Here’s hoping that everyone out there has had a joyous and peaceful day. Merry Christmas from all of us at Ruit Farm!
We did get 3 or 4 inches of snow on Wednesday. I got to work (my farthest school, 26 miles), began to enjoy the staff holiday breakfast, just to get the word that we were going home. It was an adventure, but not too bad. The snow really began to add up late in the day, and the next morning it looked beautiful. It’s still on the ground, so we will have a white Christmas morning tomorrow. As long as we aren’t buried under many feet of snow over the weekend, maybe we can do some sledding in the driveway!
There comes a time every autumn when John and I get really grumpy: the onset of the water carrying time of year. John was clever and planned ahead for having animals 400 feet up beyond the house and created a “dug” well (upright cement sewer pipes in the ground with crushed stone in the bottom). We keep a sump pump in it and hoses that reach up to our winter paddock area. Plug it in, wait a minute or two, and we have water. Once it gets cold enough, usually sometime in November, we have to resort to gerry cans filled in the bathtub, dragged down the back steps, into the truck, and driven up to the paddock. And it’s really a pain since I haven’t been able to be much help with this in the past year due to my bursitis.
But tonight we should be partying! John plugged it in this afternoon and what do you know, we got water! I just hope we don’t get an extended cold snap and that it keeps on running :*)
Another extraordinary and beautiful morning. It’s over 40 degrees and warmer in the sun. As usual, we await out lambs and kids eagerly and this year is no exception. Two of our dairy does had some mucous drip yesterday, so we got all excited and I did my first really late maternity check last night. Sat in the recliner watching the Food network until 11:30 (making myself hungry!) and went out to find everyone bedded down and cudding nicely. We had locked Persimmon into a large pen as she is due today; I pushed her prolapse harness to the one side of her tail and everything is looking good there as far as the prolapse. On the other hand, it’s kind of scary looking at the flabby skin around her rectum as the poop kept getting caught between the harness and her bottom, stretching it out a tad grotesquely. I think I saw a tiny mucous drip on her this morning and she looks like her babies have dropped (as much as is going to show on a tank like Persimmon!). She actually walked away from the feeder and made a pass around the upper paddock before returning to stuff her face with hay. Hmmm. Going to have to keep a close eye on her. Where are those binoculars?
(Warning: Graphic sheep picture at the end of this post!)
It’s always something. I don’t know who said that, but it’s true, especially if you are dealing with animals. Monday morning I went out to feed the sheep and one of our crossbred ewes,
Persimmon, (who is a tank on 4 legs) had a little mucous drip from her hind end. I scrambled back to the house to look at my records, thinking, she can’t be going into labor yet! She is the number one ewe who is due on March 4, but they were nowhere near the rams until the day they went in with Mr. Big. So, this could turn out to be a problem. Hmmm. Never run into this before. Hoping she isn’t going to lose her lambs.
I decided to wait for a few hours and go back up and check on her, and saw something a little disconcerting. Something was definitely peeking out, but it wasn’t a lamb. I have never seen a prolapse before, but I figured I was seeing one now. Luckily for us, our friend Pam of Hatchtown Farm has a prolapse harness. She came over later in the day and we cleaned the protrusion, got it back in, and trussed her up like a Christmas goose! Apparently the point of the harness is to hold the protrusion in and also to prevent her from being able to push and strain. So the harness keeps her in a slightly humped up stance. Not very comfortable, most likely, but not the worst thing in the world either. We have her on an anti-infammatory and some penicillin. But she definitely is not my best friend right now. When I went out this morning, she made sure to stay on the other side of the feeder.
The daylight is finally long enough that I am not driving home from work in the dark! I am feeling the pull to be outside more these days and most afternoons I am actually feeding the ewes and does without the headlamp firmly attached to my hat. It’s a good thing, too, because lambing and kidding is right around the corner. I had a few minutes to make my lambing/kidding spreadsheet the other night and we have discovered that I never wrote down the date that our ewe Meadow was marked by Hamish the ram. I don’t know how I could have missed that, but I have checked everywhere and can’t find it. Usually I keep a list in my trusty palm pilot, but her name is not there. Sigh! I’ve always been very punctual at keeping track of those things, but this one got by me for sure! Ah well, it’s not total chaos, it just adds a little more mystery into the whole birthing month of March. 1st lambs are due on March 4th, shearing is Feb. 20th. It’s going to be close :*)
When I got out there this morning there was at least a foot of snow on the ground. It wasn’t too heavy, so shoveling to the gates was easily do-able. Running a little later than usual, the girls were really hungry and giving me those faces… but the sheep are never quite as expressive as those goaties!
Yesterday was our first snow day of the school year. It was a great call as once the snow started it really came down. And then of course it was followed by torrential, windswept rains. Totally yucky by the end of the day.
I had finally picked up our smoked pork last Friday and we were forced to cook one of the hams over the weekend (held my feet to the fire and all… not!).
It was fantastic, some of the best pork we have raised yet. The breed cross is my personal favorite (Tamworth boar on Large Black Sows) and then they had all of that goat milk and whey, they couldn’t not be wonderful! Even though we have our hams cut in half, they are still pretty impressive hunks of meat and we ate from it all weekend and into the early part of this week. So yesterday my husband looked at me and begged for lima bean and ham soup. One of my all-time favorites as well. Trouble was, only a few dried limas were hiding in the pantry. So I dug through the containers and unearthed two different kinds of beans
that were grown locally in Jefferson, Maine, at Bluebird Hill Farm. Wild Goose beans and cannellini beans. The wild goose beans are small and multicolored, with little swirly markings on them. Then I found a handful of black beans, not locally grown, and decided to throw those in as well. It cuts down on the ‘locavore’ listing of this meal, but that’s o.k., it was awesome, and we have a huge pot of leftovers that will be welcome again tonight. To make it even better, a neighbor invited us over to share supper with them so we ended up having a small feast. Can’t beat that on a stormy night!
It’s been awhile since I last posted and I feel like a slacker. Starting the week before Thanksgiving we have had a crazy schedule which is partly to blame, and holidays always kind of knock me out of sync with my usual daily patterns. I dried off our doe Elf, as she was having some shyness about being milked during the whole breeding craziness, and I just didn’t want to fight her! Salsa and SnowPea’s milk amounts dropped, and
Salsa’s appetite wasn’t what it usually is, but that has changed drastically in the last week. So I am down to two goaties on the milk stand and am probably going to start the drying-off process toward the end of the month. I like having some milk coming in so I can make mad batches of chevre and throw them into the freezer for our winter and spring dining pleasure! Choretime isn’t the same without the milking routines, and I miss that closeness with the does, but on the other hand, below 20F temps and howling wind make the whole milking experience less than fun. It’s all part of the flow of the seasons and the year. It’s also been a relief to note that Elvis the stink-o has returned more to his normal self and is not constantly trying to impress the girls. I actually got into the pen with him the other day and he didn’t act as though I needed to be inspected and snurlfed like crazy. Hopefully that means that everyone is bred and all’s right with the herd!
As for the sheep, we disbanded the breeding group that was up at the house with Mr. Big
the week before Thanksgiving. He hadn’t been showing any interest in the ewes he was hanging out with (and hadn’t marked any either), so he went back to the boys’ pen and the girls went up the hill into the group with Zorro the llama. That left our breeding group down in the pasture to handle. Everything appeared to be fine with the breeding: our little Hamish the ram lamb took care of business promptly and they have had what is left of the grass in the pasture in a huge area. I had been getting a little nervous about them being in the field as there have been a very vocal group of coyotes in the area. Around dusk I have been hearing them yapping and calling, and then very clearly, an answering bray from Jingle the donkey, who was down there with those 6 sheep. She had also been doing her perimeter run about the same time of day, so I guess she let them know who is the boss! (That. Or a combination of that and the electric fence). The weather has been so balmy that I haven’t felt the usual frantic need to get them home and into the winter paddock, but the threat of this snowstorm got my attention at last. So with Chloe and our son’s help on Saturday, we made 3 trips down to the pasture and loaded them two-by-two into the Subaru and brought them home. Then Jingle walked with Chloe and I up the street and home at last. Another chapter closed as the year ends and our minds turn to lambing!
A truly gorgeous day out today. It was 40 F when I got up this morning, and although it’s breezy, it’s beautiful. I wish we didn’t have erranding to do, I would much rather be working outdoors!
As I was walking in from chores, my eye was caught by this lovely volunteer that is thriving near the parsley and the dried up cucumber vines in the vegetable garden, and I just had to take a picture.
Since I stopped to admire the pansies, my eye was caught by the other garden denizen that is looking kind of exotic and special. John had tied one or two of these plants up as they were sprawling all over. One of my most favorite vegetables! (Sorry the picture isn’t a little more distinct, the little berries (?) on the plant are so eye-catching!)