A Few More Inches Ahead

My sweet dog, Stash, has been sick ever since I picked him up from the vet on Tuesday after boarding overnight. By yesterday morning he was passing uncontrolled, bloody diarrhea. Thus in the past 48 hours, I’ve spent quite a lot of time worrying, scrubbing, disinfecting, and taking Stash to the vet. It turns out he had an allergic-type reaction to the Science Diet food they gave him during his stay. I have had labrador retrievers with cast-iron stomachs for most of my adult life, so a serious, cascading illness from switching dog food brands was new to me. Poor Stash was given blood tests, IV fluids, antibiotics, and will be on meds for a week. It won’t happen again!

It was a beautiful sunny day. In between my labors with Lysol and mops, I moved the sheep to fresh grass and managed to finish mucking the deep bedding out of the last quarter of the inner sheep stall. I spread it all in the back field.

Just as I was about to sit down, tired and dehydrated, to lunch, Damon showed up for another unexpected hour. When under pressure it can be challenging for me to cope with sudden changes to my schedule (a rearrangement of the list!) but the opportunity to get a lot done in a short time with heavy equipment is always exciting. I peeled some boiled eggs and ate them in the truck as I hurried back to the farm.

First, Damon carried dirt in the tractor bucket to fill some deep ruts near the cabin.

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That alone saved me hours with a shovel and wheelbarrow. Soon I will seed both spots.

He also knocked down and smoothed two big piles of fill in the back field. Back in 2010, Allen had buried stumps and piled rocks in a narrow swale. The plan had always been to go back and cover the rough area with soil. But I ran out of money, and Allen ran out of time. Now his son is slowly doing it.

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I was thrilled to see more progress.

“Soon the whole field will be mow-able!” I shouted happily to Damon over the roar of the tractor.

His mouth twisted as he shook his head at my foolish optimism. “Not today!”

After driving Lucy to town and picking up Stash from the vet, I kept working down my list. I began repairing sheep netting from the damage inflicted three years ago when idiots neighbors set off fireworks 100 yards from their pen and the panicked sheep tore through the brand-new nets.

I drove to pick up Lucy in town. I weedwhacked the fence line of the knoll field (and noted that Kyle, in a rare lapse of spatial awareness, had hung the new gate so low it will not be able to open. I will have to take it down, drill new holes, move the gate pins, and rehang it. It happens).

I was moving more slowly now. I drove home to start dinner. Then, as deer flies swarmed, I returned to wire the fence and thread the heavy cable that will run under the gates through plastic conduit. I didn’t have time to bury the conduit under the gates, so that will be on today’s list. In the meantime I placed stones around the conduit in the path of the cattle, to encourage them to pick up their feet.

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I assumed, correctly, that they would be so eager to get to the fresh grass on the knoll, they would pay little attention.

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The grass on the actual knoll is not great. The knoll is too bony with ledge rock just under the surface.

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However the rest of the tiny field, after years of manuring and mowing, is almost lush with timothy. (“Lush” and “my land” are two ideas that don’t really go together.) The timothy now is nearly two feet high — standing hay: perfect for cutting, less desirable for grazing. Cattle prefer grass that is about 6-8 inches tall.

Someday, I will have my fields and fences in such good order that I will be able to get animals into them at the exact right time.

But — not today.

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3 Responses to A Few More Inches Ahead

  1. Missy says:

    Your paddocks may not be lush yet, but they sure are pretty.

  2. Jack says:

    It looks like your doing well and gaining ground steadily. Im proud of you. Keep at it, but don’t work, or worry too much. There is always another day.

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