Farm Chores

Farm chores include many things and somehow we did a lot of them this week.

Monday - several broken fence boards were patched.  Replacing the boards lasts longer but it also takes longer and requires picking up some new lumber.

Tuesday - I put all the goats, alpacas and llamas in the barn to await the techs from my wonderful vet, Dr. Michael Ridlen.  In our ongoing war with parasites, we pull fecal samples from all the ungulates and have them tested periodically.  I aim at doing it about every 6 weeks which means we get it done every couple of months or so.  This time we only had two goats that needed to be treated - Morha and Star.  Star is turning out to be our most susceptible to parasites although Morha was the one with raging diarrhea.  Both have been treated and we will re-test again next week to make sure the little beasties are at least 95% gone.  Two of the goats were totally negative - Fitz and Harvard.  All the rest of the crew were at 1+ to 2+.  We will test the entire herd again in  6 to 8 weeks and treat as needed.  As a standard approach, anyone at 3+ gets treated and anyone at 2+ will be treated if they have an ongoing issue with parasites.  Otherwise, we let them go and retest again later.

Thursday, Friday and Saturday - Our pasture fence lines need to be addressed every so often to keep down the vegetation.  Several times per year the fence lines get trimmed with the weed-eater and the pastures get mowed.  How frequently that's needed depends on the time of year and the amount of rain.  We worked like fiends this past spring with all the rain we had.  The grass and weeds were growing like crazy.  It's been very dry and very hot these last several weeks so the general vegetation hasn't been so bad but the nasty stuff just keeps growing and growing.  Poke-berry has sprouted up in several of the pastures and interestingly in Steele's shelter.  I have a love-hate thing with poke-berry.  The ripe berries make a natural dye that is a stunning scarlet color.  It's not truly light or water fast so it tends to fade, but it's a great color.  Much as I would love to have some growing here that I could dye with, it is poisonous to all livestock.  Fortunately, it tastes terrible so the animals that die from eating it generally have nothing else to eat.  Our pastures of rich and green enough that I don't think any of the animals would be tempted but I'm taking no chances.  And then there are the grapes.  We hate them.  They grow on gnarled vines that are difficult to cut and they grow up through the trees to spread out at the top of the crown.  The weight can do terrible damage and they look nasty so out they need to come.

Every couple of years we do a massive fence line clean-up.  This year is it.  My husband, Ron, has been working every day to clean out the nasty plants and beat back the vegetation in general.  Some of this work requires Round-Up.  Or at least it does till we figure out a better way.  Monsanto says the pastures are safe for livestock once the liquid dries but if you look online you get very different answers.  In an abundance of caution, we move the animals out of the pasture and wait for 30-60 days or until we've had 3 or 4 soaking rains.  And, of course, use as little Round-Up as possible to get the job done.

I should point out that while I am happy to mow the grass pretty much anywhere on the property, I don't use the weed-eater, I don't repair fence boards and I don't spray anything.  Well, occasionally I do spray a wasp nest or two but that's about it.  Ron does all the heavy lifting when it comes to cleaning out and repairing the fences and spraying.

Sunday - This morning I moved our one last Welsh pony, Steele, out of his pasture and up to the top of the property.  The fence lines of his pasture are getting cleaned out and sprayed today and tomorrow, the pasture next to his is empty of livestock and was done in the past several days.  Moving the pony required moving in a hay rack, a large water trough and checking the gates and fences for any issues.  I think Steele will be happy up at the top.  The grass never grows as well up in his new pasture but he is closer to the other animals.  He has been lonely since we lost Jazz.  Most of the pasture is completely open (see below) but the northeast corner has a lovely tree and great shade.  Not too long after I put Steele in this pasture I noticed him wiggling under the low hanging limb to scratch his back.  I tried to entice him back to do it again when I had a camera with me but he declined.  That's him in the picture below - he's the white blob.  He completely ignored me.

I also spent time this morning cleaning out water troughs and making sure they were all brim full.  That's not usually my job.  Luis is our hired hand and he is a wonderful young man who works very hard for us.  Unfortunately, his and his mother's houses were seriously damaged by the spring floods and he doesn't have as much time to be here as he usually does.  They are working hard on repairs but I know he will be back here when he can.