Lining Up the Ducks

Really?! Ducks?! -Clyde

My last attempt to ready a spot for wintering the ducks. I spent my time this weekend installing a duck fence around the bottom of the goat pen. This summer the ducks made a sloppy mess of the south chicken run, the rain was no help in the matter either. Unfortunately their water loving habits don’t let up just because it snows and I won’t have then ruin the floor of the coop this winter.

As much as I like eating duck I was really hoping for eggs from these guys and don’t want to eat the birds. I was going to keep Henrietta and Lucky and let the rest go. I put them up for sale or free online. One found a new home and the gal who said she wanted the rest was a no-call/no-show. This seems to be the way a lot of online deals go. A little common courtesy would be nice. That’s ok though, I didn’t really want to give them up.

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You $*@+=%!# Cow!

Lucy in the pasture
Lucy in the pasture

Agh! I have had it! Between the never ending fence and the lack of cow milking going on around here, I could just scream. I have decided I am going to build an actual milking stanchion. No more of this dancing around the barn and chasing cows in or out to where ever they are supposed to be.

I had Lucy trained so well I could have milked her just loosely tied to the fence rail with no problem. It was determined that I was too pregnant to milk at the time, so no pen was set up to separate Elvis and Lucy. I am quite positive I could have sat on the barn floor and milked her just fine. Getting up would have been a sight, but I was always alone in the barn anyway.

After the little Miss was born and I was back to doing chores, we got a pen together for Elvis. I started working with Lucy again. She walked on a lead rope just fine but anything else… nope. She was not having any of it. The other two were no help in the matter either. Every time I step into the pen they start to play musical feeders; horn to rump pushing each other out of the way. It makes it very difficult to accomplish much. I did shut the other two outside a time or two. That worked okay but I spent more of the time I had, chasing cows rather then working with Lucy.

I know it’s not all Lucy’s fault, I should have kept up working with her through the last couple weeks of pregnancy and maternity leave. I whimped out, it was cold, my coveralls didn’t fit and I was tired. All poor excuses but that’s all I’ve got. She didn’t need to go and forget everything we worked so hard on up to that point though either!

As far as the fence goes, we have been almost done for quite some time now. I might as well sing the song that never ends when I am out working on it.

“This is the fence that never ends. Yes it goes on and on my friend. Someone started stringing it not knowing what it was, and they’ll continue stringing it forever just because…” (repeat) Ahhh!
My fencing rendition of the 1988 “Song that never ends” by Norman Martin.

We got the wood posts in and started stringing the barbed wire. Then decided we need a couple more gates, added a couple more posts to support those. Next the steel posts went in. Insulators on those and started stringing the hot wire. Added more insulators to the wood posts. Reworked how the electric would run to adjust for the new gates. Almost had everything strung and ready to turn on when we realized all five wire gates need to be redone so they don’t short out the whole thing when unhooked.

In the mean time the cows have been allowed into the first paddock to graze while I am home. Chest high grass and alfalfa for them to eat and Elvis has to climb through my temporary gate to eat what’s one the other side (it’s the same thing!). At this point I don’t need a rope and halter to take him for a walk. We go for an evening walk quite regularly lately.

This weekend, that fence is going to be finished. It has to be.

Wheezy and Elvis
Wheezy and Elvis
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Fencing Again

“Hang on. Hang on.” Little boy was saying, with his arms outstretched standing behind me; his words for a piggy back ride. We were standing in the middle of the pasture and he was tired. Tired of walking and tired in general. A day of fencing in the sun with mama can wear a little boy out. We put up most of the barbed wire on the wood posts lining the perimeter earlier. Now it’s time to put in the steel posts to divide the pasture into five paddocks for rational grazing.

His snack in hand, I pulled him onto my back and on we went. Boy on back, post pounder in one hand and roll of bailer twine in the other. Packed up like a mule, up the hill we went. We paced the pasture, pounding corner posts (little boy had to stand for that. He “helped” hold the post.), then stringing the twine between them. This is a very important step for me when it comes to fencing for a few reasons. The first day I went out to set the steel posts I had a perfectly straight line of posts. When I had finished that run, I stood back to admire my work only to realize I angled it in the wrong direction. On the bright side the ground is still soft, so the posts are a little easier to pull.

As you saw last year when we were setting posts with my dad and brother it had to be precise. If dad came to visit and saw I put in rows of crooked posts I run the risk of driving him nuts and possibly trying to fix them. If he is going to come up here and work I’d rather him help with something that hasn’t already been done. No sense in doing something twice. Actually half those posts I have put in at least twice already. I tell yah…

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Fencing in 2014

Over the next few days, I spent nap times putting in the posts and let the little boy “help” dig the sod out of the new flower bed. Even the little miss gets in on the fencing. I’d hate to leave someone out of the fun.

Lunch time for the little miss.

One more good day of work and this project will finally be done. Hopefully.

 

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A Mid-Summer Update

Wildflowerfarm.orgSummer is a very busy season around here and sitting down to the computer is just not something I like to make time for. On the rainy days I usually have so much house work backed up that that is what needs to be done. Writing is better done in the winter, when I can cozy up to a hot cup of coffee and stay warm by the fire.

So far this summer we have planted the garden, very late. Between the late planting and cool wet weather everything is very behind. Except the weeds, they are doing very well! I did spread a thick layer of straw between the rows and that has helped quite a lot.

The wire around the corral is up and ready for the cows to come home. No, they are not here yet. Like I said things have been busy here and everybody has day jobs too. The husband and my dad have been putting in long hours working up here though.

We were able to get our first cutting of hay baled yesterday. By “we” I mean, the husband, my dad and the neighbor. Unlike everyone else, I have a night job. I was quite disappointed to miss the haying. Aside from allergies, I really enjoy throwing bales. It’s a very satisfying job and at the end of the day feels like a good accomplishment. There will be plenty of other opportunities though.

The chickens are living in the coop! It’s not totally finished yet either. But they have a place to live anyway and seem to enjoy it. Which is good, because Stinks at 2 more guinea hens. I was not happy with her!

The dandelion wine is still happily fermenting as well as a batch of columbine flower wine too!

I’ve been taking stock of the flowers in each bed so next year I will know what I want to keep and move and what can go. There isn’t much but what there is, is a nice variety.

The basement has dried out for now too!

Our fox is back too! He’s pretty cute, but could be a problem with the chickens. I haven’t decided if I should “take care” of him before or after he eats the chickens. I’d like to do it before, on the other hand, I’d like to think the best of him and think he will leave them alone. There are plenty of mice for him to eat instead. We will see about this.

That’s the quick summery of what’s been going on around here.

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Pounding Posts

We have already accomplished a fair amount this spring; cutting, splitting, hauling stacking firewood, moving the remaining wood pile, raking leaves, removing old fence posts and barbed wire just to name a little. All of which was done with the help of my brother and dad. Thank God for them! We have a few big jobs done for the year and a few more to do. The weather has not cooperated for use to burn one of the fields where the garden and orchard are going to be planted, so that is on hold.

The next big projects are putting up the new fence and I am going crazy looking at the yard! It looks so unkept and in need of a good cleaning. I started raking out the flower beds; I would like to know what they were thinking when they were putting those in. There are random rocks here and there, which could look nice if done differently. Rather than landscape fabric there is a variety of old rugs, soil bags and random plastic. There are trees growing in the middle of a couple that I’m sure looked nice when they were small, however now, they are much larger giving too much shade and robbing the smaller plants of moisture as well. The list goes on with these but I’m sure you get the picture. I have lots of work cut out for me there and I don’t plan to do anything but clean and maintain them this year. Next year will be flower bed overhaul.

The fence line is a big undertaking as well. With posts from the back of the barn and Grandma’s and a bunch my dad and brother found and some salvaged barbed wire off we went.

WildFlowerFarm.orgWell let me back up. First there was a lot of pacing off north to south for a straight line done by me, which I misunderstood the directions and had to be changed. That was a lot of walking but good exercise. The line was again straightened under the direction of my husband. Again more walking up and down the field. Don’t get me wrong I like to walk and appreciate the exercise, but still. The line was moved yet again under the direction of my father which was a good move too. We were all shooting for a straight fence line that would allow enough pasture for the cow and enough field for a winters worth of hay. Just when we thought we had it, we thought about snow. Where will the feet of snow be pushed when the driveway is plowed. Guess what the fence line was moved yet again, only a portion this time though.

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Finally we had our lined together and a fencing we went. With the use of a friends ASV with an auger corner post holes were drilled and posts set. Then was all the in between posts. Each measure to the inch, set in a straight line and stood up perfectly level. Let me tell ya’, we are have the straightest fence line in the Midwest! The original plan was wood corner posts and metal in between posts. But with the scavenging skill of my dad we were able to use all wood posts. They will stand just as long if not longer than the metal posts and look so nice. So I guess a better title for this would have been “Setting Posts”.

After a few long days of drilling holes, dragging posts, setting posts, filling and tamping holes the posts were set. I have to admit one day I missed a fair amount of the work because I had to go to work and deliver a wedding cake (which turned out really nice by the way). Wildflowerfarm.org

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The little boy was such a trooper through the whole thing, all bundled up in the stroller for most of the day. Hanging out, watching the work and napping.

 

Even with a few feet of post in the ground there was enough on top that each post had to be trimmed. Then for the wire.

Of course that wouldn’t be all the fencing that needs to be done. We still had the smaller corral and the garden to do too. But that was the same process (including all the line figuring) as the pasture fence.

To be continued…

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