We are so blessed to have a good, working, Livestock Guardian Dog. She is an Anatolian Shepherd. We have learned over the years that we can completely trust her instincts – she never barks for no reason. One time, I was sitting out by the barnyard and she was napping on the compost heap. It was quiet and peaceful. All of a sudden she jumped up and started barking, not two seconds later, an eagle swooped over the barnyard looking for an easy chicken dinner. I hadn’t heard or seen it at all at the point she jumped up. Animal instincts and senses are amazing.
Another time she was barking and barking, very upset. I didn’t see anything to be worried about and left her to it. Once inside, I went over to the opposite side of the house and looked out the window. Two coyotes were working their way across our property. She couldn’t even see them because the house was between her and them, but she could hear them/smell them/sense them. We have numerous stories like this and always can trust her to let us know when there is trouble. We have learned her different barks as well. She has a human bark, a bear/coyote/aerial predator bark, and a the-barn-cats-caught (or are stalking)-a-chipmunk-and-I-want-it bark.
Then there is the most concerning bark, which isn’t actually a bark. This last week, Sunshine came in and said that Anya was pacing the barnyard nervously, all her hair standing on end, growling loudly and deeply. Uh-oh. That means mountain lion. Sunshine sat out there a bit and didn’t see anything, but she said it felt creepy and made the hair stand up on the back of her neck. Sure enough, later, when Mtn Man came home he informed us he had seen a mountain lion on the property right next to us, about 300 yds from the barnyard. And it was daytime too. Scary. We are obviously on the alert and being extra careful around the property and farm, and hoping it moves on soon and without incident. I wish there was snow on the ground so we could know its comings and goings better by tracking its footprints in the snow.
The wildfire continues to burn near us, but hasn’t threatened to come our direction for a few weeks. We continue to have amazing sunset and skies, caused by the smoke in the air. Some days the smoke is really bad and irritating and it is hard to be outside, others it is high enough it doesn’t really effect us. My camera never truly captures how red the sun is.
We also have ash falling on everything.
I continue to plug away at getting the saving seeds dried and put up. This week I got all tomatoes, except the Long Keeper variety dried and put away. I wait and save seeds from the longest keeping of the long keeper variety, since that is the point of that variety. So those will be saved later this year. I also got all the peas done, and there were a LOT of those. More than we have ever saved before. Plus some cilantro (corriander), parsley, and marigold seeds.
I still have all the drying beans on the racks in the root cellar drying in their pods. I am guessing they are all dry now, and I will get to them when I have time.
Garden Cleaning and Garlic
We are trying to squeeze in garden clean-up between all our other busy-ness of fall. It has been slow progress, but it will get done. Meanwhile, we needed to get the garlic in the ground for next year. So we worked the soil in that section and prepped it and got the garlic down. We insulated it with some old dried hay from the barn stalls. We have purchased straw before for the purpose, but the straw always ends up adding a bunch of seeds to the bed and we spend all summer pulling them up. The hay from the stalls never does that. We have been using both a Spanish Roja variety and Premium Northern White. Each year the Roja does much worse than the White, and this year it did so much worse that there really wasn’t any worth using to start next year’s. So we are switching to just doing all White. So the garlic is in the ground and ready for next year.
Livestock Feed Bins
We have long used plastic tubs to hold the animal feed in the barn. They keep the mice out, keep the mess consolidated, and in the case of a flood (which we have had happen in the barn before), they keep the feed dry. The downfalls of these bins include the fact that the lids are not super secure and thus the sheep and goats can get them open when they determine to. Since the animals occasionally break into the barn feed area, this can be a really big danger to them. Also, the bins aren’t an efficient use of space because you can’t stack them on each other since you need to access them through the top.
We have been discussing building something else for awhile, and this week we finally got to it. Here is what the area looked like before:
And here it is now:
The bins are deep enough for 2 bags of feed, which will make it easier to keep larger amounts without as many bags everywhere. But they are not too tall to be able to reach all the way in them to the bottom. And the animals cannot open them because of how he made the lid and the trim in front of the lid. We used some random hardware we had laying around, and elk antler for handles. Plus, Mtn Man cut up an old marker board I wasn’t using and put them on the lids so we can easily label what is in them. We are all really happy with these new bins. They will make feeding easier and storage of food better and more efficient. He also put a shelf above them (and there is space for more shelves above that at some point). I love using vertical space!
As the weather starts to cool off a bit, we have been thinking forward to winter and beginning preparations. The kids have put in several requests for hand-knit winter outerwear items. The ones they had have either been outgrown, or worn out, or both. So I put down the never-ending poncho project that continues to be put to the side for other things, and cast on winterwear for the kids.
Young Man wanted a new gator. I used the yarn Mtn Man made from Fergus’ 2020 fleece. It is 80% wool from our pewter colored ram, Fergus, who was a BFL/Merino/CVM, blended with 20% bamboo. The bamboo was dyed a forest green. Of course the camera never seems to pick up yarn color accurately, but I was actually able to get the correct color by photographing the ball of yarn. So the picture of the gator shows the project itself, and the ball of yarn shows the accurate color and luster from the yarn. The pattern is just a simple k2p2 rib. He is very happy with it and I am sure it will keep him nice and warm when he is working outside this winter. And I am very happy with the yarn, it turned out beautifully and feels amazing.
Next I made Little Miss some new flip-top mittens. I used the basic mitten pattern from Ann Budd and then just figured out the flip-top part myself. Mtn Man made the yarn is from Maggie’s 2020 fleece and it is 100% wool. I held the yarn double to give them a nice thickness that will keep her hands super-cozy this winter.
Braveheart also wanted some mittens, but he doesn’t like flip-top. So I used the yarn from Maggie’s 2020 fleece again, held double, and made him mittens using Ann Budd’s basic mitten pattern.
Using yarn from our own sheep fleece on useful things for the kids to wear always feels SO SO SO good. Such a satisfying farm experience to see it all come full circle. There are more projects to come, but it felt good to get those on and off the needles so quickly this week.
Little Miss has started a weaving project, it is a dish towel. She has just barely gotten going, and we are excited to see how it progresses.
Mtn Man finished a big rug order this week. The rug turned out really beautifully and is huge. It measures 8ft by 10ft. The customer is very happy with it.