Sunday, April 20, 2014
The Weekend in Pictures - Long Post
The tractor actually started off the weekend in blade mode. The son and I put the four foot blade on her early Saturday morning so I could blade out the loafing shed of ancient horse manure and then push it into a big pile. We also decided to attack an old sheet metal covered door that had been left to rot in our main hayfield.
I figure those two huge pieces of metal and rotting 2x6's prolly cost us about a round bale or more in hay each year. I don't know who put them out there or how long they been there but they were so stuck to the ground I had to use the blade to get em free and the old Ford groaned a bit at full throttle and granny low before they broke free. It then took the two of us the better part of an hour to remove the rotting boards from the sheet metal and haul the pieces out.
After that is when the tractor went into wagon mode.
That wagon was my very first homesteading project as a matter of fact. I pulled the frame out of some thick brush and the wood that was on it was rotted to pieces. I then stripped it down, wire brushed all the rust off it, two new tires and replaced all the wood. Back then I didn't even own a pickup truck so I knew if I was going to start cleaning this place up a wagon was my top priority. So far she has proven to be the most useful project to date. I haul so much stuff around the place with the tractor in wagon mode I don't know what I would do without that wagon. The little Ford in wagon mode can also go anywhere and leaves almost no ruts like the pickup or the large Massy tractor does.
After the old junk doors were removed from the hayfield we then started hauling the ancient horse manure all around the place topping off raised beds and even throwing some into the tilled garden for good measure.
I then put in this 30 foot grape run section. No I didn't switch the tractor into post hole mode either I dug those three posts in by hand mostly because my post hole attachment is trapped in the lamb maternity ward otherwise known as the main section of my barn. There was no where to put the lambs and ewes to get into the barn to hook the post holer up so I bit the bullet and used the hand operated model. Since they are only going to hold panels up for the grapes I am going to plant in there they didn't need to go in too far anyway. The posts were the drive in type with a pointed end and I whacked em pretty good with the sledge hammer after digging the post holes about two foot down.
As a side benefit all the materials for this project came from the fence line I took down and cleared out earlier this Spring. I also hauled em all out of the new Alfalfa field with the Wagon... Ain't it great when a plan comes together :)
What this grape run is ultimately for is providing a screen between the garden and the bee hives I keep at the house. When the girls are flying East they come out and cruise at just about head height across the garden and it has produced some stings from time to time when a returning forager flies into someone's head. When the grapes grow up to the full height it should make the bees have to climb some and be above head altitude when crossing the garden. It will also hide me from the hives and the guard bees when I am in the garden. I have noticed sometimes for a few days after I have been in the hives that they will see me out there and come to let me know how pissed they still are at me.
My Son got stung when a bee flew into his hair why we were building this grape run BTW... Ya I laughed at him as he jumped around cussing. While he was doing that one of the guard bees decided to buzz me and I had to put on my emergency veil.
You can also see one of my swarm traps hanging in the background of that picture.
We then moved the 66 tomato seedlings out to the hardening off area next to the filled rain barrels. This area on the North side of the house never gets direct sun so we start our plants off here and then move em out about a foot each day until they are in direct sun. Takes about 3 days and by that time they are acclimated and ready to go into the garden. The only danger is if some strong winds blow em over and they break a stem but I actually have spares this year.
This area works great for this as I water them each day right from the rain barrels. No muss no fuss....
The Wild Plums were in full bloom this weekend and made the entire area around the house and raised bed area smell sweet all weekend. I took a break long enough to capture a few pics of the girls working the flowers. I have a wall hedge of Wild Plum growing on the West boundary of the yard that I let go to block some dust from the gravel road and to allow the girls to work them. The Plum trees also attract some of the pests that would otherwise go for my Apples, Peaches and Pear trees. Sadly the Plum are also under a power line and every few years the trees guys come by and cut em all down. Oh well at least I get the wood chips out of them then.
We had five or six more baby lambs this weekend. Not sure as I was busy working while everyone else lounged around in the barn taking bets on which massively bloated Ewe was gonna pop next. I snapped this picture while the maternity crew (That would be everyone NOT me) were in a birthing stall helping with a problem delivery. These three little guys decided to chew on the waiting area chair for some reason while it was not occupied.
The maternity crew had to call in professional help as one Ewe had quadruplets for the first time in the five years we been breeding sheep. They got three of em out fine but the last one needed help and was beyond their experience level despite some damned good (and messy) trying. The vet was in the areas as all the cattle men here about have em busy anyway and he drove up and had that lamb out in about two minutes. Tipped his white hat to me as he drove off to his next emergency.
That'll be 200 bucks thank you very much....
Mom and half the baseball team she gave birth too are doing fine BTW.
I think we are up to 16 lambs now with six more Ewes ready to pop any day now. We may beat my expected total of 25 new lambs before this season is finished.
Finally as the sun was dipping towards the horizon this evening I re-tilled the first garden section and my Son helped me put out the bean and cucumber trellis for this year. I will begin planting tomorrow if it doesn't rain. Technically we could get a frost up until Mid May but the chance drops to only about 10% or so after April 20th around here. I will take those odds I guess as the long term forecast doesn't show anything to be worried about for over a week.
The only danger I might run into now is getting so much rain I can't keep up with the weeding after I get the seeds going.
I need to get caught up on everyone's blogs now...
Keep Prepping Everyone.