Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I've been in and out several times today.  We are waiting for some bad storms to be moving in later today.  The air is heavy and the sky periodically darkens.  The wind has been picking up and is now a steady breeze.  I've made sure all the right gates are open so that the animals can get under shelter.  Usually the cows and sheep just stand around when it rains but the goats race for shelter at the sign of the first raindrop.

As I walked back to gather eggs I noticed a little doe kid all by herself.  She was simply watching the world from her special perch at the back of the old barn.  Her mother was really only about twelve feet away but she looked like such an independent little lady.
I made my usual rounds gathering eggs.  I was enjoying the quiet little chatty noises that the hens make as I work my way through the nest boxes when I heard the dogs explode.  Gwen and Allez were fighting through the fence again.  Those two sisters have become more and more impatient with each other the older they get. It is hard to believe they flew here all the way from Iowa cuddled together in a little dog kennel.  Now they can barely share two adjoining pastures without tangling.  They do a lot of growling, barking and threatening.  On occasion one will get a nip in at the other.  Usually the other dogs just lay around and watch these two act up.  The goats and sheep just step out of the way.  I would certainly hate to have to break up a disagreement that did not have a nice strong fence in between it.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Shearing for our Son

Last summer our oldest, Glen, and his precious wife, Kelli, decided to start a flock of Romneys.  After a few trips to a few states, they ended up with a ram and three ewes.  They had their first lamb a little over a week ago.
We are almost done with our shearing here so it seemed like a good idea to shear their sheep.  My sweet husband, Al, does our shearing.  It took us a bit of running to round everyone up but in the end the sheep were relieved of their winter coats and it looks like I've got a bit of wool to keep me busy for a while.
We'll have to make a return trip as Al did not shear one of the ewes. When he tipped her, it was obvious that she was very close to lambing.  He cleaned up her belly and her backside but did not want her to endure the entire process.  Probably a wise choice as she had twins less than 12 hours later!

Monday, April 18, 2011


This is Mo, the Cotswold ewe who was in Friday's blog photo.  Al sheared her yesterday &she produced a beautiful fleece that weighed well over 8 pounds.  I believe she is a little embarrassed over the new haircut as I had to really work hard to take a picture of her, she kept walking away.  Her lambs still look a little confused over mother's new look.  Oh, and Mo came to use with a torn ear.  That was not a shearing mishap but the result of her ear tag being torn before we acquired her.  The little flap bothers me but apparently Mo is okay with it, it healed long ago and we are just trying to ignore it.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Family

In March I came across a listing for Cotswold sheep on craigslist.  We spoke to the woman who was about an hour away from us, took a drive to visit the sheep, liked what we saw and left a deposit.  We returned the next day to gather two adult sheep and three yearlings.

Curly is the Cotswold ram and Mollie is the ewe.  Our 14 year old German Shorthair Pointer is named Mollie so we changed Mollie's name to Mo - the perfect companion for Curly.  We also got Mo's lambs from last year, a pair of Cotswold X Shetlands, as well as a little year old Cotswold X Babydoll wether who was part of the original package.

As we were traveling to retrieve the sheep we got a call from their owner.  Mo, who we knew was pregnant, had just lambed.  To make a long story short, Helen and Ellen, the twin Cotswold girls, traveled home in the truck cuddled in my lap. Even at birth they were covered with gorgeous wooly ringlets that I can hardly wait to spin. After a happy reunion in the barnyard, the little family has been inseparable.  They have joined the rest of our flock but still manage to hang out as a family.  I came out the other day to find Curly just quietly watching over his little crew.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


This is the latest goose nest.  Both of the geese moved it again this morning while the gander watched from a distance.  For some reason they rounded up all of the previously discarded eggs and tucked them in the nest again.

I had to run a few errands in town so scurried out to gather eggs just as soon as I returned.  Something caught my eye.  Jezebelle had lambed.  She is one of our oldest Shetland ewes and we have been watching her closely.  She is prone to going down from milk fever.  She has also been limping a bit, perhaps from the lamb pressing on a nerve.  I was tickled to find that she'd had a simple delivery and that the little guy was up and around.  He is absolutely tiny!  I took off my size 8 barn shoe to show how little he really is.
In my excitement about the new lamb, I forgot and set a bottle down in the stable where Baloo, our bit Pyrennes X Kangal Livestock Guardian Dog was napping.  His nap didn't last quite long enough.
We use Pritchard teats to feed the lambs and kids when their mother's can't.  I buy them at least half a dozen at a time as there is no good substitute.  Guess I'd better count how many I have left and order a few more.

Monday, April 11, 2011


I was finally able to take a picture of our Pilgrim Goose on her nest.  I had to stand on the woodpile and hang over the fence as the other goose and the gander in with her viciously attack if I try to go through the gate into their yard.  Just last week the gander grabbed the back of my hand as I was refilling the water bucket.  He pinched and twisted, leaving a now-green bruise on the back of my hand.  I was not about to try to sprint across their yard with a camera just for a picture.

The two geese had been laying eggs in the nest since some time in February.  One of the geese got broody and began to set on St. Patrick's Day.  She has barely moved since.  From what I can tell, she takes a quick break for food and water once a day, carefully covering her nest before leaving.  She has also tended to her nest by discarding a few eggs.  She must know something about those eggs that is not obvious to us but from what we can figure she probably still has eight or ten eggs under her.

When the geese began to lay we had to put a sheet of plywood against the fence as they would reach out to grab anyone walking by their nest.  They have quite long necks which fit easily through the gaps in the cattle panel.  Unfortunately they built right in the corner closest to the gate that we all use to go to the back of the farm.  Until we put the plywood up we had to swing the gate wide open and walk as far from the nest as we could.  The dogs as well as a sheep or two following us would often get a good goosing.  The dogs quickly learned to wait until they could pass on the farthest side.  The sheep just kept running, often leaving a lock of wool behind with a goose.

This morning I noticed that she had moved the entire nest over by a foot.  It was completely rebuilt with perhaps one more egg discarded. I have no idea what she was thinking but it was quite intentional.  We'll find out a little over a week what has become of the eggs still under her.

Friday, April 8, 2011


The little brown doe and her mother went outside yesterday.  Looks like her color is quite an asset as mother had hidden her in a corner of the pasture and it took me a little while to find her.  The white kids sure stand out but this little one was a little harder to see.  The shadows and the color of the hay make a perfect way to hide.  The fact that she is just absolutely tiny - probably less than 5 pounds - also helps.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Another Surprise

We had every intention of getting to church on Sunday.  Right before it was time to dress to go, I carried Ralphie, the little bottle kid, out to the stable to play with the other babies while we were away.  I made a quick "just in case" walk around and found a lovely white doe that had just dropped a tiny kid.  The kid's face was cleaned up but the rest was a mess.  It was a chilly morning and the little one was not trying hard to get up so we moved mother and kid to a warm stall with a heat lamp in the corner.

Mother was not very attentive to the doeling so I was anxious about heading to town.  We stayed home and finally had to milk out the mother and give the kid her first feeding from a bottle.  Once that warm colostrum hit her belly, she was up and trying to nurse within the hour.  By the end of the day all was well.

I was still frustrated with how poorly the mother had cleaned up her baby.  The little doeling had a clean white head but still seemed to be covered with the reddish brown dirt from the spot in the pasture where she was born.  I mentioned something to Al who told me that he thought the little kid was brown.  That had never crossed my mind!  I spit on the kid, wiped very hard with my fingers and discovered that it really is a little brown goat.  And we will try again next Sunday to get to church.....

Monday, April 4, 2011


I have often told folks that when we shear the lambs get quite confused.  They can be standing right by their own mother and bawling, not recognizing her with a new haircut.  I finally managed to get a picture of one of the sets of twins searching for mother among the fleeces.  Al had shorn half a dozen sheep yesterday and had piled the fleeces along the porch of the stable so that I could go through them.  I came out to gather eggs and noticed activity on the porch.  I was thrilled to have a camera in my pocket and can finally document lambs searching.  Little did they know that I'd already snatched up their mother's fleece and that a big chunk of it was in a pot of green dye.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Playing Catch Up

It has been a while since I've updated the blog.  We've got a few new babies including a little black and white ram lamb born Friday while I was at an arts day at a local school.  I went out to gather eggs and was surprised when this little fellow came flying around the corner of the stable and began to follow me.  It took me a few minutes to find his sweet little mother.
After a rainy week, we've finally had a pleasant day.  Freckles and her twins were enjoying the sunshine but the lambs were hunkered down low to avoid the heavy winds.
Betsy got separated from her sister, Bitsy.  We got the two several months ago and they were grossly overweight, seemingly having been fed way too much grain at their original home.  We've named them the Sofa Sisters as they are wide as couches and will knock us up against the fence posts to get through the gates.  They are especially anxious when they are apart.  Betsy just seemed sure she could force her way through the gate.
She and Bitsy both have such gorgeous fiber so I cannot wait until shearing time.  I just feel sorry for my sweet husband who will have to tip her and roll her around for her shearing.
I'm hoping to add some of her curls to a little felting.  I've been playing around with bags lately so think a few curls might be a nice touch.