Pages

09 April 2011

Surprises

Dear Readers,

We have some absolutely wonderful news to share - we're pregnant!  That's right, we are expecting our first baby this November.  We are completely overjoyed at this news.

Now, I bet you are thinking I have my work cut out for me out the farm don't you?  Well, this is where things are bitter sweet for us.  We are selling all of our livestock and most of our new chicks too.  Sad isn't it, but really, I think full sized goats are too much for me - especially right now.  We are currently looking for a few more buyers, but luckily have found one for one of the sheep already.

We are keeping our two wonderful Anatolians.  Surge has infact begun INSISTING on residing indoors with me.  Perhaps he senses that I need extra protection, either way, I'm happy to have the big guy by my side for the duration.

Wolf and I are diligently looking for the perfect new suburban home to move to; we are so enamoured with all the modern conviences!  But it will be a little sad to give up the "frontieer life," but I am almost certain we will see it again someday sooner than we think

18 March 2011

Changes

Dear Readers,

So much is changing here at the farm!

Eleanore is getting bigger by the day, CJ is turning into a sleek adult, and our chicks are about to fly out of their inside brooders!  And I am a more seasoned knowledgable farmer.  Knowing this year how much hay to buy, which wormers are best for me and have a definate plan in mind that suits our needs and meets the desires of our surrounding community.

I recently re-tested Surge with the livestock, but I think at best for now, he may only be a perimeter guardian.  He showed little interest in chasing any of the stock, but he IMMEDIATELY went after a chicken. However, he immediately responded to my thunderous NOOOO!!!!  I can clearly see the errors we made with him, including leaving him to play with the stock whenever he felt like it without supervision.  He is calming down and is turning into a HUGE beautiful guardian.

On the down side, we may be pausing the farm for a few years.  Now none of this is defiante, but we need to get out of our current housing situation as the tension between us and our former co-opers/landlord have escalated to the point where drop-in visits are no longer acceptable and various items have gone missing from around our house.  It just makes me wonder what's next?  Will he harm our stock?  Our dogs?  Let someone loose because he feels the land is being "mistreated" by the animals?  Either way, we are praying we find something where all of our fur babies can have a home too.

I would be crushed if we had to sell Anica, Eleanore, and CJ.

It looks like we will also be building three new coops or 2 and one that is split.  I am focusing on raising silkies and Polish, while Wolf has started focusing on meat breeds.  After being attacked repeatedly by BOTH of our remaining Australorp roosters, I can safely say males of that breed are no longer my favorite and they are both destined for the pot!  "I hate a floggin' rooster!"

Warmly....

25 February 2011

Top Hat

At the last moment, when we ordered our chicks two weeks ago (man time flies!), we added two new breeds:

Black Giants - Wolf's choice



Silver Laced Polish - my choice




Can you all tell that I am a bit monochromatic obsessed!?

A Farming We Shall Go!

Dear Readers,

I love farming.  I love the sun on my face, the dirt between my toes, the smells of my animals, the affection they offer daily, and the new babies being born.  I enjoy everything about this life.  Knowing that my animals are reared under a kind hand, fed wonderfully, kept in great health, and looked after with care.  I enjoy picking my own tomatoes from seeds that I started and eating them on a sandwich with homemade bread.

However, what I do not like is farming on someone else's land.

There is nothing worse for me as a farmer than being told "you can't."  And it seems the longer we are on the Lord and Lady's property the more rules they come up with. An example:  We erected a fence about a year ago, shortly after we got Surge home.  Now, Wolf and I are being told that we need to move the fence 8 feet off the property line.  Gee? You think you cold us that 12 months ago?

I also find it very frustrating to not be able to plant an orchard or work this rocky soil into a rich brown nutrient rich soil that is an absolute joy to farm.  Everything we do to this land, this house, their farm is nothing that we benefit from.

I guess Wolf and I are to the point that we have just out grown this place.  It was a good start for suburbanites to learn a thing or two about farming, but the environment wasn't really conducive to learning.  We were pretty much left to our own.

So, to remedy this problem Wolf and I are looking at land in surrounding counties with or without a house.  Preferably with a fixer-upper - that way I can have cabinets, counter tops, and sinks that are MY height.  I'm no small bean at 5'11" bare foot.

We are going to take a tentative gander at some rolling property tomorrow with a sad little shack of a house tomorrow afternoon.  Is it strange that I would prefer that my animals have wonderful pasture to graze on while I live in a tent?  I am sure that it seems backward to some people.

I am trying not to stake my heart on it.  Trying not to get my hopes too high.  But honestly, I can tell you, that I want this to happen so bad I can smell the farm there!

Wish us luck!

Warmly,

15 February 2011

Re-Purposed Dog

Dear Readers,

Remember how I wrote about Surge and his many antics (well, death traps really) with the chickens, goats, sheep, and kittens?  Well I took him off of working duty around the end of October and pulled him from the pasture after his last encounter with Anica.  (At that point in time he had learned to climb the fence and was chasing and killing our would-have-been-stewed-roos daily.  It still frustrates me to think about it, but alas....)   

Being at my wits end of what to do with a highly energetic, huge puppy, I just started walking him.  On those walks I thought back through my childhood.  I grew up with any number of dogs at our suburban house.  From the time I was born we had German Shepherd Dogs, Labrador Retrievers, or some mix of one or the other.  My parents tell my first word was the name of our German Shep, Wolfgang.  I still hold a little suspicion to that.  Never the less, it seems I was born with an in born passion for dogs.

There are two that really stick out in my mind.  Rambo, the GSD and Chase, the black lab.  (I was born on my grandfather's birthday and his name was Jennings.  I was named after him.)  This dog, Chase was the pick of the litter from the last litter of AKC pups my grandfather bred and reared before he passed.  Naturally, Chase was very dear to me.  His AKC name, given by my mother, was Chase the Happy Dog.

I spent many many hours out of doors with Chase.  He and I had a very tight, very special bond that I have not experienced with any other dog.  He was by all accounts MY dog; I would have given my life for him and he for me.  We were inseparable.  He was of an easy and willing temperament and learned quickly. I taught him to sit, lie down, roll over, and shake - all to the delights of my family.  I also taught him to stay at a distance, jump, and to pull.  (Looking back, he and I could have competed in any number of sport: agility, obedience, field work, or cart pulling.)  He was really an all around great dog and boy, would I love to have him here now!

It was the pulling that got my attention.  I bought a little harness for him and had him pull cinder blocks around our yard.  I dreamed that one day Chase would have a proper harness and I would have a proper wagon.

But it was not so.  Chase was struck down with heart worms (preventative medicine was not in the budget) at the age of 5.  I found him coughing up blood.  He was in such misery, but I helped my Dad load him in a trailer and take him to the vet, where his prognosis was given.  He was put down and buried nearby.

I have never forgotten him or the love we shared.  I never met another dog quite like him, until the tan wild eyed dog came along. 

My heart is damaged, you see, of getting attached to another big love.  But, this is the way love is, risky, yes?

So, on these walks, I thought of Chase and this big LGD that had in every sense failed me.  I began to wonder...could he like Chase, who was far less intelligent, be taught to pull?

This is Surge's new re-purposed training, to pull a farm cart; to contribute not only as a formidable guardian but as a draft animal.  I plan to order a nylon harness and adjust it as he grows and once he is close to being done, order him a beautiful black leather harness.

Initially, he will help pull hay, groceries, debris...whatever I can find...we could have used him yesterday as we were hauling barn muck to the garden.  After he has mastered this and I have learned more, I will begin to teach him to drive.  My goal is to make him road worthy enough and have enough stamina that he can take me to our local greenhouse to pick up a few plants and back, which would be wonderful to make a regular deal. 



Team of Anatolians?
This would be awesome by the way,
But Wolf and I would be racing the two teams!

Warmly,




11 February 2011

Distractions

Dear Readers,

I come to you all today with a little disappointment on my mind.

You know...when you fall madly in love with a gorgeous animal and you can't help but imagine all the wonderful names you will give it, the generations it will produce, and the color it will add to your herd.

Sigh...   That was me today, in happy-go-nutty land as I looked at this beautiful boy by Rusty Repp:



I know right?  He is hard not to fall in absolute love with.

BUT.... after my 8 hours of day dreaming, reality smacked me right in the head.  Darn it.

We don't have the space for a buck, even a little one (Our pasture is literally 3 feet from our back door.  Hello stinky smelly buck!  Oh my!  Can you imagine what my house would smell like!!  I would be going through some air fresheners and incensce!) 

My oldest goat, LaLa, is being leased.  So, it would be somewhat of a hassel to figure out what to do with her during breeding season.  Though over all I think have a stinky smelly buck here would shake her out of her silent heat (seriously, I have to stand behind her and peer into her nether regions to figure out if she is ready for a date or not.  Not really where I want to spent my life every 21 days....until Spring.)

Our fences are also not hotwired, which could lead to him getting out and wandering or becoming bear food. 

Sometimes my dreams get way ahead of me.  It can be so frusterating to know what you want and where you want to go, but be limited by what you have chosen or where you live, in my case.  I know that one day I will have a couple of stinky funny bucks.  But right now, for me, for us, for the farm, it is not a good idea.  Dern it.

So, as much as I hate to let this gorgeous monocromatic wonder go, I will have to for now. 

On the flip side, I do know for sure that we are getting a ram lamb and (I hope I can say this without getting my hopes too far up) an ewe this summer.  I was finally able to find some lamb pictures today and that throughly quenched my desire for goat kids. 

Well, not that this really hurts my heart.  I often find goats really annoying.  I am just not into needy animals day after day. 

What can I say? I am, at heart, the truest of shepherdesses.


09 February 2011

That time of year again -- SPRING!!

Dear Readers,

Well, it's that time of year again.  Allright, allright...ALMOST that time of year again. Springtime!

Can't you just imagine it now?  Warm weather, new chicks, new lambs, new kids, new baby bunnies.  New growth on the trees and another new shot at a season of farming.

Personally, I really hate spring. 

Now, don't get me wrong, I really like all of those new creatures running around and stealing my soul, but I get hayfever (yes, I know.  a farmer with hayfever....God has a mighty wicked sense of humor) something fierce.  The whole snotty nine-yards too.

That however, is not why I am writing today.

We are ordering 25 chicks!

Understand that besides planting seedlings in the middle of winter this, by far, is my next favorite thing to do.  And I have for so very long wanted to order some dibs through the mail!  I really hope my stupid little post office doesn't close at some insanely early --after their two hour lunch break-- hour thus making it impossible for me to get my chicks and probably leading to their eventual death!

Optimistic, aren't I?

It just makes me nervous that they will be put in a box and SHIPPED to us.  Jostled, bumped, and not have food or water...  But I will be ready.

We are ordering:

Light Brahma (8 females & 2 males):



I bought a trio of these from a couple down the road from us.  I thought they were pretty and that was it.  But boy, have they really changed my ideas.  My Brahma girls come to the coop door to greet me every single day and I do not doubt they would eat from my hand if I had something to tempt them.  They are incredibly sweet, good layers, and look at the size of the roo -- YUM!!


Speckled Sussexes (straight run):

I adore the random black and white pattern overtop of the red feathers.  To me, they are so beautiful.  Sussexes are also said to be good broody mothers.  But we all know nothing tops a broody silkie.
Silver Laced Wydonettes (straight run)


When I first saw these at the state fair, I was (and still am) very impressed by their striking colors.  I was happy to read they are gentle.  I look forward to having them.

Have you caught on to my theme yet?

04 February 2011

Skirting

I found this link to be wonderfully informative.  I hope you do, too.

http://www.spinderellas.com/skirting.html

Eleanore

Dear Readers,

For the longest time --well more accurately, until I saw the lamb-- I did not belive her to be pregnant.

That makes me sound a bit daft doesn't it.  Like someone didn't exact explain the birds and the bees to me properly.

No, really, I just thought that she was getting super fat. 

Well, I am not that stupid.  I knew she had been in with a ram and that well...you know...leads to lambs. 

But I did not really know what to expect.  And really, to be honest, I did not want to get my hopes up especially after the fiasco breeding with LaLa.  With Anica, I did not know what signs to look for.  I asked and asked and asked everyone to the point of ad nasuem I am sure!  Everyone has an opinion about everything, don't they?  Well, weather or not my ewe was pregnant certainly wasn't spared conflicting opinions.  I left it up to chance and went on my merry way.

I started, at Christmas time, to watch her more closely.  She began acting different as if she had a secret and she was not willing to share it with anyone - human, goat or sheep.  However, she developed a distinct preggo waddle and  Anica began to "bag up," meaning that her udders were beginning to fill with milk.  Where there is milk a lamb is usually not far behind. 

As the week passed, Anica also began spending more time away from the flock.  She spent much more time eating hay and generally just more time in the barn.  It was as if she was expecting something.  Part of me did not believe it to be really possible.  So for me, it was business as usual with a tender hopeful spot for Anica's lamb.

 Wolf and I had actually gone out of town that Saturday and came back early Sunday morning, around 3am.  Gosh, we were tired!  Naturally, we fell into bed after tossing the animals some much needed food.  After getting Surgie on a lead, I took him to do my cold nightly rounds.  What?  Farming is more true grit than happy accidents.

Reluctantly, I checked on Anica and she was acting as she had before, odd, but not distressed.   Nothing caught my attention, so I ambled off to bed, exausted.  We slumbered almost uneventfully.  At 6.30 AM or so, both Anatolians began barking non-stop!  This was extremely usual because the lord and lady of the land were gone and the 'Tolies usually remained quiet unless there were pigs about.  Wolf, bless his tired soul (5 days of work and then a 12 hour weekend job) even got out of bed and looked to see if there were hogs in the yard (Living next to a pig farm that is also a regular occurance, much to my chagrin).  Seeing nothing of importance, he sleepily returned to bed.

Thinking nothing more of it, I too slipped back into slumber.  We spent a lazy Sunday morning just enjoying our down time and had inteded to do nothing more than that all day.  I believe I even had a moment to grab some caffinee and sit down at my computer to write about how much we were enjoying doing nothing that Sunday, January 09.  Boy!  Were we in for a surprise!! 

Each morning, one of us gets up and does a silent head count of the pasture animals.  They are only about 4 feet from our back door and when the sun is out they can easily been see and counted from our back door and heard as well.  Often times they wait for us to get up, particularly if their hay is low or stemmy they let us know about it as soon as our feet hit the floor.

I sat down at the computer and got situated, has as Wolf said, after doing a very silent and long head count, "We have a BABY!!!"  I was of course completely perplexed.  There had been no long screaming, no overly loud baa-ing.  Nothing I heard was out of the ordinary.  I ran to the little window at our door. And there, she stood; black as coal, wooly, and beautiful.  My heart soared!  She had been greatly anticipated as the first ovine (that means sheep to all you non-sheepy people out there!)  to be born on the farm!  Oh she was beautful!

It intially did not register with either of us, what she was, but she was a surprise!

I immediately went into emergency mode.  I rounded up Mom and babe and put them in a jug (or bonding stall) and began checking the baby.  She was a girl!  YAY!  That means she will be helping us start our own small flock of Karakuls!  (Had she been a he, would would have reared the ram lamb until about 8-10 months and off to processing he would have gone.)  After briefly considering naming her Sunday, I named her Eleanore after the 1967 Shelby Mustang GT 500 in my favorite car movie Gone in 60 Seconds (that seems so slow now-a-days, doesn't it?).  Sleek, dark, and sassy she was.  Wolf and I were utterly thrilled with Anica's mothering skills and the beautiful, healthy, black ewe lamb she produced.

Thank you KD at Brook Besor farms for leaving your Karakul ram in with Anica those hot summer weeks.  Anica was bred just two weeks before she came to our farm.  Had we not found and purchased Jasmine and given her two weeks to adjust, Anica would have never have been covered, and Eleanore (our pride and joy of the farm) would not exist and we would not be considering also carrying the torch of the Karakuls.  Thank you so much.

Wolf and I are now also considering adding other breeds.  Karakuls, which are said to be the oldest domesticated breed and perhaps Icelandic sheep.  I look forward to seeing this gorgeous little lamb with wonderful fleece, develop into a stunning adult. 

Farming, for all it's difficulties and seemingly never ending hardship, is in moments like these rewarding in every aspect of the word.  I love it and wont trade it for all the stuffy desk jobs in the world.

I'm sorry

My Dear Readers,

I apologize for being ridiculously negligent in updating the blog.  I have been thinking about you guys and just really have been overwhelmed by all that has been happening.  Funny how things seem slow on the farm at first, but then the pattern of everyday life takes over and one forgets to tell ones good and faithful blogger buds.

I'm sorry.  I will try to do better.

Jen

19 January 2011

Welcome Eleanore!

On January 9th, in the early morning, our Jacobs ewe Anica gave birth to a healthy ewe lamb, Eleanore.