June austerity challenge, go go go!

My goal for June is no personal spending, which also includes no rationalizing personal spending as business spending and a eat-the-freezer/pantry challenge for good measure. The freezer/pantry thing shouldn’t be too challenging because our freezer is absurdly well stocked (the bigger challenge is going to be as FIFO as possible about it), and we’re CSA members, so we’re guaranteed fresh veggies every week. We got this on Tuesday.

The radishes got munched before they made it into the salad, and the turnips, along with last week’s turnips, red potatoes, and some ancient parsnips and carrots lurking in the fridge, plus this the Egyptian onions from the last two weeks and last week’s greens, made it into an amazing roasted vegetable and homemade sausage (freezer; last November) pot.

We sliced up these bulblets and a big bunch of garlic scapes from our neighbor and tossed them in at the end. Marvelous!

I’ve also got lots of Felt School leftovers: lasagna, enchiladas, macaroni and cheese, and quiche. Luckily, we’ve got a commercial fridge, which means everything keeps a zillion times longer than in a residential fridge (just as stuff in the deep freeze keeps a zillion times longer than the fridge freezer, fyi if you’re considering a deep freeze), and lots of guests coming this weekend, so we’ll gobble up everything in the next couple of days.

I’ve been doing a little sheep maintenance over the last couple of days.

On Tuesday, reminded by the latest Geek Farm Life podcast, I wormed everyone. All of their eyelids were less than red, and some were rather pale, so I figured, better safe than sorry. While it’s not unusual for all sheep to have some level of internal parasites, a particularly heavy load can rob an animal of all its nutrition, and it’s not at all uncommon for lambs to die from worms. The problem with worming is that it’s very easy to cultivate resistant strains, so you don’t want to over worm. Ideally, you worm only the animals that need it, but without a lab and without running around catching fecal samples from each animal, it’s not practical for the hobby farmer to test each critter for worm load. But inner eyelid color has apparently proven to be a very reliable guideline. It’s not foolproof, because anemia can be caused by things other than worms, but you can fairly reliably estimate the worm load your animal is carrying by the color if its lower inner eyelid. The higher the worm load, the more anemic the animal will be, and the paler the inner lid. It’s called the FAMACHA system. Here are some charts you use to score the animals (I want a real life one myself, so I could get a more accurate sense of the colors I want to see):

While internet color is a little subjective, I did check the eyelids a handful of times over the course of a week or so, and noticed that they all became paler, so I thought an all-around dose was in order. Tina had recommended worming at weaning, typically around 2 months, so it seem right on time all around.

The lambs are still sneaking in for an occasional hit-and-run off their moms, but for the most part, they’re eating grass and grain, and Agnes and Fudgy are becoming increasingly intolerant of more than a few seconds of nursing. In fact, when the twins nurse off Agnes (which they always seem to do together), the force of the two of them punching her udder will send her back end flying a few inches off the ground. I don’t really want to bother with some elaborate separation system for just three lambs, so I’m really slowly phasing out their morning grain (both by reducing the overall volume, and by letting the lambs eat with them, so they wolf down an increasingly larger share as they grow), and hoping nature will run its course.

I called the county extension & they told me to separate the lambs completely and to gradually bring up their grain to 4-5# each (!), which seems madly excessive to me, considering they’re on nice pasture, and the adults get less than a pound a day. But then, I know fuckall about raising lambs. But I wonder if the instructions are different for market lambs. Great big Suffolk meat sheep are the dominant sheep around here.

Yesterday I trimmed the lambs’ hooves, which were kind of thin and papery (not the main hooves; just the excess stuff), presumably because it’s their first trim. I don’t think I went down as far as I could have, but their foot pads aren’t as pronounced as on the adult sheep, so I figured I’d rather endure the hassle again in a month or so than go overboard and hurt them and condition them to hate getting a trim–not to mention that the barnyard is wet and mucky from all the rain we’ve gotten lately.

Tonight I’m going to work on the adult sheep, probably just one animal each night until they’re all done, unless it’s somehow easy peasy lemon squeezy. They’ll pretty much put up with anything while they’re eating grain, but they don’t get too much and they’re pigs, so that’s a pretty narrow window of molestation, particularly for Fudgy and Agnes, so are too big for me to sit on their butts. Not too big, period–I’m just not deft enough to swing yet it on the bigger sheep. The boys are small (smaller than Jayne now!), so they’re not a problem.

I also need to get a jacket on Jayne. He’s already too big for the Size C jackets the Shetlands wear, but too small for the E Tina gave me. Or, he was last week, anyway. I’ll going to try the E on him again tonight at dinner and if it’s still too big, make a quick seam down the spine so his pretty, crimpy little coat doesn’t get all piggy. I’ve peeked under everyone else’s coats and their fleeces look wonderful so far! The twins are probably ready to go up a size as well, which means taking in the two Cs Tina gave me (they’re in As right now).

My next project is a hay cover, and I need to put a wiggle in it, as it’s almost time to hay. Speaking of which, I’m a little skeptical about the work going on on the water tower behind my property right now. They’re cleaning and painting the thing, and I’m worried they’re going to contaminate my grass. I think I’m going to hike back there right now and see what they’re using.

Paint. So those big clouds of vapor are paint vapor from them painting, not water vapor from them cleaning. Nice.

Also, I’m worried they’ve waited too long to hay my pasture and it’s going to be shit hay. And there’s rain in the forecast like every other day for the next week, so by the time it’s baled, I’m sure it will be nothing but stems. Also I wish I could pause time to get a week to catch up. I looked at my calendar and I’ve had guests 10 of the last 11 weekends and the farmers’ market the other weekend. And guests this weekend and farmers’ market the next and a guest the next. I’m in an endless loop of making beds and doing laundry and cooking and doing dishes. This is what it must be like to be a grandma.

And I ripped my favorite vintage house dress. And I look like a fishwife. And I don’t have any clean clothes because there are always sheets and towels in the washer. And my hay bale broccoli was a failure. And I’m broke. And the size of my ass somehow varies inversely with the balance of my checking account. And I’m two weeks behind on Art Club. And my hair is in a weird awkward phase.  And Marilyn and Kevin are talking about moving to Wichita, boo! And my desk is a mess. And I’m dehydrated. And the rest of my office is a mess, too. And my high from Felt School has worn off (it was super fun, though!), and I’m out of beer, and it’s too hot for wine, and I’ve still got the property line dispute with my neighbor hanging over my head, and Ed wants to put in fence posts tomorrow but I don’t know if I can get caught up tonight, and Ron went and saw Land of the Lost without me, and my toenails are a disgrace, and I can’t seem to focus and I’m feeling really Big Picture-y but I’m so far behind on the little picture that I can’t stop to blue sky.

Hm. None of that really seems too awfully, awfully bad, now that I stop and say it all. Okay, I feel a little better now. I’d feel a lot better with a margarita. When Rachel and whatshisname get here, I think I’ll make them drive me to that crappy Mexican restaurant in Osage for a margarita. I’m a genius. Except that doesn’t fit in with my austerity plan, boo. Maybe instead I’ll make watermelon margaritas here. Some wonderful Yarn School student, I can’t remember who but I love her, left behind a fair amount of tequila. Okay, I’m still a genius, more or less. Half genius. Genius with dishes. Drunk genius with dishes? Hm. Just plain drunk with dishes is probably more accurate, but far superior to mope with dishes. Nobody likes a mope.

5 Replies to “June austerity challenge, go go go!”

  1. I wonder if the lambs are supposed to eat so much more than the adult sheep because they are growing? You know, like teenage boys? I know nothing about sheep…just guessing.

    Hope the margarita makes everything seem manageable again. I know they often improve my outlook on things.

  2. I feel you on the overwhelming pile of stuff closing in, combined with the broke. Gah! But this will pass.

    Your pictures of the sheep in the grass are lovely!

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