Monday, May 4, 2015

May already

I took a couple of extra days off work this weekend, planning to kick the ass of the goat-moat fencing project. And shear sheep. And 50 other jobs.

Started out by making chocolate-chip-oatmeal-pecan cookies. That's how I launch a weekend. Mmmm. The demarara sugar makes them crunchy, and doubling the chips is always a good idea.

Savvy the sheep had complained of heat and itchiness, so she was first. Plus, she's friendly. Our newly sharpened and tweaked shears were brought into play. Our shears are rusty old things picked up at estate sales over the years, and while we could get them sharp, the blades were never "set" right, so shearing has been frustrating. And the sheep get pissed. But we prevail. (Sure, we could hire it done for $35 a sheep. But a) we like to do things ourselves, and b) we don't have $70.)

She looks a little moth-eaten, but cooler!

This year garden-club good-guy Jim (who has a couple of sheep and is really good at sharpening things) worked on the shears, with some help from garden-club good-guy Tim (who has over 50 Jacob sheep – you know, the spotty ones with crazy horns), and they cut a whole lot better. It still took us a few hours to do one sheep, and the shears weren't exactly right so we again used scissors for the fussy bits, but it was a big improvement. (Yes, I know that champion hand-shearers can do 50 in a day, better than one every 10 minutes. Pfffft.)

So one sheep is done, and though I might have walked funny the rest of the day, I was pleased. Savvy was feeling better, too. I caught her making lamby hops down the hill. Goofy old thing.

C. left her a little tuft on the end of her tail, lion style. 

I transplanted half of the remaining flat of tomato seedlings into larger pots and moved them into the greenhouse.
Tomato plants get set deeply into their new pots to develop roots all down their stems, so they look pretty puny here. They'll grow like crazy in the next couple of weeks, and we'll set them deeply again into the garden beds.

Saturday, all sheared out, I devoted to fencing. I'm putting up that old snaggletoothed picket fence we picked up from a guy a couple of years ago. There's about 150 feet of it. It's roughly in place and I chopped out a section to build into a gate.

C. continues to work and dig and plant and mulch in the garden every day. Did I mention that both her dad and granddad were named Gardiner?

And the peas are up. Below, these are Cascadia edible-pod peas and the sticks are their trellis. The striped line is the soaker hose that will hook up to the watering system that I'll get back to as soon as the goat moat is up.

So Sunday I fenced a bit, but wore out early. And Monday I took the box of sheep shears over to Tim's place for some more tweaking. No wonder we've struggled with them – the blades have to be beveled just right, and slightly cupped, and the edges have to meet just so, touching only at the spot of the cut. It helped a lot to look at a pair of Tim's for reference. We've never had a new pair, just old beaters. When they are just right, you can take great swaths of wool off with – almost – ease. I think I learned enough to keep three pair cutting well now that they are set correctly. Two pair proved too out-of-whack to ever cut wool again, so they'll be garden shears or knife blanks or something.

I owe these guys some cookies, at least. Sure appreciate them sharing their expertise. I should film them for YouTube so other folks can learn this stuff. There is nothing on the web about adjusting hand shears. I looked and looked and cussed and then played Bookworm.

Anyway, my long weekend is over, and I'm beat. Ready to go back to the comfy desk job.

The Dogly Dinner
The dogs had brown rice, hardboiled guinea and chicken eggs, and tofu wiener bits for dinner, in a lovely red sauce (the water from soaking the dried tomatoes we ate in our mac-and-cheese).

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