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The polar vortex has left and now we will deal with temperatures in the mid to upper forties.  Who’d a thunk it?  So that means we will be dealing with the mud.  Mud-mud-mud!!! So while that is all taking place, we are applying and sending applications for festivals and two farmer markets. September and November are completely filled with festivals and one holiday.  Just so this endeavor is profitable.  

And back to the polar vortex.  It was so cold that I noticed round silver dollar disks in the hay on the floor.  I tried my best to figure out what they were and then it came to me.  It was frozen urine and I have never seen that. That will also tell you how cold it was in the barn. 

 No one shivered this year except for the new buck from Virginia.  He was not acclimated to our temperatures in Pennsylvania.  Biff has survived and I am sure he is enjoying this spring thaw for the week.

 February 3, 2019

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Campestral was the word of the day.  It certainly pertains to us.  Ours are covered in yellow grass and tons of mud.  Areas between a gate will literally suck your boot off.  This is such a cheery feeling!

Animals seem to be enjoying the warmer weather we are having this early period of winter.  Every day they are taken out into an assigned field and they stay there all day.  Many return with enlarged stomachs from eating what is left in the fields.  Days are gray but they do not complain.  

This interval of time is the only period that the shepherds get a break from all of their duties. We still have morning and evening duties but the span between that period is mine.  Since it is January, I will begin to clean out closets and drawers and donate what I do not use.

January 5, 2019


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Lately I have several ewes banging heads.  If I disperse the animals, these head bangers will find each other and begin the banging of heads.  There does not seem to be much research on this  and a fellow breeder suggested dominance in the breed.   She may be pissed she did not get what she wanted for Christmas.

Breeding is over and we shall see what happened while we were not in the barn. We purchased a new red buck and he spent the breeding period with three red does.  The results willl not be in for about 147 days.  2019 will be exciting.  Let’s hope we have an average or ample rainfall so we can have hay cut this year.

Markets have been writing to us and we have been deciding where we are going this year.  My short retirement will be over in March.  And from there it is a try-state journey until the beginning of November.

Wishes for a healthy and safe New Year!!! 2019
















































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There are days I feel immured in manure.

I have always enjoyed alliteration in literature and when I can, I will use it.  Do I use it in the barn speaking to the animals?  No, but I do talk to them daily.  Some sheep treat you with total distain and others come very close for a hidden tidbit.

Breeding is not fun.  The rams may love it and wait all year for it but it has not been the best year.  The animals certainly know where they belong and know the routine.  But the mud, poop, and animals here and not there.  The fear of not enough hay.  Two old gals and will they be alive in the morning?  It can be frustrating and maddening.  But then there is spring!!!!!!

The day you go to the barn and the first baby has arrived makes the paragraph above seem insignificant.  That I know and that I am glad.

Dec. 14, 2018

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I was in the barn and said to myself, “ You need to write this in the blog.”  Two days later I cannot remember what had happened.  We finally divivded the shepp and goats into breeding groups.  It was an exhausting experience becasue you need to put animals in stalls in a very controlled and organized manner. Some stalls contained both goats and sheep.

 The next morning when I went to the barn, I found a doe in the corner screaming and noticed the ram ramming her.  When I pushed him away while  beating him with a rubber bucket, I noticed the blood and missing horn on the doe.  He must have been trying to “have his way with her” and resistance casued the ram to lose control.  

I removed the doe and buck and they have a private stall.  She has been quiet and very studied in her actions.  Oh, the life of a shepherd can be burdensome. I hope her newbornes this year were worth the struggle she went through!

December 7, 2018


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Yesterday it snowed eight to ten inches!  A major snowstorm and yes, it was beautiful but we were not prepared.  The chickens squwaked becasue there was nothing in the coop to eat.  In the barn the loud susurrous came fro the ewes and does concerning their diet too.  That night I had trouble sleeping because I am worried about what we will feed the animals all winter with little hay in the barn.  We need 400 more bales.  The search continues.

One month ago we gave all the animals a copper bolus and a shot of BoSe.  It has been suggested by our vet because our animals seem to be deficient in copper.  Copper is needed by both animls but more for goats and less for sheep.  The livers of our sheep from several necropsies  showed their livers had  very low copper levels.  The copper bolus is also going to help in the elimination of some adult parasites.  Resullts will not be known for a year.

So back to the winter wonderland and I am now off to the barn.

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Yikes!  Now I have been absent for two whole months.  Rain was the celebrity of the summer.  It had the leading role and it was a daily dose of this champion weather activity.  Yes, we still have green, green grass and fields with over grown vegetation.  At a recent fiber festival, I was told that the rain has washed most of the nutrients from the soil and leaving the plants with less nutrients.  In fact, it is recommended that we start serving hay to the livestock.  Ours has not been cut as of this writing.

Today we shear the rest of the livestock and that will include six fat rams and dozens of does.  The barn will be bursting of with raw fleeces and now I need to sort, separate, and have it sent to fiber mills.  I have two new ideas that need to be made into yarns.  We shall see.

The yarn festivals are almost over and that includes farmers’ markets.  The holidays begin and then I can retire in January and February.  March is the beginning of a new year and the festival begin then.  I am looking forward to curling up under a woolen blanket with my dog and waiting for spring.  This is my form of hibernation!

October 6, 2018

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Haven’t been here for a while.  I spent  a week at a local lake and it rained everyday we were there except the last day.  Before we left for the lake, we entertained three good friends and two of them stayed for a week.  The week was exhausting but there was much laughter and good food.  

Now I am home weeding like a mad gardener that is having a show in a few days.  I do a section of weeds, cut grass, and run errands.  What an exciting life I lead.

The animals are good.  Parasites are around and I have lost two great goats.  These two boys I found when I returned from the lake and it is sad, maddening, and frustrating.  The vet came and I gave her several clear plastic bags full of poop.  The results were coccidia and so it begins.  We will be catching and dosing in a secluded area for five days.  Then hopefully, it will dry and the sound will be cheap wind chimes from the 5 and 10 Store.

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If you look in the background, the grasses have grown beyond our ability to get them cut.  The rains came daily and the pastures grew.  Some pastures have areas in water.  The tractor needed to be recused once from the mud in an area with water.  June has been a busy month.  Just trying to keep the yard and gardens weed free and presentable.

Today the weather is perfect and I will go out and take more photos.

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It was a great day to spend the entire time outside.  There were weeds to pull and spent flowers to remove.  I dug with my hands and at the end of the day I looked down at them and my hands looked like two, old wrinkled potatoes from the pantry.  My hands were cut and had several thorns in them.  It felt great.

The garden is moving along at a quickened pace. One flower after another announces it arrival, looks gorgeous, and then withers.  It seems to be going faster then I can remember.  Roses are blooming, daylilies, and hydrangeas are next.  I wish I could watch them grow for a moment longer but it does not work that way.

Animals are doing well.  We have begun our rotation in pastures.  When the animals hear that rattle of the chain against the gate, they come running.  Their heads all come up and the ears point horizontally and the sheep look in the direction of the noise.  If the gate stays open, they all come running.  I do not even need to call them as they will all come running.




© William Churchill 2014