Shearing, Gardens, and More!

May 8th. That was the last time I blogged. Holy cow, y’all. I’m not sure I’ve ever gone that long!

I have no excuse, really. Have I been busy? Yes. But, no more than usual this time of year. At the moment I am waiting for my suuuuuuper slow technology to work so I can upload pictures.

Since I’ve been here we all nearly needed to get our boating licenses, what with all the rain. I was beginning to fear summer would never come. I’m still afraid we may have an overly wet summer.

Normally waiting for May before shearing means the sheep are more than ready to lose their wool. It’s a relief when it finally all comes off, and they happily wander back to the hay, feeling light and cool and happy.

This year? Not so much.

First, I had to pen them in the garage, of all places. It has been so wet and muddy that there was no good place to keep them where they’d stay dry waiting for Emily to get here.   I’m sure I don’t need to tell you what a bunch of sheep penned together for 3 days will do to a space; it was quite a mess to clean up afterward.  As for letting them back out into the field after getting shorn….well.  It was not only still raining, but much chillier than you’d want for your newly-naked ovines.





But yesterday – yesterday at last! We finally had a day with no rain at all. It’s been gloriously sunny and hot. It’s felt downright luxurious to be able to check on and feed the animals, weed the gardens, and collect eggs without getting rained on the entire time.

The downside, of course, is finding two giant black snakes coiled up together in one of the coops yesterday afternoon. They’d availed themselves of the eggs in there and left at some point of their own volition. I have no idea where they went, but now I have the heebie-jeebies big time.  I didn’t disturb them, because lord knows I had a million scenarios play out in my head of how I’d manage it, and none of them ended well for me. Thankfully, our neighbor across the street has offered to come get them out  for me, should they return.

They’re not back today, thankfully. I walked very carefully into all the gardens and kept a wary eye out while weeding and spreading out diatomaceous earth (I’ll conquer those squash bugs this year, dammit).  I had to replant the melon and cucumbers, thanks to some sneaky vole activity (why can’t the snakes pick on the voles instead of the chickens? Gah!), and I had to gather back the errant chicks that had squeezed out of their pen. I saw no snakes. I hope it stays that way.

And look! Radishes are finally coming in! And chard!



And little white flowers on my ever-expanding raspberry bushes!



Miss Piper, lounging in the hay


Sweet Dilly is FINALLY off steroids. Hopefully her platelets and red blood cells continue to stay within normal levels.


Marvelous May

It’s finally May!  Hopefully this will mean the weather will continue to warm and we won’t have weeks on end of rain anymore.  May also means two birthdays in our house, Neve (at the end of the month) and Maddie.


My  baby sister turned 21 this past week (and her sweet boyfriend John graduated college!).  Aren’t they adorable?

Now that it’s almost summer I’ve been missing Europe pretty hard, and thinking about surrounding myself with herbs and flowers again.


I’ve got potted herbs started on the deck, and my veggie seedlings are finally starting to outgrow their pots and will be ready to transplant into the garden soon. Neve and I started a few dozen basil seeds, and I’m hoping we get a decent amount of grown plants. Right now I’m a little overwhelmed with basil sprouts, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

My grape plants are budding and starting to leaf out:


I was pretty concerned about these, I’m not going to lie. When I planted them they looked like dried-up sticks and nothing more. I had a hard time tilling the soil where I planted them, and though I used a bit of compost when I put them in the ground, the area where they are planted is in full sun and the dirt is very rocky and poor. Now, I did that purposely after reading many, many articles about how and where to plant grapes. Still, it felt counter-intuitive, and I’m relieved to see how well they are doing.

Likewise, my elderberries are growing like mad! I’m pretty excited about these; looking forward to elderberry jam!


I’ve finally got a few pea plants growing – I only planted them like a freaking month ago – and I’m hoping it doesn’t get too hot for them before they grow pea pods. I’ve also finally got some beet sprouts and chard.


In the back garden I’ve got cucumber, cantaloupe, watermelon, zucchini, and yellow squash sprouts, and I’m very excited to say that in the pumpkin patch there are several rows of pumpkins, sunflowers, and corn sprouts. 05.08.16h

This year I’m prepared with industrial quantities of diatomaceous earth! I’m getting a decent harvest this year if it kills me.

While we’re talking about lovely things growing, check out the back pasture!


What a difference from the rocky, barren field it once was! I’m not sure when we are going to put the flock back out there. Initially we were going to try and give it more time to really grow in, but since there are still lots of rocks out there we really can’t mow,  we may need our four-legged mowers out there soon!


Wild irises along the stream!


On the other bank, these wild daisies!




The ducks are finally all feathered-out, and patiently waiting to be let out of their pen to roam the garden.


The little chicks have also made a transition – from the brooder to the tractor!  I still worry they’ll be warm enough, but they are almost completely feathered, and 7 weeks old now. In addition to the tractor itself, I’ve placed them in Orzo’s circle of protection. I can’t wait for these babies to be egg-laying ladies!