Friday, October 18, 2013

16 guineas

This is one of the best parts of farming.
I love it when the new ones come to the farm.
These are the chicks from the guinea nest that Odin found.
They hatched out this week.
What is really funny, I have three standard, one pearl and two lavender guineas.
I really don't know which is male and which is female.
But as you can see I have chicks of each type.
Although the best I could tell,
 it was a standard guinea that was setting the nest.
Standard guineas are all brown,
Lavender ones are the light gray,
And the Pearls have white breasts.
16 Little guinea chicks

Monday, October 14, 2013

Chuck and Charlie

When I can get them alone I like the new mommas to have a full share of all-grain.
The ewe needs the extra because she is nursing.
After awhile she learns to linger back, both for the extra feed
and also because she watches the little ones so well.
Momma getting a full share of oats.

Chuck giving momma a hug.

Chuck is very curious.
I like to handle the lambs as much as I can.
They need be comfortable with me and the dogs.

Odin finds a Nest.

In the late summer, I noticed that I was missing one of the guineas.
I was down to four. It made me a bit sad but that is the way it goes sometimes.
I was watching out the window one morning
and noticed that Odin was very interested in a spot in the field.
As you know they sometimes run a chicken and catch it. So I thought I was off to save a chicken. 
 Odin had found a guinea nest of about a dozen eggs.
And the lost guinea had been nesting the eggs!
I gathered the eggs, as there was no way that Odin was going to leave them alone.
And I put them in the incubator.
I had no idea how long she had been setting them.
But I figured they would hatch when ready.
 And this morning they were ready.
 Right now I am at one counting, more are pecking out.  
The little one looks like she may be a "pearl", one with a white breast.
Guineas have begun to hatch!!!


Monday, October 7, 2013

Watching over the herd

   new lambs with ewe                                        herd                                                                   Luna and Odin                         

It may be hard to see, but the new mom and twins are to the far left in the bright sun, the herd is in the middle, and Luna and Odin are in the shady grass to the  right.

Actually, what is very funny, when I let the dogs out with the herd, Luna and Odin ran off and the herd was walking and grazing far down the field. When I came back about an hour later, this is where I found them. I just can't believe it! This is the way it is suppose to happen! 

Odin is on guard

This picture was taken yesterday, about mid-morning. The ewe had taken the lambs down to the lower pasture to stay with the herd. Luna and Odin were very curious about the lamb. But after being told a couple of times by the mother that she did not appreciate their help, they got the idea and stayed back.
Both of the dogs have been around the lambs as they have grown up. What I mean is, I was feeding Lily a bottle when I got Luna, so she was very used to little lambs, but she was little herself. And Odin came to the farm in May when he was 7 weeks old, and has grown with the spring lambs. But they have never been this curious or watchful before. They want to stay close to the herd now.
I think this guardian dog thing may actually work!!
Odin is on Guard

New lambs

Every morning as I go to make coffee, I look out towards the chicken coop to see how the our world is fairing. The morning was cool and foggy. The sheep herd had gathered at the coop gate as always. Luna and Odin were at the gate also but were not barking. I looked to the west and one ewe was standing alone. Well not alone, she had two little ones with her. I quickly made coffee and told John that we had the new ones. I dressed and went out to see her. The lambs were clean, but not dry. So I think they were about two hours old. They were still searching around for their mother, not sure which way to go.

After checking to make sure all was well, I went back in for hot coffee. Hard to start my day without it! John left for work and I went out to finish the morning feed. I fed the chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, and dogs. And then took the bucket of all-grain to the sheep. I kept a little still in the bucket and went over to the new momma. I poured it on the ground and as she was eating, I was able to check the little ones. The one with darker marks is a ram, and the one with lighter marks is a little ewe lamb. (I will name them Chuck and Charlie for a friend of ours who is having a baby tomorrow. His little girl will be named Charlie after his father, Charles. And this is the "C" generation of lambs.)

The picture was taken this morning at the feed trough. It is amazing how fast the little ones have to get moving to keep up with the herd. She had them down at the lower pasture last night and John and I slowly walked her up to the night pasture. Sometimes I had to nudge the little ones along, as she reminded them to stay close and follow her.

Chuck and Charlie

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Under a bucket

Luna is 9 months old and Odin is 7 months now. They are really good at catching chickens. But surprisingly they have quit killing them. They just "play" with them. I have had to rescue quite a few in the evenings. The roughed up chickens now share the young hens pen until they are back to their old selves. Well the other morning as I was feeding the chickens, I noticed that Odin kept going over to an overturned bucket. I sometimes contain the dogs in this pen so they have a food bowl and this bucket for water. I thought he was thirsty and started to turn the bucket over to fill it and out POPS a hen. Scared me! She ran right over to the chicken coop door and I let her in. She ran right to the watering bowl. Most times it takes quite a bit of chasing a hen to get them to go into the pen. I don't know how long she had been under the bucket but at least for the night. And she was thirsty!

Thursday, September 12, 2013


It has taken me a month to return to this page. The farm is a little dim right now. My son asked me if anything was happening at the farm. He noticed that I had not been posting anything lately.
Something is always happening at the farm. There are always chores to do. Animals to feed. Sheep to let out into the far pasture or close in for the night. Even if you don't feel like it, it has to be done. I guess that is what keeps people going, the things that have to be done.

I have begun bee allergy shots. I don't want to give up my bees so I need to protect myself. And also there are so many wasps around the farm and I am allergic to them too. They give me 6 shots a week for 9 weeks until they build up immunity and then I get one shot a month for the rest of my life.

We have begun putting hay in the barn for this winter. The weather has been so good this summer that everyone has gotten two cuttings. We now have over 190 bales. That should get us through the winter. We don't have a lot of cattle and sheep eat it too. John was at the Farmers Coop the other day and a REAL rancher said he had put up 3000 bales! That is the kind of rancher that has to sale his herd during a drought. We made it through the past two years of drought with most of our breeding cows. We have a few new calves this summer. We will sell a few of the older calves before winter. We don't like to run too many older calves through the winter. It takes too much feed when we do that.

We did take a bull to the butcher two weekends ago. He is our first. We have always just sold the cows at the sale barn. This bull we kept for two years on pasture and the last three months on extra feed as finish out. I like the idea that I know where my food comes from. We know how he was raised and what medicines he has had through his life.

I have incubated chickens too lately. I have 10 straight run chickens that are now three months old and 23 chickens that are about 3 weeks now. I just started a new batch this morning. It takes 28 days for a egg to hatch and about 5 months for a chicken to start laying eggs. The chickens I have now are over two years and need to be harvested. I have to replace them first though as our family and friends enjoy the farm fresh eggs. Straight run means that they are both male and female. So the ten older chicks that I have, half may be males. The males will be harvested when they are about 8 months.

Luna and Odin are growing like weeds! They like to go up to the small lake and then they settle on the front porch. It is cool there. Luna barks a lot at night as warning. Sometimes I hear Odin too, but I think he is letting her do most of the work.

I guess that is all for today.

A Death in the Family

On August 13, 2013
Joseph A. Sutliff died.
Our daughter's love. 
Our son and brother.
Our beloved friend.


Monday, July 22, 2013

So a couple of weeks ago we gave the donkeys away.

So a couple of weekends ago we gave the donkeys away.
Our fencing man, Junior, told me who to contact to get the donkeys last year.
Junior came to the farm a few weeks ago because we need some more fence built.
I told him that I needed to find a good home for Jack and Jerry.
He said he might know a couple of people who would take them.
Junior found a nice man that has goats, horses and donkeys!
They came with a cattle trailer and backed it up to the corral.
John and Joe and Sara were there to help and say goodbye.
They all moved away from the corral.
Junior and Mr. Elbert watched from afar.
I got a bucket of oats and called to Jack and Jerry.
Jack and Jerry followed me into the corral.
John closed the gates as we passed through them.
We went into the chute that leads to the trailer.
Joe encouraged the donkeys forward.
 I put the feed bucket in the trailer.
Jack and Jerry followed the bucket.
(I have found most animals to be food motivated.)
Very anti-climatic.
I told Mr. Elbert that the donkeys really weren't that tame.
He said as long as they would follow a bucket, that they would all do just fine.
So a couple of weeks ago the donkeys found a good new home.

Mexican stand off

Odin is big enough now to stay out of his pen during the day, and at night too, as long as he is with Luna and not able to get to the older ewes. Luna and Odin sleep with the young rams, under the big oak.

The first night he stayed out I closed his pen door. I found him the next morning sleeping in front of the closed door. So now I prop it open so he can go in if he wants. This morning the three Emden geese went into his pen. He quietly went to the door and laid down. The geese peered around the corner and then honked at him. They pulled back. He put his head down and waited.  They eventually became this brave. And then Luna came to see what was happening. She got Odin's attention and the geese got out of the pen. He is still afraid of them so I don't know what his plan was if he caught one. I would have like to have seen that.

Odin caught a mallard duck yesterday. They are still quite young and don't know to fly to safety yet. They get confused and run to a corner and then Odin or Luna can catch them. Well I saw him with this one and saved it. And of course he got a stern lecture. Luna hasn't killed a chicken lately. Her number is still 2. Odin may be a different challenge. He has a mind of his own. I don't know what his number will be before he understands that the poultry are not his to eat.

Someone wrote on Facebook the other day that her two year old Great Pyrenees had killed a baby chick and wanted to know if she should put her dog down. She thought the dog was a chicken killer and couldn't be trained otherwise. The uproar from Facebook was interesting. Of course everyone told her not to kill the dog!! She panics about one chick and I wonder how many chickens or ducks I am going to lose before Odin understands. His number right now is zero.

Goose! Goose! Goose!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Turkeys in the Rain

 So I have my first turkey story.
The turkeys perch each night on the top rail of an old chicken coop.
It doesn't have a roof. Just the rail at the top.
It's one of those small three hen coops I had before the farm.
(You can see it in the picture.)
It has been very hot and sunny here lately.
I asked my husband to help me put a tarp
over the turkey day run to provide them with a bit of shade.
That was last Tuesday.
Last Wednesday evening, we got a much needed rain.
Because of the ability to provide the turkeys with cover from the rain,
I moved the old chicken coop so it was under the tarp.
Wasn't that thoughtful of me?
I waited out the storm, lightening you know.
And then went to check on all the animals.
The turkeys were fine.
Except they were jumping up in the corner where the old chicken coop had been.
They were trying to get up onto something that had been moved!
I moved the old chicken coop back to its original position.
The turkeys jumped onto their perch.
Good night!
Sunning themselves after the storm

Stealing honey!

We started keeping bees in 2008. The farm needs the bees for good pastures. The clover needs pollenated and my cows love clover. So I bought one hive that summer. I have bought others and caught swarms. It has been a fun hobby. At one time I had as many as 8 hives. Right now I have four hives. I went into the winter with 6 but lost two to these unknown reasons that have been killing all the bees.

I have found myself allergic to honey bees!  I have been stung about 20 times and I had hoped that I was building up an immunity to the bees. But it turns out I have been working up a reaction to them. I got stung last fall, first by a honey bee and then the next week by a wasp. I broke out with hives each time. The first time I went to the hospital and the second time I went to town just in case I had breathing trouble.

Everything turned out fine but because of this development I was not going to mess with the bees and honey this year. I am getting tested and may do allergy shots. (I do not want to give up my bees!!!)

I talked to a friend and he said his bee hives were full! More honey than he had seen in years. It has been a very good spring. Lots of rain and lots of wildflowers. Wildflowers are still on the fields. (This time last year we were in a drought and the grass was brown. We had no flowers left. I had been feeding the bees since May.)

My son-in-law, Joe, said he would help. He loves the honey! We suited up, got the smokers smoking, and headed in. The first hive we opened was FULL! So many bees! All four hives were all full. We stole a total of 20 frames. I have averaged about 3 pounds of honey per frame in the past and these frames were as heavy as I have ever seen. So we should have 50-60 lbs. of honey! Or more!

Joe had never stolen honey and processed it. After a short explanation of the process, he de-capped and spun the frames out in the centrifuge. He watched the honey hit the sides and drip through the filtering screen and into the holding tank.

We picked the prettiest comb and cut it to put into the pint mason jars. We filled the remainder of the jars with honey. Most folks don't know that you can eat honeycomb. You can spread it on toast or just eat it out of the jar.

Now I have to get the capped honey bear bottles, 1 lb. bottles , and 2 lb. bottles to process the rest of the honey. Like I said, I was not going to steal honey this year so I did not prepare my equipment. I will let you know how much we get this year. Enjoy the beauty of the comb honey for now.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

What kind of bird is this?

Does anyone know what kind of bird this is? It has white tips to it's tail feathers and no other color that I can see. I know it will be a standard bird that I should recognize but I don't.

What am I?

Never before Turkeys

We have never raised turkeys before. And when I say we, I mean my whole family. I don't believe my grandparents even raised turkeys. I never heard any turkey stories. And wouldn't there be turkey stories? I am waiting for stories of my own. I have duck and chicken stories. But would these stories stand the test of time? Will my grandchildren (when I have some) remember the stories to pass on? Maybe these stories are only important to me. And my guess is that is the way of it. But I am having a great time collecting stories.

Well, I was told to keep the turkeys in a small cage until they are about 4 months old because they are very delicate creatures. I lost 4 turkeys during the big storm a couple weeks ago due to the rain and cold. I did not expect such a cold night after the rains. But I also lost 4 turkeys in the brood box.  And the ones that I let out to the large pen are having a blast. They get on top of their "coop" and roost. They fly down and then run and chase each other. They hunt for bugs and scratch in the hay. I can't see how a cage would be better than that. So like everything I do on the farm, this too will be trial and error. And the poor animals will suffer through my learning about them.

I have three kinds of turkeys, Standard Brown, Bourbon Red, and Royal Palm. The Reds are the light brown ones in the pictures and Royal Palm are the white ones.  They will actually be white with scattering of black. I believe they are all heritage breeds, which means they have been around a long time. They are not "Butterball" turkeys. They are more like wild turkeys.

I hope you will like my turkey stories as they develop.

Turkeys-Brown, Bourbon Red and Royal Palm
Loving the sun after a big rain storm

Finally figs

My mother's parents, Granny and Gramps, had a farm when I was young.
They raised 7 children and a very large garden.
Gramps worked at a local factory and farmed.
Granny ran the house and the garden.
Gramps had apple and pear trees, strawberries and blackberries.

My father's parents lived in the city.
But like most folks back then, they had a small kitchen garden.
Grandpa was a barber.
Grandma was secretary of the First Baptist Church.
Grandpa had plum and pecan trees, muscadines, grapes, and watermelons.

We ate fruit in season.
Strawberry ice cream in the summer.
Pear cobblers in the fall.
Apple butter all year round.

And my Grandma had figs.
I loved figs...warm from the sun...tasted just like honey.
I would break one in half to see if the ants had gotten to it first.
But I would pick them off and eat it anyway.

I have wanted to grow figs of my own since I was young.
I have tried to raise figs for years.
I tried in town and for the past five years, on the farm.
So last summer, a good friend, Katie, introduced me to a great nursery.

I got three fig bushes. (two Brown Turkey and one Celesta).
Eva told me where to plant them. (northeast side of house).
John said they looked fine. (he accepted them!)
And they have grown like crazy!

Finally Figs!!

Brown Turkey Figs

Spring hay for winter feed

This has been a good year so far for hay production and grazing. Just enough water and sunshine to produce very nice fields. We have been excited to see all the hay being cut and baled. The countryside is just littered with all these big bales of hay. Looks like beautiful pastural paintings. We hayed all but three of our pastures. The cows were on two and the sheep had part of another. We hayed and baled 114 round bales. It will take more than that to make it through the winter but it is a great start. We will hope the drought doesn't return this year and everyone can get another cutting. It was so dry last year that everyone was feeding hay in August and selling off their herds. But that was last year....we will hope for a better summer.

Hay in field five

Luna and Odin playing

I try to let Luna and Odin out twice a day to just play with each other. They come up to the house and play on the porch where it is shady and cool. Odin starts out pretty white and by the end of the time his neck is wet and dirty. She is very easy with him but like I have said before he is just a stinker. He growls and grabs her fur and hangs on and she bites at his neck and paws him. I think they shall be good friends. Neither of them is food agressive, even when they get kitchen scraps. They both like to chase the chickens and lick the bottle as I feed the calf.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Feeding the chickens (and Luna)

When I am feeding the chickens the scraps from the kitchen
 Luna checks it all out to see if there is anything interesting for her.
In this mix there was corn on the cob.
I tried to get a picture of Luna with one of the cobs in her mouth.
She picked one up and carried it for a bit.
Feeding the chickens (and Luna)

Meeting the family

Odin has been meeting all the animals on the farm. He loves to chase the chickens. He seems to do this a little bit more than Luna. I hope this won't be a bad habit. Hopefully he will get use to them like Luna has and not kill any more than she. Odin met Matilda as we were going for a walk. Matilda followed us along the way. On the other end of the pasture, Lily came over to see the new dog. Lily doesn't come over to see Luna and me as often as she did before but the new dog seemed to interest her.

Luna is pretty much free range when it comes to the daily workings of the farm. She comes in close at night. I don't want her to be coyote bait. And now Odin will begin his training. Mainly he will be loved and exposed to the everyday workings of the farm. We will go for walks among the sheep on a leash like Luna did, but with Luna walking with us. They are both in training and will be for about a year before they will be able to guard the sheep day and night.

Meeting Matilda
Meeting Lily

New puppy on the farm

Last Thursday I drove halfway across the state to get my Odin. He is a Great Pyrenees and is just now 7 weeks old. It is hard to believe that Luna was ever that small. They are getting along great. They play and walk around together. Sometimes Odin growls at Luna and then she paws him. He bites her ear and hangs on. I think they will be great buds.
Luna and Odin

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Fishing buddies

My family has come to the farm the last couple of weekends.
The fish are really biting!
My brother was fishing in the pond by the house and got a surprise helper.
 Matilda came to check out his tackle box and the box of worms.
The sheep ran past but did not stop to visit.
Matilda is the curious type.
Fishing Buddies

Monday, May 20, 2013

First Time Out

Yesterday afternoon I wanted to take Luna for a walk around the house pond. This actually is the pond in one of the sheep pastures. The older sheep and one ram are in that pasture so I took a walking stick with me, just in case they didn't get on well with Luna.
Well, Matilda is in the pen with Luna and when I opened the gate, Matilda decided she was going for a walk, too. She went straight for the bale of hay. She rubbed her head all in it, just like the older cows do. And she had never seen a cow do this before! Matilda took off running with Luna close behind. The sheep were so surprised to see the calf that I think they had no thoughts for Luna at all! A one point a sheep challenged Matilda, head to head, and the sheep backed down. They ran all over the pond banks and around the field. It was good to watch Matilda be able to kick and race!
I let them stay out on thier own. At one point I noticed them back in the pen so I made Matilda's bottle. I closed the sheep pasture gate for the night and fed Matilda. Luna laid down by our feet and waited for Matilda. I think they were both very tired.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Nine little ducklings!

Nine little ducklings!
Farm breed and hatched!
I love it when the girls raise ducklings of their own.
They are so protective and mothering.
They both laid the eggs in the same nest and both set the nest.
Side by side.
I have to give the ducklings starter feed and a water jug
because they can not get into the "pool" yet.
 I have a bird feeder that I set without the stand.
It is the right size for the little ducklings.
They will be able to take a bath and splash around.
I love springtime on the farm!!!

9 Muscovy ducklings and their mothers!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Apple orchard

John bought cider apple trees and has been "mothering" them for the past two years.
We planted them in the "Apple Orchard" this spring.
I think he has twenty out there now.
We plan to make our own apple cider, both light and hard.
Will now have to invest in an apple press.
I think it can work as a grape press too for wine.
He got 26 regular apple trees in the other day. 
Apples like Granny Smith, Fuji, Macintosh, Arkansas Black, Red and Gold Delicious.
He planted them in the small buckets to keep a watch on for the next two years.
Farming is very time consuming!
So much planning goes into every little thing.
But isn't it beautiful!

Sharing with the chickens

Luna has killed a couple of chickens during this learning experience.
I don't know if they are fun to catch, if she is bored, or if she is hungry.
 I feed her in the evenings when I put everyone away in their pens.
The chickens eat her food during the day so I can't put too much out at a time.
(I would go broke in dog food!)
So she has food in the evenings and all during the night into the morning.
But a little girl will get hungry during the day and I am trying
to figure a way to feed her without the chickens being able to get to her food.
It is easy to separate her from the sheep.
But if Luna can get there the chickens can too.

What do we have here?
Stay out of my bucket!

Saturday, April 27, 2013


Yesterday morning I could not get Matilda to eat.
 I thought maybe she didn't like the taste of the bottle.
So I made a new batch of "Lily's Milk" to add to her formula.
But at lunch time she still wouldn't eat.
She slept most of the morning.
With Luna right next to her.
In the evening Matilda was at her feeding spot at the fence.
So I guess she got over whatever was making her sick.
She was right there again this morning waiting for her bottle.
Between bottles she is grazing like a big cow
and then setting and chewing her cud.
It wont be long before I can wean her.
 Luna and Matilda spend much of their day together.
Luna will miss her when she gets to join her herd.
Taking a Nap on this misty day.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sunshine has her calf

Arkansas Sunshine is my mother-in-law, Eva's cow. Her first "herd" as she called it. John gave her to his mother Christmas 2009. Since then Sunshine has had Moonshadow in 2011
and now we have Stardust.
Stardust is a little heifer also.
So now she really does have a herd.
I name my cows for their saint day.
And my daughter's first cow was Millie, St. Mildred, one of the original summer 6. 
But since then Sara has named all her cows after the movie "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers".
Taking off where they left in the alphabet.
So her first little heifer was Hannah.
 Isabelle was born in 2012.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Swallows return again

I don't think I mentioned that over two years ago we began building the house on the farm. We began the foundations on December 5, 2010. We had the well dug. And the septic system laid out. And tried to build as much of the house by driving through the pastures but the rainy spring caught us and I had to build a road to get the last of the concrete trucks to the hill. We built the house into the side of a hillside because we live in tornado alley and a safe room is very desirable.We are still working on the last touches as we live in the house. Hopefully we will finish soon. But that isn't really the story.

The story is about the swallow that built her nest on the side of the safe room concrete wall. The room was dark and cool. She had a couple of 2" holes through the wall to come and go as well as the doorway. She had four eggs. The nest was an amazing work of structure. It was made from slender sticks and spit/glue. It was flat on one side and stuck to the wall! She came and went all through the spring. If we came close to the safe room she would fly out and create a sound like a ghost. You know, like a spooky ghost sound. It would start low and soft and build to a very high and loud ooowwwOOOWWW! I think it was a combination of her wings and a squeal. She was so quick and would fly every direction, from the small holes or through the door. We never knew where she would come from.We waited until she had raised her young and they had flown away before we closed in the last door in the rest of the house.

The summer of 2012 they were back. Since they couldn't get into the safe room, they built under the eaves and under porches. I think all four came back. We had company under our front porch all last summer. And they have returned this year! And to our amazement one has returned to the very same nest under the front porch.  This year we can sit by the window and watch her without causing too much disturbance. The mess on the front porch is worth the show!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Lamb Update

Well, Ava had a little ram lamb that did not make it. It was still-born with a missing lower jaw. I know that is a strange thing to write but these things happen on a farm. After research, I have learned that sheep and goats inherently have jaw and throat problems. This is a trait of which I have to be very aware and make sure there is no interbreeding.

So this spring the young ewes had five lambs between them, four rams and a ewe lamb. That means that I have one ewe lamb I can register as a full Katahdin this year, Bernadette. The other ewe lambs will be kept as part of a commercial flock. I will keep Bella, Bebe, Bette, Lily and BobbySue. They were all from a twin or triplet set and carry the gene for multiple births.

Early in the morning

It is early in the morning and I have just fed the sheep and let the chickens out of the coop.
The chickens will run to where the sheep and rams have been fed to get the left over grain.
And then they have to have a drink of water.
The most important thing on a farm is water.
Water and a good fence. But mainly water.

Drinking from the sheep trough
Any opportunity for water.

Wake up everyone!!

This is what we hear every morning.
It is at least 4 am.
I have three roosters, two Buff Orpingtons and this Plymouth Rock.
We also keep Road Island Reds and Delaware hens as well as the others

Monday, April 1, 2013

One more to go.

Waiting on one more of my young ladies to lamb.
Ava is still due.
But this is the spring line-up so far.
Abby and her little boy, Bodie.
Aisling and my ewe, Bernadette
Alise and the twins, Brass and Bolt

And Adele's boy, Bennett

Familly Picture

Honey's family gathered for Easter pictures
Someone asked me the other day if the sheep knew their family and if they ever were together. Strangely enough, the sheep do recognize their family unit and stay together a lot.
(so do the cows)
Here we have a family photo of Honey and her new lamb, Bess, born this February
and then Adele with her new little one, Bennett.
I have been able to pick up Bennett because Adele is even friendlier than Honey.
Of course Adele was born on the farm and has been with me for a year now.
If I am setting down close to her, Adele will come over to smell my hair.
She tries to nibble it and I have to watch for that. Or I get my hair pulled!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Maggie's little boy!

Maggie had her calf on Sunday.
Maggie is one of our first summer girls.
She had Martin in 2011. Martin may be our next herd bull.
Or maybe this little guy. His name is Gabriel. Good looking and very active! Maggie was to be a show heifer, her first year, 
but she was a little too skittish for the ring. She is a very good cow.
Alas she could not be a show cow now because she has lost her tail switch. 
We don't know if she caught it on something or if she got a grass fever.
But she is no longer perfect.
Pretty perfect to us.

Morning play

I start every morning giving the rams their all-grain, and then the ewes. And then Luna and I feed Lily. After we return Lily to the fields (yes I caught that) we feed Matilda. She has started bawling like every other animal. Breakfast is a very loud time of day.  She and Luna do a little dance and then we get to business. She gets a couple handfulls of  "calf starter" now, a solid pellet feed that helps her stomachs develop, as well as her bottle.  In the morning before the chickens are let out of the coop, Luna runs around looking at the barn and tries to lick Matlida's face like she does to Lily. But Matilda will not have that. Then we let the chickens out and Luna chases them while I feed the ducks and the geese. Luna hasn't caught a chicken yet. It will be interesting to see what she does with it. And then Luna and I take a walk to open the gate to the lower field for the sheep. Soon Luna will begin one-on-one sheep training. She won't be my puppy anymore but will belong to the sheep. I think we will still have our mornings together.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring Lambs

I went out to feed the last Friday morning and was met by a wonderful sight.
I hope I never get over the feeling of seeing a new lamb.
She was a single ewe born to one of the Mickle ewes.
She is so tiny and yet so fully formed and on her feet so quickly to nurse and follow her mom.
I like to watch the other lambs treat her with curiosity and also with care.
As she gets days older she will begin to play with the older lambs.
They will let her butt them in the face and will gently rub her face in return.  
She is the beginning of the spring lambs.
I have 6 more ewes to lamb. 
I expect between 6 and 11 more lambs.
And that is if I don't have any more triplets! "Heaven forbid!"

Feeding Matilda

On Saturday, March 9, we had a new calf on the farm. One of our first drops in the summer of '09, Maria, had her second calf. She came up to the corral to feed with the others and she was very skinny. Too skinny. She had calved and she was not looking good. We watched her and eventually found the calf. The next morning we went to check on them and she was away from the calf. We found the calf because the buzzards were circling above the woods. The calf had not moved from the night before. Not a good sign. So I carried her out of the woods and went to the house to mix a bottle of colostrum. John checked on Maria and then came up to the house to get penicillin for her. We spent the first week bottle feeding and trying to get the calf strong enough to nurse. Maria was still making milk but the little heifer would not latch on. So on Sunday we moved "Matilda" to the sheep barn, close to the house. And now my day includes bottle feeding a calf.

John said something the other morning about having to feed my dogs in town every day. Which consists of putting dry dog food in a bowl.  I told him I had just fed his cow. I think it was about 7am. He grinned and said he loved me. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Water on the farm!

Lake  spillway

We have had over 5 inches of rain this year! It is needed so much here on the farm and all over the country this year. We have to have all our ponds and lake filled before summer or we won't be able to water the animals. We have had a drought for the past two years and they say this year will be the same. Right now though we are doing great. Hopefully this will bring a great first cutting for the hay and we will be able to fill the barn again. We had to feed the cows in July because there was no good grass on the fields. But right now the Lake is full and the spillway is more than overflowing. And the grass is turning green!

Man made lake on farm

The lake is man made by taking three ridges and damming between two of them. On the right as you go up about thirty feet is the spillway. The lake covers approximately two acres. Not a really big lake but it is a great reservoir. And it has great fishing! Bass as long as a man's forearm! 

View from the top

The view from on top of the lake is just beautiful!

In this view you can see the sheep in pasture 5A. The first time I saw this view, before we bought the land, I could not even imagine that we would have sheep. And that I would be bottle feeding a little lamb.

We need to do some work on the spillway though because so much rain runs through it at times that we may be starting another Grande Canyon! We need to add some large rocks in the flow line to slow the water and erosion. But that's a job for another day.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Who is watching the sheep?

Well, we have decided we like the farm, the taste of sheep poo, rolling in the low piles of hay, chasing the chickens and playing with Lily. Not fond of being in the pen at night but otherwise really getting use to farm life.
Oh, John calls her pen, "the Lunipen"! Ha!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Luna meets Lily

Luna was very excited to meet Lily!
Lily has a tendency to get the milk from her bottle all over her face and sometimes her neck.
Luna was licking the milk from Lily's face and neck. She wasn't trying to suck on the bottle!
I think it is good for Luna to get this close to a lamb and Lily is tolerating it to a certain degree.
I hope it will help me train Luna.
Lily is about to be weaned so there won't be too many more bottles.
She grazes with the others and if I don't have a bottle
she will go about her business of eating grass.
But she will get use to Luna before she is weaned.



Training Luna

I now have a Great Pyrenese puppy. Her name is Luna.
She is 8 weeks old. So cute and loving.
She is actually 3/4 GP and 1/4 Komondor.
And so the training begins.
We are spending alot of time setting in the sheep fields and walking beside the sheep.
At first they were a little agressive towards her. They tried and once succeeded to butt her in the head. Not a great beginning.
But now we are all a little more calm.
Bella even came up to smell her.
And after this mornings walk they all came up and set next to Luna's pen.
Luna's pen is next to their feeding trough and mineral block.
They will have to get to know her and trust her. But it will take time.
I plan to get a male in about three months. Luna can help me train him.
But for now....

Monday, February 25, 2013

Goose Goose Duck

I have always heard folks talk about being attacked by geese and being afraid of them. I have never had any of the geese attack me until the other day.
I have five geese, two white Embden females and one male, and a male and female grey Toulouse. I have had to separate them into their type of geese because the white male was terrorizing the grey male and one of them was roughing up the grey female. A white female (or both) is nesting and the male is VERY protective. As he should be. And now he has decided that I am the enemy, too. He has charged me before and I just grab him by the neck. But one of the guinea hens had gotten into the goose pen and I needed her out and to her roost for the night.  I went into the goose pen and he attacked me! I grabbed him by the neck and he bit the sleeve of my coat. And when that wasn't enough he hit me with his wings. Didn't hurt me of course but surprised me and was kind of funny. I think I will stay out of the pen as much as possible. I don't want to terrorize them. Hopefully the female will hatch the goslings. They would be the first geese born on the farm and it would be quite wonderful.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Chicken in the night

My husband and I were woken up at three this morning by what sounded like a cat close to the house. We don't have a cat. We got up and turned on the outside lights but could not see anything. This morning we found a trail of feathers leading from the back of the house, past the side yard and to the front field gate. Something got a chicken this morning. John followed the trail of feathers to the back and found a nest with fourteen brown eggs. Apparently she has not been coming into the chicken coop at night and had set up her own little nest.

The chickens are free range and I don't have any idea how many I have now. I count the guineas because I am down to five. And I have three roosters. But the chickens are mostly on their own. They have to make it back into the coop at night and then I shut the door. Last evening, two of the chickens were outside the west coop door which is closed due to the sheep. I had to pick them up and set them into the coop. They had already started to roost on the ground.
I have cooked the fourteen eggs for the chickens. They need the protein. I have to cook the eggs because I don't want to encourage them to eat raw eggs.

I will need to get new chicks this spring. I have some chickens that are two years old and  the rest are just over a year. I will need to replace and add to the flock to keep the egg production. The older chickens will slow down egg laying and will eventually go into the soup pot.
I think it is interesting that so much of the farming is about food production. I know that sounds apparent and I guess we could just set on the porch or take long walks. But my day is about keeping animals healthy and alive until we can kill them.