I wish the weather would hurry up and decide! One minute it is bright and sunny outside, the next a snow flurry swoops on in. Early in the morning for the past two days we’ve had a light snow only to have it all melt away by the afternoon. As we enter March here at the ranch, we find ourselves closely tied to the up-to-the-minute online pinpoint weather forecasts. After a typically calm February, March has a tendency towards lots of rain and sun breaks necessitating careful planning of our outdoor tasks. Check out how dynamic the weather is up here with these two pictures below. The top one was taken in the morning and the bottom one later that same afternoon…
We’ve had a bunch of things happening lately as we move closer to Spring. First we had a new tractor delivered! We sold our old two wheel drive tractor that we had for only a year. As we came to realize, this rugged behemoth was way too big for our britches. At least it allowed us to cut our teeth on it a bit. However, lacking lots of flat land, we quickly discovered the limitations of a tractor with two-wheel drive. So, after we sold it we quickly purchased a more appropriate one that suits the terrain and tasks we’ll throw at it. We even opted for a chipper/shredder so we can make mulch out of all the debris we collect instead of burning it. I like that idea because it returns the nutrients to the land rather than putting it up in smoke in the air.
Next we focused on our big Co-Op purchase of lime, fertilizer, and grass seed along with all the fencing to get the lower back area fenced off for the herd. This is the big project this Spring. I’ll actually use the tractor with the rear blade to get the sticks and stones out of the way, then we’ll plant some grass down there. The fencing order was delivered this past weekend so we’ve got it all staged and ready.
Another fencing project we got a head start on was around the house area. We’ll need to fence in the garden area and fence in the dog yard for the boys to play in (and not the garden!) We rented the same post hole digger we used to do our first set of pasture fences and spent Saturday and Sunday setting all the posts around the house. Next step, erect the fencing.
Meanwhile, the garden is certainly taking shape! I had some topsoil trucked in for the beds and we shoveled it all into place. Then we surrounded the raised beds with wood chips that the county was kind enough to let us have from their clean up efforts on Mountain Loop. It was fun to put the tractor right to use scooping up bucket fulls of wood chips from the pile and bringing them to the garden area. What a difference this tractor makes! I am able to drive in some tight spots and over the lawn without really treading too deeply or damaging the ground. That’s awesome. With the dirt in place I popped the tractor over to the compost bin where the black gold of llama poo has been cooking for months. We topped the garden beds with a layer of all the compost. The garden is now ready for planting! Now if only Mother Nature could decide whether we are in Spring or still in winter…
With the garden prepped and ready, and seedlings sprouting away under some lights, I headed to the barn these past couple of days to make some garden cloches out of these old windows I salvaged. Since I was doing all the work in the barn, I decided to let the llamas and alpacas be entertained. They’ve been penned up all winter long with nothing exciting. So, since they are easily stimulated I thought it would be fun to let them watch what I was doing. They came right on into the barn and had to look at everything from the drill bits to the table saw. They weren’t even daunted when I used the saw to cut wood despite how sudden and loud it is. (When you see the pictures in the album, you’ll be making up captions for what’s going on in their heads, some funny looks…)
These cloches will be used as season extenders at the beginning of the season to protect my young seedlings from abrupt cold and rain. When summer rolls in, I’ll place them over my peppers that like it nice and hot. I can’t wait to try them out! Since it’s nice and sunny out today, I’ll be painting them outside!