Sunday, October 26, 2014

Cow Butts

Left: Beef. Right: Dairy.

Fleece Drying Table

This handy dandy table was made from scraps around the ranch: 4 thick beams, two long pine boards, two short ones, and a couple of pieces of old fencing. The top is covered with plastic bird netting. Mom and I built it in about thirty minutes and it has made the washing and drying of fleece much easier.

Big Rattler

There is construction going on to the west and east of the ranch. That always stirs up wildlife and gets them on the move to new places. Unfortunately for this big guy, taking up residence underneath my camper where my dog naps was not a good choice:

He was 5 feet 2 inches long without his head and he was pretty scary. Max let us know he was there and knew enough not to get bitten. I have never seen a rattlesnake this big in my life and to have it right beneath where I work every day was unsettling to say the least.

Pallet Privacy Screen on a Budget

In recent months my neighbors have not been as friendly as when we first took ownership of the property. They like to watch me. A lot. And talk about what they see to each other. One of our ramadas is used to host private barbecues and gatherings from time to time and since I don't enjoy people staring at me or my guests, I decided there needed to be a privacy screen installed. I'm always on a budget and I have a lot of leftover pallets around that came in with hay deliveries over the years, so rather than take them to the trash, Mom and I repurposed them into a country style privacy screen for the party spot.

This screen was created using 8 pallets, some leftover wood to fill in any gaps, and a few fence boards to cover the seam. I was going to leave the screen plain, but Mom suggested a false door. That made me think it ought to look like something of importance that would give the curious neighbors more to ponder and discuss. So I set up a General Store for all your old fashioned necessary sundries.

How to Hot Compost on a Budget

Poop management is a daily job here at the ranch. One of the best ways I've come up with to keep on top of this beneficial chore is to hot compost all the animal waste that my critters make for me.

Dark brown, crumbly compost is an excellent growing medium for your garden. If you have farmy critters that make you fresh pies and beans in the form of their doodoo, try this easy method to get that stuff transformed into soil--fast.

What You Need:
35 gallon plastic/rubber trash can (preferably black) with lid
Drill and large drill bit
Animal Poop and/or hay/straw/plant waste
Sunny Spot

Directions: Drill vent holes on the bottom and sides of your trash can. Fill with poo and plant waste, place lid on top, set in the sun to cook down. This process goes fast here in the desert heat. The manure will cook down to half its size within a week. You can build raised beds with it, add to existing beds or mix with soil. I've been using it to build up my experimental hugelkutur beds in the Three Sisters Garden and it's making pretty fast work of covering up a lot of wood real estate.

Monday, September 22, 2014

September Already?

It's still too hot to be September in my opinion, but Mother Nature doesn't care what I think. Nevertheless, chores need doing and get done despite the toasty days.

I have a lot of fleece that needs to be washed and processed so it can be spun. I have a lot of trash cans turned compost bins cooking up some black gold in anticipation of planting time. And I have a lot of empty garden beds because summer killed everything.

On the bright side, there was this big, beautiful, orange dragonfly sunning itself this morning. That makes everything better, right?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Flaming Rope

This THING is a sheep. No really, it or rather she, is a sheepie who missed a shearing. The man who recently bought her and her companions asked me over to shear for him as I wanted the wool and he wanted bald sheep. It worked out.

Unfortunately, this poor girl had to wait two weeks after her buddies were sheared because I did something stupid. If you don't ever have to lasso anything, count yourself lucky. If you do ever have to lasso and you don't know what you're doing, remember rule number one. ALWAYS WEAR GLOVES. It seems simple really. Common sense even. But sometimes you might get really excited because you've got the rope and the sheep is like RIGHT THERE. And you know you can just wham bam lasso that sheep on the very first toss.

But trust me, a rope burn hurts. It can rip off your skin and leave you with blisters and pain for two weeks straight. You'll be real embarrassed about how stupid you were for tossing that lasso even if you did catch the sheep on the first try...

And if you have to shear four sheep after you've burned your hand with a rope and super-glued the fingers over to prevent further pain, you'll soon discover that no amount of dips in a bucket of ice water will stop the throbbing ache and soreness. You'll have to stop hand shearing at sheep number three.

And leave poor sheep number four for the day when your hand heals all up and you can actually use it again for regular day-to-day stuff like grasping a pen, typing on a keyboard, milking your goat or cow--or holding on to the steering wheel of your truck. Let's not even talk about sewing or handshakes. Ew handshakes with a rope-burned zombie apocalypse hand. Gross!

So two weeks later, sheepie number four was quite happy to see me. I think she remembered that I gave out free haircuts. She stood right there, still and eyeing me when I (with my gloves on) gently dropped the lasso around her neck. She didn't even move when I tied the other end to the post. She was a good girl the whole time and it only took me about 20 minutes to baldify her and return her back to her buddies.

In case you forget rule number one, I will be only so happy to remind you via the last picture I leave you with. I couldn't sleep the first night after I received this grievous wound. I had to take pain meds. I had to pop the blisters because it felt like my hand was going to explode. The blisters were ever so much worse than the picture I'll post, because the picture is already a week after the injury.

And I highly recommend keeping superglue handy as an instant bandage. It helped me so much. I wouldn't have been able to shear a single sheepie that day if I hadn't glued the heck out of myself that morning.

RULE #1 of Lassoing: Always wear your gloves.