Friday, April 29, 2011

There's sweet and innocent....and then there's blurry

Like all babies, lambs sleep an awful lot. As they get older and more confident, they love to romp and play with the other lambs. If you've ever been watching the lambcam when the ewes come into the barn and head for the feeders, you can see lambs jumping and racing and having fun together. When they've had their romp, they tend to settle in a pile and nap until the moms are finished eating. When I come into the barn most mornings, each ewe has her lambs gathered around her and they are all sleeping in little family groups.
Luna and Birdie don't have a mom to cuddle up against (I'm their mom, but I draw the line at sleeping in the barn every night), but they do have each other (and their heat lamp on chilly nights). Last week I was sitting out in the sunshine with my girls and while Birdie could not settle down (no surprise there), Luna was so happy and content to just soak up the warmth. I watched her as she drifted off to sleep and thought how much she reminded me of my own sweet and innocent when they were sleeping.

Birdie, on the other hand, can almost never be caught napping. There's just too much to see and do and she needs to be on the lookout, just in case I happen to have a bottle around somewhere. I wouldn't say she has a look of innocence about her, either! (and yes, I know it's a blurry, not so great picture, but when you're trying to capture a moving target, sometimes blurry is the best you can get!)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Opinions, please

I've been doing a little dyeing lately, though not near as much as I should have done by now. The Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival is fast approaching and I'm running out of time to get myself ready.

 These skeins are a small sample of what I''m working on right now. So, here's where I need your help. The skeins are arranged in pairs that have been dyed exactly the same. The only difference is that one of each pair has been rewound so the colors are a little more subtle. Mike and I have been discussing which version is more visually appealing for a knitter to think about knitting with. He has his opinion and I have mine and I think we need some other folks to weigh in on this! What do you think?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Let them eat cake...

I can't remember when I last did a post about cooking or baking. This past weekend, I did a lot of both and remember thinking I should take some photos in progress, but I did not. I only thought of it again after the food had a definite ravaged look! Not so pretty for posting on the blog. This cake is a favorite around here and was the second of two that I baked for Easter weekend. It's Ina Garten's Lemon Yogurt Cake (Ina never fails me). This is all that's left and it will probably be gone by tomorrow! I also baked the Ponchatoula Strawberry cupcakes from the "Screen Doors and Sweet Tea" cookbook. The grandchildren made pretty quick work of those.

There were 22 here for dinner yesterday.  Luckily the rain stopped long enough for the grandkids to get outside for an egg hunt and make several trips to the creek and barn. Since my first grandchild was old enough to walk, I've kept a collection of barn boots in all sizes for the kids to wear when they are visiting. The barn and the creek are irresistible and really shouldn't fun stuff like that be part of visiting Nana and Mike's farm? (there's also a box of clothing when a change into something dry is needed...usually following a trip to the creek) Mike's daughter, Katie, was in visiting from Iowa, so we had the whole gang here. Having all our our children here together at the same time usually only happens at Thanksgiving or Christmas, so that made the day even more special.

Spring has really sprung around here. The lilacs are just going out of bloom and the poppies are ready to burst open. I'm happy to report that my bees survived the winter and appear to being working away busily. There's plenty of work out there for all at Tanglewood this time of year. Happy Spring!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

April showers

I'm thinking we are due a whole heck of a lot of flowers in May because the amount of April "showers" we are getting is ridiculous. Last week we had a total of 6.5 inches of rain. Fortunately, we live on a hill and don't have to worry about our house being flooded (unless it turns into a 40 days and 40 nights thing). On the other hand, our steep farm road has washed considerably and will need many tons of rock to repair it. The worst of all is that I have had to keep the sheep inside the barn all day during the rain. The lambs are just too small to be soaked and chilled without them getting sick. The barn is a mess and I'm nearly out of bedding, so it makes me grumpy just to look at their pen. It's a little too juicy, if you get my drift. All right, I guess I've vented enough.

The triplets I've been supplementing are doing great and I've begun weaning them off the bottle. They are not happy about it, but I'm into my fourth bag of milk replacer and it's starting to add up. Luna and Birdie have gone to three bottles a day and they're not happy either. So, basically, we're all kinda cranky around here!

Oh....but it's not raining ('s on the way) and I can practically hear the grass growing in the fields and the leaves popping out on the trees. It gives me hope.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Musical Fields

It seems as though spring may actually have arrived here in Kentucky and a few mornings ago,  I had an overwhelming urge to move everyone around. It was kinda like that urge to open all the windows and rearrange the furniture. I just have to do it once in a while. (which makes Mike a little anxious because he never, ever likes to change things around)

The ewes and lambs have been in the pastures adjoining the barn, so in the mornings, I just open the side doors and out they go. So easy, for all concerned. The problem is there's hardly any grass in those fields because of the drought last year. The fields have not had time to recover and need to be given a rest. So, I moved the yearling ewes to what we call the triangle field (it was a triangle once, but no longer is), moved the alpaca boys with Buddy and Henry to the driveway field (where the road leads to the back of the farm) and took the ewes, lambs, Strawberry and Pippi through the back barnyard and into the square field (which really is square). Believe it or not, this was the easiest option available and it still caused a fair amount of chaos. It takes a while for the lambs to catch on to any change in routine and for them this morning was pretty exciting. There was a lot of baa-ing back and forth because the ewes ran straight into the field and started grazing and about half the lambs were left standing in the barnyard trying to figure out what just happened. You've heard the expression "like trying to herd cats"? Well, that's what herding lambs is like! They pretty much go anywhere but where you want them to go. Finally, a few of the ewes came back to collect their babies and the rest followed along. Evenings, when they come back into the barn, will be the same amount of confusion for a few days. Eventually, the lambs catch on and the routine will work for the rest of their lives here at Tanglewood.
Here comes trouble!

Looking for something?

Having everyone out in the square field meant that Luna and Birdie could be in the back barnyard all by themselves.They've still not been with the whole flock because Luna is too small and still a little too frail. I sat out there and watched them explore their big new world. Birdie is always bright-eyed, alert and getting into everything. Luna takes her time, stops to smell and look at everything and comes back to me for a little reassuring cuddle once in a while. Given their different temperaments, it will be interesting to see if they remain good buddies when they do join the flock.

Mark my words,
this one will be unlatching the gates and opening the feed bins before long!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Cute, cute, cute

This is so cute! I can hardly wait for Susan's workshops and book signing at the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival in May!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Meet and Greet

Last week, we had two rather significant events here on the farm. One of our home-grown llamas graduated and has gone on to hopefully begin training for a career (more on that later) and two new members joined our fiber flock. I'm always cautious about how I introduce new animals to the rest of the gang here. Usually there's no drama, but it's always better to err on the side of caution. I pulled the trailer into the back barnyard, opened the door and stood back. After spending some time trying to figure out how they happened to land in this place, the boys came off the trailer and went straight to the gate for a meet and greet. There was a lot of sniffing, but that's about all. Normally, I might quarantine new arrivals, but all of our alpacas came from the same farm and I had no misgivings about putting them together.

Our alpacas came from Seldom Scene Farm, right here in Woodford county. My friend, Lindy, has a beautiful farm, right on the Kentucky river at the other end of the county from our farm.  Her farm is famous in alpaca circles and has a reputation for producing wonderful animals. We have strictly fiber boys in order to blend their fleeces with the wool from our sheep.

I'm happy to observe that the new boys have integrated into the herd with no problems, possibly because they are younger and smaller and are being submission to the older animals. The timing for bringing the new boys home is just about perfect. Shearing day for the alpacas is April 20th, when they will all load into the trailer for the short ride back to Seldom Scene, where the shearers will be working. Hopefully, this year, I'll have the presence of mind to take my camera and actually use it.

Spring is trying really hard to arrive here in the Bluegrass state. Yesterday was warm and sunny, though a bit windy. Today is warm, but cloudy and extremely windy, which signals rain and a cold front heading our way. This morning I mowed the house yard and part of the barnyard and yesterday the Purple Martin scouts appeared on the porches of their house; all signs that the long, hard winter is over!