Thursday, October 9, 2014

Summer Turns to Fall

We went to watch a sheepdog competition in Chassell by the Sturgeon River.  The dogs have to drive three sheep down a long course through a serious gates and perform several other tasks.
The dogs respond to whistled commands by their handlers.  The best dogs were incredibly responsive.

The dog has to run much more than the sheep.  It circles from one side to the other in broad sweeps and often must sprint to head off the sheep when they take off for the high timber.

Our two beehives were very strong this year.  On warm days they sometimes clustered outside the hives. Fortunately neither hive swarmed.

Jonathan splitting firewood.

Apparently you can make a felted rug by treading wool in a wading pool.  I put raw fleeces together, added hot soapy water and commenced shuffling and scuffling.  The result wasn't all that good.  I suspect I need to card and fluff up the wool properly first.

Marja and I backpacked out to Wolf Point in August.  The lake was too rough to take the canoe.



David did a little trail work and came back with a pail of blackberries.

The boys always graze together apart from the ewes.  They butt each other once in awhile, but otherwise get along great.

One of our neighbors hunting field mice.  We often hear coyotes barking at night quite close to our house.  I suspect they have  checked out our electric netting and decided that a 6000 V jolt to the end of your nose doesn't feel good, so they don't bother the sheep.

Dave J is interested in keeping bees so I invited him out to help me harvest honey.  Standing in a cloud of riled up bees is a revelation to a first timer.  One crawled up his pants and stung him where the sun don't shine, but I laughed it off and kept him on task.  You can't let a few bee stings bother you if you're gonna be a beekeeper.

Our meat birds.  You won't save money growing your own chickens, but they sure taste better than your store bought chicken. 

Our field corn was over 10 feet tall. were our sunflowers.

Uncapping frames of honey with a hot knife.

Three uncapped frames into the extractor and then your crank it as hard as your can.  The honey spins off the frames.

Our lawn mowers.

Grandpa and Ilkka

After bottling the honey I put the cappings and buckets out on the back deck and let the bees clean up all the residual honey.  It all goes back into the hives, no waste.  Once they're done, the wax isn't even sticky.

If you want to make friends with sheep,  take a bucket of oats with you.

Who needs a lawn mover?

Gunnar waiting for the brots...

Sheep do a much closer job than a lawn mower, and fertilize the lawn at the same time.

One of our neighbors stopped  to do a little fishing at our pond.

A young bluebird getting ready to migrate south.

I have to admit a certain bias, but isn't this little girl a doll?


This sleeper was first worn by Marja's nephew Ville, then all five of our boys, and it's still going strong.  That's made in Finland for you.

Anneli visiting grandpa at his new home.

Checking out the sheep.

Paul came out to give the sheep their fall shearing.

Katherine, one of our local handspinners came out with her husband Gordon to watch.

As you can see, you need a good back to be a sheep shearer.

Ilkka likes to catch mice, but what he really likes to do is play with them.  I think this guy eventually got away.

Summer 2014

I decided to expand the hayshed to include a shelter for the sheep during storms and during the lambing season.

First Strawberries

Tom and Ray checking out the sheep.

Amy and friends

Bill unloading hay

Altogether I got more than 100 bales of leafy second-cut hay which Bill had stored in his barn.

It's always a good feeling to get your hay in the barn because haymaking is so weather dependent.

Grandpa piled all these block by himself.

And helped operate the woodsplitter which he had built himself.

Sully helped me get three more loads of hay from Forsman's farm. Working with hay is hot, sweaty work, but you really want to wear long sleeves when you're throwing bales.  Otherwise you get all kinds of little scratches on your forearms.

Sully has hayfever, but he was a great help.  Thanks, bud.

With over 200 bales in the hayshed, we celebrated by making a trip to Marquette to see Mik, Jeni and Anneli.  Mik took me out on the South Trails for a great mountain bike ride.

Off course, the main event was seeing Anneli.

Some of our neighbors.