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It is August 13th and the weather has started to change.  Cooler mornings and school will begin soon. The ram lambs have been weened and there is no concern in the faces.  Just give us something to eat!  There is plenty for them to eat as we have had plenty of rain.  Plentifulness would be a better term.  The fields look as though it is early spring.  Verdant beyond belief.

We have had some horrible mishaps with lambs.  One drowned in the relentless rainstorm and another lamb wrapped herself in the high tensile fence and died.  My yearly goal is to have no deaths but it seems that is likely not attainable. It will always be my goal.

We are still moving the girls through the six pastures every four to five days.  Today is the big move.  Just the sound of the metal chain being unlocked and striking  the hollow metal fence, will bring them thundering toward the opening to the fresh pasture beyond the gate.  There awaits a feast and they will not hesitate to eat all day.


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I know some people think I make up some of these stories but I have a movie of this event.  Everyday around the same time, I take the dog for a walk.  We walk through Jane’s Lane which is a black walnut tree lined path to the end of the farm.  It has a green leaf canopy that shades the path and it is lined with weeds.  It is lovely.  

Then you walk around the alfalfa field and travel up the hay field which is used for the sheep.  It is a short walk and then you are on top of the hill.  The path through the hay field runs parallel to Jane’s Lane.  Charley and I were waking this routine when we were greeted by a skunk.

The two animals barked and hissed at each other.  This continued for several minutes and fearing I would be sprayed, I left and ran down the hill.  The dog and skunk continued their stand off.  It could be heard from the house.  When I reached the side door, I realized I had had the camera in my pocket so I ran back up the hill with the camera in hand.  I thought I could make a great documentary. HA

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It is 6:30 in the morning and the sun is on the horizon.  The screens in the windows are covered with rain from the night before.  The drops sparkle and  look expensive.  But I am listening to the haunting sound of a large hawk.  He is almost daring the chickens to come out.  

Much earlier this morning around 1, I was outside with a flashlight trying to find a misguided hen and her peeps under a bush located near the upstair bedrooms. Several nights before we had be awaken by the pervasive smell of a skunk that had me breathing under two pillows. The hen had given some loud, peculiar guttural sounds and then the peeps chirping.  I had no idea where the fowl were and in the dark and a skunk.  The over grown vegetation made it a precarious situation.  I was not going to get sprayed like the guard dogs have been so I tiptoed and searched for survivors.  Finding nothing, I left the scene and went to bed.

This AM I did find a wet hen and one peep.  Tons of feathers in her destroyed nest.

One last comment.  A week ago a hen hatched a peep and had interest in taking care of it.  So i have it in the basement.  It is all by itself.  So I found a mirror and placed it next to the peep’s cage.  It was thrilled.  It is livelier and chips at itself all day.

July 15, 2017

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Here it is July 7th and obviously life is quiet.  Today as I sat watching a mother hen and her three peeps, I could not help notice that she always looked for the missing peep.  One peep is probably several days younger and not so fast on its two legs.  The mother hen always waits for her and so I think she must be able to count.  She looks around and counts one, two, and ?  A few good clucks and the little one appears.  So chickens can count!

We had the second small lamb die yesterday. Some of the lambs are huge and a few were tiny.  There were three tiny lambs and two have died.  A vet explained that they may have problems with their digestive systems.  The lamb that died  always isolated himself.  i would find himself hiding by a water trough or a high grass area.  Every time I would go to the pastures, I looked for him and made sure he was problem free.

There were no bottle babies this year.  Even though we had three sets of twins, the mothers fed the babies and all of them are doing well.  Here is to a great feeding program!

July 7, 2017

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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!

One hundred twenty-eight

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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© William Churchill 2014