb, we should be out playing.  Give that nonsense up and come play with me.  Can't you tell I'm really suffering here?"

Just one of the reasons it's so hard to get anything done around here.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Full Coverage

"I don't know why Ma didn't get me a mask that protects my nose too, this thing is awfully cumbersome."

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Class Clown

The black flies have really been chewing on Ramsey's ears and they bother Emma's eyes so I finally broke down and got them some fly masks.

I've been reluctant to maybe waste money on masks as I am not sure how they will work for my donkeys.  I do like these Crusader masks made by Cashel, they are well made and they actually make them to fit donkeys.  Four ears up for Cashel!

The sizing is a bit tricky to figure out and these are just a little too big for Emma and Ramsey, but better a little big than too small.  They are close enough, even if the slightly overlong ears do flop over at the tips.  They add a whole new element of absurd cuteness every time Ramsey twitches an ear. With every flop I am am torn between wanting to make them fit better and wanting to find some little bells and ribbons to attach to the tips.

Most of the time, when the bugs are bad, this is where everyone can be found.

The fly masks fit well enough and work well enough, but I am still a bit dubious about how well they will work....

Maybe if I put bells and ribbons on Ramsey, Emma will just run away.  I suppose that could help get them more exercise at least.

Projects Many and Varied

Getting the garden beds ready.  I always have such good intentions and big ambitions.  The garden beds look so nice this time of year all empty and ready for planting.  Things generally go downhill from here.  Maybe I should just stick with growing Border Collies, they seem to do well in this soil...

I decided to close in the wood shed. 

I got the lumber from the sawmill in the next village and they brought it over to me on Friday afternoon.

It will cut down on air circulation, but do better at keeping snow out in the winter.  The lumber is very green and is going to shrink like crazy so the air flow will improve.

If it ends up being an issue, I can take down every other board.  I don't think it will matter though, snow is a lot harder to burn than wet wood.

After a brief stop at Riding Buddy's for some holiday BBQ, I stopped over to Farm Buddy's place because we were going to castrate the lambs and a bull calf that was born last week only to find we didn't have the proper tool.  It had been loaned out and forgotten.  We sat on the porch for a minute contemplating the situation and staring at the poor quince bush that the rabbits decimated this winter.

They chewed almost every stalk.  Its got a ton of new growth coming in and I mentioned that we ought to just cut all the dead stuff away and see if it recovers.  So, out came the pruners.

We were rather ruthless about it and it looks rather decrepit, but I think it will come back better without have to fight through all the deadwood.

The puppies had fun at least.

Then there is this little project that I started last week....

When I first built the house, I covered this area with periwinkle, hoping it would just take over the whole bank.  The periwinkle is doing well, but the weeds still do better.  A few years ago, I put down landscape fabric and mulch all around the periwinkle, hoping to smother the weeds.  No such luck.

I've thought a lot about what I could plant here that would actually survive and not end up being a mass of weeds.  After due consideration I decided that the one thing that I have available in great abundance that I know will thrive here without any help form me are rocks.

There is a lot to be said for planting rocks.  They won't get eaten by deer, moles or bugs.  They are both drought and flood resistant and are extremely hardy in all climates.  Rocks are generally very well behaved and I only hate them when I have to try to dig holes.  They just sit quietly, obeying the laws of gravity and minding their own business.  Since I grow rocks better than any other crop, they seem a natural fit.

The hard part is finding rocks that big enough to do some good while small enough that I can actually move them by hand without killing myself or exhausting my vocabulary of swear words.  

I estimate that I only need about 4000 more rocks and another five years to finish this little project.  

Monday, May 18, 2015

Only the Tough Survive

There was a lot of interest in the living snow fence I planted a few weeks ago.  I bought 100 of these Streamco willows, which are supposed to grow super fast into a dense hedge that will be low maintenance, easy and oh-so-good for everything.

Of course, this "easy" hedge has to be protected from weeds, drought, livestock and probably stray butterflies.  To this end, I put down a layer of landscape fabric covered in a deep layer of mulch hay.

I used these very dead round bales that have been sitting on the edge of my field for the last 5-6 years, slowly rotting away waiting for me to find a use for them. 

It was a nasty job, but I got them torn apart and loaded onto the trailer.

At this point, the herd still had access to the entire field.  I foolishly thought I could get away with doing this job without their help since they were distracted by hints of green grass.  Really, you'd think I'd know better wouldn't you?  What was I thinking?

With a whole field to graze and good hay in the barn, this horrible, nasty, moldy junk that was left to rot because it was crappy hay to start with was just irresistible. 

So, the next step was to move the loaded trailer back outside of the fence and build a new fence around the whole area to keep nosey noses out of the way.  Then, with the help of the Farm Hand, spread the mulch over the fabric.

Once the fabric and mulch were down, I planted the willows.  I put them about 30 inches apart because I want a dense growth.  They are just little brown twigs and are invisible in the photos but they are there.  Unfortunately, I got them planted just in time for a Spring drought and record breaking heat.  I have no way of getting water to any of the trees I planted this Spring and many of them have clearly suffered for the two weeks of dry, hot weather we had.  We finally did get some rain and things have certainly greened up, but it is too early to tell (I hope) if the willows are going to make it.  They don't look so good at the moment.  Although I do have a nice pathway to Oz.  Or maybe a runway for stray butterflies?

I've done the best I can and I have found that any tree I plant up here on this inhospitable hill either makes it on its own or not at all.  Anything that needs a lot of TLC won't survive its first winter anyway so I no longer try. They have to be tough enough to make it on their own.  I manage after all so I gave them a lecture about self reliance and have left them to it.

I have several of these willows growing up here that got planted inadvertently as little bits of shrub that came home on my horse's feet.  Of course, those are growing in the worst possible places and I need to dig them out.  Hopefully, the ones I actually intended to plant will be just as tough.

As long as I can keep the livestock away from them, I like to think they have a chance.  I'll post updates now and then.

Of Contract Killers and Brush Piles

Sorry to disappear for a few days, there is just so much to do in the Spring and such a small window of opportunity to get it all done.  One of the jobs I've been working on is clearing the brush along my stone walls. 

It started out in April when I was just going to clear around some of the flowers I planted a few years ago and somehow, it just morphed into a month long project.  And I still haven't gotten to the flowers.

I've made four huge brush piles...

...and ran into more of this nasty stuff.  Will I ever find the last of it?

The 4-wheeler and its little trailer have been earning their keep.  

And the Farm Hand has been a big help.  Just think how useful it is having a 50 pound, psycho puppy furiously attacking every. single. stick. Good thing he stops now and then to nurse on his teddy so he can get recharged for the next load (yes, he does have the bear's entire face in his mouth, sucking on it).

The Contract Killer thinks this is the greatest project ever.

In true cat nature, she is certain that the entire endeavor is for her alone. 

 She loves these stone walls and sees them as her personal highway... expressway of murder and mayhem. 

She has supervised every step of the way, doing her best to torment the dog....

....and instill fear in rodent hearts.