It's a race to get the barn cleaned out before winter.
Porky and Bess are doing a pretty good job rooting - turning everything over and eating all the bits and pieces of hay and grain these find mixed in the bedding pack.
Still, they're not going as deep as I thought they were, as I found when I began to shovel out each section as I moved them on to each subsequent section.
What they root is very easy to clean up - like peat moss really. But the lower layer that they didn't get is very thatched, compact, and heavy.
That lower layer is about 18" deep. It has a brutal crust on the top, which is why I expect Porky and Bess didn't root it. Using a sod spade with a sharped edge, I have to jump on hit quite hard 5 r 6 times to penetrate. Often even that won't do it and I have to chip at it first with the sharp corner of the spade. That crust on top is basically like the rings on a tree. It signifies the pack from two years ago, while what Porky and Bess rooted was the past one year's accumulation.
I built the barn almost 25 years ago when I had my first 10 sheep. I didn't have a tractor then, and didn't expect to have more than 10 sheep so I didn't design the barn for tractor clean out.
Lambing on pasture for so many years meant very little build up in the barn. But with increased coyote pressure I've gone to barn lambing which translates to a lot of pack building up. Solution is likely to get a few pigs every year instead of every other year.
Meantime I'm getting a pair of arms like an 18 year old.