Ask and you shall recieve. I’m telling you, it’s been nothing short of a miracle already how all this fencing is coming available to us. We started to mention that we really needed fencing. Any kind really. Just fencing. And all the sudden, it starts coming out of the woodwork. A friend of a friend gave us 50 feet of chain link that she had to remove around her pool because it was too short, and a gate too! For free. And then we scored 70 feet of old picket fence on Craigslist for $30. And shortly after that, our wonderful neighbors down the road said, hey, we have some old slab wood in the barn, that would be helpful and they brought that down. Their wonderful Uncle Rod said he had a bit of field fence buried in his barnyard that we could have if we could de-weed it! (We’re going over there soon!) And then we scored another 60-70 feet of VINYL nice picket fence for $40!!! (I almost felt a little bad buying that… ONE 8 foot piece is $44… And I got 9 pieces!!!) And then to top it all off, our friend Gina called and said she’s working on a friend who has a nearly 200 foot roll of used chain link that she might be able to get for us cheap!!! We will take any and all kind offers!
With all this fence goodness going on, it was time to start working on it. We had a couple busy errand days and then a few way too hot days, but today was a good day and we got started pretty early when it was nice and cool. Our friend Daniel came over to help us, he’s a great kid and a hard worker.
He and Maggie worked hardest, digging post holes! The ground is still rock hard and like dried out concrete with the drought, but with a post hole digger and a skinny shovel, some water from the hose and a lot of hard work and sweat, they managed to get six two foot deep holes dug in a couple hours. And filled with the posts and cemented in. This front side pasture fence project is not meant to be a long term holding pen for livestock, more a short visit, eat all you can sort of fence. We will let the animals in to graze this for a few hours at a time, so that they don’t get bored and fuss with the fencing too much. Usually, when they are let into a lush area like this, they are so intent on grazing for the first half the day, they hardly even notice the fencing. So we are going to use the slab wood to make a nice sturdy barrier all the way around it. And it’s going to look so pretty once we get some shrubs and trees along the front as a wind break, and of course, oodles of beautiful perennial flowers some day!
I wish there was a way to show you all, the plans, ideas and goals we have for this place. Like if you could peek inside my brain and see all the improvements that someday, we hope will happen. I know sometimes, it might look like we’re just running amok with things and projects, but we’re not. Things are talked, discussed and planned for weeks and months in advance. We have a vision and we plan to make it happen, one day at a time. Some things are stepping stones to final dreams. Like sure, we would love to have all beautiful same fences all over the place, with tube gates and nice sturdy poles and such. But fencing is hugely expensive. So we are doing things in half way steps, and working towards a time that we can keep improving. Once we get all the preliminary fencing done, we will probably start replacing a few areas that we did in the very beginning, make them stronger, better and just darn prettier. Our goal is to have two layers of fencing for all the main areas. So that if a fence fails or animals get loose, they go into another pasture, not out on the road or in the farmer’s fields. So that for long term confinement, say during the day or evening, they are mainly within the middle pastures. All that would happen if something failed is that they would get into an outside pasture and hopefully, we would notice.
The outside pastures will be relief pastures for the middle pastures. When we are done, we will have no less than nine seperate rotational grazing areas for our small flock. The middle yard, the barnyard, the back pasture, the woodlot, the garden, the dog yard, the front pasture, the courtyard and the nature pathway. The primary holding areas will be the back pasture, barn yard and the middle yard. By rotating everyone around, we will give the areas time to recover and not be overgrazed as well as never having to mow most of those areas!!! Yahoo! We would have one more potential pasture, the eastern front side yard… about the same size as the dog yard, but right now, it’s not fenced and probably won’t be anytime soon. It’s just too hard to get to. What might happen is that we might open that up to the dog yard and expand that safe area to include a huge bigger area. Problem is, that we have our well and electric meters over there and we have to be able to get to them. So it might just not get fenced. I’d like to bring down a few of the big old knarly trees over there and plant a nice new orchard over there… that would be an awesome use of that area for sure. There are about 4 nasty trees over there, just old and broken, spilt and slightly unseemly. If we culled those and opened up the area considerably, we could replant with nice productive fruit trees! How cool would that be?
The four of us hauled all this fencing back towards the garden. We propped it up and considered this here and there until we got a good plan. The nice vinyl fence is going to go on this little short fence that keeps the hoofstock out of my garden. There is a little beat down piece of field fence there, so we will pull that and use it in the back somewhere and install this cute picket fence here instead. There is enough to make the run AND to use some to make a nice easier to use gateway to the garden! That will be awesome. And it will be cute too!
Now I had a dream that the older wood picket fence would be adorable on the far side of the garden, and would make it all the way down to the interier pallet fence. HAhaha…. Nice dream. It made it about HALF the way down. Hmmmm. Now I have been able to score picket fence on Craigslist here and there. So I still might go ahead and do this. It just looks so nice! We can always put the chain link on the backside of it, since the wood fence is a little well, ratty in places and not super strong. It would be more visually pleasing and decorative. I can SO see sunflowers and hollyhocks and morning glory all over that fence, can’t you??? And if it doesn’t make it to the end this year, it will be something to work towards! (And it would be a double fence for the hoofies… this is our MAIN area of escape. Our weakest link really. The picket would act as a nice visual barrier and then the chain link behind would be a strong barrier!
Since we had enough people working on digging holes, Jessy got started on painting the newly improved front porch. It needed to be cleaned up and then repainted so it all matched. We were SO excited to score a gallon of expensive paint/deck stain sealer at Lowe’s for $5 as a mistint! And it was exactly the color we wanted to paint it but last year didn’t have. The old color was a sort of reddish brown, but this is more of a chocolate brown. And it matches the front door and siding a lot better! Yeah team! She did a lovely job and it looks fantastic now!
Just beautiful! Can’t wait to replace those lights soon. We know JUST the lamps we want… they are bigger, hanging lanterns in an Arts and Craft style with amber glass in them. The cheap little 70’s globes are just not really cutting it. Our lamps we want are sold in pairs and often go on sale in the early fall! Can’t wait… that is a goal down the road a bit. I think they will really dress up the front door area for sure. And of course, some nicer flowers and such… if 2012 is the year of fencing here at Windhaven… 2013 is going to be the year of flowers!!! I miss having all my lovely flowers and colors all over. I can see all sorts of lovely clumps of hostas and black eyed Susans and coneflower… can’t you?
Loghenge is done! Jr. came down last Sunday and cut up the two downed pine trees for us, and we asked to have them chunked into pieces the same size. He did the best he could and we get about 11 perfect pieces for our plans. Some had knarly knots and such so they had to be cut around, but we got what we wanted… A nice ring of benches around our fire pit. That of course, since the drought there has been an outside fire ban and we haven’t used… but still, with all this rain the last few days, I think that will change soon! And if nothing else, it’s a nice place in the center of the farm to sit and relax a bit, maybe feed the sheep or just enjoy a breeze. We used some old boards from the poultry barn demo, so our little loghenge only cost us a little time and some nails. We nailed down the boards so that they are pretty stable. Can’t wait to do a little fire sitting soon!
Of course, the sheep inspected the area, but they were not really impressed. Ivy seems totally uncaring and Angus is just not sure about change. Still, I hope that they will grow to embrace the new human area eventually. After all, it is a place of potential treating and scratchies. Angus approves of that for sure!
Look how lovely it is to see green grass in the middle yard! We’ve been keeping the sheep and pony out of here most the day, just letting them in occasionally. After today’s storm and good dump of rain, I think another week and it will be much more lush. I hope we can get the garden and the front pasture done soon, to allow this middle to recover. It really took a hard hit as our main pasture and then through those long 8 weeks without much rain at all. I’m so happy that it was not totally ruined. Just about every area is coming back, slowly, but surely. We only have a few small areas that are not responding well yet. We might have to reseed them and see if that helps out a bit.
Just about the time we finished with Loghenge, a FAST storm blew in. It was spectactular! We got the hoofstock in their barn just in time. Kitty Baron is showing off his evil nut ball avoidance skills by hiding under the spool table. The black walnut in the yard is just one of the messiest of our trees. It drops a lot of branches all the time AND these nasty balls of head conking. Every time we get a little wind or rain, the yard is littered with these goofy things. To be honest, I would love to get rid of this tree. It’s toxic to the animals if consumed in large quanTities… and these nut balls are so annoying. It’s a nice shade tree, but we have a LOT of shade trees! I wish I could get someone to commit to buy the thing… black walnuts of this size and age are valuable trees. But being a single tree? Folks are not as interested in the effort to remove it. But I will keep up my hopes!!! haha….
Now, on the other side of the yard is our lovely English walnut and I am SO happy… it is covered in nutballs! And being a good English tree, it would never think to drop it’s little balls of nutty goodness all over the place. Nope, they are in the tree and all over the thing! I’m not sure why but last year, it did not bloom or bear fruit. The neighbor said it would usually produce several bushels of nuts each year and I was sad. But this year? Holy cow, it’s covered! I can’t wait till late August when they start falling and we can harvest them all! We have NO squirrels around us, so I think we might be able to get a good harvest off this tree! I love walnuts so this is a really cool thing!!!
We have two lovely crabapple trees over by the little coop and they are going to town this year as well! Lots and lots of the little red sour apples. The pony and sheep love to eat them but they always do that sour lip thing as they crunch them up! It’s pretty funny. Especially Cody! He will eat one, curl his lip and shake his head and then eat another. They are like the sour gummy worms of the hoof world around here. They love to hate them!
We all sat in the screen porch during the storm and it was a doozy. It was high winds, sideways rains and a whole lot of power coming in fast. When it started to clear up a bit, Maggie was the first to notice… there was a whole lot of green over by the windchime tree! We were so worried! We love that old tree! And as it was safe enough to go check, we were relieved that it was not the whole tree, just a big upper branch. That lower crack in the picture is old old old. it’s been growing out like that apparently a long time. It’s part of the reason that kids love to climb this old tree. Maggie loves to come out here and contemplate life in general under it’s shady canopy.
We’re going to have to pull this limb down, it’s stuck up there in the canopy and not super safe I don’t think. it’s cracked free pretty much, just hanging. Don’t want it to come tumbling down and smush a chicken or a sheep for gosh sakes! Just have to figure out how best to do it. Probably a rope and a bunch of safe distance tugging. This is defintely a time that I wish I had a little harness and collar for Cody, he would be a big help I’m sure!
The groundscrew moved in for some extra duty clean up action as soon as the alls clear was sounded. They love their leaves! I know we are going to need a chainsaw sooner than later. With so many trees on the property, it’s just going to be one of those things on our need list. We had a little electric one but it was just not very good. We need a light yet powerful one that we can use for these kinds of scenarios instead of having to ask for help! It’s not a bad thing and I know Jr. doesn’t mind, but still, I just feel it’s one of those tools that would be a useful addition to our growing arsenal of farm tools!
Our piggies are now three months old. We opened up the whole barn for their enjoyment. They like to hang out at the front gate and just watch stuff going on. And they like to eat a lot and take a lot of naps. I’m thinking that is a pretty good life. Part of me wants to just let them out into the barnyard. See what they would do. They come when you have food for them, so I suspect they would be easy enough to entice back to the barn. I’ll have to think about it. Maybe this weekend we’ll give them a try. I think it would be awesome if they could have a little run around time now and then. We’d like to build a big outside yard around back the barn for them, but that’s still on the drawing board. It’s right up after this round of fencing we have planned.
Daniel and I tried to pick up a piggy and we couldn’t. I sure couldn’t. Now they are super duper wiggly when you try, so 50 pounds of feed in a sack is one thing but 50 pounds of wiggly hog is another! But we guessed them to be about 60 to 70 pounds easy. We’re hoping they will get to be about 300+ pounds before their day at Finishing School… but that’s probably another 3 months off. They started at less than 10 pounds each when we got them two and half months ago. So they are doing great. I suspect the next month or two will see a HUGE increase in them.
We just bought our first load of 500 pounds of hog chow! Specially milled for our piggies. I hope it lasts about a month! The price went up almost $20 from when our friends were buying it… already the drought is messing with feed costs for sure! We hauled all that feed to the back on Friday and it took 4 wheelbarrow loads!!! Our feeder was full after two bags! And the rest we stored up and safe hopefully from rodents and sheep. And Cody. He was VERY interested in the wheelbarrows full of crack. At far as he was concerned, that was what we were doing. Thank goodness the feed room is all locked up good. I hope.
The storm went and shoved my free curbside gained pig watching chair all around and broke out the back rungs! I might be able to fix it. But it was disappointing to be certain! The pigs sure enjoy the bigger space now… they have the whole barn to themselves! it’s about 30 foot by 20 foot and for four hogs, it’s a nice shelter. We can close up the big doors when it’s raining or too cold and it’s nice and cool and shady in there for them during the hot times. I like the pigs, there are pretty cool creatures and so far pretty easy to raise. They just mostly eat, drink and snooze. It’s so cool to see them all laid out in a pig pile, napping away, bellies full and happy.
Turkeys are doing great out in the garden coop. They are getting nice and bigger. We have ended up with 10 birds out of 15. Turkeys just seem hard to raise to me. At least up to about this age. Once they hit the 2 month mark, they seem much more stable and smarter. Or well, less likely to succumb to dumb deaths. Two died young, most likely from being in the mail too long and waiting at the feed store. Two were killed when they got into the pig pen. And one vanished into the back field when Cody broke their fence, trying to get into their feed. All pretty much operator error or accident. Hopefully now, these birds are getting big enough that they will make it through to the fall. We do have two heritage birds, a tom and a hen and I hope that they make it to maturity. We might keep these and see if in the spring, she lays a few clutches of eggs! That would be awesome! Turkeys are SO expensive as poults… if we could incubate a handful of them, that would be neat and helpful!
My raised beds are doing pretty well. We replanted nine of them with short season crops like lettuce, beans, radish, some squash and pickling cucumbers. We’ve still got a good two + months of growing, more likely three, so we are going to retry to beat this nasty weather. I really would LOVE to get a dozen more of these crates, but the factory that had them is no longer trashing them. I suppose that’s all good, but boy I am sad. These are so awesome. Nice height, and size. About four foot by three foot in size. Filled with good barn compost and then topped with a good soil and peat moss mix, they are growing nicely for sure!
My garden of my dreams is getting here. Still have another year or two I think, but it’s SO MUCH BETTER than last year. This year, we’ve actually already been harvesting goodies. Onions, garlic, lettuce, chives, a few beets, lettuce and now… sugar snap peas!!! Yeah!!!
These first pea pods did not make it into the house, I’m sad to report. Someone ate them. I wonder who that could have been. Hmmm. There are a bunch more and I’m going to be replanting one of the beds all in peas!!! Just wanted to wait a week or so, see if it keeps a little cooler and all. I actually have four littler crates that I might just plant all in peas, and move to the shady area of the garden. Peas do like their cooler soil temps and all.
All these beans came up in record time. They will definately be making me some beans for the freezer and maybe to can in no time flat. My other beans are just flowering, so I should have two nice groups of beans. Everything else is doing nicely as well. It’s all great!!!
I think I’m going to paint the boxes soon, just to see if a good coat of paint or sealer will help to keep them from degrading quickly. Plus they will be all pretty colors! That will be fun for sure.
Well, that’s about it for the tour… things are looking so much nicer with a good touch of green. This is the northern Ohio that I know in the summer. Hot but green. We are so happy for this past week of nice temperatures and off and on again rain. It has really helped out the area for sure!! !