Category Archives: Sheep

And the week goes on and on and on

Thursday morning's drive to Augusta was pretty nasty.  Slushy snow!
Thursday morning’s drive to Augusta was pretty nasty. Slushy snow!

I am watching the sky lighten out there and gearing up for another crazy day. The week just flew by! Tuesday was John’s surgery day of course, Thursday was the annual Reading RoundUp conference in Augusta (library and literacy), and then yesterday I had the opportunity to attend a workshop with Dr. David Loertscher in Scarborough in a most lovely new school library (or Learning Commons as we are beginning to rename them again!). Last night a few of us girls had a long-standing dinner date which was extremely fun and a great stress-reliever (we always try and ask for a table in the corner because we laugh so much!). Today is: dump day, make chili for the auction tonight, and middle school auction night. Tomorrow is Hatchtown Farm Shearing day!

Last Monday morning's chore time
Last Monday morning’s chore time

One week until April break. Today’s weather is looking pretty magnificent (60F), and tomorrow’s looks even nicer for the shearing. Spring might actually, almost be here!

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Sliding into autumn

Wednesday afternoon light
Wednesday afternoon light

The week bumps on. Past hump day and into the home stretch. The weather continues to be amazingly gorgeous, we can’t complain about that! Cool in the mornings, fairly warm during the day, in the upper 50s and lower 60s. We don’t have any really nice color on the trees yet, but they do seem to be fading,losing their brilliant summer green.

Little India's pelt
Little India’s pelt

Yesterday I was surprised by the UPS van zooming down the driveway. The last 3 sheep pelts that I had processed came back from Bucks County Fur. It’s certainly nice to have them since we don’t have the sheep anymore. All of them are lovely, and will definitely be useful around here.

HoneyBea's pelt
HoneyBea’s pelt

Pigeon racing continues. We had 4 birds in the top 20 this past weekend, which isn’t bad for beginners. I can’t remember where they are being released this weekend, but the races are getting progressively longer. We don’t have enough flyers to be death-defyingly competitive, but they are definitely holding their own.

Settling gently into autumn is just about my favorite time of the year. It’s here, and it’s time.

 

Udders, woo-woos and bellies

Pippi and SnowPea. The views are growing!
Pippi and SnowPea. The views are growing!

These are the name of the game this week. Not getting enough sleep due to all the birthing checks and I feel like my engine is running on empty and we have not even begun to kid yet!  Yesterday was Hatchtown Farm’s shearing, and even though it was a long day, it was replete with good work and then some relaxation with friends. Great food as well, as always!

Emily our wonderful shearer at work yesterday
Emily our wonderful shearer at work yesterday

We are still waiting on our goat babies, no secret there, and Zelda looks poised for action today, which is encouraging. She is really dropped and her udder is very full. It would be nice if she presented us with some babies in daylight, although we have had rain most of the day and it’s raw out there. All the animals were still at the feeder this morning awhile after breakfast and I noticed that Zelda had eaten but then walked away. Not much room in there for a big meal!

Every time I make the rounds up in the paddock I do a thorough check of all the back ends and udders. Every one is coming along, but the only one who is very close is Zelda. I can hardly wait for the excitement of new babies. Then it may truly feel like Spring has finally arrived.

(10:30 PM and nothing on the horizon!)

The Big ride

Waiting for their ride to Wiscasset
Waiting for their ride to Wiscasset, Esther is keeping watch
Fern
Fern

Today was the big day. Our 4 breeding ewes took a ride to their new home down in Wiscasset (only about 10 miles away). Amy and Jeff Burchstead have Buckwheat Blossom Farm and are a young, hard working family. They have been raising Coopworth and Coopworth X sheep for many years now and actually, I bought our first 3 sheep from Amy 12 years ago. I was extremely pleased that they were looking for some extra ewes when we called them.

So today was the big day. We got the ewes penned and waited. Esther can never help herself, she just can’t stop jumping up on fences to take a big-picture look at things. What a cutie! When Amy and Jeff came, they had their 3 lovely children along and we got to work loading the ewes. In spite of the mud and the muck, we managed to get the girls into their truck without too much trouble. It was lovely having a visit with them, and it’s also wonderful to know that the ewes are with a good flock and they are only a few miles down the road. Visitation!

Funny that the first sheep I bought were from Amy and Jeff, and now the last sheep we are selling we sold to Amy and Jeff. (Actually, one of the ewes we sold them is the daughter of Norma the ewe that we got from Amy all these 12 years ago). Nice to have that sewn up so nicely. Sniff, sniff, I am going to miss them.

Waiting

Pippi annoys HoneBea the ewe
Pippi annoys HoneBea the ewe
Spinning up Fern's fleece
Spinning up Fern’s fleece
SnowPea snoozing in the Sunday sun
SnowPea snoozing in the Sunday sun
Monday's afternoon sky view
Monday’s afternoon sky view

Another week in the life. It’s getting warmer, slowly, and of course that means MUD! That will be the new complaint flavor of the day from now until June, I am sure.

I do feel as though we are ready for the goat kids. My birthing kit is waiting on the table with the clean towels, the molasses is at hand, and the clean jug in the greenhouse is all set. The waiting is truly the most difficult part. Waiting and watching those goatie bellies and woo woos morning, noon, afternoon and night for the signs of impending labor.

We have also sold our breeding sheep and are trying to make a date with the buyers for the pickup. It’s definitely one of those ‘my schedule doesn’t correspond at all’ with theirs. We are all so busy, it’s a little crazy. As much as I am going to miss those wonderful girls, it’s time to make more room for the goats :*)  We are poised to streamline how things work on the farm and I am really looking forward to it!  But for now, we wait.

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.

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 :*)

And so it goes

HoneyBea last spring with her boy
HoneyBea last spring with her boy

Really?  Cold, cold and more cold. Little bit of snow every few days which covers the ice in the driveway, so the footing is continually hazardous. But the sun this afternoon felt so wonderful! 28F was such a treat! And they are teasing us with the promise of 40F this Saturday :*) It really better happen. Particularly on the cusp of Daylight Savings.

I want to believe that we will warm up to spring. But unfortunately, nothing feels “normal” this year. Who knows? I am just hoping that the 22nd of March is fairly warm and clear so that our last shearing will not be a nightmare, but a celebration. Yes, our last shearing. I am very sad about this, but we need to be planning for our next great adventure, which involves working toward a licensed goat dairy. My bursitis and arthritis are not going to allow me to be moving flexnet fencing down in a sloped pasture this summer for the ewes. So we have been making some tough decisions this winter, and it looks like we will just be raising goats for the next few years. And planning for a cheese-making future. It is my passion, and now seems to be the time.

Don’t know how it happened

Today at choretime
Today at choretime

Well, I know, but it’s a bit of a surprise. I turned 60 today, and truthfully, I don’t know when it happened. It just snuck up on me, for sure. (The worst part of it is that the next decade birthday age has a 7 in front of the zero!)

Girls eating their supper this afternoon
Girls eating their supper this afternoon

The weather has gotten brutally cold again, and it seems as though most of the country is in for bad weather in the next few days. We are supposed to get snowy/sleety/rainy weather Thursday and Friday. Our February break begins this weekend, and I am definitely looking forward to it. I have lots of wonderful plans to meet up with friends and spend some time with our grandson. Good stuff. I think that the birthday shock will pass quickly. I can only hope. :*)

Skating

Deceptive sky does not show how bone-chilling the temperatures are
Deceptive sky does not show how bone-chilling the temperatures are

And so the deep freeze continues, with the promise of a small warmup this weekend. With wind and rain, of course! The aftermath of the 40F temperatures on Monday combined with torrential rain into the evening had predictable results: our whole driveway and areas around the animal paddocks turned into a skating rink. All the crunchy snow that was safe to walk on was gone. Even in the paddocks the sheep and goats slid from here to there. Enthusiastically running down the hill to meet me at the gate when I showed up with the grain was something of a downhill ski event. I am surprised more of the ewes didn’t just smash right into the fence. No one was hurt, and my fears about wet sheep and goats developing pneumonia from the gale force winds and plummeting temperatures into the night so far have not come to pass. I obsessively threw down straw in the greenhouses in the hopes that they would be good little animals and seek shelter for the worst of it, which they did. (The ewes will sit out in almost anything).

Girls' greenhouse, almost totally free of snow
Girls’ greenhouse, almost totally free of snow

Because of the weather, my school district was closed on Monday so I had a chance to get outside many times during the day to finally get rid of most of the icy snow residue that has been hanging around on the greenhouses, worrying me quite a bit. After the first snow I got a good bit of it off, but some of it froze and was getting heavier and heavier. The rain actually did us a bit of a favor with that one.

Skating rink driveway during early morning choretime. Scary!
Skating rink driveway during early morning choretime. Scary!

We finally got someone to get some sand and grit on our driveway, so yesterday was considerably easier going on that end. And we will hope that the weather doesn’t decide to throw too much more at us in the next few weeks!