This morning I had to go in early to administer an exam for another instructor, so I absolutely had to be out the door no later than 7:30. I was rushing out the door with 15 minutes to spare and happened to glance over at the sheep, and what did I see, but a little sheep standing next to that ewe I thought was ready to deliver about six weeks ago. I was only off by a little (in the grand scheme of things, anyway). Yes, I came back in and threw on some boots so I could check on the lamb. They were fine. Momma had done a good job drying them off, even though they couldn’t have been more than a couple of hours hold (their cords were still wet). They were both warm, and had full tummies, so they’d had their first meals too. I tried to entice her into a pen with them, but she wasn’t having any of it. I had to go to work, so I changed my shoes (again) and hoped for the best. Of course, it rained cats and dogs all day, and was only in the mid-fifties, so I worried all day long, and immediately went out as soon as I got home. The only thing wrong was that one of the babies had gotten stuck under the barn, probably because Momma had tried to tuck them up next to the barn to stay dry.

I really wanted to get them into the shed and out of the weather, so I had the kids help me with thinking that if we took the lambs, Momma would follow. Not so. She refused to leave the pasture where she had given birth, apparently convinced that her lambs were still there. I tried to encourage her out, but she just got more and more panicked. The lambs are still warm, and are only wet on the topmost layer, so I decided they must be fine, and Momma won. I did move the feeder over so they can’t get stuck (hopefully) under the barn again. They are shown in the photo still in their pasture. You can see the little black one laying down. This one looks an awful lot like Hershey. The other one is getting a snack, and is very pretty. I haven’t checked gender yet, and haven’t even considered names. Momma is very attentive and is doing a great job. I’m sure more photos will come.

Fence held

Well, I must be improving on my fence building skills, the sheep were still in the Barn lot this morning.  They stayed there all day.  So no holes so far, they are pretty persistent and I saw two this morning sticking their heads through the woven fence to get to the grass on the other side.  Forget that they were standing in grass 18 inches high, the stuff on the other side of the fence just tastes better!  Here are our sheep in the Barn lot hanging out today.

Yes, there is a creek running through the bottom 1/3 of the picture.  That is the “Front Creek” it is fed from a spring that comes up about 100 yards from here.  It runs year round and is around 40 degrees F all year long also.  It never freezes in the winter.  Need I say, that one of the reasons for getting the sheep was for them to keep the grass short.  Since they feel that the short scrub grass on the hill is more healthful for them, I have had to step up the fence construction.  One down, five to go!! (actually, I think that is an infinite number since fence repair is an ongoing thing)

I also fixed the SE fence yesterday in the Ram pasture.  Added a ton of stays, now I still have to add woven fence to the entire Eastern fence line, a gate and a bunch of stays.  This of course needs to be done yesterday.  The grass is starting to get very tall and needs to be cut or eaten.

This is the Ram pasture, Annmarie’s grandparents used to keep the ram sheep in this pasture.  It was smaller then, I have moved the far fence back and moved the fence line up onto the hillside.  If you look closely, at the back fence you will see stays or fence post every five feet.  That is with sheep wire on the bottom half also.  I need to get the sheep in here before the cheat grass dries out or it is gonna be a bugger to walk through.  The colored spots in the foreground are my chickens free ranging.  The grass is so tall that they just disappear.  One of the problems with tall grass like this is ticks.  They climb up on it and attach to everything. We have had to start treating the dogs with tick repellent already this year.  The chickens being unlocked again should help with the tick problem.  The baby chicks are locked up safe in their metal cage enclosure now.  The gully on the upper left corner of the picture is the “Back Creek” (how do you like those names?)  Our house sits between the Front Creek and the Back Creek and to our knowledge has never been flooded. The front and back bridges have floated away, but no damage to the house.

Here is the rug I sprayed down and hung out to dry.  Obviously, the rug is drying.  No cats on it yesterday when it was soaking wet.  Now  you can see one lounging on the right end.  I shooed them off all day long today.  The rug needed another day to dry out, but the weather was turning bad, so Annmarie and I went out and took it down.  We hung it in a “U” shape in the trailer, not 15 minutes later it was raining.  We just pile the rugs on the floor in our medieval pavilion.  It makes it way more cozy and comfortable with the rugs down.

Back at that Fence!

I spent the day outside today.  It was a gorgeous day, sun was shining and virtually no wind.  I even opted to not have some form of music playing in my ears while working (unusual for me) so I could listen to the back creek run.  The runoff is very clean and running at a great rate.  We are hopeful the runoff creek will last through June this year.  The longer the better, we can use the water.

I worked on the Barn lot pasture fence today.  I had stretched a 40 foot section this fall but since I did not install sheep fencing the sheep just jumped through it.  So I added a four foot tall woven fence over the barbed wire and tied it all together.  Nice and strong now, the sheep won’t get through it.  I took a container of chicken scratch up on the hillside and enticed the sheep off of the rocky hillside down into the barn lot.  They love corn and we have been working on being able to call them and get them to follow us.  It is far easier to catch an animal that will follow you into a small area for food.  A month in the front yard has given us all a lot of time to tame them down.  We were petting them whenever we went in and out of the house.  So far the fence is working, the sheep were still in the Barn lot when the sun went down.  The true test will be if they cannot get out tomorrow.  I am with Annmarie, I think a couple of the ewes are ready to drop babies.
I also restretched one side of the Ram pasture (we use the names for things from when Annmarie was a kid, very confusing if you were not around 30 years ago) and added stays to stiffen the fence and prevent the sheep from squeezing between the wires.  I have stays or posts every five feet on the SE side of the Ram pasture now.

Annmarie and Sarah locked up the baby chickens in their new enclosure over the weekend.  All 11 surviving (out of 24) chickies were out in their new 360 degree wire protected domain, plus one chicken.  They trapped one hen in there with the babies.  So I chased her out and in the process left the door open and now there is a different hen trapped in with the babies.  On the positive side, we thought the first hen was laying white eggs because her mother is a Polish chicken.  Not so, I found a green egg in the baby enclosure.  Not sure who the second white egg layer is at this point.  I had an egg today punctured by a foot.  I need to add some more calcium to the chickens diet.  I keep oyster shells for this and will put some out for the chickens to snack on out in the chicken yard.  In a month or so the babies should be big enough that the cats won’t mess with them.  Then I can get more babies!!!  Wooo, hooo!!  I really do want a naked neck chicken.  I also want some more Easter Egger or Aruacana chickens.  Would love to have blue eggs.

I also hosed down a braided rug and hung it over the fence and grape wire tonight.  We are camping for the weekend and use the rugs on the floor of our pavilion tent.  You can never have too many rugs for a medieval tent floor.  So tomorrow I will clean out the pickup and get the trailer ready to go.  We have so much stuff we bought a trailer just for this hobby!  I will get some pictures and post them here.

New Respect

I have a new respect for my ancestors. Particularly the female ancestors whose job it was to keep the house clean, and the people clothed and fed.

The newly dark-stained stairs are lovely to behold. They are also a particularly good backdrop against which to highlight the dog hair and dust bunnies. Now, dust is always and issue out here, and that is nothing new. The naked steps got equally dusty just as quickly, but since the color of the wood was closer to the color of the dust, it wasn’t quite so eye-catching. I’ve come to accept that daily dust-mopping of the stairs is likely to be a constant in my life for a while.
The new-found respect came as I was dusting those stairs and realizing that this would have been a daily chore for my predecessors as well. Along with the floors in the rest of the house. Then I looked up at the highway network of spiderwebs above the stairwell and added that to the list. And dusting all the furniture, and baking, and mending and laundry and …….. It would have been a very full day just to keep the house cleaned. And when you add on gardening and food preservation, well, let’s just say that they likely didn’t have too much time to twiddle their thumbs.
Some things are streamlined with modern tools and methods, but it is still not a small task to keep ahead of the dust in the middle of a farm. I’m beginning to see another reason for stair runners. We’ll see how this plays out.
On the sheep front, it has become painfully clear that I know nothing about how to determine when a ewe is ready to deliver. We’ve had the sheep in the yard for a month in hopes of not loosing another lamb. Now, the yard is not that big, and it can only support 6 sheep for so long. A month, it turns out, is the limit. And still no lamb. To add insult to injury, one of the other ewes (whose six-month-old lamb is still nursing occasionally) is looking bigger than the one I thought would go first. So, we’ve turned the sheep back out and are hoping for the best. On a more positive note, Steve finished the baby chicken run before he left for work on Friday, so we should loose no more chicks to the cats.

baby chicken coop enclosure

Well, I did make some progress today.  I had to dig around the farm and find some more wire.  I found an old roll of chicken wire on the fence supply pile (main pile, I still have 4 piles to consolidate).  It was rusted, but hey, it is free, the best price of all.  I used it to put on a roof.  I used a screw driver to twist the running edges of the pieces together to form one entire roof.  Much better than a plastic wire tire that is going to eventually break.  The chicken wire is formed the exact same way, two strands are just twisted together (I had lots of time to study it today…).  I love my pneumatic stapler, it makes putting up fencing easy.  I went through a bunch of staples but it is possible to do it with one person.  I got the door side all completed and had to cover the door also as it had a huge hole were the screen used to be.  It started raining vertically and Annmarie told me I had to come inside and eat.  I needed to get cleaned up so we could go drop off the hoya plant.  Annmarie is allergic to it and the damn thing will not stop blooming now!  Took it eight years to start and it just won’t stop, the smell keeps aggravating her asthma.  She found a gal at work to take it and we delivered it tonight.

Of course, since the chickens are still locked up in the coop yard (except when I am working on the coop), they are eating lots of food!!  I gotta clean up inside the house tomorrow so I will have to get back to the chickens on Monday (paying job over weekend).

On a positive note, we collected 23 eggs today.  The chickens are doing well in that regards.  I have still been lamenting the loss of my Turken (naked neck) chicken.  It was ugly, but I really wanted it to live and had been taming it down.  Luckily, it was fairly cool today and the smell from the dead chickens stashed under the coop wasn’t too bad.  Will be glad when the decomposition gets done so they no longer smell.