Friday, June 21

Tail End of the Week: Get Your Friday Farm Fix #31

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 (sometimes actually on Friday). Just joining us? You'll find all the previous Friday Farm Fix posts here and here.

(31-1) Bert still likes his chicken TV -
Beagle Bert still likes his chicken TV.

Wondering what was happening on the farm this time last year? Check out the Friday Farm Fix #15. (I miss not having all those baby chicks around this year!)

Happy first day of summer! We spent it recovering from cutting the third—and final—section of the hayfield. It's been sweltering this week, which is great for the hay but rough on the hayers.

It felt ironically appropriate to be lugging 148 square bales of hay from the field into the barn on the longest day of the year, since that itchy, exhausting, sweat-drenched job always makes you think that the day is never going to end, especially if you aren't as young as you used to be (which is why we broke down last year and bought a 25-year-old round baler to help out).

But it also feels really good to be done with haying for the year, and to have a nice crop of hay in the barn. The 330 square bales—which we're figuring as 300 since some of them are really light—along with the 26½ big round bales from the second cutting, plus 43 high-dollar square bales of alfalfa leftover from last year, should (knock on wool) be plenty enough for the coming winter and next spring, no matter what might happen.

In comparison, two years ago we put up just under 900 square bales (and had plenty of hay and more sheep), and last year we didn't put up any hay because of the horrendous drought.

This year's hay all looks pretty good, and it's such a relief to know that even if the fields burn up in a summer drought, or the cool season autumn grass doesn't grow, or we get extended periods of early snow on the ground, or there isn't enough rain and the grass gets a late start in spring, the donkeys and sheep will still have plenty to eat. You never know what Mother Nature is going to throw at us.

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

Next up: giving Lucky Buddy Bear a bath, sheep working Sunday, hauling two yearling lambs to the processor on Monday, fixing the '81 ton truck (so it's actually fixed this time), figuring out why the '86 truck (which we need to haul the lambs on Monday) smells like gas and has started smoking under the hood, finding somebody to fix the little antique tractor (because our inexpensive, quick-fix attempt didn't work), replacing the universal joints on the hay rake (oh, the joys of having so much old equipment!), and attacking the prickly pear cactus that's taking over the fields.

But first, a day of semi-rest, spent indoors and out of the heat as much as possible. And catching up with the laundry. There's a moratorium on hanging laundry on the line during haying because the last thing you want is for the hay to get wet, but we could really use some rain now.

The hay is safely in the barn; let's get those thirsty fields watered. Plus I'm totally out of clean socks.

(31-2) Tanking up in the front field -

(31-3) Mulching the eggplant, peppers, and basil with sheep manure and bedding hay from the barn -

(31-4) Jasper has no interest in joining The Mole Patrol -

(31-5) The shady boy's club -

(31-6) It's not just for sheep -

(31-7) Garden supervisor hard at work -

(31-8) One of our resident white-tailed does -

(31-9) The deer have no fear of the dogs and come right up to the house - and over two fences into the garden -

(31-10) Chilling out on the old sawdust pile -

(31-11) Both the dogs and sheep are filthy from laying in the cool dirt -

(31-12) Daisy dug down to make a cool spot and flung dirt all over that sheep right below her -

(31-13) Baling up the third cutting of hay on a very hot day -

(31-14) Our antique John Deere square baler is still going strong -

(31-15) The hardest part of haying is bringing in the bales -

(31-16) Bert spent the afternoon chasing rabbits in the woods at the edge of the hayfield -

(31-17) Almost done -

(31-18) Done! -

(31-19) Gus takes a bite of his mom -

(31-20) The donkeys like to nap in the blazing sun -

(31-21) Safely in the barn, 330 square bales and 26 big round bales of homegrown organic hay to feed the sheep and donkeys through the winter and into next spring -

Wishing you a cool and easy weekend.

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

©, ready to focus on some summer food in the kitchen garden now that winter is taken care of.


  1. Um, that "25 year-old round baler".... Wouldn't a fit, buff 25-yer-old baler be of more help and easier to look at? Just askin'.

  2. Excellent job, congratulations. Last summer was so horrible, I bet it makes hay in the barn now, even better. I can't believe the deer jump over your fences to get to the garden. That must be soooo frustrating. We put up a 4 foot fence that they have not broached yet (3 years). Our neighbor suggested 6 ft, but so far, 4 has held. I would be crazy if they got into my garden. You must doubly proud of any food that doesn't get snatched. Susan, I think I'm gonna break down and spray BT on my kales. Also heard from Baker Creek that they use Spinosad which I'd never heard of. Desperate for kale to survive this year. Am dutifully applying DE and it holds until rain comes, which has been often this Spring. Sorry to blather on, but really feel we're kin. Happy Summer!!!

    1. Hi Cary,
      Yeah, I hope we never have to buy hay again!

      The dogs used to do a fairly good job of keeping the deer away, but now the deer just stare at them and laugh. :) So far this year all they've eaten are the green bean plants (they LOVE them), but they may just be waiting for everything to grow up more.

      I looked into spinosad spray a few years ago when a reader said they'd successfully used it on blister beetles, but I never ended up ordering any. Apparently it works well.

      I can be really lazy about spraying in the garden, though the cabbage worms are attacking like crazy now, so I need to get spraying. Spinosad info here and blister beetle info here.

      The food grade diatamaceous earth (DE) works great on a lot of pests, and I've even used it successfully on the blister beetles - the key is to use LOTS of it and as soon as you see them.

      We buy DE in 50-pound bags and use it all around the farm; we even feed it to the animals as a natural wormer and health supplement. More info on the many uses for DE here.

      I usually sprinkle on the DE as powder, but last year we started mixing it in water and spraying it on the plants, and while it doesn't go on as thickly (the soft-bodies pests can be killed or injured just by walking through the powder), it's easier to get full coverage on the plants, plus we noticed that it didn't wash off in the rain!

      Speaking of kale, I've got to get outside and pick the rest of mine before the cabbage worms devour it. :)

  3. It's raining up here as I type this. I know the farmers in Wisconsin are frustrated with the amount of rain and cool temps we've had until this weekend. Most of the corn in the fields is still under a foot tall, though last weekend when I went south to my home in Illinois, things there look much taller- I think a lot of the storms have just been pushed north to us. This year may be the first literal expression of the phrase "When it rains, it pours". In my house, we're just happy the lakes have more water in there, but we aren't farmers (yet).

    Those donkeys of yours are so cute. If we ever did find a farm we could afford, I want donkeys, your blog has converted me.

  4. Bet you and HFG are feeling relieved with all that hay in the barn. Looks like summer is in full swing there-loved the photo of Marta Beast in her own little dugout, and the new cat sleeping under the wheelbarrow!!!!!

  5. Congratulations on a nice hay season! We are grateful for the rain this Spring. We just watered our garden for the first time... We are using rain barrels this year and are grateful for the 'free' water! -Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures

  6. Love reading about your farm and seeing photos of the farm and animals.


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