Saturday, October 13, 2007

Forget beg, borrow or steal... try barter

Imagine getting a week at the gym for free. imagine getting enough hay to feed your animals over the winter.

Our local hay supplier - he's got several fields of really nice bermuda grass - has us on his list and he calls us whenever he has hay baled in the field. Last time we got a load, he said he was having a hard time getting folk to move the unsold hay from the field to the barn before it rains. We said, "We'd like to help."

Two days ago the call came in.

We've since picked up 162 bales, hauled 'e up the mountain, unloaded and stacked 'em in the hay yard. We'll tarp the stack in the next day or so. He's said he could hold whatever amount we can't store ourselves in his barn and we could get it later.

After our hay had been hauled and stacked, we went to work for him. Today, we moved 5 loads and paid for about 20% of the hay we purchased.

And what, you're asking, does this have to do with a free week at the gym? I've walked about 5 miles without the aid of a treadmill through the rolling hills of his hay fields doing the snatch and lift on more than 800 - 60 pound bales of hay.

Imagine having great biceps and triceps and legs and pecs. Imagine being really sore the next day.

But thats not the point. Without spending one cent of our hard earned money, we've managed to trade labor for hay. We've also traded labor for wood. By clearing the slab and sawdust out a local sawyers work area, he's agreed to cut us timbers for rafters and purlins at no charge.

What are your barter stories?

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Making a place for roots

Gardening as metaphor for life...

Robin and Summer brought us out 8 1/2 foot tall garden fencing - 330 feet of it. Shawn and Robin went and picked up t-posts and 2x4's to put it on. We plotted out where we wanted the orchard and set a few posts to mark it out, to make sure it would work for everyone. We hope to get it up this week.

In our plotting and planning, we decided that the area will be a pen for the goats this winter. They can clear it out and manure it and mulch it for us. We'll build a little shed in the corner that can be their barn this winter and then a tool/potting shed in the future.

This spring, when the goats can go browse again, the pen will become the garden. We'll till the soil, mulch a lot, lime a bit and grow annuals for the next two years. We are going to try for year-around greens and lots of other yummies. Then we'll plant a cover crop to till in and... in three years (Good Lord willing and the creek don't rise...) we'll plant our orchard.

Looking at it as I was taking this picture I realized that is a metaphor for life, for place, for what we are doing a Foxbriar right now - we are making a place for roots.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Meet Chalcedony

Do you believe in love at first sight?

I went, with friends, to a huge livestock sale. I mean HUGE - more than 2,400 head of sheep and goats, a few pigs, horses and cattle, about 2 hours worth of auctioneering on poultry and rabbits and an alpaca and a llama.

We got there at about 9 a.m. after leaving our home at about 5:30 a.m. I had dragged my sorry self out of bed at about 5 a.m. to sort the animals I was taking to the sale. We had with us 7 of their goats and 8 of my weanling lambs - 7 rams and 1 ewe and could could use none of 'em and they were eating hay. It was time to find them a good home.

That was my job as assigned by Jen. Take the lambs, drop 'em off, get the check, come home.

I was amazed when we arrived at the size of the place. And even more amazed that is was almost all goat and sheep. My experience with sale barns had been more of the all cattle with a few sheep and goats. This was a nice change.

The folks I went with did go to check out the offerings and wandered around with them. It's sort of like a WalMart for goat and sheep in there. Most of what I saw left me very unimpressed - some left me sad and some left me downright angry - and I was about to go take a nap in the truck when I saw her.

Long story short, I skipped my nap and waited ringside all day long for a chance to bid on her and I got her.

But wait! Who is she? She is a bred 2 year old icelandic ewe and she's pretty and healthy... well, see for yourelf...

What about that name? well, it's a C year and I wanted a name that was pretty and suited her. I wracked my brain trying to come up with one... Finally, inspiration struck like a rock. From Merriam

Main Entry:
\kal-ˈse-dən-ē, chal-; ˈkal-sə-ˌdō-nē, ˈchal-, -ˌdä-\
Inflected Form(s):
plural chal·ce·do·nies
Middle English calcedonie, a precious stone, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin chalcedonius, from Greek Chalkēdōn Chalcedon
13th century
: a translucent variety of quartz of various colors and waxy luster

Monday, October 1, 2007

Step aside Starbucks! We do cappuccino right!