News and blog
Sorry, its been a while since my last update. So many things going on not sure where to start.
Jonah is becoming quite the dominant pig around town. He has no problem butting the sheep and the cows out of the way if there is something he really wants (meaning food). He does sit on command and calls when he hears his name - Jonah=food. Yesterday, Golda finished eating most of her dinner and walked away. Jonah rushed to her bowl looking for a few choice morsels. Bongo ran over and smacked him on the butt - told him to beat it! Too funny. On the other hand watching Jonah intimidate a 400 pound calf is very amusing.
We finally located a suitable companion for Jonah. Her name is Claire (pictures follow) and she is 3 years old. She comes from a pig rescue in North Carolina. She was being used as a therapy pig at a facility for mentally challenged individuals. Someone new took over the facility and didn't want to continue the animal program. I think Claire will put Jonah in his place! We will start building a pig apartment shortly. Jonah has started to root and if we don't get him out of the pasture soon it will look as though we plowed it!
There is nothing like a contented pig!
Welcome Lanie and Rosene
As if I didn't have enough - I brought in two new goats - a pair of female Tennessee Fainting Goats. Unfortunately, to date, neither one has fainted. Very strange. They are very friendly and vocal. They will live with the ewes for now.
Unfortunately, I did not get a photo - but Lovedove managed to get her head stuck in a dog food can. I threw the can on the ground until I served Bongo and Golda dinner. In the 30 seconds it took me to put the bowls down and come back inside - Lovedove had gone for the can hoping for some crumbs. He got his head stuck instead and was flopping around like a drunk trying to shake it off! Too funny.
We often get visitors to the farm - some a little more unusual than others. Here are pictures of the most recent one. We can only guess that he was living down by the pond (or in it) and a big rain we had flushed him into the runoff ditch. We think he was trying to find his way home. It gave the cats a thrill anyway.
Sammy recently spent two more weeks at a rehab facility in Maryland. Something has happened to his right rear leg which is further interfering with his mobility. Poor guy - he can't seem to catch a break. He is doing okay but has much trouble getting up on his own and controlling the right rear leg. It sort of goes where it wants to go. But, as always, Sammy is a happy boy!
Well, it appears that Fall is right around the corner at last. Someone please tell the horse flies that! They are terrible. Some of them are so large you want to give them names. Cool weather usually means breeding season. Alas - I will not be breeding this year. I still have about a dozen unsold sheep from the 2010 breeding - its never happened before. But until the economony and thus demand improves - I think the girls get a break. While they are happy I'm sure - the boys are grumbling. They'll get over it - in about 6 months......Speaking of rams. I could not bear to part with Shana's 2010 ram - he is a beauty - his name is Obediah - recently took him away from mom and put him in with the big boys. I was amazed that they didn't haze him or push him around - not even Elka seemed disturbed by this new addition to her flock (I'm waiting for the inevitable request for a raise) Here's a picture of our new little guy.
Thought you might like to see what breakfast is like among the barn felines. I am usually escorted to the barn by at least 8 of the 12 - the rest are already waiting and in position. Getting the first can of food into a dish can be challenging. I wear gloves....
In case you didn't see the video of Kate and her predicament she got herself into:
And lest you think that once I get out of bed it's empty - here's the second shift:
Well - must go plant some Irises - have not killed anything in a while - now is as good a time as any. Will try to post more often - so much going on around here. Many blessings to everyone.
This was too good not to pass on right away. Yesterday evening I heard a commotion down at the barn and went to investigate. This is what I found. My girlfriend Dee and her daughter came to my rescue and we took off the barn door to let her out. She never showed the least bit of distress - Dee says if it had been Babe (the horse) she'd be dead or severely wounded due to panic. Not our Kate - just another great adventure!
Hello all my faithful readers,
Is it hot enough out there for you? The sheep would love to be sheared again! They are drinking so much water that they keep draining the well. Cool weather is right around the corner though and I doubt they remember their frozen water bowls and the howling cold winds...Neither do I really.
Well - we have a new critter - are you surprised! I took Jim on a little drive yesterday, along with a cage. We came home with.........JONAH! Yes, he's a pot-bellied pig. No he won't grow to be 100+ pounds. His dad is around 70# and his mom even smaller. You have to admit - he's cute. He has the barnyard in an uproar. The sheep push and shove each other to get a look at him. Bongo sits at the fence whining. Golda runs up and down his fence area hoping to get a taste....The cows are the most facinated by this grunting blob. He already knows who I am - comes running when I show up. Could it have anything to do with the fact that I feed him? Really?
Whatever. He knows me. He has chosen to sleep in the small crate we brought him home in although his room has a sleeping blanket and 4 soft throw pillows. He has his own fan and in the winter will have his own private heat lamp. I hope he doesn't expect 24 hour room service - not happening! Eventually he will have a friend - as soon as the breeder I got him from has another litter. For now he has to content himself with sheep, cows, dogs and cats.
Every once in a while we break down and send the house dogs off for grooming (well not Sammy - he's stuck with my version of grooming). It is not often you will see Bailey and Solomon looking clean and glossy. So here they are:
Not much else going on. It's been way too hot to ride - Babe thinks she's been retired - little does she know that serious riding season is right around the corner. Kate is hanging out with Babe and Opie these days - sometimes she just likes to get away from Dude - and I totally understand. He nags her to death! He's actually trying to court her but he only comes up to her chest and besides Kate's a mule so his efforts are best spent elsewhere - like Ruby or Jade. Typical male - always wants what he can't have....
Hope everyone is keeping cool. Until next time....Sharon
I seem to be having trouble getting notification emails to go out automatically - most of you apparentl did not get the last blog post. Please let me know if you receive this.
The Long Hot Summer
Summer on the East Coast - we forget during the fall and winter just how miserable the summers are! Even my perspiration sweats. And the flies this year - some days it seemed as if every fly in Virginia congregated at my barn for a reunion. I continue to try a variety of remedies to kill them or keep them away - I don't think anything short of tear gas will be effective. There are so many flies they fight with each other over who's going to get the honor to bite you in a particular location. The favored spots are places you can't reach. Maybe a taser? I'm doing better this year with the chiggers - they've run out of places to get me....
Our Farm Sign
Well - I'm finally official - I have a farm sign thanks to my special friend Dee's husband - Paul - who made it. Isn't it great! I feel so - so - well like I have a real farm! Now wouldn't it be great if I could turn a profit - no - making money might take the fun out of it.
How Much Is That Lamb In The Window?
This year's sales have been slow due to the economy but I'm not complaining. I get to watch the babies grow up. Now I understand how some people have ended up with huge flocks they never intended to have. I have resisted the urge to start naming them - I get many calls for yearlings - but maybe just one or two?
I've added a new gallery tag 'FOR SALE' - so when you click on that you will see pictures of all the sheep still for sale. I'm also attempting to update my For Sale page but having some difficulty due to a software glitch.
Annabelle and Patti Labelle continue to hold court as the reigning princesses of the farm. Each day, at the hottest point, they saunter down to the barn - kick the sheep out of whichever stall they've chosen - pick out their preferred spot under the fan and then allow the rest of the flock to join them albeit in the cheap seats. The amount of manure those two eject is hard to describe. And its really heavy stuff! I wonder what the market is for dried cow patties?
Cats, Cats Everywhere
We still have 12 barn cats - which is amazing since a few of them regularly hunt in the woods. One of them- Smokie - a very skinny grey kitty that is part siamese I think - has learned a new trick - he waits for a bird to land on the hanging bird feeder then he jumps up and snatches the bird literally while he is in mid air - landing back on his feet with bird in mouth. We've seen him do this twice. Once he ending up hanging by his nails on the edge of the bird feeder - bird in mouth - and I had to help him down! What's that old saying "a bird in the mouth is worth...." (I know its really "hand" so don't bother emailing me with a correction!) The other day I found what I have been told is a squirrel tail in the driveway. Very cool - I'm not asking questions as to how it got there or where the rest of the animal is.
It Smells Around Here
Big excitement around here last week - found a dead skunk in the upper pasture. Not sure how it died - don't know that I care. Boy did it stink though - for days. I am guessing that a big stinky turkey buzzard was taking his prize home when something caused him to drop it and it landed in my pasture. I wouldn't have wanted to be in his talons when he had to face the missus and tell her they were having mice for dinner instead of that very fragrant skunk. The only other explanation is that somehow he got through the fencing (almost impossible) and when he saw where he was - surrounded by two cows, umpteen sheep and two ginormous dogs - he died of heart failure.
No Need for Round-Up Here
Benji came up with a really good idea the other day (Benji is one of my Nigerian Dwarf goats). The electric fence was off and he managed to slip into Babe and Opal's pasture. At first I was upset and getting ready to drag him back over but then I noticed him eating weeds. Of course goats eat weeds.....why hadn't I thought of that. There are way too many weeds in Babe's pasture because Equine's are very picky about their greens. They must be a certain shape with nothing extra attached - like bristles or flower heads or bushy leaves. Nope - its got to be the plain meat and potatoes type grass. So instead of kicking Benji out I brought his gal pal Johanna over to him. With any luck by the year 2015 they will have chewed down all of the weeds....
About my cucumbers ---I've made two different types of cucumber soup, marinated cucumber salad and 3 different types of pickles. And the cucumbers still come. Would love any ideas on what to do next. This too shall pass - just in time for the tomatoes!
That's about it for now. Stay cool everyone. And remember - "Life without animals is no life at all" (From the Sharon Kinsey book of philosophy.
Jim and I spent 10 days touring around Ireland. He was interested in beautiful shoreline and vistas - I was interested in sheep, cows, donkeys and ponies. Fortunately we both got what we wanted.
But first a bit about the roads in Ireland. You start with a road large enough for a large cart and horse - which is flanked on either side by stone walls (which is the preferred method of property lines in Ireland). Then you pave it. Add a healthy dose of pot holes, tar patches, the equivalent of ice heaves and loose gravel. Paint a white line down the middle and allow two-way traffic - including any and all mechanized or people powered vehicles, i.e. 18 wheelers, large tractors, construction equipment, motorcyles and bicycles (in packs of course). Now add in people walking on either side of the road and sheep grazing on the side of the road. Finally, add in a multitude of hair-pin turns (we're talking 90 and 180 degree curves) along with an average speed limit of 60 mph (yup that's right). You now have the picture of the road conditions in Ireland. In all fairness - not ALL roads are like this - just the ones we drove on..... There are two types of drivers in Ireland - the natives and the tourists. Not sure who outnumbers who. Anyway - the natives are extremely friendly - they waive and smile at you as they run you off the road. Natives drive 60-70 mph - tourists drive 30-50 mph. You can see the conflict. In addition to the sheep, we also encountered a cow who was apparently disastified with her herd or her grazing situation and managed to jump the fence - when we came face to face with her she was jaunting down the road having a fine old time.
Back to the sheep. Sheep outnumber people in Ireland about 3-1 so you can't go very far without seeing sheep. The primary breed is a Scottish Blackface - with beautiful curled horns and agility not unlike a mountain goat. These sheep have to graze in a variety of environments - including steep rocky slopes. These sheep are amazing as well as beautiful. It was lambing season of course and there were plenty of lambs to gawk at. It was common to find sheep grazing by the side of a road.
This appears to be a cross between a Jacob and a Scottish Blackface. The folks at Kisane are not real sure but sure makes for fun conversation.
We visited one particular farm - Kissane Sheep Farm in Kenmare, County Kerry where I had the chance to actually hold one of the lambs. They are big! Tried to convince Jim I needed to bring one home - you know how far I got with that.... Here's a picture of me with the little guy I'd have gladly put under my seat on the airplane:
At this same farm we watched a demonstration of working sheep dogs. It was unbelievable - had never seen this before - except when I saw Babe - they use these dogs to move thousands of sheep from one pasture to another or to collect them up for a variety of reasons. Here's one of these brilliant dogs:
Ireland has a lot of donkeys - they were heavily used at one time for farming. They also have a special breed of horse - called the Connemara Pony - which comes from Connemara (duh) as well as a Kerry Cow. I have video of the cows but here is a photo of a donkey and a Pony I found along our travels
Also came across some pretty cute pigs:
A herford cow with an Irish brogue
And a red deer (these are native to Ireland)
I won't bore you with the many pictures we took of the coastline and the church ruins - you really had to be there for those. I will attempt to put together a video which I will post here.
One more thing before I sign off. I've never considered myself much of a domestic goddess nor a determined homesteader. I'm perfectly content buying my meat wrapped in celephane and chickens cut up in pieces with the skin removed. However we do live in Southern Virginia and it is a BIG DEAL here to plant a garden so I broke down and planted pickling cucumbers, dill and tomatoes. Foir those who couldn't possibly imagine my pulling off such a feat - here's a real - not touched up - photo of my cucumbers and tomatoes (the dill is hidden by the cukes). How cool is this......
Wishing you all the best and many blessings.
Lambing season ended very peacefully. The babies are growing fast - too fast. It's fun to watch them learning "sheep" behavior like butting heads. They tend to travel in a herd and rarely answer to mamma's call. Here are a few photos of big babies:
Sheep shearing this year was reasonably uneventful except for lots and lots of noise. Wouldn't you know it that the very next day after shearing was rainy and chilly. Good thing they can't talk - I'd have gotten an earfull. Now bring on the heat!
Well it was inevitable. Once we added Annabelle to the family, we surely needed to provide her with a friend of her own. She was starting to believe she was a sheep and it wouldn't be much fun to have an 1100 pound sheep. So - enter Patti Labelle - all the way from Georgia. She's a belted galloway and she and Annablle have hit if off fine. Annabelle is completely weaned (thank goodness) although she still looks at me hopefully for maybe just a wee nip of milk. I will say this about cows - they are trouble makers. I kept finding the float valve from the automatic water bowl in the upper pasture flipped completely out of the water which created a water fountain of sorts. A good way to drain the well. After the third time, I replaced it with a system with a hidden float valve. Also, it appears that both Annabelle and Patti LaBelle are jumping the temporary fence dividing the large upper pasture. One minute they are on one side and a little later they are on the other. No visible breach of the fence line can be found. I knew that a cow jumped over the moon - but fences?
Finally, Jim and I are off to Ireland for a couple of weeks. Not sure how I'll do leaving the farm for that long. The good news is maybe I can bring back a couple of sheep!!! Hope you are all doing well and enjoying every day to its fullest. God continues to bless us with good health, a beautiful place to live, and thriving animals.
I will post when we return.
It started on March 20th and ended on April 11th - only 3 weeks of worry. The last one was a doozy - had to go in and pull the baby out - it took me almost 10 minutes and when the head came out the little tongue was hanging out - I was sure it was dead. My husband said he saw the tail move so I did my normal routine to clear lungs, nose etc just in case and lo and behold it started breathing. I couldn't believe it. An exciting way to end the season. Fortunately I didn't lose any lambs this year. So here are the statistics:
9 ewes / 8 rams
10 all black / 4 white / 2 spotted / 1 grey
Southdown Babydolls; 1 black ewe / 1 white ram / 1 grey ram / 3 black rams (very disappointing that two of my girls only gave me singles and that I only got ONE EWE!!!!!!
Cheviot Dolls: 1 white ewe / 1 white ram / 1 black ewe / 1 spotted ewe
Barbado Dolls: 3 black ewes / 2 black rams / 1 white ewe/ 1 spotted ewe
Lessons learned in 2010:
1. Just because a ewe was a good mother once does not mean she will be good every time but once a bad mother - always a bad mother (my experience)
2. Not all ewes break the birth sack once the baby is born which means if you (or the dog) are not around to do it - the lamb dies.
3. When first born, lambs are not particular about which ewe they suckle.
4. Some ewes never seem to memorize the smell of their lamb so that even if the lamb is standing right beside her she is crying out for it. It appears she needs to make a visual identification followed by smell.
5. If grain is offered - ewes will abandon their lambs in a heartbeat (once I saw this happen I started putting some grain on the ground in the pasture after I get them all where I want them and the lambs are close to their moms.
6. After a few days - lambs would rather play with their buddies rather than answer their mothers' frantic calls - its fun to watch them play as a "gang"
You can see pictures and check out sale prices on my website.