The Farm Report: Work’s Done, Back To Work

That slow hissing noise that sounds like air escaping is the sound of me decompressing. As I explained in a post two and half weeks ago, I was swamped at my programming job and working crazy hours. My employers aren’t slave-drivers or anything. It was just a case of a big-ass project requiring some serious rewriting of a ton of code that I inherited before I could add my own code. We hadn’t anticipated that, which put me way behind.

The project manager offered to extend the deadline by a couple of weeks, but that would have meant juggling everyone else’s schedule for testing, migrating, etc.  I don’t like being the reason a project is delayed, even if it’s not my fault.  So I chose to go into full-metal-jacket mode instead. I coded from morning until bedtime, including weekends. (I did grant myself permission to relax on Easter.)

The official deadline was Friday. I got ‘er done on Saturday. Close enough. I don’t plan to look at any code whatsoever for a few days. My brain needs a rest.  My body, on the other hand, needs to get back to work.

The coding marathon meant putting our double spring project on hold. We did manage to make a bit of progress before the marathon began, however. For the fencing project (the first spring project), I finished cutting down some annoying trees (more like overgrown weeds) that were either in the fence line or just in front of it. Now we have nice, clear path.

The trunks of a couple trees I cut down will make decent firewood after drying out, so we tossed the chunks on the other side of the fence. Those will go in the barn to join the rest of the firewood supply.

We also finished putting up the tall poles to raise a net nice and high over one of the old chicken yards (the second spring project).

That’s Chareva in the picture below, getting ready to flip up a second layer of fence. After taking the picture, I of course assisted.  Actually, we had Sara come out to assist as well, since we figured it would take three pairs of hands to flip up a 100-foot fence.

Mission accomplished:

That’s as far as we got before I went off on my coding marathon.

We got lucky with the weather this weekend, so as soon as I wrapped up the coding, it was spring project time again.

Spring definitely sprung during the delay. Take a look at the chicken yard in the photos above. Sure, the grass was growing, but not exactly a jungle, right? Now take a look at the photo below:

That stuff was thigh-high. Along with the grass and weeds, much of it was a cover crop Chareva planted months ago, some kind of red winter wheat. (Don’t worry; we’re not planning to eat the stuff.) It’s kind of pretty, but almost certainly home to countless ticks and chiggers. No point in giving them access to our clothes at nearly waist level, so I planned to take The Beast in there for a feeding frenzy.

Unfortunately, The Beast needs a repair job. Before I even steered it to the chicken yard, the wheels stopped moving. The drive belt is intact, so whatever’s wrong, it’s beyond my ability to fix. So, after uttering ancient curses known only to small-time farmers, I ended up knocking down the tick-and-chigger habitat with the blade attachment on my Weed Whacker.

I’m sure the chicken yard is still full of ticks and chiggers, but now they’re at boot level instead of thigh level. When we work outdoors, we tuck our pant legs into knee-high boots, then spray everything from the knees down with Deep Woods Off. Seems to do the trick.

The job on Sunday, which was sunny and a perfect 65 degrees, was to string paracord to hold up the net. As we discovered when we built the current chicken yard (the first one we got right), these tent stakes slide nicely into the top of the poles. Then we can run the paracord through them.

I held the ladder steady (a not-unimportant job on the bumpy, hilly, rocky ground) and Chareva strung the cord. The first time we used this method to raise a net nice and high, we found the key is to string a lot of cord, with plenty of crisscrossed lines to keep the net from drooping.

Weather permitting, we’ll finally be raising that net later this week. When we dismantled the chicken yard last year, we just rolled up the net and tied it to a fence. Weeds have since grown up into it, we’ll have some de-weeding to do. But give us a couple more good workdays, and we can finally move those chickens to a secure yard with a high net and plenty of fresh ground to peck.

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21 thoughts on “The Farm Report: Work’s Done, Back To Work

  1. Dianne

    Great work, Naughtons. But yikes — it’s downright scary how fast everything grew while you took time off from your real job for your day job. It was like that when I lived in Oregon, too. If you turned your back on her for any time at all, Mother Nature was ready to grab back any territory you’d gained and turn it right back into wilderness.

    Is that a redbud tree behind and between the two evergreens in the third photo?

      1. Don

        My grandpa knew what every tree and weed was and what it was good for. I wish I’d paid more attention. The only one I remember is a weed called plantain because if you chew it up and put it on insect stings, bites, etc., it numbs the pain. I remember it because I tried it as a kid and it works! Do you have any fruit trees? You’d be surprised what you can grow in your zone. I made it a goal to plant five fruit or nut trees every year and our orchard is up to about 50 trees. We have Chestnut, Hazelnut, Walnut, Pecan, several different Apple varieties, Peaches, Plums, Nectarines, Kiwi, Pears, Figs, and Cherries. I also have a couple Pomegranate and an Olive trees that are in giant pots that I bring into the greenhouse every winter. I think they would grow in your zone without needing to do that. Another thing you might enjoy is thornless blackberries. They grow like weeds and my granddaughters love them because they’re thornless and they can just dive right into the bushes.

          1. Don

            It takes awhile. The old saying goes, “The second best time to plant a tree is now, the best time was twenty years ago.” Sometimes I go to the home improvement centers at the end of the season and make the manager an offer on all they have remaining. I’ve gotten them as cheap as $4 a tree and I often give them away as gifts. My wife jokingly calls me “Donnie Appleseed”. I may not live long enough to enjoy them all, but someone will.

      2. Firebird7478

        I learned from a wise crew chief I worked with doing land surveying back in the 80s:

        When in doubt, it’s an oak.

        1. Don

          Nice; probably a pin oak at that. I have a giant oak tree on the corner of my property that two grown men can’t touch hands when wrapping their arms around the circumference. It grows straight up for about 50′, then splits into two monster branches that go another 25′. I was told if it were a white oak it would be worth over $10,000. Of course, it’s a pin oak, only worth the firewood content.

  2. smgj

    I’m always very happy when you post a new farm report. “Smallholding by proxy” – that is me. 🙂
    You sure have some well fertillized soil in that old run. Are you going to plow it and grow something there, or is it going to be a chicken run again?
    (Until we can get our hands on a smallholding ourselves, we’ll have to be content with growing a small crop of tomatos&cucumbers.)

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      The plan is to rotate the chickens with gardens. They are indeed great little fertilizers.

      1. Don

        Our garden is fenced and we turn the chickens loose in the garden during the day in the fall, winter, and early spring. With forty chickens, we get quite a lot of fertilizer we till in every year!

  3. Andrew

    We loved going to collect the chook (Kiwi/Aussie slang for chicken) eggs at night after putting them away in the chook house for the night. Nothing like a basket full of free range eggs. 🙂

  4. Firebird7478

    Glad to see some new content. The carnivore and keto crowd in the Twittersphere are putting the “twit” in Twitter. I think something about a meat only diet creates mental illnesses. They’ve become obnoxious, arrogant and defensive…like militant vegans.

      1. Firebird7478

        That’s why I’ve been coming here for the past several years. You’ve never wavered on anything. You’ve maintained that certain aspects of the LCHF/Keto diet works for you better than others and have invited your readers to experiment to find out what works for them. Whereas, in Carnivore land, you have people that are downright insulted when you tell them it doesn’t work for you. Even the doctors who prescribe it get in a huff, followed with the “You’re doing it wrong”, “I don’t know you’re having problems, it worked for me” and “How many calories are you eating?” (I thought CICO wasn’t the issue)

        The young guys are the worst. Now they’re all experts and you cannot tell them anything.

        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          I call it “vegan think.” If it works for me, it must work for everyone.

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