Friday, 11 December 2015

Surgery

Surgery

Millie's surgery, that is.  Oh, she is so loved this dog!  She is young at just over five years, and otherwise healthy, even though she has Lyme Disease.  And so, we have (another) large - this time very large - vet bill.

Millie is often sore on her left hind leg.  It comes and goes, a typical Lyme Disease symptom.  This time however it did not get better and she was dubbed - by me - the three legged dog.  She was in pain, too, although she continued to do her best coyote patrolling at night.  And so off to the vet we went.

The diagnosis required sedation and x-rays which confirmed the vet's suspicions.  The ligament of the knee was torn or out of place.  This is equivalent to the human tearing of the ACL.  In dogs the ligament is replaced and this involves drilling into each bone of the joint to tie into place the new ligament.  It is a long surgery and the recovery involves twelve weeks of rest and rehabilitation.

The surgery was December 9th and Millie is doing well.  Recently when I mentioned at work that my dog had surgery the response was, "You're not getting any presents for Christmas".  This is the reality.  This year hubby and I are exchanging the gift of Millie's good health.


Christmas is Coming...?

And I do not feel ready at all.  It is hard to feel Christmas is coming as there is not even a sprinkling of snow.  The weather has been amazingly mild.  So, I keep doing outside chores, readying for winter that never seems to arrive.

I'm not complaining, just explaining....

For the first time since Christmas 2007 it looks like my siblings and  I will all be together for Christmas dinner.  That is much to celebrate.  Even though I am struggling with what gift I might give each one, the best gift really will be that we are together.

Son will be here too.  And he will stay on after Christmas day to visit with his sister and her husband who arrive about the 28th.

Work

It continues.  It's okay, fulfilling my goals of some social time with humans and a bit of cash.  Yet, the days are long, the hours are more than I wanted, and my feet are not happy.  As seems to happen with work, it gets in the way of my life!

The structure of work has been beneficial in that my off hours are more productive; I have no choice in some regard.  I really have to prioritise each day's tasks into what must be done.  It is frustrating however in that I do not get much advance notice of the schedule and it does change.

It will continue... work, that is.

Dog & Cat

Recall an earlier blog about the rescue adoption agency unhappy with the big white dogs playing chase games with Humphrey kitty and that this would not do.  As a result a second cat did not come from that agency.  We found another rescue happy to give us a Marjie.

This was all refreshed in my mind the other day when Ruby white dog and Humphrey kitty were cuddling nose to nose.  There is no fear there at all.  There are occasional chase games and Humphrey confidently holds his own.  He still spends a lot of time in the rafters but a lot more time on the ground.  I have seen him in the other barn and we have photos of him from the hunt cameras set up in the deepest part of the bush.  He gets around!

And so this rescued kitty is the happiest and most settled threatened cat I ever met!

The View

We are surrounded by excellent views here.  Below is a photo "out the back door".  Rainbows are common here.   Hubby had actually spied two and when he returned with the camera this is what remained - an enjoyable view nonetheless.






Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving

There is always so much to be grateful for at Thanksgiving.  We ate well, as usual.  All of the veggies were from our garden: squash, potatoes, beans.  It was a yummy feast.

The company was also great and I am grateful.  With the recent passing of my mother's husband she needed a break and came for a week, along with my youngest sibling.  Sister was able to join us so most of us were together in one place at one time.  We celebrated by eating!

Brother was very helpful fixing this and fixing that.  Mom too dusted and ironed a few things, tasks I dislike.



Mine?

No, not yours, Ruby Tuesday!  Mine.  I had just vacated the chair on the veranda.  I think it was becoming a chilly evening and so it was warm after I left it.  And Ruby Dooby snuggled up into the warmth.  This is the one chair cushion she has not tried to eat. Perhaps it is too comfortable for her taste - all pun(s) intended.



What?  It's my chair now, you got out of it.



Hidey Holes

We all have a favourite spot, whether it's a favourite chair or corner of a room.  Animals are no different in that they have favoured places to rest.  Both Maremmas spend a good amount of time under the veranda of the house.  The veranda stretches around three sides of the house.

In the heat of the summer the sand under the veranda was found to be the coolest place to rest.  Ruby has a good sized hole in a corner under one of the back doors.  This photo makes it look magnificent.  Be assured in true colour it is not this bright under there.

Ruby in her hidey hole at the back of the house.


Millie prefers the front of the house.  She is very watchful of the front.  Likely this is due to the coyote traffic across the road.  As well there is the road vehicular traffic, and although Millie has improved with a huge reduction in car chasing, she continues to whine, whimper and bark at passing vehicles - if she doesn't chase the odd one too.

Here is Millie in her spot near the front steps of the house.  It is not as deep as Ruby's but does offer a more expansive view of the area around the front of the house.

Millie's favoured spot under the veranda.


Monday, 26 October 2015

Job Descriptions



Fog rolling in one evening.

After completing the draft of this post I realized that all of the some connection to 'job description'.  Enjoy!

Work

Once again in my life, work is cramping my style - so to speak.  As was my desire - one I would say out loud - I got myself a job at the local hardware store.  It's part time with full time hours, it seems.  It will slow down as the outdoor and construction seasons slows.  The small town charm still comes through in the big store.It is a great place to people watch.  This is a very large hardware store and seems to the 'local mall' for many.

So working off the farm just seems to increase the work on the farm.  And timings of everyone's dinner depends on my work shift.  We are all adjusting.  My focus each day is what must be done.  And so it goes.  And each evening, after ten o'clock, I start to nod off.

I have had to adjust my thinking about "work".  It is constant, whether here or there.  Most of it is quite pleasant and I breathe it in that way.  None of it is onerous or excessively draining in any way.  It does require that I keep organised.

Maremma Work

We have heard the coyotes a lot in the last few weeks, several times of an evening on some days.  Last night I came out of the house and heard a coyote barking across the road.  Beau began to bark and run down the driveway.  He may appear brave but he is not fit for that type of work.  I called him back and put him in the house.  I wondered where the Maremmas were and a few minutes later could here them across the road but much farther away than the coyote I had just heard.  About fifteen minutes later, both girls came galloping up the driveway, glowing with glee for their work.

A few weeks ago I was met by a very sucky Ruby Tuesday puppy.  Okay, she's not a puppy any longer but I continue to refer to her as such.  She was in "her" spot in the centre of the barn.  From there she can see and hear out three doors.  She would not get up.  I saw the blood, not too much.  She had wounds on her left hind leg and it was very tender; she yelped when I touched it leading me to wonder if it might be broken.  She had saliva in her scruff hair; someone was chawing on her there.

I immediately discerned that she was okay for the most part.  She would not however get up.  I quickly did my other chores and came back to her.  After a lot of coaxing I was able to get her to get up and go to her pen in the corner.  The leg was not broken.  She had what appeared to be a big bite on her leg as there were specifically located puncture holes.  On the inside of the stifle joint was a small wound but lots of bruising on the bone; therefore, the tenderness.

In a few days she was leaping fences again and all was well.  I deduced she had been grabbed by a coyote, that she got too close and the beast fought back.  Coyotes don't really want to fight, I am told.  I didn't think it was Ruby and Millie fighting since Millie came to check on Ruby that morning and Ruby was not wary of her.

Since that incident Ruby seems to stay closer to home, closer to the barn and closer to the sheep. 

Tumbling

The large lamb I was on top of suddenly leapt up and across the pen.  I somersaulted after it, landed well on my right leg, vaulting to my feet.  The lamb hit the door which popped it open and I followed.  "I think it's time to stop for lunch" I declared to hubby.  There was no disagreement.

The federal government now requires all sheep farmers to use special identifying ear tags when any sheep is shipped.  Like the cattle industry, sheep need to be traceable.  I have no difficulty with the principle, just the product quality.  I could not get these tags on.  I had managed to accomplish three and had two more to do. The sheep were getting weary of my efforts, almost as much as I.

We borrowed the neighbours tag pliers and she also sent along her tags in case that was what was needed.  Her pliers worked perfectly when we pulled ourselves out to the barn after dinner to finish this essential task.  Hubby declared it was a miracle that I had tagged the first three.  The dilemma was that our pliers were not the correct ones at all.

I guess I'll be buying new pliers.  Despite a crazy day of getting tossed and jossled, I have only a few bruises, all be it, some more colourful than others.

Henrietta on Duty

Finally, Henrietta is fulfilling her job description.  She snorts and postures at any one who comes near the sheep in the field.  She runs up to strangers and pushes herself at them, inspecting and sniffing them.  She stands between any visitor and her sheep.

She has been seen rounding up the sheep.  When she begins to posture the sheep gather closer to her.  She seems to nudge the stragglers, the last ones, the baby orphans.

All in all it seems that Henrietta has found her mission in life and we are delighted.

Kinnaird Farm sunset with shadows of sheep





Monday, 28 September 2015

Garden Explosion

Garden Explosion

The garden continues to produce at an exceptional rate.  The heritage tomatoes I purchased this year have stalks that must be twelve feet long.  I have canned crushed tomatoes and a pureed tomato variant.  I have also roasted up the smaller tomatoes with the added tastiness of onions, peppers, garlic and herbs, pureeing the result into a sauce that went into the freezer.  Whole and perfect tomatoes get washed and frozen in plastic bags.  I have made several batches of chili sauce.  Many of this year's tomatoes are a small variety, which is ridiculous to peel.



The tomatoes overwhelmed the cabbage.  I had never grown cabbage before but that which was not overtaken by the jack-in-the-beanstalk-like tomato plants have been quite yummy.

I planted more beans this year and there have been tons.  I have frozen about two milk crates of beans, likely more.  I had never grown turnip before either and they were very very successful.  They were early.  I put some in the basement only to find them shrivelled up a few weeks later.  Of the later ones, many were too far gone but I still managed to get a bucket full and spent several hours freezing them yesterday.

As usual the zucchini have been incredible.  We didn't eat all of last year's relish so I have not made any this year.  Most of the zucchini has been chopped and frozen for later use in loaf, muffins, and dog food.

I have dug up a few potatoes but there are many more to be had.  As well, we have had meals with carrots and beets, but there remain more in the garden.

The broccoli and cauliflower were not that great.  I may not bother another year.  Peas are a lot of work for a small amount.  The white beans look good but we'll see how many I actually get.  I planted melon for the first time and we ate one small one yesterday.  Perhaps they were overtaken by the squash.

I planted a few more butternut squash this year.  Just a few.  Daughter and I recently harvested two wheelbarrow loads. She had fun getting dirty with Mom one afternoon.



Sister's Potager Garden has amounted to heaps of herbs.  I have frozen some chopped basil mixed with olive oil.  I recently picked rosemary and sage and have these drying.  The parsley has been most enjoyable fresh.  There has also been spinach, lettuce and arugula.  Somewhere in that garden I planted sweet potatoes.  I have not yet dug up any but there are green plants growing from the shoots I put in.  And the peppers have also done well, as has the chard.


The hens visit this garden late each afternoon.  They scurry around, scratching everywhere for whatever tasty bugs and worms they can find.  Oh, and it has become a common resting spot for a big white dog or two....





Marjie

The wild barn kitty we re-homed here through a rescue organisation is still here.  We don't see her much at all.  I saw a flying fluffy tail a few weeks ago.  Well before that I did manage these photos one morning.



She was enjoying the morning sunshine.  Her colouring really is quite beautiful.  Beau keeps hunting around her hiding spot.  Humphrey visits too and one evening Beau chased him from this shed all the way to the barn.  I have no worries about Humphrey or Marjie holding their own with Beau.  I may be worried about Beau-dog though.....

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Oz Work














He's a busy orange tractor, is Oz.  I want to tell you about the forks.  But I don't have a photo.  In looking for one I found the 'poster' above and was intrigued to learn that there are so many different types of forks.

I digress...  This is about Oz's forks.





Here is a cousin of Oz's applying forks to a round bale.  Oz's forks have allowed us to purchase this type of larger bale this year.  The dairy farmer from whom we purchase hay and straw has baled these in large rectangular bales.  Instead of ten small bales 'man-handled' from field to wagon to barn to wagon to our barn, Oz lifts one big bale.  So, when the dairyman brought the wagon of hay I took my time and learned how to manoeuvre and manage the forks. 

I have been busy with Oz and the front end loader cleaning the manure out of the barn.  I took my time.  I learned how to dig the bucket edge down and drag backwards to loosen up the manure from against the wall.  I can move the bucket forward across the floor, 'floating' just above the ground and scrape what's in the path.  And then there is pushing into a depth of manure and lifting and tipping the bucket at the same time to wiggle and jiggle as much as possible into the bucket.  This of course is all much faster than digging out the barn by hand with a fork - another kind of fork - and a wheelbarrow.

By the time then I got to the fork work with the bales it almost seemed easy.  One big advantage is visibility; that is, you can see so much more with forks than with the bucket.  I got a few pointers from the dairyman and he said to take my time and get used to it.  Hubby appeared shortly and the two of them chatted while Oz and I did the work.  Part way through the dairyman said, "Isn't that easy?  You just moved ten bales in a very few minutes.  And, your arms don't hurt!"  I agreed.  "And"  he went on, "It's less work for me" as he continued to watch me unload his wagon.

He had gotten stuck on the sideroad on the way over and now he was spinning his wheels here at the barn.  I had to push him.  He gave me some direction.  I pressed the fork frame against the back beam on the trailer floor.  I pressed harder and it budged then moved forward.  He was then able to move the trailer so I could unload the other side. 

There is a bit more manure in the barn, around the edges and it has to get picked out by hand.  One big bale of straw was delivered and I unloaded that right into the barn.  The sheep - and the Maremmas - have enjoyed lolly-gagging in the piled bedding.

Hubby asked me where I wanted the manure and I said next to the veggie garden.  The idea is that there is concrete rubble underground here and the rototiller is not a good option.  So, by adding bulk and building up I plan to make a raised bed in which to plant more permanent items such as asparagus.

"How much?" he asked.  "All of it" I replied.  Although it seemed a lot at the time and a lot in the piles created outside the barn, spread out on the ground, there really was not that much manure.  Hubby had it moved in very short order.  A project that would have taken days and a lot of sweat was done in a few hours.

Ruby and Beau mucking in the muck that Hubby and Oz moved next to the veggie garden.


Oz does an amazing amount of work for us.  We are learning just how much he can do for us.  And forks!  Who knew there were so many variations - !
















Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Stormy Sky

This collection of photos was taken just before a heavy summer rainfall.  Essentially, this is the calm before the storm.  This expanse to our west and north is lovely and broad.  It is where we enjoy some amazing sunsets - and stormy skies.

Long sky


The sheep were hanging out around the barn, waiting - more calm before the storm.


Oh, wow!  Wizard of Oz?


A "roll" of cloud, indeed! Unrolling.  Unfurling...


More hanging around, and some ball play too!


 I expected an angel to peak out of that cloud!


Awesome!  There was some thunder and lightening too, which sent brave Millie into hiding and Beau dog too.



Sister was preparing to depart.  She was heading north and hit the rain on her drive home.


Contrast

 
And then it rained.  Rain, rain and more rain.  We needed it too.  Some areas close to us reported hail.  It was a classic, wicked, summer storm.

Thanks to hubby for the grand photos.  Thanks Mother Nature for the entertainment, the beauty, the calm before the storm and the rainfall that allows for so much.  Oh, and the hidden angels too.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Scarecrow Fashions

One coyote prevention tactic is scarecrows.  Ideally the scarecrow should be dressed in unlaundered clothes that smell of humans.  This is not always possible since we are not all the same size and our clothes won't necessarily fit the scarecrow.  As well this requires a lot of costume changes.

Other coyote interventions include:

  • Putting bells on the sheep since coyotes do not like this seemingly unpredictable noise.  I have put bells on a few sheep choosing the ones that are often last in the flock and some vulnerable lambs such as the orphans.  
  • Shiny things disturb coyotes so I have hung aluminum foil pie plates of various sizes and non-functional CDs and DVDs, some of which have been donated by friends.  I have hung them around the edges of fields and on fences.
  • The radio is on all day in the barn tuned to a talk station to suggest the presence of humans in the barn all day.
  • Outdoor lights are left on at night.  Coyotes hunt primarily at night - although all of our attacks have been in daylight at varying hours.
But this post is about scarecrows.  Although a coyote intervention / prevention, it has become an amusing and fun farm feature.  So, this year the focus has been on scarecrow fashions.

Hubby purchased some human like targets that are providing the basis of this fun.  It's like dressing a grown up doll. Unlike when I had Barbie dolls as a child, I do not have a box of ready made clothes for my dolls.  I'm making it up as I go along.

Hubby also had some out of fashion, de-commissioned, uniform jackets and they fit very well!  Recently, while sister was visiting and cousin came for lunch, we set out to walk the property with the task of checking on the scarecrows.  So, let the fun begin!


Rebel Rosie

The name was inspired by the head-wear.  The balaclava provides distinctive human like features that might perturb a coyote.  Here, Cousin is fixing Rosie's arm-holder-upper, a branch, which again provides a more human look.  The skirt is an excellent feature as it blows in the wind.  This was the first "new" scarecrow made from the newly purchased targets.  The target is affixed upon a stand.




Betsy

 This scarecrow was featured last year but has an update for this year.  Once again she sits on the chair in the middle of the Middle Field.  We moved the chair from one knoll to another giving Betsy a good view of the entire field - for all coyotes to see.

Legless, the chair allows Betsy to function fully as an active scarecrow.  Note the newly discontinued uniform jacket, adorned with coloured bits of scrap fabric to brighten Betsy's day.  On her head is a sparkly scrap of fabric with shiny bits of which a coyote might be wary.  The midriff feature is not a belt but twine affixing Betsy to the chair.  There's one around her neck too.





Princess Cone Head

New this year is Princess Cone Head.  Last year she just remained headless but this year I have employed an orange cone for a head.  You can see in this first photo the effect of Princess Cone Head as she and her admirers look out over the field of sheep.  Princess Cone Head is even keeping an eye on Henrietta the llama.




The observation point is a good one as Princess Cone Head can see across the road and onto the neighbour's hay field where a coyote might be lurking.  Up in the bush there is rock where coyotes are known to live.
 

Princess Cone Head is a bit tipsy in this photo.  We managed to remedy that as Cousin discovered the support pole had fallen down into the base.  Now, hopefully, Princess Cone Head will no longer do any nose dives when the wind comes up.

Note a further use of the decommissioned jacket.  This blends reasonably well with the purple fabric employed as a skirt - of sorts.  The cone head is pressed down onto the neck base of the manikin form and is adorned with several lengths of scrap fabric.  These lengths were selected because they contain shiny bits and they are long.  They are wound around a few times, with some holding on to the cone head and others through the epaulets to stabilise the entire creation.

There is a strong regal image portrayed here with lots of waving in the wind of long lengths of material.  This scarecrow is most visible to passers by and neighbours who likely question the presence of this creature amongst the other livestock.

All in all the purpose of scarecrows is to perturb coyotes, however it's been lots of fun too!


Sunday, 26 July 2015

Sister Therapy

Sister decided she should come and keep me company for a few days while hubby was away.  Coming here to the farm is "therapy" for her as it is a huge change from her work.  She enjoys fresh air, some hard work, and some fun.  Oh, and we eat and drink well, too!

Sister arrived on the Friday and stayed until the Wednesday.  She made some huge contributions to life here over her stay.

  • Helped to set up the garage for an upcoming garage sale.  It's good to get the stuff sorted and "moving along". 

  • Expended a gallon of forest green paint on the garage-Small Barn:  the door frame of each the person door and double garage door; the double dutch door into the small box stall; the rolling garage door at the north end of the barn; and, flecks found on a red hen.
  • Weeded the Potager / herb garden which really is thriving.  Her personal project it is a lovely sight to behold from the kitchen window.  And to think it used to be a swimming pool!




  •  Cooked several meals and dishes, including chard, turnip and kale from the garden.   The garden is beginning to burst with its fruits.
 

  • Good company shopping.
  • Treated me to an outing of chocolate mouse cake and red wine on the shores of the St. Lawrence in celebration of my birthday.
  •  Assisted with household chores such as laundry detail, emptying the dishwasher - I still can't find some things....
  • Helped with chores and holding sheep as needed.
  •  Wound up electric fence wire.
  • Discovered the vandalised mailbox and provided appropriate soothing and the photo.
 

  • Provided first aid when I was stung by wasps.  This occurred two days after I was stung by a bee.  I survived all stings.
  • Weeded the vegetable garden which has been over run with weeds.  Discovered ripe turnip and beets, etc.
  • Many other tasks I am sure I have left off of this list.

All in all, sister therapy is a mutually satisfying interchange.   We are grateful for her interest in helping out on the farm.



Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Losses, Son's Visit, etc.


Anemones




Losses

We have been free of coyote losses this year, thanks to the effective work of Maremmas, Millie and Ruby.  Now the losses are due to illness in the adult sheep and it has been heartbreaking.

Polar Bear has been ill for some time.  As the sheep went out to pasture she was unable to tolerate the green grass.  She would "spew" her cud.  Sheep don't vomit but I was reminded at times of projectile vomit.   I consulted the Vet and was informed it was Frothy Bloat.  Bloat is the filling of the rumen, the "first stomach" of a ruminant, with gas and / or foam which is unable to escape.  Often it is caused by too much of a particular food item that is not well tolerated.  For example, legume pasture such as alfalfa; or, if a sheep got into grain and ate A LOT!

Polar Bear did bloat a few times as I tried to introduce her to grass again and again.  It got to the point where she could tolerate thirty minutes up to three times a day.  Often she would look poorly after the third outing to grass.

I decided that Polar Bear would have to go to auction as a "cull" but that first she needed to get her twins well launched.  Over time they have lagged somewhat. At the end Polar Bear likely had little milk to give to her lambs.  If a sheep could be pale she was terribly so.

As Polar Bear was noticeably sliding downhill, Libby suddenly did not look well.  Libby is my special purchase sheep with the coloured fleece.  She too had twins.  Libby was not going out with the flock but lying down in the barnyard.  I brought her in.  She was thin as she was not eating.  She ate hay well.  After a few days I moved her in with Polar Bear as it was easier to have them all together in the one barn.

On the Friday I took fecal samples of each to the Vet.  The results were expected over the weekend if not on Monday.  I was disappointed that I had the weekend and no idea what to do with these sheep.

On Saturday Polar Bear fell down trying to get up.  The others went outside and I left Polar Bear in the pen.  I had to go.  I went to Guelph to fetch son for a visit, returning the next day.  Hubby emailed that Polar Bear died that morning.  He buried her.

When I got home Sunday I worried about Libby.  She looked worse and was eating less.  I knew she was anaemic and it might be parasites but I had de-wormed the flock exactly one month previous and five weeks before that.

On the Monday afternoon the Vet called with the fecal results.  The parasite load was high for both sheep indicating drug resistance to the internal parasite mediation.  Yet I was also a bit confused since no animals had been on the field the sheep were on for years previous, and often a heavy parasite load is from pasture.  It was the drug resistance that was the problem and so the parasites continued to be prolific.  With the recent weather conditions the parasite population increased and the medication did not hold it in check.

Polar Bear was already compromised health-wise and the internal parasites were just too much for her.  Libby lambed late and she too would have a compromised system, as I read in my research.  A strong sheep, it was shocking to see Libby fail and so rapidly.  The Vet had some medication for me to pick up the next day along with a different worming medication for all members of the flock.

Libby was dead the next morning.  I cried a lot, then, and later.  My neighbour was shocked as she had come over on Saturday evening and Sunday morning to give Libby a supplement.  She was chewing her cud happily on Sunday morning and dead on Tuesday morning.

I tried over three days to get Libby's lambs to take formula in a bottle.  They were five weeks old, too young to be weaned.  They just would not take the bottle.

Son was here and helped with the drenching or de-worming.  The sheep were wet from rain.  It was hot and humid.  It was a mucky, messy job and it got done in good time.

And then I madly set about to set up new pasture.  I needed to get the sheep off the current field after a few days to pass the nasty parasites.  In two weeks time I will change the pasture again.  The parasite life cycle is about fourteen days.  So, if I can change pasture every fourteen days I can break the cylce and make a dent in the population.

 Son helped me set up the electric fence in the field.  The next morning, before letting out the sheep, I rearranged another electric fence to make a corridor for the sheep to access the new field.  I got the final electric power to the fencing the next day, one day after I put the sheep out there.

I have been struggling with what I could have done differently.  Not much.  This drug resistance is new to me and was not a concern [thirty-five OKAY!] forty years ago.  Now I know that there is a medication to assist the sheep when they become anaemic this way.  Now I know that deterioration is rapid.

My neighbour has had the same issue and also lost a favourite ewe.  She listened to me cry.  What a great neighbour!


Son's visit

He said he wasn't bored even though there was only one day of fishing.  Son arrived on the Sunday and left by train on the Friday.  He was a huge help with the fence, drenching, moving stuff.  He checked the coyote trap each day too.  And when the neighbour borrowed the trap he went out to the field with him to fetch it.

On the way to the train station I said, "I hope you weren't too bored".
"No", he said.  "Your place is really peaceful.  The farm is nice.  It's a lot of work."

He was good company while hubby was away.  It was good to spend some time with him.  He will get very busy again in the fall when he begins Grad school.

Trixie

She is the ewe with the gangrenous mastitis.  It is especially gross as the affected half of the udder sloughs away.  Trixie has bounced back in an amazing way.  She continues to raise her lamb, Bambi, who nurses on the unaffected side of the udder.

I recently learned that iodine is good for fly control.  The flies have been really awful this year.  So, following daily Epsom salts bath treatments, I applied an antiseptic to the affected part of the udder and abdomen.  Then, I began to spray with iodine.  The iodine sprayer keeps getting plugged up so yesterday with sister holding Trixie, I heavily swabbed the lesions with the iodine solution.

Today there is some weeping from the wound but the fly control is excellent.  In addition, Trixie is now outside as much as possible all day.  This keeps her out of the dirty and fly filled barn.  Fresh air and green grass is very healthy.  It's better eating for her and her lamb too. 


Orphan Lambs

Polar Bear's lambs, "Rosie" and "Rosie's Brother", are now out in the flock.  Rosie steals milk whenever she can.  This was stress that Trixie did not need.  These twins are older too, born May 30th.  I tried to get them on to a bottle and was not successful.  I put little bells on each of them and put them out in the flock.  For a few days they hung around the barn and got through the fence and back with Trixie.  They no longer do that.  They seem quite content in the flock.  Rosie still tries to steal milk.


Libby's twins remain with Trixie.  And today it seemed that Trixie was behaving as a true Auntie and cried out for about ten minutes looking for these lambs.  They were behind the house out of earshot.  When they found each other they were all happy to be together again.  These lambs are not trying to steal milk either.  The four of them are a nice little happy family that graze around the house.

Trixie with her lamb, Bambi, who is standing, and Libby's orphaned twins.



Thursday, 16 July 2015

Spun vs Spit


Sharps

 As usual Ruby slunk across the barn to greet me on Sunday morning.  I thought to myself, oh, she has such frosty whiskers this morning.  Then I awoke from my morning fog - it's not frosty whisker weather!  Those are porcupine quills flapping on her face.

I let her out of the barn to eat her food while I returned to the house to get hubby.  Millie was not appearing in this time, likely hiding with her own face full of sharp quills.  Hubby and I each did some quick internet research on the day's crisis.  IN addition we called good friends with lots of quill removal experience.  We listened to their advice and absorbed their best wishes.  We gathered up the necessary tools and equipment.

When I returned to the barn Ruby had managed to eat most of her food by dumping it out of the bowl and gathering it off the ground rather than bump the sharps on the inside of the bowl.  I quickly fed the other animals and put the flock out.  We met Ruby at the back of the house.  There we spent a solid hour painfully pulling out quills.  Ruby dragged us through the wet grass, slinking under and around us.  Finally, she began to thrash and caught hubby across the ear and face.  We had all reached our limit.

I hung upside down and peered under the veranda after we located Millie there.  Yes, her face was decorated too.  We did not pursue Millie.  I gave each dog painkillers and an antihistamine.

We went off to the day's event returning in the late afternoon.  Millie came out from hiding.  She easily allowed me to remove a quill by hand which encouraged me and I went to find the pliers.  I slowly removed from her top lip the quills I could see.  She began to burrow her nose to keep me away.  I stopped.  I had removed enough that she could eat.

For dinner I fed them soft food in a shallow dish and they managed.  Ruby was feeling much better but I could still see four quills.  I already had a Vet appointment for Ruby the next day, Monday.

On Monday when I called the Vet they said to just come whenever I was ready.  Millie had been to the Vet on the Thursday before and treated for a broken dew claw and the removal of the actual claw.  She was already receiving antibiotics and painkillers.  I had become confident about getting Millie to the Vet again and here was my chance to find out.  Yes!  I was able to get all 102 pounds of Millie into the car by myself. My neighbour had helped on Thursday but we were good now and Millie seemed less stressed and less resistant about going.

At the vet I said "She's back!".  When I explained it's getting easier, the Vet Tech said, "Of course.  Every time she comes here she gets to go to sleep!"

Yes, they sedated her - again - and removed many quills.  Some were on the inside of her top lip, which I would not have been able to get to.  They were thorough, checking her feet, her legs, between her toes, her chest, her throat, etc.

I drove Millie home and put Ruby in the car.  Oh, Millie had vomited in the car and now it was Ruby's turn.  Ruby too got to have little sleep at the Vet's.  In addition to the four quills I had not removed there was one inside her nose.  These hidden quills convinced me of the importance of the Vet visit and sedation.

Needless to say the Vet bill was A LOT!

Upcoming Fashion Debut

I have a new expression:  "I feel a blog coming together" and this is how I feel with some recent work I have begun making this year's scarecrows.  Hubby ordered some cool looking cardboard figures.  I am spraying them with a protector and this is taking time.  And then the design work takes time too as I have to sift through what I have and create the stunning look.  So, coming to a blog real soon - "Scarecrow Fashions."

Mrs. Bogart

She's been here for about one week now.  We are sticking with the name she came with, Marjie, with the addition of Bogart.  A real pair, Mr. and Mrs, Humphrey and Margie Bogart.  She is a lovely tortoise shell kitty.  A feral cat, there is no love between us, which suits my allergic self pretty well, actually.  Originally a barn cat, she was recently rescued by an organisation at the request of the new farm owners who did not want the cats in the barn.  She has been spayed and vaccinated and now, re-homed.  Or, is that re-barned -? 

In order for the wild thing to understand that this is home, we have to keep her crated for two weeks, at least.  She needs to learn where the food is coming from and the normal noises of the place.  So, I placed the dog crate atop four bales of hay in a barricaded corner of the barn.  The lady who delivered Marjie thought this was perfect.  The cat carrier door was removed and the carrier - avec le chat - was placed inside the dog crate.  Then a litter box, food dish and water dish were added to the crate.  There is now no floor space left in the crate.  However, Marjie could, if she desired, sit on top of the crate and fully observe the goings on in the barn.

I have never seen Marjie stand up, never mind come out of the carrier or sit on top of it.  She now regularly eats her food, drinks her water and uses the litter box.  Sometimes she faces outward and other times she faces inward.  So, I no she moves.  The greatest movement I have observed is the blinking of her eyes.

Humphrey greeted Marjie when she arrived.  Frequently Humphrey is now found sleeping on the floor in that barricaded area.  I have moved Humphrey's bed on to the top of the dog crate and now feed him next to the crate.  He 'talks' to Marjie and has tried very hard to make her feel welcome.


Henrietta - spun and spit

She really can be a cranky thing, Henrietta.  Since hubby took care of the fishy smelling dead snake, that we think Henrietta killed, she has been nasty to him a few times.  She snorts and spits and aimed one day.  She also went at him with her chest, pushing in to him.

Henrietta has been downright nasty to me for awhile.  Some new learnings about llamas indicate that are stroking, cooing and giving her treats is not a good idea.  She is unclear of her order in the pecking sequence.

So, when she spits I raise my voice and tell her "No!"  As well, we are trying to ignore her.  We no longer offer treats unless it is a training session and the treat is a reward.  I catch her and stroke her as if I am brushing her to get her more used to that.  I don't brush her unless I can hide the brush on my person while I catch her. 

It will take some time, but we are learning more - again - about llamas.

I have been regularly attending a Friday afternoon group of handspinning.  This has allowed me to finish one project - spinning some Rideau Arcott mixed with Mohair - and begin a new project - spinning Henrietta.  I is BEAUTIFUL!  There are chunks of hay and vegetable matter but it is so very soft and spins up very finely.

The spun is much nicer than the spit!

Saturday, 27 June 2015

End of June

Trixie

The poor dear!  Such agony she must be experiencing. 

The sheep were well ahead of me as I headed out to the pasture after letting them out in the morning.  The Maremmas had not gone out with the flock and usually they will come out with me and when I slip back to the barn they stay out with the flock for awhile.

I saw her because she was noticeably behind the others.  She was slow.  She was almost limping.  I had to figure out who this sheep was so as to follow up later.  There is little one can do when the sheep are in the field.  Even if I could catch her, then what.  It's a long way back to the barn and sheep are not known for their cooperation. 

She caught up to the flock as they began to graze but I hung back as I did not want to rush her if she was not feeling well.  It was Trixie, a yearling, and her udder was very large. 

A short while later when the sheep were back at the barn it was easy to catch Trixie and pop her into a pen I had waiting.  And then I carefully caught her single female lamb.  This lamb was so cute and Hubby named her Bambi.

I thought it was good that Trixie's udder was not hot but cool to the touch.  I learned later talking with the Vet that a gangrenous mastitis udder is cool if not cold to the touch.  It was not a good situation.  I had already given her a shot of penicillin I had on hand when I spoke to Dr. McG in the evening.  He had a better medication and I picked it up in the morning.  You hit mastitis hard with a strong antibiotic.  This drug I was to administer twice daily for five days.

The internet information is poor on this subject.  I was struck that 25% of those infected die.  This was not encouraging.  I had put medication into the quarter - yes, it's a quarter even though there are only two on a sheep.  Dr. McG said that was not necessary as the offending bacteria will have left but that I should milk her out to remove as much of the remaining toxins as possible.

Over the next few days I carefully drained the udder, massaged gently, applied Epsom salts compresses and then udder balm.  I kept her legs clean as the flies in the barn are bad.  I applied fly spray.  Trixie let me do whatever I wanted - until she began to feel better.  It's a sure sign of recovery when they fight back.  She began to baa for her friends too.

I offered Bambi a bottle of milk replacer several times a day for a few days.  I did see her try to nurse, usually on the bad side.  Lambs can be brutal and she butted at mother's sore udder.  I held her a few times so she could nurse on the good side.  I tried to keep her from butting the udder.  Lambs do this to stimulate the flow of milk.  Bambi had milk on her mouth so although I could not usually get milk from the quarter, she could. 

Trixie is recovering nicely, so far.  Now the udder should slough off.  Isn't that just gross?  The entire quarter is not blue - sometimes this is called blue bag and appropriately so.  We'll see...  I was planning to move Trixie to the other barn where I have Polar Bear and some other moms with babies.  However, Polar Bear's lambs steal milk and this might be too hard on Trixie.  We'll see...

Last Lamb


Two year old Peanut was the last to lamb.  She had a single female.  Yes, another single.  Because this lamb is so much younger than the others I will not put them out with the flock until the lamb is two weeks old.  It is a large lamb, which is good. 

I am assuming this lamb was sired by Abe.  Peanut was marked by Abe but that marking indicated a lambing date three weeks earlier than when she actually lambed. 

It feels good to finally have lambing over.  The season stretched from mid-April to mid-June.  Usually the majority of lambs come in three weeks with the remaining thirty percent or less in the subsequent three weeks.  In some ways I can get on with some other things.  For example, there was not much point in considering cleaning out the barn until lambing was complete. 

Boundaries


Just as individuals have boundaries in relationships and we have physical boundaries with our neighbours, there are also boundaries within a property.  We are defining and redefining these as things evolve.

For example, our hens are free range and they have no boundaries.  One boundary they cross that can be frustrating is when they visit the veranda.  The frustration is due largely to what they leave behind.  We are working on Beau dog to chase the hens off of the veranda - gently. 

This afternoon I removed a hen from the veranda three times.  I gently picked her up and dropped her into the garden bed below.  Each time she got back up and came over to where I was working.  Beau appeared from his latest jaunt and I told him to get the bird.  He didn't get the request, as sometimes happens when he's learning something.  I got the barbecue spray bottle.  This worked!  And since I was working right there she got three or four squirts, got the message and moved along.

With the electric fence I have been able to fence the yard around the house to keep sheep in and out of various places.  With this set up I was able to let the rams graze around the house.  In a previous blog there is a photo of the "intruders" on the veranda.  The rams also left evidence of their visit. 

I purchased some more electric fence and created a large summer paddock for the rams.  Now, each morning I bribe them with grain - known to sheep as candy - and we go out to the paddock.  Each evening I put candy - that is, grain - in their pen in the Small Barn.  Knowing the candy is waiting they prance quickly to the barn and to their pen.

So, the rams now have a new boundary, a paddock of their own where they eat fresh grass, enjoy the weather and all that entails.  This is a much healthier set up for the rams.  So often rams spend most of their life in a pen, other than when they are with the girls in the early winter.  Abe is an old guy and Birch is a young guy and this new set up is good for each of their needs.

Since Polar Bear is not tolerating grass and cannot be with the flock I let her out around the house several times a day for up to thirty minutes at a time.  This is all she can tolerate.  Before the rams had their paddock I would alternate the outings between groups.  At the moment there are three ewes and five lambs in Polar Bear's pen.  There is Polar Bear and her twins; Peanut and her ewe lamb; and now Libby and her twins as she is lame for an as yet unknown reason.

We recently discussed that allowing the sheep around the house is not something we want to keep doing.  The boundary breaking is too much.  I knew they would trash the flower gardens and accepted that.  All of these gardens need some serious attention and some select pruning by the sheep was okay with me - for now.  As hubby mentioned however there is evidence everywhere. 

It seems that the Polar Bear group are the hospital wing of the farm.  This is unpredictable and will be different each year.  I can work with electric fence to create some small areas around the house.  Another thought is to consider some permanent fencing - a boundary - immediately around the house.  Lots of ideas are flowing....

Oz's Workload

Yes, I have great fun using "work words" in my new work!

Oz the orange tractor has a long list of jobs.  We have been prioritizing.  When we first got the mower the priority was predator control and the perimeter of the pasture was cut.  This removes the cover for coyotes to hide.  Some areas were cleared of brush, areas where we know the coyotes hide and travel through.

Then we mowed near the house.  Some trails were cleared for our walking pleasure.  And now Hubby has cut the majority of the pasture.  We waited until many of the grasses went to seed but now need to control the height for safety reasons and weed control.  The pasture grass needs to be shorter so we can see the lambs are safe and the coyotes cannot hide easily.  Sheep prefer a shorter grass to nibble.  And the poisonous parsnip is coming into flower and needs to be cut down.  There does seem to be a lot less of the poisonous parsnip this year.

Sister helped me to clear away the pile of brush collected from various wind and ice storms over the last year.  After we moved it I mowed the long grass there.  This cleared the gateway to the ram's paddock.  Near the garage and house, this looks much nicer now.

Today I mowed the Front Field in specific spots where there were thistles and nettle.  A few spots I decided were unstable for a tractor approach and left the weeds for a chemical intervention.

It's just about time to mow around the house again.  The wood splitter has returned from a quick fix-it that was needed.  There is tons of wood to split.  There are things to move with the bucket, such as concrete tiles.  And the new hay will be coming soon and we have the forks for moving around the big square bales which we will get this year instead of the small bales.

So, Oz is very busy.  As is the end of June in general.



Monday, 15 June 2015

Goings On


Wood Chips and Turtle Eggs

What a combination!  Wood chips and turtle eggs?  Yes, really, they are related.

With the new tractor, Oz, and its front end loader we have much work for it to do.  The previous owners played with wood and lots of it.  Near the barn is a hill made mostly of wood chips and littered with wood in need of splitting.

So, what do you do with wood chips?  Since this is a hill and there are a lot of chips, down deep the chips are dark and damp and smelly, like a good growing medium should be.  So, we're using those chips for gardening projects.  The largest project has been the new herb garden.  You know, the former Sumo Wrestling pit.  So hubby put Oz through his paces and moved a lot of wood chips to fill the pit and create the garden.  In doing so, he made quite a dent in the wood chip hill.  Okay, it's only a little dent.  Most interestingly, he found a lot of turtle eggs in the hill. 


There seemed to be a line of eggs running from the top of the hill to the bottom.  However, it is likely that disturbing the hill caused the eggs to move downward in the hill.

We figured these were last year's eggs.  We were surprised by how very few hatched.  We have only seen a few turtles laying this year compared to last year.


 

Happy Maremmas

We have now had Millie for one year.  What a huge number of changes she has had to deal with.  Yet, she is happy.  She is so very much happier than when she first came here. 




In the photo below, Millie is curled up on the door mat at the back door.  This a common site in the morning.  Having gained a lot of weight over the winter, she does not jump fences very much or very well; but will do so if she must.  I turn off the electric fence at night so that the dogs have no constraints.  She gets out to do her patrolling and then parks near the back door near morning in anticipation of breakfast.


 


 
 And then there is Ruby.  Just a bit too happy in this photo!  She sails over fences and routinely jumps out and then back in.  Here she is near the back door. 

The dogs are great clock watchers.  If they are at the back door I check my watch since it may be near feeding time.






 Sunsets

We have learned by observation that the best vantage point for taking in a sunset is the north-east side of the wrap around veranda.  From here we can take in the vast horizon above the Front Field and we can also see the barn.  So, at sunset and twilight this is a very lovely spot from which to imbibe in a brew or wine to mellow out after a busy day.

The camera's auto flash decided it should be on for this photo and thus the 'aura' in the photo.  It's pretty neat.  The sky was exceptionally red on this evening.





Same viewpoint, no flash, no 'aura'.  Stunning colours....!


Spinning

I have to be careful now when I say I'm a Spinner.   Many years ago the joke was that the spinners and weavers imbibed a bit too much.  Nowadays, spinning class is on a bicycle.  So, I am a Handspinner.

A few weeks ago I volunteered down the road to demonstrate handspinning and handweaving at the library branch's open house.  They are located in a historical building and one room upstairs in the historic coach house is dedicated to the memories of local weavers.  It was unusual at that time that so many women were handweaving in their homes and delightful that this room pays homage to them.

So, I took one of my spinning wheels and there I met a few local handspinners.  And they meet Friday afternoons while another group meets Tuesdays.  I have been going to the Friday sessions for a few weeks now and having a delightful time.  I am getting to know some local women.  Handspinning is so very relaxing and I am working through a project. 

Some weeks this is the only handspinning I get done.  Yet, this alone inspires me to do more and a few evenings now I have taken my spinning wheel out onto the veranda at sunset time. 

The Weekend

Another week begins today.  The weekend, like always, was fairly busy.  On Saturday we went for a long motorbike ride and went to a friend's for Thai lunch.  And we were sent home with leftovers - yes, on the motorbike.  It was a terrific day for a ride.  I am much more confident riding now than ever and am less perturbed in traffic.

On Sunday, hubby and Oz moved a great pile of debris to the vegetable garden.  This is perfect for mulching between the rows.  Mulching saves so much time and work.  In addition this stuff will compost and add goodness to the soil for next year.  Basically, Oz the tractor was put to work scraping up the hay leavings where I fed the sheep in winter.  Some of it is a bit 'hot' from underneath the top layer, but in between the rows in the garden it should be fine.  I managed to get most of it in place before the rain began in late afternoon.

In addition my dairy farmer friend delivered a load of hay.  Just the rams and an ill sheep are getting hay.  And I do try to get them outside for green eating when I can.  Hopefully this is the last load of last year's hay we will need to purchase.  I discussed with him the new crop of hay.  With Oz we have a fork for lifting large bales of hay.  This will make hay management less labour intensive.  This is progress on the farm!







Friday, 12 June 2015

Comic funny

Awhile ago I received a note from my Mom via snail mail.  It was this little comic strip that she carefully cut out of the newspaper and mailed to me.  It is hilarious.  I laughed very loudly.

I have not been able to copy it to this location.  Apparently that would not be legal and I am law abiding.  So, I think you can visit the site to see the comic strip.  If you know me, you understand how this "fits".


http://rhymeswithorange.com/comics/april-28-2015/

Thanks Mom!

Friday, 5 June 2015

Lambing update

One more to go!  And I don't think there is any hurry.  Although the ram wore a marking harness and the date marked equates to a due date of May 28th, we're still waiting.  It's Peanut, so named because she was the smallest of the yearlings last year.  She has filled out nicely and is no longer a munchkin.  Last year she had a single lamb but if she still has some time left then I'm guessing she will have twins.

Twins would be good.  There have been a lot of singles this year, twelve to be exact, with an additional twelve from six sets of twins.  Of these 24, 23 were born alive.   What is excellent is that we have had no losses.  The dead lamb born to Clover by c-section was a fluke and dead long before it could have lived.  No adjustment to lambing management could have changed the outcome.  Twelve of the live lambs are male, while eleven are female.  This will make it hard for me to decide who to keep.  Additionally, the overall average number of lambs per ewe is 1.3, a very low average.  Two other sheep farmers nearby also report many single births this year.

The sheep reproductive cycle is about seventeen days.  So, if I add 17 days to May 28th, I think Peanut will lamb about June 14th.  Her udder is still soft, although she has a good waddle to her gait.  Stay tuned....



The Intruders

There seem to be many intruders as of late.  For example, Rocky Racoon found himself in the coyote trap for a third time.  He has been very determined to get the yummy bait, much more determined than any other creature.  So, Rocky was released and the trap was moved to a new location.  This time it was placed closer to the house in a location where we know coyotes travelled last year.  The only evidence of activity was that the trap was knocked over this week.  This could have been dogs playing or coyotes testing....  Hubby is planning the next placement of the coyote trap.

Cloven hoofs on wood do have a distinctive sound, especially when there are four cloven hoofs.  It is a new sound too and therefore Beau dog, upon hearing this from within the house, woofed appropriately.  There was scuffling too so I investigated.  This is what I found!




Abe indeed has enjoyed pruning that plant!  Each day I pull some electric fence wire across the driveway and hook it up to the live section - while the power supply is turned off - and then release Abe and Birch for a few hours.  After a few hours they "explore".  Abe discovered the verandah first.  And this bush. 

I have allowed sheep grazing in the house area to prune away anything in the gardens.  I decided that all needs a good  pruning.  Further, some organic matter is needed in each bed.  I plan - at this point - to add organic matter to each flower bed sometime in the summer.  In the meantime, heavy pruning is underway. 

After the breeding season and winter, Abe looked thin to me.  He is older, although in good condition.  Birch is still growing.  The shearer assured me he would do some serious growing this summer.  So, both rams need some nutrition attention.  I have been giving them grain and am delighted to get them outside for some fresh air and some good greens.  Even today, Birch jumped for joy at the outside adventure of the day. 

Abe comes running when he sees me.  I am the lady with food.  Okay, I am the lady with grain, also known as "candy" if you are a sheep.  He has come running at me a few times.  That is, literally running or jumping at me to bash me, as rams do.  So, I NEVER turn my back on him and he now wears a bell.  Beau has been very good with the rams in his immediate / house area.  And a few times he has herded them very appropriately.  Even though they do not resemble a tennis ball at all....


Today's intruder was near the end of the driveway.  And there was another one a few days ago.  But today, at about nine thirty a saw a blob in the driveway.  I had to turn off the electric fence I had put up for the rams.  Then Beau and I went down the driveway.  Sure enough, the intruder was a very large snapping turtle.

We determined last weekend that it is turtle egg laying season.  It was evening and the dogs had begun their evening watch.  They began barking, both of them.  It is serious when they both bark.  It was a sharp bark.  Hubby went for his boots, saying, "Where is the key for your rifle?"  My rifle was out since we were trying out the newly purchased sling.  I unlocked the rifle while he laced up his boots. 

As he moved toward the dogs I was dismayed and said so, "Did they [the coyotes] get a lamb?"  I had forgotten that I had closed up the gate preventing the sheep from going out to where the dogs were, that all of the sheep were now around the house. 

Hubby arrived at the dogs' location, looked back toward me, and laughed uproariously!  "What!" I thought.  "What?" I said.  "Oh"  I said.  "Is it the cat?" I asked. 

"No" he said.

"A turtle?" I asked.

"Yes!" he chortled.  And Ruby loudly barked at it some more.  It is the season!  So, the rifle went away and the camera shooting began!







Gardens

Spring is a very busy time for gardens.  In addition to last year's vegetable garden we are adding more garden projects to the mix, so it has been more busy.  And then there were woes with the rototiller, and then glee when it worked so beautifully.  Hubby moved LOTS of dirt - wood chips and manure.

So, the veggie garden got planted and the former sumo wrestling pit got a new look.  It is becoming an herb garden.


 
 

Oh, yes, Sister spent most of the long weekend here painting things red!  What better use for a bathtub than the centre piece of a new herb garden and a new container for a pot of mint!

Oz

The orange tractor named Oz has a busy life.  I must say, however, that hubby is getting more enjoyment driving the real tonka toy than I.  I seem always to be doing other things.  As well, I am more than happy to open and close gates while he drives Oz and fetches this, and moves that.  There is lots for Oz to do.

Recently, Oz was adorned with a new mower or bush hog.  When we were viewing the property I was told about "bush hogging" and had no idea what that meant.  Now I know.  I was familiar with a large mower attached to a tractor but it was never referred to as a bush hog.  Here, it is, and now we will commence bush hogging. 

Hubby has been out taking a few test runs with Oz, mowing trails here and there.  And there is more on the list to get done!

Sunsets


And then there are glorious sunsets here in paradise....



Thursday, 28 May 2015

End of May

Trapped.  Twice.

We were finally able to set up the coyote trap down the back just inside the woods and near the swampy bits we know the coyotes like.  It's near where the hunter shot the coyote in the fall.  Hubby continues to research and learn much about coyote behaviour and how to hunt them. 

 So, we added to our daily routine the checking of the trap.  And to keep extra tabs on the dogs knowing that one of the three could find themselves in the trap.  We were more concerned about the Maremmas since they can be very food focused and of course raw meat is the bait of choice in the trap.


 Twice Rocky Raccoon got himself into the trap.  He is cute.  We figured he / she was a yearling.  Wary, it would not leave the cage while we were there, but he did leave.

We have since moved the trap to a different location.  And no dogs have yet been caught in it.





Play

 Lambs can be very curious and playful.  It gets them into trouble!

Here is a common gathering spot for lambs.  It seems their mothers drop them off at the park while they graze nearby.  The lambs like to rest in the warm sand and nibble on some grass tidbits.

Another favourite lamb play spot is the weeping willow tree in the front year.  Yes, the sheep are mowing our yard!

From the front door we watch lambs play in the weeping willow tree.  This brave guy has a jumping game going on.


Can't you just hear these lambs having a conversation?  "Come on, get up here.  There's room for all of us.  It's fun.  It's not too high up.  Your mother won't mind at all.  Come on!"






Garden Goings On

We are very grateful for the fall donation of a rototiller.  I was looking forward to getting to it.  It's been a busy time.  I just could not get it started.  So, I called the fix-it folks.  They came and took it away and brought it back a few days later with a new starter.  Now I could start it.  Well...  After I put some gas in it.

And away we went.  One good pass around the garden and there were problems.  A belt had slipped off.  And the handle bolt was missing.  So, off it went with the fix-it folks again.  It finally came back - no charge this time.

In the meantime a neighbour offered the use of his tiller.  This was wonderful!  It has been so busy with other things but finally I got to the tilling and yesterday planted the majority of the vegetable garden.

Next is to finalise the new herb garden.  Well, as final as a new garden can be in its first year.  Hopefully I will get our tiller onto that garden today.

The fortunate thing is that my tardiness in getting plants into the ground meant we had no losses with the hard frost last week.  There were many losses across the province.

Rams and Lambing

This year there is an extended lambing period.  Usually, since sheep have approximately a three week reproductive cycle, the bulk of lambs come in three weeks followed by some stragglers in the second three weeks.  Our year has been much stranger than that.  We jokingly say that the new ram lamb, Birch, got tired.  Abe, the emergency Christmas Eve ram purchase, is older and much more experienced.  I realise now that Birch was sick. 

Birch is starting to look more like a ram.  Hanging out with Abe he should learn how to walk that talk.  Abe can be very dominant and bashes Birch a lot.  Abe has come at me a few times.  He now wears a bell so I can hear him coming.  One should never turn their back on a ram.  When I go into their pen Birch runs up to me and slips behind my legs as if he is hiding from Abe.  Birch is quite friendly and has made no unpleasant moves - yet.

The lambs are good and strong.  There have been lots of single births.  Cookie's cast comes off this week.  I did some rearranging and have been able to get her and her mother, Nancy, outside.  Here they are...

Nancy and Cookie - outside at last!



At this point in time, there are five sheep left to lamb.  It's getting hot and I'm sure they'll be glad to get those lambs on the ground.  I still expect lambs up until June 5th or so.  So, stay tuned.





Friday, 15 May 2015

Shearing Day 2015

First, let me send a HUGE thank you to the four gals who came out to help.  You really were amazing, one returning from last year and three newbies.  They managed the skirting station in the garage.  I asked them to be brutal and they were, removing anything that a spinner would not want to deal with.  Two of these fine friends went home with a fleece of their choice - okay they battled over the two - and I look forward to seeing the results of their creative efforts.


I need to back track a bit.  Shearing begins days ahead of time.  I had to watch the weather and ensure the sheep remained dry.  The one night it rained my sheep were locked up inside whereas if we did not have housing that would be an issue. 

And I had to set up.  Things were different this year and we could not shear where we did last year.  So, I fenced off an area in the south overhang so that the sheep could move from the large area in the Big Barn to a small holding pen, to the shearing area and then outside.  The shearer liked the arrangement and all went very well.

There was excitement during the day but all went well.  The shearer arrived late but that was okay.  This meant that shearing continued until later and I had planned for this.  Hubby was on task to barbecue the dinner I had prepared and we had extra for the two helpers that stayed late.  Again, I had planned for this.

The shearer agreed to trim Henrietta the llama's feet.  I was pleased with this but had no idea what this adventure would entail.  After lunch, I asked if he was ready to do her as she was volunteering.  I got a hold on her halter and the shearer said "Sure.  Let's do her now."  She was quite good for the first three feet, fighting a bit but okay.  For foot number four we had quite a dance around the barn.  I was not letting go.  Henrietta I guess gave up.  She went down on all fours, laid down on her side, stretched out her head and wailed.  The shearer finished her foot and we left her there, feeling quite indignant.  And it was done!

Henrietta really wanted out of the barn.  I tried to coax her out but she would not go past the sheep that were left to be shorn.  Then the door got opened somehow, whether by a sheep or Henrietta.  And she was away.  But then so was an unshorn sheep.  So, after herding the unshorn sheep into the holding pen, I grained the rest of the flock to get them all into the barn.  I captured the MIA unshorn sheep and got her into the holding pen.  All was well.

Some sheep were very buggy but most were better than I expected.  At the vet's advice I had drenched them to deal with the bugs and plan to repeat the procedure.  Some sheep look thin but they are heavily producing milk for twins right now.  The seven who have not lambed are all pregnant. 




Abraham - Abe - the big ram.  His fleece was very white and he was very well behaved.

Now that the sheep are without their wool I have to learn who they are again as they do look different.  I also realise how much I rely on their voices to distinguish them.  It's coming together.  Sometimes I just hang out with them to figure out who they are.  And they are so very small now without their wool!



Libby, the colourful spinning fleeced ewe I purchased last summer, has a gorgeous fleece.  The spinners were in awe and would have fought hard over that one had I not declared in advance "It is mine!"  And she looks different now that she is shorn.  And the shearer wonders if she is not carrying triplets!

The colouring on Libby's legs and belly looks like that of a leopard.


A close up of Libby's delightful fleece.  It contains all colours.  Underneath it is much more black while the topside is sun bleached and a lighter brown.  Lots of colour here for sure!