Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Clementine

Clementine was the first of our yearlings to lamb this year. She is daughter to Chloe and sister of Clara. And like her mom and her sister she is an easy lamber and had twins as a yearling!
I knew she carried color genetics but I am super happy to have two more black lambs, and one is a ewe lamb. Clementine is half Royal White hair sheep and half Coopworth and her fleece was pretty nice considering. Her lambs are 75% Coopworth and the ewe lamb's fleece feels like a nice Coopworth fleece. The ram lamb's fleece feels more like our mixed lamb fleece. I was hoping to get at least one ewe lamb from this year's crop to keep. Hopefully this little ewe lamb will continue to grow into a good replacement sheep for us. We'll see what the last two yearlings give us in the coming weeks.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Flax Plot

Thursday was spent in the garden. The pound of "Lisette" flax seeds I bought from Landis Valley Farm went into the approx 150 square foot plot.
Since it is hard to weed flax once it gets more than a few inches tall I wanted to reduce the weed seed load as much as possible in this area. Over the last two weeks I hoed it four times in hopes that a large number of weed seeds would germinate and then be butchered. This is my first planting of flax and it will be interesting to see how this progresses.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Steel City Fiber Festival

I set up a booth at a local (30 min away) fiber festival last weekend. I took yarn, roving and three spinning wheels. Two of the wheels sold and I sold a decent amount of yarn and roving. All in all a pretty good weekend. And I am pleased with how the booth turned out.
I demonstrated spinning on a great wheel (that I then sold) even though I am still learning myself. The public was great to talk with. And the other vendors were very interesting. I let a few vendors try out the great wheel; amazing how many people have a hidden desire to try one. Next up, MD Sheep and Wool with the American Coopworth Registry booth.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Learning to Flock


Basement Floor

The contractor came today and set up to pour the basement floor today. They framed out the area for the stone section for the root cellar and leveled off the dirt floor, then installed plastic. Tomorrow they are back to pour the concrete. It's been a long time coming and we will be very happy to say good-bye to the old dirt floor in that section of the basement.
The cats aren't too happy about the work going on in the basement. They get fed in the basement and their litter boxes are down there. Their little kitty door is blocked off and their bowls and one litter box is upstairs. They caught on to using the litter box but were more upset about getting fed upstairs. Well kitties, only one more day.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Way To Go Hazel!

I was so worried about Hazel's lambing after the mess with Ruthie. Thankfully, she did it all on her own about 10 minutes before I went out Tuesday morning to give the bottle lambs their 5AM feeding.
 Two beautiful ram lambs! Apart from the white on the tips of their ears and a little on their faces they are completely black. Such beautiful fleeces they will have. But what to do with all these boys!


Monday, March 6, 2017

A New Creep

Alan built a creep the first year we had lambs, but we rapidly outgrew its approximately 12 square feet size. Last year I used the long side of the creep in front of the door to the smaller stall. That worked great, but we lambed nearly a month later and it never got too cold at night necessitating the doors needing to be closed. This year we have had some frigid nights in the teens with the winds blowing right in the doors. We needed to come up with a creep plan that would allow the doors to be closed and still let the lambs come and go in the creep.
We were able to use some of the support structure on the barn wall from the old creep set up, a gate that I needed to move anyway, and the end panel for the original creep. The lambs are figuring it out. The older ones are happy to be able to eat grain without having to jostle with the big ewes.The lambs now have 32 square feet to get away from the commotion of the ewes and eat in peace.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Ruthie

This post about Ruthie's lambing has taken me a while to write. I feel such a sense of failure and questioning after her ordeal. I have no idea when she began labor or when her water broke. Her 150 day mark was on Feb 16th, but she showed no signs of anything until she began having occasional dripping from her back end around day 155. She was huge and the fluid was clear and I thought she must be a little incontinent of urine since she was acting normally and eating well. But by day 157 she was only nibbling at food and seemed listless. She drank a bucket of warm molasses water and would eat grain if I hand fed her. Her temp was normal. On a vaginal exam I could feel a lamb nose but there was a rather thickish membranous something stopping my fingers from going into the lamb's mouth. I have often felt a very thin lower uterine segment that it was possible to feel baby parts through in laboring women. Was this Ruthie's lower uterine segment or very thin cervix I was feeling? Since nothing seemed to be changing I called the vet to come out and help me figure out what was going on.

The vet arrived about an hour and a half later and found Ruthie to be fully dilated with a dead lamb presenting with nose forward but legs back. This lamb had stopped everything. As the vet was getting the first lamb out I saw the membrane that I had felt. At first I thought the cervix was coming out with the lamb but then I realized it was a thicker than usual and opaque membrane. Had I realized what I was feeling would I have been able to save this lamb? The second lamb was also born dead but thankfully we were able to revive the third lamb. Triplets again. But only one ram lamb living. At least Ruthie has a lamb to mother. Judging from the smell of the lambs Ruthie must have had her water break at least a day or two prior.
The other lambs, a ewe and ram lamb, looked just like this little guy. All the lambs weighed between 9 and 10 pounds. These were the first full blood Coopworth lambs we had from our newer ram Mercer.  I always learn when the vet comes out and this time was no exception. I can't be afraid to do a vaginal exam if I am not certain of something. Can a sheep even be incontinent of urine? I am petrified I will have similar problems with Hazel, who is right now at day 148. She at least loves my attention and is enjoying all the scratches and rubs.

121 Hay Bales

This is what 121 hay bales dumped into your driveway look like.
We are blessed to have a hay auction less than 5 miles from our farm. We were running low on hay and Saturday was a frigid, blustery day, perfect for the auction. Our last adventure at the auction was in a small snow storm and the prices were good. Saturday was equally good. The only buyers were serious and people, like me, with small stock and deep wallets were mostly missing. We bought a beautiful load of 2nd cutting mixed grass hay that the sheep love. And it came out to $3.50 a bale. I can't touch this kind of hay in the retail market for under $5.50 to $6. Hopefully this load will last us until we can start grazing.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Chloe Had Triplets Too!

Good ole Chloe. She is such an easy birther. I went out to feed Tuesday morning and saw a sac coming out. By the time I went back to the house to get my daughter and some towels, she had already pushed out the first lamb and was busy cleaning her up. Next came a little ram lamb, followed by another ewe lamb. She is nursing all of the lambs and everyone is doing well.
They are quite vocal, but then so is Chloe's first daughter Clara who delivered on Saturday. Like mother like daughter they both are super moms!

Clara's Twins

After Mama Sadie's delivery I had a stern conversation with the remaining pregnant ewes. I told them they needed to stop this mixed up, malpresentation stuff for their deliveries and start having nice easy and uncomplicated births. Apparently, Clara was listening.

Saturday was an absolutely gorgeous day, sunny with temps in the low 60s. We were cleaning out the stalls, getting ready to move Moose and her lambs into a nursery stall with Mama Sadie and her triplets when Clara began acting like she was in labor, lots of pawing at the ground, sniffing her back side, arching her back, etc. We kept checking on her while mucking out and I nearly missed her delivery. She plopped out a lamb as I was walking out to check on her. Her second lamb was born a few minutes later. The other sheep watched from afar but our wether Hiram seems to love lambs and came over to check out the new arrivals.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Mama Sadie's Triplets

Mama Sadie went into labor late Thursday evening.  She had triplets last year and was looking as large again this year. I missed her delivery last year by about a half an hour and one of her lambs was stillborn, so I was glad we caught her going into labor.
Her first lamb was coming out with just the nose, no feet. So, gloving up again, I had to bring the lambs legs around to come out with the head. Once everything was in position she delivered quickly. A nice ram lamb. She has previously refused to nurse her ram lambs so I was happy to see how attentive she was to this lamb. She readily let him nurse too. The second and third lambs came out easily and my daughter took care of their deliveries. Final tally, two ram lambs and a ewe lamb. And she will only let the firstborn lamb nurse. It wasn't ram lambs she wouldn't let nurse, it's that she will only let her firstborn nurse. Last year we went out to the barn day and night to hold her still so the lamb she wouldn't let nurse could eat. Not this year! Now that they have had their colostrum we are beginning to bottlefeed them.

We will try to sell the bottle lambs so someone else can take over that chore.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Lambing Has Begun!

Moose kicked off lambing in her very Moosey way. She never does this easily! She had a bag of water hanging out on Feb 14th around 2:30 in the afternoon. By 3:30 she had two water bags hanging out and was intermittently bearing down. By 4:00 there was no obvious progress. Since Moose has needed much assistance with her other deliveries I decided to check things out sooner rather than later. She was fully dilated but two heads and three legs were all vying to come first. Moose has a very small pelvis so it took a while to figure out which two legs went with which head. The first lamb was finally born at 4:20 and took a good bit of pulling once everything was lined up. The second lamb wasn't born until nearly 5:30. That lamb had moved into the birth canal but Moose was showing no signs of trying to push out another lamb. So that lamb got pulled as well. That lamb wasn't breathing and had an irregular heart beat. Lots of stimulation and swinging got the lamb going. The first lamb was prancing around and eating with no help by the time the second lamb was born. Two ram lambs. The first lamb weighed 13 pounds and the second lamb weighed 11 pounds. Much smaller than her 15 and 17 pound lambs last year, thank goodness.
I should have given her prophylactic antibiotics since I was in her uterus for quite a while trying to sort things out. By the next afternoon Moose was feeling poorly, had a temp of 105 and was breathing rapidly. I gave her IM and SQ penicillin and then aspirin after talking to the vet. This morning she is feeling much better. She is eating well and breathing normally. And her temp is down. The lambs have done great throughout all of this.

The other ewes are patiently awaiting their turn at lambing. Ruthie should be next, maybe later today or tomorrow.
Followed closely by Mama Sadie and Clara this weekend.


Hopefully the most complicated delivery is now out of the way and the rest of the lambs will come easily.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Getting Ready for Lambing

It won't be long.
Poor Chloe is patiently waiting. Everyone due this month is getting big. We've done the big clean out of the stalls, set up the first lambing jug and have a quick set up for two more. The heat lamps are ready to go, and there are extra bulbs in the cabinet. The lamb coats are ready. And so is the lambing kit. And I have a week's vacation scheduled in the thick of lambing.
Mama Sadie, the sheep with the red stain on her rump from the marking crayon, would not let her ram lambs nurse the other two times she lambed, she loves her ewe lambs though. I missed her delivery by about a half hour last year so I am hoping if I am there when she lambs I can get her started with both her lambs.



Sunday, January 15, 2017

Basement Joist Work

The work has begun on the basement! Alan spent Saturday afternoon propping up the old joists so he could add support to the main beam.
Today he added a 2x8 to the main beam (he had cut away the ends of the joists yesterday) and then sistered 2x8s to each joist on the east side of this section of the basement.
The original joists were only 3x4s and there was considerable sag in the floors. We had added extra support when we first moved in and Alan had taken most of the sag out so the support added to the main beam required no shimming. The floor in our bedroom feels different already. Next up, the other side. That will be a little more difficult since all the plumbing for the bathroom is there.


Saturday, January 7, 2017

2017 Goals

I can start with the goals we are carrying over from 2016; the root cellar and other basement work, the mudroom, and the wool room.
The root cellar sounds like a pretty simple goal, but the section of the basement getting the root cellar has a dirt floor that is currently covered in black plastic. The plastic is a kitty magnet and they love to pee on it, right next to their litter boxes. But before we can get the floor poured there is some structural support work that needs to be done. The floor joists and main beam support are all undersized and need to be beefed up.

Our old Ford E150 van is nearing 190,000 miles and needs to be replaced. We love the van for it's versatility. We can put 10 foot boards in it and still close the back doors. It has served us very well when we go camping too. Ford, in their infinite wisdom, no longer makes the E series vans. Instead we could get a Sprinter type van that everyone we know who has one hates. 2014 was the last year for the E series vans so we have been looking for one in that year. But E150s are next to impossible to find. Looks like we might have to go with an E350.

My big gardening goals for 2017 are to have a flax plot and to give a quarter of my garden to my daughter so she can start a flower business. These changes, plus putting the chickens into another quarter of the garden, should make to remaining veggie garden much more manageable.

In the sheep world I really need to pare down my numbers of hair sheep. And I am building a business brand. LLC paperwork is ready to go in to the state. Next up is an EIN and business insurance. I am booked at my first fiber festival, in April, and have to get a booth ready too!

So we'll see how we go with all these goals. Hopefully we will do better than 2016!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016 in Review

Wow, no blog posts for December. And we didn't fare too well on our goals for 2016 either!

The goals we actually met:
The ram hut for our boys for the winter was pretty smashed up by Elwood. It took a bit of work to get it back to a normal shape, but it provided nice shade and a place to get out of the weather during this hot summer.

The lambing jug I made from hog panels worked well. Now I need to figure out how to get more jugs set up in the barn since I have five ewes due in the third week of February.
Mama Sadie ended up in the lambing jug much longer than she should have been but she has a problem with letting ram lambs nurse. We would have to halter her so she would let her ram lamb nurse. Eventually she would stand still and let him if we just stood next to her and scratched her back.

The pasture seeding went well. The feed mill up in Kempton sells orchard grass and clover seed by the pound and my little seeder worked well. The pastures still need work though and I wasn't able to get any lime down this fall since it never went on sale. And when you need to by almost a 100 bags, a dollar off makes a difference.

The garage is basically finished. We still need to change the siding on the back and one side but that will get done when the rest of the siding gets replaced on the house.

And the rotting foot bridge was replaced. I can now get a wheel barrow across the stream without going around to the road.


The goals we didn't meet:
The garden was a complete bust this year due to the extreme heat we had. So no irrigation system was installed. The older I get the less I am able to tolerate the heat. Early mornings were the only time I could work outside and the garden was the loser.

The barn addition/wool storage room did not get built, but I wasn't really thinking that would get done. Another goal I didn't really think we would accomplish was the mudroom. We'll just tack these two goals on to 2017.

One goal I really did want to get accomplished was the root cellar. Again, another add on for 2017.

But we did accomplish quite a bit that was not on our list for 2016.

We managed through over two feet of snow in one day.
We continued to learn more about lambing and had a pretty successful season, only needing the vet once. But we did lose three lambs; one was sat on by her mother, one was stillborn or died at birth before I got there and one was my own fault for not feeling deep enough into the uterus looking for another lamb. We had out first Coopworth lambs born here on the farm.

We had our first visit with the shearer!

 And I decided it was time I learned how to spin.

 This whole fiber thing led to a collection of spinning wheels and fiber. And then there was the education on dyeing.

Alan learned about spinning wheel repair.


The grapes and raspberries got the attention they have been needing with the installation of the new trellises.

We welcomed Della to our flock!





So the year was busy and we did accomplish a lot of projects and we continue to grow the farm.