Wednesday, November 24, 2010

thanksgiving eve

All the customers have their thanksgiving birds. Despite not taking deposits, or being able to really properly count the birds, I ended up with just the right amount of birds and sizes of birds. All the customers got a bird or birds they were happy with and I had one each for my two pasture landlords and everyone went away happy. Whew! On top of it all, we had a third lamb today!

That's right, we have a skewed lambing season. I dont know why, probably because this pair of ewes I had matured and bred later than I realized. I thought I'd have lambs mid summer but instead I had them in November. The first pair came on Veteran's day. We thought they were going to come the Saturday before that, I got a txt during my kids' violin recital, but that turned out to be a vaginal prolapse. It was her first lambing, it was twins, and they were takin up all the space. The oncall vet was good 'ol Sarah that I photographed caring for Shawna the goat last spring. She said I could pick up a device and tie it to the wool on my own but I decided to spring for her visiting and luckily I did because hair sheep have no wool to tie a "ewe saver" to and she ended up putting in a couple of sutures to hold it in place, which held everything else in place. We had to re-tie it once, and that pretty much lasted until the day she lambed, when she managed to bust it into pieces. So I sent Carrie to get another one and install it, but then I got a call on Veterans day, around 4:30, that it was happening and I better get down there fast. We had reservations at Nick's Cove and Mary was on a walk but Sarah agreed to drive her down there when she got home so I loaded the kids in the minivan and got on down to Rose and Thorn, where I'm leasing some pasture (but I need to get out of there ASAP, its very wet there).

So we got there and Sarah and Elena were watching, and they said they had seen head and hooves but the ewe saver that is not supposed to interfere seemed to get in the way and it all went back in. Decided to phone the vet again, he said to go ahead and take the new ewe saver out, asked should I pull the lamb out and he said yes, should I wash my hands, yes, is purell OK? yes. So Sarah Silva reached in and pulled the lamb out. Boy. Then she had the next one all by herself. Mary arrived between the first and the second one but Jeremy and Madeline got to see both. It was pretty magical. Today, the sister (#4) of the mom of the twins (#5) had a lamb. The new one is a ewe. Sorry meat customers, looks like we are still building our flock :) Since Ram Sam Sam was the dad I guess we'll be breeding the new ewes in about a year to Sammy Jr., or maybe the Katahdin Ram I haven't named yet.
some lamb pics (lighter one is the boy, born first, darker one is the girl, born second):

November 2010 will always be remembered by me as the month of getting stuck in the mud. Lets see if I can remember all the times I've been stuck in the mud...The first time was after the big rain, when I was trying to stay out of the mud and I'd seen Sarah during the big rain drive the path by the forest from the house's rock driveway at Rose and Thorn in the middle of the big rain and we had a bunch of stuff for the pigs in the back so I decided to take it. Natalie was in the passenger seat and when I slipped off the path into the ditch she said "this is exactly where Sarah got stuck yesterday." I have to admit I went bananas on her for not mentioning that little tidbit of knowledge. She defended that since Sarah and I talked often she assumed I knew that already. Well I didn't and speaking up would have been the smart thing to do I still think. I got stuck deep in the ditch by that road that slopes to the ditch and wasted half a day first trying with John's tractor to pull me out and then waiting for AAA to get me out, which they did easily, but then I spent another day getting base rock from Canyon Rock and fixing mess I had made along with the original problem I might add. I also put base rock over the culvert where we normally enter. Which the construction guys that are parking their massive trucks there should have done but they dont seem all that great if you ask me. I'll never hire that guy for sure. He just put regular dirt over that culvert and that was just stupid. First time it rained that created a muddy mess. Which Sarah and I swept up once we had that fixed with base rock. We are conscientious tenants and land stewards...

Second time I got stuck was trying to bring the water trailer home from Salmon Creek Ranch where the layers are, I thought it was dry enough to go all the way in and turn around, but no, I found a muddy spot and got stuck, but was able to dig myself out and put boards down but had to leave the water trailer there. Meanwhile the tanks in the eggmobiles got lower and lower, so finally one day I dedicated to getting the water trailer and the livestock trailer out. Another backstory is that we had big rain in October, 10" in one weekend, and we couldn't get an adequate shelter for the pigs. I was at a strategic planning retreat for City Slicker Farms and texted Sarah that my flatbed trailer still had too much hay on it to move her a-frame and anyway I was not available so she could use my livestock trailer for the hog shelter. But instead of backing it in just to the border she drove it straight into the middle of the hog pasture! When I saw this I had her adjust the fence so that at least the hogs couldn't muddy up the spot in front of the trailer, but still there was no good way out of that pasture with my one livestock trailer that I depended upon to get all my animals out of that floodplain! So the day that was finally 4 or 5 days since rain that I decided Natalie and I would spring the water trailer was also the day we would get the livestock trailer out or die trying. We put several pieces of scrap siding from eggmobile4 in the pickup and 3 big pieces of 1" plywood that had been the deck of the flatbed that became em4. This was November 15th, the day of a Zazu farmer lunch that I had donated a turkey and 2doz eggs to and didn't want to miss. We got the trailer out of the pasture no problem but then we had to go through a narrow path in the forest that had a wet spot on the right side and I thought I could stay left enough but the trailer slid to the right and got buried to its axles. We spent 3 hours digging, putting wood down, backing up, putting wood down, moving forward, putting wood down, getting the mats out of the trailer, putting them down, digging, emptying the trailer of all the pig-shit/straw, putting that down, getting that out of the wheels where it got all seriously stuck, chainsawing blackberry canes into our knuckles and getting constantly whapped in the ass by blackberries, digging, putting wood down, backing up, digging, going forward etc. you get the picture. We fought and sweated and bled for every inch we moved that trailer until we got it free. And we did get it free.

here's Natalie and I with John's mule which got the job done. We were seriously proud. Natalie was a trooper and never complained once about the hell we were going through. I complained incessantly of course:

She and I earned the special sushi lunch we ate that day. But we missed the Zazu lunch by two hours. Oh well. Luckily Mary covered for us for the first 10 minutes of chicken pickup time. Sorry we were late Uni...

OK, so that was the second time I got majorly stuck. The third time was the night before the Thanksgiving Turkey harvest, I tried to drive the truck up to the turkey pen. I had all that wood at Rose and Thorn because of the stock trailer fiasco, and so I thought I could put it down in the one wet spot between road and turkeys and drive right up to them. I had my parents in the truck to help and didn't want to borrow the mule after dark and make noise at the barn that might bother John and Carole. Oops. there was another wet spot and I buried the front wheels of the truck to the axles. So my parents and I went through hell putting boards down, jacking the truck up, digging out huge areas to put the big 1" plywood pieces down, and doing that for all 4 wheels. Sarah Silva had a cold but she came down to help anyway so now I owe her bigtime. Once we got all the wheels on wood (this took hours, there were too many challenges to list) we connected the mule to the back of the truck with the pull chains and I gave the 3-2-1 signal and revved the engine for all it was worth as the mule pulled mightily but nothing happened. Oops, I was in neutral. got it in reverse and we got out of it no problem, re-adjusted the wood for the first wet spot but still managed to get stuck in that spot a second time but getting out only took 15 minutes this time, part of why we got stuck is the chain came unhooked and we lost momentum with the mule pulling. OK, dont drive the truck into the RT pasture. Filling up those holes we dug is still on the todo list.

We move the chickens to their third spot at Salmon Creek Ranch, and I took some pics to put in my power point for the poultry science class at SRJC that Dr. Famini asked me to speak at. Also did some footage for a new TV show re: food that was a neat experience and the people doing it are really cool and good company. Anyway, here's what my layer operation looks like as of Nov 2010...

The last time I got stuck was just last night. I spent all day from 11-5 working on the SRJC processing presentation, actually bringing my processing trailer and 2 turkeys and everything necessary to process and sell 2 turkeys to Dr. Famini to Shone Farm to give the class some exposure to actual poultry processing. It was the only exposure they were going to get, and I love the SRJC ag program (I took IPM and Org. farming classes there) so I had no choice but to oblige. So after the long day of preparing, speaking, then processing the turkeys in the frigid wind I needed to do my evening chicken chores, because Carrie's evening was spent on turkey pickup (I was sad I missed that customer interaction, so many new customers I didn't get to connect with). We had just added another 900 lbs to the feed trailer because Sarah got 3 more wine barrels delivered to her for me from her lovely family, and so I had 2K of layer feed loaded onto the trailer and headed to the chickens at around 7:30 pm in the dark. I almost made it up the hill when the wheels started spinning and I started sliding sideways. So I decided to back up and just drop the trailer, but in backing it off the road it started jack-knifing too much, in trying to correct that I got the front right wheel into a ditch that I couldn't get out of and the jack of the trailer prevented me backing up. Sarah Silva came out and picked me up before milking her goats. I got it out this morning by trailering up my tractor with Robert who was hired to work on 2 pig pens but instead spent half the day getting my truck out and getting my feed up the hill (with the tractor).

So that's my November. I really need my own land with some more gentle slopes, sandy well drained soil and some hard packed roads.