Saturday, February 27, 2010


This is Jezebelle, one of our original three Shetland ewes. She is pregnant and is a little demanding in the morning as I race out to gather duck eggs and give the entire flock a quick check. She is also one of our noisiest ewes. I've heard her just baaaaaing away even with her mouth full of hay - she thinks she must say something every time we are outside to hear her.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Just a thought at the end of the day - - -

Thomas Edison was born in Milan, Ohio. Since we lived not far from Milan, I visited his little bitty childhood home when I was young. I love coming across interesting Edison quotes:
"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."
~Thomas Edison~

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

This should hold them for a while

Last week the rain finally held off for a few days so we knew it was safe to arrange for a hay delivery. Although we have a concrete drive for the hayman to pull into, we still end up having to run all over the place with the tractor. Not a good choice in the mud. We had two trailer-loads delivered for a total of 30 round bales. The trailer being unloaded here had 19 bales. Since they were stacked three bales high, Eric climbed up on top and pushed off the top bales. The hay spike couldn't reach all the way up to the top of the stack but Eric, who has acted like a little monkey since he could pull himself upright, loves the climb.


Between showers, the sheep and goats have been busy just eating their winter away. On the top left is a beautiful black and white sheep with large curled horns. He is Sequoia. He came to us as a day-old orphan and has been a fabulous companion ever since. He never fails to greet me when I come into his pasture, even if it means he has to stretch a bit to get his now-aging legs moving. He is a Navajo Churro and his fleece is strong and coarse. The shades of black, gray and white make it a treat to felt with. He is probably our largest sheep and our biggest baby. He is never pushy but manages to walk right at my back pocket as I go about my chores.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Neglecting the blog

I am back in a school again this week as their artist. I had all of last week off but time just flew. It is a very long story & probably one that I will write up to hand out at the Market once we start again in May, but I spent much of last week nursing Naomi. She is one of our original three Shetland sheep. When I returned from my school on Friday, the 12th, I glanced to the very bottom of the pasture and thought I saw a dead sheep. It was just beginning to snow so I put up the bucket of eggs I was carrying and headed to the bottom of the pasture to figure out who had died and perhaps why. We don't have a lot of deaths and everyone had looked fine in the morning so my heart really was heavy as I trudged down the hill. A stiff brown sheep who had managed to cover herself in mud and sycamore burrs was on her side. I leaned down to turn her to see if I could tell what had happened when she slowly opened an eye and sighed at me. It is much too long a story to go into but I managed to carry and drag her up to the barn where we spent a week nursing her. Visiting her four or five times a day to try to feed and water her took much of my time last week. Naomi survived, stunning all of us. She is back in the pasture this morning and I hope to get back to the blog after I leave my school today.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


It was pouring down rain yesterday morning when I went out to do my first rounds. This little face greeted me as I slid open the stable door. It is obvious that he got to spend the night dry inside and looked pretty pleased about that.

We are now beginning to have mixed feelings about the rain. We are grateful that the lakes are filled and that the pastures have received a good watering through the whole winter but the combination of ices, snows and rains have just left everything so muddy. I cannot remember a winter when I got so much use out of my mucking boots. Many winters I am fine in normal shoes, simply tiptoeing around the damper spots. It is not quite that easy this year.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Nice Try

We give free choice crushed oyster shell for the chickens to supplement their calcium intake. It helps them build nice strong eggshells. With all of the rains we've had, their calcium had suffered a major runoff throughout the chicken yard so on the first sunny day Al replenished their supply. Unfortunately, one little hen seems to have totally forgotten what it was for. It is not meant to dust in, although I am sure it would suffocate irritating little pests as well as fine dust does. She was just having a big time rolling in it while the other chickens walked by, pecked a few nibbles and continued on their way.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Getting Along

It is obvious from this picture that Amy, the older, stockier dog in the picture, has decided that the newer dogs can visit in her pasture. We've had Amy ever since she was a pup. She is very happy in her pasture and anxious to return to it should she come through a gate while we are moving hay. The pups have been able to come and go as they please because they can squeeze through the gate. Ever since we introduced them to Amy, she has been very tolerant of them and they adore her. I think part of the reason they adore her so is that she gets scrambled eggs added to many of her meals so that her face tastes good when the puppies lick at her.

Ravi, the other large dog in this picture, only has occasional visitation. He is most often in the barnyard and the backyard. When we first got him in December, he was fine with all of the animals except the cows. He would lurch after them and chase them. For the longest time we had a cow and calf in Amy's pasture. Now that Alice and her calf have been moved to join Carrie and the new calf, Ravi can visit without causing too many problems. Because Ravi is only about 18 months old and is foolish and energetic, Amy tires of him and gets snappy with him. He only visits her a few times a week and that is with our supervision. Once Amy is tired of him, we pull him out of her pasture.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Peek at the Sun

Zeb and Gates, our team of oxen, had a little bit of pleasant weather on Sunday afternoon. Just for fun I dug a few parsnips out of the garden and flipped them over the fence to the fellows. And, since today is Tuesday and today the trash men came, the oxen probably got another extra treat. We noticed several years ago that the oxen run toward the front of their pasture by the highway when the garbage truck stops in front of our house. They would come flying, even if they were at the very bottom of their pasture. It wasn't until one day when I happened to be outside and talked with our trash men that I found out why Zeb and Gates were so enthusiastic. It seems the trash men would bring each ox an apple. Although the garbage truck could not block the highway for long, it was just long enough for one of the fellows to walk over, pass the apples to the oxen and speak a kind word. The oxen were hooked and are huge fans of the garbage truck. One day, however, a garbage truck that was not stopping at our house slowed to make the turn across the street. Zeb and Gates raced to the front of the pasture only to stand in utter disappointment as that trash man didn't even wave "hello".

Saturday, February 6, 2010


It is just easier to move a round bale into the pasture if we can contain the sheep and goats before driving the tractor with speared bale into it. The goats in particular get excited and run ahead of the tractor. It is amazing that no one has ever been squashed or speared as it is almost impossible to see them as they skirt the sides of the tractor. I lure as many as I can into a side pasture and close them in for the few minutes it takes to drop in a new hay bale. You'll notice the pup who followed the whole crew as they raced in.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Surprise!

This is what we found while scurrying around in the nasty weather hurrying to get round bales moved into the cattle and sheep pastures!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Nathan is the little black goat in the background. He is Kermit's son & he was born last spring as one of our few kids who wasn't white. We were tickled to see that as fall came around he started to develop the same white "overcoat" that his daddy does each year. He has stayed very small and his mother is a petite Angora-cross goat. At first he was not very friendly but in these last few months he has figured out that if he sneaks under the big goats and stands next to me I will slip him a little treat from my pocket.

Of course, this picture also shows how the puppies are growing. They love to be in Amy's pasture. And, although I've seen them chase one chicken this week, they are behaving a bit better. The pups love it when Madison, the old beagle, slips into their pasture and leads them on an adventure down the hill. They go from tree to tree sniffing at things and also like to dig around a bit in a manure pile or two. The pups don't seem to wander off on their own but they are easily led. They still stay within the confines of the fencing so we don't mind them exploring. One day they will be responsible for patrolling all the pastures they are now learning to explore.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Kermit is a crossbred goat who was born here a few years ago. His mother, Jan, was a petite black Nubian. His father was one of the big white Angora bucks. Kermit weighs at least 125 pounds and is probably our pushiest goat. He has no problem using his horns to keep me in line. That can be a problem, especially during breeding season when he does not want to be kept in a single pasture.

His heritage is such that in the winter he grows a thick white coat that resembles his father's mohair. In the spring he totally sheds out to his black, coarse Nubian coat. He's quite a character and usually the cause of most of my frustration in the pasture but it looks like he's been here so long that we just have to keep him.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Not for the fainthearted....

We had a fox last week. Not far from the edge of the chicken yard where the birds come and go as they please, I discovered a wing, a part of a wing and a single foot. All of the bone cuts were made with almost perfect precision. About six weeks ago Al had seen a fox going through a pasture one night. Amy, one of the livestock guardian dogs, was still in her stall in the old barn where we put her so that she can eat undisturbed. We cautioned Katy that the dog must be let out shortly after her dinner from now on and she was out that night but apparently this little creature slipped by her. Almost a week has passed without another incident that we are aware of. This is the down side of truly free-range chickens and, although we never like to lose so much as a single one, the other three hundred or so are still safe and we're doing a little late-night fox hunting.