Monday, April 03, 2006

Shearing sheep, compost, mulch, spring cleaning

A whole week of farming, it’s a good thing I’m back at work, I really need the rest. I was on leave from my white-collar computer job last week, and of course spent the week playing farmer.

Things I got done:

Turned and contained the compost heap.
Finished mulching the dry lot to kill the grass
Put all the sheep through the facilities for worming, vaccinating, sheering, and hoof trimming.
Shifted electric fences around to form a new paddock
Moved ewes into new paddock
Moved the peeps from the brooder to the pasture
Cleaned the barn
Cleaned the shop

Judging from how stiff I am the list should be longer.

Next to the poultry shed I built a haystack last fall. The hay got rained on before I could get it baled up. When I butchered chickens I dumped the guts into the middle of the haystack covered them up and hosed the whole thing down so it would turn into compost. The stack is now about a third the size it was originally but it was still just a pile. I set up a container for it from a gate, snow fence and posts and turned the pile over into it. I’ll add to it again this year and maybe put it on the garden next spring.

The dry lot we build a few weeks ago still had some grass in it that I wanted to kill. This was started but there had been no time to finish it. The power company had sent their contractor by to clear branches away from the power lines, the guys with the big orange trucks and the name I can’t pronounce. I talked them into dumping a load of shredded trimmings here. I used this for mulch to kill the grass in the dry lot.

I spent most of two days processing the sheep getting them ready for spring, first the rams then the ewes. Everyone got wormed and vaccinated, most of them got sheared, but my clipper crapped out with five woolies still wearing their dreadlocks. The vaccination they got was CD/T which requires a booster in 3 to 4 weeks. Hopefully the shears will be fixed by then so I can finish all the haircuts.

A freshly sheared sheep always looks a little silly to me, but when I do the shearing they look plain ridiculous. A few of our sheep are hair sheep, they don’t have wool or need shearing. After seeing how the others look with a fresh haircut, I’m sure their grateful. That’s a fashion statement no one would want to make.

The peeps (young chickens) are about three weeks old and pretty much feathered out. They are still very small compared to what other breeds would be at this age. I decided to get them out of the brooder anyway. I loaded them into a crate and took them out to the enclosure I had set up. This is just a small pen in the middle of a yard with electric poultry netting around it. I set it up adjoining the one containing my older hens. When these mature I’ll put them all together, the hope is that they will be used to each other by then.

I thought I had a real problem on my hands when I tossed them into the pen and they all just poured right through the fence and camped out in the shade under my pickup! I herded them back through the fence (using a garden hose) to the shade of their shelter. They seemed happy to stay there, having no appointments elsewhere I guess. They have since found the water and food and haven’t taken any more road trips.

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