Monday, April 30, 2007

An angel and more

This little girl was yesterdays lamb of the day. Her mother "Tippi" is doting on her very nicely. She looks a bit different than most Icelandic faces we are used to, which I mean in a nice way. Her face is almost an "angel" lamb face. She's very "pretty".
This is the first ewe lamb born here this year that will for sure stay with us instead of being sold. I don't even mind that she is white since I don't really have many white sheep. Now to think of a name: and it will not be angel! To many animals are named that. We need something more EWEnique :-D for her. We'll have to watch her personality to see what fits her best.

Also this morning an adult ewe (Aleda) had twins. I will post pictures later if I remember when I put them on my web site. Aleda had a moorit ewe lamb---no grey on her which blows my theory about my ram carrying only grey. She also is going to stay with us, which puts us at two for sure to keep. The other is a very stocky moorit badgerface ram lamb with HUGE horn buds. He's going to have a set of horns to be proud of for sure. I can't tell if he carries grey since the badger covers it a bit--we'll have to wait a week or so to know for sure. I think his weight is in line with the other ram's birth weights but he looks to be the stockiest ram lamb we have gotten so farm. Nice.
The reason we are hesitating on keeping lambs is that we have been trying to downsize to about 8 to 10 ewes. We are unsure of the number since we keep wiffle waffling on who to sell and who not too. We have had some of them for sale then you think: wait not that one, this other one. No not that one, how about this one.
It's not easy to choose. They all have their pros and cons---and you wonder if you sell them will that one be the one you regret selling in the long run. Ahh...decisions, decisions.

O.K---two yearling ewes to go. That's it. Will be in the next two weeks but no idea if it will be tomorrow or day 14.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Time for something else

Recently since it warmed up a bit we decided now was the time to tile our downstairs hall's radiant heated wall. We have wanted to tile this wall since we first put in the heat system. Heating this wall was a project that we "made up" while installing the rest of the radiant heat system. Not much was written at the time about running pex through the walls to warm the house. One article was all that we could find---and the writer has also been experimenting to see how he liked it.

Well, as far as heating goes we have been happy with it. It works really really well. But after having it for a while we kind of felt that tiling would help give it more "mass" which would make the heat more spread out and not somewhat in strips on the wall. Not that it didn't heat the hall well---it did, sometimes too well, but everyone knows mass helps hold the heat longer. We had also bought a new control for turning the heat up and down (much nicer than our original "jury rigged" one) and needed to install it. Because this is a hydronic (water) heating system we have to drain the entire system to do any changes what so ever. Hence the desire to wait for warmer weather. One more thing was that the hall was kind of "blah" so we felt it would punch it up a bit more than paint would have.

With the delay in my lambs during the last couple of weeks I felt this was a good project to keep me busy, which it did. Though not in quite the relaxed way I had hoped it would.
We had found the slate at Home Depot a couple months back. It was a regular 12 x 12 tile. Very nice but installed in that size it would have looked too much like a floor was installed on the wall. So to keep it from looking like that I cut down each tile down to three tiles of not quite 4 inches by 12, then applied them to the wall. It became quite tedious and I wondered where my brain was when I came up with this hair brain scheme. And before doing that we had also had to prep the wall since it had drywall on it, putting up cement board (rock board, wonderboard what ever you want to call it) on the walls, installing the new control and also moving and widening the door to our bedroom. My husband did all of the heating work (I don't know anything about that!) but I helped with the rest---except the cutting of the cement board. That requires a saw and I hate hate using the electric saws.

Anyways in one of the before pics you can see the foil behind the radiant tubing---that is just heavy duty aluminum foil. And yes, it does work. We also have pink board behind part of the wall since it backs up to the garage storage room. No sense in radiating heat into the storage room! The red tubing is what the hot water moves through and it is amazing stuff. My husband says that tubing like that is the easiest plumbing work he has ever done. He says if we ever build---he will use it for all of the plumbing since it is quick to install and easy to get to where it's needed.

The last pictures are of the wall basically finished. I still have to fill the holes in the molding and then seal the molding. At first about half way through---I didn't think I liked it but now that it is done I really do.
And really ---the picture doesn't do it justice. It is not as blue looking in person. Kind of black and grey and golds which goes well with the black metal rails and the oak stairs. It is supremely cool when we open the door and walk into the hall. Very "posh" hahaha

On a roll now

Yesterday after Greta had her ewe lambs we noticed that her sister Havvah seemed to be acting a bit "off". By the evening she still had not had her lambs though so I went to bed early (exhaustion from all the night time checks!) asking my husband to please check her later. He said he checked her about 10:45 and knew she would lamb that night---so he waited up for her. By 12:30 when he rechecked, she had had both of them by then. Two moorit spotted ram lambs with horn buds. Bummer! I was hoping for at least one spotted moorit ewe out of Havvah! Drat! They are spunky little guys though---not as active as quickly as Greta's "barely out of the womb and doing the jig" girls but close. They look almost identical---and are spotted almost exactly as their sire.
Here's some afternoon pictures:

See, they look almost alike.
So after that we went back to bed but I got up to make my quick morning check at 6:30 and surprise me if I didn't have a yearling ewe (Suri) have twins during the night---twin ram lambs. Oh well---maybe I'll get some more girls from the others still to go.
However it is: yearlings can have twins but it's not something you count on so we were surprised. She didn't even look that big. They are a black and a moorit both with grey---which confirms my theory that my ram is homozygous for grey.

Here they are:

You will notice they are full of hay. That would be because they have decided right under the hay feeder is the best place in the stall. So all the fine blades keep covering them up. They are cute though that is for sure.

By the way---we had a gentlemen come out from the local paper yesterday to do a "human interest" story on us. Hmmm...surprising to think of ourselves as "interesting" because we do something we like so much. He took pictures and asked many questions. We will see how it comes out. I told him to chop my head out of any pictures with me in them that he might publish :-)

Friday, April 27, 2007

The newest arrivals

So here they are---my newest arrivals. Finally! I think I had ants in my pants I was getting so impatient!

Greta---my only sheep that is from a "leadersheep" line had twin ewe lambs this morning. (I will explain Leadersheep another time) One is I believe---a black spotted. That would be the one mostly white. She might carry grey and she might carry mouflon but she is so spotted it is an unknown. The other ewe lamb---the mostly black lamb---I am almost positive she is a black spotted mouflon---maybe carrying grey. The classic sign for grey is "sugar lips". As if you caught them just having pulled their head out of the sugar bin and they still have it around their lips like a milk moustache. The only problem here is that both these girls are spotted on their face---so it is an unknown at least for a while.

Greta is a very very bossy mother. Last year she literally told her lamb what and when and that lamb did it every time. If she wanted Bit to lay----she pawed the very spot and down Bit went and stayed. If she wanted to move to a different spot to graze---she pawed Bit and up she jumped and then her mother told her where to lay again. When they ran---Bit stuck to her like velcro (we almost named her that but it was a dumb name)
Well, now we have a different situation. This year lambs are already hopping and jumping and on the move. The white one is the worst. Greta keeps pawing a spot for it to lay in---which it does---but as soon as she turns to check the other---POP up comes the lamb to move around again. So---I think I have at least one more trouble maker on my hands if not two.

6 more ewes to go. Two more due within the next 5ish days. The others....????? big fat question marks.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Bad lambs

This must be the year of the bad lambs. Not only am I STILL waiting on arrivals (7 more ewes still to go!! bad babies holding out in there) but I have some other really really BAD lambs. 3 of them have figured out how to slip through a few spots in the fence---which has never ever been an issue for us previously. Of course generally by the time they are this old we have on the electric wire and they quickly learn not to mess around near the fence, which includes going through or under it. However, with the fact that one of my lambs is not even a week---and more young ones to come---we have left it off for their sake. So, the others make their way through it periodically---bad bad babies! Then we have to go and chase them down, trying to catch or herd them to get them back on the correct side of the fence.

Then there is the triplet ram lamb. HE plays around the water trough. So much so---we don't have water in them because we were afraid he would fall in---which he does (we are using some smaller buckets for now). The tubs are the old cast iron claw foot bathtubs---two side by side (we sit and drink a beer in them and talk after a hot days work in the summer). Well, Mr triplet has now decided he will play in them----then he squalls and squalls and SQUALLS for his mother to come over to him. Well, we tried saving him a few times but the brat will wait until we are right next to him then he will


out and run away. Brat.

Lastly we have the lamb that "screams" for her mother (I have never heard a lamb as loud as this one) in a voice/sound that replicates a dying animal being attacked by something. Or it also sounds kind of like a child screaming in pain. Either way---very disturbing, especially in the night. And I always have to go check the "wolf" cryer---just in case. She might only be across the pasture----but that is how she calls her mother. Brat.

Hopefully the hold outs will be much more polite lambs. They have already put me through the "trial of patience" so the least they could do after that is be way better than these others are.
Someday.........I will find out.

Bathed in Rain and Sun

"A well planned garden
bathed in rain and sun.
A faithful laborer...
and the harvest shall come.

Well finally it rained again here--not all day as we hoped, but without the tornadoes that the other states received--which is good. The sun is now out and the wind is even windier.
Yesterday, in anticipation of the rain, I spent most of the day planting beans. Emerite Filet runner beans (my favorite to can), Goldmarie vining yellow bean--new to me this year, black turtle bush beans and kabuli black garbanzo beans for humus. The runners went into the garden area that we had leaves dumped in, fenced and that I blogged about this year. I had some poles already sunk in the ground that my clematis had been on (all of which have been moved) so all I had to do was put up string for them to climb on.
The bush beans are not planted in the garden but in a plot in the front yard. It is a spot where two of the rams lived in a large pen during part of the winter. We had put them up in the front yard specifically to add leaves, have them "manure" into it, and then let it sit for a couple of months--- for the very reason of using it to plant corn or beans or pumpkins or something into it. It should be a good bush bean spot since when I dig down it's still nice and moist with lots of worms.
Then today---while it rained-- I got another bed planted with some of the corn seed I purchased this year. Bloody butcher heirloom. It too is right in the front yard. We have a large front yard---good for more than just mowing in my opinion. Since we aren't in a subdivision I don't have to try and "hide" my corn in the front with flowers or anything----I can just plant a huge square of it. I am going to sow either more bush beans or buckwheat in between after the corn comes up though for some diversification.
I also have a second square still to sow and will put Country Gentlemen shoepeg corn into it. The wind was blowing (still is) and I started to get cold since I was soaked---so I stopped. However it is I will get it planted since I love love shoepeg corn, and country gentlemen is an open pollinated heirloom also. One of the corns is a 110 day and the other is closer to 85 so hopefully they will not tassle at the same time. Corn needs plenty of distance (like a mile or something) to make 100% sure it doesn't cross with another. The only way to ensure true seed without the the distance factor being an issue is to plant corns that tassle/flower at different times. I have never grown either of these so I will see, in about July, whether it is going to work or not. Either way they should still be good to eat and maybe can too. Or if I ever get a grain mill---bloody butcher can also be used for grinding. Red tortillas anyone?

So now after the last bad frost I still have growing, planted or started in cups:
artichokes (all made it through the frost!)
tomatoes---some made it and I added another 20 plants since
potatoes---they all made it fine
melons--3 different heirlooms
cucumbers---two burpless types
and basil and dill

I still need to start or plant:
some sunflowers
the rest of my corn
sweet potatoes
and.....I am sure there is something I am forgetting. Every time I look in my seeds I find something that I forgot I had bought this year. So I will keep going and hopefully by the end of next week all will be in the garden or at least in cups to sprout and later transplant. I do however still have to order my sweet potato slips----so they may fall to the side this year. We will see.

Good gardening everyone!

Monday, April 23, 2007

What a frog!

Actually it's a toad---an Eastern Spadefoot to be exact. Also, just so you know, he's much neater looking in real life than the picture makes him out to be. His lines are kind of a flourescent yellow/lime green color which the picture doesn't do justice to.
We accidentally dug him up while trying to extract a post that was randomly placed in the middle of our pasture (not by us). Luckily we didn't kill him in the process.
The spade foot is so called because of a special horned "spade like" claw on the hind leg to help it dig it's burrows with. We thought at first that it was a Couch's Spadefoot which is recognizable by it's call which sounds "like a bleat of a lamb". How funny we thought since we have lambs! We did though figure out that it wasn't a Couch's but an Eastern. The Eastern has a call described as "the coarse low pitched complaint of a crow". Well, not quite as interesting sounding as the other. No matter the sound of it's call, it will eat bugs and slugs which is a plus however you look at it. They also said this bit of information in our amphibians and reptiles identification book which I thought was interesting: Eastern Spadefoot have been observed, unscathed amid the smoldering ashes of a brush fire.
Well---if I have a brush fire because of this extended drought---more than likely this toad will make it through o.k. Hahahaha

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Finally another arrives :-)

Finally! Another lamb---and a live lamb. Yeah!
She's a little bitty thing--a little over 5 pounds. A bit small for my preference but her mother absolutely refused to eat any of the grain we offer during pregnancy to the ewes. So considering that we have fed hay since August, with just a small bit of green grass during some warmer spells---I am happy with the health of this lamb. She is very vigorous, quick to get up when born to nurse and the most interesting color lamb. Moorit (brown) with a grey undercoat gene from mom and dad which gives her a soft dove grey or "violet" cast to her coloring. Very cute. My daughter says she doesn't care that I won't name them people names---SHE is calling the lamb violet since that is what she looks like. Well, violet technically is a color so we can call her that I suppose. Dove would be cuter but we don't register them with a name anyways---just with farm letters and a number only. Kind of cold isn't it--but much easier in the long run.
The ewe who lost her lamb to the cold weather the other day---was SURE she was going to be this one's mother. She was trying to steal it before it was even finished being born. She was licking and nickering to it. When we took the lamb and it's mother to the barn, Princess tried to come over the fence with us to follow. Sad. She will be a good mother next year though.
It's also a good thing we happened to be home since this one had the lamb in the same spot and still even today it is cold under the tree in the shade there---and windy. The lamb was starting to shiver by the time we got them out to the sun. Just imagine the other lamb being born while it was still dark instead of 11 in the afternoon. Poor little thing. Last year we had hot hot weather at this time, this year cool, with cool breezes. Because of that and after "falling down on the job" and losing my other lamb --I am now walking the pasture at 3 a.m each night to check if lambs have been born. Better safe than sorry again.
Well, this lamb was a total surprise today since I have ewes much much larger and with much much bigger milk bags---so maybe we will be on a roll here soon. 7 more to go: 4 more yearlings and 3 more adults left.

Some more flowers

Finally after the nasty freeze we get some more flowers to bloom. The poppies are late this year---these buds were actually almost ready to bloom right at the frost. Luckily they were hardy enough to wait until we had this warmer weather. There are currently two as of this morning with many many more buds in the waiting. Sometimes they bloom at the same time as my hesperaloe and they look gorgeous together. I don't think they will bloom concurrently this year---I will have to wait and see. I will take a picture if they do since they are really attractive together.

The poppies that have invaded the yard will be a bit later to bloom since they don't have as prime of a location. This batch in the picture has a brick wall with most of the day sun to help warm them, so they are always earlier than the others. There should be pink in there too, but over time the reds have a tendency to beat out the other colors (they say). I will have to wait and see if the pinks actually will come back again. Pretty though aren't they irregardless of color. I like them.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Real ID

For our children and grandchildren we need to keep fighting things like this or they will not have the opportunity to grow up in a democratic society. It only takes a few bad apples in the bunch to corrupt our government---especially if we allow laws like this to be passed to help them get started.
Remember what Ben Franklin said:

"Those that would give up a necessary freedom for temporary safety deserve neither freedom nor safety."

Isn't that exactly what we have been doing the last few years??

So here's something for you to mull over and hopefully make a public comment on. Even better---contact a friend and tell them about it. Read more here.

The REAL ID Act requires every American to have a standardized driver’s license -- a de facto national ID -- to fly on commercial airlines or enter government buildings. It also requires driver’s licenses to have a “machine readable component,” that will be read everywhere, from retailers to airports.

This component -- combined with state databases of drivers’ information -- will create one-stop shopping for identity thieves. More importantly, it will invade people’s privacy by allowing easy tracking and monitoring of ordinary, law-abiding Americans.

Last month, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed regulations to implement REAL ID. As required by law, the department is now accepting public comments on these proposed regulations.

Anyone in America has the right to submit comments to the government on this proposal. The government hasn’t made submitting comments easy, but that just makes your comments more valuable. And we’ve made it much easier to submit comments than it normally is, with a step-by-step guide and talking points.

The number of comments will be watched by many influential Members of Congress, not just your own. So today you really have a chance to make a difference on the national stage. The extra impact is definitely worth the extra effort!

If you would like to submit comments see this page for information on how to do it.

Little Lost Lamb

Lost a lamb today---hypothermia. Yeah, yeah I know your thinking "hypothermia when it's been warm the last few days??" Yes, it does occur. No matter how you look at it---even 72 degrees can be cold when your wet and little and in the shade with the wind. Mom, being young, didn't lick dry well enough so she got too cold. I tried---but couldn't save her---poor little lamb. Though she made attempts to try and get going when I found her and picked her up (thank you Mikey) her mouth was like an ice cube---and even a hot bath in a plastic bag to stay dry, warm air from the hair dryer and warm milk couldn't help. Glucose was what we needed, in a shot, into the intestinal cavity---but it was too late. Next time--I won't forget that little trick like I did this time. Good looking ewe lamb too---black spotted, big and chunky with a fleece that was already long and thick thick. Bummer.
Mom's been out there looking and calling for her---by tomorrow she won't remember any more.
Well---let's hope for better luck next time. Think positively! And though I was sure you didn't really think you wanted to see a picture of this little gal even as cute as she was--hopefully my next entry of lambs will come with pictures of bouncing "babies". Or at least nursing ones. Standing still will even work for me currently :-)

Have good day.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Let the whining begin

As much as I have whined about rain (or lack there of) it still doesn't change the fact that it is not coming down. Not only has it effected our trees---we lost some-- but it has also effected our ability to raise our livestock. Purchasing hay SUCKS.
I hate it when people around here say "oh I am so glad it isn't raining this weekend---we want to go to the park". Do people not realize that, whether they are vegetarian or meat eater, that ALL food is effected by rain---or lack there of??

Now we are making the news. Albeit--somewhat local news, and I am not talking about the 30 thousand acre fire in south Georgia near Okefenokee swamp that all are talking about.
From what I gather---it's so bad they are going down to the state capital to see what can be done. I don't know----maybe the state government can buy us some rain.

Here's a clip from a local paper that explains briefly our problem.

Northwest Georgia is driest part of state

Severe drought conditions have developed across the northwest and southeast portions of the state with rain deficits for the year of up to 11 inches in some parts.

The driest areas of the state include Floyd, Polk, Chattooga, Walker, Dade and Catoosa counties in Northwest Georgia and the counties lining the most southeast corner of the state, according to state climatologist David Stooksbury. LaFayette in Walker County is seeing the biggest rain deficit for the year so far 11.27 inches below average, he said.

The conditions developed despite storms that dumped up to 3 inches of rain on parts of Georgia over the last week.

The Greater Rome area has seen 10.03 inches year to date, more than 11 inches under the average year-to-date total through April. April alone usually brings an average of 4.81 inches to Rome. So far this April, only 1.36 inches has fallen.

There’s a 30 percent chance of rain in Rome today, according to the National Weather Service..

“It’s been dry since the first of the year, and I don’t see much promise for conditions to improve,” Stooksbury said.

The state remains under partial outdoor water bans. Outdoor watering is prohibited between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at odd-number addresses and on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays at even-number addresses.

The state drought response committee is scheduled to meet today at 1 p.m. at the Georgia Department of Natural Resources in Atlanta to discuss conditions and further action.

Maybe someday---the very reason I moved to Georgia (rain and trees) will occur again with regularity. Until then it's purchased hay for us and watching our grass not grow. Great if you don't want to mow now isn't it? Sucks when you raise animals.

By the way it's also been extremely extremely windy too---very odd for here---so it makes it even more dry dry dry.

Did you know.....

That we are famous here? If only for a brief moment in time, Chickamauga, Georgia --the town that I live in---hosts part of the Tour De Georgia. If you don't know what that is, well it's o.k. You would probably have to be into professional road bike racing to know about it or the town's part in it though.
The Tour De Georgia---growing larger every year---is the "kick-off" to the European road bike racing season including the Tour De France and I will add this: For non-European road racing, Tour de Georgia is one of the "oldest" races at five years---supposedly a huge achievement.
Our town just happens to host the individual time trials for the event. Last year Lance Armstrong came to visit us here in our fair city. I know---you're impressed aren't you? Well, let me tell you even more impressive things: famous riders from around the world including Argentina, Denmark, Italy, Spain, and other parts of Europe and South America come here to do the time trials. Most of whom go on to compete in big name events in Europe including the Tour De France. Interesting huh? I told my son that is what he should do for a living---exercise, tour the world and have sponsors pay his way just so he can ride a bike for 25 miles or more each day. Well, maybe it's not all it's cracked up to be. And just in case you still are super impressed let me tell you this: If we leave our home in the morning before the race---we can't go back to our house AT ALL. No matter what. AND-- we can't leave our house with our car. Oh we can walk---but even if it's to go to a job they won't let the car out or back in. Luckily it only last for about 4 hours so it's not too bad and as I said: you can see and get autographs (not my thing) of famous road bike racers too. Also---since the time trials start at the school my son and all his school mates get to get out of school for the day and walk around in their free Tour De Georgia t shirts. Hah! now I KNOW I have impressed you :-D Maybe next year--I'll remember my camera since you can walk right up and talk with any of them. As a matter of fact since my road is a dead end AND a hill---they turn around in our drive way while warming up. To funny huh? To bad I don't really know who they are.

Here are some links if you would like to read about it:
tour de georgia
another here
and The new york times

Monday, April 16, 2007

An accident

Well we lost one of our birds to a "predator" recently. A hen of course! Unfortunately the predator that got her was the big hulking Pyrenees that guards the sheep. We came outside to work and here come Mikey ambling up to the fence with his "toy" in his mouth, looking very pleased with himself of course. "Great fun! by golly" his posture was saying at that moment---until he saw me. I must have had a horrible look on my face because my husband said that as the dogs eyes came up and saw my face that's when he realized what he had done. He had one of those "eyes get big, mouth drops open" moments and dropped the bird promptly. Of course that is when the yelling began. Did he get in trouble. He high tailed it down to a little "rain" shelter I leave in that pasture for the new lambs and crammed himself into it for a number of hours afterwards.
The dead bird was unfortunately a large grown cuckoo maran hen. Bummer. Why is it never the roosters?
The next morning I saw him with another hen pinned down and as soon as I yelled his name----off he ran to sit in the shelter again for a while---I didn't even have to come in the pasture. I guess he decided to punish himself :-)
So....we now know he understands that what he is doing is wrong. We just have to finish breaking him of the "thrill of the chase" part.
Ahh the joys of pet ownership. Or livestock in Mikey's case---because he is more livestock than pet to us. Good dog overall---but a big bad chicken chaser currently.

By the way---no lambs yet! I have ewes that groan when they lay down now. Must be any day soon---the torture of it though.
Hope everyone made it o.k. through all this freaky spring weather.

Speaking of which and just to round out this post: we lost peas, kale, some artichokes, some tomatoes and I am not sure about the asparagus. Hopefully the asparagus roots are big enough to send up some new shoots again. The artichokes should make it---but some lost their tops. The tomatoes that were under wall o waters or doubled up poly spun made it---the others are goners since I didn't have enough to cover all of them. I will buy more poly spun soon since it's much easier for a quick cover than the wall o waters. Freaky spring as I said---and still "unseasonable" here. Odd.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


I want to see my lambs but my sheep are not co operating this year. I have heard this is happening to many other people. Must be an extension of the screwy weather we had in 2006---that year just keeps going on.
My other two sets of lambs are doing great and growing very well. As a matter of fact since I put them in a special "I had my lambs" pasture----they have become their own little flock. Sometimes one mommy has 5 bouncing, kicking, jumping, sproinging, twisting baby lambs trailing along with her while the other mommy is across the pasture.
As I went out this morning and came back in with the same news of no new lambs I said to my son "don't know why I bothered---their just going to hold out FOREVER!"
Donkeys---stubborn donkeys. That's exactly what I am raising right now!

Someday- maybe- I can post more pictures of lambs and finish this whole lambing season. Their killing me here with the suspense of it all though.
Maybe I should hold on to the thought that they are "brewing" up twins or triplets in there and that's why it's taking so long :-D
Anyways---warm weather is coming for us. Today will be a great day to work outside again.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A little bit about me

I notice I have a new scar---unfortunately on my face. It's nice and long and goes almost from my ear horizontally to almost my mouth.
One thing we have learned in the raising of sheep: If it tries to get away don't let go 'cause' you will never catch it again---they know when you aren't done with them.
So I think I took that a bit too far while hanging on to a sheep that got itself in a position to flee during shearing. Strong they are and knocked over I became---first whacked in the ear then stepped on. By the way: when those horns connect, even on accident, with your ear cartilage---It hurts. Pretty badly actually. Also by the way---I didn't feel the stepping on part. Though the cheek bruise did kind of hurt later. Anyways---since today I went to get my "new" old haircut back---I realized just how visible the scar is without my hair to distract from it. Oh well---I am better off without all the hair anyways---it really wasn't very flattering and as I am only an average looking person I look much better with short hair even if the cheek scar is now more visible. If nothing else when people ask "how did you get the scar on your face" I can tell my story of being stepped on by an almost sheared sheep. High drama did occur and the story is an interesting one especially when you can tell it in person with all the theatrics that it deserves.
Hope your weather is beautiful and exactly what you want. Good day :-D

What a camera

O.K---so I have to say I really like my Sony Cybershot. For a $200 camera it is pretty snazzy.
Yes, I am sure if you spend quite a bit more you can get more features and even better pictures but for my small business this is all I really need. We have a friend who takes family photographs as a sideline business and her camera is in the $2000 range. I didn't need that for sure.
Anyways---I really realized how nice the pictures are when I posted these pictures of my Icelandic fleeces for sale yesterday:

The detail is great---the fleeces never looked so good on my web site before. WOW! Makes you want to touch them doesn't it!
Then we took some pictures of the animals and well: Man! they look good too. I am impressed. So I feel for the sum of money I ended up spending, and after much procrastination on my part to spend it, that I got a pretty nice camera. Another thing I like about it: rechargeable lithium ion battery. I HATED buying double A's all the time for the other cameras we have had. This battery is SO COOL---just plug it in for a bit and your on your way to picture taking again. Now I just need to purchase a memory stick for it so I can take more pictures at the 7.2 mgpixels range. I of course don't have to procrastinate over which one of those to buy---the memory stick will be the easy part.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

And the mystery hen is.....

Here is the mystery hen that we received back in February from Murray McMurray hatchery. We thought she was an Old English Game Hen but I think we where wrong since she doesn't really look like one anymore. Anyone have a guess as to what she might be?
You can't really tell from the picture but she has white legs---very white legs---if that helps anyone figue out what she is. She's turned out to be a pretty hen though and we like her personality. We will see how she is as an egg layer.
The chickens can still make it through the field fencing that makes up one side of their pen. They have readily taken to going into the pasture to forage for bugs and things since they figured it out. Recently we put the pregnant ewes into that pasture and Mikey---our pyrenees---is in there too. Periodically he will decide to give one of the chickens a "close up" inspection---much to their dismay. Hopefully he won't accidentally squoosh one of them in his zeal to sniff them all. It wouldn't be on purpose if he did---and so far no casualties have occurred. I am optimistic they will all make it through what Mikey considers to be a very serious job that he MUST do.

Mrs Bluebird in my nest box

Well today I finally purchased a new camera and we have been out taking pictures with it. It's a sony cybershot and I love it so far. A friend let us borrow his to take some pictures of one of our rams with and we liked it so much---we bought one.Not only did we take some "before" pictures of parts of our house we will soon be working on but also some of our pregnant sheep (no, no more lambs yet!! They are crossing their legs I guess..) and also some of our lambs. While out walking in the pasture taking pictures we came upon Mrs Bluebird sitting on her nest. There were two eggs the other day and I was going to check and see if she laid three yet----to my surprise she was sitting. To her surprise---I took a picture :-)

Here are our lambs that are almost two weeks old. They will be almost grown by the time the rest of the lambs hit the ground at the rate the other sheep are going. The two ewes from the set of triplets, then the ram from the set of triplets, then Maple's twin black mouflon ewes. The triplets are bad---we have "named" them the three T's: trouble & times & three---because that is what they are. They are EVERY where in the pasture and the minute they get really far away---the ram lamb will cry loudly for his mother. When they re spot her---off they race to get to her only to start the whole episode over again.
The twins on the other hand stay closer to their mother but they jump and bounce all over the place. One of them (they look so alike we can't tell them apart yet) has decided that her goal is the eventual scaling of her mother's back. She has been unsuccessful so far---but I imagine one of these days she will fly over the top of her mother.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Please Excuse Me

Please excuse the fact that I have not posted in a couple of days. Please excuse the fact that I am not replying to your comments. We are extremely busy here with pastures, sheep, garden, visitors coming to see the sheep and other animals, friends from out of town and family soon to come. I will be back soon I hope with something interesting to talk about---unless you want to talk about how to cement in gate posts? Pull lambs out of ewes with your arm in up almost to your elbow? How to chain saw trees in a driving storm as it tries to take more of your fence down? (why is it that a tree never misses hitting something when it falls???)
Hope everyone is having a good early spring and have a Happy Easter weekend.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Interesting new blog

Here's a new blog. Even if you aren't political check it out. It's just starting and the format is not just one person's view point. It is suppose to be a "debate" format. If I understand it, as long as you follow the rules, anyone can post about a political issue that is bothering them. It's brand new so there's not much to read yet---therefor easy to check out.

Patriots and Tyrants


So we finally got some! Rain I mean. Have we needed it! Do you know how hard it is to raise grass fed animals when you don't have rain to give you grass? If you don't have rain---more than likely your neighbors don't either which then makes it hard to buy hay to supplement with. At least we are starting to see some grass cutting beginning around here and ours is slowly growing. But I guess it might be back to having hay in the garage again (and the barn and the driveway under tarps get the picture).

So far, even with the nice inch of rain we received yesterday, we are still down NINE inches for this year already. That's just this year----it's not including last years drought statistics. So hopefully we will be getting more soon. HOPEFULLY the rest of the country will have a better rain year too since we "compete" with them for hay if it gets really bad.

Yesterday when we went to buy feed---we noticed that they had alfalfa cubes again (finally!) Only these cubes are coming from Canada. Not very sustainable is it. We of course bought some---it's what we supplement the cows with to make sure they get good nutrition. That just goes to show you how bad it is when a "major" feed company is getting it's supply from out of the country now. If you think about it---it's still cold there. So someone worked a deal for stockpiled feed. It was 2 dollars a bag cheaper too.
Why are we buying feed you ask since we advocate raising "grass fed" animals? Well that would be because we have had to purchase hay from so many suppliers (at least 7 this year alone) that there is no way to know the quality of the hay or test the quality of any batch you might buy. Liked it? Tough! There's no more once you decide you do and you want to buy more---everyone else figured it out too and they told the others who where looking. So, it's find another supplier and start over again.
Even though it seems simple---making hay is a very complex art form. I know--hard to believe. Just cut it and dry it you say. That's not how it works though. Let me give you a small idea of the complexity--we won't even go into minerals and soil testing that help raise nutrition levels in the grass blades.
First the farmer needs to understand the optimum time to cut. All grasses have periods where the protein level can be high (say 18% on average) and low (tall, stemmy most of the seeds have fallen off to the ground). Basically when the protein is that low---it's just straw. If you don't quite know the difference: hay is grass blades and straw is the stalk of a grass that has grown and gone to seed, then had the seeds removed. As in wheat---after you cut the stalk and thresh off the grain (where all the protein has gone to basically) what you have left is a stalk of straw.
So after deciding the correct time to cut---not to early and not to late---the farmer needs to cut and dry the hay. Dry it too long and the protein levels can be dramatically changed. The sun bleaches vitamins and minerals out too. Leave it to wet and when it's baled---it will mold. A very very dangerous issue for animals. Mold in feed can cause respiratory problems, abortions, ill health and low growth rate. Besides the fact that it is problematic to breath for the farmer feeding it too.
Then the farmer has to store it correctly. We were offered a round bale from last summer for $20 recently (the average price of a fresh round bale is $25- 45 dollars depending on a few issues). We of course didn't take it. Why? It was stored outside. It was practically black on the outside from "composting" in the field. I am sure it would be slimy and bug laden on the bottom---because that is exactly what happens when things compost like that.

All these things contribute to acquiring the "perfect" bale. In years like last year and possibly this one: you grab up as many good ones as you can, when you can, and store them for future use. No chances taken that you will be the one that ends up with the above mentioned $20 bale. In actuality---I would have fed my animals straw first before that bale. Along with some grain (more than I generally feed though)---they would have been just fine. Unlike if they were fed that $20 bale of crudgy hay. Yuk!

So on goes the turning of the world---and the acquiring of hay. Hope everyone has a good day---and pray for some of us to get more rain!