Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Sheepy Year in Review

I love it when blogs do a year in review and a New Year's Goals post. So here is my year in review.
Our first on farm lambings!

January was also the start of the demolition for the end bay of the garage.

Lambing continued with our last sheep to lamb, Leda and ram 6.

Leda taught me a lot, and not about good things. She lambed with a very lopsided udder but raised one lamb just fine. She also had a problem with mites.

Our first death and the pasture work began.  The death of ram 3 is still full of questions, but as I have learned more over the year my number one differential is Barberpole worm infestation. At one of the conferences/workshops or possibly in a reading I found a reference to constipation as a symptom of barberpole worm infestation, which is exactly the way ram 3 started. At the first vet visit he did get an injection of ivermectin but injections don't work very well on the barberpole worm. I should have given him an oral worming med. Now I know to add that to the list of things to try.
Maddy and I also attended a lambing clinic which was terrific.
We started with the ongoing job of clearing pasture too.
Another course, this time on FAMACHA, at DelVal College.
More work on the garage.
More pasture and garden work.
And the orchard was planted too, along with some help from the sheep! I am getting tired just remembering.

Our feral cat had kittens!
The sheep went out grazing and learned about electric rope.
We learned how to scythe.
And the bridge was completed.
And we had a barn addition put up.

We finally got a glimpse of the kittens!

Mostly just gardening and grazing.

 Brave kittens!
Flowers, flowers, and more flowers!
And harvesting in earnest.
Our new Coopworth sheep, Hazel, Ruth and Elwood.

 A new sheep chair.
More garage work, this time inside.
Taking down the tower in prep for the outside garage wall demolition.
Learning more about electric fencing.
All the outside cats were trapped and neutered.

Work on the garage end wall began and ended.

And I got water in the barn!

More pasture work.
Breeding began.
And Maddy and I went to the Cornell Sheep and Goat Symposium.
The end wall is just about done.
Mercer came to stay.
I've been a slacking blogger and there hasn't been much to blog about. We have a freezer full of lamb and mutton and have been getting ready for the holidays. Here's to a better blogging year for 2016!

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Meeting of the Rams

Today was a big day for Mercer and Elwood. We've had Mercer now for five weeks and he has been as healthy as a horse. So, quarantine is over and it's time to meet Elwood. First we had to take away his quarantine buddy, Mama Sadie. He was not happy to see her leave! But as soon as we brought Elwood down to his pen he became very quiet and still. And Elwood locked his eyes onto Mercer and stared. It wasn't too difficult to get Elwood into the little pen with Mercer, just a little shoving. For the next day or two they will be confined to the run-in, which is about 5x7 feet. This small space allows for the rams to push and shove each other around but they can't get a running start and really ram the other.

They seemed to be adapting very well. After a few hours they were both just sniffing a lot. Hopefully this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Historic Schaefferstown Farm

I love farms and I love history and I have been to many historic farms. But I haven't seen an historic farm that is being used for modern farming.  Saturday we drove out to the Christkindlmarkt in Schaefferstown PA. The historical society has a mid 1700s farm property a little out of town and the people running the market said we could walk around the farm.
A volunteer and modern farmer is grazing the pastures with cattle and sheep. The historic society is selling grass-fed beef to the public, which I think is a pretty cool way for them to make money. The sheep, Shetlands I think, were happily grazing in the orchard on this beautiful day in mid December with temps in the 60s.
The sheep pasture was enclosed by a Gallagher Smart Fence. I have read about this system but had never seen it in action, although I am not sure how well it worked because at one point two sheep were not in the pasture any more. The farm also has two draft horses in pasture and a flock of guinea fowl.
My favorite building on the farm was this old sheep barn.
There were two or three stalls inside which all led out to the enclosed paddock. The hay racks were accessed from the back of the barn
and the sheep ate from inside.
I wish I had such a cool old structure on my farm.

There was also this mystery structure.
There were multiple drawers made of tin. Our first thought was a smoke house, but the tin drawers had solid bottoms which didn't look like they would allow any air/smoke circulation. Maybe one day we'll get out for a festival at the farm and can ask someone.

The farm also had a really nice old bake oven.
The tile roof was in great shape and had the beautiful tulip design embossed in the tile.
I have always wondered why the tiles are lined up in straight up and down in rows rather than alternating/staggered. Apparently the tulip design channels the water down to the middle of the bottom of the tile and away from the edges. What a clever design!

The farm is in sad shape and historic societies are always strapped for cash to maintain their buildings. There is work currently underway on the main house and I would love to see it renovated. We could just glimpse a nice hearth in the lower level and there appears to be one just inside the front door on the upper level.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Lamb Jackets and Hats

Dee at Peeper Hollow Farm wrote a great blog post about making baby sheep coats from sweat shirt sleeves. I got a bunch of cheap sweat shirts at the Goodwill but was left with the bodies. Recently I stumbled across a woman online making hats from sweater bodies. Well, that should work with sweat shirt bodies too!
So the sweat shirt above had the sleeves made into lamb coats and the body made into two hats.
First you need to measure your head circumference. Subtract 3-4 inches (so the hat doesn't flop around on your head), adding back an inch for seam allowances and cut your piece to that measurement. For example: my head circumference is 22 inches: 22-4+1=19 inches.
Next, fold the piece into thirds or fourths (depending on how many seams you want on the top of your hat.) The first hat I did fourths but I like thirds better.
Next cut out the hat shape, through all three or four layers, to form the shape of the top of the hat. The hem of the sweat shirt will be the band at the bottom of the hat. That band leaves a nice finished edge.
With the right sides together, sew the back seam up to the top of the curve/hat.
Now comes the trickiest part. You sew a seam up each side by side curve, always stopping at the top of the hat.
 The top seams may be uneven, but you can just trim those. I didn't feel like digging out my sewing machine's book to figure out how to set up a knit stitch so I just used a very narrow zigzag stitch to allow for stretching. You can use fabric glue if you don't sew but I don't know how the seams would hold up to heavy use. I have made four hats so far and they should be great for working around the farm. My husband likes his because it stays on his head. The tight knit hats tend to creep up and off his head.
I made some a little deeper so I can keep my hair tucked up inside the hat and not have my hair pull the hat off.