Thursday, November 11, 2010

The season of planning, and loads of lists

I have never had so many good ideas, day after day, as when I work in the garden. -John Erskine

The season of planning is sneaking up on me this year. Our fall has been so mild it seems like winter will never come, but I know not to let my guard down. This week has been one of lists. I find that I've been so busy planning things abstractly in my mind that at this rate I'm never going to get things done in time for various happenings: sheep arrival, freezing of the ground, rain, snow, the holidays. So I've been making lists. Lists of things I need to do, make, purchase, rid myself of. Lists of things I need to plan, design, consider and think about. Maybe I should make a list of things to not do as well: worry, obsess, count days, watch like a hawk...

This morning I figured I would post a few of my more reasonable lists so that I have a published place to refer to them in case I'm out and wish to check back on them via my phone.

Things to do before the sheep arrive:
  • put in final two T-posts up by the barn - check!
  • cut down the two dead portions of the box elder by the barn - check!
  • scrape the dead leaves off the roof of the barn - check!
  • put up woven wire - this weekend or else! - check!
  • buy one more gate for the west paddock fenceline - check!
  • buy water trough heater - check!
  • bring home small tack box from horse farm and install as "sheep emergency box" - check!
  • order motion sensor light for barn door - check!
  • find somewhere that sells non-pelleted, non-corn sheep feed
  • calculate numbers of grass hay vs alfalfa hay for late-gestation ewes - check!
  • order hay from Kevin - check!
  • prepare lambing kit - check!
  • finish reading "Managing Your Sheep and her Newborn Lambs" as much as possible
  • install electric solar charger and anti-coyote wires
  • order woven electronet - check!
  • possibly pull down the old metal siding on the west side of the barn and reinstall or replace - half-check!

Things to do before the ground freezes:
  • Pick up tiller from Don's Small Engine Thursday afternoon - check!
  • Till first bed under and spread duck manure - check!
  • Till second bed to get started, at least removing turf - probably postponed until spring
  • Till under and supplement unplanted rows in raspberry patch - half-check!
  • Side dress raspberries with compost and mulch with straw
  • test soil in blueberry patch and supplement with pine needles
  • mulch blueberries with pine needles and straw
  • lay cardboard over blueberry path to kill orchard grass invasion
  • Reinforce deer fencing on raspberry patch with additional T-posts - check!
  • Rake, shred and distribute leaves and leaf-mold - check!
  • mulch alpine strawberries with straw
  • bring potted alpines into pop-up greenhouse for winter, and mulch
  • harvest spinach and winter radishes! (and broccoli if it makes it)

Other less time-sensitive things to do in the garden
  • Pick up preferably no less than 3 yards of compost from compost yard - half-check!
  • Lasagna layer raised beds - half-check!
  • build tomato box and supports to replace cardboard box garden - check!
  • Graze ducks on front veggie bed leftovers for fertilization - check!
  • Compost cardboard gardens (maybe turn into lasagna layers?) - check!
  • rake the rest of the leaves into wildflower garden
  • scatter winter wildflower seeds
  • lay cardboard for squash planting in first field
  • Install at least one more raised bed (cinder block)
  • -maybe- install three more raised beds on west side of orchard path
  • scavenge more cardboard for raised beds and killing weeds

Wintery Aspirations
  • Build lamb creep
  • build chicken/duck tractors
  • build no less than three potato bins for straw planting in spring
  • improve duck run
  • plan more biodiversity in spring plantings
  • plan to utilize a few "squarefoot gardening" techniques
  • Relax...

So obviously I have some maddeningly big plans for the rest of this year, but for the most part as long as I stay on task I should be able to get them done. My brother is supposed to be coming out this Saturday morning to help put in the woven wire on the sheep pen.

I originally wasn't going to admit this but it's become an advantage rather than an embarrassment so I'll go ahead and own up to it. I installed my tposts backwards. Originally I had intended on keeping the woven wire on the inside of the tposts because it would add physical integrity to the fence if the sheep were to press against it. When I discovered the posts were backwards I was so overwhelmed I didn't even get frustrated; I just laughed hysterically.

Now I'm realizing I like them this way. The neighbors dog, albeit adorable, is deaf and has charged and damaged our front welded-wire fence a couple of times, and being a very solid dog with little inhibitions (I think she's an american bull dog?) she worries me when I think about sheep, lambs and this dog's ability to bash head-long into fences. With the tposts set the way they are, I am forced to put the fencing on the outside which means more resistance to any pushing or bashing from outside the fence. My dogs have been exposed to various livestock and I know that while Connor will ocassionaly rush a horse out of fear, all I need to do for him (and Basil will learn from him) is establish that he has a job with the sheep and they are his to take care of. We did this with the ducks and he's pretty awesome with them. Sometimes his drive instinct still overpowers his herd instinct and he takes the ducks down the driveway while I chase wildly after, but he still thinks he's doing his job and he still knows they're a resonsibility, not a play thing.

The neighbors dog seems very sweet, and I'm sure she's well behaved for them, but she was until recently a city dog and hasn't had access to any livestock other than madly oggling the ducks a few times. I trust my neighbor, and I like her dog, but I'm not positive my trust extends to the dog...

EDIT: Things I should've Added to my First List
  • patch drainplug in sheep stock tank (caulk, maybe? cheaper than a new plug)
  • find new job for the HUGE pieces of lumber that came down from the old fence
  • reinforce north fence by screwing scrap wood over attachment area
  • build sheep hay trough for inside stall
  • build movable sheep trough for use in field
  • install final 20' panel of woven wire fencing on west side of field
  • finish west and south fence - check!
  • check duck coop for holes - foxes have moved into the neighborhood! - check!
  • Put up bird feeders out front, and at the bottom of the yard - check!


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