Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Wood Cutting and Sheep Herding





It was a wood cutting day today. Now that I have all of my Fall projects finished I will switch into Winter mode. That means if it is a nice dry day I cut wood and if it is raining, snowing or just too cold for going outside I will take on inside jobs like cleaning the barn, building more bee hive stuff or reloading/casting bullets and cartridges.

The deer hunters are still out and in pretty good numbers even for a weekday since the weekend was so bad for hunting so I just cut from my own woodlot once again. The heavy winds this weekend knocked more limbs off the Elm and I had another smaller Elm that died last Summer that needed cutting. All in all it made for a pretty good haul and was almost an entire load. This means I have gotten two full loads out of my own lot this year.  Hopefully within the next few years I only need to cut off the immediate property for fire wood and won't have to run all over the countryside cutting wood where ever I can find it.

I filled the rack next to the furnace to over flowing. The above picture is a double row about three foot deep by six foot high and six foot long which should bring it out to about a cord more or less. This is all the small stuff that doesn't require splitting before being burned.




This next pile is all the stuff that needs splitting. It is only about five foot high but stretches out longer than my truck already this year. This pile is what I call the snow storm pile. Whenever I see a storm being forecast I will pull out the log splitter and fill the truck bed with a load for weight then back the truck right up to the wood furnace. That way I am all set in case I have to get out in the 4WD (Usually to rescue the wife) and I can burn whatever I split right off the back of the truck.

By the end of the year whatever is left in this pile gets split and stacked for next year.

I also have about a cord of split stuff left over from last year that I will slowly pick off of as well. It's nice and seasoned and burns hot and fast but I plan on having it all used up by Spring so I can make a stack of new cut stuff in it's place.

So basically I use a three stack rotation and don't bother with covering anything except the stack next to the furnace and only then when they are calling for rain or snow. I also have various other small stacks scattered around here and there mostly green stuff I am letting dry a bit. I will get some logs off the green piles occasionally to mix in with the dead stuff but I try to limit that to keep the creosote from building up inside the furnace.

When I got all the wood separated and stacked it was time to help sort some sheep.




Yep that's me chasing this small group of yearlings around. Using the large open space of the barn I keep em trapped in stalls and run em out a few at a time so I can sort em where they need to go. Ewes have tags in the right ear, rams have tags in the left ear.

Basically they are sorted into two groups.

FOOD and BREEDERS.

I think the top picture is all Food. Except me of course...smart ass. And yes that was directed at a few of you guys.




They are then herded into the separate stalls, two of which have sheep doors and access to an outside paddock/pen area. The few retired breeders are put in with the gonna be bred yearlings because my mother refuses to sell them or eat them. They are retired dead weight like the few wethers my mother keeps.  The breeders have another year to wait before being introduced to the Rams so this group is kept by itself now while the producing Ewes are in with the Ram they have been chosen for.

Basically whenever a Ewe abandons or cannot take care of her lambs you can figure unless the lamb is a ewe itself we have an additional useless life form added to the herd. Once my mother bottle feeds a lamb it is assured to live out it's natural life from that point on. Rarely if it is a Ram we can talk her into selling it to someone else for food but only rarely. Also once a Ewe has produced a few lambs she is also assured a spot in the retirement herd even after she stops producing. By the time the Ewes stop kicking out lambs or are retired due to complications like Mastitis or something Mom has already named them and at that point she will protect them more fiercely than she ever did me, I assure you of that. She even went so far as to hide a Wether a few years back and paid someone to keep another one as a pet. We occasionally get a sick lamb that has to be nursed and never gets big enough to breed. We had one of them this year and that Ewe will now become a member of the retirement flock as well.

I think she named the one this year "Ittybit"... Sigh.

Not a bad year this time around. I think we have 22 yearlings in the Food Flock. Yum Yum...

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!






18 comments:

  1. I split a lot of wood but it is nice to get into some that you can just saw and stack. A lot of people don't realize how much heat can come out of a little bit of wood, it is actually less polluting than other energy sources since we use so little energy getting a supply. Think of all the fuel it takes to haul around fuel, even nuclear. We burn a little gas to cut and haul to the house, sometimes I even use a wheelbarrow.

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    1. SF - You should see some of the comments on the EPA woodstove articles I linked a few days ago. Many a Enviro-nut going on about how much pollution wood stoves put out or burning in general. I was amazed these people cannot see all the extra-pollution civilization brings with it. Brings a new perspective to narrow minded.

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    2. If we did nothing, the wood would release the same amount of carbon into the environment as organisms digested it so burning wood is pretty much carbon neutral.

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  2. I go along with retiring animals when they can't work anymore. I was always horrified as a kid when the Pigs at Animal Farm sold the old horse to the knackers when he couldn't work anymore. So remember, don't be a Pig!
    :-)

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    1. Harry - I am wishy washy on the subject. I mean it's one thing if I have to swing the axe. I know I am a pushover otherwise there would be less cats hanging around the place but animals like sheep and horses can quickly cost a fortune if you don't harden your heart and give em the boot.

      I am really thinking mutton needs to go on the menu rather than just lamb.

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  3. I got behind in my blog reading so a little late on commenting. Referring to some of the comments on the blog posted on the 16th... If you plant the sisters traditionally, I think it will end many of the problems described.

    I use a fish head or small fish, then make a mound over it about 6 in. high and about 2 ft. across. At the center of the mound place a pumpkin or winter squash seed. Lay out 3 beans in a small circle out from the squash. The corn should be about two inches further out.

    Push the seeds into the mound to the correct planting depth. Make sure the seeds are covered. Walk away and come back to harvest.

    This will not work for green beans and sweet corn. This method was given to the People to for the starving moons (Jan-March) not as a Euro would do it in a garden for fresh eating. A climbing bean grown for dried beans, and corn such as what would be used for gabooboo bread or other coarse breads, or added to soups or stews do well along with squash to be stored is what you need to use. Popcorn would also do well.

    Besides shading the other plants, the squash serves another purpose. Coons can't stand up on their hind legs in heavy vines, and they need to get up on their hind legs to pull over the corn stalks to get the ears close enough to steal!

    PP, I think your blogs on you adventures with your mom are some of my favs! She sounds like a lot of fun!

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    1. Interesting. So you are saying that the weak link in my three sisters experiments that failed was that I used Sweet corn and should have used (I am assuming) a more general grain/feed corn that grows a more sturdy stalk?

      That makes a lot of sense actually.

      I am not sure I will ever gather enough fish to bury a head with each mound but I might actually try the sisters again if I can find a viable corn variety to use.

      It would still be a bot too much work for animal grain production but useful skills in a long term grid down scenario that's for sure.

      Thanks for the comment and info.

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    2. Also I had really good results planting pole beans in Sunflower rows this year. The Sunflowers acted like a natural pole for them to climb on.

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    3. If I used the fish head method here the coons would have 'em the first night.

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  4. I've yet to order my winter supply of firewood....quick, do me a favor and load the wood in the second picture and drive it on down here....I've got a twenty burning a hold in my pocket and its all yours. Lunch is on me.

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    1. PP,

      Make sure you get some of those old guns he has stashed for collecting before snatching up that $20.00

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    2. That's a wonderful Idea Sandy. I am thinking an even pound per pound trade of firewood to firearm ratio with an additional delivery fee.

      Sandy will get a negotiation fee as well of two firearm picks.

      What ya think Stephen... Deal?

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    3. Ah, nope. Great try, though.

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  5. Since you will be down here dropping wood off to Stephen feel free to drive a bit north and dump a load here. I make a mean breakfast...
    Then you can go further north and help us chop wood at the Carolina Estate... : )

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    1. JuGM - LOL If I was closer I would cut all your wood for you guys if you let me keep some for me as well.

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  6. Tell your mom that those sheep got it good. We retire old ewes at the sale barn or as dog food.

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    1. GM - Oh we have told her. She refuses to listen and then says it's her money. Of course she always forgets it's everyone else really doing all the work but what ya gonna do?

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