Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Flood prep, running behind and big hoe

Edit. note; I wrote this post before the tornados last night in the deep south, but even more now, I encourage you to donate to the Redcross.
First, a disclaimer; my problems are small compared to those in other areas of the south who have lost lives and homes and communities to these wretched, seemingly unending storms. So if’n  you’re so inclined,  Y’all donate to the red cross, mm’kay?
Ok, on to my little aggravations. I try hard to fill orders on time. Of a coffee and idea sparked nature myself, I understand impatience to “get on with it” so it pains me to know that someone is waiting for a spindolyn or a knitting machine tool, and I might be standing in the way of some spinner or knitter and fiber progress! Fiber progress, is, right now, one of the “lovely comforts” that we can lean on in difficult times.
Excuse me, I have to go dig a ditch, be back later……
Ok, that right there is the problem. The rain and storms.
When the NWS said we might have 7-9” of rain, I went into preparation mode.
We learned from last years May flood that devastated Nashville and surrounds that you need to get everything away from the creeks that might be picked up and carried on down to clog up a culvert or bridge, even if it is not your culvert and bridge, because wouldn’t you feel stupid if you were to recognize a board or trash can or part of a feed trough that had been carried by the flood on down the creek and has now clogged up a culvert and caused the road to wash out and it is your junk that was not on high ground that has made it so that you and and your neighbors can’t get to town (that didn’t happen to me, of course, I am just saying.)
It is just that we (citizens of a planet undergoing climate change) are not used to this much rain, even in the spring season, and we are not used to the creek getting up that much, so people put lots of things in the flood plain, like my neighbor who had just built a low bridge over the creek for his tractor, and it caused our road to wash out to impassable for over a week until the county could get big equipment in to get us out.
So yesterday, planning on being well prepped, I spent part of the time I should be making spindles lifting up fence crossings and moving temporary bridges and pulling out downed trees from the last storm so they would not be swept away and add to the debris dams. I also dug ditches around the garden and house foundation, cleared the culvert and rearranged the the wingwall rocks. Every trouble spot that appeared in last years flood I tended to in preparation for this years flood. Good thing I did.
Except this year, something was different that I didn’t take into account. The pasture is on a hillside. The goats follow the sheep (that’s right, the sheep are smarter) and the sheep followed the mule, and the mule had set paths around and down to various pasture locations, and a switchback sort of way to get to the barn.
After the mule was gone, the sheep (Edwina, she is the leader) was happy to be the one making decisions, and changed the route to the barn. Showing that sheep are not as smart as mules she chose a hell bent for leather straight shot to both the barn and the front shed,
Edwina’s new straight shot tracks changed the route of the sheets of rain running off of the pasture. Turns out, having a mule prevented erosion, who would have thunk it?
So this morning, I woke to a spindle shop with water racing across the floor.dirt floor. Damn.
Wood was wet, some ruined, thankfully, no tools where on the floor, but there was a big mess to deal with and some walnut and oak to mourn.
So, part of today that would have been used for making spindles, had to go to salvaging wood and ditching and rerouting the water. Then when I got that done, the next round of storms came through with lots of lightening, and I don’t feel cool at all about working in a wet dirt-floored metal-walled building with lightening all around….so here I am blogging…but told you all that to tell you this.
Give the water a place to go, a lot of flood damage could be prevented if people kept in mind that water wants to go where it wants to go….and
Life is about having the right tools. These are my preferred ditching tools.

This is a cement hoe, lets water through the holes, and my trusty pick/mattock.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Farming~ the romance and the reality

      Warning: this is a long, not informative, sorta personal reflective post, you can just skip down to the fun part (the video) if you prefer  : )
    I have never considered myself a "gentlewoman" farmer. Over the nearly 30 years that I have been raising sheep, goats mules, donkeys and angora rabbits, I have tried to put practicality first. If a critter didn't "lay eggs, make meat, grow hair or protect against predators" I have been disciplined about not bringing it home.
After all, the first goal is not to lose money. Especially when my children where young, that would have been like taking food out of their mouths. I think that is the definition of gentlemen or hobby farmer, you can afford to lose money, and farming is all about losing money.
             My second goal was to do the best by my animals, loving and caring for them to the best of my ability within my resources, and this has not always been easy, and I ended up sacrificing perfectly good knitting and spinning time trying to tend to the health and happiness of the animals.
         The third goal was to profit from this work and care in terms of feeding the family, enjoying the fiber, utizing the manure for the gardens, and if possible, maybe make a little money.
              Well, right off, let me just say I have just about broke even when it is all said and done, but I have learned a lot, had joys and disspointments and had to be ever vigilant and ever disciplined.  Sometimes the freedom of travel or the apartment life fleetingly is appealing, but it is gone with the first garden produce of the year, or the first lamb born.
            As I advance in years,I am finding that keeping up with making the spindles and tools, trying to make a living, trying to garden for food and find time to still knit and spin and weave (much less blog) just leaves less time for the animals. So this winter and spring I have downsized the livestock part of the farm considerably, and am enjoying the remaining sheep and rabbits more.
      Will I have more time to blog? not sure about that...I was up in the woods above the pasture yesterday on my way to the spindle shop and had the most interesting idea for a spindle can't be on the computer when you have an idea burning a hole in your head....
Edwina had triplet lambs this year, so of course I had to make a lamb video.

 The three have such strikingly different personalities. Estella is the exuberient one in the video, she is even an exuberient eater. She has more white on her than the others, is more curious and the most bossy. Eloise is the somewhat shy lamb, when she is not playing with her sister, she stays close to her mother. Their brother Edward, the runt, was, from the beginning, a dreamer. He likes to spend quiet time alone, watching the wind blow in the trees, eating leisurely off away from the rest, exploring little areas. He had to have a bottle supplement for a while to get him up to speed, and he will probably always be a small whether, but his fleece is lovely and his health is good. Now that is more info than anyone wants to read, but there you have it!

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