Day 365 – not even close to the end

I didn’t get 365 pictures/posts for the year. Boo. But that won’t stop me from continuing the chronicle of Innisfree into 2014 (and hopefully beyond!).

It’s been quite a year, with many starts and stops, transitions and falling down, to get back up again. We have new projects to plan, current projects to refine, things to keep, things to change, and things to plain old stop doing.

Many thanks to all of you who supported our efforts, bought our products, provided feedback and ideas, talked us up to friends and family, visited us at our markets & on the farm, prayed us through the good times & bad, and helped us in all the ways you could.

Stay with us for 2014 – you help small farms survive and thrive.

Happy New Year from all of us at Innisfree on the Stillwater,

3 humans / 5 dogs / 4 goats / 10+ cats / 20+ cows / many chickens / 2 horses / 1 mule

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Day 356 – how high’s the water, papa?

It’s been a while, I guess! Farm life just keeps going along – moving hay bales for the cows and the goats to eat, forking loose hay to the horses, gathering eggs (wherever they may be!), planning for the coming spring (seeds for the garden, new critters for the farm, living quarters for said new critters). We also completed the “big move” – only (haha) 100 feet apart, but I think that actually made it more of a job, because it wasn’t pack-everything-and-throw-it-in-the-moving-truck-to-go-to-the-new-house, but a few trips here and a few trips there. Finally, in the words of a dear friend, we put the cat in with the cactus, and just got it finished. Well, at least we have all of our stuff in the house and all Mom’s stuff at her house. If you’ve ever moved, you know that the unpacking and such may be even more stressful than the box moving. But it’s done.

On to yesterday and this morning. It rained, and rained. It stopped for a bit, then rained some more. End result? Same as it ever was – the river came to visit!

The critters are all well, if a bit damp.

Day 314 – friends

To me, it’s always nerve-wracking to introduce a new animal, especially a dog. Those of you with dogs know they can be very, um, protective of who and what they see as their pack.  This was something I was nervous about when Lucy came – how would Minnie take to her? Would Lucy be a threat to Minnie’s goats (and Minnie’s humans)?

So we had Lucy contained in a large, fenced in yard area that shares a corner post with the area containing the goats and Minnie. They could see each other, sniff each other through the fence, and generally get to know each other before actually being able to touch.

As it became clear that Lucy was now our (my?) dog, I would leash-walk her to the gate into Minnie’s area so they could see each other closer. We would also put Lucy in the fenced-in garden, which shares a fence with Minnie’s area. The slow introduction seemed to be working – Minnie would run up and down the fence, with Lucy in hot pursuit, and Lucy would bark when Minnie “hid” behind the garage where Lucy couldn’t see her (Pyrs have a crazy sense of humor!).

A few days ago we brought Minnie into Lucy’s area, and they chased each other around for a while, but Minnie was more into sniffing this new area than playing with Lucy. So today I took the leap and took Lucy into Minnie’s area. Oh boy, the goats were not happy about this! But after head butting Lucy a few times, she stayed clear of them and they left her alone. Then it was all about running – Lucy running the fence line and Minnie right on her heels!

Maybe some people say “put them together right away and let them sort it out,” but I’d rather avoid a giant dog fight if at all possible. Besides, what’s the rush? Each animal is different and you have to consider all the personalities you’re putting together.

Now Lucy has met and interacted with all the critters at Innisfree. We’re working on longer “out” times and staying away from the road, but she has imprinted on me as “momma”, and doesn’t really stray too far.

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Day 311 – new chicken boxes

It was time. The old metal laying boxes were just not doing the job anymore. The mesh that was to let the poo through – wasn’t. The covers over the area the eggs rolled into weren’t opening very well (and had become separated on one side). Time to upgrade the nesting box system.

We had already installed some of these nice plastic boxes on the other wall, and decided to use them as replacements for the metal, even though we would be possibly losing a box or two in the process (the metal one had 10 boxes, and I could only fit 9 of the plastic ones in the same space). The theory goes that from 3-5 hens can use the same box, so we wouldn’t be losing too much with the number of hens we currently have.

I decided “I got this” and went to unscrew the metal boxes from the wall. One screw – no problem. The other? Wasn’t too interested in moving. Finally got it to loosen – great! Picked it up to lift it off the cinder blocks – the bottom fell off (that’s the bit laying on the far side of the metal boxes). Then the mesh fell off. I ended up dragging the bits that didn’t fall off through the chicken coop and out the door to where you see them laying in the picture, then tossing the fallen off bits out after them.

Installing the plastic boxes went smoother, although I remembered (after having screwed in 3 boxes) that you should always start from the wall and work out – much easier to make sure there’s enough room for everything! Unscrewed the boxes, started from the corner, and managed to fit one more box in than I expected – yay!

To complete the job, I tossed in some paper shreddings to each of the boxes – which the chickens promptly tossed out of the boxes when they entered to lay eggs.

Another little job off of the list and chore time made simpler for the egg collector.

Day 310 – it’s Minnie weather

Being the big, fuzzy bear that she is, we are getting to Minnie’s favorite part of the year. With the heavy winter coat she grows, cooler days are just the thing for the puppy in her to come out. To be fair, she’s not even 18 months old yet, so there’s still a lot of puppy there (of course, the puppy weighs over 100 pounds!) who loves to play.

After our post-feeding wrestling/play time, it was time to wiggle! She can be a very serious dog when she’s working, but play time is hardcore play time.

Day 305 – big wind

A nice sized storm system rolled through the area last night, bringing some serious wind and rain, which (surprise, surprise) knocked our power out for the evening. After checking the animals, we thought a line had been knocked down by some falling branches, and reported as such to the DP&L power outage hotline.

No one slept well last night, half listening for the repair truck (not that we actually expected it to come until this morning!) and wondering about the imagined damage to buildings and such around the farm. Well, at least I was wondering about that!

Morning arrives, power is still out, so we begin assessing the damage. No line is down, so we figure a fuse popped. Buildings – fine. Critters – fine (it appears that there was a calf born sometime between yesterday afternoon and this morning – silly momma cows). Trees – laying across the driveway. Yikes!

Out comes the chainsaw to cut a path (you can see how big this “branch” is) and a rake to remove smaller debris. We’ll chip the branches later on.

These are the branches that we think caused all the problems – they came from pretty high up and we think they bounced the power lines together and blew the fuse.

DP&L arrives as we are sawing away – problem resolved, and we have power. No damage to foods in the fridge/freezers. Huzzah!