The neighbor’s hay got cut on May 17, way earlier than usual. I wonder if there will be a second cutting this year.
The garden is mostly planted now. Transplanted: hops, kale, peppers, and tomatoes. Seeded: beans.
Grant’s garden is also started: Old Mother Stallard beans and a couple dozen watermelon seeds.
We transplanted a rhubarb plant on the north side of the house.
The cilantro that overwintered is blooming, so we should be able to harvest coriander seed soon. Heather checked a couple of garlic plants, and they have about four plump cloves per head. Hopefully by harvest time on June, they’ll have more cloves, but they’re looking great.
Karen the sheep was late to lose her winter coat this year. She still has a small patch on her back.
I pruned the grapevines, plum tree, and pear tree. I think the grapevines are starting to look more like they should.
I pruned the pear tree lightly, after a heavy pruning last year that resulted in not much fruit.
I pruned the plum tree heavily this year, trying to open the canopy so lower branches will grow and bringing down the overall height of the tree. We’ll see what happens this year, but last year we had more plums than we could handle.
Today was also shearing day for the three wool sheep. We had them fast from food and water for about 18 hours before shearing. The shearer said it might be better for these sheep to be sheared twice a year to avoid felting. He also said their hooves are looking good and dont need trimming, and they’re not too fat or skinny, but to not reduce their feed. Shearing cost $100 for the three sheep. The sheep look kinda funny now… and not nearly so big and imposing.
Yesterday, our friend help us get the town-behind lawn mower that our neighbor gave us running. A kit with a carburetor, spark plug, fuel filter, and air filter was $20. Next I need to buy new wheel bearings for it and for the small tractor trailer.
We changed the oil and spark plug in the Sears tractor.
The Case tractor is not doing so well. The past few weeks, it has been hard to start, which was not a problem before. I replaced the spark plugs today. Most of them were black with carbon. I also topped off fluids. It took about 3 quarts of fluid in the torque tube and a gallon of oil in the transmission. The 3-gallon cooling system took a gallon of coolant. I replaced the engine oil, and there was coolant in the oil. That probably means it has a bad head gasket. Also, yesterday the clutch started to fail. Today I had to use the hand clutch, and even then, I had to turn off the tractor to change gears. One of the back wheels still has a slow leak, too.
I re-routed the temporary pasture fencing on the north side of the barn so that I can access the tractor parking area again. The sheep will probably have that extra pasture area finished off in the next two weeks or so.
A few months ago, we got to use a hydraulic log splitter to split a bunch of wood we had gotten from arborists. Today, we stacked it along the west side of the barn, probably about 1.5 cords. We don’t have a woodstove, though.
We also reapplied wood chips around the young fruit trees after adding some landscaping fabric.
The sheep have mowed the entire pasture down to stubble, due to our not implementing paddocks. Heather has installed some temporary fencing allowing them to graze the area north of the barn.
We haven’t gotten any chicken eggs for months. But they don’t have a proper chicken coop in which to lay eggs, nor are we giving them any feed beyond table scraps and what they find in the pasture.
Something happened to the carburetor on the John Deere mower and it will barely idle at full throttle. I fiddled with it a bit, then ordered a new carburetor. At about $15 to buy new, they’re hardly worth trying to troubleshoot.
The Case tractor has a rear left tire that loses air over the course of about a week. I need to see if I can remove the wheel so I can take it to a tire store for repair. Otherwise, it’s probably about $100 for a field service call.
We’re still getting some kale from the garden, but the chickens have been escaping the pasture now that we extended it for the sheep, so the kale isn’t going to last much longer.
Today I started reading a book called Natural Sheep Care by Pat Colby. Chapter 6, titled Land Management, is a rich resource, and will be a foundational part of our sheep farming venture.
Colby says “[Land management] is the single most important item in any farming enterprise, be it fine-wool sheep breeding, meat sheep, dairying or stud breeding. Land management is the difference between ultimate success or failure. All disciplines demand land in very good condition mineral-wise. Without all the minerals being available in the right quantities, the microbes, mycorrhizae and other occupants of the soil cannot do their work to make it a living, breathing food factory which will nurture all who live off it.”
We worked on building the trail today by spreading wood chips. We also put up fencing around the fruit trees that we planted a few weeks ago to insure against deer. I pruned the pear tree today. I probably removed about 30%, which is more than you should for a pear tree. It might cause the tree to grow over-vigorously this year. But there were a lot of branches growing downward, across the center of the tree, or crowded.
We also dumped about three tractor buckets of wood chips on Heather’s hügelkultur garden row.
The boy lamb looked quite a bit better the day after his first shot five days ago. However, he has continued to run a fever of 104, and he has been lethargic compared to his sister. She is very empathetic and spends a lot of time with him. This morning we gave him his second (and final) antibiotic shot. A few hours later, he was already looking better. But we don’t know if it will last.
Yesterday, we noticed the little boy lamb was limping. We checked the leg, and there was no injury. We learned that infections usually affect sheep in the legs first. We called a vet. He checked the lamb’s temperature, and it was 104. He gave it an antibiotic shot. The vet visit was $250. We need to give it another shot in five days.