Holy rainforest, Batman.
The precipitation, in all its forms, continues. There has been hard rain every day for the past two weeks except for yesterday. All the animals found a patch of sun and spent as much time just laying in it.
Char had twin does, one of which was a black and white paint. Unfortunately, that one was the smaller one (by a longshot) and Char would not consider caring for her. After the first day, it was obvious it wasn’t a matter of just grafting her own back to her and as a bottle baby goat was out of the question, she was put up for quick adoption. She has a great pedigree and flashy markings and was quickly claimed. Her name is Doublestuff Oreo and you can follow her progress to queen of the 4H world at Facebook.com/Bloedel-Acres if you would like. She is a brave and happy doeling.
Char’s other doe is a sturdy solid red, graduating into black legs and just a ring of white around one hoof. She is pretty mellow and will make a great 4H or show doe.
The rain, while inconvenient to me personally, is practically helpful. I’m able to see where the water likes to go and how long the land holds onto it in certain spots. Along the back fence line, which I am replacing, I found a large area of clay that is very unstable. I’ll have to reroute the fence, which is OK because we get more rain here than not and if the fence fails here, it would allow predators access to the property. I would not have known about the clay patch unless we had this much rain for so long. I also appreciate the way that the surface water percolates down, filtering through the different soil layers til it reaches the aquifer. I don’t feel guilty about watering my lawn or taking long showers.
Another benefit of prolonged rainfall is determining how the animals tolerate their living quarters and how to streamline my animal management workload.
The doe group is currently in the greenhouse where it is warm and all the ground is dry. I know they are happier not always walking in mush. I was on the fence regarding the proposed barn floor; my initial choice was just dirt. It was, after all, going to be covered and therefore wouldn’t be muddy. But the bucks and the sheep also have covered shelter and dirt floors, and it is always slightly damp in there now, the result of the water traveling around underneath. It’s not like it’s soaking wet, but I wouldn’t like to lay on damp ground and besides, wet straw promotes bacteria and worm eggs, and rats love it. So concrete it will be.
Since I am replacing all the fencing, I will have the option of sectioning off individual pens for an outside run adjacent to the stalls. I watched Char and BeBe in the dog kennel area, which has a large covered area opening to the grass, during the periods of rain. They laid in their straw under cover and at the first sign of rain stoppage, went out to the grass. It seems to be their preference to take advantage of changing weather so I want to provide that in the barn. I won’t have to keep going out to put them up in their stalls or go let them out if I give them an option to do it themselves.
Downspouts on the corners of the roof will provide a passive drinking water supply for most of the year. I am using Ondura panels for roofing, not asphalt shingles, so there won’t be a chemical residue.
I’m also going to create a feed room in the barn which will be totally away from pushy goats and sheep. No more fighting at the door, and the greenhouse area will then be all plant stuff.
I’m happy with the progress of outbuildings and surface water management techniques I’ve planned. The long-awaited video series will be starting up for the Farm’s YouTube channel in the next couple of weeks and the Gotlands should start lambing then as well. Hopefully the fencing will be done by then and the rams (and bucks) can all go in the back pasture and do whatever guys do. I know the ewes don’t appreciate being in with them and it will make feeding so much more straightforward.
Just because it’s pouring rain doesn’t mean there is nothing to do. The pigs are staring at the house from inside their dog kennel, waiting for any sign of life to emerge. It is tempting to stay in my flannel lounging pants and fiddle with the tomato starts, but my customers depend on me to provide the best meat and eggs from animals who are well taken care of, so I’ll put on my neoprene boots and rainjacket and trek out there with breakfast and some treats to help them pass the day.
Come on, Spring!