Sunday, February 7, 2016

A Couple More Weeks

Because I haven't been blogging as much lately, I don't have record of when some important things happened.  I usually blog about breeding dates, and then I can always come back to check to keep record of things.

Today I vaccinated and crutched the ewes (sheared around vulvas and udders) because lambing is coming up soon.  Darla was bred October 8th, so she'll be due around March 2nd.  Bean was bred October 10th, so she'll be due around March 4th.  Barley was bred October 13th, so she'll be due around March 7th.  Dixie was bred early, but didn't settle.  I recently preg tested her again, and she is pregnant.  The ram wasn't wearing his harness that late in the season, but by my best guess, she was bred sometime around December 14th.  That means she won't lamb until around May 9th.

Here are the obligatory udder pictures, so I can have something to compare them to later.

Darla (center) and Dixie (right)
















Barley (left) and Darla (right)
















Bean

















Murphy's Law struck breeding season this year, in a big way.  My intentions were to have the ewes bred at the beginning of September, so the lambs would arrive in mid January.  Mother Nature (or Murphy) had different plans.  The sheep got bred much later than I wanted, and they're all due right around the time of my weekend away.  I'll be going away March 4-6, and that's exactly when the sheep are due. Now, those dates are based on 147 day gestation, and sheep can vary several days on either side of that.  Experienced ewes lamb earlier, in my experience, so I'm holding out hope they lamb before I leave.  David is going to get a crash course in lambing, if not!


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Shoveled-Out Sunday

We finally started to thaw out a bit today.  The sun was shining bright and warm enough to start melting some of the shoveled areas, so moving around isn't as difficult.  My neighbor surprised me again by bringing over his snowblower, and he cleared our entire driveway and up near my car, plus gave me a little pathway around to the side of the barn.  It took him about 20 minutes...and would have taken me forever to shovel!
















The dogs were SO excited (well, Buford especially) to be out and have a clear area to walk in.  I took this little video of Buford, who wouldn't contain his excitement.

The dogs think the paths are their own racetracks.
I finally got paths shoveled out to the animal areas. It makes it so much easier to feed instead of trying to walk through all the deep snow. 



I cleared around the sheep gate so I could open it, instead of climbing over it.  Plus I cleared a path for them to get to the waterer.  They haven't been drinking much, and I even put a bucket of water right in their shelter. I saw Bean eating snow, so that explains it. I guess they'd rather eat snow than drink.  
I heard a bunch of geese landing in the field next door, so I walked allll the way out there to see if I could get some pictures.  The snow geese landed first. 
Then I heard a bunch of upset geese and the Canada geese landed.  By the time I got out there to take pictures, there were only about 50 Canada geese left. They saw me and didn't stick around.  I did get some pretty snowy farm field pictures though.
And a few of our place.


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Snowy Saturday

Snow!  I woke up to about 13" of snow on the ground, and we probably easily got another 5" during the day today.  It's hard to tell, because it has been blowing around a good bit today.

Here are some pictures from today.  I had these visions of doing nothing at all during the day...enjoying the snow and snuggling on the couch.  Don't get me wrong, I've had a chance to sit down and get sucked into social media, but I've also been busy.

This is how I looked when I went outside this morning.  It's not the most glamorous, but it is warm!


































I used our garden tractor to push the snow out of the driveway. I don't care for that chore.  David called me (from work) last night to tell me to push snow so I could keep on top of it, instead of waiting until it was deep.  I was too warm and comfortable to go out late at night and push snow, so I waited until the morning.  It was very difficult. I did what I could, and then used a shovel to start digging out the huge wall of snow left by the snow plows.  I got a 3' wide path through to the road, but had to go inside to take a break. My back doesn't care for heavy lifting, and it was starting to hurt.  A few minutes later I heard my neighbor's snowblower running, and I looked out to see him clearing the end of our driveway!  I was so happy I could have cried. What a relief!

So I baked him some brownies and took them over as a thank you.
















Buford spent some time outside with me. He's my shadow, so when I went out to take pictures, he made it clear he would be joining me.


























































One perk of the snow is that your boots get squeaky clean!






























I've been enjoying watching the birds eat at the feeders.  My dad made me this platform bird feeder for Christmas, and the birds really love it!
















Remember yesterday when I mentioned how sturdy the sheep shelter was and how much I loved it?   I found a small problem at feeding time this afternoon.














Oops!   I got a garden hoe and started clearing off the roof of the entire shelter.  There was only a small portion of the wooden structure I couldn't reach. I was able to pop the cattle panel roof back up, though it's not quite as rounded as it was before.














It still functions just fine though.  The sheep aren't crazy about the really deep snow, but they seem fine.  I've been hanging hay bags in their shelter so they're content to stay in and eat hay.














It's supposed to get windy tonight...gusts up to 50mph I think.  I'm crossing my fingers the power holds out. I'm prepared if it goes out, but it's much more convenient with electricity!

I am so grateful to everyone who is working hard on the roads, pushing snow and clearing the roads for all the rest of us!  Hopefully they'll get to go home to their families soon.

Now I'm going to go sit at my spinning wheel and work on my "Barley" yarn (from Barley's fleece).

Friday, January 22, 2016

Finally Some Snow!

It has been a very mild winter, so I'm really excited we're finally getting some winter weather!  Snow storm "Jonas" (I think it's dumb winter storms are named) is here, so I spent the afternoon doing some finally prepping so I can relax and enjoy the snow.

I let the goats out of the barn for some play time while I worked outside today. They've been in the barn for a few days, and they'll be in there for at least the weekend, so I knew they'd enjoy running around.  They were very happy!


They ran and jumped and played and didn't seem at all bothered by their new coats.
















I didn't intentionally buy goat coats, but I bought a dog coat for Elmer that was too big, and I figured I'd try it on the goat.  That's the orange coat. It fit perfectly, and the goats have done some shivering on these cold days.  It has been so mild they haven't really grown a good winter coat.  Since the orange one fit Ida so well, I went ahead and ordered the purple one for June.
















They seem like they'll be great coats for the price (less than $20 each from Jeffers), but I did see Ida turn her head around and yank down the velcro strap closest to her head.  I guess I should have expected that from goats.

Here's a little video clip I took earlier, when the goats were playing.


The sheep love this weather, and don't seem phased at all by the snow.  
They just get extra straw in their shelter and lots of hay, along with their grain.
I don't put much straw at the entrance to their shelter, because they just drag it out. This shelter has held up SO well.  One side is wood, but the other is made of pallets over t-posts, with a cattle panel roof covered with a tarp.  We put this up quickly last year, because they needed more shelter space. It has held up beautifully, and I really love it.
The chickens got extra shavings in their coop, but other than that there's not a lot to do for the chickens.
The rabbits got fresh straw bedding.  The adults have their own nesting boxes they can snuggle in, and the babies (well, they're "tweens" now) all snuggle together. 
The hay is sort of exposed to wind and blowing snow, since the sides are all open.  I hung a tarp on each of the two exposed sides to help keep the snow out of the hay, and also to keep the wind from blowing all the hay around.  It's not totally enclosed, but it's better than it was, for sure.
The goats are warm and cozy in the barn, along with Kiki the barn cat.  She has a heat lamp and loves to sleep under it.  If it gets too cold, I can bring her inside (although she prefers being outside).
The dogs also got new coats, and they had a lot of fun playing outside today while I was working.
Their coats are the Ripstop Dog Blanket, from Jeffers.  Buford has the 22", and Elmer has the 24".  Oh, the goats have the 28".  

Now the dogs are passed out on the couch as I type this.  I need to go get my oil lamps and candles and put them on the kitchen counter.  I've filled lots of jugs with water, and will fill a tub too, in case we lose power.  We have a well, and will have no water, but I can still flush the toilet with water from the tub if needed.  I also went to the library and got a new audio book and several books in case I feel like reading this weekend.  I've got a lot to choose from....reading, watching movies, knitting, spinning, practicing on my ukelele.  Yes, I have a ukelele.  I got it for Christmas, but will write about that another day!


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

*crickets*

I haven't been blogging much lately...not a single post in over a month.  I am struggling with it.  Blogging used to be fun for me, but for the past while it has felt like a chore. I love looking back and reading my blog to see what we were up to (as a sort of diary), but I won't have anything to read if I don't start blogging again!  

Here are a few random pictures of what we've been doing these past weeks.

Kylee set up her easel and paint stuff on the deck (months ago, when it was warmer out).  

Chris came to visit and Elmer stared at him in adoration.

 Buford found a very comfy spot on top of all of the pillows.
Isaac (2nd cousin) came to spend the night and the kids took turns reading to him.  

 
Elmer went outside to potty and completely missed the deer nearby.


But then he saw it and the deer ran away.
 
 
The goats got some stumps in their pen.  Goats love stumps.


Elmer was playing outside and broke his dew claw.  I had to clip it off and wrap it because it was very tender.  He's fine now.  

I farm sat for a friend and the kids learned how to halter and lead a pony.



I'm not sure why I took a picture of the sheep and the wheelbarrow, but here it is. 




My Golden Laced Cochin rooster, below. 


We had a nice, 60 degree day, so the bunnies got turns running around in an exercise pen outside. 



Then I clipped their nails and brushed them, and ended up with all of the hair on me.





We went through a mud season.  It rained every day for 10 days.  After that, it rained some more.  Luckily it isn't muddy any longer.  I was getting so sick of it, and I know the animals were too.
I weaned a litter of 10 rabbits from a first time mother.  She did a fabulous job raising them.  














Elmer has some odd sleeping positions.














I ordered coats for the dogs.  Buford's fits him great, and he seems to like it.
Elmer's was WAY too big on him, but it fits Ida perfectly!  The poor goats haven't grown a decent winter coat, since winter has been relatively warm so far. These nights in the low teens are hard on them, so they're in the barn for a little while until the temps are a little warmer.














We're potentially getting snow this weekend!  If so, I'll post pictures.

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