Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch….May 11, 2018

Another week, another project finished!  I have been working on the annual spring clean-out of the feed and garden shed when I have a few minutes here or there.   Monday morning saw completion!  During the winter the floor sees its share of loose pine shavings and spilled feed-n-seed, plus it gets really dusty.  It’s just nice to start fresh in the spring.  Here are a few “after” pictures for you:

The exterior, obviously.  We inherited a few of those skulls, found the rest on the property.

We use metal trash cans to store our open feed to keep out some very determined mice.  From L-R it’s whole corn, chipped oyster shell, bird feed, and black oil sunflower seed. The oyster shell is a free choice supplement for the chickens and ducks; it supplies calcium for strong egg shells. Goats and chickens both enjoy the corn and seeds as treats.  Every morning when I let the chickens out, I fill one of the pitchers on top with sunflower seeds and sprinkle them out for the chickies.  They come running!  Well, waddling really fast.

We stock up on All Flock for the chickens and Rocky Mountain Sweet Feed for the goats whenever they go on sale at Murdoch’s.

We also stock up on pine shavings when they go on sale.  We use them in the chicken coop for the floor and to line the nesting boxes, and we also use it as bedding for the ducks.

The shelf above holds miracle grow for flowers, diatomaceous earth, insecticidal soap, and a few other odds and ends.  The DE we use to help keep chickens parasite free. We add it to their food and sprinkle it on the ground where they like to dust bathe. In the spring we sprinkle it around the house to keep ants from finding their way in.

Belle decided to kickstart Monday morning by perfuming herself behind the ears with goat poop.  So guess who got a bath in the afternoon, after I finally figured out why I kept smelling barnyard odor? She was still damp when we came in for the night, so I took her in the bathroom for a “blowout.”


Later that night, John was at the bathroom sink, and he called out to me, “What’s this hair in the sink?”

“What hair?” I popped into the bathroom.  “Oh, goodness, that’s Belle’s hair.  It must have come loose when I was drying her.  That’s odd, because I couldn’t comb much out at all.” Then we took a good look around. In the shower.  No doubt on the floor. *Sigh*

“Duck Coop Clean-out” was also on the chore list this week, and what a chore it is. I am not posting before or during pictures because it is just gross.  You’re welcome.  Here’s the coop for the girl ducks, cleaned out:


Chicken coop progress: We hung the South Wall, and I painted around the roof so the we can attach the roof, which includes a trim piece that hangs over the side.


Three walls!!

Speaking of the chickens, every week I clean their eggs and take most of them to town to sell and trade. This week I cleaned just over four dozen. Aren’t they pretty?

And a BIG project finished for me-cleaning out half of the goat barn!  I have been hauling out a few loads of manure/hay most mornings for a couple of weeks.  I was so excited to hit the dirt floor this morning!

I am ridiculously proud of this accomplishment! You can see the difference compared to the right hand stall. At the far end of the stall I removed about 18 inches of manure/hay! We will have to lower the mineral box.

I still can’t get over how goats are overwintered and barns are managed in cold weather climates like Montana.  Basically, you clean a barn out in the spring, digging down to the dirt or concrete floor. Goats are notoriously sloppy and picky eaters.  They pull hay out of the feeder, and some of it falls to the floor.  Once food hits the floor, they will have nothing to do with it; it is dead to them.  The good aspect of this sloppiness is that they are slowly and consistently laying a fresh layer of straw in their barn.  When they pee, it seeps to the bottom.  Even their poop, which looks like berries, sifts to the lower layers.  About the time the weather turns cold, those bottom layers begin to compost, producing heat, so it’s sort of like having radiant floor heat for goats, and it keeps them off the frozen ground.

Then in the spring you haul it out to your pastures and spread it out as fertilizer. It’s not “hot” like cow manure, so it can be used immediately.  Some people even use it in their gardens, but, ugh, I just can’t do it. Consequently, this is what one portion of our North pasture looks like.  Yes, I hauled all of that hay and manure out of the barn!

Belle is surveying the results of my hard work. I am NOT looking forward to raking all of this over the pasture!

What I am reading, listening to, thinking about:

As an introvert, one of my favorite places to hang out is inside my own head.  I need quiet time every day to process, and for the first time in my life, I have the time and space that I need to do this.  So, recently I have begun checking out some podcasts that I can listen to while I am working alone outside- you know, give myself some new things to think about.

After reading a couple of Tsh Oxenrider’s books, I have started listening to her podcast “The Simple Show,” which she co-hosts with several other women.  Right now I am in her archives, listening to a four part series called “Use Your Earbuds,” which she is co-hosting with Kendra Adachi, A.K.A. “The Lazy Genius.”

In short, they are talking about what podcasts and music they regularly listen to and WHY.  Why is the key.  Kendra says that when you are looking for a podcast to listen to, ask yourself “Why do I want to listen?” To learn? To be entertained? To relax? Then select accordingly.  In part 2, one of the podcasts they recommend is called “Selfie,” and it is all about self care.

This sounded rather self indulgent to me, but because I am a personal growth junkie, I listened to a podcast today, episode 25, and I am so glad I did!  The podcast hostesses, Sarah James and Kristen Howerton, reference an article that speaks to the fact that often self care is NOT fun; it can be doing the hard things such as creating a strategy to get out of debt, or taking on a second job to start a savings account, or ending a toxic relationship.  I opened the show notes to read the article, and thought it was so good, I want to share it:

This Is What ‘Self-Care’ REALLY Means, Because It’s Not All Salt Baths And Chocolate Cake

You can check out The Simple Show here and Selfie here.

What are you listening to this week?

2 Replies to “Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch….May 11, 2018”

  1. So fascinated to read about your active Montana life! All these things I’m learning about animals and ranch life. What a huge change you moved into when you went to Montana!

    1. Hey, Elizabeth, thanks for stopping by! Yes, it was a monumental change. It’s been hard (still is, some days; I really miss proximity to family), but it’s been good for me in many ways, too. One of the reasons I enjoy reading your blog is because you have been through some major upheavals, as well. I enjoy reading about how women thrive from age 50 and upward.

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