Ridgetop - our place and how we muddle along

Ridgetop

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🤬IMG_5738.jpg This is the new pen layout in the barn with a narrow central aisle between the jug gates which face each other. Much more efficient although the alleyway is tight. The jugs are large 5'w x 10'l. I need to order more panels and had a bright idea. I will order 6 7' panels and 1 5' panel with a gate. By making the jugs 5' x 7', I can move then closer, widen the alley way by a foot, and add a 5th jug at the end with the gate facing into the centerof the barn. The 5th jug would be 5' x 10'. I am currently using 12 5' panels for the sides of the jugs. By rearranging the 2 10' panels onto the outside ends of the jug arrangement, I can put 5 jugs in the space I currently have 4. This came to me while I was cleaning the barn.
IMG_5806.jpg This is a photo from the driveway looking down into the barn about 5' below the driveway level. 7088 and her twins born this am are in the bottom of the picture which is the jug nearest to the driveway side. I still have to weigh these little guys and I am watching mama since I did not find any afterbirth. I think I will give her a little selenium and E paste just in case. Anyway, above her is the scale which I keep covered. I just moved it over and divided the jug. I decided to keep 8040 in the barn with her large cue ball size lump and giant belly. Oddly the sausage shaped swelling n her jawbone has diminished. Beyond the scale is the entry into the barn and the junk pile. It is somewhat hidden by the green waste barrel. I have now cleaned it all out except for DS1's heavy footlocker which he told me now to move. He will move it for me. The last thing there is a pallet on which the foot locker is sitting. I'll remove the side panels from the jug, and have my sons move the scale into that spot. I should have done this a long time ago.

Back to the barn - my break is over! My boss is a :duc slave driver!
 

Ridgetop

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Happy Mother’s Day!

Last week, May 4, AT THE CRACK OF DAWN, I was awakened by a sheep bellowing loudly. I went outside to see what was the matter. O439 was screaming on the field. There was not another sheep in sight. She had been abandoned by the flock and had lost her lamb. Her fickle wether, weighing close to 100 lbs., had disappeared with the big kids and old man Lewis. I looked everywhere but no sign of the ewes. Of course, the growth is now higher than their heads and only the movement of the yellow mustard flowers signal their presence. Think Jurassic Park II as the raptors approached. But none of the mustard was waving. No raptors and no sheep. I hiked to the front of the property with 0439 trustfully following me. No sheep. We walked back and I went a little way into the gully. No sheep. By now I was a little tired of this trek, although 0439 having attracted human assistance was blessedly silent. I retreated to the driveway. O439, surrounded by the faithful dogs, stood at the gate deeply saddened that I had left her. I went down into the barn to take a look around – had they managed to sneak through somewhere and into the barn? No. When I came up out of the barn, I realized 0439 had completely stopped her bawling. For a split second I wondered if the dogs had killed her to spare our eardrums, or perhaps I had been struck deaf. All of a sudden, I noticed 0439 hightailing it across the field. Coming to meet her was the rest of the flock. Stupid sheep!

By now I was awake so might as well start the day before the heat hit. First, I refilled my coffee. A sudden tornado could hit the house and I would get coffee before seeking shelter in the basement. :caf LOL Then I went back to the barn and filled water buckets in the jugs. Now that the sheep were blessedly quiet, I disassembled the jug holding the scale. In other words, I pulled the 3 connector pins and moved the panels to one side. Next, I walked the scale across the center aisle and placed it in the newly cleared space. Once this was finished, I reassembled the jug. Then I checked 7088. She had been acting a bit lethargic since lambing. She hadn’t passed the placenta yet. I did not see one in the night fold when we moved her. I put a halter on her, tied her and with gloved fingers checked her vulva. All closed. She could have post-partum depression. As we moved her into the barn her September born daughter tried to follow her. She may be shocked to find that having shed one lamb, she now has 2 more to feed. She is a good mother, but it may be a toss up as to whether to call a vet or counselor.

As I admired my newly rearranged barn and the scale placing, I suddenly realized I had placed the scale box with the scale reader attachment facing the side wall of the barn. :oops: This meant that no one could see the scale face, and you would have to crawl back under the old milking shed eave to attach the electronic scale to the scale box receptor cords. OOPS! Yup. 180 degrees spin. By now I was tired, and my knee was hurting. I went back upstairs to the house for more coffee. While I was there, I crossed several items off my list. :D =D

I love lists. As I have said previously, I add jobs that I have done to my list just for the pleasure of crossing them off and feeling virtuous. I have 19 chores on the list currently, down from 31. Actually, I am back up to 21 since I realized I did not have “plant veggies and roses” on the list. It counts as 2 chores since they are in 2 different beds. I am back down to 3 now but have more to add on. I love lists.

Next I hung the cabinet in my bathroom behind the door. Then I measured and cut the narrow oak shelf to fit that I found in the shed. It is not deep enough but I also found a piece of finished oak that I ripped the required 3/8” strip from. I glued this to the rear of the shelf to make it the right depth. Since this cabinet and top sit behind the bathroom door I am trying to decide if I need to cut and apply a piece of oak molding on it to cover the joint. Here is my dilemma. Few people will notice it. However, every time I use the receptacle in the smallest room, I will see the cabinet and KNOW that the seam is there. I have 2 choices for peace of mind. Cover the seam with a piece of molding, or leave the door open every time I use the receptacle. No one can see in at that angle, but I WILL STILL KNOW IT IS THERE! I have no choice, the molding must be applied. :mad:

Before anyone wonders why I did not buy a wide enough board to fit the top of the 6 1/2” cabinet, let me reassure you. I did not buy any board. This board was left from a previous project. From the size of it, 6 1/8” x 32”, I think it was probably an oak shelf I cut to go over a toilet at one time. I would not go out and buy a piece of oak for this new job. I had another oak shelf that I could have cut down too, but this one was ALMOST the right size and in better condition than the 11” deep board which was actually a shelf out of a bookcase we are still using. Oh yes, and the molding is a leftover piece of stained and finished oak base shoe that I used to cover the wall gaps when mounting kitchen cabinets in the apartments. I admit it, I keep stuff like this because eventually I need it for projects. I like to blame it on DH, but he is not entirely responsible. Except for the hundreds of sockets I cleaned and sorted in the tool shed. He WAS responsible for those. This is why all our storage areas are full of STUFF! On the other hand, I did not need to buy any cute fabric to make my masks – I had a box of quilt pieces. Since the fabric stores have not had such a run on their contents since the first pedal sewing machine was available in the Sears wish book, I have fabric for masks. Also, elastic and interfacing but we will not go there.

But I wander. Back to the chores I needed to finish. The cabinet top was clamped and the glue was drying. I found the right size cabinet shelf supports in the tool shed for the interior of the cabinet. (The originals had gone missing somewhere in the past 5 years.) Always keep different size cabinet shelf supports because no 2 manufacturers use the same size or type. I have 5 containers of shelf supports in assorted diameters. In emergencies I also have small L brackets that I can install. Again, I digress. This quarantine is affecting my mind. Now I could clean out the medicine cabinet in the bathroom and put some of that stuff in the new cabinet on the wall behind the door. I already emptied and cleaned out the bathroom drawers. I KNOW I DID NOT DECIDE TO KEEP ALL THAT JUNK! Someone has been breaking into my house and cluttering up my bathroom drawers with 20 bars of hotel room soap still in their original wrapping, the tiny ones only good for one wash. Also, lots of motel room shampoo and lotion. I don’t remember staying at that many motels in my entire life! I emptied all the shampoo into one container and then realized that those 15 little bottles could have been donated to the homeless shelter. Oops. I did fish the 20 bars of hotel soap back out of the trash can and put them into a plastic bag. Some day I will take them to the food bank. In the meantime – you guessed it - I will have to find a place to store them!

The cabinet top has been stained and varnished and the seam is not even visible so no need for the molding. The corner shelf unit has been repaired, stained, varnished and hung. Everything that was sitting artistically on a mirror tray on the counter has now been moved onto those shelves. Clear counters at last! :weee
Now I have finished more items on my list. Ironing – check, sewing mask – check, planting 2 rosebushes – check, ordering my roses from Jackson & Perkins – check, check, check, check . . . . So many jobs to cross off!

A heat spell hit a few days ago and the newborns in the barn were panting and looked half dead. I found the old box fan in the shed. I did mention I keep lots of stuff for emergencies like this. The amazing thing is that I remember where I store all of these items and can put my hands on them in a matter of minutes. OK OK sometimes it is hours, the important thing is that I find them when I need them.

The fan has been running for several days and the lambs are looking better. The temperatures are dropping to a more comfortable range now. Hopefully we will have cooler weather for a few days.

DH and I had gone to DS3’s house to pick up his big dump trailer. DS1 called and said he had gone down to find AAC. She refused to come up to the night fold with the rest of the flock. She apparently lambed unexpectedly on the path below the fencing. The lamb was dead and AAC refused to leave the spot. :( The lamb was on its back down hill a bit from the path. The lamb might have fallen off the path and not been able to struggle upright. I had a ewe years ago cast herself lambing and lost one of her lambs that way. DS1 searched but could find no other lamb and the placenta was there on top of the dead lamb. AAC must have rebred at 2 months post partum. While I am thrilled that my Dorpers are doing what they are supposed to do with regard to accelerated lambing it would be nice if Lewis would not mark them when they are practically due! It completely confuses me! While DS1 was disposing of the dead lamb (dead several hours since it was cold when he found it around 7 pm.) 8040 came to console AAC. Now he had 2 ewes refusing to leave the gully, it was dark and he had already fallen on the steep slope several times so he left them there with the gates open so they could get into the barn and yard. When I got home, I went with him to see if I could spot them. Nothing, and it was silent. Rika was missing however, while both Bubba and Angel were on guard at the top of the field. We opened the windows on that side of the house so we could hear any disruption in the night, then went to bed. If any coyotes came in with the 3 Anatolians guarding the flock, they were welcome to try. I figured that 8040 was drawn to the sound of AAC calling for her lamb since she was so close to lambing herself. DS1 and I agreed that the tricky ewe planned to lamb in the gully to annoy us.

This morning AAC was back up outside the night fold baaing, having given up on her dead lamb during the night. 8040 had not accompanied her so I knew that she must have lambed and be hiding out. Rika was still missing and the other 2 were still in their sphinx poses at the top of the gully. After much discussion about which of us would search the gully for the missing ewe and lamb, DH called DD1 and she came over with her 3 children who were thrilled to scramble into the gully and go lamb hunting. DGS1 found the little ram lamb and brought him up, followed by mom. They are safely in the jug now. He weighed in at 9.4 lbs. While the grandkids were lamb hunting in the gully, DS2 called. She was happy to hear that the torch of "Lamb Seeker in the Gully" had been passed on to her nephews and niece. This evening AAC was wearing a red mark! Lewis is certainly enthusiastic. Poor Lewis! Instead of being given a nice flock of open ewes with whom to disport himself apparently we gave him a flock of almost due to lamb ewes. Poor boy is frustrated! :he His crayon was changed 2 nights ago so if no one else marks, we will pull him out and wait another month before putting a different ram in with the next batch of ewes who currently have 2 month old lambs. Also, the 7 month old fall lambs can go out to be bred with the other ram too. The new moms and their lambs will move into the creep pen and a fine time will be had by all.

Tomorrow morning we weigh. I weighed the newborns in the sling scale this am. I will see if I can lure the others into the main barn and then run them through the scale. I need to have weights on them. The one with the infected eye (he ran something into it) has healed and is over the infection Now there is a 7-10 day withdrawal from the penicillin. I think. I will check tomorrow.

Next week is the annual on-line Dorper sale. There are some lovely 2 year old ewes in it that have been bred to good rams. I have several marked to watch and bid on. Why? Because I can. And want to. And with my new niche customers, I have written out a business plan that I think will make my sheep pay for themselves, and show a bit of profit. Although the buyer wants 5 40 lb. lambs a week, he will take whatever I can produce. I certainly cannot (and will not) run enough ewes to produce that many lambs per week, but I might be able to produce about 5 a month and that will still make a profit. Making a profit on our livestock only happened when we raised rabbits semi- commercially. Our barn was originally a 100 cage rabbit barn and we bred New Zealand White rabbits for both the meat market and as quality breeding stock. Then our children forced us into smaller and smaller quarters with their 4-H projects. The final straw came when a dog attack killed all DH’s champions and destroyed 10 years of breeding. DH was one of the top breeders of New Zealand Whites in southern California at the time and was considering getting his judging license. DH really never recovered from that devastating loss. That is when we got our first livestock guardian dog. DH would still like to go back into rabbits, and I still have cages, watering system, etc. stored in the milk shed. He just needs to decide where to put his new rabbitry.

We have now planted the one new raised bed that DS1 and DS2 built. We need more planter beds but DH and DS1 are busy cutting the fire clearance before June 1. They are now talking fencing. DS1 came and asked if I realized that we had several hundred feet of horse corrals. I acknowledged that I knew this. He then told me that we could put them up for fences and he would string woven wire on them to hold in the sheep. o_O GO FOR IT! Fencing - when it is their idea they jump on it. :rolleyes:

I have some ideas about raised planter beds that DS1, DS2, and DH do not have to make. When DH and I went to Nipomo yesterday DS3 showed us his hydroponic gardens that he made, along with an interesting concept of container gardening in plastic tubs. Apparently he has been watching U tube videos put out by one person. This concept is to take a large plastic bin, drill a couple drain holes 5” up from the bottom in the sides. Then you take 6” PVC pipe and drill a bunch of holes in it. You place these 6” diameter pipes on their sides in the bottom of the bin and cover them with weed cloth. This makes a “reservoir” that will hold water underneath the soil. You take a 1” diameter PVC pipe and cut it to extend above the top of the bin. This is the pipe you will water through. Fill the bin with planting soil and plant your plants. Now fill the bottom of the bin where the 6” pipes are with water. The level of the water will fill to 5” then seep out the holes in the side of the bin. That is how you know the water level is correct. You never water from the top, always filling the water reservoir in the bottom through the standpipe. The water wicks up through the soil and waters the roots of the plant. His plants were beautiful and lush. DS3 gave me a length of 6” diameter pipe to try it with. We have lots of plastic tubs where the lids have broken. They also used a couple of large metal sheep water troughs. I got very excited and tried to trade them for my large horse depth water troughs. When they said they had drilled seep holes in them so I withdrew my offer, We have about 6 of the large (100 gallon?) metal horse troughs we can use as raised garden containers ourselves. I don’t know why I never thought of it with them just sitting on the field! They are deep enough that we won't have to drill drain holes in them but DH reminded me that there is a drain in them already. We can just unscrew the plug. that way we don't have to ruin the troughs.

DS1 had also built a 40' x 40' pole barn for his equipment. He offered us some power poles to make a roof between our Connex containers but we wouldn't be able to lift them into place. DS3 used his tractor. When we are ready we might be able to rent some sort of machine.

Anyway, we are getting a lot done finally so this quarantine is starting to work for us. I'm waiting to see what our antibody test tells us next week. I am really ready for this quarantine garbage to be finished. I feel like our liberal California politicians are just hiding us hostage now. Even though the majority of people here are liberal dems, they are starting to demonstrate in Sacramento for the quarantines to be lifted and jobs opened up again. Keeping these quarantines in place may very well turn people against the liberals. I can only hope.

Lots more yard work to do tomorrow. I need to buy some planter mix to mix with my dirt to make the planters. I ever knew I had so many muscles and that they could all ache at once. And I used to work like this day in and day out when I was younger. What happened? When did old age sneak up on me? :barnie
 

thistlebloom

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I love your stories, so nice to have a chuckle with my morning coffee 😄.

I'm a list person too, but it never occurred to me to add chores already finished so I could cross them off. That's brilliant!
My usual method is to compose a detailed list of chores that would realistically take a month to finish, then fold it neatly and put it in a back pocket with a pencil for crossing off as I go. When the day is over throw the dirty jeans in the laundry and wash the list. It comes out of the dryer a compressed wad. Then I have to try to remember what I needed to get done.
 

Ridgetop

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My usual method is to compose a detailed list of chores that would realistically take a month to finish, then fold it neatly and put it in a back pocket with a pencil for crossing off as I go. When the day is over throw the dirty jeans in the laundry and wash the list. It comes out of the dryer a compressed wad.
I like that! Sounds like all the chores are done if the list is a crumpled wad! :yuckyuck
 

Ridgetop

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Alas! More tragedy from Ridgetop!
Last week I planted 2 rose bushes in my new rose garden. It is raised block with wire lining so will be safe. The field fence is 5’ tall, and the bushes are over 3’ from it. Safe enough you would think, since these bushes are not super tall – perhaps 3’ in height. Yesterday DD1 came over to spend some time with me. She left her 3 children home with their father in honor of Mother’s Day. We sat out on the patio admiring the new garden area and imagining the view with many colorful and fragrant rose bushes blooming. So beautiful. The Tropicana roses I had planted had flowers on them and were very pretty, giving us a preview of what it will look like when all the bushes arrive from Jackson & Perkins and bloom. It was a lovely day the temps had dropped to the high 70’s and a light breeze was blowing. Bliss. :D =D
IMG_5823.jpg

This morning DS1 took me out to look at the area where he and DH have decided to fence the front of the property to provide a large separate pasture for the sheep. By keeping this area fenced off, the sheep will have graze into the winter. It is far enough from the house that we don’t have to clear it. DS1 had just brought over some large concrete blocks for me to use as retaining blocks to hold in soil. He brought me down past the rose garden to point out the area where they would put in the gates and fencing.

SHOCK! :epWhere were the flowers? Where was the BUSH?! :barnie 😥
IMG_5816.jpg At least 2/3 of the entire bush was missing! One of the few remaining branches was broken. It looked like a very bad pruning job. DD1 and I had watched Ol’ Yeller together on Mother’s Day. (Her children (my grandchildren) refuse point blank to watch it with her because they know it is sad so we had a little movie fest.) My first thought was racoons running amuck and attacking my rosebush. Then I regained my senses and realized who the culprit must be. Apparently, a 5’ fence with a 3’ distance from the fence to the planter bed is not enough for Josie the Mule.
IMG_5817.jpgAfter laughing uproariously DH said he had promised to put up another fence and walked out to see what could be done. He decided to add a couple more 10’ corral panels to the squeeze working area, running the corral panels 8-10’ out from the 5’ tall fence that is there now. It will go past the end of the raised bed and hopefully will keep her away from the rose garden. An hour later he and DS1 had finished it! 🥰Thank goodness because my order of expensive rose is due this week from J & P!
IMG_5821.jpg Extra corral protecting my roses on outside of existing fence! IMG_5822.jpgAt the same time DH and DS1 installed our new gates between the squeeze working area and the night fold, as well removing a 10' section of corral on the ram pen and putting in a gate fro the pen to the field. This will make it extremely easy to access the ram pen. Before, DS1 had to take his tools ad unclamp the entire panel to get the rams in or out. So much easier. DH loves these gate panels. I love convenient access.

I have finished edging the planter bed where FDIL planted rosemary and lavender. Both like dry areas and heat. Having a rosemary bush just outside the back door is a plus since I use it fresh in lots of lamb dishes.
IMG_5818.jpgI am almost finished with edging my "Buddha garden". IMG_5819.jpgThis is a Buddha statue with a serene face and apparently from his pre-belly days since he is slim and trim. It is a very relaxing garden statue. In the back of the bed I put the stuffed iguana on a log. I think I picked up that piece somewhere for the children when they were small. Now it has been relegated to the shrubbery. Where it belongs until that last journey to the dump. He is looking a little worse for wear, his skin is slitting in one spot, but way back in the shrubbery it is not noticeable. Lest you think I should dispose of it now, it will take up a lot of space in the trash can so it is better hidden in the shrubbery. Nothing grows in the Buddha garden except 2 or 3 large shrubs. I don't bother trying to grow anything else there, and keep it covered with mulch since the dogs dig beds under the shrubs.

The next area I will tackle is the fenced in rock garden where the fountain lives. The fencing can come down – the dogs will not bother going in there since there is no nice cool dirt to dig a bed in, just rocks. I am considering removing the river rocks and small boulders and replacing them with leftover scraps of the artificial turf. The weed cloth is already in place so it shouldn’t be too difficult since it is a small area. The bright green “grass” will set off the fountain nicely.

After that I will try to make the garden planters DS3 showed me. The 6” pipe he gave me is so heavy I couldn’t get it out of the truck. DS1 had to get it out for me. I have enough pipe to make 2 planters in my deep storage containers. They will be super heavy between the pipes, water, and soil, so I think I will use leach line on the next ones. DS1 asked why DS3 bought such heavy pipe. I told him that DS3 didn’t BUY it. He got it from the scrap pile at work. He is a true Ridgetop son. DS1 agreed that was a good reason. The pipes are so heavy and thick that DS1 offered to cut them for me tomorrow. Then I have to drill holes in them and assemble the planters. I ed anymore raised beds with 2 x 12's since I was planning to use my horse troughs. DH suggested that if I group the horse troughs in a square pattern we might be able to get a stand of corn going. It is late in the season, but we can try.

Sweet DS1 just told me that he moved more dirt for me so I can finish edging the last planting bed. I have a yellow lantana to plant there - bright and pretty if the dogs leave it alone! LOL
 

Ridgetop

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We don't have normal seasons here in the Los Angeles area. We often have no spring, jumping from almost freezing temps to 90-100 degrees for a week to a month in the winter.

August is when we used to go to the beach camping with the children and the garden died out about then. Now we go to Texas for a month so I automatically think of planting early or it all goes to waste. Since we won’t be going anywhere until November you are right there is probably still time for a late corn crop. The main thing about the timing of my planting is habit. Since we warm up early here we like to plant early. This year we had heavy rains until late in the season so planting was delayed.

It is already hot. I like to get my garden planted by early March but actually can grow stuff all year. We have already had 2 weeks of 100 degree weather. It is cooling off a bit now, but high 70's. We usually have a period of cooler weather in May - called "June gloom" when we have some overcast and often very cool days. From August to September the weather stays at least 100 degrees or so, and dry. The tomatoes have to be shaded or they burn. Flowers stop blooming because of the heat, and the yellow crookneck squash stops producing. Nothing short of an atomic blast can stop zucchini, but it often slows down flower production.

On the other hand, we can plant winter crops in September and October since it is still warm enough to start them. Cool weather is fine for peas and brassicas. Lettuce can only be planted in winter since the summers are too hot and they bolt or don't produce. Beets and carrots grow year round, but there is not enough heat for summer squash, beans, and peppers during the winter.

At my other house we had beautiful bottom land in the valley with rich black loam and I fed my family year round from our huge garden and many fruit trees. I canned all summer. I even had a small business making jams and specialty pickles that I sold at boutiques. Now of course, you can't do that. Even school bake sales have been restricted. The rabbits produced great fertilizer to top dress the trees and turn into the soil. Here we have a PH of 9. I have to improve the soil constantly. Years of rabbit and horse manure, planter mix, etc. and only a few areas are fertile enough to grow. Another reason to just do all container or raised bed gardening.

You are right though, I probably could plant corn for a late crop.
 

thistlebloom

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Wow, pH of 9. Now that's alkaline!
I was Idaho born, but grew up in San Diego's East County. DH and I moved to Alpine after we married and lived there until we finally escaped back here. Family roots here go back 5 gen on dad's side and 3 on mom's.
But back to the desert, I can totally sympathize with the growing restrictions of the weather. I well remember the SoCal year I planted in late March-ish, and as soon as the vegetables were up we had scorching Santa Ana weather, a week later we got snow. Hot weather swings in January are very tiresome also.
I have a very short growing window here, but much prefer the almost predictable 4 seasons.
 
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