Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Little Slow

The top picture is of a little buck kid born Tuesday night just before dark. He seemed well but was not very enthusiastic about nursing so had to be coaxed. He managed to get a little before we finally went to bed but we didn't know how we'd find him come Wednesday morning. He was still alive in the morning & his little belly was not empty but he sure wanted to spend a lot of time napping compared to our other kids & lambs. We continued to watch him & mama was very patient with him, standing over him as he napped most of the day away. This morning he was still not the perkiest little guy but I thought some nice sunshine should help so evicted them both from the stable. He is nursing more aggressively now so we're hoping for the best.

A Place of Their Own

The pigs are very proud of the mudhole they've dug in the corner of their pasture. I don't know that it was a great engineering feat but they'd managed to overturn their water trough which I would quickly refill as I passed by to gather eggs. They seem to have a system now where they think I will continue to fill the trough so that they can use the nice fresh water in the low spot they've hollowed out.

Monday, April 27, 2009


This pile will soon be finished soap-in-a-coat and felted cat toys for the Saturday Market. All of these products have to be handmade & the wet-felting takes time to dry. I find if I don't start early in the week, Friday creeps up on me & then it is too late to start more for Saturday!
Of course, I never can work on one project all day - I have creatures that need tending. So while I was outside a moment ago, I shot a picture of one of the Clemson pigs taking a drink as I refilled the watering trough. Amusing little moments like this make it hard to stay inside to work all day!

The Season's Final Lamb?

What we believe to be our final pregnant ewe delivered on Saturday - with a lot of extra help. Fortunately, Eric was here when I discovered her in labor & in distress as I walked out to gather the morning's duck eggs. She was oozing yellow which is a sign that the labor is not going well & the lamb will have a problem if not birthed soon. Unfortunately, this lamb was huge. The up side was that his feet and nose were pointed the right direction. The down side was his enormous size.

After an hour and a half, Eric managed to finally pull the little guy as I held the ewe. She was so distressed and exhausted that she took no interest at all in him but he was not phased. He jumped right up & tried to nurse. Mama was not yet standing, probably due to nerve compression, so he laid down to nurse. Mama did not have the energy or interest to clean him up. She also didn't care when he walked away. We stood her up & eventually got him nursing properly. They are safely in a stall together & she is letting him eat but is not particularly attached. The little fellow did, however, take to Eric & also tried to nurse on his pant leg.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Pig Tea

This is one of the pigs' watering troughs. Obviously they are doing a little more than drinking. After they finished playing, I poured most of their water out into a few buckets & carried it to pour on the fruit trees in the yard. I figure if folks go to the trouble to make manure tea for their plants, I shouldn't let this lovely pig tea go to waste.

Chickens Dusting

I have to be careful walking around the farm as the chickens like to dig holes to dust in. The holes will be a good six to eight inches deep. The birds spread their wings out, roll around in the hole & throw dust over themselves to annoy the parasites that try to live on them. By bathing in very fine dust, the chickens are able to cut down on the "bug" population since the dust chokes them out.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The extra effort is worth it

Although it would be quick & easy to whip out the gasoline-powered weed eater, I prefer to take hand clippers, squat down, grab the tall grass, cut it off, put it in a bucket & carry it to the sheep & goats. It is a mindless task that allows for lots of thinking time as I listen to the animals around me, observe an occasional bug in the weeds & enjoy the smell of the fresh cut grass. These pictures are of the initial "mob scene" when I first dump the cuttings but it settles down quickly as each creature grabs a mouthful & runs to a quieter place to enjoy it.

Counting Eggs

I've decided I'd better figure out how many eggs the birds are actually producing now that it is almost Market season. Laying is reduced through the winter as the daylight hours are shorter & we don't force it with artificial lighting. We figure the birds have worked hard & are entitled to a break. Of course, we also believe that they have earned retirement too - when a bird quits laying she continues to live out her days here until she just happens to wake up dead one day.

We've gone through our season of pullet eggs - the little ones the young birds lay as they just begin to produce eggs. So now we're pretty much in a "normal" phase. I washed, sorted & counted all my eggs yesterday so that I'd know how many I can send to the Hyatt & sell to local customers & about how many I'd have left for Saturday Market. The birds are producing nicely so I'm excited to take their lovely eggs to Main Street!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Pigs on a Jaunt

Although it may look as though these pigs are contained, this is actually where they ended up before we gently coaxed them back into their own pasture. Someone figured out that the hole they rooted near the fence of their pasture was big enough that they could squeeze out. They went off on a toot through the compost pile, under the azalea bushes, in three different directions around the side yard & made a few other stops before we were able to contain them. This is a roll of fencing that they decided to root up under so we used it to guide them home. I took only this picture as I was a bit occupied helping Al chase these critters down. I won't spoil the rest of the story as I will write it up for one of my Saturday Market farm stories that I hand out each week.

Hard to believe Market starts in just over a week! I'm getting ready with more yarns & am toying with some other felting. The birds are all laying well so eggs should be in good supply. It will be so much fun to be back on Main Street with all our friends again!

Silly Birds

Al moved the horse trailer to deliver a cow. We hadn't used the trailer for a while but someone else was obviously using it the whole time. This nest mostly contained duck eggs with a few chicken eggs thrown in for good measure. It did not take long for Rudy to find it & feel obliged to guard it. But it seems he only guarded it long enough for the other two dogs to come along & share his feast. It was gone within the hour but I didn't feel badly as it appears no one was broody& setting on the eggs, just depositing them their regularly out of habit.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Just a little help

I was unloading the car from the latest artist-in-residence job and getting ready to load in for a church function. Of course everyone had to help. Eve, the donkey, actually stepped back and tried to look innocent when she saw me coming with the camera. Bart was checking the back bumper on the chance something had gotten spilled after the latest visit to the feed store. Fortunately there were no goats in the front yard at the time or I could not have left the door open - they fly right in at the first opportunity.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Cranky goat?

This explains why there is always something to repair. This angora doe who is really not aggressive felt like she needed to ram her head into the fence board to let the goat on the other side know . . . , well, . . . something important. She was fairly persistent, moving along the fence line and slamming her horns into the boards. I was on the other side of the stable when I heard the steady thunk, thunk but it sounded just a bit more delicate than when the fellows do it. I was surprised to see this one acting out.

Monday, April 13, 2009


This little Shetland/Tunis cross was on her way into the stable to be shorn. Although there are plenty of sheep on the farm that would be hard to pick up & tote in, she's just a petite little thing. Al has been shearing away & is down to just about two dozen still to be shorn. We are very grateful for the regular rains we are having but need to shear when the sheep are dry.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Productive Day

This is our first "commercial" nest box. We've build a fair number of our own & even transformed a friend's old kitchen cabinets into nests. A chicken that will lay an egg in an overturned bucket isn't too particular so we love to recycle things. We got 4 of these in Georgia today for only $25 each which is a steal - we could not even get them shipped to us for $25 worth of freight let alone afford the $150 plus price tag for a new one. They came out of a layer house that had gone automated. Apparently the price of salvage metal has dropped to the point where they could make more selling them than destroying them so we got a wonderful benefit. Also got to see lots of off-the-interstate Georgia! Within minutes of the first two boxes being hung, we had hens interested in them. Within the hour we gathered our first egg from the new digs.

The Hyatt continues to bless us with their wonderful kitchen prep scraps. The pigs were just loving their romaine, chard, tomato ends, melon rinds & pepper cores. Each pig has its own bowl as it cuts down on all the arguing we have to listen to as they shove & squeal. I still haven't figured out how they can make so much noise with their mouths full.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Maybe I shouldn't blog

Now that spring is here & the weather is changing, I am beginning to think I've not got as much time on my hands as in January when I started to blog. I would say this has been a busy week but it has really just been normal for this time of year.

We've had a few more lambs come along which puts us up to 16. The latest was born to a little Shetland ewe whose udder has just kept getting larger and larger this last week. She finally had the little guy on Wednesday while I was in town. I came home & looked across the pasture which does not have ewes with lambs. There stood a lamb & its mother. For just a moment I wondered how they'd managed to get in there. Then as I walked closer it dawned on me that the little fellow had been recently born there - he hadn'tjust slipped through a fence. He has adorable black curls & already has enormous horn buds on the top of his head. He is long legged which makes him almost half as tall as his mother. I scooped up the little fellow & used him to lure mama into a stall in the stable where they stayed for a day just to be sure mama was well fed & taking care of him as she should. They are out with all the other mothers & lambs today.

The chickens are laying great volumes of eggs. I am bringing eggs in four times a day! I am grateful that American Grocery Restaurant & the Hyatt buy our eggs but am also ready for the Saturday Market to begin. In the meantime I have a few other regular egg customers but the dogs & pigs are also eating quite well. All the egg shells go right back out to the chickens where they happily gobble them up. It keeps me from having to throw them away & also keeps me from having to buy oyster shell to supplement their calcium intake. Of course, it also makes them look a little cannibalistic as they crunch away.

We have been working on adding more raised beds to garden a bit more this year. In the past we've just had too many free range chickens and roaming goats to have much. Now we think we have a nice solution to the chicken issue. The spot with the beds is attached to the fenced backyard where two of the dogs live. Pearl, our little Schipperke, can slip through a small hole in the fence to visit the garden area. She does not disturb the garden much but loves to fly through the hole when she sees a chicken approaching. Looks like she will be our little watchdog. And Al continues to mend spots under fences where a handful of goats can escape. They have yet to break into the garden & are getting closer & closer to actually being contained. The garlic is coming along beautifully so I'm especially hoping to protect that until the end of June when we can harvest it. I planted half a dozen varieties and am always amazed at what a difference there is among garlics.

So normal days have kept me from the blog but I am also beginning to work on notes for the weekly farm stories that I hand out at the Market. All in all, things are pleasantly busy here.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

We've still got the teeny tiny fellow!

The little fellow on the right is not too much younger than the big girl on the left. Both are crossbred angora & dairy goat. Of course, the rooster standing behind them could easily hold his own with either of them!


This little hen decided to use the rest of the cows' round hay bale for her nest. Look closely in the middle - she's black & hard to see. She spent the day snuggled down in it. At the end of the day, I gathered her egg. The cows ate around her all day long.

Still busy...

This really has been a busy several days. We've had two new lambs, are getting dozens & dozens of eggs that need washed & sorted and have also tried to do some general clean up around the farm. So I will simply share a few pictures with brief stories.
This is a very early morning picture of the chickens turning a compost pile for me. We keep several piles on the property & I've been using them to fill the raised beds. The birds do a lovely job of keeping them worked up - must be all the bug snacks that motivate them.

This silly duck had been outside the chicken yard for a few days. Even though there are plenty of openings in the fence where birds come & go all day long, this silly fellow just didn't know what to do. I finally caught it & carried it in. On the way, I decided to do one of those "hold your phone in front of your face & take a picture" thing like teens do...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Just like the Big Guys

Tiny Baby Outside

I have been anxious about letting the teeny tiniest goat kid outside since the day we found it just born among lots of goats that it didn't belong to.... It has been in the stable with its mother, protected from all those big feet, deep mud puddles and general barnyard commotion. Since the rain let up, I felt it should have a little time out in the big wide world. Of course, after a little time exploring, he ended up back under mama for a little snack and comfort.