Sunday 30 March 2014

Saturday with friends

What a busy and lovely day with friends!  We drove to the house-not-yet-sold and met with our friends and their truck and trailer.  The neighbours also arrived to help.  We are very appreciative of all of their help!

The movers on "moving day" were unable to take some outside items as they were frozen-in.  Some serious thawing has been underway.  Everyone pitched in and the truck and trailer were filled with various outdoor items such as cedar lawn furniture, the power washer, and the hallowed and heavy foo dogs. 

Okay, I was not pitching in at this area of activity.  Inside, I washed floors.  I finished about the time the truck pulled out of the driveway.

After some time we arrived back at the farm, grabbed lunch and unloaded. Then we headed off on other errands.  We loaded the trailer for a trip to the dump.  It's not far away, the dump, and we wanted to make full use of the available trailer.  This was very helpful in making more space in the garage so we can better set up some things there. 

At the dump we met up with the fellow who checks up on your sorting.  There is a great deal of garbage sorting here and recycling.  He's kind of like a garbage police guy but nicer, I think.  He inspected our offerings and decided how much was truly garbage and therefore how many stickers or tags I'd have to provide him with.  And I remembered that we owed him a tag as the first time we went we'd forgotten the tags.  So, I began with offering him the tag we'd not provided before.  He was there the first time and said how he hated to see folks take garbage home so we could bring the tag next time.  I remembered....

And, as he was inspecting our offerings and another vehicle pulled up behind us, he said, "This is how it will be all afternoon.  Everyone wants to come and play in the mud."  He was hilariously correct; it was incredibly mucky!

From there we went to pick up the colostrum.  Someone had suggested I ask the dairy farmer from whom I'd bought the hay to save me some colostrum to keep on hand in the freezer during lambing.  After asking him to save some colostrum I learned you can buy it at the feed store.  I'm sure however that the freshly frozen in my freezer is better than the freeze dried in the feed store. 

So, up the township a bit we went in the truck with the trailer, and our friends and their twin boys and my sister.  And I was presented with a calf bottle full of colostrum.  Asked what I was going to take it in I asked what contained it now.  A calf bottle.  "Well, that will do", I said.  "Okay, but I need to get it back".  "Not a problem" I replied.  I was so grateful and said I'd have to come by with baked cookies.

Then the dairy farmer put his two kids in the car and off we went to the dairy barn over on the next concession, his great grandfather's barn.  There we met the calf born that morning, for whom the colostrum was intended.  We had a great tour of the dairy barn and met some 45 or so Holstein cows, some yearling heifers and some very young calves. 

We bid thanks and adieu and off we went to explore the township further.  Now we were in search of wooden pallets.  Noting the time, I telephoned home and hubby put dinner in the oven.  I'd made vegetarian lasagna the day before and remembered to pick up the requested garlic bread.  It all just needed to be reheated to bubbly and cheese melted on top.

I have experienced some challenges in acquiring some used equipment.  A most immediate need in the next few weeks will be lambing pens and I cannot manage delays in getting the equipment that has been offered me to purchase.  It's been challenging is all I'll say here. 

We winkled on down to the local village and stopped at the grocery store where pallets were piled outside.  I spoke to a lady sorting boxes outside on a pallet.  Unfortunately, these pallets were intended to be returned for their deposit.

So, after a brief consultation we headed to the feed store in the next village.  We were retracing steps already travelled and deja vu was referenced.  A few days before I was told by staff at the feed store that they just toss them in the garbage and should I want the pallets to take them.  There were two in the garbage and one on the loading dock and the place was closed.  It was now after four.  We took the two in the garbage, tied them down and headed home.

And then there was good chatter, good food and good wine.  What a fine day with friends.

Tuesday 25 March 2014

Henrietta Struts Her Stuff!

We don't want the pool.  Having each grown up with a pool and a sister-in-law who is back to competitive swimming at fifty, it's almost surprising how much we don't want a pool.  So, our offer to purchase included the seller returning in the spring to remove the pool.  The seller has decided to sell the pool and a couple came by recently to view it.

When the couple arrived, Henrietta the llama eyed them carefully from the barnyard.  The seller soon arrived and the three worked out their stuff regarding the pool.  The couple left and the seller stayed, stating she wanted to see the animals.  I realised Henrietta had been watching the entire time, fully alert, ears forward, taking in everything.

As we walked to the gate, Henrietta pranced on down from the yard, followed by the sheep.  This prancing was the most activity I had seen from Henrietta.  When she got to the fence she landed hard on her front feet, posturing at the seller.  Familiar with alpaca and horses, the seller knew that Henrietta was setting a defensive tone.  We chatted at the fence - we humans - and spoke softly to Henrietta, rubbing her chin, hoping she wasn't getting ready to spit.

After some more human chatting and llama stroking we entered through the gate.  By this time the sheep had returned up the hill to the barn.  Sheba, Henrietta's mother, had not put in an appearance.  As we humans chatted we walked up toward the barn and Henrietta manoeuvred her way between us.  And then Henrietta postured some more, neck upright and then went up into about a quarter of a rearing posture followed by turning in front of the seller and stopping.  The seller understood immediately that Henrietta did not want her to go any closer to her flock - or her mother or her barn or whatever.

It was a very interesting event.  The best of all was that the seller is so experienced with similar animals and behaviour.  I felt that Henrietta had had a test drive.

This afternoon, hubby and I made a quick entrance through that same gate.  Now, hubby hasn't been in the barn a lot in the last week or so.  He hadn't even seen the chooks yet.  We were about to go into town and so we weren't wearing our barn clothes.  We looked different.  He was different.  And he was carrying something.  And there came Henrietta prancing on down from the barn as before.

Llamas will "pronk" like deer.  Think of the movie Bambi and the dancing of the deer in the clearing.  They pronked, hopping so to speak, on all four legs at once.  And we saw this in Africa while on safari as deer and gazelle do this.  So, here came Henrietta prancing or pronking toward us.  She eased up as she got closer and we spoke to her.  She gave us a good going over.  She gets right in your face with her beautiful, soft muzzle.  So, if she's going to spew you're in for it!

She didn't spew or spit.  We gave her some pats and spoke soothingly to her.  She came along with us up to the barn.  She did not bar our way.  We did our errand there and everyone returned to their previous activities and we were on our way.  Meanwhile, Henrietta continues to monitor that gate; after all, that's part of her job as a guardian animal.

Saturday 22 March 2014

Naming Sheep

Mankind has a propensity to label things.  So, naming critters is almost inherent in us.  A good rule however is to name the females that form the flock and number the offspring that are heading to market or one's freezer.  It's easier to eat number thirteen than "Fluffy".

So, as the days go by and I get to know each of the sheep some names have come to mind for them.  They do have personalities.  Some are bolder than others, while some are very very shy.

When I am holding a bucket in which there might be grain, no one is very shy.  I have been mobbed now several times.  The first time the entire bucket of grain got dumped.  I am more wary now.  But the climbing up the back of my legs is a little much.  And when there's food it's amazing how the sheep push the llamas out of the way. 

"Smudge" is a bold gal.  She has a distinctive voice and is often first.  She will allow me to scratch her nose.  She looks like she stuck her nose in a very dusty corner.

One of the younger ewes has a mottled face, a mixture of dark and light.  She has more patches of white than the other two yearlings with dark faces.  It struck me the other day that she looks like a "Chloe". She also has a nice fleece.

In the foreground of this photo is a ewe with a spot on her left ear.  I was delighted to take a photo of "Spot" and then I noticed another gal with the same feature - black spot in the same location on the left ear.  So, once I can tell one from the other we will have "Spot" and "Dot".

Some of the ewes have tawny colouring on their faces and the darkest of these is "Butterscotch".  As a distinctive feature she is also missing a portion of her right ear.  I have noticed that often Butterscotch is last.  She hangs back and takes her time and does her own thing.  I usually have to round her up to get her inside at night.  She is beginning to look very pregnant with multiple lambs.

There is one yearling with a very white face and a woolly face too.  Sheep people call this a 'closed' face as the wool grows onto the face.  She looks to have very strong breeding of Dorset in her.  She reminds me of a ewe from a flock in the past and thus I have named her "Cotton".  For readers from my past, Cotton was Star's mother.  Star - for readers at present - was Cotton's first lamb.  She'd been 'caught' by the ram when he escaped and bred at a young age.  Star was a single, brown lamb.  I adopted Star as my own.  She had a wonderful and productive life, always bearing twins or triplets.  She was a great mother and always happy - as sheep happiness can be measured.

I have named a few more and will tell you about them as I get their photos.

Thursday 20 March 2014

Chortling Chooks

I didn't know that chook is a term used for chickens in Australia and New Zealand.  I like the word chook. 

My chooks arrived yesterday.  And they happily chortle.  They CHORTLED - perhaps SQUAWKED - when the young lad at the feed store had to tilt the crate to get them into my car.  This sound was much louder when I had to tilt the crate A LOT to get it out of the car when I got home.  And then EVEN LOUDER when the crate fell out of the wheelbarrow as I was heading up to the barn with it.

Here in the photo the chooks are slowly and quietly coming out of the crate after finally arriving at the barn.  We are all calmer now.  And now we just chortle the way chooks should do. 

The six chooks are of the breed "Red Sex Linked", ready-to-lay hens and came from Frey's in St. Jacobs.  I ordered them through the feed store where they were delivered.  They are considered the best layers and should produce many lovely brown eggs.

I perhaps was not as organised as I was excited.  There is now chicken poop in the back of my car.  I did clean up what was simple to do so.  I didn't fuss though as I had to take the crate back today.  Now I get to really clean it up.  

Despite the hurdles of arrival there was a small egg in the crate.  Although gently cracked we ate it for dinner with our pancakes and bacon, splitting it in half, we were so excited to eat our own egg - just one.

And today there were none.  No eggs.  I looked in the hen boxes I had set up, under things, in corners, on the hay, under the hay, etc....  But there was lovely chortling in the barn.  Feed was eaten, water was consumed, chortling continued, all six girls were quite happy.

Friday 14 March 2014

Llama Spit

I expected this to happen.  It is not a maybe but a for sure thing, that I will be on the receiving end of llama spit. 

Llamas spit in self defense and to be nasty and argumentative with each other.  The previous owner of the llamas I have purchased did say that Henrietta once spit at him.  He explained that he felt he pushed her a little too far and she was having a bad day, likely in heat for the first time.  See, animals get cranky too...

At any rate, I completely misread Henrietta's body language one evening and when I turned my head away there was a big puff at the side of my head and I realized she had spit.  She hadn't taken the time to gather a big wad for the shot, so I wasn't really wearing any debris to demonstrate I had been a victim.

She's been itchy.  I think she's buggy, and this happens.  I got some bug powder but want to work her up to it.  We're still building rapport.  I can't just corner her and douse her with louse powder.  A gentler approach is needed at this point in time.  The cornering approach I'll save for later.

So, I had just fed the girls and they were munching on hay and I was poking her a bit along her giraffe neck - okay, her llama neck.  She pressed back, almost leaning into me.  I poked a bit more, gently pressing back on her shoulder.  She cocked her head and neck downward and pushed them into me.  I read she was leaning back into me.  Really, she was telling me to get lost.  Not receiving her intended message, I pressed some more, chuckling at what I perceived to be her game.  I left my hand close to her and looked away to the other animals.  And then I felt the big puff on the side of my head.  Since she was eating and not chewing her cud I think I was saved a great deal of clean up.

I pouted and whined.  I don't think it had much effect.  Mostly I quickly reviewed in mind what had just happened and how I had totally misread Henrietta's body language.  She was not interested in reading my body language and my pout.  We're still building rapport....

Monday 10 March 2014

Animals Arrive

Many different people have contributed to this part of the adventure and I am grateful to each one.  These include:  the seller of the sheep; the seller of the llamas; the man who trucked the sheep and the llamas; and, the dairy farmer from whom I purchased hay and straw.  In addition there are the folks at the feed and hardware stores, the neighbour with the sheep, etc.  Each adds to the adventure with stories, advice and the opportunity to relate with them on the subject matter.  Thank you!

The sheep and llamas arrived late yesterday morning.  It was a lovely day, bright and sunny and not too cold.  I was out in the barn organizing water and hay when they arrived.  He had made good time and arrived earlier than I expected.  The seller of the sheep had sent me an email just after nine o'clock to say they had left there and were on the way to fetch the llamas. 

The day before, hubby had helped me set up the Big Barn so we could lock everyone in the barn at night.   I figured there is no sense taking any chances on losses due to coyotes.  With a coyote kill right behind the barn - likely a rabbit - and tracks across the property on numerous ocassions, their presence was resoundingly confirmed.  The Big Barn was built for hay storage and has a dirt and gravel floor.  The hay was piled four high in less than one third of the space.  So, we anchored some fencing to protect the hay from those who want to eat it.  There is no water in the Big Barn but I figured we could run the hose up the hill and that it should drain back down the hill between waterings.  This proved unsuccessful after the first try so I have been carrying water but the quantity has not been unmanageable.  The seller left three heated water buckets which are wonderful.

The llamas were lying down comfortably in the back of the trailer and the trucker had to nudge them to get up and out.  He said the mother hadn't wanted to get up the step into the trailer.  He had forgotten his ramp elsewhere and hadn't yet retrieved it.  They gently stepped off the trailer and went exploring.

They are a mother and daughter.  The seller answered my ad on kijiji.  Three years ago the seller had purchased the mother and twelve months later, unexpectedly, daughter arrived.  He had names for them but they do not respond to their names.  So, after some deliberation we decided to call the mother Sheba and the daughter Henrietta. 


Henrietta has a kind of me-first attitude, which is desirable in a guardian llama.  Consider an overly assertive Greeter at Walmart. 

 Sheba is shy and stand-offish and tends to stay with the sheep.  A bucket of grain however gets Sheba's immediate attention!

My original intention was to purchase ten pregnant sheep due to lamb in April.  This would be a gentle way to awaken my memory on sheep care.  Across the next few years I'll grow my flock to twenty-five to thirty ewes.  At any rate, on kijiji there was an ad listing thirteen commercial ewes and a ram.  I emailed to say I had been looking for about ten ewes but am not ready to house a ram.  He suggested I take the ten, then, but I said I'd take all thirteen and he agreed to find a home for the ram. 

The trucker had sold about nine of the sheep to the seller about two years ago, and these were now four years of age.  The four additional ewes were born last year from the older ewes.  The older nine are Dorset, Rideau Arcott and Canadian Arcott.  The younger ones were sired by a Suffolk, therefore three have a dark face.  The ram they have been bred to is an Arcott mix and was a fine looking specimen.

Before yesterday the ewes had never seen a llama.  So, they are a little apprehensive around these long legged and tall woollies. 

In addition, Beau dog is adjusting to these creatures out there.  They aren't going away.  He keeps barking and we keep telling him not to do so.  And then I go in the field and tell him to 'stay out' and he doesn't get that.  We're all adjusting.

So, on their first night, I made the decision to lock the ewes inside and put the llamas outside.  The llamas had been inside most of the day and the ewes were too timid to stay near them in that confined space.  A little bribery was involved.  I haven't yet purchased grain but my morning gruel was handy so oatmeal it was.

We could see the llamas from the house, laying down under the light we had left on.  I was greeted by a snow covered landscape this morning.  Everyone had had a good night and morning hay munching was on, with looks of yearning for more of that oatmeal!

Friday 7 March 2014

Moving Madness

I like process so I can see the journey aspect of moving.  But still, I'm not sure I want to take years to unpack!  We'll see how long the journey of moving madness lasts...

The "pre-pack" was Friday which we couldn't really understand.  They started packing on Friday, which maybe is pre-packing.  On Monday, they finished packing.  Well, sort of.  They finished packing except for where they didn't finish packing.  But that was okay because the guys started the next day by finishing the packing and then they loaded the truck.

They left at about three o'clock and I continued cleaning for another three hours.  Even then, on the way home I remembered the things I forgot.  I had to do a good clean as there is an open house this Sunday.  I sent the real estate agent an email later and mentioned the dead mouse in the trap in the basement.  I suggested she slide it behind the door with her toe and no one would see it there...

Some things could not be packed as they were frozen into the ground.  So, we will make arrangements ourselves to fetch these things when it thaws.  For example, there is the power washer in the shed and the marble foo dogs out front. 

Originally they had scheduled two days to pack, a 'spare' day and then the unload day.  I guess since they started packing on the pre-pack day, we were ahead of schedule and they announced they'd unload the next day.  We were pleased with that.

They telephoned at about eight and said they were close by and would be there soon.  We had not expected them until about ten o'clock.  There were some challenges getting the transport truck up the driveway but the driver was successful after dumping a half bag of road salt onto the appropriately offending parts of the driveway.  They were finished by two o'clock.  We had a nap after they left!

The following day the unpackers arrived.  I wasn't sure I wanted their help but am very glad to have accepted it.  They do not put things away - although in this crew one woman did so and I appreciate what she did.  Putting things away made space elsewhere, even if I change things around later.  The crew gathered up the paper and boxes and took them away.  So, we felt the sea of boxes was now more manageable. 

Each day some of the crew changed.  All had great attitudes and worked very very hard.  They were respectful of us and of each other.  They often worked in pairs and a few times had a line going.  They changed up as needed, taking on different tasks as required.  What a great bunch for such hard work.

We still don't know where many things will go.  There is a lot of space.  We have a lot of stuff.  It is different space into which we need to fit our stuff.  It takes time to do this.  I often say "I don't know" because I really don't know where something should go.  It will all find it's place, in time.

The goal has been achieved:  hubby and I and dog are all in one place with our stuff.

Saturday 1 March 2014

Delighted to be here

I was coming down the road and put on my turn signal as I approached the driveway.  I know we're out in the country and there's no one around, really, but there is a rise as you get to the driveway and with the snowbank you cannot see oncoming traffic.  As I slowed, there was the postal truck coming toward me.

It's one of those specialty trucks that is right hand drive.  This allows the driver to reach out his window to put the mail into the mailbox.  You don't see a lot of them.  Even here I see vans more frequently than these specialty trucks.  I wonder what you have to do or how long you have to be with Canada Post rural before you get one of these fancy right hand drive trucks...

I let the truck have his right of way and pulled into the end of the driveway.  I got out to get the mail from the box and the driver had already leapt out with my mail in hand.  He wasn't going to lean out of his window to place the mail in the mailbox and put up the flag to indicate mail has arrived.  He was hand delivering my mail to me.

"Hi, I'm Larry" he said. 
"I'm Kelly" I said. 
"Nice to meet you" he replied. 
"I'll get the name written properly on the mail box when it gets a bit warmer".  I wasn't sure of the regulations and wanted him to know I was on it. 
"Oh" he said.  "I know everybody that should be here"
"I'm sure you do" I replied. 
As he headed back to his right hand door he looked back and said, "You have a really nice place here". 
"Thank you!" I said.  We are delighted to be here".