A YEAR END NOTE
It has been six months since my last entry here. Now, it is time to say goodbye to 2021 and hello to 2022. I am drafting this post from Amsterdam city where Darling Daughter and her family live. Hubby and Son and I have jumped through all of the COVID-related hoops to get here; and now are doing the same as we prepare to return home in the next few days. Our Darling Grand-daughter is a gem and we are so delighted to spend some time with her – and, of course, her lovely parents. Not much sightseeing is happening, just a lot of hanging out and eating and laughing and napping and going to playgrounds to watch a 20-month old blossom.
All of the lambs had departed from the farm by mid-September, except for the three replacement ewe lambs I chose to keep. I kept Ginger – featured in the shearing day photo in the previous blog. She is a bit of a pet and comes to get her head scratched. She and her cousins, Nutmeg and Luna, are in the Small Barn with Nigel, the goat, while the ram is in the flock doing his thing. These young girls will not be bred until next year when they are fully mature.
Nigel has shocked me, becoming a pushy guy with these ewelings; he will push with his horned head, and bite their ears to get them out of his way. They are much heavier than he is; they just run out of his way to get past him and kind of ignore him. They must, however, keep their head down and away from his teeth - !
We are overwintering 14 breeding ewes; Brock, the ram; the 3 ewelings; and, Nigel, the goat. In addition, we have Jet the cat, an additional stray that drops by; 3 dogs – see more on this below; and, about 15 laying hens.
The Winter goal is to get through the winter with everyone healthy. We do not usually anticipate health issues in winter. We need to manage the weather that is received and get the feed out when we can. In the Fall we had a major catastrophe with the tractor, named Oz: he required a new engine. Although a ridiculous sum was necessary for repairs, the sum was much less than replacing Oz. He was returned to us just prior to our departure. We had been relying on a neighbour to put hay out for us as we transitioned from pasture to full time hay feeding just before we left. We were able to pasture quite late this year. This neighbour, additionally, put hay out for us while we have been away.
Because of COVID, opportunities to sell wool remain scarce. I have not been very motivated to do other things to sell wool. Keep in mind I continue to work full time, 4 days, in an off-farm job. I do however feel very fortunate in that we have had some excellent fleece sales through the website. As well, we have a few items in a local shop with some sales there, especially with felt balls. I have had to spend some time making a few batches of felt balls – and made some smaller ones for Darling Grand-daughter, with the letters of her name on each. They have been a hit!
Sheepskin sales have also been slow, with one or two sales in Guelph (thanks Mom!). I did not process any last year. I have sent 5 hides this year, 3 of which are black.
In my last post I commented on Millie’s declining health and our decision to not get a dog. Both of these things have changed. I discussed Millie’s new diagnosis with the Vet and was assured this is not a degenerative condition without complicating comorbidities, which she does not have. We have put her on pain killers for her arthritic hind legs, a condition not related or impacting the newer diagnosis of Laryngeal Paralysis. The summer was pretty hot for Millie. She has enjoyed the cooler temps of the Fall more.
Ruby plans beautifully with Paddy. Millie wants nothing to do with Paddy and snarls at him when he gets close. She is not nasty or mean, just clarifies her boundary. Paddy likes the sheep. He is now too rough with the ewe lambs and they will not stand up to him. The ewes in the flock will stand up to him, for sure. He requires supervision whenever he is with the other animals. He gets daily long walks along the property perimeter with the other LGDs.
At last check we had 15 hens. The young birds acquired in the spring grew into lovely hens and laid eggs daily. After Paddy destroyed a few hens, and I returned to the office and demand for eggs increased, I acquired some more birds. Then Paddy reduced the numbers again. I won’t consider buying anymore until spring.
Jet cat is doing well. I did a double take one day when there was a cat at my feet and one in the other end of the building that I recognized as Jet. This visitor is quite tame. Jet is pretty wary of it, but not too much so. There is always dried food for cats and a visitor is okay as there is lots of rodent work to do. There are two strays we have seen, both black, one larger than Jet, and one smaller than Jet. All are welcome to add their skill to the task at hand.
It was a very sad day when on July 17th, we had a strong wind with a rain storm. As we ran around the house to close up the windows, I heard a strange rattling noise. It wasn’t until a few minutes later when we looked outside to see the tree was down. The rattling noise was the leaves shimmering in the wind as the tree fell to the ground. Half the tree. It was a two-prong tree and the larger side of it fell. It was rotten inside and the tree expert who cleaned it up for us said the standing part of the tree is healthy.
The willow tree is a lovely focal point in the front yard and lambs play at its base each spring. We will miss seeing this annual event of playtime under the willow tree. It will now just be different.
Best wishes for a glorious 2022!