Today was 'clean out the barn' day. On the weekends I try to give the barn stalls a good thorough mucking out - The Boy does the quick-and-dirty cleanup daily (there's probably a pun in there somewhere), and then on the weekend I try to get the big cleanup done.
The Reluctant Farmer was off doing errands in town this afternoon, so I fired up the bobcat and managed to move a bale of straw to a more convenient location. I took one of the windows out of the barn (they are held in place by moveable latches so that it's easy to get them out if need be), then unrolled part of the bale and forked it into the already-mucked-out barn through the window opening. From there, it was easy to distribute the straw to the previously cleared out stalls, and now everyone has lots of nice clean bedding to lie on at night. One of the sheep stalls is ready for use, and the other is serving as temporary straw storage. If we had to put someone in that stall in a hurry, it'd be a simple matter to remove the excess, but having it right there means it's easy to freshen up the cow's stalls with clean straw on a day to day basis. Lambing is still a ways off, so this seems workable.
I also noticed that we had gotten down to the last bit of the hay bale, so while the bobcat was running, I managed to pick up a new bale and position it in the hay feeding area. This was not as easy as it sounds: I had to use the new 'baby bobcat' (we sold the great big one, as it was more machine than we needed, and I'm not used to the new one yet). We have a set of forks that attach to the bobcat bucket, and it was a bit of a challenge to get everything set up and ready to go. Still, I managed. The Reluctant Farmer is way better at bobcat work than I am, but I try to be at least basically competent with all the machinery and tools we use, just in case I have to do things when he is not around. If he's here, I let him do it ... but it's good to be able to take care of things yourself, too.
I must say that our feeding strategy seems to be working quite well: having the sheep locked out while we lay the hay on the ground keeps them at least mostly clean, and they aren't wasting as much as I feared they might. Putting one bale at a time into the 'storage area' makes feeding everyone a matter of forking hay from bale to feed area (for both sheep and cows), with very few steps required. Efficiency is a good thing! Of course this past week the sheep managed to work around the previous fencing that surrounded the bale storage area ... so The Reluctant Farmer built a solid panel that has been highly effective at keeping the sheep away from the bale.
Other jobs today included relocating "chickenville" (the three chicken tractor houses) to a new location that is more level, brushing Mackenzie (who had some really nasty matted fur that had to be cut off, and very long dew claws that had to be trimmed), and scraping the feed pen clean with the bobcat.
Just another Saturday at Apple Jack Creek.
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