Monday, June 29, 2009

Crowded house

The martin house is a frenzy of activity these days. I expect that the mama birds are grateful when nightfall arrives and all those baby birds settle down to sleep. All day long, the adults are flying back and forth bringing food to babies that are practically bursting out of the nest boxes. I imagine any day now the flying lessons will commence. (Can you see in the top, middle nest compartment? There are three little heads sticking out! Click to biggify.)

We've had a much needed break in the temperature and humidity here. Saturday was so hot and sticky, just breathing was a chore. Yesterday was hot, but there was a definite change in the air as the day wore on. Today is the perfect summer day. Low humidity and temperatures in the 80's. Thank goodness. All that heat and humidity makes me pretty cranky (ask Mike!).

We spent most of our Sunday trying to catch up on the mowing. Mike gets the big (air-conditioned with stereo!) tractor, while I whiz around on the ZTR (zero turning radius) mower. So, for a brief moment in time, we can enjoy the fact that the yard and all the pastures within sight of the house are freshly mowed.
Not that it matters a bit to most of the residents around here, since their days are spent just like this!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wallenda's** world

This was the scene in the barn this morning. These two are so comical. They don't even have to do anything but just sit there and they're funny.

**Thanks to Melanie at Our Wee Farm for the suggestion of a great name for the chick!!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Father's Day activities

So, what to do on an extremely hot and muggy Father's Day? First, get up really early and head to the barn. Then round up all the sheep, llama and alpacas. Gather all your equipment and supplies and set to work. That is how we spent about 4 hours yesterday morning and it was not my idea, but I will admit I'm glad we did it and that it's now behind us for a few months. Yesterday was the day Mike decided we should worm every critter on the place, finish the lamb's vaccinations, trim feet if necessary and generally give everyone a good going over. We were able to go through the flock and make the hard decisions about who should stay and who should go, assess the lamb's fleeces and begin to think about Fall 2009 breeding season. That's quite a lot to accomplish in one morning.

Unfortunately for Mike, because his children live away from here, he does not get to see them on a regular basis and Father's Day is not the family celebration Mike deserves. As parents, we want our children to become independent and responsible adults, but the downside to that is they sometimes choose to live far enough away that we don't get to enjoy being with them as often as we would like. It's a bit of a conundrum. So, though there was no traditional Father's Day cookout and family togetherness, I did try to make the day be about however Mike wanted to spend it. (I personally might have chosen something different than worming sheep, but that's just me, I guess!)

The donkey girls got some new personal accessories yesterday. I was thinking they would have been appropriate Christmas gifts, just because of the colors. Of course, there are no pesky flies at Christmas, so the masks make better presents in June. That's Fannie in the red and Jenny in the green. They were pretty skittish about wearing them in the beginning, but adjusted quickly to not having to continually shake the flies off their faces. We've been trying to come to grips with placing the donkeys with someone who could give them more attention. We enjoy them so much, but feel they deserve to get more hand's on time than we are able to give them. Part of raising livestock is caring about the quality of their day-to-day lives and knowing when someone else could provide a better situation for them. Though, as with our children, actually letting them go is not so easy.

Hope your week is full of cool and quiet moments to enjoy your day-to-day life, wherever you are.

Friday, June 19, 2009


It's too hot and too humid here (both in the 90's). Too hot to do anything. I feel guilty about being in air-conditioning when my animals are out in the heat, wearing wooly coats at that! Makes me wish for an air-conditioned barn! Don't ask me why they are all clumped up under that one tree when there are many, many trees to spread out under. Misery loves company, maybe? There's a little breeze and if today is like every other day this week, by mid-afternoon we will have a huge thunderstorm that will cool things down for a little while. This is called summer in Kentucky (my least favorite season).

I'm determined to have some knitting content on here in the next few days. I do still knit....really, I do.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Where's my dinner?

or lunch, or breakfast? My husband loves to ask that question in a funny sort of way. He says it in a funny sort of way and sometimes I think it's funny and sometimes I don't (because I know he really means it in a serious sort of way!). Usually, I reply that I don't know where his lunch is and maybe he should look around for it (or maybe fix it himself). Of course, I'm the cook around here, so it is up to me to come up with dinner, but not so much with the breakfasts and lunches. I like the idea of it being self-serve for those meals. Over the weekend, both nights while I was assembling dinner, I noticed the above situation on the counter or the work-table. Food being prepared or served.........and, a nice little pile of fleece that had recently been washed and was being admired and fondled. I know the sight of sheep's wool on the counter right next to the food might gross some people out. Luckily, no one in this household is affected in such a way. In the 10+ years we've been married, Mike has adjusted to having a lot of fibery stuff around and I don't think he has ever complained about it. I guess that's worth fixing a few breakfasts and lunches........just to be nice.

The self-serve season of the year has started for the sheep, llama, alpacas and donkeys. The dogs, barn cats, peafowl and chickens still get daily service, but everyone else out there can start fending for themselves. Uh oh, here comes James Bond.........he's looking for a bottle and he means business.

I'm in the process of weaning the bottle lambs and they are not one bit happy about it. We are down to one bottle a day now, and though they are fat as butter-balls, they still run up to me like they are starving to death and proceed to climb all over me to see who can get the first swig. It's to the point where I need to have on jeans to keep from having hoof print bruises on my lower half! I'm ready to be finished with preparing and washing bottles for the year.

And one other weaning update.......Pippi is finally resigned to being away from her mom and is hanging out with the lambs full time now. I'm hoping she will grow into the same patient, long-suffering kind of lamb companion as her mother. Notice crumbs on her face? She still gets a little something, whenever I can sneak it to her!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Graduation days

It's that time of year when so much is happening. So many steps taken in the direction of becoming an independent being.....all grown up and on your own. Last week I attended the high school graduation of my oldest grand-daughter, Jordan, (who graduated with honors, I might add!). I remember when she was born, as if it were yesterday. After raising three sons, I was thrilled to finally have a girl in the family. Now, she is an accomplished young woman, who has earned a full scholarship to U of L, and has plans to become a pediatric nurse. And she is as sweet as she is intelligent. I'm very proud to be her "Nana" (can you tell?). That's her equally proud father, my middle son, Chris, standing next to her.

On the farm front, we had our own version of graduation early this week. The lambs and the ewes have gone out to pasture and are no longer being put into the barn every night. That's a big step because it means much less barn work for me. The lambs are now under the protection of our Great Pyrenees dogs during the night, so when I hear the coyotes, I also listen to hear the dogs barking in response. It's comforting to know they are on the job and up to the task.
A few days ago, I caught Lottie napping with a smile on her face. Doesn't she look happy? (You know she's a girl because of the ear tag in her right ear. Boys get tagged in the left ear.) I can really start to see the lamb's fleece characteristics about now and I'm pretty happy with what I'm seeing. Life on the farm is all about life cycles and looking ahead and I'm already anticipating getting to spin Lottie's fleece, even though it will be almost a year before she will be shorn.

Sorry about this post being such a mish-mash. It's an indication of my mental state, I think! The weekend is nearly here and right now I'm looking ahead to clearer thinking times.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Snack time

This is what happens when there are sheep pastures just on the other side of the fence from the landscaping in your yard. I love, love, love hydrangeas (I guess sheep do too) and have many varieties that are finally starting to look as though they have been here for a while. My step-daughter's wedding was here at the farm 4 1/2 years ago and that "inspired" us to really get busy and finish the landscaping and spiff things up a bit. My husband joked at the time that if we could have just one more wedding (meaning his son's), then we might finally get caught up on all the projects that needed finishing around here. (Nothing like a little pressure to speed up the process!) This hydrangea bush is planted outside the garden fence and next to our little pet cemetery. Look closely and you will see that this girl has stuck her head through a small, square opening in the fence to snack on a morsel or two of hydrangea leaves. (This is often how the sheep manage to pull out their ear tags---by snagging it on the fence when they retreat.) I have to say, her expression caused me to laugh out loud, when I should have been scolding.

I'm not the type to have (and maintain) any sort of formal landscape. When we had a plan drawn out for landscaping around the farmhouse, I specifically requested that it look like nothing more than an old fashioned country yard, with hydrangeas, viburnum, hollys and lilacs. The part I didn't envision was two Great Pyrenees lounging behind the hydrangeas and amongst the hostas and daylilies. What we seem to have created is an ever evolving series of snacking and napping spots!

Happy summer Monday! I hope your week includes some time for snacking and napping!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Flying high

Saturday evening, after spending a day working outside, we decided we may as well vaccinate and de-worm the new lambs (given that we were already incredibly dirty and sweaty) before coming to the house and calling it quits for the day. Separating the lambs from their mothers is always a bit of a rodeo event, so we try to get through it as quickly as we can. All in all, I'm pleased with the way the lambs look at this point in the season. They are starting to really get into the creep feed and are growing into good size lambs. Except for one slightly messy bottom, every one of them looked great. (The lamb with the messy bottom got a dose of Specto-guard and a quick rear-end scrub job in the big sink. Needless to say, I ended up wetter than the lamb when it was all over.)

It may be hard to imagine, especially if you don't live with a collection of animals, but every day brings a new drama. Saturday evening when we walked into the barn, Mrs. Dandy was on a rafter high in the top of the barn and her chick was sitting on top of the feed bunks. We watched, incredulously, as the chick tried to fly up to where it's mother was roosting. She was "talking" to the chick the whole time, obviously encouraging it to keep trying. The chick is maybe 5 inches tall and doesn't really have a body built for flying, but rail by rail the little thing kept going up and up. The top of the barn is easily 30 feet above the ground, if not higher, and all I could think of was how bad it would be if the chick missed his landing spot. When the chick got to within one rail of where Mrs. Dandy was sitting, I had to stop watching. The poor little thing was walking back and forth, stretching it's neck, screwing up the courage to make one final leap. After we finished with the lambs, we went back to check and there it was, all the way up and tucked up under Mrs. Dandy's wing. Amazing! Every night since, the daring feat has been repeated. I think I'm going to have to stop denigrating Mrs. Dandy's mothering instincts.