Feast and famine

In a bi-polar twist by Mother Nature, these summer days have been endlessly clear and dry, with beautiful blue skies, hot hot hot sunshine and very little wind. With the exception of the fires ravaging the Pacific Northwest as well as other parts of the country, the air quality is nearly perfect, making the cool well water even more refreshing when I’m using it to fill water troughs…again. I’ve heard no end to the comments about it being so HOT and how the humans are suffering so. I did give into my anthropomorphic side and sheared the little spring lambs. They looked so hot in their fluffy wool coats!
I suspect the shearing was more traumatic to them than just hanging out in the shade, but what’s done is done and I feel more comfortable when I look at them.

Last week we got a couple hours of misty rain, and I realized how refreshing it was. I also realized that more rain would inevitably be on the way and it was time to start preparing, so I took a walk in the rain and remembered where the muddy marshy places had been, where the snowload had prevented easy travels around common areas and where ice had made working and walking impossible.

The deluges of January, February, March AND April made me think about a proper barn structure, so the goats and sheep, and Gio the Maremma can find relief from wet feet and cold night winds. But looking at the potential barn site today, I see that the cedar trees would impact the roof and the grade really slopes too much. I did have fencing put in to become part of the barn structure and that is something I don’t want to waste or tear out, so another load of good gravel would improve the slope without blocking the natural flow of the swale, and adjusting the size and position of the barn, plus trimming some large branches (courtesy of my new awesome Ryobi cordless pole saw) will make this a reality.
The freezing spell in December and January had me thinking about nonslip coatings on the walkways, but I don’t think there will be enough dry time to do that and everything else. Home Depot does have a good selection of large, commercial-grade rubber mats that would not be affected by ice or water, and those have the added bonus of being portable. They would be far less expensive in terms of money and labor, so that will probably happen.
And the hot and dry weather reinforced my belief flame-resistant landscaping should be an integral part of any home that relies on volunteer fire fighting services. Tearing out some well-intentioned cedars that looked pretty, but were destroying the asphalt driveway and interfering with visibility, and were too close to the house was simpler than I thought it would be, though I felt bad for the trees. The boy goats and sheep appreciated the big snack.
I also replanted some vine maple volunteers from the rockery to the chicken yard in a couple of repurposed wood crates , to increase the shade levels back there.

I am still enjoying the gravel paths that were placed in years past to level out some low places and provide a better walking surface. Even with a few weeds growing through, it’s far better than mush and mud.

The pigs have been rotated to their final pasture. They did an outstanding job of rooting up a lot of acreage  that will be planted over with winter cover crops. That is the theory, anyway. The plantings in the north pasture did not produce as I hoped, but it was most likely my lack of skill. I am doing more research on planting rotational pastures so I can really use all 5 acres to their utmost.

So a year of extremes yields a future of plans. I have sold all of the goat kids and three adult does, in preparation for a doe kid from a line I have wanted for a long time. And I have made cull decisions on the Gotlands, so we will have lamb to sell in October. Several brand-new Swedish Gotland rams were collected and imported and I bought 3 straws of extremely limited, top-notch genetics. I won’t AI this year, but next year I plan to AI Zipper, Eli and Dafne. The pigs were very successful and we will have more next year. The Barbizieux chickens have proven too flighty to justify the time it takes to care for them vs the income from their meat, so all of them will be processed in November and that breed will be done. The Standard White Cornish is still a viable breed, though they really need to step up their laying game! I acquired a Silver Fox doe who should kindle here in a couple of weeks, and got two young Silver Martin does from the same breeder who was getting out of meat rabbits. They are all so beautiful. I love rabbits! These are purely for my pleasure (and heating the greenhouse this winter), so expect to see lots of photos of them on the Facebook page.

mountain quail
One last addition might be Mountain Quail. Oreortyx pictus pictus is the subspecies that live naturally in the Cascade Range and though not endangered, this species is the only category in the genus Oreotyx. They are the largest quail breed and have beautiful markings and range from California to Washington. Breeding is tricky, supposedly, but how could they be so prevalent if that was really the case? I’ll let them have the run of a covered pen and see what happens.

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