Idling on the starting line

Ewes are looking ready
Ewes are looking ready

Nope.  HoneyBea has not popped her babies yet.  All the ewes are ravenous and their udders and bellies are growing.  It’s looking like a beautiful day today, so anytime is good, HoneyBea!

SnowPea's morning greeting
SnowPea’s morning greeting

On the goat side of things, Melazane is doing better and not standing in the middle of the paddock crying anymore. Smiling SnowPea and Pippi the milking does greet me each morning and always look like they are wondering what all the hubbub is about… people coming and going every few hours, 24/7.

Smiling SnowPea (she tore her lip when she was 3 weeks old and now has a permanent smile!)
Smiling SnowPea (she tore her lip when she was 3 weeks old and now has a permanent smile!)

And as always, the humans are totally sleep-deprived before anything has really happened yet!

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Baby time, kind of

Melanzane, not a happy camper.
Melanzane, not a happy camper.

We have been watching all of the ewes and does very closely.  When I got home Wednesday after work and after another meeting, I got changed up for chores and went out to find our brown goat, Melanzane, having a kid.  She is a first timer and has been difficult to breed.  Unfortunately, our luck with her has not gotten any better.  Her beautiful, gorgeous doeling was stillborn.  Big baby, but Melanzane managed to handle things herself.  She was distraught, and things were not good.  We tried to get the baby breathing, but I believe that she had been dead for awhile.  Mel is low goat on the totem pole, and they beat on each other from time to time and I am thinking that she got a belly bash.  Sigh.

I hate starting the baby season with a negative.  She didn’t want us to take the baby away, but at a certain point after she had some time to clean her off, we penned Mel and took care of it.  Poor girl, she just called and called for the 36 hours after.  We have not been planning on keeping Melanzane, and I guess in the long run, this just makes it a little easier.

We still do not know for sure if Pippi the doe is bred, but we are presuming she is and that she will kid in the near future.  Hard to tell, and I guess we just have to keep an eagle eye out.  HoneyBea the ewe is due today.  Her belly doesn’t look like it’s dropped yet, so maybe she will opt for a daytime delivery over the weekend!

More shearing photos

When we got out and got started with shearing a few weeks ago, I had my trusty camera in my bag (along with the CD&T serum and syringes to inoculate the sheep while they were in compromising positions, being held firmly by Emily).  I got a few photos on it and realized that the battery was almost dead.  So I asked our friend Chris to think about snapping a few, and she did a great job.  She got these to me quite awhile ago and I keep meaning to share them.  So here are the extra shearing day photos.

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Blogiversary

Thanks to a WordPress notification, I was alerted to the fact that today is the Ruit Farm blog’s 5th anniversary! I don’t pay much attention to these things, but it got me started thinking about how I began the blog.

For all the years that we have had sheep I have always kept a datebook type calendar. Pam of Hatchtown Farm  gave me that tip and it has continued to be a good one. But those squares, even on a big datebook, are not large enough to really fill in all the details of what is going on. So I began an electronic journal on LiveJournal in 2007 (I think!), but kept it in ‘private’ mode. After I had been doing that for quite awhile, I decided to get a little more formal and jump to a live format. It forced me to get a little better organized, I became more aware of noting things using photographs, and just generally made things a little more precise. And I can’t even begin to count the number of times that I have gone to the blog to verify when things have happened, what were the details, and all kinds of other things. I am also really glad I have gotten on this bandwagon, because it has led me to a whole lot of other blogs and bloggers which has greatly enriched my life, aside from learning a lot of good stuff!

It doesn’t feel like it’s been 5 years at all!

Discomfort

I know, it’s a gorgeous, if windy, day out there.  I took my time doing chores this morning, enjoying the feel of the sun, but the wind has really come up since.  My sinuses have been bothering me the last few days and this morning I feel like I am getting an earache.  Yuck.  Hope it’s not a cold or a sinus infection, but this time of year is crazy and I frequently feel allergies coming on well before the cold weather is over.  It doesn’t seem fair!

More discomfort in life:  Google Reader is going away sometime around the end of June.  Being a creature of habit, I have been using the Google Reader tool for a lot of years to keep track of all the blogs I read.  The majority of the heavy hitters are library-related, but I also read a growing list of farm, fiberart, and foodie blogs.  Such a great world of people out there sharing their interesting lives and all the amazing things they are doing, making and cooking.  Blogging has really opened up the world of sharing art, craft and life choices.  It can be addicting reading, just like serial programming of other kinds.  So when I realized that Google Reader (the one-stop place that collects all of the blog feeds I subscribe to) was going to be leaving, I began looking around for another feed reader to experiment with before I find myself without a way to organize these subscriptions.  (For anyone who is unfamiliar with RSS feeds, see this article).

I had recently read a few blog posts reviewing some of the alternatives to Google Reader.  Last week I decided to get serious about this and experiment with the one that seemed to jump to the surface in most of the ‘alternatives to GReader’ lists, Feedly.  Some of the reasons I decided to experiment with this one is that it’s been around for awhile, it automatically syncs my GR subscriptions the first time I sign into Feedly with my Google login, and it also has a nicely-formatted app for the iPad, which was important to me as well.  I am happy to report that the pain of the changeover has not been too serious, for which I am grateful!  I am still getting used to its interface, but I am beginning to like it.  It’s a little easier on the eyes than GR as posts and blogs are separated in a very pleasing fashion, and there are thumbnail images from each of them that are highlighted as the newest in the feed.  There are a number of different ways that you can organize the feeds which I have not experimented with much yet.  So far it’s working for me, so I hope that when GR fades into the sands of technology time, I won’t miss it at all.  As a matter of fact, I am not missing it much already :*)

Note:  Many of the blogs that I subscribe to and read regularly are listed in the ‘blogroll’ in the sidebar of my blog home.  But not all of them have made their way there, so following is a pretty current list with links, if anyone is interested!

Farming blogs I follow: Butting Heads Farm, Blueberry Hills Farm, Catherine Friend Farm Tales, Fort Pelham Farm, Hatchtown Farm, Future Farmers Live Here, Getting Stitched on the Farm, Henbogle, The Kitchens Garden, Losing Sleep Counting Sheep, Sugar Mountain Farm, (not so) Urban Hennery, 10 Year Challenge,  Welsh Hills Again.

Fiber blogs: The PanopticonCast-On (also a podcast), Cluck Cluck Sew, iMake (also a podcast), Knit Knit Cafe (also a podcast), Knitmore Girls (also a podcast), @Romi’s Studio, Mollywobbles, Sailing Knitter, Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams, Yarn Harlot, Yarn Spinner (Joanne Seiff), Wolf Den, And She Knits Too, Romney Ridge Farm.

Foodie blogs: Kitchen at Camont, Domestic Diva M.D., David Lebovitz, Former Chef, Food in Jars, Susan Can Cook, Kayotic Kitchen, Krista and Jess, Witty in the City, Smitten Kitchen, View from Great Island, Yankee Pantry.

If anyone is interested in the library blogs I follow, I will make that list another time!

Happy Spring 2013

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Quite a beautiful day out there once we got past how much snow needed to be shoveled.  Snow day yesterday, 2-hour delay today. The roads were not fun on the way to work but by this afternoon things were much improved.  I was out this morning shoveling the feeder out when the official Spring sprang, but chores this afternoon were delightful with the sun on the snow, and the wind had died down.  And so we march on toward “real” spring, and hopefully some lambs will be arriving at the end of next week!  You can see how large HoneyBea is in the photos (the silver shorn ewe with no coat on… she got it half off and all tangled in it yesterday).

Just hoping that this is the snow’s swan song!

Chickadees claim spring, snow says not yet thank you

Newly-naked girls wait for breakfast
Newly-naked girls wait for breakfast

Another big, fast moving storm.  Eek.  Looking at the weather forecast, I can’t imagine the snow hanging around too long with temperatures in the upper thirties for most of the week.  And I really am not looking forward to much more shoveling.  Hopefully our lambs will hold off for the next week or so!  (Although when I looked at my due dates calendar, I realized that one of our first time moms has a date for this Friday.  I don’t think she will go, though, because she got re-bred in her next cycle.  It was the first afternoon that the ram joined the group… !)

Zelda and Elf
Zelda and Elf

When I went out to do chores this morning,  all I could hear were chickadees singing the two-note song that I never hear during the winter, only in the spring and into the summer.  Apparently they are ready for the big equinox tomorrow.  Too bad no one told the wintersmith (thanks to Terry Pratchett for that name. Love that book, really that whole Tiffany Aching series).  I am ready as well.  Tramping through a foot of snow loses its appeal very quickly in March :*)

Apres shearing

Pregnant ewes at the feeder, newly shorn
Pregnant ewes at the feeder, newly shorn with coats

March is such a fickle month.  I was very happy to be shearing mid-March instead of the third weekend in February.  One presumes slightly warmer weather.  The past day or two have proven us wrong.  The temperatures are back down in the 20s during the day and teens – or possibly tonight – the single digits!!!  AARGH!  My naked girls who are 3 to 4 weeks away from lambing must be cold.  The wind has come up and I had to add a few more layers to my chore clothes today.  Brrr.

Luckily, we had help yesterday afternoon.  Chris and Pam stayed long enough to help me get the shorn ewes into some sheep coats late in the day.  I usually don’t re-coat the pregnant moms, but due to the weather we thought it might be prudent.  I also usually keep my shorn girls penned for two days after shearing to let their lanolin come to the surface, which very effectively gives them a great wind-proofing.  But pregnant sheep need to be moving around so they don’t have issues, and we had had to pen them since last Tuesday morning because of the bad weather, so I really wanted to let them out into the paddock to get moving again.  And so it goes.

I am happy to have them shorn.  I always worry that I can’t get a good butt-view with a big fleece on them.  I also don’t dock tails as short as most do, so it’s really important that we get a good view of the hind quarters as lambing approaches.  I am always afraid that one of the ewes will have a prolapse.  We can deal with it if we catch it early enough, so it’s a great thing to be able to stay on top of it!

Shearing day 2013

Emily getting started on Etti
Emily getting started on Etti

We got lucky and had a beautiful day for shearing.  Much colder than the last few weeks, but nice and clear, and the ground was firm for the first half of the day so no one had to slog through mud.  Because of the setup in the greenhouses, we ended up haltering each ewe, walking them across the paddock, and Emily sheared them in the milking greenhouse.  It worked out very well, lots of great helpers came and by noon we were back in the house getting a nice meal together.

Skirting one of the fleeces
Lots of help skirting the fleeces!

With only five ewes to be shorn, things moved along nicely.  We had a lot of time to knit, laugh and visit.  Our grandson came early in the afternoon and is staying with us tonight.  I honestly don’t feel like doing much!  I think it’s a good evening for being lazy and playing Thomas the Tank games :*)

Remains of the feast
Remains of the feast

Currently residing in domain transfer limbo

Or in one of Dante’s circles, I might rather put it.  I knew the process of transferring our regular website (ruitfarm.com) to a new domain holder and web host company was going to be a little involved, and possibly a tad frustrating.  I was right, for once!

Website screen capture
Website screen capture

It’s necessary for domains (website addresses) to be legally owned and there should be a certain amount of red tape involved in changing it around in some way.  It is a process that safeguards a website owner from having the site yanked out from under them by some unscrupulous individual or corporate entity.  I totally understand that part of it.  But in order to transfer a domain to a new host, there are protocols that the sending company (or losing company as it were) must follow in order to legally fork over the domain and let it go to a new home.  It’s probably just human nature, but the sending company in our case seems to be making things a little more difficult than one would want.  Dragging their feet, as it were.  I have stuck with this company for almost 10 years, and they are always extremely helpful and kind souls.  And I understand the whole losing customers thing, but…

Sigh.  It has been quite the learning curve for me.  Learning the new company’s interface has been a little overwhelming.  I am hoping that I can gain access to the main website over on the new servers in the next two or three days.  Or at least hoping that the ruitfarm.com domain may almost be free and available for tweaking with the new host.  In the meantime, I am sure glad that we have this blog, separate from the website.  (I have not paid much attention to the website in the last few years, as we do not have anything fancy like a “shopping cart” on it, and have treated the blog as my update pages, leaving the website as an orphan cousin).  I am hoping to change that in the near future.  And thanks to my husband’s cousin in NJ, I am rethinking a drastic change in my web design.  I have a few small updates in mind, but more in color than in major design changes.  Thanks Lynnell for your input!  (I promise that I will get your name spelled correctly at some point in my life!).