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.
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!
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.
It was a balmy 6F this morning when I went out to feed the hungry crowd (and it got up into the high 20s by this afternoon). It really did feel warm compared to the past few days, and it was good to get the girls fed out of the greenhouse. They have been cooped up and crunched in together, which the ewes do not normally tolerate. If the wind and the temperatures had not been so extreme, the ewes would not have taken shelter inside. And I have been very grateful that they have been. I hate to worry about pneumonia in the flock.
This morning everyone was out and about. Even after all the hay was out on the clean snow, 3 of the girls were having none of it. They were very concerned about re-negotiating who is the queen of the paddock (they can worry about this all they want, the goats are really the ones in control!). Esther and HoneyBea were the two biggest contenders, and Fern, the one and only white sheep, kept putting her two cents in as well. There was shoving from behind, and head butting galore. Every time they separated there was a lot of pawing at the ground to indicate their displeasure with the outcome of their negotiations! By the time I stopped taking video, they all just shrugged and found some hay and gave it up. This afternoon everyone was fine, all were lined up as usual at the feeder for grain, and each ewe and doe found their place at the flakes of hay like clockwork. You just never know. 7 ewes and 4 does in the paddock have their issues from time to time!
Tomorrow brings us 40 degree temperatures with heavy rain, and then by tomorrow night we are supposedly going into the deep freeze. Hopefully the YakTrax on my boots will keep my upright. Fingers crossed :*) I can hardly wait.
What a weekend! We went from waiting patiently on Saturday to having everyone have their lambs in a 36 hour period.
Saturday night I checked on everyone around 8 PM and there was absolutely no action. Esther kept giving me that bored teenage look while nonchalantly lying there comfortably chewing cud. When I got out there at 10:15 it was another story: there was Esther with two ram lambs out in the paddock. One black and one white. Nice size, too. She had them all cleaned off, they were both fed, and both were on their feet. We got them situated in their greenhouse pen and I went to bed wondering about the other two ewes. In the morning, still not a thing happening.
I got up early on Sunday and did chores. I was looking forward to getting to Hatchtown Farm‘s shearing day, which is always a social day for seeing old friends and meeting lots of new fiber folk. We had a lovely day, and an even lovelier afternoon potluck. One of our friends from Bridge Farm, Kathy, came home with us. As we drove down the driveway, we saw that our first-timer, Etti, had two lambs standing with her in the paddock. The black ram had just been born, but the white one was up, clean and moving. We got them inside the greenhouse and spent a lot of time helping them get their first meals as Etti’s teats are very large and they had some coordination issues. But those boys had quality bellyfulls by the time Kathy left. We tried penning Fern, the last holdout, before dark, but she remained elusive.
Yesterday morning I powered through chores even though I wasn’t feeling very well. I managed to get Fern penned just in case (although she knocked me down twice before I got her into the greenhouse!). I made it a few miles up the road toward work when I had to turn around because of a gastro emergency. Don’t know if it was a Noro virus, but all was not well. Sheesh. And of course Fern decided it was her turn. John was ready anyway as he knew I was on my way to work, and just as luckily it was an easy birthing. We thought just one very huge, gorgeous black ewe (!). But an hour and a half later, a white ram made his entrance. Wow. And the lambs were up and fed in record time. Both 13 pounders.
So Lambing 2013 is finished. We had 8. 7 rams, 1 ewe. Having 7 babies on the ground is a very nice complement of lambs, considering we only had 4 ewes bred. Definitely time for a celebration (which I am hoping will be uninterrupted sleep!). The wind was an issue most of last week and the weekend, but maybe it was better than fighting the rain that we appear to have scheduled for all of this one!
It’s snowing again, what a surprise. Today it is hovering around freezing in the temperature department so the snow is heavy and wet, but nonetheless very beautiful. I definitely overdressed for chores this morning!
Heading up the driveway I took advantage of the magical driveway photo in the unblemished snow. And of course, photos of sheep in snow always make me smile, so of course I had to get Fern and Etti pre-breakfast lounging.
Today is that last luscious day of break. I had an utterly satisfying day on Friday, my only “big day out” of the week. I shared the day with our friend Chris in Brunswick where we did some spinning, had a lovely lunch, and then just finished the afternoon with a walk and some more fiber stuff. From there, I went to meet with our friends Pam of Hatchtown Farm and Kathy of Bridge Farm, for one of the dinners we try to do every so often. (Getting 3 farmer women together over dinner is a little dangerous… we always talk shop and discuss some of our most noteworthy experiences, which sometimes can be distressing to folks sitting nearby. We need to try and behave!). It was a very refreshing, non-rushed day to end the week.
And so this morning I am cooking up some tomato sauce for dinner and it is already smelling wonderful. Time also to go upstairs and try to pull some organization together in the fiber loft. One of those occasions when I wish we could rent a magic wand! But, I am sure that I will come across some long-forgotten treasures as well, which is always a fun thing to do on a wintery snow day. Now where did I put my coffee cup?
We have been very sleep deprived for the last 3 weeks. But the homestretch is now in sight. Sunday morning’s activities with Fuzzy and her breech boys put a dent in my stamina and we really had no idea when Fern would go into labor, but she and her mother Fuzzy were initially bred the same day (the first day in with the ram) and were very probably bred again on the same day a cycle later. So when I caught her scoping out the joint about dinnertime last night, I figured things were coming along. I went out every hour or so and nothing was going on, and then when I went out at 10 pm to give our bottle baby her last bottle of the day, Fern was pawing the ground with little hooves and a nose showing themselves. It looked like a pretty big lamb, but she took her time and did her stuff. I was cheering her on when John joined me and we were very pleased to have witnessed our requisite “normal” births for the first time this year. Our other ewes have lambed in private so far this year, and then of course there was Fuzzy and her breech boys. So this was a delight, although the hour was decidedly not. Fern’s ewe and ram are white… what a surprise! They are both active and beautiful babies.
We got to bed around 1:30 this morning and it took me awhile to get my engine running today, but we survived. Our Esther doesn’t look like she is ready to lamb anytime soon, but you never know. And I am hoping she waits awhile as the beautifully warm weather has given way to blustery and cold conditions. We can definitely hang on a little longer!
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!