Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Winter Weather

I am originally from Ohio so have no problem with winter in South Carolina. We do have an occasional interesting episode. Yesterday snow was predicted & it started coming down shortly after noon. It was 32 degrees when the snow started. I scurried around outside & refilled water troughs then drained the hoses I used. I also fed the dogs a little early & gathered my first round of eggs. We were actually seeing snow on the ground in about 2 hours.

I had been in touch with a friend whose husband had to travel west for a family emergency. They have a single cow & the husband had arranged for a young man to care for the cow for the 5 days he intended to be gone. Because of weather throughout the country, his flight had been delayed for a few days. He got word that his flight would be delayed one more day & that the cow had just eaten all of its hay. I offered to bring some over then called my sweet husband to ask if he could come home from work a little early so that we could do that before the roads got bad.

We feed round bales so decided it would be easiest just to take him the inner core of a round bale. Our sheep needed more hay in their pastures so Al stripped the outer core of the bale. We were hurrying as the roads were icing up & we wanted to get over there & back before dark. I ran ahead of the tractor, opening gates to the pastures that needed hay. I also took a few pictures. Those of you who know much about farming will see these first pictures & think, "This is how you end up as part of show & tell at farm safety camp." I would not recommend this to everyone but Al is spry & the tractor is well weighted. The footing was slick as the snow was falling.

Once we were down to the core of the bale, Al loaded it into the truck & we took off for what should be a less than 20 minute drive.
It took us a solid half hour. We were taking back roads & the trees protected the pavement from some of the snowfall. At the same time I was on the phone with the woman who owns the cow. She was trying to get home from work & was on a main road that was just a mess with folks sliding into the ditches.

When we got to her house, we quickly unloaded the hay near the driveway & then used a trash can to carry a few loads down to the cow. The last thing we wanted was to get the truck stuck trying to drive the hay down to the pasture. We managed to complete our task just as it began to get dark.
We made it home in half an hour. I think we were best staying on the back roads as we barely saw half a dozen other cars. Our friend called us when she finally got back home. It had taken her an hour & forty minutes to complete her usual less-than-half-an-hour drive. She was just thrilled to know that she was safely home & that her cow was happy.

Our sheep don't seem to be particularly concerned about the weather. They know they will be well fed & also have plenty of shelter should they choose to use it.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

A Little Work

I have not quite gotten back into a routine since the holidays. One of the things that is taking a lot of my time is our 17+ year old dog, Amanda. She is a sweet old lady who is still quite alert but has physically declined to the point that I spend a lot of time carrying her out to the bathroom, bringing her food & water & readjusting her bedding. She really does nap a fair bit of the time but also needs plenty of attention. We adopted her from a shelter in Jacksonville a few years before we moved here. She is the last of our creatures who made the move with us 15 years ago.
My sweet daughter-in-law also went back to work at the hospital 10 weeks after our first grandbaby was born. I am so fortunate to be staying with Jane for a day or two a week. I resist the temptation to post lots & lots of baby pictures so will only share a single one from this week. Jane has learned that she can actually aim her little fist & grab things. So far, that seems to be a great way to spend time.
Our weather has been a little crazy. We have gone from single digit cold weather to temps in the low 50's within a single week. I need to do more dyeing but it is a little tricky when the dyed roving freezes on the line before it even has a chance to begin to drip dry. I simply kettle dyed this but it spent 3 days on the line before it was ready to spin. The first day it froze so firmly that it could have stood up on the table on its own. 
It did spin up a bit more orange than the wet roving looked like it was going to be but I am still happy with it. It is on the right. The work on the left is from some roving I'd dyed all the way back in October but pitched in my stash & managed to lose for a while. I am pleased with the way it is spinning up.
I have decided to discipline myself to spin for at least an hour a day, even if it means I spin up some white roving to dye after it is spun. It is hard to believe that market season will be here before we know it.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Ready for Some Cold Weather

We have had a fairly mild winter so far but things are getting exciting. We had rain all night while the temperature hovered around 40 degrees. It has dropped throughout the day and is now in the 20's. We are expecting to be in single digits tomorrow. Now, compared to other parts of the country where the weather has been just ridiculous, we are doing fine but we still do a lot of extra work to prepare for weather extremes.

We have an excellent hay man who does a great job keeping us in very nice hay. Al picked up another four round bales over the weekend. When he unloaded the trailer he intentionally lined them up as an extra windbreak for some of the sheep. We make sure everyone has plenty of clean hay since a full belly is like a little furnace running as digestion produces heat for the ruminants. This little Shetland is obviously enjoying the lunch selection.
When I was out at noon to feed the dogs and gather the first of the day's eggs I noticed that a lot of the animals had not yet seen the weather forecast. They were enjoying a brisk sunny day. I guess they were letting me do the worrying for them.
The free range chickens, however, were not too enthused.  They preferred not to "range" today but hung out in various buildings around the farm.  Fortunately we have plenty of warm spots out of the wind for them to spend the next few days in & they love snacking at the seeds that fall off of the hay. The wind has picked up through the day.  I spent time down close to the ground feeling for spots where the wind was blowing into the old barn & filling them with hay.
The cold is not predicted to last long but we want everyone to be as comfortable as possible through the next few days.  And I believe I'll have to gather eggs a bit more frequently throughout the day tomorrow to prevent any frozen ones!