Monday, April 14, 2014

Warm Weekend

This past weekend was amazingly warm at this little place here.  I believe we hit 70 degrees both Saturday and Sunday, the field was dry enough to drive the tractor through, the rain held off until night time, and DH and I just went bonkers getting outdoor work done.

On Friday afternoon, I pulled taps from the maple trees.  Sap had not run since last Monday, and the trees are too budded for me to wait until the cold snap that is forecasted to hit later today might possibly bring a little sap flow.  Most of the trees gave up their taps easily, but a few had healed around the tap quite a bit, requiring me to do some serious tugging to free the tap from the woody grip of the tree.

my awesome artistic rendering of me pulling a tap the tree didn't want to let go of

On Saturday morning, I was up early, loaded my oldest group of hens into the dog cage that I had put into the back of the pick up truck, and headed down the road to the local weekly hay, straw, and small animal auction.  Culling time in the chicken coop; got to get rid of the less productive hens and make room for this year's batch of pullets (to arrive in May).

While there, I also bid on some lots of straw.  The plan being to use it to mulch as much of my garden as possible this year.  Straw has just gone up and up in cost in the last several years, for a number of reasons (newer varieties of wheat have shorter stalks, thus needing more straw to make a bale; dairy people are chopping it and feeding it to their cows; some of the grain farmers have a setting on their combines that chops it during threshing and leaves it on the field as trash rather than leaving it whole, wind-rowing it and having to come back later with baler and wagons).  I was hoping, that by going to the auction, I could get it for less per bale than I see straw listed for on Craigslist.

I ended up with 26 bales of ugly straw at $2.20 a bale.  It was straw that was discolored and probably had been rained on in storage, so nobody looking for feed or bedding was all that interested in it.  Me, I'm just going to spread it on the garden and let it rot, so ugly was fine.  And much better than paying the $2.70 to $3.60 per bale that the pretty straw went for at auction that day.

another superb drawing: me loading straw after the auction

After the auction, I came home, unloaded the straw (getting my workout!), then proceeded to load 34 bales of hay from the loft and drive it down to the horse farm, where I unloaded and stacked it so my horses have something to eat for about the next month.

By the time I got done with all that, it was about noon, and DH had headed out to the woods with the tractor and the chainsaw.  He spent about six hours cutting up deadfall from last fall and winter's storms.  While he was doing that, I boiled off sap, made three dozen deviled eggs for Sunday's potluck after church, washed three loads of laundry, and weeded and mulched one and a third of my flower beds.

Phew!  Needless to say, I slept darn good on Saturday night!  

Getting out of bed on Sunday was rather a challenge though, as my body was a bit stiff after all that bending and lifting and tossing and stacking and shoveling I had done Saturday.  DH wasn't any too limber himself after his many hours of cutting and stacking wood.

So, after church and after the potluck, we came home and pretty much did it all over again, minus the hay and the straw and the laundry and the sap boiling.  And the deviled eggs, although I did make a batch of mayonnaise and used it in the potato salad I prepared to go with the venison loin that I was grilling for dinner.

In other words, DH spent about four hours cutting and stacking wood (there are lots and lots of downed trees out there), and I used up roughly the same amount of time doing more weeding and mulching of flowerbeds.

DH in the woods with his chainsaw

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