1/8/12 – Tropical January

We’ve had a beautiful few weeks on the farm.  The animals and people have all been enjoying the lovely weather.  For those of you further away, t’s been hitting the 40’s every few days – unheard of for an upper Midwest January!  We’ve been busy, too…
Sheep on Pasture

Sheep on Pasture.

Sheep on pasture on a January morning.

Dividing the barn between hay and sheep.

Thanks to these temperatures, the sheep are still appreciating pasture forage (with a few hay bales a day to bolster their nutrition).  They’ve even been choosing to sleep in the pasture at night rather than cozy up in the barn.
While the sheep are out perusing and lounging on the snow-free pasture, Caleb and I have been working on various projects around the farm and house.  Out in the barn, we built a divider between the sheep’s bedding space and the downstairs hay storage.  This has helped avoid the midday-munching we’d observed half-demolishing any bale within reach.  After a particularly windy night, we also teamed up with Sherry to rebuild the barn door’s wind break with some added reinforcement.
Together, we went through the burn pile to reclaim any useful wood.  Then, we stacked it up nicely for a good bonfire in the future (when there is snow to protect the ground).  Caleb recycled some of that lumber when he built a worm bin out of it.  Our wiggly friends will enjoy their new space as they work through our compost and create fertilizer for the field.  While he was working on that project, I spent the day cleaning out the attic that I’ll be making into my studio space when the summer comes.

The newly stacked “burn pile”.

Caleb and his reclaimed-wood Worm Bin.

          In the chicken coop, we turned and added new bedding to keep everyone healthy and happy.  We’ve also been keeping track of egg production and are in the process of determining which of the 13 hens are our loyal layers.  After morning chores, we’ve loved having coffee and a few fresh eggs for breakfast.

A newly-trimmed window.

The new “library” bookshelf organization.

Around the house, we’ve spent time unpacking, organizing, and nesting as we slowly move into the space.  Caleb spent some time putting trim around windows and it looks quite fetching!  I spent several hours straightening up the bookshelf and organizing into categories so that it can be an effective “library” for the farm’s visitors.  We’re looking forward to a few more projects around the house and will share the details as they come!  Until then, both of us are using the relative quiet of winter to work on our individual business plans, check out the markets and shops in the area, and plan for spring.  Caleb has been reading local papers and getting the infrastructure laid for the farm business while I’ve been working on putting together a catalogue of my wares and printing shirts to mail to Etsy buyers.  I’ll also tell you that we’re enjoying knitting, reading, going on walks, and learning to make great meals on the wood stove during our free time around the farm.

The Amish Telephone Booth awaits our attention.

Later today, we’ll be hanging more bale nets for the sheep in preparation for snow.  We’ll also be doing some work to repair the phone line out to the Amish Telephone Booth so that our neighbors can use the phone in privacy instead of standing in our kitchen to do their business.
All in all, we’ve had a great few weeks getting to know the neighbors, community, and local area.  We’re looking forward to the upcoming year getting Blue Ox Farm up and running!

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