29 July 2008

There go the last of my marbles...

Well, now I've gone and done it.

I bought a cow. And a calf. And the cow is bred to calve in the spring.

Yes, clearly I have lost the last of my marbles.

Now, you have to understand that cattle scare me. Oh, I like cows in the abstract, and I love it when the man who leases the land across the road brings his cattle out to eat the summer pasture - their lowing and lumbering walk just makes me feel peaceful. I enjoy milk and cheese and beef. However, when we're at the 4-H fairs I go the long way around so that I can keep plenty of space between myself and any cattle - they are just so overwhelmingly large and powerful. The fact that someone's calf always gets loose and there's 1200 pounds of meat on the hoof racing through the aisles doesn't do much to allay my fears.

And then ...

Well, and then I started to think. That's always the beginning of trouble.

The Reluctant Farmer mentioned plans to build a barn on the back of the shed, so that we'd have a place to put sheep out of the weather during lambing season and a sheltered spot for various outdoor things.

This led to more thinking: a barn would be a place to milk a cow. If you have a cow for milking, you have calves for beef. If you have calves and a milk cow, you can do what's called shared milking where the calf nurses freely all day, and you separate cow and calf at night ... so you only have to do morning milking, and if you are away for a day or two, the calf will milk the cow for you meaning that you aren't tied to the farm the way you are in a traditional twice-a-day milking schedule.

And then I found a Dexter cow/calf pair for sale right nearby.

And last but not least, The Reluctant Farmer agreed that this made sense.

Good heavens.

Our new cattle are Dexters. Dexter cattle are very small (under 700 pounds, which is just over half the size of a full grown beef cow) and they are considered ideal for acreages due to their size and efficiency. The cows can sustain a calf while still providing enough milk for a human family as well. You can keep a cow/calf pair on as little as an acre of good pasture, and cows and sheep share pasture really well as they prefer slightly different sorts of grasses and they do not cross-infect each other with the various ailments that afflict livestock.

Our household goes through approximately 312 jugs of milk each year, at four litres per jug, and we eat about 260 pounds of beef annually. A Dexter cow will give us at least 270 jugs of milk each year, and 455 pounds of beef, with the input cost of pasture in summer and hay in winter. We are already outside feeding sheep, and so tossing hay to the cows as well adds very little to what we are already doing. Milking is an added chore, to be sure, but the numbers make the decision obvious: the projected value of milk and meat from this investment (after deducting the annual cost to maintain the cows themselves) will mean more than a thousand dollars off the grocery bill every year. I ran the numbers several different ways, and consistently get that result ... it's amazing.

For that kind of payoff, I think that taming a cow, training her to milk, and donating a bit of time every day to the task of milking is easily worth the effort ... never mind the satisfaction and sheer goodness of having home grown milk and grass-fed beef to put on the table.

So, without further ado I am pleased to introduce you to the newest members of the Apple Jack Creek Farm: Sasha the soon-to-be-dairy-cow, and her steer calf Darth Vader.

Sasha & DarthVader

The great Lord Vader himself, looking regal

Sasha, showing off her figure

28 July 2008

Another Farm First: the Livestock Auction

Today was another first for a former city girl: I went to my first livestock auction! Well, okay, I've been to the 4-H auctions, but this was the regular sheep auction, and the only one in Northern Alberta, as near as I can tell.

We loaded up the auctionees and I headed out around 8 am for the two hour drive to auction. When I arrived, some courteous kids (who appeared to be even younger than The Boy) helped me get into the unloading zone, which is a cleverly arranged set of gates that allows a vehicle and trailer to pull straight through, no backing up required! The sheep were unloaded and herded into a pen, and then the stock yard manager pointed out that I had absolutely no tire left on one of the trailer wheels. Huh! I had felt something go bump but it really felt like we'd driven over a piece of lumber on the road ... I hadn't even noticed the change in driveability. There was nothing but a rim and a few shreds of rubber.

Some nice gentlemen farmers assisted me with removing the wheel and replacing it with the spare, and then it was time for the auction to begin. I chose to stay for the whole thing, as I've never been to one and figured it would be educational.

It was certainly educational. I discovered that the primary buyers at the auction are feed lot owners who pick up lambs (and sometimes older animals) that are ready for finishing, take them back to their farm and feed them grain until they are ready for the market. There's a big commercial lamb processor here in the province that buys most of the market lamb, so I imagine they are working to meet that particular demand.

I saw a llama sell for $10 at the end of the auction, too. Nobody seems to want llamas much anymore, I'm not sure why. I think they can be challenging to manage as they are very big and don't like being handled, so if you haven't got the equipment to restrain them, trimming them and dealing with routine things like foot trimmings and such can be more trouble than it's worth. They do chase coyotes, though, so lots of people keep them for guardians.

Anyway, why was I there? Well, we were selling some of the sheep from our flock who don't fit with our breeding plans: we have a limited number of animals we can keep here on just 6 acres, and we want to keep those who lead us towards the kind of flock we most want. I've been informed that the sheep we most want have horns, as they don't tend to push their heads through the fences as much as the little polled lambs ... and heads through fences lead to weak fences and that means repairs! The Reluctant Farmer's input has been duly added to the breeding plans. :)

So, today we said goodbye to Bruce, the ram who has served us well for a couple of years. However, we had to choose just one ram to keep and Clarence (a ram born last year) won the draw: he throws lambs with better fleece (although slightly slower to grow, perhaps), and we did select two of Bruce's daughters for replacement ewes, and it is best not to breed too closely. Three ewes also went today, ewes who don't have the best fleece nor the best mothering skill: Split, who rejected one of her twins this spring (The Reluctant Farmer adamantly refuses to forgive her for this lapse in parenting), Mama (who temporarily forgot one lamb a year ago, but was convinced to take it back ... and only delivered a single this year, sparing herself any further lectures from The Reluctant Farmer), and Crumb (one of Mama's lambs from last year who is just too different from the direction we would like to go).

At the auction, I was surprised to see Bruce weigh in at 190 lbs, although when I told The Reluctant Farmer, he thought that seemed light after having wrestled Bruce into the trailer this morning in the rain. The ewes averaged 122 lbs, and we got 40 cents a pound for the ram and 30 cents a pound for the ewes ... nothing much, that's about the going rate, but it was enough to leave $125 in our pockets after paying the fuel and the auctioneer's fee.

All in all, I think it's a good way to deal with our excess animals, but it's not the market we'll be targeting. We sent in our application for a food processing permit last week, and hope to sell grass fed lamb directly to customers: there's no premium for grass fed at the auction (lambs that have had grain already sell for a higher price, in fact), but there are plenty of people who'd prefer to eat grass fed lamb ... we just have to find them.

I hear lamb sausage is amazing ... we'll be getting some made up in a couple of weeks! Any other suggestions for the butcher?

My birthday present came!

The Boy had wanted to get me some new work gloves for a birthday present, but he and The Reluctant Farmer could not find any (I wear fingerless carpetners' gloves, in a size small ... they're hard to come by). He asked me for suggestions of a good alternative, and so I sent him to etsy.com to find some pretty rovings. It's so nice to have dyed commercially prepared rovings sometimes for a treat.

So ... these arrived today:

One is Merino, one is Ramboulliet. I've spun a little bit of Merino before, and it was buttery soft, and I've heard nice things about Ramboulliet. They look like fun!

I'll let you know what they turn into.

Quote of the day

Today's bit of wisdom from The Reluctant Farmer:

"You should write a book or two. Then I could quit my job and live off the royalties!"

I laughed.

"You might still have to work, but I'm okay with that."

Apparently he is sensing some resistance to his brilliant plan. :S

27 July 2008

Eating Locally

I was a vegetarian for several years. Meat just tasted "wrong" - I couldn't stomach it, the smell made me ill, and my health just seemed better when I wasn't eating meat. Before I made the switch to vegetarianism, I'd been eating way too much fast food meat - chicken nuggets, pre-configured frozen meals, and McBurgers. No wonder I didn't feel well.

I had always loved rice and veggies, but as a full time vegetarian I learned to use spices and sauces to make whole meals of the ingredients I had known before in plainer guises. Chickpeas in curry powder over rice, spicy lentil soup, vegetarian chili seasoned with cumin and coriander ... it was delicious. For more than four years I ate no meat at all.

Then, gradually, I noticed that meat started looking good. The smell was appetizing. I knew that a change in diet would need to be made gradually, and I wasn't at all sure that this was a direction I wanted to follow. After all, there are those who say the corn and grain used to feed the beef we eat would be more efficiently (and more justly) used to feed human beings who cannot afford the expense and luxury of meat. There's something to be said about that.

At the same time, I was starting to think about the need to eat locally: the more kilometers your food travels to make it to your plate, the more fuel is used to get it from the source to the destination ... and in a world of increasing fuel prices, 'long distance food' is rapidly becoming more expensive: look at the spikes in rice prices in the last few months. Then there is the moral imperative of reducing one's eco-footprint - that's just one of those things that seems 'inherently good'. Eating locally means encouraging the local market while easing your impact on the environment: so eating locally is a good thing.

Here is where I hit a problem: there is no local rice. It just doesn't grow here. Grain? Well, sure, there's grain ... but not a lot of it, that's a Saskatchewan thing. Chickpeas? I have no idea if those will even grow in this climate. I kind of doubt it. So ... what kind of food is truly local?


Alberta Beef. Everyone here has seen the bumper stickers and billboards ... I love Alberta Beef. I have friends who are beef producers: buying from them supports a local business (two, in fact, the farmer and the processor). The cattle travel from the farm to the processor (about 30 minutes away) and back home to a freezer at the farm, where we pick out whatever cuts we want, weigh them on the scale, and pay a flat rate per pound for some of the best beef you could imagine.

So, I started eating meat again and it has worked out well for me. When I'm eating out, I still opt for vegetarian choices most of the time ... I tell people that I only eat animals I know. :) It's not quite true - I don't actually know the animals I'm eating when I buy from my beef producing friends, but I know where they were raised, and how. I know they weren't given growth hormones or fed antibiotics just to make them grow faster.

With our lambs, though, I will really be eating animals I know. Our first lambs will be headed to the processor soon, making the same trip the beef we've been eating has been on. I'm looking forward to tasting meat raised on nothing but grass and hay, animals I truly have known for all of their (admittedly short) lives.

Some people ask how we could possibly eat the animals we've raised and known by name. My answer is this: a happy lamb is a tasty lamb. We know that our sheep were happy here - they had fresh water, and lots of good grass and good quality hay to eat. They were never bothered by predators, as our dogs keep the coyotes at a very respectful distance, and they were not pestered by humans forcing them to eat things they were never meant to eat or stabbing them with unnecessary needles. Sure, they're vaccinated against the common sheep diseases - we don't want any of our animals to get sick - and if a sheep does get sick, they're treated to the best care we can provide. But as a matter of course, they're allowed to just be sheep.

The Reluctant Farmer delivered a couple of lambs to the slaughterhouse a couple of weeks back: they followed him contentedly out of the trailer and into the pen, completely unconcerned and unafraid. The buffalo in the next paddock were stomping and snorting, the cow on the other side was running in circles and bellowing ... but our lambs just stood there calmly looking around. We know the processors make their actual end quick and painless, and so we can be proud of our part in making their lives (and their inevitable deaths) as comfortable as possible.

And then ... they end up on our dinner table, where the love and care we poured into them comes back to nourish our family. How could it get any better than that?

Independence Days Update

The blog has been quiet lately ... too much work going on outside! That means I ought to have something to tell you on my Independence Days Update, right?


Nope, nothing planted. The spaces I have are still full! I may have room for some more radishes soon though.

More lettuce (it's amazing to me how about six little lettuce plants are keeping me in salad); a few more new potatoes (roasted on the barbecue tonight - yum!); beets & their greens (does anyone know if you can preserve the greens somehow ... dehydrated, maybe?); and ... the first snack peas of the year!
A sheep got into my garden and nibbled a lot of the blossoms off the pea plants, so we're a bit behind the curve. It was awesome to have fresh peas while gardening!
I also picked several calendula blossoms, which are drying in anticipation of being made into a calendula-infused oil.

The clover and yarrow are now packed into jars for tea, and yes, I labelled the jars!

Well, I stored clover and yarrow tea ... but to report the same thing in two categories would be double dipping. Can't think of anything else, though.

The new freezer has had two coats of Tremclad and now looks respectable enough to come inside. We won't move it in until the basement floor is done, though - no point moving it around multiple times.
Oh, we also acquired a new 'spare' refrigerator. The fridge in the main kitchen is actually a deep freeze, converted to work as a refrigerator via an external thermostat (this is a very energy efficient way to go, and since the main kitchen is in the half of the house that is primarily solar powered, energy efficiency trumps convenience). This deep-freeze-fridge is great, but it's a bit awkward to get things into and out of, and with more of us living here now, we do find that more fridge space is needed. We had acquired a small fridge a few months back, and installed it in the 'bridge' between the two houses ... but it was ailing and indicating that it really was ready to quit. The Reluctant Farmer kept an eye out on Kijiji, and located a slightly larger fridge that we picked up for $65, just in time for the old fridge to finally give out.
We will be moving the old (non-working) fridge out to the shed, where it will serve as rodent-proof storage for feed and other such things. It's useful to have an airtight cupboard outdoors!

Manged Reserves
We cleared away a bunch of wood that was piled up in an unsightly mess outside, and rescued what could be used for indoor firewood in the process. It's all stacked nicely outside the patio doors, ready for cold weather.

Cooked Something New
We haven't been too creative in this category recently ... although I did invent a glaze for the barbecued ribs we had tonight - some red wine that had turned rather vinegary, brown sugar, commercial barbecue sauce, and some ketchup. It worked!

Reduced Waste
We continue to clean up the messes outside ... I'm not sure if this is reducing waste or not, but wherever we can, we do take things apart in ways that allow the materials to be reused. The existing feeders have all been deconstructed (The Boy did a great job) and the lumber saved for the next job. We moved the bus shelter from the corner, and will be taking it apart - the lumber there will be useful for any number of purposes. As we live in the country, we also burn whatever we can, so although burning isn't always the ideal method of disposing of things, it generates ash which I add to the garden, and we try to keep the fire as hot and fast as possible.

Worked on Local Food Systems
I sent in our application for a food handling permit, to allow us to sell lamb directly to customers(processed at the properly inspected and regulated facility, of course, then stored in our new deep freeze). We have gone through the flock list and sorted out who is staying and who is leaving, and tomorrow morning I'll be taking four sheep to the auction. We've been investigating other means for marketing our lamb, and today I updated all my records, consolidating them into a new binder for easier reference.

There's another bit that fits into this category too ... but it's significant enough to warrant it's own post. :) Stay tuned!

20 July 2008

Independence Days Update

And for this week's efforts...

Nada. Nothing. Stuff is growing, why should I plant more? :)

More lettuce: I love salad straight from the garden. In fact I have some packed up to take for my lunch at work tomrrow. I also dug up a few new potatoes - totally not caring if I might damage the roots of the existing potato plants, they look very resilient to me. The potatoes were great. :)

I noticed a lot of clover growing around here so I picked some to use for tea later. Also some yarrow, presumably for similar uses. It's all drying on the top of the stove. :)

Big 10 lb bags of sugar were on sale for half price ... so I got two! $5 for 10 lb of sugar is just too good to pass up.

I am working on the assumption that 'prepping' includes all infrastructure building efforts.
We did lots in this regard: we found a freezer that was being given away - it is outside awaiting another coat of Tremclad, then it'll take up residence inside, probably as the repository of Lamb For Sale (which has to be stored in a separate freezer from the stuff we eat). We also picked up some useful things from a farm sale - several boards (destined for the barn lean-to we intend to make on the back of the shed, so our sheep have somewhere to go when bad weather and lambing season coincide), two new burn barrels (The Reluctant Farmer had a 'bobcat incident' that squished the previous burn barrel), and a wash tub (for the aforementioned barn).
In addition, we reclaimed the shed as an actual shed: now that the chickens are happily housed in their new portable Coupe de Ville, we were able to deconstruct the portion of the shed that served as chicken coop ... and remove the manure, hay, and assorted other messes that littered the shed floor. The shed is now, once again, a shed ... and we are glad to have a place to store our useful stuff!

Manged Reserves
Well ... I looked in the pantry and thought "I should inventory this stuff". Does that count? We did start a couple of batches of mead and fruit wine, as we do enjoy our evening beverages. They are bubbling away quite happily.

Cooked Something New
We tried a few new recipes this week .... none really 'worked'. Oh, except for The Reluctant Farmer's oatmeal pancakes. They were yummy.

Reduced Waste
Hmm ... not sure what we did here.. our clean up jobs feel like they created more waste. We did move two leftover hay bales to the garden to use as mulch, and we have made at least two dog food meals from dinner leftovers (see the above entry on 'cooked something new'...)

Worked on Local Food Systems
Nothing new here ... oh, well, except that The Reluctant Farmer emailed our relevant governing bodies to find out more about the rules we need to follow if we are going to sell our meat directly. That probably counts.

17 July 2008

Knitters Without Borders

If you are a yarn and fibre nutcase like I am, you surely know who Stephanie Pearl-McPhee is ... the Yarn Harlot. She has an awesome blog, is a published author, and goes about introducing people to the wonder and joy of knitting socks.

She is also the person behind Knitters Without Borders .

What on earth are Knitters Without Borders? Well, Stephanie says it better than I possibly could:

By any North American standard, I am not a wealthy woman. Still, there has never been a day that I went hungry or wondered where I would put my kids to bed. I choose between my varied and warm clothing in the morning and at least once a week I throw away food that went bad before we could eat it, buying fresh without even feeling a pang of decadence. I have never wanted for anything more than "more" of what I already have. I am... to most of the people in the world, obscenely wealthy...
As are you.

What do I do?
Take the Tricoteuses Sans Frontières / Knitters Without Borders Challenge.
For one week...

1. Each and every time you think about buying something... ask yourself if it is a need (food, water, shelter, medicine or safety) or a want. Be honest. Yarn is not (sob) necessary. Lattes are not necessary. A seventh pair of shoes? Fabulous pair of new jeans? Eating out? Could you skip a haircut? Search yourself and ask, do I need this, or would the money be better spent on someone whose life hangs in the balance?

2. At the end of the week (or sooner...if you don't need that much time to think about it) Donate the amount of money that you didn't need to MSF. There should be no reason why every single person who reads this blog can't find at least a dollar.
If you can afford to knit... you can afford to donate.

I have an aunt (who is a knitter) who turns 75 this week ... and that just seemed like the perfect opportunity to send $75 to MSF ... a dollar for every year.

Join in!

13 July 2008

Indepenence Days Update

Well, what's been happening on the Independence Days front?

I finally got some seeds put in the 'empty spots' in the garden: some more radishes, more lettuce, and a zucchini. The zucchini is a bit of a 'wild hope', I had a spot that sorta looked in need of something, and stuck a seed in. We'll see what happens.
Oh, and I planted some of the flower seeds the kids got me for my birthday. I don't usually bother with flowers, so this is a nice addition.

Ate a few more radishes, and have had several salads straight from the garden. I love being able to go out and pull off a few lettuce leaves, just enough for my meal, wash them and tear them into bits and eat them within an hour of having picked them. Ah, the joys of the 100 metre diet! I also ate the first baby beets the other night, I just couldn't wait any longer. Actually, the greens were looking weary so I harvested them primarily for their greens ... and ate the little baby beets on the ends as a treat.

I'll put this in the 'preserved' category although I suppose it could just as well fit under 'managed reserves'. We got a pig slaughtered in the spring, and we asked for all the fat and organ meat to be kept for us as well: the guardian dogs live outside all year, and in the winter, they need extra protein and fat to keep themselves warm. In anticipation of winter, I made dog food: the organ meats, a couple of pork hocks and some water went into the canner, which went outside on the side burner of the gas grill (stewed pork innards is just not a smell I need in the house on an already hot day). The cooked meat was removed from the pot and put through the grinder, then the remaining broth was thickened with oatmeal and the fat chunks were dissolved into it, along with a variety of aging leftovers from the fridge. The resulting "porridge" was mixed with the ground meat, packed into bags, and put back in the freezer to await the inevitable cold weather. It's a messy job, but the dogs will sure appreciate the meals when the wind is blowing.

Ten pound bags of sugar were on sale for under $5 so I got one of those. I dried some yarrow (it grows wild here) and tried it as a tea (more on that later).

I finally got the support up for the beans and peas: a piece of snow fencing stretched between two t-posts makes a perfect support. I also added a latch to the garden gate, as a stray sheep managed to get in there and nibble the tops off several pea plants ...

Managed Reserves
Well, getting dog food ready could go under this category as well, I suppose. The leftovers from the ham we cooked tonight went into another bag in the freezer for winter dog food, so I think that'll count towards reserves.

Cooked something new
My mom will say this isn't anything new, but I don't know that I had ever actually cooked beet greens myself. They were way better than I remember them, too!
I also made a cup of yarrow tea: it's supposed to be rather generically good for you, particularly if you have a cold. I thought it tasted good, but The Boy, who is suffering from terrible allergies, adamantly refused it.

Reduced waste
I have been diligent about using my reusable shopping bags, although the odd plastic one still happens.
We did build a new chicken coop today, using only two new sheets of plywood and one can of paint: everything else was scavenged from around the property. Pictures of the Chicken Coupe de Ville will be posted soon. :)
The Reluctant Farmer picked up a new-to-us deep freeze today: it was posted on Kijiji. This actually leads into the next category...

Worked on local food systems
In order to sell lamb direct to customers, we have to be licensed, and part of that means having a separate freezer to store the meat we will sell to customers. So, we need two freezers: one for us, one for the marketable meat. We have one freezer already, so the freebie we acquired today will bring us one step closer to the next step in marketing our meat. The first step has been completed: our first lambs were officially sold this week! We had some muddles dealing with the processor, resulting in an unfortunate delay for our customer, but the sale is complete and we are officially lamb producers. :)

The Big 4-0

Yep, it was the big 4-0 for me on the Fourth of July (yes, I'm an Independence Day baby, I hear it made my American relatives happy).

As I headed off to work on Friday morning, the Reluctant Farmer handed me my coffee and asked if I was sure I could still find my way to the office.

One of my coworkers brought me four absolutely delicious chocolates (since 40 would be far too many), another provided me with an 'old lady survival kit' including prune juice, wild pink glasses and a really big thing of dark chocolate (yes, there is a theme here...) ... oh, and balloons that say 'over the hill' and '40'.

My kids gave me seeds for the garden and stakes for the plants, The Reluctant Farmer gave me gift cards for Chapters and for a wonderful yarn store that has all sorts of neat stuff for spinners and fibre addicts like me, and The Boy has some lovely fleece on order for me ... I can't wait to see it!

So, even though I'm old ... it was kinda fun.

07 July 2008

Quote of the day

The Reluctant Farmer just said:

"I'm gonna have to try playing with a piece of dirt someday."

... pause...

"Well, the cats get so much enjoyment out of it, I must be missing something."

Socks for The Reluctant Farmer

I finally finished a new pair of socks for The Reluctant Farmer.

They are made from handspun wool: the brown strand is naturally brown Corriedale, from a fleece I bought online, and the white is Columbia/Hampshire. The wool spun up into a nice thin sock yarn, and I knit these up on the lovely wooden needles that The Boy got me for Christmas.

I used Elizabeth Zimmerman's "afterthought heels" , since I have never yet met anyone who is as hard on socks as The Reluctant Farmer and there is no doubt that I'll be replacing heels in these socks in the future. The afterthought heel can be pulled out and redone, so it's made for mending.

I don't think I like them quite so much as the socks made the usual way (with traditionally turned heel) but they have the advantage of being flexible and easy to work on: you can knit the whole sock then figure out where the heel should go, and put it in afterwards, and they'll be easy to repair.

I'm just happy that I got them finished before the next round of cold weather arrives. I'm terribly slow at finishing socks!

02 July 2008

Independence Days, addendum

I forgot a category, and I have something to add to it, too!

Work on Local Food Systems
We picked up more beef from our 4-H beef leaders, who sell from the farm. Nothing quite like Alberta Beef raised by your friends!

The Reluctant Farmer discovered that we can get bison meat from the beef family's neighbour, and the neighbour happens to be the person who purchased The Boy's market lamb at Achievement Day (and then gave it back to him in an act of amazing generosity!). We are happy to support his business, that's for sure!

And last but not least, I finalized the sale of our first two lambs that are going from the packers directly to a customer. Now that's exciting!

01 July 2008

Independence Days update

Wow, it's time for an update already! Let's see what we have done:

Didn't plant anything new, as I have no empty spaces in the garden! :) I did make a start on supports for the pea and bean plants, but I have more to do there. I have done some weeding, added mulch (the bunny bedding makes great mulch) and I hooked up another hose to make watering simpler.

Not yet ... although the potatoes and beets are looking like they might be about ready!

Hmm ... nope.

I will classify 'infrastructure work' under preparation this week, as we are trying hard to get our infrastructure solidly in place now, while we can afford to do things the way we would like. We put in posts for the third pasture, and today we put in more posts and ran wire and installed a gate to the main winter pasture in preparation for winter. Looking out the window just now, however, I see that the sheep are eating the grass outside the pasture ... so apparently we need to do a bit more work there.

Managed Reserves
I purchased several boxes of cereal that I found at a good price, so we won't need any of that for awhile.

Cooked something new
Nope, it's been a pretty hectic week.

Reduced Waste
We are reusing fence posts and fence wire in our infrastructure work, and today I gave away a tent trailer that we have no need of anymore to a friend who can make use of it. It was just taking up space here and selling it was going to be a headache ... so when he said he'd take it, I was thrilled!

Learned a new skill
I was the judge for a cattle costume competition at Focus on 4-H this weekend, does that count? It was certainly something completely new!