Thursday, December 31, 2009

Here is to Cheering in 2010!

Check. Done.
A year older. Don't think I am a year wiser. Still seem to have the same bills. Made more money but sure doesn't seem it. Oh, thats right, I forgot.....more animals. Gotta stop that.
Overall, I have to admit it, the year was fairly good esp. since there is a new principal at my school:) I have made progress with the gardens, finally getting all the picket fence up. This year the serious planting will commence. I have promised myself that this will be a year of learning about wool: the spinning, the knitting, the felting, the dying etc. Once I do this, I really think other plans will finally start to fall into place. I need to push myself harder and stay focused. There are many blogs that I have read that are true inspirations but I know that inspiration has to start with me and deciding that yes, I can do this, is truly the first step.

So, even amongst all the crappy excuses I might try to make in 2010, I have to ignore them and find that ray of sunshine, that ray of hope, that inspiration. Dixie's favorite place to hide her treats and bones is in the manure pile and when she finds them again, its like a big prize.
Perhaps there is a "prize" among all of those procrastinations and what ifs I have been coming up with.

So here is to cheering in 2010.........cheers to everyone who has stopped by my those who have taken the time to leave a those of you who have wonderful blogs that I enjoy cheering all small hobby farm/farmers and what they do........for cheering in the revitalization of farmer markets......and cheering in all those darn animals that make us smile everyday!!
In 2010 may many of our dreams come true!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

To Breed or Not

Perhaps its just that time of the year.........a time to reflect. Perhaps its just life itself. Perhaps its just me. Whichever it is, I have just been doing a lot of thinking about the direction of my little hobby farm. One of my "thinking" reflections is the direction of the sheep. The first sheep I purchased were the Black Cotswolds.
I truly love these guys. Hands down, they are docile, wonderfully wooly babies that just make me smile a hundred times over. Recently, I was looking at the Nebraska Sheep Breeders directory and noticed there were only 28 registered breeders for the Cotswolds. The Shetland, on the other hand, had well over 120 breeders. Of course, I know that not all of them are "premier breeders", some may just be offering wool/fleece for sale and may not in fact, even be breeders. Regardless, the registry for Shetlands has grown quite a bit in the past years. The more people breed, the more "changes" that can occur.
I acquired my first Shetland about 6 years ago, though my first lambs really only started in the past 3 years. This past spring I had a number of lambs born, most not planned due to my oversight on what a 6 month old ram lamb can do when left unsupervised with breeding ewes. Here nor there, lots of lambs came about. The ones that were sold went to wonderful people who took a chance on a "new breeder". The rest of lambs are here, the boys all wethered except for 3 that were left intact. This group of lambs is the most friendly, easy to work with group and basically has stolen my heart. It has made me realize that I did not go into sheep to just breed and cull. There has been way too much "conversation" amongst Shetland people that I really don't care for and I need to step away from it for this breeding season.
This year I have decided not to breed anyone. Now I am saying this and some ewe is out there laughing at me because I forgot to pull someone early enough and is going to surprise me at shearing time. But I have no intentions of breeding anyone. I want to enjoy what I have right now. I also have a lot coming up in April and May and I don't want to stress out about not being around. In April Dixie is going the Cardigan Nationals in Gettysburg with a professional handler (that would not be me:) My Dad and I are going to take a little 3 day vacation with her in Gettysburg. In May there is Washington D.C. for school and I am sure more things will arise.
Space is getting tight right now with the animals and until I put up more fenced pasture, I just want to enjoy what I have and work with some other plans I hope to get started.
One of those plans involves the garden. Lots of ideas and plans in this area but more on that in the next post.

So for now, thats the plan for the sheep. No breeding. No surprise lambs. Just a lot of fun, playing and loving with all the animals and maybe find some homes for some of the wethers.

I have this week off from school so more thinking and planning going on.........can one ever not think too much?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Amish Country with a 2nd Grader

Today was my day to make a quick drive down to Amish Country to pick up some oats ($14.30 for 100 lbs) and bird seed and pick up some last minute ingredients for baking because why would I have looked at all of my holiday magazine issues last month to decide what I wanted to make this Christmas......its much better to do it 3 days before Christmas when I have so much spare time.

My Dad and nephew Bobby came along for the ride. There was just enough snow to make for a nice drive. Bobby even said everything looked nice and for a second grader, I thought that was quite observant.

When we stopped at Maysville to get 300 lbs of oat I told Bobby to grab 3 of those bags and load them up......he found no humor in my directive.

I showed Bobby one of my favorite barns. When I asked him if he could live down in Amish country, he said that it he couldn't live without electricity because his video games would not work but he did like to look at their horses. Life is so complicated in second grade:)

Bobby spotted these horses pulling the wagon of feed. He wanted me to get a nice picture of it but then he wanted to know where the McDonald's was.........well at least he saw and learned some new things about Amish people. But he had to wait 30 more minutes 'till we
got to McDonald's. I think he said "Are we there yet?" about a half a dozen times!
Tomorrow is a baking and wrapping marathon day but I am sure I will find a little nap time in there somewhere:)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Finally......some white stuff!!!

Five days before Christmas eve and today was the first day in which snow fell from the sky!
I cannot recall a year when there was no measureable snow this close to Christmas.
Its so hard to get into the spirit of the holiday when all there is to look at is brown frozen ground.

My new snowman flag was finally looking festive!

Even the new garden gnome was looking much cuter with some snow on the ground.

"So, Ira do you think Santa is going to stop by this year?" asked Averill, gully ewe lamb. "I have been really good about not eating the pine trees when Mom lets me out."

"Well, all I know is us sheep have been really good so Santa will be good to us, "replied Ira, "but as for those goats, you know they are nosey, bossy creatures and they made a mess out of Mom's red ribbons on her Christmas wreathes so Santa might just leave them coal."

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Favorite Christmas Card

While I was unpacking the one too many Christmas totes of stuff I have, I came across a box of old Christmas cards that I saved. I always save my favorite ones that I receive and I always keep one of the cards that I send out to family and friends.
This is one of my favorite cards that I sent out a few years back. It is a Lang Card. The original painting is by Persis Clayton Weirs and is titled, "Julie & Friends".
There is just something about barnyard friends during the holidays and on a snowy winter day that tugs at the heart and makes me smile.
There must have been something I really liked about the card too............... seems I have a few sheep with the same markings.
Four days left 'till Christmas Break at school starts.........I'm lovin' it:)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Such is Life in December

December already. Three weeks before Christmas. Presents bought.......not much. My sister is done and so is my niece, a few for Mom and brother-in-law. Zip for Dad and zip for the nephew.
Got some good stuff for myself however at Bath & Body........I got their VIP bag because I bought so much stuff the day after Thanksgiving. The Twilight Woods Collection is quite nice btw. This year will be the first time that I can remember that I will have the whole week off before Xmas so I am kinda counting on that to get all the baking, wrapping etc done. I will tell no lie, I love those 2 weeks off at Xmas!!

The self-serve system is much appreciated by the lambs, I think it empowers them, like they are the big guys because they have it all to themselves. My little Glover finally broke the 20 lb marker!!! Yep, at 7 mos he is almost 22 lbs!! Are we sure there is no such thing as a miniature Shetland sheep? Glover actually has some exciting times coming up. He is going to be a star at the school Christmas concert! The first graders will be singing a Christmas song about the little shepherd boy and I will be sitting with Glover as all the little first graders are gathered around us singing. This should be pretty exciting for first graders who live in the inner city:)

On Sunday there was some beautiful sun but very chilly temps....perfect for some sheep sun bathing......oh, for a LaMancha goat named Crazy Daisy too. She gets confused on her identity every now and then.
One of the half polled black ram lambs left this weekend for his new home. It was exciting to have a visitor to the farm! I have been feeling jealous as his new home is on an organic farm with a woman who knits cool socks and has beautiful yarn. He gets to see the Green Mts of Vermont from his new home......he even gets to shop at the TSC in Bennington, VT!!! I am probably going to have to visit him one day just to make sure he is doing okay:)

I have no idea who owns all of these sheep btw...................

So it is December and there has been NO SNOW so far!! Three weeks before Christmas....perhaps a few inches of the white suff would be nice. Afterall, my mechanical reindeer look a tad ridiculous grazing on frozen brown ground.

Sheep Humor during the Holidays

I was looking for some holiday stuff for school and came across some sheepy humor.........
I don't think I will "offend" any readers with this type of holiday humor and if I do....... oh well .

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Huggable and Loveable

This past weekend the weather here in Ohio was just wonderful and the sheep were enjoying it and some were being "frisky". Someone forgot to pull tight on the gate to close it and some woolly bodies snuck their big selves out into the yard.

Ethan was found sampling some plants. I forget how big they are when they are out of their "gated community". I am not sure how much they actually weigh under all that wool, but I am thinking a good 150 lbs might be in the ballpark.

Ira on the left and Ethan on the right are 3 years old now and are named after The Green Mountain Boys of Vermont (Ethan and Ira Allan). They are truly the most loveable, huggable, silly wethers. Everyday I get a woolly Cotswold hug from them. Cotswolds were the first sheep I got and I could not image ever not having them on the little homestead.

Essex, the 8 month old white Cotswold ewe lamb, was not doing well about 2 weeks ago but with a lot of loving and babying she is doing much better and even had a little head rubbing with Dixie this past weekend.

Little Miss Addison is a Cotswold/Shetland cross. Jedidiah is her sire and she has the gully tear drops. Although she is almost the same age as Essex, she is much smaller like the Shetlands but is incredibly soft like Jed though has that long Cotswold fleece. She was not a planned breeding but I am so happy to have her!!! And she gives Cotswolds hugs too!

Seriously, everyone should have a long wool sheep to hug........esp. if its a rare breed like the Cotswolds........not that I am partial or anything:)

P.S. I was the someone who forgot to pull the gate shut:)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Goat Wreathes 101

First observe the new Christmas wreath on the shelter.
Create an audience so they they may take notes on how to correctly sample the new wreath. Sheep are not audience worthy as they can not stretch and stand as we do.
Note: using an upside down bucket left by the wreath hanger may assist in this process.
Nigerians may be at a disadvantage as they are one of those "dwarf" breeders and therefore do not have the stretching compacity as real milk breeding goats like us LaManchas have. Nigerians would best be advised to use the bucket assistance as mentioned above.
LaManchas under the age of one year may also need the bucket assistance program.

Younger LaManchas may also want to consider the "jump at the object" method also.

If you have any questions about "Goat Wreathes 101" please drop me, "Mooshie" an email.
Please don't ask about the ear thing..........its getting to be an old question:)
Happy Holiday to Everyone!!!!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

How a Single Farm Woman Builds a Barn

There are many things that I tackle as being a single woman hobby farmer. Somethings I am good at; something things not so good at. Building barns and putting up fences are the not so good things and I refuse to frustrate myself with trying as I am sure it would end up costing me more money in the long run.
My barn space as gotten a tad crowd this past year with all the lambs and adding a few more LaManchas. So panic set in last month as I knew I should add more shelter for the winter.
Off I went to one of my favorite places, Amish Country and to see my favorite Amish man who built my chicken coop and 8x10 lean-to.
Mr. Troyer, owner of KT Barn Structures in Millersburg, has the most perfect animal shelters and is just a wonderful person to work with, especially because he puts up with someone like me who is always changing my mind on what I want:)
Once I got my gate up and the weather cooperated my (well the animals) new shelter was ready for delivery.

All loaded up on a trailer it was backed in through the gate.
Positioned in the right place, it was loaded off the trailer (those are chicken screens in front that were inside the barn but are going to another farm but not before I scoped them out for my coop....more ideas:).

New shelter in position and ready for the animals inspection.

Checking out all the corners. That is Sassy the bossy Nigerian who is trying to lay claim to the barn over Ira who is like twice her size.......she is such a total "B".

See, how easy that was?
No fuss. No hurting myself with tools. No swearing involved because I can't figure out how to build something. No prolonged delays in production due to a thousand excuses on my behalf.
Done deal.
Now which one of those animals is going to pay the bill?
Oh, I forgot it was my Christmas gift to them.
I wonder what they will be getting me this year?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Those Silly Lambies

I baby my sheep way too much.
I truly treat each and everyone of them like they are one of my kids.
Sometimes I let the lambies out when I am just doing things around the yard.
And sometimes I just have to run in the house to use the bathroom.

I guess I need to explain that to some of the lambies.
Sometimes they just follow me everywhere.
Perhaps they were thinking I would let them in also............
Sometimes I can only do so much for my lambies.
But I do appreciate their little sense of humor:)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Just one of those days

Today was just one of those days. So many things to do and not wanting to do any of them.So I got an attitude and did very little:)The "boys" on the farm are being "boys" today and acting pathetic. I told them to get over it as I have made NO decisions on breeding. Jedidiah is the ONLY ONE who might get lucky with 1 or 2. I just want to enjoy the sheep I have right now.
I want to enjoy Essex, my white Cotswold ewe lamb who has not been feeling well and I have been giving her a lot of TLC.

I want to enjoy these 2 ewe lambs grow up.

I just want to sit and appreciate my sheep and learn from them.
And besides that, I am adding a new breed here........just one ewe lamb, hopefully white too:)
Lots of thoughts and ideas on the homestead.

Thank goodness I will have a few months inside to reflect and plan for upcoming changes.
So many things to do.........

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Are U Lost Little Lamb?

So I admit I have been babying some of the lambs........partial preference on a rotational basis as not to offend any one lamb........I must be politically correct in my babying as not to discriminate against the parents, fleece type and/or ewe vs. wether, color etc.
Today in my babying routine today, I lost a fawn kat wether (he was spotlighted in the previous post). Of course, calling him was pointless. I looked everywhere thinking I missed seeing him. I was trying to avoid panic mode but I was getting close.
Then inside the garden picket area I saw this................. inquiring "weight challenaged" beagle at the chicken coop door. So I ventured over to see what he was inquiring about.

And there was my little lost lamb...............freeloading with the chickens.
Good grief. He is like a food magnet. I had left the gate partially open into the garden area not even thinking twice that one of the lambs would find their way in, let alone into the chicken coop.

I know he is a little wether, but that is a little chicken coop door too.
Now I know that he knows that there is food in there........I am one up on him now:)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Picnic in November?!?!

Yes, today is Saturday, November 14th. Almost a week and a half before Thanksgiving and today it was 70 degrees with blue skies and the sun. A perfect day to be outside. Perfect enough to cook hotdogs outside over a mid-November!!!!!

My parents brought my niece and nephew over today to enjoy this beautiful weather. Everyone helped trimming up my huge willow tree of dead branches of which we used to have our fire. My niece and nephew enjoyed our campfire. The fire was low while they roasted hotdogs of course. I, however, find hotdogs replusive and made a BLT:)

Miss Gracie was busy picking out seeds from this huge gourd so we can dry the seeds out and hopefully plant them next year. She loved getting her fingers all gooey.

Everyone was enjoying the picnic including Dixie and my Mom. Notice the picnic crashers coming up in the back..............

Yep, even some of the lambs didn't want to miss out on the picnic!

Some lambs were even were looking for a free handout.

So, they got treated to the gourd when Miss Gracie was done getting some of the seeds. The little kat ram lamb, well actually a wether now, has button scurs and is just a sweetie. I hated to wether him carries nice polled genes but it had to be done as he did not sell.

Isn't there a saying about being "half out of your gourd"????

All in all it was a beautiful day. Dad and I put up this new gate.....a nice 12 ft. gate. Reason for the new gate one might ask? Well, Christmas is coming early to Harvest Thyme, hopefully it will be this Friday as a matter-of-fact! And in order for the sheep and goats to get their Christmas gift, I had to install this $125.00 gate!!!!
Honestly, the things I do for these animals!!!!
Stay tuned for early Christmas at Harvest Thyme!!!