Archive for March 2012

Finding My Boot


Eugene is here today fixing the creek crossing in the sheep field and working in the upper pasture for the cows. He crafted this handy swinging blockade for the crossing. Hopefully the sheep won’t figure it out. If they do, further measures will have to be taken.

It’s SO nice to have him here to help me get everything set up properly.

Meanwhile, when I went down to inspect the finished product, I spied this.

I have been looking for this boot for days!! I’ve asked everyone who has been here to keep an eye out for my boot. I don’t know if it was always right there, or got moved from wherever it was hiding, but I was so excited to find it. I actually keep two pairs of these rubber chore boots–because they are so vital to operations. Chloe is a shoe/boot stealer. I was getting nervous that I only had a pair and a half. I was expecting her to take off with the same boot from the other pair any time now, leaving me with two left boots.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken off my sandals while sitting on the porch, and after not paying attention for a second, looked down to discover one sandal missing. Then I’m hopping around the house in one sandal looking for my other one.

And yelling, CHLOE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Back in the goat yard where she belongs and where she can’t steal any of my shoes.)

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This Wonderful Week


I’m in love with this week. I wish I could get this much done on the farm every week! But, I don’t usually have this much help. Weston was home from college this week. The superboys (Sean and Sean) had a rare day off in the middle of the week. And Dave and Matt wiggled their noses and came up with Eugene out of a genie bottle.

Eugene is actually Matt’s dad. He finished Patriot’s field yesterday. We are ready for Patriot! Patriot is tentatively scheduled to be delivered on Monday. (I’ll let you know! We are excited!) Remember the weird gates that were on the horse field?

They’ve been replaced with two four-foot gates.

These gates, when both are opened, are wide enough to bring in a tractor with a mower or brush hog. That is all I expect to need to bring in here periodically. This is not a potential hay field. It’s a primary horse field. Grass is growing! The farrier is scheduled for this afternoon so I’m keeping Jack and Poky at the barn today, but after that they will be moved to the horse field in advance of Patriot’s arrival.

I’ll try to answer a few recurring questions in this post from the past week or so. Sometimes I don’t know what you will be curious about and don’t get it into a post, and also remember that the photos I show of progress and work on the farm don’t show every step or include explanation of every plan. (Always feel free to ask!) As to companionship for Patriot, for now, it will be the donkeys, which I’ve been assured is adequate. However, that doesn’t mean that will be his only companionship forever. See Zip. Zip is a gentle, older mare I’m hoping to adopt—for me! Yes. ME. She’s a little present to myself.

A couple of things here–one, Zip was discovered, wandering and starving, with Patriot and they are already bonded. While Morgan was primarily attracted to Patriot, we met Zip, saw her bond with Patriot, and both felt enchanted with the idea of keeping these two horses together. I have room and pasture for a second horse, and happily, I also feel confident now that I can afford the care for a second horse. I’m looking forward to the challenge and pleasure of learning to ride. This is something I’m looking forward to doing for myself, and also to share with Morgan. (And don’t worry–I will be looking for someone who can teach me, preferably someone local who is willing to come out to the farm. Also FYI, I do plan to acquire a livestock trailer of my own, a small one like we have used to move the cows, that will also be perfect for horses, sometime this summer. I will need it for the horses, and also if I am going to continue to move the cows for breeding, borrowing can’t go on forever. It’s a real hassle always having to beg, borrow, and hunt one down.) If we are permitted to adopt Zip, she will be coming a bit further down the line, after Patriot.

Eugene will be back next week, by the way! He will also be working other fields for me–the big upper pasture for the cows, for one, as well as the Bee field (across the road) to prepare it as a rotational horse field. He will also be doing some minor repairs to the rear barn yard, and putting final touches on the Park field and finishing up the Blueberry Hill field (both of which are rotational sheep fields). I’m also paying attention to what Eugene is doing so that I can make minor fencing repairs myself in the future. He’s an older farmer, very patient, and good at explaining things to me. He will be here on and off for several weeks. The task at hand is enormous with so many different fields needing various work. He’s not available every day (he has his own farming to do), and I’m very grateful for his help. Once the fields have all been put back in proper order, I hope to maintain them on my own, so I’m eager to learn from him.

For now– Sheep in the Park!

There were several questions about this field. It’s not finished yet, but I went ahead and moved the sheep. They aren’t exactly motivated to go anywhere at the moment with all that green grass they have been longing for the past couple of weeks, so I’m not worried too much about them escaping before the final touches. Finishing up the Park field includes bracing on the fenceline as well as correcting the creek crossing. A rain shelter will also be added to this field (and others).

Meanwhile, back in the studio! Sheetrock is up.

Mudding and taping has begun. And responding to questions here–yes, there IS insulation.

By next week, there will be painting!

For me, I am hoping to finish the entrance gate post painting today. It was a bit windy yesterday, so I’m hoping today will be better. I’d love to have the gates back up by the end of the day. All of the house/studio grounds fencing is completed except for replacing some of the missing pickets. I will probably be doing some planting along the white picket fencing, but haven’t made any decisions yet. (I do love the hollyhocks suggestion.) I will probably plan several different things here, but I’m just not there yet.

With fencing in the yard blocking off the direct access to run down the bank to the road, I’ve felt confident enough to allow Chloe to come up to the house and enjoy some visitation (and romping) with her people and her Casper.

A long, hard first winter at Sassafras Farm is blooming into a beautiful spring!

A few other notes: I do intend to bypass and drain the water heater in the hiding spot in the house. (Other work is ahead of it, but it will be done by the summer. Also, I went ahead and turned on public water in the house. Really didn’t want to do that, but the water pressure in the house was so low, I decided to give it a try since I had brought public water up already for the studio. The first time I put a glass under the kitchen faucet to get a drink, the water pressure literally knocked the glass out of my hand! I wasn’t expecting the force of the water and it took me by surprise! I was lucky the glass didn’t break when it slammed down into the sink. This means, for one thing, that when the power is out, I will still have water. Losing water is one of the worst things about a power outage. It will take me a while to get over that I don’t have to fill buckets and the bathtub with water every time a storm is expected. It also means that I can wash my hair–and feel like I’m getting the shampoo out! The difference in water pressure is amazing. I did leave the well on to the barn yard faucets, of course. Clover is a little upset that she still can’t get shampoo out of her hair, but I made it up with a few extra cookies.

And coming up– Ross has finished his two years of nuclear power school and has been assigned to the USS Scranton (a fast attack submarine) in Norfolk, Virginia. He’s not sure yet, but we are expecting he will have a few days leave before reporting to his ship. Next weekend, I expect to have ALL THREE of my kids here. Can’t wait!

I hope he wants to mow!

P.S. Coco update: I was hoping I’d get to take her home this week, but no. She is beginning to put pressure on her injured leg, showing the early signs of trying to walk on it. They want to continue with the splint, as it is helping strengthen her joint, and there is also a lot of concern about re-injury if she comes home, gets excited, tries to run, etc. Plus, they won’t let me take her home with the splint on and they want to keep it on another week or two. So. SIGH. As I noted before, they are not charging me for continuing to keep her, so I believe fully they are doing what they believe is best. I could put my foot down and take her home any time I want to, but I want the best for her, too.

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The Slanted Little House

"It was a cold wintry day when I brought my children to live in rural West Virginia. The farmhouse was one hundred years old, there was already snow on the ground, and the heat was sparse-—as was the insulation. The floors weren’t even, either. My then-twelve-year-old son walked in the door and said, “You’ve brought us to this slanted little house to die." Keep reading our story....

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