We got our first real rainfall since April. We did get one thunderstorm during the summer but yesterday was a winter type of rain, not from the remnants of a summer hurricane. I am almost prepared for winter.
In the back orchard once the rain comes the ground gets too muddy to even tiptoe through. You just sink. I have one more tree in that area that needed to be pruned for the winter. I haven't pruned it yet because none of the leaves had started to turn yellow. I will prune early; I did with the rest of the trees in that group because their leaves had started to turn. The cooler weather we are getting will make the leaves start to turn, I'm sure. And, lucky for me, it is supposed to get back to almost 80 by next weekend. The ground should dry out enough for me to trim that tree.
Third grandson was over on Sunday to do a few chores. He's very slow and his work isn't the greatest, but he needed to earn some money for a band trip. His parents want him to find other people to work for to earn the money rather than them just giving it to him. They don't want him to do chores for them because they'd get too frustrated with his slow pace. They sent him here. He got some of the neighbors tree limbs that hang over our fence cut down. Normally the neighbor hired someone to trim up the trees but since Mr. neighbor passed away and Mrs. neighbor moved away, the extras that they used to do aren't getting done anymore. I also wanted weeding done by the raspberry plants. I don't mind spraying the weeds to kill them but I don't want to spray too close to the plants. Grandson got it done but what would have taken me an hour or two took him almost five.
Since I've never let chickens just roam until this year, I don't know if they really need shelter during the winter or it they can hang out in the rain. The front pasture is pretty open once the 3 foot tall grass got eaten down by the sheep. The sheep are now out back but there isn't anyplace to hide. The trees will all be losing their leaves for the winter as well. Since I wouldn't want to just hang out in the rain I put up a tarp to cover a 10x10 area. I'm thinking about putting a small hen house out in that pasture to make it easier for me to find eggs. I figure if they want to set eggs they will probably find a branch covered shelter area away from the rest of the flock. Keeping them out is just a learning experience for me.
I still have chickens in the coop. I like the coop because it's easy to scoop up the manure and use it in the garden. Last weekend I took one raised garden bed and filled it with manure from the coop and put in an equal amount of pine shavings. One adds too much nitrogen and the other robs nitrogen. I'm hoping that over the winter it turns into something good for next spring plantings. It's just in one bed so if it's a failure then it won't ruin the entire crop.
I also put the shavings into the stall in the barn. Once the rains really start to fall the sheep will spend most of their time there. In the spring we will take all that out and put it into another garden bed or two. Each year between the sheep and the chickens we are able to fill up 3 or 4 garden beds. I have twelve beds so it will take three or four years to fill each up. By the time they all get filled I figure it will be time to add more. I'm just trying to keep self sufficiency in mind.
I also put the bee hive together finally. My plan was to get bees at the end of winter so they could start off the spring with lots of flowers to pollinate. I know that you can keep them overwinter using sugar water. I just didn't want to take chances with them dying off during the winter. Mrs. Bug-out renter has bees in the attic. I decided that I, having not one ounce of bee keeping experience, am going to climb up into that attic and capture the bees into a five gallon bucket. I'm then going to bring them home and open the bucket right in front of the hive. According to what I've read, they will go right in. At least that's the plan! And it must be true since I read it in a book. They aren't Africanized bees because they aren't attacking anyone. If this doesn't work then I'll have to buy bees in a few months. Again, trying to be self sufficient...or I'm just a little crazy...not sure which.