Sunday, June 8, 2008

Are the Dog Days of Summer Here Already?

Apparently a record has been broken at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, where temperatures reached 100 today. Normal temperatures for this time of year are in the mid-80s. I wish we could get back there!

Yesterday ended on as busy a note as it started. Kay had told me that her neighbor was planning to cut hay and I could get it out of the field for $1/bale. When I called him Friday, he had cut it, was going to ted it yesterday, and bale it today, and my plan was to go up early this morning and get it out of the field as soon as he baled it.

So yesterday afternoon, just as I stretched out on the day bed for a nap the phone rang and it was Kay telling me that Warren had baled the hay. I really wanted a nap, so I told Kay I'd think about what I wanted to do and get back to her. Well, it really made sense to just go ahead and get the hay, and it would free up Sunday to do so. So I hooked the van to the trailer and loaded a few of the dogs in case we had time to do a little dog work while at Kay's as well.

I don't know why (well, part of the reason was the detours on 29 north due to road construction), but it took me nearly three hours to get to Kay's. I looked at the temperature guage on the van when I arrived and saw that it was still in the mid-90s so figured we wouldn't be working dogs.

Once Kay got her long pants on we drove over to Warren and Trudy's place to find that Warren had already stacked the bales at maybe six collection points, which made loading it out of the field a snap! We then went inside for some of Trudy's homemade lemonade--yum! It also turns out that the temperature had dropped down to the mid-80s and Kay really wanted me to see Caleb (a littermate to Pip and Phoebe) work her calves. The calves were out in the main pasture with the sheep, so I sent Lark for them just to give her a chance to do a long outrun and work the calves.

The pasture needs mowing, and the grass was so tall that once I sent Lark I couldn't really see her except for the rippling grass as she passed through. I got her focused on the calves, and she brought them up pretty nicely and put them in Kay's riding ring (which is also the place she uses for working young dogs, and we had already used Kat to move the sheep out of the ring). Caleb really does look like he enjoys working cattle, much more so than sheep. I think he's just slow to mature, but hopefully working stock he really likes will help him to come along. After Caleb was worked, I pulled Pip out and worked the calves with him. Pip likes to do the stealth hock biting thing, but did a pretty good job with them. I then got Phoebe out to put the sheep we'd moved out of the ring back in, but they had gone out of sight down into the woods and Kay decided to just leave them there. I let Phoebe work the calves for a few minutes, but she was being rather silly, so we didn't do much.

By this time, it was almost 9 o'clock, and I still had to grab a bite to eat, get gas, and get home. I stopped at the Italian place in Charlotte Courthouse and got something portable I could eat on the road, filled up with gas, and was off. I took back roads all the way to Halifax and had planned to continue on back roads to Danville, but in Halifax I decided I could make better time if I just dropped down to South Boston and caught 58 W there to Danville. The trip home wasn't as long as the trip there, but it was after midnight when I pulled in the driveway. Needless to say, I did not unload the hay then.

This morning, Tony "the biscuit master" made biscuits, so after feeding dogs and sheep (I was awake at 6, despite not getting to bed till after 1 a.m. and had planned to not work dogs in the morning so I could sleep in), Jimmy and I went to have breakfast with Tony, Mary, Henry, and LouAnn. While we were talking after breakfast, Henry and LouAnn mentioned that they'd like some guinea hens for tick control. Well, it so happens that our neighbors with the alpacas also have lots of guinea hens, so we called to see if they had keets available. We loaned Henry and LouAnn one of the little chick pens we use out in the yard for little biddies and went up to see Charles and get the keets. So there went the cool morning, and I still hadn't unloaded hay!

Back at the house, I took Pip down to move the ewes with lambs from out behind the barn and into the lower paddock so I could leave the gate open while I carried bales of hay into the barn. One of the ewes is a bit rank with dogs, and she charged Pip several times. I don't want her to learn she can do that to dogs, and of course Pip is a happy alligator, so we've been discouraging inappropriate gripping, and it was obvious he wasn't quite sure this was an appropriate time to defend himslf, so the third time I grabbed her and was going to encourage Pip to hit her. Unfortunately he got that bright idea about the same time I grabbed her, and he caught my hand with his teeth. Nothing serious, but ouch! At any rate, it was enough to get the message across to the ewe to stop being a butthead.

By the time I unloaded the hay it was after noon. I wanted to put a round bale out in the main pasture as well, just to help take some of the pressure off the grass, especially since we haven't had rain in over a week. Jimmy was working on bee hives, but when he got to a stopping point, we took the trailer and went over to the chicken barn for a round bale. The lock has apparently rusted to the point where we couldn't get it unlocked, and in fact couldn't get the key back out. But the lock is just on a cable, so we climbed under, opened the wire gate behind the cable, and rolled that darn bale half the length of a chicken house, out under the cable, and up onto the trailer. I think that bale had nothing but flat sides, so rolling it wasn't too easy, but we got it done.

We set the bale down in the lower part of the pasture in the shade to encourage the sheep to eat it (since they prefer grass at this time of year). Of course just as we were leaving the pasture, all the sheep decided they needed a drink of water, and the stock tank is next to the gate. When Jimmy opened the gate, a ewe and her lamb decided to exit the pasture, so I pulled Kat out of the van (we always have a dog when setting up round bales just to keep the sheep off us while we're doing it) and the sheep decided that perhaps the pasture was where they really wanted to be after all. Unfortunately, to get out of the pasture we had to move the sheep away from the water. So once we had the van and trailer out, I dumped the stock tank, and filled it with fresh water, and sent Kat to bring the flock back up so they could drink, which they did. I also set the giant kiddy pool in the pasture and filled it with water for Maia. While I was doing that, she came up and took a dip in the stock tank. Aaargh! So much for fresh, clean water for the sheep. I hope she'll figure out to use the kiddy pool--it's a good size for a big maremma.

Finally I was done and came inside and had a shower. I even finally got a nap! I refuse to go back outside until the sun starts to go down. I know the dogs would like another walk, but it's just too freakin' hot to do that right now. They can wait for dusk too.

I'm hoping tonight I can watch a movie (Juno) and get to bed early. This was definitely not a relaxing weekend, but I did get a lot of good stuff done, and none of us has dropped from heat exhaustion, so that's a good thing! I still need to tarp the round bale, but I didn't have the wherewithal to do that this afternoon. If a storm appears to be coming, I'll run down there and do it (of course we put it in the shade, so it's in the very bottom/back of the pasture). We need rain soon or the baby plants that just sprouted in the various garden plots are going to shrivel up and die. There's no water on the back of the property, so we really have to count on Mother Nature to do our watering for us back there. It would suck to have everything we planted (and it's a lot!) die from lack of water. I think the Bermuda high that's got us so hot right now is supposed to be pushed out by a cold front later this week. It can't happen soon enough, and I hope it brings plenty of rain when it comes....


~~Sittin.n.Spinnin said...

Busy day! I spent mine NOT doing what I was supposed to do, and then realized the day was almost gone, now the kids are out of school though they can do part of it tomorrow :)

carson-crazies said...

Sounds like a busy (and productive) weekend! I spent most of yesterday inside the house doing as little as possible. So you got caught by that stupid I-40 shutdown too, hunh? What a mess.

Julie said...

It's funny how I can manage to be a lot more motivated to do all the stuff that needs to be done outside on the farm (even in 100 degree heat), but the same doesn't hold true for, say, housework or the paid job. ;-)

The detour I got stuck in was because of construction on 29. If I had gotten hung up in something else on 40 (since it was part of the detour route) I would've been really steamed. It was bad enough doing the detour because once I got onto whatever road it was that was supposed to take me back to 29, the signage sucked, and I had to turn around twice, on busy roads, pulling a trailer and in a van with an extremely wide turning radius. By the time I finally made it back on 29 N I was beginning to think the hay wasn't really worth it....

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

I cannot BELIEVE you can get hay for $1/bale! We paid $6.50/bale in the field, scattered just as it came out of the baler. OUCH!

Julie said...

Well, when you consider that they were small bales of mixed grass (small so Warren's wife could easily handle them) and that I had to drive three hours one way to get them, it wasn't quite the bargain it sounded like. But I did get to visit with my friend Kay and work dogs a bit, which is really the only reason I drove that far in the first place (and I wouldn't have bothered at all had the hay been any more expensive than $1/bale)!