Wednesday, May 28, 2008

GROWING



After a few days of rain all is lush and green. I have to savor this , since I know the days of juicy grass leafs are counted. By early summer they will eather have turned into milk or gone dormant until the heat makes way to some late summer rainfalls.
In the garden the radishes and lettuce try to outgrow each other, just to be passed by some laughing peas in a few days. Tomatoes have found an outside home as well and the peppers will join them today. The strawberries are flowering, the currants (red, white and black) are showing little risps of berries and the raspberry hedge I planted last year, is ~much to my delight ~ taking off. Then there is the other side, the pear tree which surprised me earlier this month with first blossoms, lost all of them. The plum tree is riddled with aphids and the dog trampled some tender plants, all the time wagging his tail, happy to have found me.




If you peak in the hen house you will find seven little puffballs starting to feather out and already scratching happily for whatever treasures they can find. The old girls are laying much better and I actually have eggs to barter with. A neighbour down the road has a great blackberry patch, maybe she will trade some blackberry starts for fresh eggs.
The ewes I milk are back into their routine and now it actually is enjoyable to go out at 6 o'clock to greet the day and milk the girls. Ebony worried me a bit this morning since she is one of my greediest eaters and she did not want to have anything to do with her grain. So I checked her udder for signs of mastitis , which were not evident and then decided to let her out and have her lamb relish the milk. I worried ~ until Ebony went out the gate and right to the flake of alfalfa which I treat the sheep to in the morning. Her message was clear: I do not care for he whole oats you tried to serve me this morning (usually I feed rolled oats and corn)!
So out the gate went a quart of milk and an opinionated, but healthy sheep!
The variety of cheeses are growing as well, besides feta and garlic/chive soft cheese we have yogurt in the fridge and today I will try my hands on some mozzarella, which is a first for me.
It is nice to start reaping the fruits of your labor again. Winter and especially spring always seem like a lot of work, with no eminent rewards ~ except of course all the frolicking babies !

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Weekend

This weekend had us eat the first rhubarb pie of the year. For some reason I never developed a taste for American pie recipes, so I always bake German pies. This one has a nice buttery crust, a moist rhubarb filling and is topped with a sweet lemon meringue. It is quite good.

On Friday I made the first sheep's milk cheese of the season. To be correct, I started it. Today it will be ready to enjoy. I made a quick and easy soft cheese with fresh chives. So far I only milk a couple of ewes, so not too much milk jet. And what little I have the kids usually drink up before I get to it! By the end of this week I will hopefully be milking four or five ewes and have some extra milk to make more cheese and yogurt. I milk only once a day (the other milking the lambs do for me) and usually get between 3/4 to 1 quart per ewe.

This weekend also saw the first baby chicks crack their shells, only to be greeted by a mean momma chicken. Yes this girl sits on the eggs just fine, but when the chicks hatch she is downright nasty to them. So now we have a baby chick nursery in the coop. All it is, is a wire cage with a heat lamp , cardboard for wains coating and carpet remnants for flooring. This provides the little ones with warmth around 90*F, no drafts and non slippery footing. One a day has been hatching since Friday and each is different from the other. We have around six more eggs to go.
These little puffballs do not need any food for the first 48 hours since they still have the yolk in their tummies. We offer them rolled oats and fresh water for the first few days. After that, chopped dandelion leaves and stinging nettle ~ even a bird has to have it's greens!



Wednesday, May 14, 2008

PIGS

So far we have two of them. We got them a few weeks ago and they stayed in a movable pen in the orchard when they were wee ones. Every two days we moved the pen and the piggies would do some digging for us. Yes, these Berkshire/Landrace crosses still dig, or in pig language: root. But they got to big to fast and we had to put them in the big pig pen. Were now Mr. Pig gets chased and beaten up by Ms. Pig. They have a good ol' time, love to run and play or lay in the mud. No names so far. Last years couple were refered to Plump and Dumpling, nothing cute or fancy, since these guys will go into the freezer. One in ours and one in somebodies that buys him or her at the local fair. This is my daughters way to save for college after all. Pigs are fun and it is easy to get attached to them, since they can get very personable. So far they are not, in fact, he bites, which if he keeps this up will make it a lot easier to part with him when the time comes.They dine on grain and whey, all kind of veggie scarps, and of course root for goodies of all sorts. The pig pen has a corner with rocks, were we used to have a lot of snakes, the oinkers took care of them. Learn something new every day ~ pigs kill snakes!
Click on the pic to see just how cute these guys are and check out his ears!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Shearing Day



After cancelling the last shearing appointment due to poor human intestine health and very cold weather at night, we sheared yesterday.
Quick and painless, all the girls and boy sport a trendy short hair due which will last them 'til late October!
It takes the sheep a while to figure out who is who after they let down their wool. A lot of baaing and sniffing until everybody is finally satisfied with their identification efforts and settles down to munch on some grass or chew their guts after all that commotion.
Shearing always means bags of wool, with spring fleeces being considered 2nd class, since they have a lot more vegetable matter (hay, straw...) than the fall fleeces. Most of the time they are shorter as well. Still, they have to be stored and at some point put to use.
In front of my inner eye I see them converted into beautiful rugged rugs. Time will tell just how powerful this inner eye of mine is .....
Ever wondered if shearing is hard work? Take a look at my preteen son!


















Friday, May 9, 2008

Flying high



They are not quite flying, but they sure would if they could. So for now they abuse the hoop barn for their first attempts to take off!
Much to my husbands dismay. The hoop barn used to be tall enough for me to stand in, now you only stand a chance to be upright if you are a midget or under 5 years of age....
This diminishing of height happened over the past three years, happy airborne lambs and heavy winter snow both contributed to the sad sagging.
And the loss of height is not all, the sharp hooves of these little buggers rip through the tarp and once a hole is in place the already weathered plastic will rip like a pair of nylon stockings... ( I only know this, because my daughter is a ballerina)
The solution would be a nice wooden barn, but those are future dreams. For now I will go buy new tarp and when hubby comes home from work will innocently wonder about his plans for tonight...

video

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

What did you miss?



Honestly - a lot, since it has been so long since I wrote the last post. That long in fact, that I could not remember the web address of my own blog!
I actually had to go to my website and check it. How embarrassing is that??
The worst of it, lambing is over and I did not write one entry - I do feel guilty!

Lambing went great, all ewes lambed with ease. We have 9 ewe lambs and 5 ram lambs out of 8 ewes. A very colorful and lively bunch! Most of them are twins, one set of triplets.
I did loose one ram lamb, he was dead when I went out to feed in the morning, his twin brother was up and running. With a small herd like mine you really get to know your sheep. So when I went out and saw mom and baby standing there I knew something was wrong. All she did was stand there, very quietly. Usually a new mom is busy as a bee, talking, licking, making sure all is fine with baby. This one just stood there, little one by her side. She had lost a lamb before and she very much grieves the loss! I had to kick her out on pasture and away from the place were she had given birth!
All is well now.
I am getting the milking pen ready, since on Saturday I will officially start milking season!

Our pigs have arrived as well. A boy and a girl that have been busy rototillers in my orchard, getting it ready for me to seed a colorful flower meadow!

Today was their lucky day, since I had to milk out one of the sheep. Her udder was rather lopsided, since her single lamb prefers to drink on one side only. So I quickly eased her load by a quart. Since the pigs were in the next pen they got a still warm good night drink!

The goats arrived safely at their new home in Colorado after 13 hours on the road. Their new owners are really dedicated to their animals (how much more dedicated than driving 1500 miles within two days for your goats can you get???). They will be spoiled rotten in no time and that is just dandy with me.
It is quiet around here without them, but it is nice that they can not pick on the sheep anymore. They went to an all goat home which I think is perfect!
The tomatoes are taking over my sun room and will keep doing just that for at least another couple of weeks. The radishes are peaking through the still a bit cold dirt and the apple, pear and plum trees are about to blossom.

So much for today - more to come soon!
 
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