Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The List

The List

Each year we are more determined to be ready when winter rears it's white blustery head. We have taken to making lists of things that most positively have to be done before winter. Somehow the list keeps growing. As we mark one thing off and done, we add another. We occasionally find ourselves in the middle of a nor'easter and realize the snow thrower is not working. We got up this morning determined to finish a couple of things on The List. We started in the basement with putting together the stove pipe for the wood stove. Why can't this thing come already together? Every time I work with the metal I cut myself at least 2 times. Today I have 3 cuts and Alex has 2. After we got the stove pipe snapped together we had to drill a couple of holes to put the damper in.

Quite a dapper damper don't you think?

All together and ready to attack the stove.

It always looks simple but turns out to be a bit more complicated that they tell us at Home Depot. I know they cackle as we leave. But, we make it fit. Vise Grips and all is well. Yes it will go into the chimney darn it!

It took us a about an hour but the wood stove is together and sealed. Now it's ready for the first fire. We installed a pellet stove last winter in the basement. It just didn't heat the way we expected. It seemed to eat more pellets and the price of a bag of pellets just keeps going up. Wood prices seem to be stable. We traded the pellet stove for 4 cord of wood. We felt like we got a good deal and so did the couple we traded with. Barter, yes!

Last Saturday while we slept, Ted was down in the basement working on a surprise. We had discussed how nice it would be to have a wood chute through the back window and into a wood box. The wood could be easily loaded into the basement near the stove. We even picked up a few sheets of OSB and a few 2x4's. What a lovely surprise to wake up to. Another item off The List.

Next, outside for another item on The List. The sheep shelter that we put up again about 2 weeks ago took another flight over the fence and into the pasture. The augers just aren't keeping them tied down enough. It happened during one of our 3 night stretches. A storm came up, I was sleeping, and the shelter grew wings. Ted came in and woke me up to say, "I told you it wouldn't stay tied down. Now are you going to listen to me and use the pallets like I told you about?" After I rubbed the sleep from my eyes, stumbled into proper attire we went out with the tractor to drag the errant shelter back into the pasture. Alex, with the use of the wonderful tractor dug trenches along three sides.

Truffles and Baby made sure the shelter was in good shape. It's always nice to have sheep that are so helpful.

The trenches are completed.

We all worked to re-erect the skeleton of the shelter.

We took time out for sheep love.

Finally, the shelter is up, the inside lined with pallets and secured with wire.

Once again, the sheep winter shelter is up. It seems more sturdy. Only time and another wind will tell.

Ever heard of a bucket of chicken? How about a bucket of sheep?

We are filthy, tired and hungry. Another chore marked off of The List. Whew...... I've got one for you. How can you tell you are country? You go to the mail box and get all excited because your new John Deere Owner's Edition hat has arrive. WooHoo...I got my hat!

Very tired wishes that your list is getting completed before winter. Much love and prayers from Mainely Ewes Farm. Good night to all.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Autumn Has Arrived

The harbinger of autumn has arrived. Each year they arrive in spring and leave in fall. Every year we are blessed to witness the departure south of the Canadian Geese. We hear their honking way before the eye can even glimpse these graceful birds in air. They appear on the horizon and slowly approach in their characteristic V pattern. Then they fly directly overhead.

I cringe awaiting the splat. So far it hasn't came. I don't know if geese even defecate while in flight. I know that sea gulls and herons both do. Never, ever stand under sea gulls. Never ever stand under sea gulls with your mouth open. Don't ever go to a wedding at the beach because you are a prime target. Keep these pearls of wisdom with you for future use. How did I ever get so far off of my topic? Anyhoo...back to the geese. I think these birds are so beautiful. The lead goose always knows the way. How do we know this? Ever flown as a goose before? I bet the other goose honking is saying, "are you sure this is the way? Did you read the map? Should we stop and ask for directions?" The smaller goose in the middle is saying "are we there yet? I have to pee." I can just imagine this conversation. I feel like I have heard it a million times before.

So long till next spring. Tell everyone we send our love.

We are picking up more color each day. The yellows and reds are still a bit muted. It won't be long before the colors are vivid and shocking to the senses.

This was my first time seeing the Eastern Bluebird in Maine. I rarely saw them while in Florida. A small flock of about 10 arrived and visited our new cherry trees. They didn't stay long. Just long enough to give me time to break out my camera. I'm glad they didn't linger. We have too many cats that will slap a bird from mid air and pop it into their mouth like candy. We don't put out bird feeders for that very reason.

Sunday the puppies and I took a walk to the top of the hill to take pictures. I wanted to get one of the farm in fall to put on the blog header. They had a great time playing chase and biting each other.

Emma would stop and listen when the geese flew over. I seriously question her as a retriever. I think she has to notice that the birds are IN THE AIR! Nope, that will come later. She is still a puppy.

Emma doesn't feel bad. Lucy didn't have a clue either. They would just stop and stare. Not up mind you, but just straight ahead. "Hey, did you hear that?"

"Yep, gotch ya, hahahahahaha....."

The End! Happy Fall everyone. Wishing you all peace, happiness and beautiful leaves. Much love and prayers, Mainely Ewes Farm.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Taking Care of the Culvert

Early this morning we awoke to the sound of heavy machinery at the end of our driveway. What a wonderful sound. The fact that it was state workers coming to rip out our old ineffective culvert was music to our ears. Our old culvert was filled with dirt, blocked and washing away. It did not drain water under our driveway at all. It blocked the water on the other side of the drive. In winter this caused a major back up of water/ice near the road. Therefore, the state of Maine paid us a visit. The two culverts arrived early.

Shortly thereafter a crew, back hoe and a dump truck arrived. Let the digging begin!

and begin........

What a big mess our old culvert was in. It was rusted through. It came apart in pieces. The many, many, years ago that it was installed, they were made of metal. Now they are high density plastic.

Looks like a grave yard from the movie "Tremors". Bad movie.
A pretty deep hole. The worker didn't want to smile. He probably thought "this lady is crazy". Maybe I made him afeared of me.

They used a non-petroleum lubricant to make the two culverts go together easier. Otherwise known as goo.

Looking good! Looks like a culvert to me.

Time to cover the culvert and make us a new driveway.

The finished product was very nice. The roadway is safe from ice overflow in winter. We now have a new driveway.

We also got about 7 loads of dirt from this project. It will help the drainage problem around the barn.

What a great job. One less thing to worry about. Thank you construction people. Thank you the State of Maine. Our tax dollars at work. Much love and prayers from Mainely Ewes Farm.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Here's to New Barn Doors and Great Neighbors

If you have ever read our blog you are well aware of how awful our barn looks. It is no surprise. However, it was one of the main buying factors when we looked at this place 2 years ago. The sill needs to be replaced. There was a leak in the roof for only God knows how many years. It was let go and not repaired. Hence, we are going to have to put in some major rehab into the barn. We have had one contractor that came out last week and basically told me that it would be cheaper to tear it down. He didn't act very interested. He is also the contractor that never bothered to call me back with an estimate on the barn or work on the house. So, pfft to him. To the women out there. Do you ever talk to a contractor and he just blows you off like you don't have a brain in your head. You have no idea what you want or need. Yes, he is the same guy at the car dealership or the tire warehouse or the auto mechanic shop. You know the feeling you get. Like you want to smack them in the back of the head and say "Hey, take me serious, I'm not stupid". That is the feeling I got with this contractor. We always try to get local people. We are still looking for someone who is competent and able to replace the sill on our barn. It is old, post and beam. The roof is now good and so are many of the beams. If there is any way possible to repair it we will. In the present time we have to get it ready for winter. The ever present looming of WINTER! Buying doors was just out of the question. We have learned to either build or buy used whenever possible. At one time the barn had nice sliding doors. Where they went is anyones guess. We now have animals who need a nice cozy place to winter. Mainely 3 spoiled little goats, many hens and guineas.

So off to Parker Lumber in Bradford, Maine. (again we always try to buy local, not to mention that their lumber is half of what Home Depot costs) Alex spent the last couple of weeks laying out and framing in three barn doors. She designed the doors to be sturdy and long lasting.

We put everything together with deck screws. Both sides are the same. Strong and heavy!

What a nice design. Even unpainted it really looks good.

Of course the color is "Barn Red". This will be the same color we use on the exterior of the barn. We just love red barns.
We were so fortunate to have our neighbors Kevin, Cheata and Nikia over to help hang the doors. The hardware went on without any problems. I don't know how, but there just happen to be beams where the rails have to go. The lower doors went on without a hitch. Each door weighs about 200#. We were able to lift and place the rollers into the rails without too much strain. The top door really worried me. I just didn't know how we would be able to get the door up, much less how to slide it onto the rail. Kevin kept telling us not to worry. He had ideas. Sure. Us of little faith. He was able to install the top rail using a ladder and hanging out of the door. I need to stop here and tell you that Kevin is not a fan of heights. That was putting it nicely. He is a great neighbor and really worked hard here getting past the height issue.

We will work on the framing in of the top door later when we have more time. We just have to block snow and rain from damaging the hay.

Cheata has driven tractors all of her life. A real honest farm girl. The plan was to raise the door and Kevin up to the proper height and slide the door in. This is where I really started praying.

Ted and Kevin are really strong and able to lift this door. I watched from the porch and took pictures. Nikia and I were the official cheering section.

After much maneuvering they were able to get the door to slide onto the rail. There for a while I didn't think it was going to go on. It was getting dark by this time. But with skill and determination the door gave in and went to it's new home.

The doors look great. The barn is kinda tired but the doors look wonderful.

Compliments to the designer, builder, and painter. Alex what a wonderful job!

The production crew, Kevin and Ted. Cheata refused to get into the picture. Excellent work to all. Thank yous all around.

It feels so good to have everyone pitch in and help. Neighbors, family and friends. This is what it must have been like 160 years ago when the barn was built. I can just picture an ole barn raising. Well, minus the John Deere tractor. Thank you Mr. John Deere whoever and wherever you are. The barn was cozy and comfortable tonight with the animals safely abed. Thank you all.
Much love and prayers from Mainely Ewes Farm.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cooler Temps and New Sheep: Expectations

We awoke this morning to cool temps. The eye opener is the forecast. Cloudy with mix of rain and snow. I don't think so! We just bought this thermometer and it has a 14 day learning mode for forecasting. The temperature is correct, but the forecast was not. It was sunny and beautiful today. Those flurries will come soon enough. September is just too early.

Early spring we had a big burst of wind that took the animals shelter and tossed it over the pasture fence. In the mode of getting ready for winter it was time to re-erect it. What else would we do on the day that we go back to work? Tonight is our first night back after 2 weeks off. We are really going to be tired!

It took most of the day but it is cozy and nice inside. It will keep the animals out of the wind and snow.

Not a bad job. I think we did pretty good!

The last of the cabbage was brought in. Wow. The chickens love to finish off the big tough outer leaves.....

and play tomato keep away.
No job is complete until the ram Truffles comes by to help. He is very sweet and loving. He has been a wonderful addition to our farm. Not the best picture of him, he wouldn't let me get far enough away to make him look good.

Baby took a nice siesta under the trees. I suppose he could be considered foreman directing our activities today.

We will be taking a trip later this year to Illinois and visiting . We have been emailing back and forth with Terri Carlson about purchasing 2 ewes and another ram. She has some of the most amazing sheep. Her ram Caesar was chosen to grace the cover of the ISBONA calender for 2010. He has the most spectacular horns. This beautiful girl is Emily. She is a moorit grey horned ewe.

What a beautiful girl.

This is Cierra she is a black mouflan horned ewe. I am still working out the difference in color and pattern. I always go to Alex and ask questions. She really paid attention in sheep school to the genetics and patterns. I just got confused.

A close up, no makeup or hair products needed for this girl.

This handsome man is Echo. He will not be related to any of our ewes. What do you think of his horns? He is amazing. I'm in love and I'm not a ewe. The girls will be so awed by his masculine good looks.

Well, our farm keeps growing. Icelandic sheep are such impressive creatures. We have fallen utterly and completely in love with them. I think they are like potato chips. You can't have just one. This will be our first breeding season. The new ewes will come bred, we will bring Esther, Moriah, Elspeth and Carlotta in to breed with Truffles. Spring should be exciting.
Overwhelming but exciting. Wishing everyone the best. Much love and prayers from Mainely Ewes Farm.