The weather was the greatest worry for the day. Unseasonably hot and high winds were in the forecast. It was hot, but the wind held off for the two hours we set aside for lunch. It was a great time to share blessings, with those who have been a blessing to us.
It was great that one of the major donors to the fencing project, Jeanna of Sage Woolens, was able to come out for lunch. I knew it had been a long time since she was last out, but I failed to realize that Del was just a lamb the last time. Like so many of us she has a very full life. Too many people see the sheep and their progress as they speed past on highway 19. It was nice to catch up, introduce her to some of the volunteers, watch the sheep, and let her know how her support helps us continue our mission.
It was nice to just hang out with some of the donors, and volunteers. We typically sit down for lunch together, or meet for dinner after project days. It is a great social time for fellowship, and getting to know one another. Due to the recent restrictions, we have not been able to have this kind of interaction, or even work together as a large group. It has all been a little here, and a little there. This has felt a bit odd. Last year we were trying to define ourselves as a group by the statement, “This is what we do, because this is who we are,” and of course the inverse, “We do not do that, because that is not who we are.” From the very beginning, sitting down to break bread, has been an important part of who we are. Thankfully, we will be able to go back to this practice again.
The next major work project… Shearing. Hopefully in two weeks.
To celebrate the beginning of a new regeneration project, the new pasture being fenced (it is now functional), or just because we want to celebrate. We are going to have a picnic at the Caldwell pasture. The Date and time are Saturday May 30th. at 12 noon.
This will be a good time to meet the sheep and shepherds, check out the progress of the original pasture in its transition from weeds to pasture, and ask any questions you may have.
For those who have already availed themselves of the sheep watching during the Covid quarantine, you will have a good idea of how things go. For those of you who have not, bring a camp chair to sit on, and a beach umbrella if you think you will need the shade. We have and will be maintaining reasonable physical distancing. but personal protection is up to the individual.
Please let us know if you will be attending by email, or on Facebook. We look forward to seeing you there.
Today we made a lot of progress. Honestly, the beginning of the week was a bit disappointing. At least from a fencing standpoint. We had to get the irrigation set up and running. So, not much got done.
However, Today we had some real help. Two of the missionaries came out, and as always, were a great help. The sisters made up the parts we need to hang the fence panel. This let the men focus on the post pounding, and boy did they have a job this run.
Most all the posts were driven into rock road bed. More than one had to have holes dug out, there was just no way to pound the posts through the rocks.
When we quit for the day, we only had five panels to hang on the north fence. Next weekend, the fence should be finished, and the sheep can be moved in. The final touches will be drinking water, and hot lines for the moveable fences.
While the fence building was going on, a couple people came out just to watch the sheep. On their way out, one stopped and said she had a good time once again, and they might be back during the week. Never underestimate the power of sheep to soothe the soul.
It is so exciting, after two years of waiting, the fence is going up. Even with the restrictions on social interactions due to the coronavirus, progress is still being made. We hope the perimeter fence will be done by May 9th.
Did I tell you we are building the fence…
We have the south fence hung except for where the southeast gate is. When we are satisfied with the way the panels are set, we will make the final attachment to the t-posts. We started putting in the first posts along the east side cable fence, but had some drama about whether we should put it on the east side of the cable fence (into the road), or inside the cable fence. I personally do not think it is in any way possible to pound t-posts into an engineered roadbed, but some think otherwise. While we have waited for others to come to their senses, we laid out the irrigation pipe on the existing pasture, and put the fence around the horse chestnut tree. This week we started putting up the fence on the west side. It seems that things are sorted out about the cable fencing now, and next week we should be putting in the blue line fences. Whew
If you want to join us, we will be here pounding posts, and wiring up panels. Lots of sun and fun for all… Or you could just come out and watch the sheep.
If we did not get any pictures to post on social media, did it really happen?
Those of you who have been to the Caldwell pasture will have recognized it in the last post, and realized that we moved. We had a good day for it, and as seems to be typical, were rushing against the weather. This year it was wind and hail. We did have a lot of helpers though. And this is a story unto itself.
One of our long time volunteers was getting a burger in Parma, when she struck up a conversation with a couple missionaries. To make a long story short, the missionaries volunteered to help move the sheep. First, there were two; then the next week there were four; and then when we were rooing a couple rams two weeks later, there were six. Some of them had never been on a farm (they were city folk, and I mean big cities), and never worked with sheep. However, a couple had experience working in their families’ sheep operations, and our ways were not what they were used to. But all of them threw themselves fully into the jobs at hand. It was a joy to work with young people who were so driven to be helpful. They thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Enough that they kept coming back. We really enjoyed having them with us, enough that they have an invitation to come back at any time.
Some ended their mission early due to the hardships caused by the coronavirus, and the rest have new restrictions governing their ability to volunteer. We have remained in contact with them, and hopefully the restrictions will be lifted before their missions end so we can see them again. Some have asked if they can remain in contact after they are gone. Of course! It is always great to make new friends, especially those who love sheep.
Now that the governor has shut down non-essential services in the state, many people are unable to get out of the house. Parks are shut down. Gyms are shut down, Malls are shut down. Even fishing is shut down.
However, animal welfare is exempt.
At RescEwe we are practicing social distancing, and safe practices, but sheep still need food, water, shearing, and all the other shepherding that needs to get done. Time waits for no virus.
Our first purpose is to serve the needs of sheep, but not as well known is our second purpose, which is to educate the public in better shepherding practices. This is not just a shepherd lecturing, this most often includes dirty hand on experiences in actual shepherding. If you want to know about shearing, come out and help shear.
If you need to get out of the house, come down, pull up a bucket, and watch the sheep. Pack a picnic lunch and sit down in the pasture if you want. Many people find it very relaxing to just watch sheep being sheep. This could be the best therapy in these uncertain times.
Just after the first of the year, we received a card with a sizeable check from Sage Woolens inside it.
Last year Sage Woolens told us that they wanted the next donation to go to our fencing of the new pasture. But little did anybody know, we were going to have to go through more drama concerning the new pasture before we could get started. A full year’s worth of drama. When they contacted us about sending this donation, we were overjoyed. They told us that it had been a good year, had been very busy, and the donation was later than they had planned. We had to tell them we were weeks away from buying the t-posts and panels for the fence. It could not have been a better time to receive this donation. In fact it was the perfect time.
It is not hard to maintain an abundance mindset when our needs are met in such a timely fashion, and we are so thoroughly blessed.
We are riding a whirlwind right now. We are behind, and have a few more posts to get out. Expect more very soon.
The annual board meeting has been set for 2:30pm Saturday February 8th. at the Willowcreek Grill in Boise. This is an open board meeting and the public is welcome to attend. I have never been there, but I have been told it is a nice place. We will be using a Discord server for remote attendees. Contact us to let us know if you are going to attend, and we will set you up for access to the Discord server.
How do you define ambitious. I think this project fits the bill. But, if we are going to grow we need more pasture.
One of our stated purposes is to give shelter to the homeless. To this end we have been building relationships with local animal control, and animal shelters. This last year we have had inquiries about our ability to help them out, or to take on a group of sheep. We were approached by a shelter to see if we could take in 14 sheep from a potential emergency surrender situation. We said, ‘sure we can’, fenced in a 50ft X 150ft quarantine area, and found a ton of grass hay. The need never materialized, but we were ready just in case.
The thing is, the shelters have to take in animals no matter what, even though they have a limited space for farm animals. This last year a local shelter had to move two pet pigs into the dog kennels because they were exceeding the limits of their farm animal enclosure. Even though it was temporary and necessary, it was not the best space for pigs. Thankfully, someone stepped forward and adopted them right away. That is one of the needs we were created to fulfill. We can give needy sheep a healthy and suitable home while taking the pressure off the shelters. The need to take on a large group of sheep will come about eventually, and we plan to be ready to give a home to those sheep in their time of need.
The picture above is of the new pasture we are developing. In the last post we wrote about the the water lines the owner of the property has installed. We need to grow, and turning this weedy bit of dirt into a functional pasture will fit the bill. The pink and blue lines are where we need to put the new fence. It calculates out to be sixty 16ft wire ranch panels plus a walk gate and a drive gate. As part of the agreement we are to water the horse chestnut tree. The owner is fond of it, and wants it to stay healthy. Because the seeds are toxic, we need eleven more panels to fence the tree off. We may eventually plant shade loving grass, and put a picnic table and benches under the tree.
When the neighbor gets his remaining stacker load of hay off the future pasture, we are going to place a demonstration section of the fence in the southwest corner.
We are going to repair, straighten and stretch the existing barbed wire fence. Our fence is going in about 2ft inside of the barbed wire fence. The intent is to plant a flowering margin between the fences. In the margin, we plan to include flowering plants that are grazeable, but do not stand up to grazing pressure like: echinacea, hollyhock, and fennel. These will naturally seed themselves into the pasture, but will not survive grazing. All the flowering plants we include will support native pollinators, and a healthy ecosystem in the pasture. We found that as the land in the existing pasture healed, voles and mice flourished, snakes followed, and last year a feral mother cat and her two kittens moved in. The cat and her kittens disappeared in October, but they were well fed and healthy over the late summer.
Just like the barbed wire fence, the new fence is going two feet inside the existing single cable fence, with a flowering margin between.
We are calling for volunteers to help design the margin and set it up. The planning is open to anybody, anywhere. We will be setting up a discussion group on our Discord server, or Facebook for planning, and as long as you have an internet connection, you can be a part of the process. It can be a great way to share your knowledge and learn new things. Just let us know if you are interested. You can let us know by messaging us through Facebook, or email us at email@example.com
If you feel brave enough to help build the fences, have we got a rewarding experience for you. We expect to be setting up fence building parties over a few Saturdays, or Sundays. The hours, days, and number of days will be up to the volunteers and how they feel. Honestly, I pounded 28 fence posts out there one evening. That was a bit of a workout, and more than I would ever want to do at one time. But as they say, many hands make light work. Even if you can not help build fence, you can sit in a lawn chair, make up fence ties, and cheer on the post pounders. Once again, Message us on Facebook, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to volunteer.
When the offer was made for us to care for and graze another acre and a half adjacent to the existing Caldwell pasture, we were excited to start right away. However, little did we know that local water politics would prevent us from using the irrigation water we contracted to have. Two years later, with pressure from divine providence, and the wheeling and dealing of the principle parties (of which we are not), we have brand new mainlines installed along our pastures, and promises of water in the coming irrigation seasons to come.
Last years test plots were a mixed success. Before we agreed to take on the land, the ground had been repeatedly treated with soil sterilants, and weed killers for many years. We put a halt to that practice immediately. After over a year without the poisons, we were able to get many seeds to sprout, but many seedlings did not survive. None of the legumes that sprouted survived a month. most pasture grass was sickly, and the casual observations indicate that the dirt (I refuse to call it soil) has an 8.5ph or possibly higher.
We have started to spread waste hay to add to the “green” organic matter of the soil. The soil health and diversity of organisms in the adjacent pasture that we have been sharing with the Fantasy Farm sheep has improved significantly with good management. Part of that has been the waste hay, not just the manure.
Planning the seeding, and procuring the seeds is the next part of the process. We have found a legume that can tolerate high ph soils, makes a great cover crop, and is grazable. It is an annual that can grow up to six feet tall, has deep roots, and will die off by first frost, adding mulch to the surface. We are also going to seed a lot of daikon radish and chicory too.
We are going to build a sturdy fence this year to protect the sheep, and will be planting a grazable flowering margin all along the road sides of the pasture. We have volunteers that want to help in the planning and creating the flowering margin. It should be fun, it is intended to be both pretty and functional. it will be another place to experiment and try new things.