This is the unglamorous time of year. The two big Sheep and Wool festivals we do are over, and it’s time to get back to routine farmwork,
All but the most stubborn leaves have blown off the trees and hit the ground. Frost has ceased the growth of the grass, so all grazing now is merely a victory-lap of somewhat palatable but less-nutritious grass. Even breeding season has abated – the rams have settled most of the ewes for March lambs, as best I can tell. Unlike goats, rams woo ewes quietly and subtly. They grumble gently and nudge ewes while sniffing to determine who might be in heat.
One major job awaiting me was the ram barn. We clean the bedded manure pack out of the main barn with a tractor, but because the rams live in a converted horse stall, removing their bedding is a hand-shoveling job. If we bedded them with shavings, shoveling would be easy, but we mostly bed them with waste hay. Waste hay plus manure creates a substance that I term “Crap-thatch”. Crapthatch is challenging to shovel because the long strands of hay do not want to disengage, while the moisture in the pack makes every scoop you can move very heavy.
It took three long days to complete the shoveling job. We added most of the manure to the manure pile, but we brought one down to the village of Albany to share with some folks who let us rent their land for hay. Matt deposited the scoop of poop straight on their garden for use next year.
At least we have a nice stack of hay bales to see us through until spring. It’s hard not to get anxious about my hay math – it’s expensive to be 20 bales short in April! That said, I think we are in the clear.