Sunny Greetings

It's actually sunny and warm!
It's actually sunny and warm!

Part of the crew who greeted me very patiently this morning. They were all waiting nicely for their hay and grain, just soaking up the warmth and the rays. It already felt good early and they have been enjoying the temperatures all day. So have we! Elf the doe hasn’t kidded yet, but she is looking close to ready. Her vulva is very red and puffy and she’s pacing. Hope it’s not long now! It’s the perfect day for kidlets!

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Chili Lambing

O.K., I am not going to complain about the snow anymore! The snow day today did do me a huge favor: I had the time to make a huge pot of chili.

Almost done!  Smells even better than it looks
Almost done! Smells even better than it looks

Just before lambing and kidding I always like to make a gigunda pot of stew, chili or soup to freeze in small portions so that we have food during the exhaustion of watching over our ewes, does, lambs and kids, around the clock, and then going to work in the morning! It’s so nice to be able to just pull something ready-made-but-home-made out during that time. And with the weather we are having right now (down to 8F at night) it truly is “chilly!” Comfort food at its best :*)

Oh No, Not Again :* (

Josie in her usual attitude of watchful good-humor

Josie in her usual attitude of watchful good-humor

Josie the Jack Russell is usually a perky and lively pooch, a great companion.

But, when I opened the door to let her out this morning and she couldn’t even see the back steps for all the **snow**, this is what she did:

Josie has had enough snow!
Josie has had enough snow!

The goats didn’t seem to mind the weather, though. I fed them inside the greenhouse so they were happy campers!

Happy, happy!  We're inside and we are hungry!
Happy, happy! We're inside and we are hungry!

Elvis is on the left, along with Rhubarb, Snow Pea, and their mama Salsa.

Waiting

All of us here in Maine are waiting. For spring, mostly. In this house we are waiting for lambs and kids :* ) which definitely mean spring!

Our vigil begins in earnest this week as we watch our LaMancha goat Elf for any signs of impending labor. Her sides are bulging, but she doesn’t usually look huge like our doe Salsa the Tank does. Three or four times a day we are now checking on her to see what’s happening with her udder and her behavior. Not bagging up yet, so we may have a few days to go!

Elf leads doelings Snow Pea and Rhubarb to the goodies!
Elf leads doelings Snow Pea and Rhubarb to the goodies!

We are working on getting her pen ready for the big event. Just wish it wasn’t supposed to be so cold this week.

Shearing Day

I totally meant to get this post up right away and then the weather decided that we were not to have access to electricity for a few days… but that’s over now and we were lucky enough to get our shearing in between snow storms! Setting up a shearing date is difficult for us because we need to keep the ewes inside a greenhouse for a few days before the shearing so they are dry… and we don’t have a barn so we have to do some of the skirting outside.  Last Saturday was a gorgeous, clear afternoon and Jeff Burchstead of Buckwheat Blossom Farm in Wiscasset came over to do the honors. He did a great job. We were also lucky enough to have a great group of friends join us and help out.  Thank you, everyone!

Fuzzy Lumpkin has her pedicure
Fuzzy Lumpkin has her pedicure

We always have our shearers trim the sheep feet before getting started with taking the fleeces off as that leaves us one less task to take care of after the job is done. We like to get those details out of the way before they lamb so we don’t have to man-handle them while they are trying to bond with their lambies. We also take the opportunity while Jeff has them on the shearing floor to give them their yearly CD &T inoculations (to prevent Clostridial bacteria and tetanus) in the form of a sub-cutaneous shot. Much easier while the shearer is holding them so nicely on their bums!

Lucy has her coat removed
Lucy has her coat removed

Lucy is the only ewe we kept from the 2008 lambing. She has never been shorn and is not very happy about being handled like this! As her fleece is buzzed off, hopefully in one connected mass, one of our willing helpers grabs the fleece and runs it out of the greenhouse we are working in, over to the nearby greenhouse and gets it thrown onto our “skirting” table. Here we take some time to get the nasty bits off the edges (read here “poopy bits!”) and any little pieces of hay or straw out of the fleece.

Skirting table with Mae's fleece
Skirting table with Mae's fleece

Here is a shot of one fleece out on the skirting table ready to be picked over. Then we fold the fleece and bundle it into a large sheet with the ewe’s name on it. Ready to move on to the next step!

At the end of the day we have a group of hungry, naked girls!

Can we eat now?
Can we eat now?

Fuzzy (below) looks over Lupine’s shoulder, wondering where is her dinner??? (We don’t feed them before shearing; don’t want them to have a full stomach while they are being tossed and turned on their backs due to possible bloating).

Phew! One adventure down, now we wait for the next big adventure: Lambing :* )

Kid Dancing!

I was so excited this morning when I went out to do chores. For one thing, even though the cold has returned, the sun is shining. For another, when the goats came out of their greenhouse to meet me, I almost dropped the bundle of hay I was carrying: Salsa, our largest almost-white doe, turned away from me to head toward the feeder and her bulging sides started doing a happy dance!

Salsa's babies are making themselves known!
Salsa's babies are making themselves known!

It’s our first sign that lambing and kidding is definitely closer than we think. Her kids must have been as hungry as she was, and for sure were letting her know it :*) I don’t know how many babes are in there, but she isn’t due until March 10th. I would think that I had gotten the date wrong, but her udder isn’t bagged up yet, it’s still mostly deflated, so I am hoping we are right on target. I knew it was time to get my lambing/kidding box together! Better get right on that!

Groundhog Day Ewe?

*)
HoneyBea checking for spring :*)

HoneyBea was very obliging this morning when I went out to do chores. We weren’t dressed up as nicely as the Punxsutawney group, but we did examine the ground to see if she could see her shadow. Since we have conflicting results, I am claiming HoneyBea’s: there definitely was no shadow! That must mean that spring isn’t far away, at least in Maine!

January, 2009

Happy New Year!

We have started 2009 with a big bang of snow and extremely cold temperatures. The last two storms left us with some beautiful soft stuff on top of some heavier, packed snow. The sheep don’t seem to mind it, and when the sun comes out the goats emerge from their greenhouse. Today it feels like we are having a heat wave: it must be at least 24 degrees!

Yum!  Fresh snow!
Yum! Fresh snow!

Fuzzy Lumpkin loves the new snow :* ) and the sun feels great as well.

Mad about Cheese!

Even though we have backed off on our milking to once a day, we are still getting great milk from our goatie girls :*)   And I am making cheese 2-3 times a week.  I may be in a rut, but we never seem to get tired of our chevre!

Fresh goat cheese draining
Fresh goat cheese draining

Wed. A.M. Temperatures!

Wed. 8/20 A.M. Temp!
Wed. 8/20 A.M. Temp!

While we are used to seeing cool temperatures at night in August, Tuesday night was quite a jolt! It was just 40 degrees when I got up about 5:30 on Wednesday morning and when I went out to the paddock the sheep and goats were cuddled up in the straw. And I had to wear a sweatshirt to do the milking!

All this cool, dry air is making us think of fall and breeding time. As I approached the boys’ area down in the field I sniffed a hint of ramminess! The hormones are revving up and the rams are beginning to look at each other a little differently, more as rivals than buddies. It’s time to start thinking about our breeding groups!

Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!