Archive for April, 2012

Springtime!

April 28, 2012

Yesterday was finally the day that the ewes and lambs got to go out on my little bit of pasture for the first time this year. I’ve got close to 5 acres, but only a small portion is fenced off for the sheep. I’ve got time OR money; the 2 rarely seem to coincide. Add in a bad back, and the result is not nearly enough places fenced off to give the poor beasties access to the grass. Hopefully, with Kid the Elder in residence, I will be able to get a little more done this year.

The ewes know the routine. My 2 drylot pens are across the alleyway from the pasture. I have orange fencing that I can string across and let either group across, and as soon as I start stretching it out, all the big sheep are at the gates, hollering.  The lambs mostly get out of the way of the stampede, and I shoo them across afterwards, at least for the first couple of times.

Once across, the ewes settled into the first high batch of grass and tucked right in.

 They didn’t venture very far, but then I only let them out for a couple of hours. This is a treat, not a substitute for feeding hay unfortunately.

 

After a little time with mom showing them what to do, the lambs went off on their own, and the lamb races were amazing (but hard to catch with the camera) 

Getting them back in the drylot is amazingly simple. They see me carry a grain bucket into the barn (for the lambs) and lay out hay and they clamber at the gate. Of course, once across they protest mightily before finally going after the hay, but they will do it day after day. The rams were very upset about not being included in the fun, but they’ll get their turn too (the alpaca isn’t nearly as easy to move back across).

My other big news is that last Saturday I went to the Goat Jamboree, to take a couple of classes on making goat milk cheeses. They were doing a couple of raffles, so I bought some tickets and divided them out between the things I was interested in. I won an Alpine doeling! I can’t pick her up until early June, but then I’ll be able to have my pick of 6 that were born in March. I’ve got a lot of research to do between now and then, since I’ve never owned a dairy goat, only Angoras. I’m getting excited about the prospect of having fresh milk, and the lady that taught the cheese classes wants to trade cheese for a fleece, so hopefully we can stay in touch and I can learn a few things from her as well. I’ve already been told that I am expected to show my new goat at the county fairs, so more learning to do there too.

 

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Pay It Forward

April 27, 2012

Back here I posted about a “Pay It Forward” contest. I only got 2 entries, and neither followed the rule about blogging it forward. 😦 Today I was reading Michelle‘s blog, and she was doing the same basic thing, so let’s try it again. The rules are pretty simple.

Ready? Here are the guidelines:

1. I will send a surprise gift to the first three commenters on this post. The gift will be handmade by me. It will be sent sometime in the next 365 days. What you get and when you get it will be a surprise. I will give you no warning whatsoever.

2. To sign up and receive a gift, you must play along, too. Pay it forward on your blog by committing to make a surprise for the first three people who comment on your post.

3. You must have a blog (that is updated regularly), as I will blog-stalk you to find the right gift for you. 🙂

4. After commenting here, you must post your own Pay It Forward to your blog within 48 hours. If not, I will choose the next person who comments.

It’s not as hard as it sounds. You have a whole year to make something – anything – to share. Try a new skill, or make something that you’re really good at. I’m not sure what I’ll do yet, and I’ll probably base my decision on what I learn about you on your blog. Sounds like fun to me, and completely do-able in the next 365 days. Anyone out there up to the challenge?

Tough Day

April 25, 2012

Not many words today. It is the 4th anniversary of my daughter’s death. I am moved to tears by the beautiful things her friends are saying on facebook, and by the lovely tribute Kid the Younger blogged.

The bottle lambs were especially cuddly last night after their bottles. Maybe they knew I needed the hugs and kisses.

Tell your people you love them. You never know if it will be the last time you see them.

Getting Older (It’s Better Than The Alternative)

April 17, 2012

Sunday was my birthday. I am now 55, which means that one of the local county fairs will now require me to enter things as a senior.

I spent most of the day (as I have most of the week) helping a friend get her new house ready to move in to. My job has been painting the kitchen cabinets. Finished the second coat this afternoon, and will go back to hang the cabinet doors tomorrow. We put on all the hardware today so it should be pretty quick to finish up. It looks amazing, but it has been a lot of hard work. My back is hurting and I am looking forward to being done. I’ve wanted to paint my kitchen cabinets (need to decide on a color), so this has been good practice.

My 6-year-old amaryllis bloomed for my birthday, which was a nice treat. I got it at an after-christmas sale for $2.50, and this is the 4th or 5th time it has bloomed for me. Definitely got my moneys worth! 

Kid the Elder made dinner and a cake. Shrimp Pasta Primavera and garlic bread, and a pink lemonade cake. Yummy! 

And, he & his wife did good in the gift department too. Gardening goodies, and an immersion blender (I’d mentioned wanting one last week, and they found one at Goodwill).

And not to be outdone, I found a very special egg in the hen-house.  Beautiful, isn’t it? Looks perfect, until you see it next to a regular egg.

 Now, these hens have been laying for 10 months, and this is even littler than the pullet eggs they laid at first. It’s cute, but I’m glad that it’s the only one of its kind. Can’t even imagine how many of these it would take to make an omelet!

The lambies continue to grow by leaps and bounds. They’ve started to eat a little bit of grain, and Merlin is finishing off 16 to 24 ounces of milk 3 times a day.  I offered the bottle to Maeve a couple of days ago, and she sometimes chooses to find us and have an extra snack, which I am happy to provide since she isn’t fattening up as quickly as her brother. She isn’t taking much, but every little bit helps, and she’s already looking better. Merlin gets first dibs, then Maeve. If there is any left, I’ll let Malcolm have a sip too. He’s the first lamb I’ve ever had volunteer to take the bottle without prompting.

Merlin’s Big Adventure

April 12, 2012

My friend Kellie is moving into a new house. Before all the furniture and stuff gets moved in there is a lot of work to do – painting, lining shelves, cleaning carpets, etc. She asked me to come help and of course I said yes. Since I’ve helped Kellie do stuff before, I knew that it would not be a short day, so Merlin needed to come with. The new house has a fully fenced back yard, so he’d be safe while we were in the house working, and the grass has started to green up. I figured he could snack and nap.

We got there before Kellie, so I took him in the back yard for his breakfast bottle and to get settled in. He wasn’t too sure about this whole idea and stuck pretty close at first, actually leaning against me and wanting lots of physical reassurance.

   

Once Kellie showed up and joined us on the back porch he relaxed a little bit.  

While we sat and talked a, something flew over our heads. We turned and saw this:  Yes, that is a parakeet. I walked up to it on the porch and it flew over to the side of the yard. I followed, and almost had it caught when Merlin decided to come help. The parakeet flew off, but Kellie will keep an eye out for him. It is obviously a pet that got loose, and we both are concerned about his ability to survive long-term.

Finally, we went in to get to work. Merlin was not happy about this turn of events and tried to follow us inside       

When Kellie went to run a couple of quick errands I went out and spent a  couple of minutes with my boy. He was very happy to see me, and explored a little on his own, unless I walked across the yard. Then he would be right on my heels.

When I went back in to work he was right back on the porch, but laid down.    

Then, he heard the people in the house out back in their yard and went to investigate    They came over to meet him. It’s a single mom (who had been hearing him cry all day) and her 7-year-old daughter, who had just gotten home from school. Merlin was having his dinner bottle when they showed up. I didn’t think to bring the camera back out with me, so no pictures of their meeting. It was quite a day for my boy, but he came through it with flying colors.

Mark came into the barn this morning, so I got a couple of new pictures of him. In the background of the first one you can see Merlin over his shoulder, and Manny and his big butt. Manny has been coming into the barn when I feed Merlin and accepting scritches the last couple of days. I’m glad they feel comfortable coming into the creep when I’m in it.  

Fun Times

April 7, 2012

Catching up again. The story of my life! Didn’t realize until this morning that it has been almost 2 1/2 weeks since I last posted.

Yesterday was exciting. Kid the Elder helped me start to burn the back ditch, which runs from the cistern to the pond, and hasn’t been burned off (or mowed) since the summer before sweetie passed away. Yipes! I knew it needed done, but it’s not an area I feel safe burning alone, since if it gets away from me it could potentially threaten not just my house, but also 3 neighbors. It was calm when we started, but of course couldn’t stay that way, and we were hustling at one point, and ended up burning quite a bit more ground than I had originally intended. Plus, we found a pile of old straw bales that sweetie had set out there (not sure why he didn’t put them on the compost pile). Kid stayed out and kept an eye on that while I went back in the house to make more lamb milk. Needless to say, we both were exhausted by the adrenaline surge of stopping the fire from taking over the world. Someone local lost his house not too long ago to a field burn that he couldn’t control, so I’m even more sensitive to that possibility than normal.

In other news, the reason that Kid the Elder was available for me is that he and DIL have boomeranged. Their apartment complex was bought by a new person a few months ago after the old owner went through bankruptcy. This has resulted in 3 inspections of their apartment between Thanksgiving and New Years, and most recently they were asked to put down another deposit. When they balked, they were threatened with eviction. Not wanting that on their record they put all their stuff in storage and are now staying in my rv (no hookups). I have been very up front with them that this is a temporary solution and I am not going to make it comfy, since I don’t want roommates. We have a plan in place, which involves them saving up enough money to get into a new place. He lost his job last summer (they were doing a major purge), and she is starting the process of applying for SSDI, so money is tight for them too. It won’t be much fun for them, as I fully intend to be the bad guy when it comes to making them stick to the plan. I’ve already instituted 2 biggies – no more soda, and he and I do the grocery shopping (which means no more junk food). We are all over weight, and hopefully this will help us all. I am having to relearn how to cook the proper amounts. I’m used to having left overs and eating off of those, but they have lived with roommates for the last few years, and what got cooked got eaten, and my boy cooks in impressive amounts. The first week was rough, and I pitched a couple of hissy fits. I had made a great shredded beef over rice dish, that I was really looking forward to having for lunch the next day. I came in from giving Merlin his late bottle, only to find them finishing it all off and I blew a gasket. They apologized the next day, but I let them know that this was not acceptable. I have modified how I cook and deal with what I want to save (it goes into the fridge asap. Out of sight, out of mind). I have talked to each of them separately, as well as all of us together, to reinforce my views

Last Saturday was our local Fiber Market Day. We started earlier than we have in the past, which meant getting up at 5 am to be able to start set up at 6, since the doors were going to open to the public at 9. Merlin came in the house the night before for a bath. Like many bottle babies, he’s had a small issue with scouring. Not bad, but he needed cleaned up some. He stayed in the house in a dog carrier until he was dry, got his midnight bottle and then moved the carrier out to the car for the rest of the night. I had already packed the car the night before, so in the morning I just made a quick cup of coffee and loaded eggs (the hens have been prolific layers), and off we went. Once I unloaded the car and set up a small pen for him, Merlin came in to the building for breakfast and settled in. He was a champ all day long and got his picture taken several times. He had to wear diapers all day long to minimize the mess of having him inside, but took it like the little trooper he is. Here are some shots of my set up:

  In the first one you can see the lattice panel that was Merlin’s pen. They also show what an eclectic mix of things I bring. I enjoy a variety of crafts (Kids tease me that I’m ADD, since I tend to flit from one technique to another). What didn’t sell needs to get posted to the Etsy shop, but I think I need to do a major renovation there. It’s always a fun show, and the weather changed about every 15 minutes. It was beautiful at both ends, which made set up and tear down nicer, but in between we had wind, rain, hail and snow. I got to see a lot of old friends, and taught someone new how to spin on a drop spindle. All in all, a win.

Last time I posted I only had 5 lambs. All of the definite ewes have lambed, and the final count is 10 lambs. Six boys, 4 girls. Also 6 brown, 4 black. I need to figure out if the browns are brown or moorit before I register. The genetics are so confusing. As I understand it, browns have black somewhere on them, moorits are brown all over. I always thought that moorit was totally recessive. I’ve been going over notes in the Sheep Color Genetics group on Yahoo, as well as the notes that Laura sent me from Dr. Phil Spondenberg’s lecture, and all I’ve figured out so far is that I need to do some more studying. Any way, here all some lamb pics, in order of birth:

 Manny, born March 14th

Mary, born March 16th 

Mark was born later on the 16th, but I only have his birth picture. Have to take the camera back out with me this afternoon…

 Malcolm, born March 17th,

and his twin Merlin, born March 18th (4 1/2 hours after Malcolm)  It’s hard to get a distance shot of a bottle baby!

 Maggie, born March 21st. She and Mary were the first 2 to lose their tails and become big girls.

Micah is the flashiest lamb and was born March 25th  In addition to all that white on his face, he has knee-high white boots on both back legs.

On March 26th, Eartha had twins. Meriadoc (male), trying in this picture to get lunch when mom wouldn’t stand up and little sister Maeve 

And the grand finale: Millicent (Millie). She was a big girl, and mom Fraija needed a bit of help delivering her. Solid black. 

Over all I am very happy with this crop of lambs, especially the girls. I love that I can tell them apart by the amount of white on their heads, and it is fun as they get more adventurous and start racing about. I will probably let everyone out on the pasture for a short while tomorrow so I can clean out the barn. Plus it may give me a chance to get some action shots.

Happy Easter everyone!