Sunday 31 January 2016

Holiday Photos

Mom wanted more holiday photos.

Just couldn't find a suitable tree on the property or the time to hunt further, so we put up the old faithful artificial tree.  A tall, slim tree, it requires limited space, therefore little else had to move to make way for it.

Grandma wrapped up two new toys for Beau-dog.  This monkey and an alligator.  Thus, Beau-dog has expanded his vocabulary with these two new words.  He loves these as they have squeakers in the feet.

Lounging about as dinner cooks; or was this after dinner?

Family photo time!

One is tall and one is not, therefore the tall one pulled up a chair.  All the better for a hug from Grandma.

We are a bit taller than Mom so tall one could stand behind us. 

A blurry photo but I had to share that this was not snow shoeing weather.

A good day was had by all!

A Saturday

I've been itching to write stuff here but have not had the time or energy; so, here goes....!

Today is Saturday.  I am not working.  We have no overnight visitors.  Usually we are up at six o'clock on weekdays.  Hubby likes to sleep in on weekends, but I am usually awake and have animals that watch the clock.  However, anything close to seven is a treat for me.  So, when Beau-dog poked me at five before seven I told him to go lay down and give me twenty minutes.  He complied!

It is unusual for me not to eat before going out to the barn, so I had my usual breakfast of hot oatmeal.  You never know what will meet you in the barn so it's best to have had something to eat before heading out.  I put on the coffee, looking forward to a leisurely cup upon my return to the house.

In the Small Barn I fed Millie and then the hens.  I took Ruby's food up to her and closely observed the sheep in their hay patch outside the Big Barn while she ate.  When Ruby is occupied it is the best time to get close to the sheep.  Ruby is such a squirmy worm, wanting to play and lick and swat the sheep that they all move away from her.  Even Lucy will tolerate only so much and then move on, sometimes butting Ruby with her head before walking away.  But first she tolerates Ruby licking her face, nibbling her ear and pawing her shoulder....

I got Humphrey cat some water to go with his food.  I turned on the radio.  I closed up the person gate to the barn and then dug my heel into the pathway for the door, working it clear of straw and manure to close it.  This attracted the flock's attention and in no time they had wandered into the barn of their own accord.  I closed the door, locking the sheep and Henrietta llama inside the Big Barn.

I gathered up Ruby's empty bowl and headed back to the Small Barn.  I took the empty bowl and new eggs to the house.  At the shed I uncovered Oz the tractor, unplugged the block heater and turned over the engine.  I left it running for a good warm up and headed back to the Small Barn.  There I put the harness on Millie, hooked up the leash and off we went for our morning walk around the Front Field.  Beau and Ruby have mad chase games while Millie and I walk.  Millie 'does her business' and sniffs the air for strange scents that need her attention.  It's a lovely, quiet morning with no wind.  And it is mild, just below freezing.

Millie usually needs a bit of coaxing back to the barn and then she heads straight back and into her pen - a small box stall, huge for even a large dog.  I give her pets and a hug and head for the tractor.

I drove the tractor out of the shed and removed the bucket.  Then I headed back into the shed and hooked on the forks.  The quick disconnect makes this procedure an absolute breeze of a chore.  You take your time, edge in slowly, move the hydraulics into the best position...  At the Big Barn I used the forks to gather up a large rectangular bale of hay.  I am getting good at this!  Humphrey was sitting up high on the remaining bales, observing all.  Beau was sure there was a cat somewhere around here but never looked up at all.

I backed up slowly, ensuring my load was secure.  The forks were not as deep in the bale as I would have liked.  I tilted the forks up further to tilt the load inward as much as possible.  It would hold.  I drove around the barn and into the empty barnyard where I deposited my load.  After cutting the four pieces of twine holding the hay bale together, I used the forks of the tractor to push either end of the bale outboard.  Then I dismounted and distributed the hay by hand, rolling the big flakes out, spreading it around to allow the twenty-nine head in the flock ample elbow room at their table.

I locked Beau dog out of the barnyard and released the sheep from the Big Barn.  The opening of the big doors must be quick.  The doors need to be wide and I need to get out of the way, as the sheep all stampede out to their dinner.  Narrow doorways catch the hip of the nearest sheep and can damage a pregnant ewe.  No ones' looking too pregnant yet - except maybe Olive who might have been caught by Abraham on October 22nd when he was discovered in with the flock.  Any "oops" from this encounter are due March 4th.  Olive looks like she might be bagging up with an udder, more so than anyone else.

I completed the closing up procedures needed after putting out hay.  I put out hay about every four days right now.  Oz has been a blessing as this saves so much time and work.

The rams still had some hay.  I broke the ice on their water.  It would do for now.  I headed to the house and got Marjie's food.  The wild kitty consumes her food but has not been seen since the holidays.  I turned off the tractor as I had let it idle a bit after parking it in the shed.  Oh, I had switched the forks and bucket too.  I leave the bucket on for snow removal.  Marjie lives under the shed, sharing the space with Oz the tractor.


I found myself upstairs and like a whirling dervish just kept going.  There was one bed in a guest room to strip.  I stripped our bed too.  Hubby and I flipped the mattress and I made up the bed with clean flannel sheets.  I folded laundry and put it away.  I made up both guest beds.

Then we went to the dump.  We had no garbage but lots of recycling.  Following this we went to the village and the grocer there for our weekly deli and spirits shopping.  Oh, and lottery tickets too.

Back at home we had lunch and then a nap.  After this I went to the barn.  There I gathered more eggs and watered everyone.  The water buckets for the flock were empty.  On the day they get fresh hay they drink lots of water.  I took Millie out too.  I decided it was time for a long walk out back and so we headed down to the cabin.  Then we went into the bush and did the whole circuit.

As we were returning, hubby and the couple from up the road appeared.  We did the route in reverse.  Millie had a grand walk today.  I think she was tired when we finished.  Hubby said she scooted right into her stall when he returned to the Small Barn with her.  It was the neighbour's first walk along the whole circuit and they enjoyed it.  We do like to share it with others and told them they were welcome at any time.

Back in the house the whirling dervish routine began again, this time on the main floor.  I vacuumed the tiles and then washed them.  This also involved cleaning up various corners of odds and sods.  I left the 'back hall' to last and had to go do afternoon chores.

I quickly fed dogs and hens, topped up water and checked on everyone.  Back at the house I completed the floor cleaning.  Then I started dinner. We had leftover turkey from the freezer.  I added a jerk sauce, onions and garlic.  Along with that we had mashed cauliflower and green beans from the garden.  Yummy!

After some email and a cup of tea it was time to do snacks in the barn; the bedtime routine.  Millie was not interested in a long walk, only a short walk.  I tucked in everyone and returned to the house.  I had not cleaned up from dinner.  I sort of pushed things to one side and started baking.  I doubled my favourite cookie recipe.

The dishes are done up.  There are lots of cookies.  The floor is still clean - my rule is it must stay clean for five minutes and then it does not matter.  I've had a shower, washed my hair, have a glass of wine and cookies!  Another day is done!

Wednesday 6 January 2016


Season's Greetings

In our house the New Year arrived quietly as we slept.  We enjoyed the visit of D & D from up the road.  We shared holiday stories and got caught up.  They left just after ten o'clock and we were in bed before midnight.

Snow had arrived a few days before New Year's.  It then got rather mild again.  On New Year's Eve however there was a biting wind.

We had a busy household over the holidays.  Son arrived on the Monday.  Mom and Bro arrived on the Tuesday.  On the big day, Sister and other Bro came for the day.  It was the first time since 2007 that all four siblings were together for Christmas dinner.

Food was aplenty.  Mom had filled Brother's car with food and gifts and there was already plenty here.  I cooked a turkey two days before Christmas.  On the big day I roasted a leg of lamb - hogget, actually - and this was accompanied by leftover turkey.  Then there was farm potatoes, farm squash, plus Mom's cauliflower dish.  I planned to do peas but forget them.  Then the seven of us enjoyed Christmas pudding with the old family rum sauce recipe, plus custard; or minced meat pie.  Oh, and there was candy cane ice cream for those not wanting any of the other.  We were stuffed, indeed.

In the morning, we went for a walk and did the "loop".  Son and I continued up to Table Rock to take in the view.  It was mild with a wind.  That walk was too far for Mom so I took her out to the cabin and back when I took Millie out.  Mom beat us back as Millie dug in her heels not wanting to return.  I had to haul on her in her harness, for which the harness is a great asset. 


Okay, it's really cold now.  That's enough of winter, already - doesn't your inside voice say that to you? Millie was cold tonight which I found rather shocking.  The onset of the cold has been rather sudden and none of us - including pooches - are used to this.  Okay, the sheep don't seem to put out by it, but still, it has been a sudden change.

The ice is a big problem.  The driveway has been like a skating rink.  Today we had someone come and sand it.  Walking Millie has been challenging as there is a solid crust of ice covering the fields.  Solid it is, until I go through it.  And it's slippery and I've fallen a few times, as has Millie.

Yesterday it was a bit milder.  I drove the tractor all around the Front Field and made a walking trail for us.  The footing is so much better now, even with the colder temps back and the tracks have frozen.

Frozen water is a big issue in the barn.  I only have a few electric buckets; that is, buckets that you plug in so they keep the water warm enough it won't freeze.  We have a few more sheep in the flock this year and the water is a popular item it seems.  One sheep, Chloe, comes running when I bring out a bucket of fresh water.  She did this last winter too.  I think she has a strong preference for really fresh water.

Millie Update

 Recovery from surgery for Millie as gone exceedingly well.  Even the last few days with the freezing temps, things have gone well.  I drove the tractor around the Front Field where we walk and created a more stable walking path for us.

Millie has become accustomed to the routines created.  She is living in the small box stall in the Small Barn.  After her breakfast I put on the harness and we walk.  At mid-day or late in the afternoon - depending on work schedules - we walk again.  And then at bedtime there is another walk.  Sometimes there is a fourth walk in a day.  All of this is leash walking.

In addition to learning how to walk on a leash, Millie is becoming very comfortable with travelling in the car.  The Vet offered twice weekly cold laser treatments on the incision, which aids in healing.  They weren't sure I'd want to do this as Millie has been so difficult to get into the car.  I noted she improved each time I took her in the car, so we have had all of the laser treatments offered.  And, Millie is becoming a sophisticated-farm-dog-car-traveller.  She hops in now without hesitation.  No longer does she salivate madly and lose her cookies along the journey.  She looks out the window, to the side, or peering through the bucket seats to look ahead.  Or, she curls up and rests.  I even leave her in the car for fifteen minutes to run into a shop.  And she just sleeps.

We are currently at week five of twelve weeks of recovery.  We have kept up with most of the physiotherapy.  The Vets are pleased with her progress, as are we.  Millie is feeling frisky and wants to play with Ruby and Beau - and us. This is the hard part; containing her energy to allow for solid healing of the newly build joint ligament.

Sales - lamb and wool

I have not yet tallied all of the sales for 2015.  We will almost make the required minimum for the farm property tax rate.  We are allowed three years to do so and should make it for next year.  Lambs sales have gone very well.

I am prepared to send some lambs to auction in the summer if I cannot sell all of our lamb product as heavy weight freezer lamb.  The challenge with this is knowing how many to send to auction and how many to keep for heavy weights.  So far, we have had great success with heavy weight freezer sales.  This year we butchered twelve with one more to go.  The high majority of customers purchase a half lamb, so that's a lot of sales to family, friends and acquaintances.

Wool sales have been pretty good this year too.  I have sold a number of fleeces to spinners.  There are however some fleeces remaining - far more than I can spin up - and these I will take to the wool market in the next month.  There is no use hanging on to these as there will be more wool in the spring.

Next Year

Well, next year is here now.  The next crop, so to speak, is the topic...

Wool sales to spinners are expected to improve as there are eleven new female lambs added to the flock and all have lovely fleece.  Six in particular are sired by Birch, the half Blue Faced Leicester and those six fleeces look quite lovely already.

In 2015 there were nineteen ewes in the flock.  From those there were twenty-four live lambs.  There were ewe losses, a lamb lost and some ewes had to be culled (removed from the breeding flock as no longer productive).  When the math is all done, this year's flock consists of twenty-eight ewes.  Four of these were born in June and were too small to breed, so twenty-four are expected to lamb starting in late March.  So, the breeding ewe flock has only increased by five this year.  We anticipate at least thirty-six lambs for a 1.5 average per ewe.  This is the minimum expected, although in 2015 we only reached 1.3.  So, stay tuned!