Wednesday, June 2, 2010

What's going on?

Summer came early to Maine this year. The potatoes are a foot tall already, as are several other garden plants, not just the "earlies": the peas and onions are tall, for sure, but the tomatoes are too. The warm weather no doubt contributed to the various sheep diseases we encountered too, all of which were the kind of critters that might prefer warmth and damp.

So it was with some relief that our sheep shearer came.

You may ask, when we do all our own sheep doctoring and car maintenance and house building, etc, &c, why do we hire a shearer?

The answer is that I know when I'm outclassed. Rob, our shearer, is impressively good at the job. He is extremely gentle and confident, and makes few nicks or cuts. He and his partner Michelle, farmers themselves, also seem to genuinely enjoy our small farm, so there's usually an exchange of ideas too, information and goods, as well as the expected trade of money for shearing.

The sheep of course complained violently about being shorn, but they'll feel better and be far less likely to get sick as a result. In fact we're relying on a dry day today to finalize Tootsie's flystrike treatment. Her fleece was so thick, it was impossible to find all the maggots. I kept spraying, but the flies just seemed to come back. Of course, there was a second smaller packet of infestation on her back, which we only found as we sheared her. Now without that fleece and with both patches well sprayed with hydrogen peroxide, and with a dry sunny day coming up, the nasty critters should finally leave her be.

First photo is post-shearing. I can't recognize them, they look so different.

I thought more of the ewes were fat, but only Toots and Molly were overweight. Doesn't matter so much for Tootsie, who's retired, but that would be why we had to pull Molly's lamb. She'll need to be skinnier next year.

Next up is my latest project, making a flatbed for the Nissan pick-em-up truck. There's the pressure treated boards for the decking, drying in the sun. There's the truck itself, with the bed cut off and the rust chiseled, hammered, and wire-brushed away. Now I'm welding new steel to the old frame to make a beam-and-stringer arrangement, to which I'll bolt that decking.

This has been a great truck for us, but its constant use as Aimee's daily driver has made it hard to maintain, especially with the salt on Maine's roads in winter. I've been anticipating for some time this great day when, as a direct result of purchasing the Camry, I can take the truck off the road for several weeks and work through it carefully, stripping off all the rust and changing out whatever parts need to be changed out.

Not a moment too soon. As you can see from the close-up, the rust was almost fatal. What the shot shows is the hole the air chisel made. As I was chiseling rust away, it went straight through the frame in two places.

But it was just a couple of spots and so it's patched now with new steel. The old truck frame and the new flatbed will get sprayed several times with red oxide primer and new gloss black. The flatbed will act to stiffen and strengthen the frame. The overall result should be a vehicle that can pass inspection for several more years.

Unfortunately we won't be able to drive it much. Since I know it has a slight leak on the head gasket at number 4 cylinder, and since it blows a wisp of black smoke on start-up each morning, most likely the result of leaking valve guides, we will have to baby it.

But baby it we can. That won't be hard. We probably only need a truck for two or three thousand miles a year. Most of the time Aimee was driving this thing, she was using it as a car, to transport herself to work or the shops. She can use the Camry for that.

This last shot of Charlie-cat is funny to me, and typical of Charlie. He's a very laid-back cat, and loves to find new places to sleep, some of which seem precarious to non-feline people. It's even funnier when he falls off, which often happens. Here he is perched on top of the cushion on the chair in my den.

This time he didn't fall off, but he did take off when I sat down beside him. He could have stayed. I wouldn't have minded. But he decided not.

You can please some of the people some of the time.

Cats, you can't please at all. They please themselves.

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Welcome to our Farm Blog.
The purpose of this blog is for Aimee and I to communicate with friends and family, with those of our students, and other folks in general who are interested in homesteading and farming activities.

The earliest posts, at the very end of the blog, tell the story of the Great Farm, our purchase of a fragment of that farm, the renovation of the homestead and its populating with people and animals. Go all the way to the last post in the archive and read backwards from there to get it in chronological order.

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