Saturday, 16 June 2018

Spring 2018

It is mid-June, still spring.  I am sitting on the wrap around porch, head in the shade, feet in the sun, admiring the front lawn.  It is adorned with sheep!  The tractor is broken and we have not been able to mow the lawn.  The sheep are doing that for us!

As usual I put the flock around the house early on in May when the lambs were small.  There are about 80 of them right now, ewes and lambs.  In May there were more on hand  and it took only about 3 days for them to scalp the lawn.  We'll see how long it takes this time.  The grasses are longer now than in May.

Looking through the bottom of my almost empty glass, I can see sheep and Henrietta lama.  It's a good thing she - Henrietta - is picturesque as her moodiness can be challenging.  Hubby has assured me, several times, that she is the last lama we will ever own.  I do, gently, remind him that the lifespan of a lama is rather long, as in several decades or so.  He says that's okay but that there should not be another.  Oh, she is eating a dreadful weed as I watch her and that is excellent!

We have Henrietta clipped every second year, and this is the year, however she has not yet been done.  On shearing day, Charlie started at about 8:30 a.m. and finished at about 1:30 a.m. the next morning.  There are only 6 more sheep than last year and last year he left at 8:30 pm.  Sigh.  He is good with the sheep and does a decent job of it, but speed is not his strength.

So, Charlie plans to come back to do Henrietta.  And I hope it is soon.  Fortunately Henrietta has some fibre fans, handspinning folk who drool over her fibre. I send it off to a mini mill where they wash it, card it, and remove the guard hairs.  The final product is a delightful, steel gray, that is, oh so soft!  The sale of this product pays for Henrietta's food, so she does pay her way. As well, Henrietta does go out into the field with her sheep.  We do believe she provides some level of protection to the flock - on her terms.



Today was a busy farm day.  I had to set up the new pasture area and then organize things for worming.  Actually, it is de-worming.  And - this is exciting from my perspective - I got a new drenching gun!  I've had trouble finding one but was able to get this one from the vet where I purchase the de-worming medication.

So, I waited for the sheep to come into the barn to rest in the early afternoon.  Most of the flock was right in the barn when I started to herd them into a corner.  I purchased sheep and cattle fence panels this year and these are wonderful when sorting animals as they are bendy and I just pull it along behind me as I push the sheep into a corner. The one end had already been secured and then I secure the end I have with me and the sheep are contained in a small space.  In that small space it is easy to catch each sheep, administer the medication, mark the top of their head and neck with a crayon and move on.  In quick order I got through the one group and then gathered up some more.

So, spring. It has been a challenging year.  My final deduction is that the challenges are due to the poor nutrition of the hay.  Last year was very challenging for haying.  There was so much rain that when hay was finally cut it was overly mature and not very nutritious.  And, although I fed grain, I realized a little late that I was not feeding enough grain.  In the end, there just was not enough nutrition.

Hungry lambs were common among some very good mothers.  I saw ewes pushing lambs away and in the past they have been such great producers I was so surprised.  I realized that they are not poor mothers but they did not have the nutrition to produce the quantity of milk needed for their lambs.

In addition, we had two groups of early lambs and then a cold spring.  That meant that all through lambing we dealt with cold temperatures.  We had baby lambs in the house on numerous nights trying to get them warmed up.  We had a collection of baby jackets in use on a fairly regular basis.  

At one point I was supplementing 12 lambs.  Three times a day I would bottle feed 12 lambs.  For several months there were large pitchers of milk replacer in our fridge.  I wore out a blender.  After the last ewe lambed on May 1st and I no longer had to go out to the barn late at night, or during the night, I cut back the bottles to two feedings a day.  When the sheep were finally at pasture, without any hay, I dropped the bottles.  By day two on pasture my barn became noticeably quiet.  Everyone - moms and babies - was getting enough to eat.

Two of Chloe's three.  I started off feeding both of these lambs and then just the one with the dark nose.  He was the chilled lamb in an earlier blog.  All three are doing very well. 




We had eight sets of triplets this year.  One from each of 4 sets was dead when found.  Two were rejected from their set - well, sort of.  One, yes, he was rejected as I observed mother bashing him.  She was not treating the other two very well either, but this one was going to get hurt so I removed him.  In the other set of triplets, this lamb could not stand.  His mother was a quadruplet from a previous year and she had floppy legs and now passed that on to her lamb.  He could not stand.  Therefore he could not nurse.


These two rejected boys were given to a neighbour to raise.  They were spoiled and received excellent care.  The lamb that could not stand did so at about one week of age.  His new family actually put a diaper on him as he was always in the wet.  Once he was able to stand on his own the diaper was no longer needed.  These two boys were returned to us when they were older and have done quite well.


Later there were two other orphans which went to the same neighbours.  These were both females.  One was rejected by a yearling after a difficult birth.  The other was born of an ill ewe who never recovered.  The neighbours are keeping the ewe lambs to raise for their own small flock.

Two other sets of triplet births required lifesaving intervention.  Duchess presented the first lamb tail first.  I had to push the lamb back and find the the feet to present first.  The lamb tried to breath but could not; it was dead.  The next two lambs she delivered fine.  All three lambs were quite large.  Duchess has managed well with her two.

I happened to be there when Bertha lambed.  The first lamb was a very good size.  The next one was a bit smaller.  I was shocked when I realized a third had arrived.  It was breach and she stopped pushing as the head emerged and I noticed.  I quickly grabbed the lamb and got its face cleaned up so it could breathe.  I do believe if I'd not been there the lamb would have died.  A breech birth can be tricky as there is a period of time when no oxygen gets to the lamb.  This third lamb was small.  The trio made me think of the three bears as all were significantly different in size.  All are doing very well at this point.

Bertha's smallest triplet taking the largest leap!

 In all we had 65 lambs hit the ground.  Five were dead at birth.  Two died after day one, one from the cold and the other for unknown reasons.  And two more were given away to the neighbours.  So, we had 56 and then 4 went to auction early, so we have 52 in the flock.  Our lambs per ewe ratio is quite high at 1.8 for live lambs.  You want 1.5 or higher, so we have done very well.

I am disappointed with the 4 yearlings we kept from last year.  All 4 had problems and 3 have already left the farm as not worth keeping any longer.  I don't think I'll keep the last one.

I had the vet twice in the middle of the night.  In one case it was a mal-presentation that I could not deal with.  The result was one of the finest sets of twins born this year.  In the other case a yearling was aborting a dead lamb and required greater intervention than I could manage.  The Vet's advice was to cull the ewe.

It's been challenging managing things while working but we have managed - barely on some days.  The plan is to reduce the flock significantly this year.  We can increase it again later.  So, for now, I am culling hard to remove any ewes that are poor producers or problem producers.  For now, they have lambs to raise and will spend the summer on pasture.

In addition, we will plan lambing to occur in early May when it is supposed to be warmer.  We will pray for good weather. We are monitoring the rams very closely to ensure there are NO early lambs again.   Already the local farmers have taken off a good first cut of hay.  I will be able to schedule time off work for a concentrated period of time so that I can be very present during lambing.

More photos are below, just because they are lovely (thanks to Hubby!).  Enjoy!

Star, born at the end of January is getting quite big


Ruby, pressed into her garden spot.  Her eyes followed the photographer as he took shots from different angles.  She did not lift her head.


Newly shorn sheep on the side lawn in early May.


Spring apple blossoms near the cabin


Happy looking sheep












Sunday, 11 March 2018

Catching Up


I'm catching up on posting on the blog.  And this phrase just fits for life right now.  So, here it is, life right now...

I worked full time through the summer.  I had a blast working as a Historical Interpreter, telling visitors about life in olden times.  The day was reasonable until you added on the drive.  Thankfully I was able to car pool most days and my car pool buddy is remaining a valued friend.  Seasonal and the tourist industry, it was not a Monday to Friday job.  I find with farming that since you basically do the same things every day it is hard to know when the weekend arrives.  And this job compounded that.

At any rate, it was a blast.  It's over now.  I was scheduled to return but found other full time work in my field of social services.  I am REALLY enjoying this work.  I was hired to cover a maternity leave and in short order things changed and the terms became full time, permanent. Our family life is more predictable now as we both work Monday to Friday - except for the farm work.  The hardest thing for me has been the lack of daylight.  I would see my animals in the dark in the morning and in the dark in the evening.  The longer days now leading us to spring are most welcome.

We have over-wintered about 40 head of sheep.  This is probably too many.  I don't know yet.  I know several people who work full time and keep a reasonable number of livestock.  I need a year to go through all of the seasons and to learn what I can manage while working full time.  Some unplanned things are happening too, and we are rolling with it.


"Star" was born at the end of January.  Surprise!


Unexpected lambs have arrived with lot number two having begun today with TRIPLETS.  We already have five lambs from a month ago.  Triplets are cute but often a lot more work for little return.  Mother Chloe has had a single each year until last year when she had twins.  It's a new counting game when there are three - or - Please, Lord, no! - quadruplets.  Chloe is an experienced mother and should manage triplets well, however, we got off to a challenging start.

I was returning from an outing and heard new baby lamb noises while in the driveway.  A yelling newborn is a strong newborn.  I changed outerwear and leapt up to the barn.  All three had been born.  The second lamb was not really making progress.  After about 30 minutes I gathered up baby number 2 and headed to the house.  I wrapped her in a towel and set her by the woodstove.


Beau dog minding the lamb wrapped in a pink towel and placed in front of the woostove

In twenty minutes she was trying to get up.  I thawed cow colostrum for her.  This took most of the twenty minutes.  She gobbled that right down, much to my surprise.  She was just so aggressive about sucking back this bottle.  All of this was encouraging.

She surprised me with how aggressively she took the bottle of cow colostrum



Hubby reminded me to put a jacket on her.  In her new blue fleece fashion I wrapped her in a towel and off we went back to Mamma.  My fingers were crossed that she would take this lamb back.  And, yes - BIG SIGH - she talked to the lamb and welcomed her back.  And the lamb began to yell at mother for food. 


Sporting her blue fleece jacket, baby was returned to the barn and happily greeted by her mother.

The other two were standing and had nursed.  Mother Chloe had drained a small bucket of warm molasses water and was part way through a flake of second cut hay.  It was all looking promising. 

You'd think I'd had the baby myself, as now I needed a nap.






Saturday, 27 May 2017

Pics

Pictures can tell a story well.  I am working full time, loving it and have limited time to tell my stories.  So, here are some pics....  Enjoy!

Newborn sporting a homemade coat for a few hours.

Charlotte is one of several sheep who usually have one lamb and had twins this year.

Happy calves in the sunshine

Ruby-Dooby!

Olive's triplets.  This year two boys and a girl, while last year it was two girls and a boy.  But, wow, triplets two years running, following a single.

Olive's three competing for two teats.  The happy tail wagging indicates success.


I can reach, can you?
Million Dollar Millie.  The hair is growing back after surgery on the back leg.  And then the two Maremmas got into a fight and the vet clipped the hair on the wounds giving her a bad haircut on her head.  She's healed up just fine.

Sally giving birth in the afternoon sunshine on Easter weekend.

Ruby looking for the highest spot on the pile of hay.

Race time!

I was hoping for more black progeny from a coloured ram and here is what we got.  The female twins with the yellow ear tags I will keep.  The mothers of each set of twins are white.
Hanging out under the lilac bush.

There seems to be a regularly scheduled play late after and early evening.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Twelve hours

Yes, it all started twelve hours before, I noted as I was giving Hubby a telephone update.  I wanted to try and nap and thought I should call him before he called me.  I lit a fire in the wood stove to ward off the dampness as it continued to rain, and heavy at times.

I had driven up to the "Big O" to attend a guild meeting and when I arrived home and was unloading the car I heard a sheep bleat.  It was just past 11:30pm.  It had been raining lightly for most of the drive home.  It wasn't cold; just damp.  It was Monday and lambs were due on Friday but it's all a range of estimates so it was a good idea to check the barn.

Sheep don't usually bleat without a reason.  And there is a certain tone to a mother looking for a yet unborn lamb.  I took off my city coat and shoes and donned by overalls, winter barn jacket, muck boots and light winter hat - the one with the head light built into it.

Duchess was  outside at the back of the barn where the overhead light was bright.  It rained lightly.  She was obviously in labour but I could not tell for how long.  I let time pass by preparing a pen for her, fetching a bucket of water, and putting hay there for her.  I worked a bit at setting up some other pens for later in the week.

After awhile I headed back to the house to get warmed and give her a bit more time.  When I returned to the barn at about one o'clock, I got out the intervention gear.  I got out my OB gloves and lubricant.  There was a lamb's head, but no legs.  Oh dear!  I struggled with this for some time and eventually delivered a dead male lamb.  It was followed by a belch of gas of a disagreeable odour.

Poor Duchess.  She was a long time getting up.  By then I had the little guy wrapped up in a plastic bag for disposable.  She followed me as I held a soiled towel and the bag of dead lamb.  I put her in the prepared pen.

I observed and waited to see what would happen next.  I expected she would have at least one, if not two, more lambs.  She was large enough and it was her mother, Smudge, who had the quadruplets last year.  One can never know however, as Duchess herself was a single who had twinned last year.

I went back to the house for another break and had a quick snack and tea that was already in the pot.  Back to the barn and intervention mode.  I could feel a large ball which turned out to be a sac of fluid.  What I observed could be another lamb or just afterbirth.  But I could not feel another lamb.  The sac wasn't right.  It was thick and hard to break but I did succeed in doing so.

It was three o'clock and I was three hours short of being up for twenty-four hours.  I went to bed.  I mostly slept but it was a worried sleep.  When the alarm went off at six I bolted, dressed and went to the barn.

In Intervention mode I could feel a lamb head but the feet were far back, but they were there.  I pushed it back.  Were there more feet?  Was that another lamb?  This was too much.  And in consideration of the long labour and dead lambs I decided to call the Vet.

First I consulted my neighbour who I knew would be up.  She agreed with my plan.  I got the Vet's answering service as it was just before seven.  The Vet phoned me back a short time later.  I had long enough between phone calls to put on the coffee and make myself some breakfast.  Oh, I made Hubby's breakfast too.

I had a quick peak at Duchess and all was the same.  I carried on with my chores.  It was pouring outside and the flock was out.  I then realised - and observed - that Millie was keeping everyone out.  I also saw Ruby - in a more kind way - chase a few ewes outside.  But not Fleur, neither one of the Maremmas bothered last year's bottle baby.  My neighbour's dog does this too.  They are keeping the others away from the lambing ewe.

Dr. K arrived and delivered Duchess of another dead lamb.  We discussed follow up.  Then we went to the other barn and I had Dr. K look at the Holstein calf.  As Dr. K. drove down the road I carried a bucket of water up to Duchess.  As I neared her pen I was shocked to see a mass of red at her back end.  I quickly put down the bucket and jogged to the house as Dr. K's truck disappeared around the last bend.  I called the Vet's office and they called Dr. K who returned in less than ten minutes.

She gathered together the equipment necessary to replace a prolapsed uterus.  As we gathered at Duchess' pen I began to lament the end of her reproductive life.  Then Dr. K looked closer and said, "Wait a minute!  It's another lamb!"

She pulled the dead lamb out of the red membranes, and tossed it into the corner.  Dr K examined Duchess again and I saw her off once more.

Duchess drank lots of water in the day and was eating hay.  She was bleating for more food.  I checked her udder but as of yet it was not a problem.  I needed to monitor this over the next few days.

My neighbour came by for coffee and we had a nice visit.  She brought me a partial bag of calf milk replacer, a kind of trade as I'd given her a partial pail of lamb milk replacer.  It worked for each of us.  After she left I decided to call Hubby....

Twelve hours and the Duchess ordeal was done. She will continue to be a productive member of the flock, next year.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Moo

That's right, Moo.  Not Baaa.  Moo.

We've talked about getting calves since we moved here.  It's happened.  I bought three new buckets:  Blue, Green and Red; and those are the names of the calves.

If you enjoy consuming dairy products such as milk, butter, cheese and yogurt, then you indirectly support veal farming.  It is not nasty or bad.  It just is.  Bull calves are not wanted by dairy farmers.  A fellow farmer knows of a local dairy farmer from whom he got us the three calves.  The first calf, Blue, is a Holstein.  The second and third, Red and Green, arrived about ten days later.  Blue was just over three weeks when he arrived, while Red was 4 days of age, and Green was 5 days old.



From left to right, in the photo at left, are Green (lying down), Red (with the bell on his collar) and Blue (the black and white Holstein).  Jerseys are TINY compared to Holsteins.  They are all cute.  I like the bucket colour names better than some other name ideas, such as T-Bone and Sirloin.










In this next photo you can see their sizes better.  This is a fuzzy shot of Blue as he was shaking his head.  Red is on the right.  He is all red, while Green has the white markings and his collar is green.  Blue's collar is green - just because.


They got cold and I made them coats.  I even put up a heat lamp which you can see in the photo.  At first their coats were "superhero capes" made from towels and held on under their chins with alligator clips.  The best were some pillow shams I do not use.  I was able to put a towel or remnant of something warm inside the sham.  I sewed on velcro at the front of the chest and then under the tail.  Yes, it got dirty and then it got washed.  The desired effect was achieved and the boys got warm.

They are now eating solids, consuming some Starter Ration and nibbling on some hay.  The goal is to wean them off of milk replacer and have them graze all summer.  


 
Maple syrup is another sign of spring.  We are using the BBQ this year and it seems faster.  It's less work than stoking the cook stove in the cabin and the BBQ is pretty close to the kitchen.  We 'finish' the syrup on the kitchen stove.  That is, the last hour or so is completed in the kitchen. 







Black gold, indeed!
It is yummy stuff!







Bruce the ram is a rammy guy, a real danger.  He has nailed me a few times and it hurts.  He weighs more than me and he can move quickly.  I am very cautious around him.  Here he is in his corner of the barnyard.  I separated him from the flock with a length of electric fence and gave him access to the chicken coop.  He is an outdoor guy, having come from a farm where there were no barns, only 3-sided shelters.  I have not seen him lay down in the chicken coop.  He has helped himself to their food.

I have several people in line for some of his fleece...





I have just put Bruce and Zeuss back together in one pen.  I was worried but they are getting on fine, with minimal bashing by Bruce.  Zeuss is old and thin and I have been feeding him lots of extra grain twice daily.  I am able to let him out of the pen to continue to do this, leaving Bruce with a morsel to keep him occupied.  My plan is to use both rams again this next year.

So, Spring is springing.  Stay tuned for baby lamb photos after April 7th!





Sunday, 19 February 2017

Thrice!

This is my third go at this post.  My last work was not saved - ugh!  Here's hoping you get to read this today!!

Tall

I plant sunflowers because I like the look of them.  They do come in some stunning colours too, not just the ordinary bright yellow petals and dark, seeded centre.  The ornamentals come in shades of rich reds, burgundy and pink petals.




And they can get tall.  In our previous abode in the big city our neighbour's elementary school aged boy planted a bright yellow sunflower and it became a monster.



I do recall that on the same day I planted sunflowers in the Potager garden close to the house and then down the centre of the veggie garden.  The veggie garden is clearly more fertile as depicted in the photo below.  This demonstrates clearly the benefits of good quality sheep manure, more of which has been deposited on the vegetable garden than the Potager garden.




Spring

Apparently on an incredibly mild day, at the end of the third week in January, the chickens thought it was spring.  Never mind that they are swimming.  That is, it had been so mild and so suddenly that the hen coop was a big soggy puddle.  It's a good thing they roost so as to get out of the muck.  The nesting room remained dry.  And rather than leave them cooped up - all puns intended - until noon, I had been letting them out a bit earlier so they could get out of the muck.  They hang around inside the small barn, but then with spring like weather they wander wherever there is lawn to explore.




And they think it is spring.  One day there were 7 eggs, while the next there were FIFTEEN!  That is excellent at this time of year from the current hen flock of seventeen.






Hides

It's been a long haul to get to a terrific year of tanned hides.  I collected hides in the first year and sent off a few.  I sent 6 and got back 4, one of which was the most desirable.  I've learned a lot...

I've learned that hides need LOTS of salt for about ten days.  And then they need to just get dry.  Laying them out on the driveway for a few days helps and turning them over allows the wool side to dry out too.  A sunny day is perfect for this.

In our second year I had many many hides as the slaughterhouse was happy to give me any and all they had.  Otherwise they are sent to the rendering plant.  But, I ended up having to discard the high majority of them.

This year, our third year, I think I've got it.  LOTS of salt and attention to drying.  I have a little salt house.  It's a metal garden shed that was here.  I don't recommend metal but it suits my needs at this time.  Now I actually salt the hides outside and at the end of the day roll them up and put them in the shed overnight.  If the weather is not good I can salt them inside the shed but prefer to work outside on this.

Hides can sometimes require some trimming.  Fortunately I spoke of this at the slaughterhouse and the butcher gave me a no longer needed, very very sharp, knife.  This has worked very well.

Unlike when I lived close to the tannery, now I mail the hides to them.  And they mail or courier the finished product back to me.  This adds to the cost but is less expensive than driving half way across the province, once to take the hides and once to retrieve them.  It takes a few months for tanning.  And now, unlike when I was a teen, they can process the hides so that they are machine washable.




They are divine.  I have received 21 now.  There is a pile of more to go to the tannery.  First though I need to sell a few of the 21.  They make a lovely gift, perhaps for a wedding, Christmas or special occasion.  There are many benefits to be gained from sheepskins and these include:
   *A benefit of importance for babies and the elderly, there is no static electric charge possible and therefore no shocking
   *Keeps you cool in summer as absorbs perspiration and then releases it seven times faster than synthetic fibre
   *Naturally resistant to holding dirt and bacteria
   *Reduces the likelihood of bed sores, since there is a reduced possibility of friction between the skin and bed linens, allowing the release of moisture from skin keeping it dry, free of chafing and irritation
   *Keeps you warm, the wool holding onto your body heat yet the hide is breathable
   *Luxurious feel and aesthetically pleasing to the eye.


On Guard

We keep the llama and the two Maremma dogs for the sole purpose of protecting the flock from coyotes.  This has been successful.  However both species have presented various challenges.  It is often difficult for persons not familiar with these animals to understand how they fit into the sheep flock.  The photo below explains this well.  These animals live right in with the sheep.



R to L:  Henrietta the llama, Ruby and Millie - and a sheep I do not recognize from this angle

 Millie remains the queen of all.  She gets first dibs on everything, including food, compost leavings, greeting guests, etc.  Ruby and Henrietta are actually buddies.  We have observed Henrietta initiating play with Ruby.

The Maremmas are busy at night, woofing up a storm, often under our bedroom window.  Ear protection is provided to visitors to assist them is sleeping through the night.  The bark to maintain territorial boundaries with the coyotes.  The bark in response the coyote vocals, scents and sightings.  And the dogs sleep a lot during the day.

Million Dollar Millie

Despite their original purpose, we have, of course, become attached to the livestock guardian animals - especially the dogs.  It's a good thing because they have not been a cost effective purchase.  That is, it would have cost less to allow the coyotes to steal the lambs.  Millie has been very expensive, while Ruby has been 'normal'


Millie awaiting the arrival of dinner with Fleur the bottle baby adorned with bells on a blue string, also awaiting dinner

Millie arrived in June 2014.  By fall we had her vetted for the first time in her life and learned she had Lyme Disease.  Then we had her spayed.  In December 2015 Millie underwent surgery to replace the cruciate ligament in her left hind leg.  In the photo above she still has a bare spot near her left shoulder where the pain patch had been applied following her surgery.  In January 2017 Millie underwent surgery to replace the cruciate ligament in her right hind leg.  She is recovering well.  She is now worth just under a million dollars - or so it seems.

Thievery and Treasures

I was leash walking Millie on the front lawn on a mild day and a neighbour stopped to chat.  He asked if I had eggs, paid me, and said he'd pick them up later from on top of the generator.  So, I carried on.  I place the dozen eggs on top of the generator.  I tie the carton snuggly but lightly with a bit of handspun or a ribbon to keep it closed.  The eggs are so large the carton often does not close up.

I was off to work and left hubby a note about the eggs on top of the generator.  He read the note.  He saw the eggs.  

The neighbour arrived.  He and hubby noted that there were no eggs on top of the generator.  Hubby found another dozen eggs in the fridge for the neighbour.

When I arrived home from work later in the evening all of this was reported to me.  There was light snow overnight.  While doing chores I had a look around.  There, just inside the gate, was an empty egg carton.  There was not a speck of shell to be found, the carton was smeared in egg and it was still tied with a bow.

Our in-house thief has a very shiny coat!

The thief also brings home treasures.  I now take photos of what she brings home which I will not post here as my readers will not enjoy these.  As happened last year, there has been a collection of calf body parts arrive across several weeks.  We are pretty certain of a particular neighbour that butchers a calf for home use and plunks the leavings out behind his barn.  The dogs smell these and investigate and eat and bring home bits and pieces.  This is a dog thing, for sure, but moreso for a guardian animal they are cleaning up to dissuade coyote traffic.

The treasures have diminished quite a bit and we are glad for that. 









Monday, 31 October 2016

Thanks Mom

I know it's been awhile since I wrote here but I didn't realize just how much time has passed.  Thanks Mom for alerting me to this.

The end of the beginning

Butterscotch started us off with our first lambing in April 2014.  She had twins then and each year after.  I kept her first female lamb from 2014, and another one in 2015.  The first female I named Bella after Isabella, one of the women from whom I learned about sheep as a teen.  Bella is a lovely sheep, bigger than her small mother, and also a good mother.  And Bella bellows; she has a big voice.  She likes pats on the head.

This year Butterscotch had twin boys. She had some udder issues which I think I wrote about before.  The udder got better.  The bottle supplementing of the boys became unnecessary.  Butterscotch however remained thin.  So, in July I pulled her out of the flock along with Marmalade.  Marmalade has no teeth so she is much older than I realized.  Butterscotch still has her teeth, and one set of baby teeth which indicates she is likely about four years of age.  Good mothers that consistently have twins each year, I wanted to give them some TLC and get some weight back on them.  So, these ewes and their lambs became my TLC group.

After awhile I removed the lambs from them.  It was time to wean them and Butterscotch was not gaining.  Marmalade had gained and was ready to return to the flock, however I kept her with Butterscotch for company.

At this point there were some other symptoms of illness in Butterscotch.  I won't gross you out with all of the details, however, working with the vet, test results indicated a coccidiosis infection.  We treated her twice with two different prescriptions and the test results showed a worsening.  This took place over several months and by now Butterscotch was on her own, inside, thinner and weaker.  A decision had to be made and we made it.  We euthanized her. It wasn't what I expected to be using my rifle for.  I felt very positive about this as Butterscotch needed help to move on to her next journey - this expression shared with me by the vet staff really helped.

Mucking out

Some times I wear my orange hat while riding Oz the orange tractor.  I know, it's Halloween too.....  Well, Oz has been getting a good workout as we muck out the Big Barn.  In the past I do this in summer but summer was so incredible hot that many things did not get done.  Now that it's cooler - way cooler some days, cool enough to wear that bright orange hat - the job is getting done.

As of this morning I am also completely finished.  I'm working on the corners where Oz cannot get to.  So, I get the bucket about half full, manipulating the bucket to loosen the layers in the corner, then I back up a bit and pick at it and fill the bucket by hand.

I have found most of this task rather boring.  Riding the tractor one morning I became very chillled as there was a sharp north wind and even with that orange hat I was not moving my body enough to keep warm.  Oz did all the work.  So, as much as I felt bored I thought through the enormity of what I was completing.  That Oz was picking up in a few minutes what would take me twenty minutes to toss into a numerous wheelbarrows and dump into the garden.

Yes, this is great garden fodder.  Putting it on now it will decompose and get tilled into the soil in the spring.

The two box stalls in the small barn are done by hand.  I have completed one.  The other, larger stall I am hoping to utilize Oz for completion.  I can get the bucket inside the large doorway of the barn and fill it by hand.  I may have to use the wheelbarrow to get it from deep in the stall to the bucket.  It's still a short distance to push the wheelbarrow.  Oz's help is appreciated.

Fruits

There have been many fruits to harvest this year, despite the drought conditions of the summer.  Yet, we did have many things that did not do well or did not produce at all.  What we did have kept me busy enough.

Squash once again did super well.  When I bought some heritage tomato plants the man gave me two started squash plants.   He thought they were spaghetti squash or some other kind.  I kept referring to them as spaghetti squash until I finally realized they are delicata.  They are very lovely to eat and I continue to serve them like spaghetti squash.  There were lots of delicata and butternut squash.

Although production was down I still managed to get enough zucchini to make several double batches of relish.

I grew corn this year for the first time.  I'll grow it another year and hope for a much improved product.  What we had was quite tasty.  I grew it in patches among the squash in a very large expanded section just for these vine crops.

Last year's melon crop consisted of ONE.  This year, since the squashy section was much improved and larger and the melon was not usurped by other vine types of plants, we had lots of delicious cantelope.  We ate the last, fist sized one at Thanksgiving.  I cut it into 8 slices and we each got a nibble.

We found apple trees we did not know we had.  It was a bumper crop.  Sister and I made several batches of apple sauce.  I made more.  I put some in the beet - apple chutney I made - with store bought beets.  Hubby has trimmed up the young apple tree so as to nurture it along.  The most tasty tree did not have apples in the past.  And we could not reach the fruit but gathered windfalls from underneath where the pond had dried up.  Who knows what next year will bring.

I have yet to finish harvesting the potatoes.  And I must get the garlic in.

Happy Birthday Mom

So, thanks again Mom for the reminder to get to my blog.  And, Mom, Happy Halloween and Happy Birthday!!