November 1, 2011 – 4-Leggeds Gone

This weekend marked a different kind of milestone – something significant getting subtracted from the farm. We sold the last of the sheep and goats today. It was a bittersweet time as the four-leggeds had been part of the farm for a long time. But realistically, we have no right trying to squeeze the animals into our schedules.

So, this winter, the barn will be silent. We’ll see next spring if we can stand not having any return, but for this winter, so hay sourcing, no trudging to the barn in the cold and dark hours before dawn to attend to food and water before heading off to work.

We might enjoy the spring and not having to be around most of March or April waiting for the ewes and does to give birth. But, the animals also added life to the farm, and we are firm believers in having a complete system of animals and crops. We’ll still have chickens and turkeys to provide some fertility.

September 5, 2011 – Mulberry Treats

It’s that time of year, the time to start cutting down the weedy mulberry trees along the fences and along the edges of the property.

Fortunately, the animals eagerly strip the leaves off before I cart the branches down to the burn piles.  Mulberry is highly digestible, contains up to 28% protein, and contains high levels of many minerals.  It’s a good supplement to late season pastures as well.  The animals love it.  Each day, I can cut  a cartload and slowly free the fences and edges.

one year ago…”Emma’s Car”

August 20, 2011 – Expanding Claire’s Horizons

Today, Claire and I woke up bright and early to bring most of this year’s lambs to the sale barn. Although, sharp-eyed readers may debate that either “Colfax Lives” or that we should have brought Linda’s latest knit socks along instead of some lambs.

Isn’t it nice to see Claire on a gravel parking lot wearing knee-high rubber chore boots? Better yet, inside, was no one younger than me, nor of the opposite sex, save for the teen running the concession stand. Surely a different world than that of Washington DC or college. We aim to produce well-rounded children with a wide variety of experiences second to none – and surely, few, if any of her classmates at school or co-workers in DC, have had parents to avail their children to such an experience!

one year ago…”Bees Keeping Cool”

June 15, 2011 – Baby!

Two of the four quads have become very friendly as we are supplementing them by bottle feeding.

Their names are very creative – much like the thousands of Golden Retrievers named “Golden”by their child owners.  The lambs are named “baby” as when we go to give a bottle, if they are not in sight, we call out “baaaaaybeeee” and they come running.

one year ago…”In Case of Fire”

June 5, 2011 – Weaning Lambs

It’s time to wean our lambs from their mommies – when the lambs are big enough to lift their mom’s back legs off the ground when they extend their head up to attach, it’s time to separate them and give the moms a break. After about 3-4 weeks the milk production drops as the lambs begin to graze.

It is however, a few loud days as the bleat and beller excessively, day and night. A book I read by Temple Grandin suggested to keep them in view of each other and to be able to sniff through a fence, so we are trying that this year instead of totally separating them. After one day, the ewe we call d$%m ewe has managed to somehow get two of her four babies through the fence, while all the other lambs (12 of them) remain separated.

one year ago…”Frank Lloyd Wright – Taliesin Tour”

May 4, 2011 – Polecat

Not a polecat in the traditional sense of the word (skunk), but instead a our black cat Ora, checking out her domain from above.

black cat on pole

Actually, the cat is also monitoring Linda as she gives a supplemental feeding to a couple of the bottle lambs from the set of quads.

bottle lambs

I wonder if the cat might not be licking up any spilled milk after the feeding is over?

one year ago…”Thought on Youth Coaches”

May 1, 2011 – Family Circus with Apoligies to Billy

It’s Sunday morning and there’s nothing quite like sitting down with the Sunday paper comics and looking upon the map of the circuitous route that Billy in the Family Circus takes from the house to the mailbox.  We had the high hopes version of that with a ewe and four of her lambs this afternoon.

It started innocently enough, Linda was moving the ewe with her quadruplets from her solitary stall in the barn out to some grass, now that all were getting along well.  Unfortunately, this ewe is the most distrustful of humans in the flock – she’s always been that way and we have no idea of the trauma she must have suffered at a younger age before we acquired her, but she is a pain to work with because she doesn’t think like the other sheep.  She doesn’t seem to need to be with the herd, she won’t go in the barn with the other 6 ewes for morning grain snack time until I leave the barn and much of the grain is gobbled up.

So as we were moving her the 30 feet from her stall to the pasture with the flock, she decided it was not time to be with the flock, but to be a wild sheep.  The map above shows our farm and about a half-mile across and up and down.  She bolted out away from the barn (red track) ran off of our land headed east down the fenceline, then headed south down another fenceline until she came to a creek  I thought I’d have her there, since she wouldn’t get across the creek. But she jumped the creek, and her four lambs followed her and she started heading to the blacktop road to the south.  Linda ran back and hopped in the car and positioned the car on the blacktop (290th) to prevent crossing that direction.  She was successful and Martin and I were running in the field, trying to get them back to the farm.

They went to the farm, but ran by and went to the north fenceline and beyond and ran a half mile down the field road.  At this point we took a break and each grabbed our cell phones and Linda drove around the section a mile down and was going to approach the sheep from the opposite direction on the field road.  She caught up with them where the red squiggles are in the NE corner.  By this time a neighbor came by in his tractor and joined the fray.  We got them turned around and heading back to the west.

Where the line turns purple, one lamb dropped off (probably from exhaustion) and while Linda patrolled the dirt road with the car to prevent them going further north, I was trying to get them to move back west.  Martin and the neighbor grabbed the tired lamb.

The ewe and remaining lambs ran back past the farm, but where the purple line turns yellow, Linda was able to grab two more of the tired lambs.  Now we had three lambs in possession, with the ewe and one lamb to go.  We had the momma bait we needed.  From there, it was rather uneventful getting them all back in the fence.  All in all, those week-old lambs probably ran about two miles, as did I through the unplanted cornfields, enough exercise for the day!

one year ago…”High Hopers Featured on Dock Jumping Blog”

April 25, 2011 – Quad Lambs!

Our most skittish ewe surprised us with four lambs today!  Doing the morning chores, we saw her with recently-born twins, so we ushered her and her lambs into the mothering pen.  We checked on her a bit later and she was fine.

I left for errands and when Linda got home, there were four lambs in the pen!  We wish her well and will probably need to help her along with extra milk.

one year ago…”Locavoring at Church Conference”

April 18, 2011 – Cutest Lamb Ever!

OK, it’s finally time for something a bit more upbeat. Everyone in the family agrees, we were blessed with the cutest ever baby lamb today.

baby lamb

She’s caramel brown with a white head, white socks and brown ears.

katahdin lamb

She’s the granddaughter of Tank, our favorite ewe who unfortunately died in a boating accident when we were on vacation a few years ago.

one year ago…”Spring Landscapes”

April 13, 2011 – The Streak Continues – 4 Days in a Row

Our ewe Gabby gave birth today.  We can officially blame Martin for the fact that she only dropped one lamb.  The night before she became a mom, Martin asked if ewes ever only had one baby.  We told him not very often and we’ve never had just one.

boy with lamb

So Gabby made liars out of us.  When she was labor, she REALLY wanted to be a mommy!  I moved one of the ewes out of the mommy-baby pen in anticipation of Gabby and her babies needing the space.  As soon as Gabby saw the other lambs from another ewe, she started licking and nursing them as her own while her own birthing process was beginning.  I separated her quickly as to not get everybody mixed up on who’s who.

one year ago…”New York Farm Workers Bill”

April 11, 2011 – U2 Gives Birth

Our 2nd ewe (also known forever after as U2) dropped her lambs today.  I went back to the back pasture to continue tearing down the old granary.  Smart mommy U2, dropped her lambs out int he pasture in a sunny spot, in the lee of the strong wind near the granary.

It took some convincing to get her into the pen in the barn to bond with her babes and for her owners to insure she’s nursing for a day or two before being allowed back outside again.

one year ago…”New Front Door”