Last weekend was the big push to bring the horses home. Jeremy asked Lisa what she wanted for Mother’s Day, and her response was “help”. Since she actually spent Mother’s Day at the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival, he arranged to come over the next weekend. Of course, it then rained hard all day, on both days of the weekend.
There’s been far too much of that, lately. The original plan was that the horse house would be up, and he would help me build the greenhouse. Instead, we decided to build a make-do three-sided shelter for the horses: a minimal frame holding up cattle panels, which in turn hold up a tarp, all inside a cattle panel enclosure. This seems to be a common trick, and one we’d used before, for the llamas last winter, and a very nice looking one in what was supposed to be the pig paddock.
Of course, this couldn’t be all we did over the weekend. On Saturday morning, Lisa and Valerie took the ram lambs and their mommas off to the pasture in Marlborough. Loading up and sorting the sheep was pretty quick work with the three of us. We basically put the grain feeder in the trailer and got out of the way, and then pulled the sheep we weren’t taking out of the trailer. Catching the right lambs was a little trickier, but not bad. Misty was quite upset at losing half her herd, though, and also does NOT like the pigs, at all.
While they were gone, I took advantage of a brief break in the rain to look into the hives and remove the feeders. One more hive had eight frames covered, so it got a second hive body put on it. The remaining two had roughly six frames covered. I’ll check them again next weekend. I’m doing a balancing act here. I want the bees to draw all the comb instead of just the center six frames, but I certainly don’t want them to swarm. I want four strong hives to go through the winter. Murphy was in fine form. I left a hive open while I went off to get the additional hive body. It of course started to rain while I was gone, and I got stung four times when I came back, just to let me know that all the best hives have roofs over them.
Jeremy arrived then and we set to work hooking together a monster cattle panel to make the horse tent. We linked the ends together to make a 32 foot thingie. In hindsight, this was not the way to do it. When we started to erect it, it insisted on making a pointy top. What we should have done was overlap by a foot or so and stitch them together really well so there would not be an obvious joint between them.
When the skeleton didn’t work properly, we adopted plan B. We assembled a 12x12x8 hexahedron under the cattle panel arch and attached the panels. At this point Valerie drove up with bad news. Maria was down in the pasture down in Marlborough. She’d been trying to call us for a couple of hours, but of course we were outside. Val and I went off to deal with that emergency (the topic of another and sadder entry) leaving Lisa and Jeremy to finish the shelter. By the time we got back, they had managed to drag the tarp over the skeleton. Quite impressive, that. I had expected it to take all four of us. They were already putting up the cattle panel enclosure around it when we returned with a sick sheep.
When we got that finished, Jeremy caught up with some high (and elementary) school friends while Lisa and I drove off to get the horses and Maria’s lamb. Jeremy waited until we got back, and was suitably impressed before driving off away from the sunset. All in all, it was a very productive weekend. We don’t have the perfect shelter for the horses, but we have something. They and the pigs are home, and we have no more must-do deadlines until snow flies. We can spend the next five (six would be nice) months cleaning up after our effectively two year absence, and making sure that everyone has a dry home and plenty of food for next winter.