A hot day at Cupcake Ranch

Yes, that is a sheep sleeping on the floor of my office/fiber shop. It was a hard day for Uncle Honeybunch, but hopefully whatever made him sick is on its way out of his poor gut. I kind of panicked and let (read: dragged) him into my office, knowing the heat wave was going to be rough on him when he was off feed and feeling poor. Poorly? Poor? Grammar Girl, where are you?!

I lost the whole day to fretting over the animals in the heat. Notorious pig Uncle Honeybunch was off his feed since last night, and not eating or burping (burping = life for ruminants; otherwise they can become big bloated gas balloons & die, no kidding). I know the vet thought I was out of my mind, bringing a sheep into my office, but it was crazy hot, so I was way more cautious. If he’d been off feed in 85-degree weather, I’d’ve been a lot more wait-and-see about it. It’s unlikely I’d have even called the vet.

Under the weather wether

He’s back outside with his posse now, though still little interested in eating. But his poop is now looking more like proper sheep poo (what comes out of either end of the sheep is quite important); and he can’t really live in my office. One day of being stuck in here was enough for me. I was worried if I left for too long, he might run amok. You know, pissed off at all the bags of wool everywhere….

As for the other sheep, I put up a big coolarool shade today and kept their water cool with frozen jugs of water to encourage hydration, a very clever idea I learned somewhere on the internet. They seem to be hanging in there, and thankfully the nights are reasonably cool, because it’s only going to stay hot.

Water Cooler

Liz left today. I really enjoyed her work, and it made me wistful about the residency program. We’ve had to let it languish somewhat because with money as it is today, we just can’t afford to promote it overall (it’s awesome but doesn’t earn anything, and we still haven’t found a magic goodies machine to pay the bills).

I’d really love to have a residency coordinator so that our workshop-free months would be  more peppered with people making good work. It’s nice to have little clumps of folks; the solo residents have to be highly motivated and resistant to boredom/block, but with little groups, you get the flock feeding vibe that keeps everyone making.

With Ron’s new shop on the horizon and my new workshops brewing, I suspect our time and money will be gobbled up and we’ll have to wait until 2012 to really put our backs into promoting the residency program again. But time does tend to fly, so it should be here before we know it. We do have something of a master plan, but sometimes all the little pictures interfere with the big one.

Hot. So hot.

Really, really freaking hot. We’re okay–peachy in fact, because we broke down and bought a couple window units a few weeks ago, and we pretty much just stick to the two rooms with AC and the basement, which is always comparatively refreshing.

But the poor animals are just miserable. We had a couple 100+ days last week, but this time it  looks like they’re scheduling a full week of misery. I’m going to try to rig up some shade cloth first thing in the morning. Short of running a sprinkler over the barnyard (would that work?), I don’t know what else to do. If anyone has brilliant heatwave sheep/chicken management plans, I’m all ears.

(ETA next morning: Ah, I just read on sheepandgoat.com that you specifically should not spray sheep, as it interferes with their heat dissapation. I put up the shade cloth and I’m currently freezing some bottles of water to throw in their troughs to cool it down mid-day.)

Spidey snack:

Block Printing Class

The Art Share block printing class was great! Several of us even made suicide blocks!

Each of the participants donated a print. We’ll be selling them on etsy to start a litle fund to buy supplies for the next class!

Liz Runkle: block printing

Here are some of Liz’s wood block prints and her proof press. The toad demons are the newest, and I think she said they still have one more layer to go. The multi-color prints are reduction prints. After each layer is printed, subsequent prints/layers are  made by carving away more and more of the original block. By the end, you just have your outlines/shadows. If you make a mistake, you’re just screwed. And once you’ve moved on to the next layer, that’s it–you can never make another print, ever.  It’s crazy and completely awesome! I don’t know if I’d be capable of creating with that kind of abandon.

Liz is teaching a free linoleum block class this Sunday, and there are still a couple spots left. Details on registration are here.

The blocks she prints from are beautiful in themselves. You can see a print from the bear wood block (above) below. She carves both sides of each block. The reverse for the bear block is the woman below. The reverse of the man in the tie is the toad. The double-sided blocks make me unaccountably giddy.

Bye-bye sad old hay shelter

This is my very sad old hay shelter,which is not long for this world. It did a more or less fine job despite its shortcomings. But a wicked winter wind ripped on of the posts right out of its concrete footing, and from there, it was pretty much a goner. As of this morning, the only thing holding it up was a ladder. By the end of today, it will have a total of 4 upright posts, and next week, the hoops will be gone and it will have a proper tin roof! Ed’s going to make it a little wider as well, and I’m hoping to fit the new mower inside.

In other hay-related news, I’ve got a date with our county extension agent next week to see what’s growing on our pastures and get some help with a management plan. Right now, I’m thinking of trying to establish some native grass for the future, but skipping a couple years of haying, and doing some winter grazing and buying supplementary hay for the mid-term. But we’ll see (more boring details about our pastures here).

We found this in the shelter. I hope it finds a good place to relocate. It’s current home is now just flopped over, off the posts, but it didn’t seem interested in moving. Maybe we can help relocate it when the new roof’s up?

Road improvements in Harveyville!

Good news: the City of Harveyville will be getting some much-needed road improvements!

Infrastructure was something I just took for granted in Austin, where people had the luxury of debating and whining about the pros and cons of frills like bike lanes and traffic bumps. In a small town in a sparsely-populated county, roads aren’t an entitlement or just part of the basic machine, but a massive expense. This is great news and an excellent effort by the city. Yay, roads!

First line of defense in the Zombie Apocalypse

One of our favorite games is planning our strategy for the inevitable Zombie Apocalypse. You have to acknowledge that the farmers and ranchers will really be in the best position to hold them off.

In the pre-zombie universe, of course, it’s used for moving large round hay bales.

Hay, hay, hay!

This mysteriously appeared out back this afternoon, which I can only assume means they’ll finally be haying tomorrow! Yay!

Last year I fretted about the hay being so late, and this year I almost fretted a couple of times but decided the grownup thing was not to obsess over stuff I can’t control, especially when the stuff is relatively inexpensive. Worst case scenario, I’d have to buy hay. And I’ve still got a good 20 bales from last year, so even if I got zero hay this year, based on last year’s 50 bales (and that’s over an unusually cold winter), even with a lot of waste from this being old hay, I’d still probably only need 35 more bales, assuming a normal winter. At $3-5/bale, the damage would be $105-175 if I got absolutely no hay.  More likely, it will be somewhat shitty hay and they’ll just waste a lot more, but between it & the old stuff, we’ll be fine. The old stuff is not the best hay ever at this point, but they’re still eating it when it’s hot and they want a snack that doesn’t involve the glaring sun. See? Simple math has helped me avoid unnecessary stress. Yay, math!

In other hay-related news, Ed & Ron will be working on my poor dilapidated hay shelter tomorrow. I should probably suck it up and help, too, seeing as it’s mine. I accused Ed of always starting projects on the hottest days of the year. Normally, Ron would be at work, but the AC’s out at the shop, so free labor! Ed’s going to call tonight with a quote, and if we can afford it, we may go with a more permanent, tin-roof structure instead of the beefed-up hoop house I was planning. But with the possibility of Ron opening up a shop soon, we’re being more cautious with money.

The heat has also resulted in this Jayne’s new “lazy grazing” technique. For the last two afternoons, Jayne has been grazing laying down. He eats all around where he’s laying, gets up and relocates, then reclines and gobbles up the surrounding grass. It’s very weird, but he seems otherwise perfectly fine, not at all weak or reluctant to rise if you approach him. He’s always been kind of on the lazy side, the first to lay down & the last to move his ass, even as a big fat lamb, so I’m not to worried. But it is a bit odd, and something to keep an eye on.

Free Art Share Block Printing Workshop!

Today I have a little Art Share PSA!

I’m excited to announce the Harveyville Project’s new artist in residence, Liz Runkle, is leading a block printing workshop for Art Share, Harveyville’s free community arts program. We’ll be carving linoleum block and printing on her fantastic old proof press! Space is very limited & participants must be over 13, as we’re using sharp tools. Call 785-589-2714 or email nikol @ harveyville project.com (take out spaces!) to register.

Later this year, Terry Yates and Nancy Land will be teaching some exciting community classes! Art Share’s KAC grant has ended, but there is some excellent volunteer support, and we do plan to continue offering free classes going forward, and we’ll probably have a few fundraisers as well. The plan is to join forces with other nearby communities to share the artistic skills of both visitors and our local people. Some classes will have a supplies fee, but we’ll do our very best to keep the art flowing freely! If you have any ideas or you’d like to lead a workshop yourself, call or email me!

And expect a deluge of posts this month, as I join NaBloPoMo. I’m trying to condition myself to post more regularly. This month’s NaBloPoMo theme is “green” which I’m taking literally today. Here’s Liz with Mr. Shivers: