I haven't been very good about keeping this blog current, but I have a good excuse. Every spare minute has been devoted to making progress on our clean up and barn building. And we actually have something to show for it. This past weekend with the help of our siblings and their spouses, we got all 25 posts for the new barn in place and braced. They are in sonotubes, 3 1/2 ft in the ground, and will provide the structural support for the barn. Tomorrow the concrete truck will come and fill the tubes, and then we can start building! It was a lot of hard work, but also fun to be around family and see it all coming together. Dave's construction experience made all the difference, and the rest of us just followed along and learned a lot.
At the same time the barn work was going on, we had to get our buried power dealt with, as the overhead power lines that the PUD installed for us were just temporary, and hanging too low to get the delivery trucks to the barn site. So Bill hopped on the tractor and dug a trench. It all went well until the very end, when we discovered a huge rock in the way and had to change direction a little bit. It all worked out in the end, and now we have underground power and a much improved view- no more power lines!
Our Maremma puppy, Callie, is 4 months old now and has become part of the team. The older dogs weren't very interested in her at first, but they all get along swell now. Nellie is very patient with her and lets her nibble on her ears and jump on her. Casimiro has found his inner puppy, and he occasionally romps and wrestles with her, but very gently as he is so much bigger. When Callie is startled or not sure of what's going on, she runs and stands next to Cas, and considers him her protector. She is also exhibiting guarding behavior in her own puppy way. She will bark at strangers and the occasional deer, but doesn't go to the fence line. She will hang back and let the big dogs do that, but I don't think it will be long before she gets right out there. She's got good teachers and if she just follows their lead, she will be an excellent guard dog. There are still the usual puppy corrections to make with her, like teaching her not to climb through the fence, and not to chase and bite the lambs, but she is making good progress . And she has a sweet personality- eager to please, and very unhappy when she knows she has messed up.
Chicken news is good, too. Our mother of the year is still clucking over her 14 chicks, although they are growing up fast. They still all try to get under her at night, which is a funny sight, as she spreads her wings as wide as possible and they all have their heads sticking out around her. We are keeping them in separate quarters for a while longer until he chicks are big enough to not be of interest to Lucky the cat.
All in all, our spirits are high and we feel like things are starting to get back to normal. I have resumed some of my normal routine like baking bread and dog treats. I've let the garden go, but I do keep the water on it so there are vegetables growing among the weeds. I'm just not going to have time to put up the bounty, so we go out and gather what we need for dinner, but the rest is going to the sheep and chickens. We are really surprised at how quickly some of the native plants have been growing in the burned areas. The elderberries are 3 ft tall, and the aspen groves are taking over. Hundreds of sprouts are coming up- we are going to have to do some serious thinning if we don;t want to be overcome. I've seen lupine sprouting as if it were Spring, and of course the weeds are making an appearance. But lots of grasses are getting a good hold in the hillsides, which is a good sign. There has been a little deer tribe hanging out around here, too. The surviving deer are going to have a tough winter, as all of their normal food sources are gone. We are curious to see if the usual group of mule deer will pass through this Fall as they usually do. The next few weeks should see lots of progress on the barn- stay tuned!