19 July 2009

Progress, frustrations, and knitting

There's always a long list of things to do when you live on a farm, even a small one, and so it's really easy to make some kind of progress. Pick any of the jobs on the lengthy list and voila, you are further ahead than you were yesterday!

Last weekend, everyone in the whole family was away except me, through an odd combination of circumstances. I slept in, ate what I wanted when I felt hungry, and got a whole lot of productive work done without really feeling worn out at the end! I wandered outside Saturday morning to see which job I felt like doing, and I decided to start on the fenceline feeder for the sheep. The Boy has requested a change in feeding strategy, and since he does most of the feeding, it seems reasonable that he should get the infrastructure he wants. So, I took down the boundary fence from the piece of winter pasture that will become the feeder and cut and attached the hog panels to the posts. We'll add sheets of plywood on an angle along the back, and that'll hold the hay for the sheep to eat: they stick their noses through the hog panels, but can't get their whole heads through (we hope). A test run late in the spring looked promising, so here's hoping.

Once I got that done, I realized that the winter pasture desperately needed to be cleared out, so I fired up the bobcat and practiced my digging and shovelling maneouvers. I'm no bobcat artist, but working on flat ground I did have a lot of opportunity to try different things, and managed to improve my skills a little, while making a big pile of compost-to-be.

The next question, obviously, was what to do with the pile I had just made.

I had read the Maple Corners blog that morning, and saw Annie's "Wall of Junk" - the very creatively decorated fence that hides her compost pile. Inspired, I put up some fence posts and cross boards, and made a mental note to be on the lookout for cool 'junk' to decorate it with! A bit more bobcat work and I had the existing compost pile moved into the new bin, and room for another bin. Sunday saw the creation of the second bin, and the compost-to-be from the winter pasture put into it's proper cooking spot. Monday night I actually saw the pile steaming again, which is really encouraging ... and it's shrinking, so it's defintely doing what it oughta do.

The two new compost bins are along the north border of the property, where we really do need a perimiter fence. This weekend, I started extending that fence with more posts and boards - it doesn't have to be absolutely sheep-proof, just sheep-resistant, so that we can turn them out into the area we euphemistically refer to as a 'lawn' on occasion to keep it mowed. Twelve posts later (put in all by myself - The Reluctant Farmer was busy doing other much-needed jobs like sealing the windows so they don't leak in the rain, and working on siding the house), we have a perimiter fence along most of the north border to the yard. The sheep were out there on Saturday and did make a dent in the grass, but since it's not properly fenced off everywhere, we had to chase them back in a few times and now they're safely behind proper fences and gates.

All this work doesn't come without frustrations ... the fence boards aren't level and have to be taken down and put back up ... the sheep get out and have to be chased back ... the sheep knock down one of the fence boards that is only up with temporary nails, until I can check that it is level ... a thunderstorm arrives while the sheep are all wandering around and I have to chase them back into a proper pasture while getting drenches ... I manage to give myself a nasty bruise while deconstructing a shade house to use as a trellis ... but all in all, it was still a productive couple of weekends.

Knitting continues: the vest I am working on is turning out very nicely, if I do say so myself, and I have been working on it diligently. Now I have to figure out what it needs for a collar.

I think I'll go knit some more.

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