Spring 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was on cow chores this week and we ran out of wrapped round bailed hay earlier than expected, so we had to order another 10 rounds of dry bails to tide the heard over until spring.  Rolling these things has got to be event #1 for the Farmer Decathlon.

 

By the end of the week, the weather turned.

By the end of the week, the weather turned…

...settling nicely on our Red Devons...

…settling nicely on our Red Devons…

 

...and on Tess.

…and on Tess.

 

Inside the 70 degree greenhouse it was a different story all together.  In our first day, we sowed over 15,000 allium seeds - Red Bull, Sedona and Corland Onions

Inside the 70 degree greenhouse it was a different story altogether. On Monday alone, we sowed over 15,000 allium seeds, the family to which onions, shallots, leeks and garlic belong. Here’ we’re planting  Red Bull, Sedona and Corland Onions

 

 

We got to try our hands at shearing sheep this week, under the watchful and wiley eye of legendary shearer Fred DePaul. He's been shearing sheep for over 50 years and has the graceful moves and missing teeth to prove it (sheep kick).

We sheared sheep this week (some more successfully than others) under the watchful and wiley eye of legendary shearer Fred DePaul. He’s been parting ewes from their wool for over 50 years and has the patience, graceful moves and missing teeth to prove it (sheep kick).  Last year, on student farmer allegedly took so long wrangling and pinning down and clipping that the sheep passed out. I’m happy to report that no sheep passed out this year.

 

To all of our surprise, shearing sheep was an exhausting experience.  DePaul told us that it was a lot like wrestling, except that you get a fresh opponent each round.  75% of shearing is in how you hold the sheep.  If they were comfortable, they wouldn't try to wriggle away.  But most of them are pregnant and all of us our clumsy so it often didn't work out that way.  Hand shears (pictured here) were our first task.

To our surprise, we all found shearing sheep exhausting. DePaul told us that it’s a lot like wrestling except with shearing, you get a fresh opponent each round. Turns out, 75% of shearing is in how you hold the sheep. If they’re comfortable, they won’t try to wriggle away. But right now they’re pregnant making their round bodies rounder and the task even harder. Our first task was to use hand shears (pictured here).

 

Our second task was trying a set of hand clippers from the 1920s.  It works like electric clippers, except it takes two people to operate, one to operate a hand crank and one to clip.

Our second task was to work with a set of hand clippers from the 1920s. They work like two-person electric clippers: one person turns a hand crank while the other clips.  Andrew turned out to be our group’s clipping expert.  “We can’t all choose our gifts,” our livestock manager told him as he bashfully shook off his praise.

Once we were done and looked at our finished product, we learned where the term mutton chops comes from.

Once we were done and looked at our finished product, we learned where the term ‘mutton chops’ comes from.

 

Sheep aren't the smartest animals in the barnyard.  And once a sheared sheep is reunited with the herd the others will instantly start picking fights, because they won't recognize her.  This is little lady is the product of my work, a six year old medium white Border Leicester.

Sheep aren’t the smartest animals in the barnyard (they’re marginally smarter than chickens, but that isn’t saying much). Once a shorn sheep is reunited with her herd, the others won’t recognize her with her new haircut and will instantly start picking fights. This is little lady is the product of my barber skills, a six year old medium white Border Leicester.

 

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Despite losing their winter coat, they’ll  be fine with the remaining weeks of cold weather. We will keep them indoors for a few days, however, because they’re no longer waterproof. Seriously. Wool is full of water-repellant lanolin and it’ll will take a few days to build back up. And even then, they may get sunburned a few times too. But the upshot is that once they give birth (in about a month) the lambs will have a clearer path to their mothers’ teats.

 

Here is a footprint left by a fisher cat as he lurked around one of the chicken yards, probably on the look out for dinner.  I have never seen a fisher, but judging by the size of their prints (my handprint is there for comparison) they must be more like bears than cats.

Here is a footprint left by a fisher cat as he lurked around one of the chicken yards, probably on the look-out for dinner. I have never seen a fisher cat, but judging by the size of this print (my handprint is there for comparison) they must be more like bears than cats.

 

Eliza, Bucket and Josh riding in the back of the truck after a long day of splitting cord wood.

Eliza, Bucket and Josh riding in the back of the truck after a long day of splitting cord wood.

 

And Dina, after a long week spent prepping the nursery for Swisher.  Both the mural and the upholstery job on the chair is her handiwork

And Dina, after a long week spent prepping the nursery for Swisher. Both the mural and the upholstery job on the chair is her handiwork

And here is a lazy-man’s link to this week’s blog post.

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