Monthly Archives: April 2013

Working Hard

Sometimes writing this blog is one of those farm chores I could do without. It needs done though. Just know my heart isn’t totally into it this week.

Garden news first. The cattle panel hoop house is up. We weren’t able to put the greenhouse addition up this year because of money. Hopefully by fall it does get up. The cattle panel hoop house works just fine though. Right now there are tons of little seedlings and bigger plants in there. Jack and Mac went to a greenhouse and picked up lots of little seedlings. Oh such high hopes we have. The plastic never was put on the low tunnels in the garden. It might happen one day. Though we have had two cold nights, we have not frosted so maybe just putting hoops in the ground works. There has been lots of seeding, transplanting and overall craziness with the garden. Hopefully soon I will be able to write about how things are producing and not just all the work to get things started.

Animal news is that Chev lambed. I was out milking Saturday morning and heard Chev make some noise. I turned to watch her and saw her cleaning baby lambs and slightly pushing. I watched her from time to time while I was milking. At one point I noticed that she had just one foot sticking out of her. Knowing that isn’t the best position I had the girls call Jack down. My theory was, if I called him now, Chev would birth just fine. If I didn’t call him there would be some emergency. It turned out just like that. A little while after he got down there Chev birthed. Jack went back up to the house. Before I was done milking there was another little baby. We had a work party to go to that morning. So before we left I went to check on everyone. It was really really windy. Chev had lambed out on the top of a hill. I went up to her to see if I could talk her into going to a shelter when one of her babies ran right to me. It was the oddest thing. I took it for a sign though and kind of scooted him into a shelter where a frantic Chev and other lamb followed. The only problem was that the wind was from the SE and the shelter faced SE. Still, it was something. At the work party I was totally oblivious that the wind had kept up. I was down in a slight ditch. I didn’t realize it until one of the girls asked me to come help find their water. After I got out of the ditch I realized how cold and windy it was I could not stop thinking about Chev. I ended up going home early. I crossed the creek and decided to walk up through our bottoms to see if I could find the ash tree that Jacob had cut down for us. We were worried that it had been washed away with the flood. Sure enough, it wasn’t where it was. I didn’t take the time to find it, my main concern was Chev. Gwendy had come home with me to help if needed. Sometimes an extra pair of hands makes all the difference. We went and saw that Chev was still in the shelter and her two lambs looked alright. They were shivering a little but at least they were mostly dry. Gwendy went and got Chev a few armfuls of hay while I got her some water. Then we just sat quietly and watched. Maybe one of my favorite things to do ever. We saw that they were both boys and that they both were nursing just fine. The odd thing maybe is that both of them have some dark spots on them. Chev is all white. We are wondering if these might be North Country Cheviot crossed with shetland. Joscelin is white. Imriel is brown. Those might be his spots showing up. Interesting…

No other births have happened though. We now have eight lambs running amok on the farm. It is quite amusing to watch them all. They are all almost like a gang. The goats almost all stay close to their mothers. Sheep I guess not so much. So far we really only have plans to keep one of the sheep. That would be Alais’s girl. The others will be sold or eaten.

Back to garden news? I forgot. Our potatoes did get washed out in the flood. They are all still in the ground and sending down crazy roots but there isn’t much dirt around them. They are on a top of a hill also. So we need to go back up there and lay some hay down. Totally not cool. The wheat is looking good though. Our peas are coming up. I am really excited about this. We not only have snap peas but storage peas also. I want PEAS!!! We also got our Missouri trees a few days ago. And our sweet potato slips. This will probably be a busy weekend again. There is so much hard work before you see anything when it comes to farming. It is really easy to get down and think that this work will never pay off. But we are getting eggs and milk and meat. The garden will follow soon enough I think. Of course as we were driving by a nice wooded hill yesterday and I mentioned that that is how I wanted our back hill and bottoms to look Jack said that it would only take about fifty years. Maybe as an old 80 something woman I will be walking down our hill remembering about all the trees I planted on it. And hopefully I will be walking in the shade of those trees. I can look forward to that.

P.S. by the way, we did go looking through the bottoms and found the two HUGE pieces of ash that had been washed away in the flood. It is amazing the strength of water. So the good news is, we still have the tree. Bad news, it might be even more interesting getting the pieces of tree up the hill. Oh well. I like the good news enough.


Rain, Rain, you can stay

And even come back another day.

Though to a point this is a little overkill. Still, it is needed. While it isn’t great for the garden or the crops, we still need this moisture. I am also glad that while we saw a little bit of hail yesterday all the severe weather didn’t happen, at least not for us. There is a lot of flooding. In fact if you want to see pictures go here Our animals are wet. Even with all the hills that they have, well every bit of ground has standing water on it. We are saturated. I am trying to look on the bright side though. The rain and gloom is somewhat getting to me. It is getting to everyone really. Patience is super low here at Yarrow. The 10 day forecast keeps teasing us, the warm sunny weather is always just 5 days away. However, when those five days come it seems to have changed. I hope we see the sun again.

So big news. It seems that there is a bit of big news around the farm this past week. Iot lambed. I knew it was going to happen. Just that day I had mentioned that her bag was big. That night as we were falling asleep I heard her, then didn’t, then did. I turned to Jack and he said that she would be fine. We went out that morning and sure enough a healthy little boy and girl were out there. We butchered the two sows that day also. While we were out there we noticed that there was more than one black lamb next to one of the shetlands. That is how we noticed that at some time Alais lambed too. She had a little girl. The sad thing was that the next day we noticed a small bundle next to a shelter. It was another little shetland baby, dead, never cleaned off. At first we thought Melisande had lambed but we now think that Alais twinned and lost one. Part of the problem of not being there. Of course there could have been good reason for her abandoning the lamb. We have learned that if the mom doesn’t accept the baby sometimes it is because that baby isn’t so healthy. No matter what we tried we could not save Joy. So I am trying not to get too upset over this and think about what I could have done to save this lamb.

Like I said we also butchered the sows. Mac and Roman came over and there was a biology lesson for all. It was really great to see the kids interested in what goes on inside a pig. Of course they were still killed as humanely as possible. The second sow did not go so well. The point where you shoot is a very small place. If you don’t hit there, they don’t die instantly. Not only that but adrenaline starts pumping out and the ability to kill them quickly goes way down. Which is what happened with the second sow. It wasn’t fun. However, that was the only issue we had through out the butchering and hopefully it doesn’t happen again. And now we have a freezer full of meat. We are waiting on a sunny day so we can use the sausage grinder and process it. Right now it is just in quarters.

On Saturday we did the cook shack for the community center. I had sent out an email earlier and it was amazing how much the tri-communities came out to support us. I would say that 90% of our sales were from the communities. Still we are hoping that next month goes a little better. It was slow and if it wasn’t for the support of our community we would have only had maybe 5 sales. We had the community meeting last night though and they were pretty happy with how it turned out. We just covered the cost of the food bought with a little left over. So next month we will be doing a little bit more. Mostly, we will be doing breakfast!! We will be making biscuits and gravy. We hope that this will bring in more money. I mean, who doesn’t like biscuits and gravy?

Later that day, Mac, Anya, Roman and Keith came over and we planted willow and poplars. This will eventually be the screen for the pond. There was big news on Sunday and I will just write about it here now. Mac and Anya applied for residency here and were accepted!! You may have noticed that they have been popping up a lot on the blog here. We are unsure right now whether they will lease a bit of land from us or if we will become a sub-community. It doesn’t really matter right now though. We are all working together, getting a lot done and having fun while we are at it. They are going to build a yurt just south of our pond. So the willows will be benefiting them also. I will like it a lot once we have a screen of trees up around the pond.

So like I said Sunday was our meeting and it was really wonderful to have Mac and Anya accepted as residents. As we were walking back from the meeting we heard a shetland bawling. We thought that it was Melisande giving birth. So we didn’t hurry. Jack walked down there and noticed that Alais was frantic. He looked all around and couldn’t find her new lamb. Finally he almost fell into an old fence post hole. It was mostly filled with water. Which made him start looking into all the old fence post holes. He finally found the little lamb. She was mostly dead. She was spasming and her eyes were clouding over. She was cold. I saw him running with something black under his arm as I looked out the window. Jack very rarely runs. He is always the calm collected one when it comes to animal emergencies. It totally freaked me out to see him running. I yelled out to ask him what we needed. He yelled back, “BOIL WATER!!!”. I tell you, sometimes water just won’t heat up. I had found earlier that it goes quicker by heating up just a small amount of water to boiling and adding cool water to get it to the right temperature. Remember, we don’t have ANY hot water. Our water comes out at air temperature outside. It is cold. We finally got her in warm water while heating up more. I put some cayenne pepper in her mouth. A goat health care forum I belong to had mentioned that it helps to wake up animals while providing B vitamins. The first time I did it it didn’t seem to help much. I did it three more times. It finally seemed to do something. We worked with her for an hour and a half and went through just about every towel we have. Alais was just out there bawling still pacing the hole. Jack did CPR and mouth to mouth on her. She had stopped breathing for awhile. After that however she vomited up mud. She then started shivering. We dried her up more and brought her back out to Alais. I have never seen a happier sheep. She licked her all over and she went to nursing. It about brought me to tears. Now she is out and running about and nursing. We are keeping a close eye on her. I think we might have to call her Phoenix or something. Brought back from the dead… We need to go around and try to find all the holes that happen to be in our pasture.

This past week has just been kind of crazy. Almost too much. It makes me wonder if I should start blogging more than once a week. I have taken three days to write this out. Part of that is that we haven’t had much sun. Part of it, I have been busy. I forgot about that. The girls started a new school year this week. It has been nice, there is much more to this years curriculum. They are loving it but we just have been doing a lot of school, which doesn’t coincide well with spring and a lot going on on the farm. Right now, we have a quarter of a sow sitting on a table. She was deep frozen. There is supposed to be some sun tomorrow so hopefully we will be able to process it. Oh and this morning while I was milking, do you know what started happening? It started to snow! It is cold out there now. And windy. And wet. But life goes on. We are due for another lambing. Really, we have no idea when they are to lamb but everyone has kind of went every week, so we are expecting a lamb to pop out soon.

Mac and Keith are over right now helping Jack put up hoops to make our beds into low tunnels. We figure if nothing else this will make the warm weather finally get here. That is how it works, right? I did predict a wetter, colder spring. I am not sure if it is going to last until summer. I know that sounds weird. Sometimes though if you open yourself up to what the earth feels like you can feel the weather. Feel what the earth is preparing itself for. Or at least I can. And while I try not to make this an overtly pagan homesteading blog maybe I am doing a disservice to my readers. There are enough christian homesteading blogs out there. If I throw a little of my spirituality in here, well, it is what our farm is. If I say that while we were trying to warm up Alais’ lamb we all had our hands on her and sending her warmth and healing, is that any different from someone else saying they were praying to god to help the lamb? If I say that while we were doing the killing of the sows I thanked the god and goddess for the life they had provided for us and the meat that would help sustain us. I leave a lot of that out, but really, maybe I shouldn’t.

So as I leave you this week, I hope that you are doing well wherever you are. There has been a lot of tragedy this week. I hope that those of you who have been hit by these storms are dry and safe. I hope that those of you who have been affected by the violence of this week find peace. Until next week, or maybe sooner.

It finally feels like spring

so of course we have a possibility of snow tonight, right? I mean, that makes sense.

No really, it has been pretty amazing here lately. A lot has been going on. Not all good not all bad. That is how it goes with farming. Right now I am fighting the sun. We did hook up the fence to grid power and Jack moved the freezer into the shed so it is on grid power now also. However, our batteries still aren’t up to so many cloudy days in a row. The power is off now while I type and I will have to turn it back on to post this. Still, it was supposed to be raining all day long today. We had the chance of getting four inches of rain, hail, strong winds and the possibility of tornadoes. Doesn’t that sound like fun? To me it sounds like spring. The flip side of this weather is green growing things. There is something about a cloudy day that somehow just makes everything look so much more green. The trees are budding out. The crocuses the girls planted are coming up. Grass is growing. I see worms all over the place. Really, worms are exciting. We never really saw worms before. Our soil is improving. I need to go out in a couple of weeks and take our land pictures. I am doing this every year so we can document the changes. Last year I did this on Beltaine, May first for you non-pagans. I think that is a great time to do it seeing at Beltaine kind of marks the beginning of the warm season.

So big things that have happened this past week. We got into the pond. Gwendy was of course the first one in. She actually got in last week. Last Thursday though all the girls got in. I thought it was a bit too cold out that day. Gwendy got in the farthest and stayed out the longest. However, Natalie had to show off and actually went under twice. We really need a thermometer for the pond. I did finally go in this weekend. Let me just tell you that while going in the pond this early in spring feels good. Yes, it feels good. Part of the reason people go into ponds this early though is just to show how bad-ass they are. Really, that is all. So, now you know, we are all totally bad-ass.

We did a lot of work though, which is why we wanted to get in the pond. We finished shearing Rosie. She only had half left but I guess she was pissed at us for leaving her with that god awful haircut for so long. I actually injured myself a few times while holding her, pulled muscles and such. It wasn’t fun. It also took the longest. We moved onto Chloe right after and she went much easier. We also found that she rooed. That was neat. Rooing is where the wool can just be pulled away, no shearing necessary. I rooed her a bit while Jack sheared. It went pretty quick that way. We then moved them all in with stock. We also moved all the goats and kids back in with stock that day also. Luna stayed up since she was still not doing the greatest. The next day we moved all the assorted animal shelters down that we didn’t need up here also. Just yesterday since Luna is looking better and her boy is moving so much better I moved them in with stock. The only animals we have around the house now are the puppies and the chickens. We have plans for them also. The girls have been taking the puppies in with stock each day, sometimes on a leash sometimes letting them go. We aren’t ready for them to be down there unsupervised but they are getting there. The poor puppies are getting beat up by Rosie. She does not like them near her babies. That is understandable. The puppies however just really and I mean REALLY want to lick babies. The goat kids let them a lot of the time and the mommies have been around the puppies for most of their life so they don’t mind too much. It is really really sweet.

Luna is still having some problems. We broke down and gave her another round of antibiotics. We think she may have retained part of her placenta. I really can’t remember if I posted about this or not. We went with a low daily dose at first but then a few days after that she was panting and had a decent fever. We gave her a higher dose but she still is having issues. I am hoping that she gets better soon. Her boy is doing much better. He can get around really well on three legs. Anya, our local chiropractor, looked at him and did a little adjustment. I wish we had done that sooner for him. He does occasionally put a little weight on that leg now. I am hopeful.

Milking has been going well. There has been a few times that the kids have gotten out sometime in the night and have left me with no milk. It is crazy to see how big these guys are getting. Especially Patty. I would almost call him pudgy. Cora is still really small but Danielle is going well also. Megan seems sad that she doesn’t have a baby. I think she really misses Joy. It is sad. She cries and hangs around with the babies a lot. I think next time around she will be a better mother.

We had visitors this past week. Actually, Mac and Anya have been hanging out a lot over here. They are thinking about leasing some land from us. So this past week was their official visitor session. We got a lot done, part of what I have already mentioned but still more. We got so much planted this past week! Potatoes, oats, onions, peas, lettuce, chards, greens, turnips, beets, the list goes on. They also propagated a bunch of tree cuttings we have taken from local orchards. So much has gotten done and it really feels like we are rising from the ground and our leaves are budding out. We are really excited to have people over who are excited about the same things we are. This spring and summer seem especially hopeful and bright.

So that all sounds super, doesn’t it? I mean, it would seem like nothing bad happened on the farm this week. I was saving the really bad part for last. For the past couple of weeks Spot hadn’t been doing well. I think I wrote about the scare he gave us last week. Well, we kept going out to check on him, and it seemed like every other time he had bloat, or he wouldn’t get up or something. We were running down there often, getting him up and moving or whatever he needed. Sometimes you would go down there and he would be fine. Up and moving about, eating grass, drinking. He looked good. And then he would look horrible. We tried just about everything, though we didn’t think of a few things until last night. Anyway, last night we went out there and even with Jack helping we could not get him up. We tried a few last things but he died in about a half hour. He was barely with us when we went down there. He had been up and moving not an hour before when we checked on him. It is frustrating that sometimes it really doesn’t matter what you do. What is actually more frustrating for me though is that my animals aren’t supposed to have bad days. I forbid it. Oh you can get sick, but then you get better period. Spot’s long, drawn out sickness that seemed to get better then worse then better tears at me. Every time we went down there and thought, this time what we do will make a difference. And it seemed to until next time. When we went down there last night we all knew that he wasn’t getting up again. We are all very sad right now. I don’t know what it was about those bulls, but they just were not quite as healthy as we thought. Blackie seems fine but I have to wonder now.

I can’t end on that. I didn’t want to write about it. It had to be written about, but I didn’t want to. Now, I don’t want to end with that. Well, with every loss there is equal gain, right? Not exactly a gain, but the promise of gain I guess. Ruby was in heat a couple of days ago. She was very affectionate. At first I thought she just liked my new plaid shirt. I mean who wouldn’t? She was mooing something horrible and bugging everyone, even the goats, for some love. The goats were not amused. They have a feud the goats and the cows. The cows started it, they eat too much hay. Or at least that is what the goats tell me. The cows say that the goats are always jumping on the mineral feeder so they can’t get into it. They also hog the shelter at night. I have tried to mediate, but it doesn’t work too well. Anyway, Ruby, heat. One day soon we will get her bred. Then I will be spending all my days milking and making cheese and such. Oh but butter!!! I look forward to it. Butter…cheese…

Once you have a farm…

you will never sleep again.

Feels like it sometimes. I mean, I have kids. I knew that when I had kids my sleep was going to stop. Or at least, I thought I knew what that meant. I didn’t really. I also knew that there was a time after babies and before teenagers that supposedly I would sleep again. Turns out I don’t like sleep much. I would rather get a whole lot of animals that a whole lot of other animals find tasty and try to keep them from being eaten, mostly at night. Oh it isn’t all that bad. I still however like to wake up for every little sound and have to look out and make sure that there is nothing crazy going on out there. I know that the longer my babies are out there the better chance that something is likely to try and eat them. By the way, last night while I was trying to figure out the night noises I wrote this paragraph in my head.

Nothing that really tried to eat my animals did last night though. I do wish sometimes I could sleep a little better. But then I don’t. I would rather be awake and hopefully try and save my babies than get a good nights sleep. So, what happened on the farm this week? Well a good bit. Luna did kid. I talked about that though, she got her own little post, lucky girl. Her babies are doing well. Her boy that was breech is getting better. He started out not being able to hold any weight on any of his legs. Now he can get three under him and walk around a little. He is still holding up the leg that was used to pull him out. I have to say that Luna’s babies are the cutest things ever. Oh they are beautiful. She is also such a good mother. It really takes a lot off my shoulders seeing her making sure her boy who can’t move around still gets milk. I think that is doing a lot for him.

We also dehorned Nancy’s boy Patty, Freya’s girl Cora and Dancer’s girl Danielle on Friday. I am not sure if we got Patty quick enough, he might still have horns. We shaved Luna’s babies heads so we could see the horn buds better. We think that the girls may be polled. There is nothing there. The boy does have little buds, we will keep an eye out though. We also did one other thing that we have been putting off. Megan had an abscess. We were worried that it was Cl, a very infectious disease. So Friday Mac, Anya and Roman came over, they also helped out while we were dehorning and we cut it open. It was such a relief that there wasn’t much puss it had no odor. It also wasn’t the right texture for CL. We knew, with Megan only being a year that it was unlikely, CL goats normally don’t form abscesses until they are older.

On Saturday we had a work party. All the folks at Red Earth came by and we shoveled poop. All the straw and hay that the animals have pooped on over the winter is now piled into four big piles. This morning we could see them steaming in the cold. I keep looking out at those piles and I think about how much food they are going to grow us this year. We are hoping to get some ground tilled soon and plant out the potatoes and get some things going. It is exciting but as I was trying to explain to the girls, what we think of as spring doesn’t usually show up until May sometime. Trying to be patient in April is hard.

On Monday, April Fool’s Day, the girls tried their best to get us with jokes. Their idea of jokes is something else sometimes. So I was pretty prepared to not believe anything they said that day. Natalie did get me when she told me Oreo peed on her snow pants, but hey I am gullible. Anyway, when they came running into the house after taking the puppies for a walk and told me that Sidonie had given birth to a lamb, well, I didn’t believe them. Turns out she had. She is also a good mom. She licked that baby so much I was worried it wasn’t going to have any wool left. She had a little boy and I was happy that lambing season had started.

This morning I was getting stuff ready to go milk and the girls ran in again! Rosie, our polypay/shetland had just lambed, a boy and a girl. I have to wonder how quickly everyone is going to drop around here. I feel slightly awash with babies right now. They are all doing well and really it is just exciting to see all this new life. Seeing our farm grow is so amazing. We are doing it. I am also glad that even though we are still below average in temperatures it is getting warmer. I did predict that we were going to be colder this year, we will see how far that goes huh?

Milking has been going well. We are having the same problem that we had with eggs though. We are not used to having milk. So drinking it takes some getting used to. The past two mornings the girls have drank two quarts each morning. That is helping. I just really need to remember that we have milk and eggs now. Just now, Natalie came inside telling me that Freya had a thorn in her eye. Uggg. I was so freaked out. I have issues with eyes and bones. Natalie told me she wasn’t going to go back out there. I told her she had to because I was going to have issues with it and I was going to need her to hold Freya while I got it out. Turns out it was only a piece of hay. Natalie held her and I got it out. It really way in there, but it was only some hay. Thank the goodness. I find myself being pushed a lot lately. When you have this many animals, something just about happens each day. Sometimes it is nothing big, sometimes it is. You never know what is going to happen and who is going to be your problem child of the day. In a lot of ways having a farm is just like having a really really big family. Maybe when people ask me how many kids I have I should say 43. That isn’t counting chickens though. I am not sure if 43 is really believable though. Oh and that number will grow as more sheep lamb this year. Exciting times on the farm over here, exciting times.