The Jungle Recedes…a little, for now…

Keeping up with mowing, where the sheep AREN’T, is a constant and steady chore.  Each day, I mow a bit…the edges near the woods, around the fencelines, around the vegetable garden, the “lawn” (a fancy word for the same stuff, which is growing around the house), …ongoing maintenance.  In addition, when the sheep are finished in a particular pasture, I need to mow it after them…sounds silly, but truth is, there are some things they won’t eat, largely, invasive annuals, and if I mow them down, they don’t go to seed and produce more of themselves.   So, I mow…every day, practically.  I’m about to put the sheep in a patch of blackberry brambles out beyond the far pasture, part of reclaiming more of the land for pasture for the future.  John will mow through the woods today, a swath, so I can put out the fencing.  Then, the sheep will go in, and have a ball eating blackberry and other shrubbery.  Blackberry and wild raspberry type bushes are very good for them, a toner and tonic for their reproductive tracts, and nourishing food as well.

In the next two weeks, I have to put up fencing on John’s pasture (his part of the front, where he raises veggies and fruit trees, but where there is also a lot of unused pasture, which he graciously lets me use, though he tries to micromanage the use of same, suggesting when I should move the animals…well, it IS his pasture!) for it is time to separate the boys from the moms.  There are six or eight of them, can’t quite remember, offhand. At least two are not registerable, and I think I have them sold for meat.  One is iffy: he is gorgeous, but has a fifth horn, a scur.  Should that scur fall off, he will have perfectly spaced four horns.  When I catch him, I’ll check it all out.  And there are three or four left who are good breeding ram potential, at this point.  Horns coming in nicely, good conformation, excellent fleece and markings…hopefully, I can sell at least one of them, if not more.  (The thing is, you only need ONE ram and maybe a second, in case the first gets tired.  All other rams are superfluous, unless you have a spinning flock of wool wethers, which most people don’t have…it’s hard to make wool wethers pay for themselves, unless you knit a LOT!)

On the veggie scene, John’s garden is looking pretty lush: the tomatoes have small fruits on them, the melons have started blooming, the beans look about ready to bloom, the raspberries are just about ready to burst forth in succulent redness. (Which means, for the next few days, I have to take the rest of LAST year’s raspberries–about 8 quarts left, I think–and make them into raspberry-banana bread, or have John make them into raspberry ice. )

In my little garden bed, the experimental hubbard squash I planted looks prehistoric: the leaves are huge, the fruits are 8″ long or more so far, with a few smaller ones bringing up the rear.  The butternut and potimarron squash plants are coming along, not quite ready to bloom.  I’ve recently planted the vacated ram pen with zucchini and sweet peas and sunflowers and dill and basil, with a few other things thrown in (called getting rid of all old seeds).  The seedlings are coming up.  I’m not getting a high degree of germination, but then, these seeds are at least two years old, at best, so ANY plants are a blessing!

I solved the “how to get the chicks out of the cage” problem, simply by putting a ramp from their cage to the ground: mama immediately hopped down and out, and the babies followed, enabling me to clean up their nursery and dispense with it.  The chicks are doing fine, growing like weeds, seem happy, are not disturbed by the other hens or the roo.  All is well in chicken village.

The turkeys are growing like weeds as well. It’s about time to transfer them as well.  They are running out of room in their chicken tractor, AND I will need same for the meat birds in a few weeks.  The turkeys will go in the goose pen behind the sheep shed, where they’ll have lots of room, lots of greenery, lots of bugs, and the rams just outside their pen to amuse them and be amused by.

Off to church, then back home to make more raspberry banana bread (stuff currently in the oven is due to come out any minute!), and possibly off to St. Gaudens in the afternoon for a chamber music concert by some people named Fischer, who spell it like my great grandparents spelled it, always an incentive for me.  Silly, but hey, I can be silly.

Like Susan (see “The Shambles…” link), I am knitting in between all this farm stuff.  I’ve been working on some socks for Josie, who has the booth across from us at the Massachusetts Sheep and Wool Festival.  I’ve just about finished the three pairs she wants…and another pair for me, with yarn I bought in York.  I’ve spun up one ball of the Wensleydale fleece I got in Leyburn (Wensleydale), and got all enthused about giving away bits to others, so managed to give away most of it…which was my purpose in buying it, but still…

Tuesday, spinners are here…I guess they’ll get raspberry-banana bread for tea!


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