Happy SPRING! Oh wait, it can’t be spring. It’s still January. Oh well, it feels like spring!
Yes, we have had several oddly warm days, which, after two weeks of arctic blast, HAS BEEN AMAZING!
SO…we have been catching up on outdoor jobs while the weather holds.
Plus, we made you a movie. And you are probably going to think we are even crazier than you thought once you watch it. (I hope you aren’t grossed out….)
Oh, and did you see the photo of the sheep at the top of this post. I took that photo this morning. We filmed the video on Wednesday. After you see the video, you will get what I’m saying. (THAT WINIFRED!!!!)
Ok, I’ll stop jabbering!
Have a lovely weekend,
We don’t have a video, but I think I have a good excuse. It has been downright, positively TOO COLD TO FILM!! It hasn’t been over 32*F since Christmas, and seeing single digits on the thermometer has become pretty normal.
Plus, I don’t think Anna and I are too photogenic with umpteen layers of winter gear on. Good grief, my sheep didn’t even recognize me the first time I went out to the barn looking like an overstuffed winter scarecrow.
So….I thought I’d give you a written update instead of a video since I can do that from the warmth of the house while drinking coffee.
All our animals have been handling this never-ending-arctic weather extremely well. The pigs have made themselves a huge, toasty hay nest and are sleeping the winter away, and the chickens and rabbits are happily munching all the extra feed we have been putting out. The cows are getting fatter, the goats are more than happy to stay in their shed, and the sheep don’t seem to know anything is different than usual. BUT, the sheep are FINALLY using their calf hutch barn shelters! I guess the weather finally became cold enough for them to bite the bullet and quit sleeping under the stars.
(If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out THIS VIDEO where my sheep are sleeping out in the snow.)
See! I even snapped a photo with my phone as proof!
Well, I need to go chop ice off the water buckets…again.
Did it snow at your house last night? It did here! I’m just a big kid when it comes to snow. Even though it makes work around the farm a bit more challenging, I still absolutely love snow.
Anna and I made you a video this morning with all our grazing animals in the barns and enjoying the snow. Well, most of them were enjoying the snow. You will see that not all my darlings enjoy the snow as much as I do.
So yesterday I left you with a bit of a cliffhanger. I know, I know, I’m so mean. So here is how the day unfolded…
We rushed through our chores yesterday morning and started loading up our farm truck. A large dog crate with straw in the bottom was secured in back. A cooler with bottles of water thrown in the back seat. And since farm trucks are notorious for breaking down when you least expect it, I also threw in a tarp, jumper cables, a crowbar, a bucket of water and a lot of other junk I thought we might need.
A little after noon, we three girls started off on a road trip, and a little under two hours later we ended up at a barn full of, you guessed it, SHEEP!
Seven weeks ago, I had reserved a ram lamb, sight-unseen, after finding an ad in a farm paper. Goodness sakes, I didn’t even have any pictures of this lamb! I wanted a ram that was a 50/50 Katahdin/Dorper cross, was 100% grass fed, and highly parasite resistant. Everything the farmer told me over the phone matched what I had been searching for, so I went with my gut feeling and reserved myself a ram.
Seven weeks is a long time, though, and I began to doubt my gut feeling more each week. Yeah, I’m a worrier….
At the farm, we followed the farmer over to the stall where he had separated my ram and his mother, a registered Katahdin. And here they are:
And here is his sire, a full blooded Dorper:
He then showed me the rest of his flock. I wish I had gotten a picture. These grass fed, organic sheep were exceptionally nice. I just wanted to take them all home. These sheep were not wormed with conventional deworming chemicals, just free choice kelp. No grain, just grass and hay. As I was standing there trying not to drool, the farmer pulled out another ram lamb from the flock for me to look at. He had told me about this lamb on the phone, but I had decided against him because he wasn’t pure white. But looking at this second handsome lamb, I made another rash, gut-driven decision: “I’ll take both, please.” I think I shocked Anna. LOL
Yes, I bought two rams. One ram lamb would have been awfully lonely all by himself…..
Here are some pictures of my two handsome boys under the crab apple tree.
And for the record, the farm truck got us there and back without a hitch. Also, it’s a good thing the truck has a cap. It took the white lamb three whole seconds to smash the front off the dog crate. Lambs are strong! So the dog crate and all my “junk” ended up on the back seat and the lambs rode loose in the enclosed truck bed.
So that is the latest farm news. I will try very hard not to buy any more sheep this year, but I don’t promise anything!
Evening are wonderful. The heat of the day begins to relent, and the animals come out of their shade shelters, ready to graze. I love opening up a fresh paddock for the goats and sheep each evening.
Grass is the sweetest and most nutrient dense right at sunset after converting sunlight into sugars all day (and consequently is at its lowest nutrition at dawn after “starving” all night without the sun). Watching my darlings graze is like therapy; the stress of the day melts away as I watch them enjoy their solar powered meal.
The two youngest of the baby goats spend their evenings playing. Their energy releases like a spring, and these two hardly stop long enough for me to get a decent picture. Some young friends of mine named them Freddie and Nancy. Cute!
One year ago yesterday, I brought my first sheep home to the farm.
It was the day before Easter, and Anna, Laura, and I took off early that morning in the mini-van-turned-sheep-hauler. Of course, sheep were the topic of discussion on the drive. I kept coming up with reasons why this was a bad idea, and Anna kept telling me these sheep were the perfect fit.
At the farm, we entered a small shed, and there they were: a lovely white yearling Katahdin ewe and her three day old twins and an eight week old chocolate colored ewe lamb. It didn’t take me long to say I’d take them.
The ride home was pretty uneventful; we only took one wrong exit. If you get stuck in holiday traffic (because you took the wrong exit) with two sheep looking out your van’s back windows, you are going to create a bit of a stir. Bored, sleepy looking children suddenly come alive, bouncing, pointing, and shouting. Teenagers whip out cell phones and take pictures, and some people just look at you like you’ve lost your mind.
My little flock settled right in to their new home. I had been worried that the stress of traveling would be too much for the newborn lambs, but they took it in stride.
It took me over a week to pick out the girls’ names. I knew the yearling ewe was going to be the matriarch of my future flock, and I wanted a name that would fit that position. I finally decided on Olga. Good Old Olga. The chocolate ewe lamb I named Sabine, and Olga’s ewe lamb I called Estella.
Now, one year later, I admit Anna was right: these sheep are the perfect fit. They are wonderful!
Olga is my steady sage of a ewe. Most of the time she is dignified and queen like. Occasionally she forgets herself and leads the younger ewes on a wild charge across the pastures, her tail flying wildly behind her.
Olga will walk up to the fence to see me, allow me to pet her a few times, but then steps back; royalty must keep its distance from the commoners.
Sabine is more easy going than Olga, but still has that lovely sheep dignity about her.
Sabine has been wary of me from the start, but over this winter, I’ve won her approval. It never ceases to thrill me when I’m able to win an animal’s trust.
And then there is Estella. Estella grew up here on the farm hanging out and goofing off with the baby goats. Now, she acts like a goat. She is demanding like a goat. She is quirky like a goat. She possesses none of her mother’s dignity, whatsoever! And I love it! She’s the perfect sprinkle of humor in the act!
All three of them are due to lamb starting in mid-May. I know Olga is a good mother, and I really think Sabine will be, also. But Estella…oh help!
I have one year of being a shepherdess under my belt. I’m highly anticipating year two.