Saturday, June 1

Tail End of the Week: Get Your Friday Farm Fix #28

Welcome to the Friday Farm Fix, a sporadic series where I share a random sampling of what's been happening around the farm during the past week (mostly on Fridays). Just joining us? You'll find all the previous Friday Farm Fix posts here and here.

(28-1) Tiny fawn in the hayfield -
Tiny fawn hidden in the hayfield.

Whew, what a week. In five days we managed to accomplish three big tasks that had been looming over us: clipping poor matted Marta Beast, putting up the first batch of hay, and getting the sheep sheared. I just realized they all have to do with cutting.

Tuesday morning we were so wiped out that we both slept in until 10:30, and that was before the hardest work even started. Then the power was out all Tuesday afternoon (which also means no water pumped from the well), making us even more discombobulated.

Saturday we spent an unplanned four hours wallowing on the ground in the sheep/bunny barn with our new animal clippers and a (thankfully) drugged Marta, who is a 100+ pound mix of three thick-coated livestock guardian dog breeds: Great Pyrenees, Komondor, and Anatolian Shepherd. She's also a big mess. Marta could find a mud puddle in a desert, and unlike her Great Pyrenees partner, Daisy, she wasn't blessed with that amazing self-cleaning gene. She also hadn't been clipped in two years, so this was a real challenge.

The last time we had Marta professionally cut it took them five hours and cost a small fortune. The 80-mile round trip drive wasn't much fun either. So we decided to invest in a good electric clipper—which actually cost less than the last grooming session—and try tackling her ourselves.

I wasn't sure it (and we) would be up to the job, but this little Andis professional clipper outdid itself. If it can handle Marta, it can probably handle anything. She won't be winning any beauty contests (which is our fault, not the clipper's), but she looks much better than she did, and I'm sure she feels a lot better too. (Note for home dog groomers: blowing off the blade every several minutes with compressed air to clean and cool it and then oiling it made a huge difference. We're also going to buy a second blade that doesn't cut as close; parts of Marta are very pink!)

34 more photos and the rest of the weekly recap below (hover over each image with your cursor for a description). . .

On Labor Day morning the owner of the (only) store in town called to say that one of our Amish neighbors had brought in some freshly picked strawberries and did I want dibs on any. I hightailed it up there and bought 10 quarts for $30, then came home and washed, de-stemmed, and froze most of them. The rest we ate the next two mornings for breakfast with vanilla ice cream. One of these days I'll plant a new strawberry bed and we'll once again have our own ruby red bounty, much to the turtles' delight.

On Labor Day afternoon our new sheep shearer called to see if he could come shear our sheep on Wednesday, which happened to be the day we would be baling hay, a hot and tiring day-long job. He didn't arrive until 6pm, so I helped Joe pick up and stack the first trailer load of bales, and then he brought in the rest while I helped the shearer.

The sheep look great (I should have asked him to do Marta), there are 170 dry bales of hay safely stacked in the newly sided haybarn, and during the past two nights two huge thunderstorms swept through and gave us nearly five inches of rain, which is exactly what the freshly cut hayfield needed.

The next projects include transplanting four rhubarb plants, 14 elderberry plants, and the rest of the (now really sorry looking) tomato and pepper seedlings into the kitchen garden, bringing two yearling lambs to the processor (in the '86 pickup that likes to die while hauling sheep), and cutting hay two or three more times.

Work on the farm never ends, but each day is also full of wonder and joy and appreciation of the little things: the heady scent of wild roses blowing on the breeze, homegrown grilled lamb chops with freshly baked rye bread and a simple salad of lettuce and green onions from the garden for dinner, a happy dog rolling in the grass, the beauty in a bouquet of French Breakfast radishes, a piping hot homemade Italian sausage pizza (pizza dough recipe here, easy sausage recipe here), a curious brown bird we've never seen before bopping outside the kitchen window to music only it can hear.

While Joe was cutting hay he came upon the tiny fawn pictured above, hidden so well in the tall grass that by the time he shut the tractor down it was only about six inches from the 7-foot-long sickle bar mower. Yesterday we watched as mama and baby playfully cavorted across the newly cut section of the hayfield and then up into the woods, the sheer joy of being alive clearly emanating from them both.

(28-2) Beagle Bert on alert -

(28-3) Man vs. woolly beasts -

(28-4) Halfway through shearing Marta -

(28-5) Mr. Midnight on Rooster Andy's coop -

(28-6) First turtle of the season in the kitchen garden, no doubt looking for strawberries -

(28-7) Tall grass in Donkeyland -

(28-8) Marta not quite used to her new look -

(28-9) Cutting the first hay of the season -

(28-10) Always be prepared -

(28-11) Vintage vignette in the kitchen -

(28-12) View of the house from out in the hayfield -

(28-13) Headed for the laundry line -

(28-14) Multiflora roses are perfuming the air -

(28-15) Haying season happy dance -

(28-16) Raking the dried hay into windrows the day after cutting -

(28-17) Darnell (giant pet wether) and Da Big Guy (studly ram) -

(28-18) Ten quarts of strawberries grown by our Amish neighbors, most are now in the freezer -

(28-19) We're some of the only people in the area who still put up small square bales of hay -

(28-20) Heading for the haybarn -

(28-21) They're not friends yet, but they've stopped trying to kill each other -

(28-22) The echinacea is already coming into bloom -

(28-23) It's been a banner year for the wild multiflora roses -

(28-24) Planting Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes next to Candy onions and some of last year's Swiss chard -

(28-25) Daisy loves Marta's new look - and she smells a lot better too -

(28-26) Lokey the wonder hen is still broody after several weeks, despite our stealing the eggs out from under her every day -

(28-27) First French Breakfast radishes of the season -

(28-28) The late March planted garlic is looking great -

(28-29) Planting peppers and tomatoes under Jasper's watchful eye -

(28-30) Stacking the last of the first cutting of hay, 170 bales are now safely in the barn -

(28-31) Da Big Guy was the first sheep to be sheared this year -

(28-32) Spiderwort is a hardy, very low maintenance perennial with lots of beautifully colored flowers -

(28-33) Marta blends with the freshly shorn sheep -

(28-34) Looking and listening -

(28-35) New siding on the haybarn will help keep next winter's sheep and donkey food protected from the weather -

Want a bigger farm fix?
(click here  and here to see all these posts on two long pages)
Friday Farm Fix #1


  1. Im so glad the fawn wasn't hurt.Your farm is amazing and looks like a lot of work.Hope you are having nice weather there.

  2. Oh that darling dog! I bet it feels so much better though :) And the fawn has to be the prettiest pic of all, amazing you managed to get so close to it!
    Gorgeous pics :)
    Janie x

  3. Wonderful pictures today! Looks like you had a really good week. (Who needs electricity!) Thanks for sharing, (again).

  4. What a great post, Susan. I read it twice. So much going on where you are. Nothing better than a barn full of well-dried good quality hay. Tell me, do you seed your fields? If so, with what? (I've never quite known how hay growing works.) Poor Marta! I bet she is so much cooler though, as well as cleaner. I hope that pink skin of hers is protected from sunburn...not sure how on earth one would do that. A tip: a friend of mine who uses Great Pyrenese to guard her goats and sheep gives them a 'hunter cut' every spring/summer. Essentially this is what one does to a working fox hunter (horse), clipping their bellies, legs and lower sides but leaving the topline long to protect them from the sub, (and in the case of horses, the saddle and rider's weight). Has a nice effect of keeping them clean, and cool, but protecting them from the brutal sun. Just a thought. Marta might look cool in a full body mohawk next time! Otherwise, it seems like you and Joe have hit a nice rhythm with the farm this year. I hope it feels that way to you guys too! We love watching.

  5. Well Susan, you've done it again. I've lolled away a perfectly early Sunday morning with your and yours!:) Marta's trimming is hysterical. We loved our huge terrier mix Maggie, who needed to be groomed and was a huge and exhausting chose for us. Your clippers look terrific and I would suggest in addition to canned air, that oiling the blade regularly during job might be good for long life. She looks so adorable trimmed up! So much in this post. You took me to Italian sausage making (how did I miss that original post. Never considered making my own Italian rock!). Also loved the detour to September-planted Asian greens. They all look gorgeous and do love your wide bed planting style. Learned square foot gardening from Dick Raymond on PBS in the late 70s and it really makes so much sense. Congrats on getting tomatoes and peppers in already. One of the things I love about you is your delinquent kitchen gardening (makes me feel RIGHT AT HOME :)). Since we moved to New England 3-1/2 years ago, I've had a tough time with tomato production. Moving from SoCal, I was truly spoiled. This year planted 3 big heirlooms, but for insurance, planted 3 cherry tomatoes also. Please don't tell anyone. I used to think cherries were for novices (back when I was a snotty 20-something ;)). Ooooohhhhh.......those gorgeous shots of the hayfield and green, green, green! Such beautiful country. Soooo glad you are getting some great food out of that pasture. Last year was painful to hear about (i'm sure worse to life through). Grateful you're getting some good moisture. Sorry to go on and on, but this post is really inspiring and there is so much to it. Still, better stop and get my bean teepees built and planted. Did I tell you that I get to be a Rancho Gordo Bean Buddy? I'm helping to trial 3 beans for them!!! Isn't that cool? Also trying your Dragon Tongue for first time. Never planted bush beans before, always pole. Hope the harvest is bountiful. Really better go now. Thanks as always, for the inspiration and beautiful peeks into real farm life. Many hugs to you and Hunky Farmguy and the rest of the gang!

  6. I adore your photos. They make me feel like I'm right there with you. <3

  7. It looks like you got more hay this haying than you did all last summer! Great photos from the week. My two year old likes to sit with me as we scroll through the pictures and she tells me what each one is.

    1. Hi flyingjen,
      Little kids are some of my biggest blog fans. :)

      You're right - we didn't put up any square bales of hay last year. We did put up a few giant round bales (our first time doing this) in October but it was too cool and too wet and they were mostly moldy and burned up inside from being baled too green.

      So far this year is looking much better. Now all we need is for the weather to cooperate (hot and sunny enough to cut, no rain on the cut hay, etc.) two or three more times and we should have enough hay to feed the sheep and donkeys next winter and early spring. Hooves, tails, and fingers crossed!

  8. The farm is like NEW again. Like it doesn't even remember how dry it was last year.

    It must feel good to take pictures of hay again and fields of grass up to the donkeys' snoots and big bowls of strawberries and...oh it's just all awesome.

    Best *Fix* to date.

  9. Let us all pray for enough, but not too much rain this summer. I have a long haired cat, along with many other animals. He is slovenly about his personal grooming at the best of times. At the worst, in summer he gets matted and nasty things stick around his under the tail area. Years ago, for my daughter's wedding, in case guests saw him I paid an outrageous amount to have him groomed and clipped. Head and tail were all the long hair left. He looked wonderful. After that he got the home sissors, bowl on the head haircut. I bled a lot every year. His cut looked like Marta's. I can only hope that Marta and Kitty are more comfortable. your blog is a bright spot in my day.

  10. Love all the wonderful pix! I liked Marta's moppy look, but if she's smelling/feeling better with the trim, then it was a Good Thing. I have a Maine Coon who goes to the groomer to get his [butt] shorn to avoid the dingleberry problem. After reading Jackie C's comment, I'm going to ask about an all-over clipping to help keep him cooler this summer. Ah, the things we do to ease our pet's lives!

  11. It is wonderful to see your fields green this year! Hopefully this will be a much easier year than the last few have been. It's nice to hear joy back in your written voice.

  12. Love the new siding on the hay barn, it will make a big difference keeping the hay dry! Speaking of which, I'm glad ya'll got the hay in before all the rain hit. I'm glad to see the cats are at least tolerating each other and poor Marta Beast, she does look like one of the shorn sheep! I know she feels better and tell her it will grow back soon.
    I really enjoyed this post and all the lovely pictures. It's nice to see it so green there this year. :)

  13. Great Farm Fix! I love the way you called the holiday Labor Day---was that Freudian slip or just a more accurate name for the day on the farm!:)
    Ok---so I don't see Bert's lookout window for perching atop the highest bale in the newly sided barn. I loved those photos of him up there---and the one of him today (Monday)with Molly and company! She is still with us! No hostile takeovers in that photo---yet...

    Marta looks great! Nice shot of her and Daisy in step. I know that I am one of the many that am very happy to have you back here on a regular basis---we missed you last Summer! The farm looks beautiful, the animals look healthy, and you and Joe are both able to work...which is what keeps it all going.
    Thank you!

    1. LOL, it must have been a Freudian slip - that is so funny. I'd actually just written Monday, then changed it to the name of the holiday, thinking it was, like you said, appropriate for the day. Thanks for the laugh - and the correction!

      Yep, The Doodle Monster lives, much to the other critters' dismay and the astonishment of the vet. He can't believe this itty bitty, nearly 18-year-old cat has survived the equivalent of about 30 human years with mouth cancer. Physically she's a mess, but her sweet/evil little personality is still completely intact. ;)

      Ha, we probably will have to build Bert a window in the new haybarn wall so he can still have a 360 degree view. Lately he's been sleeping in a huge hay nest on the ground of the barn where he can spy on things through the space at the bottom of the wall but still be invisible to the rest of us.

  14. Hi Everybody,
    Thank you all so much for your kind and enthusiastic comments. I'm so happy you're enjoying the return of the Friday Farm Fix. I'm going to do my best to keep it going! :)

  15. Oh my gosh what an Eden! I'm so jealous! Thanks for sharing your wondrful blog!

  16. I so love your photos. Please give Marta a hug from me! We had an akita mix that was clipped every year. Her name was Cindy and we just adored her. Marta's clip made me think of her! -Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures

  17. What a beautiful slice of life you have. Love your photos and the picture of newly clipped Marta with the sheep made me laugh out loud. Your farm is gorgeous.

  18. Hi there, I love your blog and read it often - everything that you share here is so full of love and a sense of true living!
    As for Martha's next haircut, I suggest you wash her first with a dog shampoo, but before the final rinse put on a conditioner - an usual one, ladie's stuff, the kind that untangles rebel hair. Let her dry off a bit and the trimming will be a sweet job, both for you and her. I know that from experience - I used to have a spaniel cocker, curly haired, the kind that loved outdoor living, mud and all field related stuff that could make his fur look like felted. When, by accident, I dicovered that trick, the two-times a year trims became events to enjoy. Hope it will work for you too :)


December 2015 update: Hi! For some reason I can't figure out, Blogger hasn't been letting me leave comments on my own blog (!) for the last several months, so I've been unable to respond to your comments and questions. My apologies for any inconvenience! You're always welcome to email me: farmgirlfare AT gmail DOT com.

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