Oasis

Moving the loam pile
Moving the loam pile

Yesterday turned out to be as beautiful as predicted, warm and sunny. It’s about time! We got as much done as we could do in one day. I cleaned out the greenhouse where we lamb and kid, while John worked on moving a giant loam pile. In between his loads he took the stuff I was pitchforking out and added it to another compost pile. By the end of the afternoon I had managed to create a large, clean space that is penned off, in readiness for our mamas and babies. Well, the whole greenhouse is cleaned, and one area penned off. (Full disclosure: I pitchforked everything into a pile outside the greenhouse, but after loading a few bucketfulls into the tractor, I had to have John finish getting the pile into the bucket! That much strength I can’t summon up in one day. I sat in the tub for quite awhile last night).

This loam is looking good! As the sun hit the exposed dirt, the worms came to life!
This loam is looking good! As the sun hit the exposed dirt, the worms came to life!

And then the rain and the sleet began. The wind blew and it poured all night and into this afternoon. I think we got at least 2″ of rain. More coming after midnight and through the day tomorrow, but that sounds icier than what we got today.  Yuck-o. I am obsessively watching the extended weather forecast. After tomorrow it looks like it’s going to be in the mid 40s and mostly sunny. I can hardly wait. I think we have probably seen our last overnight under 20F, and that alone makes me almost giddy :*)

A more than dreary day
A more than dreary day

Yesterday turned out to be a tantalizing oasis of warmth in between some days of bad weather. I am very definitely looking forward to the sun.

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It’s all about the wind

Zelda the Curious
Zelda the Curious

The weather, again. Still. Winter and blowing. Although this past week’s promised Nor’easter blew the gale they said it would, it thankfully delivered no snow here. Yesterday morning was much warmer, (a balmy 30F), but the wind was still hanging on, with some sleety stuff thrown in.

But the weekend is upon us and I have great hopes for today. Warmer and no weather. (Unfortunately it looks like we are going to get hammered with rain tomorrow). I sincerely hope none of the goats decide to have their babies. None are actually due until later next week, but you never know. We have a lot to do today, and it looks like we may have a pleasant day to do it in!

Washed Fern fleece
Washed Fern fleece

This past week since shearing has been a full one at work, and then there were the fleeces that I cycled through the living room so each had a chance to be laid out on the nice, warm floor. Just making sure that they all were thoroughly dry. And so perhaps tomorrow after I work on the taxes (ugh) I can get some of it spun up. Doesn’t sound like it’s going to be an outside sort of day.

Shearing day, 2014

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Phew! All went well. The day began cold and bright, and is ending a little warmer and with a few clouds here and there. In between, we got a torrent of rolling giant-flaked snow followed by a little bit of rain, but we were already finished with the shearing and safely inside, gorging on a great potluck spread. Everyone who came did a lot of work, and before we got the meal going, Pam of Hatchtown Farm made an extremely lovely toast with some yummy Prosecco to our last shearing day.

I am sore and achy, but we got a lot done in a very short amount of time. Emily the shearer did a wonderful job as always, and we have 7 more beautiful fleeces to process or sell. I do not think I will ever run out of fleece! The only issue we had today was weather-related: Fern’s fleece (the big white ewe) was damp all the way through, a reminder of the downpours the other day. So the lovely ladies tagged the fleece and I already have it inside, spread out on the floor to dry. As the temperatures are due to go down in the next couple of days (down into the single digits tomorrow night, ouch), the heat in our floor should take good care of that. But as I sit here and look at these beautiful, lustrous locks (6″ average), I may just have to wash some up and do some spinning tomorrow!

And so goes the last sheep shearing at Ruit Farm North. Great excuse for a party. But I have plenty of other excuses that work just as well, no shortage there  :*)

First day of Spring, officially

All greenhoused up!
All greenhoused up!

Not so officially, it sure doesn’t feel like it’s anywhere close to spring! I know that winter usually lasts quite a bit longer up here in New England than in many places. I don’t usually have too many beefs with Mother Nature, but this year I definitely have it in for this weather :*) Cold, cold, cold, snow, sleet, ice and cold. It feels like it will never end!

Whine, whine. We are stuck in a perpetual whine about the messiness and bitterness of it all. I am no better than the next person, although it just is, and I don’t usually let it get my blood pressure going. But trying to keep our 7 ewes dry this past 24 hours has been a bit of a challenge since our greenhouses are not as zaftig as they once were. Our lambing/kidding greenhouse is covered with a stand-in tarp which is missing most of its grommets on the south side, so we have tied it up as best we can. The rain looks like it has stopped for the moment, and I am thinking that it’s over… but oh, I forgot! It’s supposed to rain and snow on shearing day this Saturday. I can hardly wait.

It’s official!

Zelda back view
Zelda back view

While making my rounds at feeding time I usually check on udders and backsides as I go around. I love seeing how the sheep and goat udders begin to just slightly develop, and watching those gives us a pretty good idea of how close we are to lambing or kidding. And backsides, because we are paranoid about vaginal prolapses. (Only dealt with one a few years ago and I am hoping that it will not be a repeat experience!).

Zelda's back profile with a little baggie showing
Zelda’s back profile with a little baggie showing

So over the weekend as I was dutifully going around checking on udders, I realized that Zelda, our largest ewe and also our last due, has more than two deflated balloons hanging there. She has a nicely rounding little bag going! They are all extremely hairy now, right down to their udders, but there is definite change there. Zelda is a wonderful, very focused doe. And she is definitely working on some babies. The time approaches! Yay!

Pippi's non-starter udder
Pippi’s udder with no visible budding

Old and new

New pot on the left, old one on the right
New pot on the left, old one on the right

I know this is nuts, but I am coffee crazy. I don’t consider my day to be actually started until I get my first cuppa. For many, many years I was the only one who had coffee before leaving the house, so I used a one-cup drip Melitta. Easy, no big cleanup. But about 8 years ago our younger son came home to live and when he began working very early hours, I began thinking about the possibility of a coffee maker. Heresy! And that Columbus Day weekend I went out and found a coffee maker on sale and bought it. I knew nothing about drip coffee makers, and got a Cuisinart. I was in love! It was so wonderful to have coffee waiting for us when we got up, that I very definitely got used to it.

Fast forward to Tuesday of last week. The day began badly when I slept in until 4:25 AM. So the first strike was against me. (I get up at 4:10 on weekdays). So I was scrambling right from the get-go. When I shuffled out into the kitchen to grab my cup of joe I noticed that the whole tile counter was wet and the grout was dark and damp. Hmm. I took the carafe of the coffee maker out and was a little concerned that there wasn’t very much coffee in the pot. Hmm. It was too early to think this hard! Eventually, I realized that the reservoir had been leaking overnight, and began the cleanup. What a giant pain! I was extremely grumpy because I couldn’t even begin to enjoy my first cup of the morning, and to top it off I couldn’t fill my travel mug with my usual cup. Woe is me! Coffee rules my mornings, how sad is that!

Unfortunately the day didn’t get much better once I got to work. Just one of those things… thank goodness the sheep, goats, husband  and knitting were waiting for me when I got home. And thanks to the Big South American River, we had a new coffee maker here by Friday. Another Cusinart, just slightly different. The reviews online are pretty bad across the board on them, but since we got 8 years out of the last one, I am going to give this one a try. So far, so good. Variable heat plate temperatures and variable time for the unit to remain on are big features for me. Oh the small pleasures of the morning!

Saturday at last

Finally, the sun and the warmer temps
Finally, the sun and the warmer temps

And it’s almost over! Aagh! No, seriously, it was such a beautiful day I couldn’t believe it. In the 40s, at least for one day. Every little bit helps. I knew that there was a little rain forecast for early in the day, and the weather folk were correct for once. But it was a gentle rain, and it helped remove a little bit of the icy buildup in the driveway, as well as snow up in the paddocks. Of course, when the snow is removed from the surface of the paddocks, all we can see is poop and random hay bits on top of the layers of ice that are underneath. But that’s ok, eventually it will have to all go away. We can only hope!

Ready to unload the hay
Ready to unload the hay

So we waited out most of the rain and then went for a small load of hay. The roads around here are so frost-heaved that one of the bales bounced off and we had to make a U turn and go back and pick it up.  Eesh! But the sun had come out and it was warm and the sun felt good. Not nearly for long enough, because just as I was getting ready to go out for chores this afternoon another cloudburst came through. But with a little help from my favorite iPhone app, Dark Sky, I could see that it would probably only be 20 minutes to a half hour and then it would be through. So I used that time to get Pippi on the milkstand and trim her hooves. I am very behind on the goat feet and I need to catch up. I would like to get them trimmed up nicely before the kids drop.

The boys thought the whole truckload was for them!
The boys thought the whole truckload was for them!

And it’s time to get things ready for next week’s shearing. I have to figure out how to keep the ewes dry with a wonky greenhouse cover. And unfortunately, right now, it sounds like it might be rainy next Saturday. One more thing to worry about. Ah well, this too shall work out in the end :*)

As chores ended, the sun was at its best
At chore time, the sun was looking good!

Same photos, different day

The girls assume the usual morning positions!
The girls assume the usual morning positions! Waiting for breakfast

It’s doing it again. Half this country seems to be cursed with the snow, ice and wind. Ugh! Enough already! It’s certainly not news, but it definitely is a downer, particularly after we had the wonderfully warm weather so recently. I feel like I keep posting photos that look the same as every other photo from this winter, but I guess that is the reality, so that’s what we have today. Photos that cannot be differentiated much from any others during the never-ending winter of 2014. Dark and grey, with a lot of white!

Elf and Zelda position themselves close to the grain feeders
Elf and Zelda position themselves close to the grain feeders

Today is our 6th school snow day, so we officially will be going a day later in June, although I am sincerely grateful that we didn’t have to drive on the sleety, icy roads this morning. To top it off, I woke up with the cold that my husband has been fighting for the last few days. It doesn’t appear to be as bad as the bug he has, thankfully.

I am off to do a little more knitting, and my husband is making his amazingly wonderful deviled eggs… just right for a snowy, windy, icy, yucky morning :*)

Walk in the woods

The serenity of the woods and the sky
The serenity of the woods and the sky

Yesterday was so amazingly gorgeous and sunny that we decided to take a walk through our woods all the way down to the local sandpit. I wouldn’t have trudged through the snow which is still quite deep in places, but there is a sled trail that runs along one edge of our property that heads straight into the pit. And since it has been heavily used this winter by the snowmobilers, we had a fairly stable path to follow. It was beautiful, and the walk was made even more fun as we had our grandson for a visit.

A woodpecker's work is never done!
A woodpecker’s work is never done!

The path was easy walking as long as we didn’t get too close to the edge of the trail. All of us went in up to our knees multiple times, but we had a lot of fun. Extreme blue sky, naked trees and the snow were spectacular. Our grandson was watching for birds and squirrels, but in the middle of the afternoon it was very quiet in the woods. Our big bird-related discovery was the tree that our resident Pileated Woodpecker has been working on… Holy cow, I have never seen a tree so full of holes! All the way around the trunk are giant craters, with an enormous pile of shavings under the tree. Judging by the fact that there is such a big pile there, the bird must have done most of his/her work since the last snow! Wow is all I can say. That’s one hungry pecker :*)

pecker_at_work

More daylight, less sleep

I adore Daylight Savings. It offers so much more light on the end of the day when I can actually get something accomplished. Of course, it comes with a challenge as well. Crazed catching up on the Sunday of the big changeup!

Jingle moves in with the boys
Jingle moves in with the boys

Already feeling like I can’t get out of my own way this week, today is another gorgeous day and it’s slipping by too fast! Yesterday was in the mid 40s, today a little cooler, but just as bright and blue sky sunny. It must be a good day to go for a walk down the woods trail. And, get a little more work done out in the paddocks.

Sunday morning girls
Sunday morning girls

It’s getting much closer to kidding time and I moved Jingle the donkey out of the paddock with the ewes and the pregnant does. I am beginning to feed the girls some medicated pellets, so by the time the babies are born everyone will have some protection (we hope) against some of the bugs that cause terrible scours (diarrhea) in lambs and goat kids. The pellets also have higher protein which the does need at the end of their gestation. I try not to use much medicated feed, but in our muddy paddock conditions, it’s probably the wiser course, and I do get the higher protein levels as well. Moving the donkey at this point is crucial, because any access to the medicated pellets would be toxic to her. The other reason I don’t like having her in with the pregnant girls is that she kicks when she gets annoyed. Always a little bit of a hazard as the girls begin to have those big baby bellies. Now if I can get the gate open between the two paddocks, maybe I can lure Zorro the llama into the paddock with the girls. Then both groups will have a guard with them. Coyotes can’t be trusted at this time of the year when it’s been so brutally cold. Hope all of them are still finding enough food out in the woods!

Today feels like it is racing by, but we are spending time with our grandboy which is always a lot of fun. We made blueberry pancakes this morning, and I almost forgot to get my pot roast into the crockpot! Time to get moving. I hope the ‘plowable’ snow they are predicting for Thursday does not get to us. Groan.