"Hurdles" are short sections of wattle fence, woven around posts that are held upright in a wooden form until the hurdle is complete. Then the fence panel is lifted free of the form and it's ready to serve as a mobile pen! We made a few hurdles for a historical farming demo-pen that can travel with us when we do educational outreach away from the farm. Their debut will be in a few days at Boxerwood Gardens, in Lexington, VA!
Wattle is the oldest form of fence known to humans, and an easy, beautiful way to enclose a pen or garden today. It's made of young, flexible saplings, woven back and forth around wooden posts. We're culling lots of pine saplings to clean up our forest understory, and give our mature hardwoods more room. What better way to use the cuttings than to weave them into a strong new fence for our front garden?
Here's the first half of the garden with a brand new wattle fence. Next, the second half needs its own fence, and then it's time for gates.
In the upper terrace you can see our elderberry bushes, getting tall and putting out buds as spring warms up here.
Daisy, Cassiel and Lirael have all had their lambs now; Daisy had twin ram lambs, Cassiel had a boy and a girl (Spot and Agnes), and Lirael had quadruplets! Unfortunately, Lirael, too, was a new mama; she decided to have her lambs out in the cold during a winter storm yesterday, and two of the four lambs froze instantly. We found her and the babies in time to save one more of the frozen lambs, whom we're now naming Elsa (frozen...) and Lirael is taking care of the final lamb, a eweling we're calling Teddy because her badgerface markings make her look like a little teddy-bear. Elsa has joined Oghr and Nightwish inside the house as a bottle baby; they'll move outside as the weather improves.
Our little premature lambs are now up and bouncing, and have learned that the livestock guardian dogs are excellent snugglers. Bridé is thrilled to have babies to play with again; we got her spayed this fall, so she's done having puppies of her own, but every spring she still gets to lick and nurture new wee ones from the flocks.
The tiny lambs made it through their first night and are adjusting to the big, cold world they weren't quite ready for. Neither is big enough to suckle from the standard, rubber bottle nipples that we would usually use for bottle-baby lambs, so they're drinking from a horse syringe (no needle attached) every hour. Oghr, the little female, is the weaker of the pair and can't really stand up yet; Nightwish has made a few attempts at walking around the kitchen already.
'Tis the season for indoor projects (although this winter has been amazingly mild). We decided to repurpose an old glass sliding door that came with the house and had been leaning against the wall outside gathering mildew.
The project: make a whiteboard for the front hall, where we can organize schedules, list projects and sketch ideas.
The material: glass makes the best dry-erase board; it never stains, crinkles or gets faded, and everything can be washed clean from its surface with a bit of glass cleaner.
First we removed the old frame from the glass panels, and cut off the old rubber spacer that had separated the two panes and (theoretically) kept them waterproof. The gasket had long since stopped keeping moisture out, so there was a lot of mildew growing in between the glass panes. Thankfully it mostly came free with just a little persuasion from the utility knife. Goo-Off cleaning solvent removed the rest.
Next, we designed and printed vinyl stickers (using our Silhouette vinyl cutter) to apply, backwards, to the back of the cleaned glass. Sticking on letters in reverse means they'll show up properly on the front side; we just had to be careful to get them in the right order! We even stuck the farm logo in the corner, just to show some farm pride--this whiteboard is the first thing guests see when they walk in the front door.
Once the stickers were in place, it was time to paint the back of the glass. We just used some old white primer we had lying around.
Farm maintenance includes the farm house! Log cabins have to be painted routinely (or else the carpenter bees will bore holes into them) so we hired a team to repaint the exterior. We chose a bright, vivid green color and white trim; our unusual house deserves an unusual color. Now it's a beautiful "greenhouse" and makes both of us smile whenever we look at it. We probably have the only bright green log cabin in Virginia!
The puppies are up and walking now, with their eyes open, and safe with lambs and goat kids already! They weigh in at just over 10 pounds each, with thick coats of puffy white polar bear fur. The unseasonably warm weather leaves them hiding in the shade, but they're wonderfully active in the mornings and evenings. Bridé is doing well, taking care of them and still keeping weight on herself. At 81 pounds today, she's definitely a nursing mother, but she'll be back up to her normal self once the pups are weaned in a few weeks. Already the curious puppies are sampling the kibble and trying to decide whether it's worth chewing or not (answer: everything is chewable to a pup).
Farmer Shannon runs MSSF and keeps horses, sheep, goats, ducks, chickens, pigs, dogs and cats, while living gluten-free & spinning/weaving for a hobby in the SCA.