Sunday, February 27, 2011


The combination of a ridiculously bright full moon and warmer spring-like temps have brought the polecats (skunks) out in force, at least the males. I've been seeing dead skunks all over the roads as of late.
This is what happens when a potential chicken-eating critter finds a way around or toughs his way through our electric fence. The Great Pyrenees made short work of this male skunk when he got into the pasture. Needless to say, the dogs got sprayed and are pretty rank, but they seem pretty proud of themselves and I'm definatley pleased.

One thing you can see is the special claws adapted for digging on this guy. I'd never seen a skunk up close before, so it was pretty neat to get to take a look at this one.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Still Spreading Hay

We've got severe storms moving in tomorrow, potentially all day long, so of course erosion's on my mind. I've been picking up old round bales of hay too far gone or too weedy for cheap, $5 bucks a pop. I finally picked up a little 12 ft trailer on craigslist for a decent price; the trailer even has a ramp, so loading the hay rounds is a lot easier. We haven't been able to get a tractor yet, so any loading of round bales has meant a strong back and luring a unsuspecting friend over for a little "help".

There was a spot in the pasture across the creek that was looking a little bald. So I took a small round bale of hay out there and patched it up.

The Boston Mtns are especially susceptible to soil erosion, and our holler definitely fits the mold when it comes to the good stuff washing down hill. The spot above is a shale out-cropping that I drive up to get to the middle and top bench. The soil's so fragile there because, well there never really was any. So plastering the area with hay not only helps to keep the soil there, but makes a great seed bed for some fescue and some hardy weeds. The best thing about using the round bales is that there's always a downhill to help spread the hay! I've been sowing ryegrass and clover and it's germinating well in the hay. The rain coming up should get the rest of the seeds jump started into germination.

By the way, if I ever cut hay off someone else's land, I'm thinking it'll be square bales!

Monday, February 21, 2011

On Facebook

If you're on facebook, search out Across the Creek Farm. Be glad to know you!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Crazy Weather Swings

Man, the past week or so has been crazy. The last spate of winter weather dropped over a foot of snow at our place and 20 miles north, over two feet of snow fell, breaking a state record for 24 hr snowfall amounts. The next morning, temps dropped to -20 F, and that's REALLY cold here.

Lately though, temps have been pushing into the 70s during the days and 5os into the night. The ground's even starting to dry out a little. Judging by critters, spring is coming. The spring peepers are out and the bees are finding pollen somewhere, as their pollen baskets are laden with the yellow stuff.

I think we've still got a cold snap or two in store, and judging by the year so far, I'd be suprised if we didn't have a snow or two on the horizon. It's been a rough winter here, really rough. It's been good to see though how rough things can get as we're eyeballing our surroundings are figuring out what and how we need to build. A record drought followed by record cold back to back helps in the planning.

Anyone else having an abnormal weather year?

Friday, February 4, 2011

It's Getting Ridiculously Wintry in the Holler

We got socked by a winter storm here over the past week here in Northwest Arkansas. A wintry storm early Monday through Tuesday dropped a quarter inch of freezing rain, nearly an inch of sleet and then another 4-5 inches of snow. The temperature plunged into record cold, with night time temps plunging to around -10 F and daytime temps not getting out of the single digits - crazy when you consider that we were near 70 F over the weekend! Temps haven't been above freezing for quite some time now, but everyone's doing pretty well.

We're down to just one goat, Billy. The dairy does we were boarding were picked up in mid-Jan before we headed off to SSAWG. Billy's been mourning the loss of his lovely dairy doe ladies, refusing to eat and just generally bumming around. The cold weather snapped him out of it. I was pretty worried the first night of the storm...the freezing rain had coated him really well and so I brought him some crabgrass hay. (Some how in goat reasoning cedars are better shelter than a roof in freezing rain!) A full rumen is a warm rumen, and that seemed to do the trick. He's holed up in the cedar thicket above, and what he didn't eat he made a nest out of to keep him warm. With a full belly, he dried out quickly thanks to the warmth of rumenating.

The Great Pyrenees down in the bottom pasture haven't been phased in the slightest. Their thick coats are still coated in ice from the freezing rain several days back. Fredo and Alfredo's coat is so thick that the dogs' body heat is kept in tight enough to keep the ice from thawing. When it was below 0 F on morning, I caught the big male rolling around in the snow trying to scratch his back, grunting in relief when he hit those hard to reach spots.

The laying flock in the sacrifice paddock have weathered through the cold rather well. Chickens don't like snow very well, and the bottom of the coop started to get pretty crowded as no one wanted to go outside. The lowest members of the pecking order started to get knocked around a good bit, so we filled the bottom of the coop with lots of seedy hay as well. Scratching through the hay keeps the hens busy looking for seeds and their feet stay dry and off the snow. The biggest problem we've had is that the eggs have been freezing before we can get to them. Until the weather warms up a bit, we're just boiling the eggs and feeding them to the pullet hens we're raising.

We got another 3 or so inches today, and another storm is supposed to hit us the beginning of next week...