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The barn sits empty and the only life left in it is a persistent goose trying to hatch her eggs and barn swallows flying in and out of any aperture available.  As soon as the hay has been harvested, the barn will need to excavated to prepare for the winter months.  The manure on the floor will be loaded into the manure spreader and spread throughout the hay field.  It will fertilize the plants that will feed the animals next year.  This is a perfect union.

We have had what seems to be daily showers or thunderstorms.  Everything is verdant or a shade of it.  Every shade of green is visible in the garden.  Chartreuse, celadon, Kelly, harlequin, army, ….  The shades are easy on the eyes.  I read a narrative of two gardeners and one gardener wants only shades of green and other gardener other wants color explosions.  I agree with the former.  Because if you really think about it, it is the green leaves we see all spring and summer with flashes of color that come and go.

June 22, 2017

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Another sunny morning and a restless last night.  I could not wait for the morning sun to rise so I could listen to the roosters crow.  The night before I had fourteen duckings senselessly murdered in the chicken coop.  The culprit still remains at large but the evidence points to a weasel.  The duckings had left the basement so they could get aquatinted with the other fowl in the yard.  They had been hatched by hens not caring what eggs laid under their bosom.  A setting hen is a hen determined to hatch an egg.  And so they did.  Fourteen ducklings.  One or two at a time would hatch.

After several weeks I placed them in a  guarded area inside the chicken coop.  When I went to the coop the next day, all had been killed.  The murderer went into the duckling area, killed them, and dragged them up and over the temporary walls.  They put all of the dead ducks in a pile in a corner of the coop.  The killer would just bite or rip a hole in the duck.  If they had eaten them, I would not have been do angry or disappointed.

So it is a new day, and I  hope it is not as sad.

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Lambing and kidding have ended.  Thirty-nine babies have been delivered and what a crew.  When we open the barn doors, there is a zoom of little ones running and chasing in all directions.  Mothers just nod and exhaustingly walk to the pastures to eat.  They are covered with poop tracks all over their backs.  As some lambs run endlessly, others will lie down and observe the day.  Nothing to do but absorb the day.

Of the thirty-nine babies, eight are goats.  There are five black, one red, and three white.  They are the most curious creatures in the barnyard.  Everything is inspected, licked, or  jumped on.  They too run in a gang and run everywhere.  Life is a gas for them.

On June first, the barn is closed for the season.  I cannot wait.  No more poop picking up and spreading hay on the floor.  They will spend the rest of late spring and the summer in the pastures.  If we have one of those strong rainstorms, I will open the barn and let them take shelter.  But as I sit and exhale in relief, I will then need to go on parasite patrol.  Never a break!

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The count of animals in the barn has exploded.  Starting with sixty ewes/does and adding thirty-seven babies, we have reached the our limits!  It is certainly a full house.  There are little ones running around everywhere.  In the mornings when I open the doors, the ewe mothers push to get outside to eat but to get away from the little ones.  Their backs have manure tracks on them and I am sure they are looking for a peaceful spot inn the pasture.  eventually the mothers will look up and give a holler.  Their babies will run over and eat.

I have one mother, Wheezie, who last year had become the neighborhood ice cream truck.  Wherever she roamed, there would be a band of little ones trying to steal her milk.  It is going on this year too.  I have been trying to figure out how the newest members to the herd know to choose this ewe to steal her milk.  What is it about her that they know to steal her milk.  Is it the way her teats hang? Maybe her teats deliver chocolate milk. This poor ewe will be followed by six of  seven lambs trying to steal her milk.  Even if she lies down, they will try to get her teats underneath her.  Life on the farm!





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I have not taken the time to keep this blog up to date.  We have started lambing and what surprises and work.  The second set of triplets arrived a day ago.  What excitement for us.  I will post a video later.  My Sebastopol goslings are in the basement under a heat light.  They came in the mail from Arizona.  There is  also a new born peep with straddle leg. Her mother hatched four eggs. A study on chickens told me to tie her legs together to keep the one leg from going backwards instead of forward. I have chickens sitting on duck eggs and this will be interesting.  I hope it works.  A small kitty was found in an old grain bin and she had been there for many days.  She was bone thin and we have decided to call her Bunny.  Yesterday a rooster and a Guinea hen arrived.  I am sure someone drove by and let them out.  How stupid of people.  These animals are scared, hungry, and confused.  It is mean.

Here is the video I mentioned above and the triplets are two days old.  They are the cutest critters alive!


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One Twenty-Six

We have been home for several days after attending a three day fiber festival in Pittsburgh.  It was the Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet  Festival and Creative Arts Festival held at the David Lawrence Convention Center.  Exhibiting and selling are exhausting and productive. What I absolutely love the most about being a vender is making new friends and acquaintances.  The venders share ideas and laughs.  Photos flew one day when a woman walked around with a bag on her shoulder that read ‘Scum Bag’.  Her misplaced arm spelled a different word.  

We had dinner with Ce Ce, Brice and Helen.  There were great discussions and a ton of laughs! We all connected like old friends to share stories and have drinks. We have made plans to meet again.  The women around us were great.  Giving advice and taking some advice.  It is a festival and it at times is festive.  So we are now planning our next work-cation.  I cannot wait.

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All the animals have been shorn and sheltered in the barns.  During the cold snap that lasted a week, we had to turn on heat lamps to keep the ewes and does warm.  The bucks and rams live in close quarters and the closeness keeps them warm.  So far, no complaints have been written by the flock.

We are still working with a professor from Penn State and our vet on our nutritional program. The spring pastures will need to be inspected and record what is growing.  Then we will be given reconditions on what we need to do.

At the moment which is the first day of spring, I might be able to return to my garden and continue working in it.  I actually have clumps of perennials that are out of the ground and were to be replanted but we had several inches os snow. I hope to  return to the garden today.  As I look out the window, I can see the clumps and all of the early bulbs that were blooming and now gone.  That is what I get for procrastinating  and not taking the photo before the snow.  I will wait and take them next year.

March 20,2017

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Here it is February 5th and the there is no snow.  In fact, we have little snow.  It has been very cold or it has been very muddy.  i downloaded photos during the fall or early winter that i had forgotten that I had taken.  These photos show the animals blissfully chewing away pumpkins or evergreen trees.  The pumpkins and the trees are believed to help eliminate parasites in the animals four stomachs.  Here they are:

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What to blog about?  Nothing really.  Life at this time of year is a routine.  We wake up and make coffee.  Read, write or click.  At 7 we watch CBS This Morning.  Exactly at 8 we head down the stairs to get ready for the barn.  Layers and filthy, smelling clothes await for us there.  We trudge to the chicken coop and rams on the house side.  Feed, hay, and corn for the morning meal.  Off to the barn after the cats are fed and unlocked.  I lock up the goats and then Fred appears with their sweet feed.  They are fed and the sheep are all standing near their feed troughs.  Fred hands me the three metal coffee cans of sweet feed and he throws corn to the geese.  I feed the sheep  and then we hand pick up poop in the barn.  We need clean fleeces! A bale of hay is distributed around the barn. Then over to the bucks and kid goats.  Same routine.  Feed and clean.  This routine takes an hour and a half.  Completing this we go for a walk with the dog.  This is done EVERY day!  Oh yes, I say to you.  It is repeated at 4!!!  That is my daily routine and I love it.

Here is a photo of what will come:

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January 30, 2017

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Another raining day on the farm and the temperatures may reach 15 ℉ higher than the average!  The snow and ice have melted and it is a carpet of mud.  I continuously change the area where I place the feeding troughs because after one day of feeding, it becomes a mud pit.  After the sheep eat they move into any pastures that have an open gate.  So the sheep graze and the goats gaze from the barn.  Unless there is something scrumptious to eat in the pastures, the goats will stay out of the rain during winter.

We still have a few months to go before the little ones arrive.  Some of the girls look fatter and especially in the belly area.  Our vet and we are working with a professor of veterinary science from Penn State.  We have had everything the animals eat analyzed and the results will help us decide how to move forward on our nutritional program.  As of today, we have stopped feeding the livestock a red mineral from a well known feed store.  We are giving them alfalfa pellets with the sweet feed. Lastly, they are fed twice a day with sweet feed and hay.  I will keep you posted.

January 17, 2017


© William Churchill 2014