Bent Oak Farm

Bent Oak Flock

I have not reported to myself in awhile. Not that anything has not been happening around here. But the biggest news, I want to record here and remember. I am collecting Gulf Coast Native sheep. We are up to eleven now.

I wrote about James and John joining us here on the farm.They weren’t named yet and that took some time to find the right names, but a friend suggested the Apostles as a naming scheme and as the bottle babies were twins, I decided that James and John would work great. The day they arrived how tiny and helpless they were.

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James & John on the ride home. So tiny.

Then came the call of another orphan baby girl. Of course, we would jump in the truck and head to Bryan (an hour away) at 9pm on a Sunday night to pick her up. She was without a mother probably most of the day and didn’t have anything to eat. So warm bottle in the truck, we headed out and went and picked up my little precious one. My sweetheart. My heartbeat. My warm hug, My warm kiss. My …. In case, you can’t guess I love my Sarah. I named her Sarah in hopes that she will one day be the mother of a little nation of lambs.

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Sarah’s first night. She got to stay in the house as it as cold out.

Then I found two more boys to add the farm. Mark went to pick them up one day and brought them back getting home just after dark. They were not sure they were happy at all with a new home and new people. Especially, not being around people too much. But they soon made friends with James and John and since they came together they became Peter and Andrew.

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Peter, Andrew, James, and John

So we were up to five lambs and Mark was out checking on lambs ready to go to new homes. He was bitten by the bug. Now I was already in line to get more from where the orphans all came, but Mark decided we needed twelve. Who was I to argue? So not long after we were headed to another farm to pick out four girls to bring back. That was an adventure of running my hand through lots of wooly backs and picking the softest ones. Yes, my husband may be thinking leg of lamb sounds good but his wife though loving lamb as well was mainly thinking in terms of wool. So four more girls came home with us. They were named continuing on from Sarah to Isaac and Jacob’s wives. Then added Hannah in for good measure.

I might add that at this point, he also made a cage to fit in the back of the truck for hauling lambs and about anything else that will fit.

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Rebekah, Leah, Rachel, and Hannah in back

Exciting we were up to nine lambs now. Then, it was finally a good day to go and pick up two more girls from the farm where I got the bottle babies from. So east we headed again and what lovely girls we picked up. They are the oldest of all we have as they were born in December so larger, more self assured, and just downright lovely to look upon. Alas though, this must be becoming too common as I do not have a first day picture of them. Why didn’t I?

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Naomi and Ruth. Really thought I had great pictures of them but must go try again.

So now there are eleven and one more to come. We have a ram reserved until he is weaned. Then one more trip to pick up a baby and we will be set … for now. They are so much fun. “They” say chickens are the gateway animal to a farm, and though I do love my chickens would affirm that statement, lambs are the heartbeat of my farm. I still love my eggs but oh, to sit out with lambs is a far greater joy.

I did just check and do not have a picture of all eleven together. Guess it is time to head out again with the camera. Aren’t we thankful for digital cameras today. I’d hate to know how much film I would be using up right now or how many awesome shots I would have missed by not just snapping all the time.

I am working on good pictures of each one for the sole purpose of learning their individual characteristics so that when someone asks who is who, I don’t have to check ear tags to remember. Not all have them have tags, but boy I am glad the ones that do have them. Thankfully, they are the ones that look the most alike.

Categories: Bent Oak Farm, Fiber, Gulf Coast Native Sheep | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

I’m Joining My Ancestors

I come from a long line of farmers. From about any angle as you travel back in my personal history there are farmers. Did I say I come from farming stock? There were a few who didn’t get the memo that they were suppose to be farmers but considering most of my ancestry has been in the States since the 1700s and before and didn’t live in cities, the given is that they were the farmers that they were.

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Last summer in my little world

Now I live on my own little piece of land and we are building our own little world on it. I often consider what I have and what they had and the agriculture census’ from the 19th century are interesting to compare what we each have. Of course, they had more land than we do, and had crops that we don’t, but I do like seeing where we cross over and this week I even added to our similarities.

Looking at the 1850 agriculture census for Jasper County, Illinois – horses, milch cows, other cattle, sheep, swine are the common animals. With some oxen thrown in here and there. Well, we own one horse and have our third foster looking for a forever home. We don’t have a milch cow, and I believe that would be too much milk even for me to make and use in butter, cheese, etc. The other cattle is taken care of. We have the five heifers still and hopefully four will go to market soon and one will be in the freezer. I doubt the swine will ever come into play but you never know.

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First page of an 1870 agricultural census entry for Hidalgo, Crooked Creek, Jasper County, Illinois

The early agriculture census didn’t include chickens but by the 1880 agriculture census poultry is included as well as how many eggs you got by the dozen over the last year. And yes, everyone has their poultry. So I can claim to have joined the poultry crowd. I’m sure the earlier dates they all had them as well but for some reason whoever set up the categories of the agricultural census didn’t think they were important. I wonder if they were so ubiquitous that it would be easier to see who didn’t have a dozen chickens than who did.

But did you notice that I missed one of the animals up above? My 3 great grandfather John Cummins had 18 of them in 1850, 7 in 1860. Eliphaz Brooks had 14 in 1850. James Carr had 22 in 1870. Reuben Carr had 43 in 1860 and 25 in 1870. Montraville Washington Utley had 10 in 1870 (and yes that was a common name in the family and I wonder where it came from) 10 in 1870. And lastly Jonathan Cowger had 10 in 1870.

So last Saturday evening I got a message from a friend that has Gulf Coast Native Sheep and she had twin boys whose mother had died. Did I want to take on two bottle babies? Can you guess how long it took for my heart to start racing and going ballistic at the possibility?

After talking with Mark and lots of messages back and forth, I went and picked up two sweet boys to add to the farm.

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All packed up to head to our new home

We made the run on Monday to pick them up and they have been so much fun. Quite entertaining and boy do they love feeding time.

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It is a lovely day

Now they have a whole new world to explore, and I get to join my ancestors who also had sheep. Can’t wait to see what the future holds. And the poor boys are still waiting on names. Their new mother is very particular about names and so they are still just The Boys.

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What is this?

Categories: Bent Oak Farm, Fiber | Tags: | 4 Comments

The Rooster May Crow, but the Hen Lays the Egg

Ok, so my chickens are making possible liars of me on Facebook. I have hence decided that the story needed a larger platform, and just for the memories here is what has happened over the last three days.

Yes, I was on normal afternoon chores when glancing in the coop, I suddenly realized there was something in a nesting box that wasn’t there before. Went to open the boxes and sure enough we had our “first” egg.

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“First” egg?

 

We were excited. I even posted this picture on Facebook. OUR FIRST EGG!!! Actually wasn’t expecting any till at least another month. See these girls are only 6 months old and, yes, that is when they should start laying but winter is a slow season for eggs and not wanting to rush them, we didn’t do any of the “keep those eggs coming” tricks.

Next day I glance in the coop and thought a girl had popped an egg while on the roost and it had fallen and broken as it looked like half a shell on the floor. But when I reached in, lo and behold, it actually was a shell-less egg. Read about them but so cool to actually hold one.

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Shelled egg left, shell-less right

So got a picture of the two eggs together. Ever so happy. We are on our way. Our first two eggs. What joy! I may not have to buy any more in a very short time.

Then. After shopping today. Mark calls. I was on my way home. Did I know there was a nest in the barn and there are seven eggs in it? WHAT??!!?? Yes, the girls had fixed themselves up with the preferred nesting area and were busy laying eggs in the barn. They had quite a nice nest. All private in a corner. Full of eggs.

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Behind the old tractor

They actually had done a good job of it for a bunch of girls without mothers to show them the way. Amazing how God put in them the innate ability to do their job. Of course, having mothers to help is better, but thankful they don’t have to have a mother nearby. These twelve girls are figuring life out together.

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A nest of 7 eggs of both types of chickens

Then to top the afternoon off, Mark did check the nesting boxes again on our way back to the house and there was another egg. For a total haul of eight today.

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Today’s gathering

So the question remains. What was our first egg? The one I posted so happily, proudly on Facebook? Or one of these seven found in the barn. I haven’t the slightest idea. I guess I don’t know if I ate the first one for breakfast this morning or not. I do know that it was good, and I am sure that these will be good as well. Anyway, we may have to have an omelet here. I did come home with an 18 pack of eggs from shopping.

So to see you out here is a close up of some of the Twelve.

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The pretty girls

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Two Projects

I did get a hat woven off loom style that actually fits my head. Not only that, it was a bit big. So I’ve crocheted on it and it still is a mite big but works. May still do another single crochet round taking in again but it is good for stuffing all my hair in when going out to do chores.

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Wearing the hat

My usual hat model refused to model a hat again. Did get a picture of Mattie laying down with it on but can’t find it now. So here I am wearing my hat. For as little as I could enlarge the pattern I have to think it has to do with the alpaca that it came large this time.

Also recently at the guild Christmas party, we learned to make Dragon Boats. Of course, I had a bit of getting it going but once I got it, it was rather fun winding it and seeing it grow and cover the whole model without having to change a thing you were doing. I absolutely love the yarn I used. Still need to make a proper hanger for it, but here it is.

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Not perfect but pretty

Oh, and a big plus to today. As I was coming back in after chores I checked the coop, and we have our first egg. Totally wasn’t expecting it so a very nice surprise.

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One of the girls was busy

 

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A Romantic Morning in the Country

I do have projects going but nothing at the moment to add to my memories as far as they go. But the last two mornings, I took the camera out with me on morning chores and thought I would share the romantic mornings I have. Now of course I am using that word “romantic” half tongue in check. It is work and getting out early and mucking out and stuff. But all in all, I really love my mornings outside with all the animals.

My first job is to get feed out for Candy and Mani. Without a word to me my dear husband joined Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society. I found out the day he told me we could be fostering horses by that evening. Well, despite an initial OH DEAR ME OH MY?! I immediately went online and bought a couple of books and got ready for them. We both have ridden many times – but actually care for them? Another ballgame. We soon had Candy dropped off to us (not the same day as I learned of this venture, thankfully) and a bit later then came Thor to join us. This past weekend was the big adoption expo. Thor was adopted by a family who does train horses which is good for him. He was beyond our means to know how to handle. Candy, though, refused to get in the trailer to go and as Mark had wanted to adopt her since the first day she came, she got to stay and is officially ours now. At the end of the expo we had another horse dropped off to foster. A sweetheart named Mani (hate the name though) who is 21 years old. Has a leg problem so can’t be ridden but makes a great companion. So Candy is not alone now. (She didn’t handle Thor leaving well at all.)

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Mani and some hens

As the early hours begin I go and get feed out for them and soon after, the door of the chicken coop opens and the hens start scattering about in the direction of the horses. They have learned that horses drop a bit of food and it is good scavangering under their feeding. Neither horse is bothered by them, and they are smart enough to move when the horses do.

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Sun just rising over the upper paddock.

Now I get out there before the sun is actually over the edge of our property. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t up for the area though. We are in a small dip and from up above the sun is well on its way with the day. I do enjoy seeing it come up in cloud, fog, clear mornings. Yesterday was foggy but today all clear.

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Candy finished eating and waiting on Mani

So at this time the horses are fed, the chickens are free ranging. I’ve counted hens. Looked over horse. Mucked out what needed mucked out where they eat. And I have turned on the hose to fill the trough that is at the barn. This trough isn’t just for horses and heifers though. I think the hens use it more than the waterer at their coop.

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After a long night it is time for a drink.

The hens do provide lots of entertainment around here and if you don’t have any, you should get some. Many cities allow backyard hens and if I was back in a city, I would have some, though since we free range I’d feel sorry for them being stuck in a small area. These guys travel and have fun while doing it. Always something going on. Well, unless it is still a hot Texas fall (Fall where did you go? I would really like some cool to cold weather.) and they roost in the big bushes during the afternoons.

I might add though that this trough has become a frog nursery. There are millions, evangelistically speaking, baby ones all around here. I actually think home is underneath it as it sits a bit crooked.

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One of the big ones.

Just yesterday I actually saw larger ones than the tiny ones. So here is one I got a picture of. When we clean out the trough and surroundings, I hope it discourages them a bit.

Back to farm animals, the heifers soon came over and joined us. They don’t beg for food in the mornings anymore since they only get extra in the afternoons, but this morning they came in close (Spooking the horses once.) and decided they needed to eat some of the hay that is available. Yes, we are dry and the pastures are a bit sparser than I’d like to see them. We will probably need to get hay soon.

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Why are you disturbing breakfast?

The five heifers are doing well. They mostly are still laying about in the early morning but sometimes get with the job of eating before I leave for the house.

After all is done at the barn, I put everything back and head for the chicken coop. Fun to watch the chickens around the wood pile. This must be one of their best opportunities for critter eating. They spend a lot of time here and that is fine by me. I like the idea that they’ve taken care of anything before I go up those stairs.

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King of the Mountain

Sometimes they all rush after me back towards the house as I refresh their water and check on their supplemental food. They do get some from us and aren’t totally dependent on what they find to eat. So check the coop, water, food and the animals are dealt with. Well, almost.

Many days I also wash down the coop, water plants, take care of things in the yard. But when all is said and done, I try to remember one last thing before going inside.

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The last washing up.

You never know what all is on your wellies when heading back inside. I always wear them to the barn. Then I don’t worry about what I step in or what can get in my shoes. So they must get a good washing down so that I don’t groan when I see their spot by the door full of who knows what that has fallen off.

But back to that – Well almost. When all outside critters are dealt with, I do still have to feed Sam and Mattie breakfast. I don’t think some mornings they like being last. I guess that is the problem of being the domestic animals of the place.

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Is it our turn yet?

Someday these days will be over and I will miss them. I hope that day is well in the future, but for now here is a note of what it is like in early in the morning in my peaceful corner of the world.

 

 

Categories: Bent Oak Farm, Fiber | Tags: , | 9 Comments

Christmas 2015

I have wanted to write something witty, funny, thoughtful, inspiring, … alas the inspiration for that chore has gone on a major walkabout and left me at home. Maybe I should have gone with it to see what it is seeing but alas and alack, I have chores here that need attended so will look at this season once again and see where we end up.

Last year at this time I wrote Christmas Message 2014 on Facebook after the Lord and I had a conversation late at night during a trying time of life. We survived that desert time. It did have many wonderful aspects as any desert does but, when the end of May came and we were able to move in our own place, we were ecstatic.

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Welcome to Bent Oak Farm

Was it worth the wait? You bet. God’s timing isn’t always ours, but we are thankful we didn’t just settle but waited for this place to come on the market. We had put in offers on two other places but thankfully we didn’t pursue either. We saw our farm the first day and put in an offer. There were two and they chose us despite not being the best, but as the owner was a veteran and we were having to use a VA loan, he went with a fellow veteran. God provides.

What have I seen and learned in our little part of the world.

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Yes, we get to see some awesome color.

Night skies really are amazing. Remember from last year that it was Orion still being there that I could remember and see how the Lord is always near. Guess what? You don’t have to wait for just winter to see Orion? If you are up in the early mornings seeing your husband off to work at 0 dark 30 who is waiting there is the eastern sky? Yes, Orion. Still marching on. Still on the hunt. Still saying, I am near. I am watching over you. Your God is nigh. Who can doubt the amazing creation of God?

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One of my female hummingbirds

Birds. Amazing birds. Lots of birds. Multitudes of birds. Each in its own season. Each following the last group through or staying on for a time. I love the birds. Mark even bought me a nice camera as I was getting so discouraged trying to get pictures of them. The hummingbirds provided so much entertainment as they swarmed before heading south. Did you ever hear their wings or call? So much fun. Have you read about what is packed in that tiny little body? Did you know a Ruby Throated Hummer can make it clean across the Gulf of Mexico. No wonder they binge eat before they head out.

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An American robin in the cedar

But hummingbirds weren’t all we have had – cardinals, three types of doves, three types of woodpeckers, chipping sparrows, Carolina chickadees, cedar waxwings, bluebirds, gackles, white egret, blue heron, American robins, and who knows what else has passed through the yard. Even the turkey vultures that helped take care of the deer that got hit by a car. (Yes, I teared up for her, but she wasn’t the mother or either of the twins.) Can anyone see so many and not be reminded how Jesus told us that not one sparrow falls to the ground but that our Father in Heaven knows and cares. And if He cares so much for each of them, how much more does He care for each of us. (Matthew 10:29-31) So much so that Jesus came to die for us and provide salvation. God didn’t abandom his creation to rot but provides redemption.

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The eastern sky in early morning

Oh, mornings and the eastern sky. At this time of year we remember all the prophesies of the Old Testament and how it came true in Christ, The Messiah, The Lamb of God, The Redeemer. He came exactly as the prophets foretold through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He came to die and cover our sins with his own blood. And as He came in that first advent and fulfilled all prophesy and showed mankind the value God puts on us, we can await his second coming. One day each believer will see that eastern sky split open and there will be that “meeting in the air”. And then the second advent when Christ will return as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and reign and every knee will bow. What a day that will be, when my Jesus I shall see, when I look upon the face, the one who saved me by his grace, when He takes me by the hand, and leads me to the promised land, what a day, glorious day that will be.

I hope to see you in that “Great Gettin’ Up Morning.”

 

 

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Christmas Small Town

I know I haven’t written much to myself of late. Life hasn’t been of such that much has happened in the fibery world around here but much else has and since it takes more than fiber to weave a history, I am going to remember other events as well now.

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Merry Christmas Y’all from Lexington Log Cabins

Tonight we went into town for the Christmas at the Log Cabins. We live 4 miles outside Lexington with its population of around 1100. It is quite a nice small town to live by. Tonight was a fun night at the Log Cabins which were moved into town around the Bicentennial.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Living Nativity 

The events began when the birth of Christ was read by one of the pastors in town as the children acted it out. We also sang carols between the different events. There was of course the cute kids and that one that was a show off. Fun to watch. Afterwards was hot dogs, chips, and tea for $2 and cookies and hot chocolate for free. We ate and walked about. Saw a couple people we knew and then I went to get some pictures elsewhere. Returning in time for the arrival of Santa and the tree lighting.

 

 

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At the end of the countdown the tree was lit.

Santa arrived on a fire truck with his entourage and the children went crazy. It actually was fun watching then all excited and not able to wait for him to come around. After he plowed his way to the tree, we had a countdown and the lights lit up. Quite the sight and the colors a bit more vivid than this picture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Starting to feel chilly

 

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Mark feeling fine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guess it has been too long since I have posted last. WordPress has changed its format for writing, and I don’t like the new form. Doesn’t it so often seem that once you figure something out they switch the game on you? Why? Just a short complaint as I can’t get the pictures to do as I want. At least late at night.

Categories: Lexington | Tags: | 2 Comments

When Hay Needs Moved

Now this was my diary of my fiber pursuits but sometimes you just have to keep a pictorial memory of other things. This is one of those “whatever else crosses my mind” that needs a record.

So we have moved to the country and 12 acres. This summer we had the hay fields cut (that sounds like a large area but really isn’t) and then had 5 big round bales sitting out there waiting to be moved somewhere. Now, I am wanting to attempt a no till garden come spring which means preparing the area now. Not that we have it all right yet, but yesterday afternoon Mark wanted to run to Tractor Supply for a bit to help move a bale. We got back and the job began.

Arriving on the scene

Arriving on the scene

After we got home, I changed from summery skirt to sturdy split skirt and headed out to the nearest bale. Mark had the truck and trailer backed up to the bale and was getting the tie ready to wrap around it. Sam and Mattie were very curious at what their crazy masters were up to. Sam stayed close and observed, but Mattie headed back to cooler ground and watched from a distance. When I arrived, we moved the bale and got the yellow tie around it. A large bale (said to weigh 1500 pounds) can be rolled by two people amazingly if little is in the way. So together we did get the tie wrapped around, but then it was too short so Mark had to go get a chain and another tie and we were able to cobble together enough to start.

Starting the cranking and learning not to go too far down or you disengage it.

Starting the cranking and learning not to go too far down or you disengage it.

Cranking became the order of the evening. A job simple enough that I took over for most of it. We learned a bit about using a crank like this. It has a name that more or less is what it does, but I forgot. Something like a Come Here is what it is called. But back to the work. The fun was not looking back for some time and then when I turned around the bale actually was coming up the ramp and onto the trailer. I was moving a huge bale with one hand! So on it went and finally the bale was on the trailer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Almost on the trailer

Almost on the trailer

Look at that! It is just about on the trailer. A wonder when you realize what you are doing without the expensive fancy tools some use. We had an immense feeling of achievement and pictures had to be taken at the time. I snuck one of Mark, who would prefer not to be in any of these, and he got one of me after that was not half bad.

 

 

 

 

I will admit a bit of pride at this moment.

I will admit a bit of pride at this moment.

Here I am by our proud achievement. Though this turned out to be the easy part of an evenings bit of work. You see, we needed to take this to the backyard and get it inside the fence and then take it all apart.

 

 

 

 

Off the trailer and in the yard. See how long that shadow is getting.

Off the trailer and in the yard. See how long that shadow is getting.

Now we got the bale to the fenced backyard and had to get it in there and over to where the garden is going to be. It was pretty easy to roll it off the trailer. Gravity can be a great friend at times. Though the next step was a bit more as we needed it to turn a corner. With bits of working off of each side and using a board to change how it rolled, we managed to get it to turn. I’m sure geometry terms would describe this better but alas do you want to hear how I passed geometry? Yeah, this brain doesn’t work that way, but I understood why Mark tried what he did to help us get it to turn, and we succeeded in the end.

 

 

Time is unknown but alas from the sun in the first picture to this one, quite a bit of time has passed and a job done.

Time is unknown but alas from the sun in the first picture to this one, quite a bit of time has passed and a job done.

So what was it like outside by the time we got that bail tore apart? So very after dark. The sun and any of its remnants of light were long gone and the moon shining bright through the tree. I was covered in hay, sweat, and general ick. I am not a general ick sort of girl, but I got it done (yes, Mark left me to it for a time but then came back and helped me finish) and finally got in for a shower. Did a shower ever feel better or was more earned?

Oh, and a lesson learned. I have always respected that ranchers and farmers dress the way they do, for the job they do, for a specific reason. If you ask me if you can wear shorts and a tank top to work out here, I may laugh in your face. But this shirt I have on was a no no. Lots of hay down the front inside the shirt and my arms we covered in scrapes and just plain dirt. Brown when I went in. You can bet your little blue booties that when we move the other 4 bales I will have a long sleeve button up shirt on. I have a flannel shirt that will probably go to work then.

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