Blog


142

And so it begins.  We had our first fecal sample sent to the vet and it was diagnosed with the  haemonchus contortus parasite.  Really?  So soon?  We caught it at the right time and the ewe is fine.  But now I am on butt patrol.  And I will need to look at eyes and throats.

Every lamb and kid is growing and eating in the pastures.  There are still some large lambs that will crawl under their mothers and thrust their mouths onto the teats.  It must hurt the mother and some will lie on their stomachs to rest from the what seems to be a violent procedure.

We are planning to use a new medication called Bioworma.  We hope it will help eliminate the parasite problem mentioned in the paragraph above. I should add it will not eliminate it but slow it  down and to help the situation.

July 4, 2019

141

Breeding is over.  That mad dash to the barn with molasses water and my record  book is over.  We had an odd season. One older ram did not perform or match his outstanding record on our farm. Only one of his  ewes was pregnant. Most of the ewes had single births. The goats were also disappointing.  Out of six breeding does, only three gave us newborns and all of them had a single.  I have not been able to formulate a reason.

The count would be seventeen animals.  The goats  had two bucks and one doe.  There were fourteen sheep born and there were twelve ewes and two rams.  The ratio of girls to boys was diffinetly in our favor.

We have one bottle baby, Snow White, who I feed four times during the day.  She is usually waiting or sound asleep on top of the dog.  It is so heart warming to see these two unlikely animals become friends.   I am hoping it continues when they are older.

140

It is already May 23 and the bearded iris relentlessly bloom on this date.  The next flower to bloom will be the peonies.  And then there are the highly fragrant beauties that bloom all spring. This is a great time of the year for me to be gardening.

The barns, however, smell!  In fact, since we have been having nice weather, the animals are sleeping under the stars.  The floor of the barn must be a breeding ground for any creature that can survive in those conditions.  Now to find time to remove the manure.  Anyone care to help?

Markets have begun and sales are great.  There is no bad color or color combination.  I have seen them all and everyone has a different idea of what looks good on them.   No matter what color we dye, it will sell.  Someone will walk up to the booth and love it. 



139

It is raining this morning and will do so all day.  Last night I built a fire and enjoyed its glow and warmth.  Today I will run an errand and do a few surprises for my mother as it is Mother’s Day.  When is Shepherd’s Day?

We have eleven little creatures in the barn as I write.  We closed the doors last night and made everyone stay inside.  It was to be rainy and chilly and even though it is Mother’s Day, some of the mothers in the barn are careless.  As we noticed, there were a few ewes and lambs sitting in the rain.  I went out to them individually and shook my finger at them.  So then we decided to lock them up over night in the big barn.  It will be a stinky, hot mess when I get there.

One birth story I will tell is that Fred and I always go to the barn to check for little ones. We noticed a ewe performing all the signs she was delivering.  But she kept screaming during the process.  So we locked her in a birthing stall and decided to pull the baby out.  I held her down and Fred pulled the baby out.  The mother would scream and gasp as though she was being choked.  When the small lamb was freed, it was HUGE!  A beautiful black female was born.

Another unrelated story is when I was returning from the barn, I noticed a gosling on its back in an  inch of water.  I ran over to it and picked it up.  The poor bird was exhausted and seemed to be dying.  I pumped its chest and did mouth to beak resuscitation.  I would blow into its mouth and the whole body would expand.  The I turned it upside down and the water would pour out.  I did this ten or twelve times.  The animal was lifeless so I left it in a safe place.  Hours later, it was missing.  There are several causes for that.  Then I noticed the gaggle of geese this gosling belongs to. And there with the siblings was the resuscitated bird.  Lord have mercy child!  This is not a brummagem story but true.

138

The day we marked as the first day the girls would deliver has gone and now it is a daily waiting game.  I walk to the barn every morning with my cup of coffee and look or listen for a  new birth.  In moments, I will start my journey to the barn.  Many of the girls will deliver around 10 o’clock.  I do not know why.

We spent the whole afternoon in the main garden trimming and planting new perennials.  We pulled weeds and secured a tuteur so the winds do not blow it over again.  Several clematises have been trained on different sides of the structure.  We are hoping for a glorious show this year.

Today is Earth Day and I must decide what to do for the earth.

April 22, 2019


137

Waiting.  Waiting.  I go to the barn daily and look to see who has swollen to an almost gross proportion.  That ewe will be delivering soon. There are a few new mothers and they are not as round as their older counterparts.  Ten more days until the calculated date of birthing and then the work begins.

The daffodils are in full bloom and they look great.  The pastures are growing and green is returning to the yard.  As I get older, I have noticed many shrubs and bushes have been planted in my garden.  And it looks great.  

When I first started gardening, I had to have and bought every color I could find.  Not anymore.  The garden has been toned down and only several colors are planted in the existing beds.  Shades of green dominate and I find them relaxing and a very important part of the garden.

My last comment is, climate change has brought two noxious weeds into the garden and I daily remove and try to kill them.  The one weed is called Hairy Bittercress and it is not a native.  Tiny white flowers and when you pull them out, it will shot seeds for more.  Nice.  The blue weed is Veronica and not a native either.  Pretty but grows everywhere.

136

Gormless.  The word used to describe sheep and sometimes it make me angry.  People cite the story of the flock  that went over the cliff to their death.  But they are wrong.  Read this from a study done at…just read this article below.  Being with our sheep every day, I have had this feeling they are much smarter than people have said.  This study proves to me I am right.

www.bbc.com

New research, however, reveals that sheep are far more intelligent than they have been given credit for. Scientists at the University of Cambridge have found that the creatures have the brainpower to equal rodents, monkeys and, in some tests, even humans.Feb 20, 2011


I put all the information in the article you could use to further your investigation if you do not believe me.  So I voiced my opinion and let me know what you think.

135

"What to write about,” is a phrase I think about daily.  Things happen on the farm and I do not  write about them because I would be repeating myself.  But then agin, most of us repeat ourselves.  Since we are beyond mid-winter, I have noticed a few things:

1.  The bucks are showing no interest in the does.  There is no more urinating on themselves and constant crying to the opposite sex.  Even the does are more interested in eating and not in lovemaking.

2.  The sun is warmer and feels great on the face when we have the luxury of a cloudless sky.  Sunny days are priceless and welcomed in Pennsylvania.

3.  The chickens have started to lay eggs.  In fact, we were gifted four eggs yesterday and we are still in winter.  The owner of Hines told me the new feed would have the chickens laying eggs.  It did.

4.  The girls in the barn are starting to show baby bumps.  We still have several months to go and I know from experience that the bumps we see are most likely food that they have eaten during the day.

5.  Some of our original flock has died because of old age.  There is one rickety old gal that is fed by herself and is always at the gate for her private dining room.  At this farm, age has its privileges.

The snow is pounding the landscape and it will be one of those days we are house bound.

DSCN3606


February 20, 2019

134

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

132

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



© William Churchill 2014