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!
Fuzzy Lumpkin loves the new snow :* ) and the sun feels great as well.
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!
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!
Our friends Barb and Phil, from Greenwood Lake, NY, got up for their yearly visit to the peninsula two weeks ago. It was wonderful to see them, as usual, although the weather wasn’t as cooperative as it ordinarily is. We had some great dinners together, worked on some really tough puzzles, had a lot of laughs, and went on the Olde Bristol Days fireworks cruise! It was awesome. Gotta do that again next year… that’s the way to see fireworks :*)
We are sorry that Barb and Phil could only stay for the week, but that’s life. Sigh.
In order to get our market lambs ready to go, we called our friend the shearer, Emily, to come over and give the 6 of them haircuts on Sunday. They had been in one of our greenhouses, so they were nice and dry and ready to go. None of them were thrilled so they all crowded into the corner. Nobody likes the sound of those shears!
By the time Emily had done about 3 of the lambs, it got dark, windy and stormy; so dark she could barely see what she was doing (shearing a black lamb)! And when the sky opened up, we probably got an inch of rain before it stopped. We could barely hear each other in the greenhouse the sound of the rain was so loud! We finally got the 6 shorn and we now have 6 bags of gorgeous lamb’s fleece to play with. If it ever stops raining, we might be able to wash it and get carding :*)
It’s beginning to seem like the summer is flying by :*(… The crickets are chattering frantically and it sounds more like the end of August than the last day in July. I am loving school vacation, spending more time with the animals and making a lot of goat cheese. Our kids and lambs are growing and providing us with lots of entertainment. 3 of the 5 goat kids are going to be moving on, 2 bucks and Elf’s doeling. We will miss their antics and their svelte good looks!
Since my last post we have seen the rest of our ewes and does give birth to all their gorgeous babies. We are very pleased with our goats: Sock Monkey had a huge buck, and Salsa had twin does, both 8+ pounders! The first time ewe moms all had single lambs, 2 rams and one ewe, all white. They are hopping around the paddock keeping all the older lambs on their toes.
Work has been busy and mentally consuming, and to top it off I had a hard drive calamity, so I am still trying to find most of my saved bits of information. I lost a few pictures, but most things are safe on my backup drive… I just have to dig them out and re-organize them, which probably won’t happen until after the school year is over!
I am also trying to get ready for the Maine Fiber Frolic which is this coming weekend. It is a wonderful fiber show that is organized by the Maine Llama association, held on the Windsor Fair Grounds. Lots of vendors (I’ll be there with our farm products!) and great things to see. I will be sharing a booth with Jody McKenzie, Botanical Shades. Come and say hello!
It’s been awhile since I posted. It’s been a busy month. We had a brief hiatus after the first round of lambing and now we are once again getting into it. Friday afternoon our Kate had her first lamb. He’s a beautiful big boy. I came out to do chores about 4:30 and as all the ewes and babies ran to the feeder I began my bag check (checking all their udders for any problems) and noticed I was one short! Kate was over behind the lower greenhouse with her boy standing beside her. He was already fed and on his way to being pretty dry. Luckily the day was a gorgeous one and it wasn’t breezy. We got them into a jug in the upper greenhouse and settled. Kate is a bit skittish around people so we tried to give her a bit of space and time to bond with her boy. They are doing very well and the little guy was already hopping around the jug showing off yesterday afternoon when visitors came calling.
Yesterday John was out in the paddock cleaning up (scooping the poop and straw) when he thought he heard kittens… only to find that our yearling doe, Elf, had had twins in a corner of the greenhouse: a doeling and a buckling. They were up and letting their mother know they wanted a meal right away. They are extremely cute and tiny compared to our lambs. Very sweet. I think Elf is still not too sure what just happened, but they all seem o.k. 2 more goats and 2 more sheep to go!
Around this time of year I really start spending a lot of time in the paddocks with the goats and the sheep. It’s fun to watch the antics of the lambs while their mothers get down to the serious business of eating. Everyone is jockeying for position at the feeders to make sure that no one gets better stuff than they have.
This afternoon I just happened to glance over at the goats (along with Zorro the llama) and I saw Pete the Goat looking for all the world like he had a big grin on his face. Now that we are talking about selling him, all of his endearing qualities seem to be shining through. It’s always the way! (That’s Pete on top of the feeder, with Salsa looking back at us and Elf to her right).
Well, we have most of the lambs on the ground now. The weekend was quite eventful, with both Raven and Maggie having single lambs. Both were large; Maggie has a beautiful white ewe (with beige ear tips!) and Raven has a black ram. Both have joined the outside group and are enjoying the slightly warmer weather.
Norma finally had her lambs on Monday night. They presented a little problem… having such long legs they were a bit tangled, but they hit the ground running. Two black ewes… one with upright, Border Leicester ears, and the other with the sideways Coopworth ears! Their father is our newest ram, a black Border Leicester named Zach, who hails from Wit’s End Farm in Virginia.
To add to the week, spring may actually be on the horizon. Our twice weekly storms are turning more to rain than snow, finally! Most of the snow in the paddocks and on the ground is disappearing, the robins are hopping around and the bald eagles are soaring over the beaver pond again. Yay!
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!