Saturday, March 24, 2018

The Fish Shack

Move over Man Cave, the She Shed has arrived.

For some time now, Monica wanted a She Shed, the latest craze that is sweeping over America. It is used by women for painting, reading, yoga, meeting and partying with the girls or just a place to leave the house and the household behind for a sanctuary of their own. It is in a way dovetailing with the tiny house craze although a she shed is not for permanent living. But…I guess it can be.

On Facebook there is a She Shed Shop. On Google you can buy the She Shed ebook. Now Lowe’s and Home Depot sell them and these backyard beauties are featured in House Beautiful magazine. The she sheds range from a converted wooden potting shed to rustic enclave, to specially constructed, nearly all glass buildings to invite nature in. From a soulful escape from husband and kids to a total party place with the girls.

So a few months ago M bought a small basic wooden cabin (12 x 10 feet) with a small front porch and it was positioned at the pond on Lily Rose Ranch. I added some steps and insulated it. Initially she had a working title for the place of le Petit Maison (the tiny house) with the intention to decorate it in a Shabby Chic d├ęcor and all Parisian, I think. But after it was all fitted out with bead board ceiling and walls it turned into The Fish Shack with a nautical theme.

But erase that image of a basic cabin on a frozen lake with a hole in the floor for ice fishing, a bunch of ruddy guys and cases of beer and bourbon in the corner. Oh no, this fish shack is painted a soft shade of pink inside, decorated with M’s effervescent style and a 16-foot deck that stretches to the edge of the pond for bug-free and slipfree fishing. It is still a work in progress because I still need to add the nautical rope to the deck posts and put some finials on the day bed.

She really took fishing and a fish shack up a notch!

And it even comes with battery operated globe light and candles for just the right romantic ambiance
for night time visits.

It will be the closest she can bring the beach to Kentucky.

My next project is to plant grass and build a fire-pit and picnic area on that brown peninsula in the background that juts out into the pond. Last year most of the trees were cut down and now I have to cleanup and beautify. 

The tiny porch is perfect for catching the late afternoon sun.

Two days after we decorated The Fish Shack, seeing that the start of spring was one day away, winter once more acted out its recurring visiting act of barging in and "...oh, and one more thing..."

Monday, February 5, 2018

The Twice a Year Ritual of Making Hay

I have a friend that works with me in the concrete jungle and who just like me lives on a small farm, financially not viable for permanent farming, and loves to say that he will gladly sit on a tractor all day long and drive in circles if it makes enough money.

Well, sitting on a tractor the entire day and cutting grass can be boring, but it sure beats waddling in mud on a cold winter’s day working with animals.

The arrival

I don’t own haymaking equipment. It is not financially viable for me to lay out the capital on Lily Rose Ranch seeing that here in Kentucky grass is in surplus and hay is relatively cheap if you buy it straight from a farmer instead of from an agricultural store. At the same time the grass mixture on some of my pastures vary from tall fescue/clover mix while on others is it a prairie/switch grass mix. Although great for cattle, especially the prairie grass which is high in protein, neither mix is ideal for sheep. My sheep seems to not like fescue, not even when it stands green in the pasture. From a dry hay point of view, they seem to prefer an orchard grass/clover/alfalfa mix. Certainly softer, and tastier I suppose.

The Prairie grass and wild flowers pasture before moving

So twice a year I must get a farmer in to cut my pasture and bale. He uses his time; his equipment and gas and get food for his cattle and I get rid of the tall grass and the allergy problem that comes with tall grass. He gets it for free and leaves me 2 or 3 round bales from the fall cutting for winter food. That is more than enough for my few sheep and the 2 donkeys for winter. I supplement that with square bales of the orchard/clover/alfalfa mix I buy from farmers.

The process of mowing, raking and baling

During spring last year, I was struggling to find a farmer to come and cut. He promised to come but kept on extending his arrival and the grass was getting taller and taller, so I decided to use my own tractor and rotary cutter and cut it myself without making bales of hay. It also gave me the opportunity to cut deep in to the encroaching brush at some areas which was invading the pasture.

So, after three 8-hour days in the tractor seat I must admit it can get boring at times. And hot too. I do not have the luxury of an air-conditioned cab on my tractor. Seeing that I was just cutting and not doing any raking, baling and transporting the bales afterwards, I certainly will acknowledge my respect for farmers that do this kind of work 2 or 3 times a year on much larger farms than mine. Although you have to concentrate all the time the work can be mind-numbing after a while.

The departure.

 Last year, for the late summer/fall cutting, I asked a different farmer. I have used him in previous years and he knows the lay of my land well. He was more than willing to cut and prompt and seeing that his farm is close to mine, transporting the hay to his farm was a breeze.  

  The last of the hay leaving