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One Hundred Sixteen

Snow and freezing temperatures have arrived to the area.  Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve and breeding had ended for the year.  Amen!  This year went well with the breeding program except when a sturdy, lovely ram injured his hoof.  The girls could easily run from him and this spring will tell the results of this injury.  

The temperatures have been well below normal and they only way for me to warm my hands is to stick them into my underwear.  Rubber buckets are frozen solid and we bring them to the house to melt.  It takes a day or two for the frozen blacks to loosen form the sides of the bucket. There are melting blocks of ice in the basement sink melting on their own time. 

We still enjoy going to the barn and spending time in the barn.  I just wish it was not so cold.

One hundred fifteen

Several weeks ago I had a chance to reconnect with dear friends from Florida.  They live in a gated community and everything they do seems to be gated. They go to dinner and  it is in the gated restaurant .  They  visit friends  and it is gated.  Well I do too!  For me to walk to where the ewes are, I need to walk through six gates.  I live in a gated community too  and my friends walk on four legs.  Honestly, my two legged friends have been known to walk on four legs too because they  were closer to the ground.  There was less chance of an accident.

We will be shearing in a few weeks and then the decisions need to be made.  Who stays and who goes.  Knowing this process, I have learned to divorce myself  from any kind of feelings toward the little ones.  But those dear little faces and they look at you and say,” Save me!”  I always walk away and shake my head not wanting to do anything.  I save the animals I need to!!

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Here it is September and the weather has turned humid and hot.  It is almost to much to bear.  Rain?  It was a thing of the past.

The chickens have given up laying eggs.  It is the time of the year when the chickens come running if they spot you. They chase you for a morsel of food.  The chicken coop or yard is covered with feathers and the molt has begun. This is an annual process.  Loosing and growing feathers is normal.  It begins when the days begin to get shorter. The chickens that are over sexed or the chosen few have begun to grow feathers too on their backs.  Maybe after this process ends, they will begin laying.

To continue the feather business, the main barnyard is littered with white feathers.  The Emden geese (all white) have been molting and the main barnyard looks as though Fred and I had a pillow fight over what to serve for dinner.  There are thousands of white feathers on the ground.  Thousands of them.  If I could, I would rent a machine that would vacuum only the feathers and then I would add them to my pillows that need volume.

Good night.




September 3, 2016

One hundred fourteen

https://orionmagazine.org/article/where-it-begins/

Through the years of going to markets, I have met and made some wonderful friends.  The knitters we have met are seasoned to beginners and their enthusiasm is infectious. I have been dragging my green scarf around for ages and after talking to another knitter yesterday, I went home and finished the green scarf.

This article above was sent to me by one of these seasoned knitters I have grown close to and love spending chat time whenever we can steal the moment.  The article has several line items that describe her and her knitting skill.  Read and enjoy this article.  I love and will use the phrase concerning color and ‘every eye hungers for its own’ and that is the truth.  Someone will see a color and have to have it. Secretively I am chanting to myself, “ECH! I would never wear that color!”  But colors are a very private and selective hunger.

One hundred thirteen

It is too damn hot.  When I walk the pastures or walk the dog, nothing is moving!  The plants move as little as possible. If they move,  it is a loss of water.  And we all know, there has been little to no rain.  Plants have begun to wilt and wither. I have seen what would appear to be an autumn setting with fallen brown leaves surrounding a tree. Some people  love this weather but they have air conditioners.  We who do not.  We sit here and sweat or wait for a breeze.  There have been moments when I have knocked over anyone I can to catch a breeze.  

A weather man said that this weather pattern may be the new normal.  I bought a new book on shade gardening which was rewritten for climate change.  Ken Druse is the author of “The New Shade Garden” and describes how gardening has changed in our areas.  Is this not scary? 

The lambs are big this year and there is also a small handful of lambs that are tiny.  One small ram is the most odd looking and acting.  His future is so uncertain because I do not know what to do with him.  It saddens me when the lamb does not have a foreseeable future.  This is another hard part of raising livestock.

One hundred twelve

The heat has been climbing higher and higher.  I hate it.  The sheep and goats do too.  In fact, they all cornered me in the pasture and demanded air conditioning in the general area where they stay.  Of course I agreed and flee the scene as quickly as I could. One ewe kept jabbing me with her smelling hoof to make the point.  It is just too damn hot.  I would be more pleasant about the weather  if it would rain.

The ram lambs are getting practice for autumn’s breeding season.  They remind me of a small precocious dog that humps guests.  But then again, the ewe lambs are also guilty of the same practice.  Being a school teacher, I can sigh relief I did not need to stop that behavior when playing kickball.  

Here are two photos of the gang.  These little black bucks are sweet. The sheep are enjoying the day and look how big the lambs are.playing

DSCN2249

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After an intense birthing season, when June first appears on the calendar, I can wipe the sweat from my brow and smile.  All the sheep and goats have had their hooves trimmed and all kids and lambs have been given their CDT shots.  The livestock now spends the summer in the pastures. No more barn duty.  The females and little ones have seven pastures and we move them every five days.  This means when they all return to the first pasture, it will have been thirty days since their last feast in that pasture.  Our best effort in controlling parasites.

This does not mean, however, that we ignore them.  We do random checks for parasites and other problems.  Such as the new dog chewing on ears if she can catch them.

Fiber shows and farmers’ markets have started in most areas. The best sage advice I ever received was to begin selling products in your general area and then branch outward.  Let people in your area know what you are doing and what you might have for sale.  It works.

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I was walking down the alley we have created for the livestock to walk to any of the seven new paddocks for our rotational grazing and noticed a brown path worn by the animals.   They all walk the same path and it wears a mud line to and fro.  I looked at the shape of it and laughed.  It veers to the right and then to the left and goes straight and the pattern continues.  It mde me very curious about why.  So I did a moment of research and found out that sheep and goats walk that way so they can see what is going on behind them.  This makes perfect snse to me.

Below is a photo of one of the paths and if the photo continued, you’d see the many meanderings in the grass.  For some reason it looks as though a second path has been started.

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It is May 24th and the birthing is over.  At least I think so.  Four females did not give birth and there is certainly a small window of time available.  There were 37 births and two deaths.  Tails are falling off and Molly, the dog, hunts them for a morning snack.  It can be a crazy time when the lambs decide to chase each other in the barnyard.  The ewes stand there and roll their eyes.  Here is a video of the part of the mayhem.


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It has been a month since I have written.  We have had twenty eight lambs/kids born in the last three weeks.  More to go and that is it. I have one ewe, Wheezie, that I have to hide at night with her two little ewes.  She has become the walking  Dairy Queen with a great drive-up window.  Several lambs have learned they can steal milk from her and it is usually from behind.  On close inspection, these lambs that appear to work weekends in the coal mine with faces and heads that are black.  Wheezie will have at least five lambs with her and they are all eating.  Her little ones stay in the barn and wait for her return.  They do not stand a chance to get a drop of milk.  So I hide her at night so her little ones can enjoy a meal and she gets some rest.

It has finally rained for several days in a row and we were August dry and we needed the rain.  The pastures had decided not to grow and now they are all showing signs of rapid growth.

Also, we were given a replacement for the dog we had lost.  Her name is Molly and what a cutie.  She stays in her little section of the barn that protects her from the ewes.  The ewes will smash her against a gate or wall if she gets too close.  She is learning her barnyard proximity.



© William Churchill 2014