Let’s hear it for visiting relatives! Sonya’s dad and stepmom, Ron and Drenda, have been here on the farm since last Thursday. It’s been wonderful to catch up, hang out, and enjoy some summer-y moments with them: a massive lobster/steamers/fresh corn feast the evening they arrived, checking out the hot air balloons in Lewsiton at the Great Falls Balloon Festival, a day down at Old Orchard Beach, etc. Ron has also been a big help around the farm, doing everything from mowing and weed-wacking to fixing our broken porch door to helping Sonya and I dig potatoes on Saturday and pick beans this morning. Drenda has been hanging out with Lydi and Ez and putting our chaotic house in order. We love you guys and are so glad you’re here!
Our rockin’ crew today was small yet spirited. It was Anna and Sigrid, relieved of her Ezzy duties this week and freed up to be a full-on farm hand! Also, a shout-out to workshare CSA member Shanna who’s been helping out on Thurday mornings. She and I harvested cukes, tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers in the rain last week, and her cheerful enthusiasm never waned!
CSA share #11 for the 2012 season includes the following veggies:
1.5 lbs of potatoes (Satina)
The crazy choice: bag o’ beets -or- bag o’ eggplant -or- pint o’ husk cherries -or- head o’ green cabbage (Friday CSAers: Farmers’ choice)
.8 lb bag of green, purple, or wax beans
1 head of lettuce
2 sweet peppers
1 head of garlic
1 bunch of basil
3.5 lbs of tomatoes (beefsteak, heirloom, Juliettes, and/or cherry tomats)
Potato quantities are dropping slightly this week and perhaps in the future as we try to find the time to get those tasty suckers out of the ground. The plants have long since died, and we’re trying to dig, dig, dig as much as we can, especially after all the rain last week. The best place to store potatoes is right in the ground unless the soil is too wet…then rot becomes a real issue. More heirloom tomatoes this week…think sauce, salsa, tomato salads, etc.! Enjoy the cherries, too…this might be the last week for them. Also, folks, look again at the photo of Anna above. Doesn’t she look happy? Doesn’t she look pleased with her morning and all the veggies and flowers she’s carrying? Yes! And, this could be you! We still need help on Friday mornings. You will be rewarded with lots of veggies, not to mention good memories and a bit of exercise. Please let us know if you or someone you know is interested!
And what of the Summit Springs Farm critters? Well, the new sheep duo of Jeffe Blanco and Fiona met the old guard trio of Sienna, Lake, and Coco last week…we put everybody together in a fenced area that encircled the winter pen so that fresh grass was available plus the familiar pen that the new sheep have called home since their arrival here. It went well…a lot of sniffing ensued and some aggressive butting and bumping from Big Momma Sienna. She’s in charge, at least for now, and she wanted to make sure the new sheep knew it.
I attempted to move the whole flock to a new fenced area a little further down the field, and that didn’t go so well. The old guard went right in, of course, but Jeffe and Fiona hung back. The way I move the sheep is to set up an area encircled by portable electric fencing right next to their existing area. When it’s time to go into the new area, I just pull up a few stakes in both fences, lay the fences down on the ground, and the sheep jump over the downed fence and into the new area (sometimes with an enticement of grain, often just because they know that fresh food awaits…”the grass is always greener…”) The new sheep, however, don’t know about this routine and are still not grain-trained, so when I drove them towards the downed fence, they didn’t realize they could just jump over…they still saw the fence and veered away. After a bit of running around, Ron and I got them into the winter shed and I caught, picked up, and carried Fiona over to the new area, thinking that Jeffe would follow. He did follow, but still couldn’t figure out how to get over that fence. In the confusion that followed, he veered off and over the fencing in the older area and took off across the farm. I chased him down Summit Spring Road (and the memory of doing the same damn thing with Logan last fall came rushing back into my brain), through our neighbors yard, into the woods behind their house, and back onto our property over by Field 2 before losing him, probably down Estes Way. Sonya advised that I give up the pursuit on the theory that he would hear the other sheep and wander back on his own. Sure enough, as some of us sat at the picnic table a few hours later, Jeffe came trotting down the road. He ran past the farm and over to our neighbors’ place (Swallowtail Gardens). Ron and Sonya’s sister, Lauren, wandered over and got him headed back towards our farm. Sonya blocked the road, and Jeffe veered back down our driveway out out back to the rest of the flock. Now, how to get him in with rest of the sheep? He was nervously pacing along the outside of the fence, and Fiona was keeping pace with him on the inside. Both sheep were completely freaked out and avoiding us at all costs. We tried lifting the fence up, laying it down, and finally we just opened it up. Fiona and Jeffe, together again, raced up, around, and into the winter pen, and the other 3 sheep, no doubt wondering what all the fuss was about, followed them in, too. We gratefully locked them all in for the night..whew! The next morning, I got Sienna, Lake, and Coco back out into their pasture. Jeffe and Fiona will stay put for now until they calm down, get more comfortable with me/us, and can be grain trained.
The grain, by the way, is a Nature’s Best organic mix for sheep, and we use it mostly as an incentive to move the flock. By getting them to make the connection between the sound of the grain being shaken in a pan or yogurt container and the grain reward to follow, I can then use the incentive to move them around the farm quite easily. Sheep, like cows and other ruminants, should eat grass and hay. The only grain they get is a little treat when we move them (and even then, not always…as mentioned, the sheep often just move right into their next area without the grain trick). We will also supplement their winter diet with some grain as the ewes get within a few weeks of lambing and for a few weeks after lambing to ensure that the new moms are getting plenty of food to help them recover and establish a plentiful milk supply.
Ron decided to make it his mission to grain train these sheep, and by god, I think he’s done it. A mere day after Jeffe’s Great Escape, Ron was getting those sheep to show some interest in him, and by yesterday evening, he had them literally eating out of his hand. Persistence and patience have their rewards! Now I have to get them comfortable with ME by the time he leaves! Hopefully we can get the whole flock back together and on pasture very soon.
Folks, at next week’s (8/28) Tuesday pick-up, we’ll be hosting our pal, theresa smith murray, and a selection of her “fun and functional handmade pottery with unique stamp designs”. She’ll be set up right outside the barn from 3-7 PM so stop by, say hello, and have a look at some of her creations. We have a number of her bowls and mugs, and they are high quality, durable, and gorgeous. Here’s a teaser: