died today. It is impossible for me to put into words how upset we are about this. He was 17 years old so I knew he was not going to live forever, but I thought he would dwindle like Sheila and Daphnie. But he died an unexpected and horrible death instead. He liked to sleep on a dirt mound in front of the barn gate. Somehow in the night he flipped off his mound and caught his leg under the gate. He could not get up so we found him this morning bloated and bloody. He was still warm so I worry that if I had gone to the barn instead of farting around on the internet this morning, maybe I could have saved him. But more likely he struggled and died while we were sleeping. I have never been so upset about an animal’s death. Tom and I, after the initial realization sunk in, both said we cannot take this anymore.
I loved Bob. I think Bob was the coolest sheep ever and those of you who met him would likely agree. He made me smile, at least inside, whenever I saw him. He was one of my first lambs. He was our barnyard greeter. He made great wool. He made his mother Babette proud. I miss him already.
Babette and Bob April 2000
Donna holding Bob in 2000
Bob in July 2000
Bob Sheared in 2005
Bob sheared in 2006
Bob’s fleece in 2007
Bob’s face in 2009
Bob being sheared in 2012
Mom and Bob in 2013
Bob enjoying bread in 2015
Bob with a Bad Haircut in 2016
So now the real work is beginning. Yesterday Tom had rented a 12 inch chipper. It was supposed to be for the week but at the last minute they told him it was only for one day. I had to work so my brother helped Tom chipper our backyard and pastures full of cottonwood. Above is the 12 inch chipper being moved from the driveway toward the backyard. (Sorry about the glare. The sun was out yesterday.) Unfortunately because of all the rain this spring, it got stuck en route. Tom tried to get it out with the tractor, a jack and the farm truck. Then the truck got stuck. So he called AAA. Here is the tow truck arriving.
Because the chipper was involved, AAA would not cover it and we had to pay out of pocket (on top of the enormous expense of the chipper which so far hadn’t chipped a thing). So plan B was to move the chipper back to the driveway and chip there. Tom had to drag the logs from the back to the front with the tractor and chip them there.
This was certainly inefficient but at least they were getting wood chipped. When he returned to the backyard he would take a bucket of chips with him to spread on all the mud we are accumulating from driving the tractor all over our backyard.
At the end of the shortened day the 12 inch chipper had to be returned, and he was able to rent a 9 inch chipper for the rest of the week. Here is the 12 inch chipper leaving,
the 9 inch one arriving.
and being moved successfully to the backyard.
The plan for today was for Tom and I to chip all day and make a decent dent in the piles of wood in our backyard/pastures and then finish up tomorrow or Friday. Here we are chipping away behind the barn.
But then this afternoon the chipper gave up the ghost. It refused to chip, and there was a belt squealing sound, smoke, and metal shavings underneath. Not good. So no more chipping, and it goes back to the rental company. There is not another 9 inch chipper available, and a 6 inch one is only going to create more work for use. So we are on hold until there is a nine inch one available again. This means many other repairs are on hold until can get this mess under control. So we have to live with the now despised cottonwoods a little longer. We are really sore from what chipping we did do so a break is nice though.
So today we took down the last two of the evil cottonwood trees. The first one we took down in two parts. The first part fell on an old manure spreader we have.
The second part grazed the donkey shelter (fortunately we had moved the donkeys away first).
The second tree was more difficult. We knew it was going to be a problem, but I figured it is better to take it down in a somewhat controlled fashion than have it come down unexpectedly on people, animals and/or structures. So it came down on our greenhouse taking out the roof and a few of the windows.
It also took out my father’s old boat we had been using as a planter,
my container of thyme,
an old hot tub full of leeks,
and our large tomato hothouse.
Here is Tom fixing the roof of the greenhouse surrounded by debris.
And this is what our vegetable garden site looks like now.
We looked at one of the rounds of a cottonwood we took out earlier. It looks like it was twenty years old. In the first 5 years it had a 6 inch diameter. All the trees appear to the roughly the same age. They were all 150-200 feet tall. We bought this land in 2002, so 15 years ago when these trees were only 6 inches thick at the base. We should have taken care of this then.
So our advice to you is to kill evil cottonwoods and similar worthless trees now rather than waiting. The sheep do seem to enjoy using the cottonwood rounds though, so maybe they are not entirely worthless.
We have a long spring ahead of us!