Sunday, January 31, 2010
It's a good time of year to fire up the dye pots. Anything hot will help keep my pipes from freezing in the milk room, where the bulk tank used to be, and where I hook up my hose to water the sheep. The range I bought out of the want-ads is keeping the room semi-warm and is my dedicated dye stove. The kitties huddle on top of the range, even when the oven is on and the pots are boiling. We dipped below zero F. last night, but next week will have the temps in the teens. Critters are doing fine, lambs fat and healthy on alfafa/grass mix hay.
"If I could only buy ten more acres and get a good crop of cotton out of it I might be able to buy us a tractor!" Sally Field in Places of the Heart
My tractor is coming along slowly. It started out like this and, hopefully, will end up looking like that Maybe not quite as manicured, but if I can get the BOCES auto body department to paint the grill it will look pretty spiffy. The Ford 8N is a real work horse. Millions of them were produced in the 40's and 50's. Matt said he was amazed at the quality of the parts when he first saw it, dirty as they were. They just don't make tractors like this anymore, built tough and built to last. The low body is perfect for my land, which is hilly and full of dips and holes. We are $1,600 into the project now, and won't owe anything on it. Good way to operate. Matt and Ron are having a lot of fun restoring it. It doesn't take much for country boys, and even former city boys, to get hooked on tractors. It gets in their blood. You should see the YouTube films of guys working on tractors. They put a camera on their heads as they are working and describe everything they are doing, just like surgery. It's a good support system when you are just learning. I'll be able to operate this 8N just fine myself. I'm hoping it's done for Luke and Hannah to drive it all over the hills of Omi's Farm this summer.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Let's see, where do I start on this sunshiny frigid cold weekend morning?
Wrap up rocking chair cushions for Mia's friend who just had a baby. She wanted the chair cushions covered with some lovely buttercup tapestry fabric. Got them done a long time ago but rode them around with me wondering how to package them for the mail. I finally wrapped them in paper grocery bags and sent the big, unwieldy package with Matt to the PO. The baby has been born and I'm sure the new mom needs her cushions. I put some goodies in there for her.
Get out to the barn and fill up water containers. Offer Tank and Luna bottles and hope they continue not to want them as much. Luna is great, but Tank is a "special lamb." Even with his adoring mother he runs around screaming all the time. Poor thing needs lamb Prozac.
Climb ladder and check on baby goats. Last night they were all huddled together in the igloo I put up there for them, trying to keep warm. All are in sweaters but with the cracks in the wall for hay to breathe the mow is frigid cold. Luckily mother's milk comes out nice and warm. I'm out of hay but the very capable Mr. Postma is coming to the rescue. He brings his brother and the big, giant truck and they make quick work out of helping us stack 200 bales without any complaint. I thank my lucky stars for those guys. Don't have the new elevator motor yet. I will be broke for the next two weeks, but Venus and Mars will provide for me and send me some internet orders so the cats, dogs, and rabbits won't starve. Rabbits can eat hay but the cats and dogs can't.
Come back inside and start cleaning up this apartment. Even I can't stand it any longer, not to mention husband. I'm too old to find another husband as my body is just not what it used to be and I don't have the energy to break in a new mate. Speaking of body, I'm actually going to lie down and do some exercises today, but have to clean the floor first. I'll probably be attacked by dogs giving me big wet kisses. Maybe they can do stretches and sit ups with me. I need to find a cheap yoga mat then I can exercise in my classroom at work. Nobody bothers me in there. There are benefits to being anti-social.
Clean off table so I can cut the rest of Mia's curtains. I can't stand the thought of her sitting in that cold apartment with those giant windows letting the icy air in and running up her bills. I got one panel done and she got the rods up. If I put my mind to it I can get four more panels done this weekend. Matt went to the feed mill for me and that helps.
Dock tails and give lamb shots. Nurse Tanya's office called to say they scheduled my scans for Feb. 11. I'm getting an ultrasound mammo. No teats in a vise for me. Had one ten years ago and vowed never again, even though my family history screams breast cancer. If men had to get their balls squeezed in a vice they would have invented other technology real quick. Women take it and suffer in silence. I saw this ultrasound mammo on TV and said that's for me. They use it when history is strong or the traditional mammo is inconclusive. Nurse Tanya said no problem.
After all this is done I want to play with some beautiful fabric. I haven't sewed any bags since before Christmas. Maryland Sheep and Wool is looming large. I'm down to six or eight bags and am hoping to sew around 50 before Md. on May 1. I have a "Lipstick" run all ready to ship to the mill. It was very popular last year. I'm almost out of wool and figure I will shear a couple of sheep and put coats on them. I'll have to do it with scissors unless I can get Big Jim Baldwin to come out. I have a feeling he's hunkered down for the winter. Can't hurt to ask.
I have some ideas for Mia and AJ's big birthday presents. They will be thirty on February 21. They came out, 40 minutes apart, with their placentas fused together. When I saw that I knew they would always be close. Mia has to work on her birthday but she's coming up to celebrate the weekend before. I hope AJ can get away from the seminary. He's very excited because the Archbishop of Canterbury is coming to visit this weekend. Matt says that's a big deal but this Baptist girl doesn't know anything about the High Church. My church is in the barn and the field.
Let me get off this machine and get to work. Thinking about it won't get it done.
Friday, January 29, 2010
I give a LOT of shots to my sheep. Everybody gets a couple of vaccines at least once a year. Yesterday, I got three, two flu shots and a tetanus. I think it's been ten years since I last had an injection, other than a morphine IV in the ER in New Jersey for my lovely, wonderful lower back. By the way, morphine doesn't take away the pain, it just dulls your mind and takes away your ability to deal with the pain. Interesting. Nurse Renee told me I would be sore and achy, but it doesn't hurt unless I touch it. I said for years that I would never get a flue shot, but Mia says it's okay, so I guess it's okay. I'm wondering, why she gave me all three shots in the same spot? I always spread them out on my sheep. Many shepherds don't believe in vaccinating their sheep, or people for that matter. Bill Gates is donating 10 billion dollars for vaccines in underdeveloped countries over the next few years. I wonder if someone forgot to give him that memo?
It's Friday and I'm home for two days. My new doctor, Nurse Tanya, tells me I have to get my blood pressure down. I better do some spinning this weekend. The temp is dropping and wind is howling. The door over the hay elevator is banging against the barn. I would like to do some moon watching tonight but it's tough to stay outside for very long. The dogs did their business immediately when I took them out and it's a good thing. We ran for the barn door when they were done, with me in the lead. I brought Thor, Finn and Knut inside the barn. After all, the sheep are in here, why not the dogs. Then they can guard us all. I love my big white boys. When they see me they roll over for me to scratch their bellies. Speaking of bellies, Matt just passed his killer Building Performance Institute Analyst test today, with flying colors. It has all kinds of physics, algebra and technology. He had to demonstrate his ability to do home audits. Last week he became certified in mobile home audits. He's a rock star. All my years of school and good grades and I never hear a "good job." Most teachers don't. They just soldier on from paycheck to paycheck and try to keep supervisors off their backs. I'm happy for Matt. He's a worn out carpenter who has really hit the jackpot, maybe not monetarily but certainly professionally. He will be going to NYC and the Bronx to teach weatherization in February. And they always buy him lunch...
Thursday, January 28, 2010
I wish someone would make me a cup of tea. It tastes so much better when someone else makes it. The weather turned awful, very cold and windy. Blowing too hard to go out and look at the beautiful full moon. What a day, no lunch, no afternoon cup of coffee to get me through the third stage of the day, then a two hour doctor's appointment, then following snow plows at 30 mph for too many miles, frustrating, but thankful they were there. Home late, then rushing another 30 miles on icy roads to take Billy to the vet. Going to Canada is turning out to be more involved and costly than first anticipated. They were upset with me for not having his scrapie tag in his ear, but I lost my applicator and there's been no time this week to go buy another one because I have to rush home to feed Billy (and Tank, but Luna doesn't seem to want her bottle anymore). And now they want a tatoo in addition to the tag. They still don't know all the rules, or if he is even old enough to be exported, but know that it will cost around four or five hundred dollars to do the paperwork. Now there is a "state vet" in Albany involved. No mention of him on Monday. They seem not to trust me because I had the tag in hand, not in his ear. I left rather frustrated and disappointed. Creep home on dark icy roads with no plows or salt spreaders to follow. Billy and I were just so happy to be home.
I slept with a goat. Yes, it's true. When I finally bedded down on the sofa around midnight, little Billy Goat stood next to me wagging his tail. I pulled him up with me and he cuddled behind me against the back of the sofa. I woke up around 5 with him poking his little nose into my face, the way baby goats do with their mothers. It was so precious, and BG is a lot cuter than waking up with a big, hairy, unshaven male human. I was so relieved to see him take his bottle this morning. Back to the vet today for exam and TB check.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
I'm worried about Billy Goat. I had to go in to work early and stay late to scribe for a student taking his Regents, the NY State standardized test. It was almost five when I got home, and Billy did not look like his usual dancing, happy self. He's still and quiet. I fixed his bottle and he wouldn't take it. I squirted some milk replacer in his mouth with a syringe barrel and he wouldn't swallow. His belly feels full enough, so I'm worried he got into something he shouldn't have. I decided to take him up to the hay mow to visit the other goat babies and their mommies. I don't think this had the desired affect. Billy just stood there and stared at the others, who were mildly curious about him. I guess it was like going to a birthday party where you don't know anybody. I feel so bad for him. He's going to the vet after I go to work, then to my doctor's appointment after work, where he's supposed to get his health certificate. I hope he passes. If not, then the vet is the right person to look at him anyway. This working while trying to raise animals is awful, especially with babies. I feel so torn.
Chris loves all the critters on the farm. Here I caught him in the dark, nuzzling a hen who is living in the hay mow with him. Off to work early for a meeting. It's Regents week and I'm working with one student in the afternoon. He has the worst case of test anxiety I have ever seen. Three hours and we got the first part of the English Regent done. Part 2 today, then rush home to the little pisser. I slept on the couch to keep him company, as the dogs abandon him to get in the bed with me. Billy Goat woke me up at 5 to get up and fix his bottle. He's taking a good bit more now, good sign. Wish I could bring hay in here for him to nibble on, but that's where I draw the line. My little apartment is the one place in the barn where no hay is allowed. I love my local natural knotty pine floor, and oh, what the abuse we give it.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
After chores I sometimes stand in the dark at the back of the barn, or the East End as the former owners called it, which is way in the back as my barn is 240 feet long. The piney ridge looms large over the farm and when the moon rises it is really spectacular with the spikes of the tall pines silhouetted against the white light. No light tonight, not even any stars. The sky is a soft grey, looking like weather is coming. I drove to work today in light snow and it continued most of the day. We might get big snow this weekend. I have a full load of hay coming, 200 bales of the last second cut Mr. Postma has, for $700. The new elevator motor I need costs $350. The tractor parts I need to continue the restoration of my 8N are around $300. I can't have the motor and parts both, so we'll continue to stack by hand and keep working on the tractor. I only know of two other people who farm at my school, and they do Christmas trees. Smart people. I have to work hard to get all this money back at wool shows. You can imagine why I scoff at people who buy commercial yarn and cheap wool roving from big outfits to spin or dye. You will only see my own wool and yarn from small sheperds like me at my booth. Billy Goat is doing fine. I had to make a decision this morning - leave him home or carry him to school. Matt was teaching all day at his facility and I was concerned about stressing him too much at just two weeks old. If I took him I would be sneaking and hiding him all day, or leaving him in the van where he would be very lonely and probably scream his head off. Did I tell you the story of the time I took Fiona to Voorhees High School in New Jersey? I had her in my old BMW, in a crate, and would run out to the parking lot every two hours with her bottle. She was very, very tiny. I went out to feed her and two security people were waiting for me at the car. Someone had reported livestock in the parking lot! They were very nice and suggested I bring her to the ag room. Now the ag room consisted of just a handful of kids who talked about farming. They called themselves FFA, but didn't know that meant Future Farmers of America, in fact, one denied it when I asked! Anyway, today I left Billy Goat at home. I filled his belly before I left, early as I had a meeting before school started, and told Holly to take good care of him. I knew if any of the other dogs came near Billy Goat that Holly would jump in, but I worried about Holly being a little too motherly and chewing on him. I worried all day and flew home without stopping anywhere. I opened the door of the apartment and there he was, tiptoeing around, doing his little dance. I made his bottle quickly and he drank and drank. I think he was better off for staying home with his friends. I wish I could put him in the hay mow with the other adorable babies, but their mothers might butt him around, or he could fall down a hole, or the mothers could push him down a hole. If I can just keep him alive for another two weeks until Kim comes from Canada to pick him up, I'll be thrilled. I sat in the hay mow and watched the baby goat circus do their performance on the tires. OH, they are just so cute.
Monday, January 25, 2010
I took the little pisser to the Leatherstocking Equine Center for his export testing after work today. What a class act they are. Big, beautiful facility with gorgeous flashy horses and lots of staff standing by to help with any emergency. While we were there a call came in about a sheep on the way for a C-section. They were ready for action when a SUV pulled in with a very ordinary looking little sheep in distress. Everybody had to take a turn holding little Billy Goat. His brucellosis test required a cc of blood, which took two sticks - ouch!- and his TB skin test requires a return trip on Thursday. Dr. Martha is being very thorough about his paperwork and will call the Feds to make sure it's done right. Kim and Crew is coming to pick him up on Feb. 6 and we're hoping to have the results back by then. In the meantime, Billy Goat is having lots of fun, doing pogo stick jumps around the apartment and playing with the cats (who are NOT interested). Quick dinner thrown together then out to the barn to do chores. Early meeting tomorrow morning, always a tough thing for me. Have to leave by 7:15 or I'm in trouble. Rained all day today. Most of the snow is gone, leaving a sheet of slick ice on the driveway. Single digits will be here by Friday to freeze up all this mud. The barn is very moist and "aromatic" right now. I'm used to it but I can imagine what people think when they come in here. Do I care? Not really...
Matt came home from his tractor repair session with chills and fever. Guess I infected him despite efforts not to. He's working from home today and will be able to receive Mr. Barnes, the hay elevator repair man, and babysit the little pisser known as Billy Goat. Fierce wind and rain has washed away most of the snow, to the dismay of all the snowmobilers in these parts. Temps over 50 F., flip-flop weather in Central New York. No bunny mittens required today. More snow will certainly come soon but their "base" is gone. The Tug Hill plateau, just to the north of me, is the snowmobile capital of the Northeast. Snug and warm in the classroom with the big windows as we watch nature's Imax theatre going on outside, with giant trees swaying in the wind and huge cloud formations racing by.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
After three days of sunshine grey, wet weather is on the way. I'm glad the lambs had a chance to go out and play. Hay is in the mow for another week. Big load coming on Saturday, but the elevator is still broken. Mr. Barnes, the local master farm repair man, couldn't make it yesterday. Mr. Postma has a big truck but if we get a lot of snow and ice next week it might not make it up the sloping lane to the hay mow doors. Life on the farm along with many challenges goes on. My shepherd/shearer/spinner/long distance rider friend, Libby Llop, emailed me some nifty plans for six sided hay feeders. I'm taking the plans to the BOCES carpentry dept. tomorrow to find out if the future carpenters will build them for me. It's become such an issue that doesn't seem to be resolved here and I have to do something. I married a carpenter who has gone on to blaze other trails. He doesn't like to swing the hammer any more, on anything that resembles his old way of life. Okay, I say to myself, how would I advise Mia if she were in this position? I would tell her to just go somewhere else and get the hay feeders built and let the issue rest. There would be peace in the house and the hay would not be wasted. Matt is going to Manlius to work on our 1946 Ford 8N tractor which is still in pieces at the home of the man we're buying it from, the boyfriend of the office manager at NY Weatherization. It seems like it's going on forever. Matt enjoys working on the tractor with Ron and it will get done someday. We can only live and hope.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Tanker had his first playtime outside today in this lovely sunshine. He's still a little nervous, which I think is a result of the circumstances of his birth, being stuck behind the stock tank for several hours. He's apparently getting something from his mother's udder, as he nurses enthusiastically, but it's not enough. When he sees me coming with his bottle he goes nuts. Tanker has a teeny tiny baby voice which is very easy to distinguish from other lambs. I'm really fond of the little guy and enjoy our visits together. Luna is the only other bottle lamb, and Billy Goat is the only bottle kid. Billy is not a good nurser and has to be coaxed to eat. He follows me all around the apartment and butts my leg gently like I'm his mother. I love to watch him dance around the floor. He would like me to hold him all the time, and I would love nothing better, as he relaxes into my chest and feels so good. I'll be relieved when he goes to his new home in Canada, as soon as his testing is done. He needs to bond with his new family, and I need to work at night.
Cross-Eyed Mary is one of my favorite barn kitties. She is named after a Jethro Tull song. CE Mary is very, very affectionate. I often find her hanging above me from the rafters when I'm with the sheep, purring and swaying back and forth, she's so happy to see me.
I have some beautiful kitties who live in the hay mow. They are shy and some won't let me hold them. I try to put my hands on them at least once a day when I'm putting out food to get them used to human contact. The kitties are earning their keep in many ways. When I bought this barn it was inhabited by many, many pidgeons who perched on the hay elevator track and covered the floor with poop. The kitties chased them into the silos, then went to work on clearing them out of there. When I moved in here with my sheep and their grain, the rats thought it was party time. No parties, no rats. Thank you, kitties. I know you pick off my chicks once in a while, but I forgive you.
Chris is living with the goat moms and their babies in the hay mow. Tough duty. All those bales of second cut hay to eat between naps. I opened up the big barn doors today for everybody to go out and enjoy some of this glorious sunshine. Bad weather due back next week. The moms went out and tried to get the babies to follow, but no luck. They looked outside, but once those tiny hoofs touched the cold snow they ran back into the hay. Matt got the trailer unstuck with much struggle and rocking back and forth. He unloaded the remaining bales into the barn and went back to Postma's for more. I've got a red dyed fleece to spread out in Mia and Hannah's room for drying and another on the stove. Last winter I was drying fiber on the kitchen table and fighting off cats. Much easier this way. I turn the heat on in that room and with the overhead fan on high the fiber dries just fine, undisturbed by cats and dogs. With lambing and kidding over, hopefully, I'm on full speed wool processing duty. If I think of all the work I have to do in the barn and in this apartment, with making product for upcoming shows, and my busy time at work this spring with special ed paperwork, etc. I just don't know how I'm going to get it all done. But then, I won't get it all done, and that's okay. Like I told my students, it's not finding the Holy Grail that's important, it's the quest that counts. Then I see, just now on TV, the little boy Monley, who was unearthed from debris after EIGHT days of no food or water, and how well he is doing and how happy he is to be alive, but how his family is dead and there's nobody to take care of him, and I feel so fortunate to have this farm, this farm business and my job in a country with so many opportunities.
Baby goats are as curious as cats and drive their moms crazy with worry. These cuties are wondering what's going on downstairs. Notice how mom comes to check on them and keep them out of harm's way. One baby did go down head first but luckily stayed under the hole until I could lift him up. With the hay pack so high he did not have a long way to go. I had a board propped up but the babies flipped it down for tap dancing, which baby goats do so well.
Friday, January 22, 2010
Colder last night. I was afraid to climb the ladder to the hay mow for fear the baby goats might have slipped their sweaters and froze. They were fine, with round bellies and warm backs. After bottle feeding Tank and Luna I set off for work. Good to see my friends again. Mrs. Price and Miss Huggins, aides in my class, took good care of everything while I was out. I hate to be absent. I always think some kind of calamity will take place having to do with me and I won't be there to put out fires or defend myself. Everything was okay. The kids had worked hard for two days so I took Last of the Mohegans to show them. I told them about JF Cooper (we live near Cooperstown) and how this movie takes place in Central New York. They seemed impressed by that. I know Mrs. Price, Ms. Huggins and I were impressed with Daniel Day-Lewis. OH, what an excellent portrayal of Nathaniel. I came home to find little Tank and his mother had escaped from their pen. Tank is a bit nervous these days. He's taking his bottle okay and his belly is round and firm. Mom, an older ewe, is attentive but doesn't have a lot of milk. Have to pay some special attention to him this weekend. Billy Goat only took half a bottle while at work with Matt today. He is kind of upset, too. I don't think I will send him with Matt next week. I can't get him to take his bottle tonight. I held him for a half hour or so and he fell asleep in my arms. I'll hold him some more after chores tonight. Poor thing doesn't have a goat mother to nuzzle and dote over him like the other kids do. I would like to start sewing and making soap again sometime soon, but with the state of this place I can only live and hope.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
If everything goes alright Billy Goat will surrender his American citizenship and emigrate to Canada. Kim's friend, Julianna, heard about Billy and staked her claim to adopt him. Billy has to pass a TB and brucelosis test, along with a vet exam, and I have to put a flock tag in his ear (oh, no!)before he can cross the border. I haven't told him about his new home yet. I don't want to upset him. Billy is bonded to me now and is taking his bottle very well. He's such a fine, sturdy buckling so I'm sure he will adjust to his new home without a problem. Billy has a beautiful, thick red coat and lovely blue eyes, just like his grandmother Celeste. I'm happy he's found a home - on a bunny farm! What fun!
I took this picture while doing chores tonight. Dina, Mary Magdalene, Joseph and Loki were bouncing around the barn while their moms were chowing down. This is a very happy time for them. They are still nursing and can fill their tummies with rich milk at any time. Moms have to wait for their hay to be delivered!
My babies keep me busy and take my mind off politics. I used to be so blissfully ignorant of what was going on in government. College changed that. Real life changed that. Kids in the Army changed that. My job as a public school teacher changed that. Ted Kennedy must be hopping up and down in his grave. Too bad he died before the health care bill could be passed. Obama spent so much time trying to work with Republicans instead of strong arming health care and look what happens. Scott Brown drives around in his Carhartts and pickup truck and says he represents the little guy. I'm the little guy and he doesn't represent me. When he gets to Washington he will fall in with the other Republicans who want the little guy to just crawl away into a hole and die without costing them any money. And what's with the Supreme Court? Now Big Oil and the pharmaceutical giants can spend all they want on political campaigns? Another blow to the little guy. Goodbye small farmers, artists, poets and musicians. No health care for you. Let me go and hug one of my babies...
I have to face the fact that I am no longer bullet-proof. I'm home for another day. Got up to get ready for work and realized I was still feverish, sweaty and not well. Called my faithful, wonderful, amazing aide, Mrs. Price, who told me everything was going well in school and not to worry. Every teacher should have a Mrs. Price. I might actually get the dishes washed today and put a load of laundry in. It's nice to be able to keep up with breaking news and spend quality time with the critters. I'll be sitting up today more than lying down. Yesterday was a prone day. I made an appointment with the Bassett clinic in Sherburne to get checked out next week. It's tough to get appointments around here but they have some new people on staff. I haven't had a "doctor" ever in my life, other than an obstetrician or an orthopedic when I broke my leg. I can't imagine someone looking at my total well being, the way people do when they have a regular MD they see every year, but maybe "Nurse Tonya," a local nurse practitioner, will do that. I have many questions about this and that. When something is going on I look it up on the internet and come up with a dire diagnosis that's probably ridiculous. Matt likes to tell me that if something happens to me the farm will be "disbanded immediately," in his words. I don't like the sound of that! At least he's honest.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
I'm okay once I get there, as a matter of fact I had a really good day, but driving in snow is not fun. We have big windows in the classroom and a pretty, soft snow fell all morning. The roads were much better on the way home. I was anxious to check on all the babies. The hay mow kids are fine - bellies full and backs warm under their sweaters. There's a lot of hay up there for them but we have to haul water up the ladder. It's clean, dry and cold. I'll be getting the remaining three mommies with their babies up there in the next day or two. Monkey's black boy is tiny, smaller than red Billy Goat brother. He might get lost in the hay, so I'll wait a day or two for him to grow a bit. The other two are only two days old. I had to float one in a warm bathtub to get the chill out of him. He's coming along nicely. The dogs will be happy when I get the goats out of that room, as we have to pass the mommies on the way out the door. Today one mother attacked the dogs as they were passing by her baby. You've never seen dogs move away so fast. Cooked some of Mary's local chopped beef into spaghetti sauce over ziti tonight...very delicious. News is sobering but hopeful on the Haiti scene. I was very impressed by a segment on an Israeli Army medical unit that set up there and is completely self-sufficient. They have imaging, neo-natal capacity, operating rooms, yada, yada, yada. You should see what they are doing there. They even have an ethics committee with them to help make difficult decisions about their patients. The Israeli Army major in charge quoted a famous Jewish idea, "If you save one life you save the world." I like that.
Out into the barn to bottle feed Luna and Tank, water chickens, bunnies, check on babies in the hay how and get on the road. Billy Goat is on his way to Syracuse with his bottle, sweater, basket and towels. Here's hoping he behaves himself and the secretaries are gracious about having him in the office. He's soooo cute I can't imagine they wouldn't be. Matt called to say the roads are horrible. So what am I doing sitting here? It's called reluctance, avoidance, stark disbelief, whatever. Better get going...
Monday, January 18, 2010
Little No-Name buck kid is going to work with Matt tomorrow. I couldn't believe it when he offered to take him. I was wondering how I could sneak him into BOCES and down to my room. If I got him all the way down a crowded hall, hidden in a bag, without him yelling his head off, then how could I hide him from administrators? My students and teacher friends might keep my secret, but a surprise visit from someone upstairs could blow my cover. Matt's office is very relaxed and his friend, Dale, has already broken the animal ice with a tiny kitten who required around the clock feeding and was brought to work. Now I have to find an extra bottle, pray I have a spare Pritchard's teat around somewhere and find a cage for riding in the truck. I'm so tired I can barely put one foot in front of the other, but the relief of what to do with this baby, at least for one day, will take me through to bedtime. Ahhhh, the bed. I am longing for it.
Dolly's baby is coming along nicely. I have no idea where this sheep came from but she's an awesome mother and one of the few ewes who gave me a ewe lamb this year. Dolly has a very easy-going disposition. She doesn't relate to the other sheep very well, but doesn't seem to care. She just goes along her merry way, eating, pooping and sleeping. Dolly, it was a good day when I brought you home.
With six moms and kids in the room adjacent to the apartment the air was getting too warm and moist, even with the heat off and the windows open. With no real hay pack on the floor I couldn't keep it very clean in there. I was worried about pneumonia, which is deadly, and I didn't want to deal with that. We carried the babes and dragged the moms up to the hay mow and closed the big doors. I'll have to carry water up there but they are in a clean, cold and dry environment. I let them get adjusted while I was doing chores downstairs then climbed up to take a peek. One kid was leaping from bale to bale, another was wandering around, checking out a tire, hanging out, and the third was taking a nap. Everybody looked fine. Until I can get an area set up in the lower barn with the sheep this will have to do. Chris is in there with them, too. The worst thing that can happen is they will fall through a hole to the lower floor, but I'm hoping the moms will warn them away from those pitfalls. Fingers crossed.
I've been playing Negroe (whoops, Black) Spirituals all day for poor Matty, who is working very hard today. I caught him taking a break on the sofa. I told him he would get some sleep when he is dead. Don't worry, I have one of his favorite dinners planned for tonight - Mary's homemade Kielbasa and pierogies. That ought to perk him up a bit.
My two Merino/Bluefaced Leicester ram lambs, Loki and Nicholas are growing nicely. They have very thick, dense coats. Both their mothers are also very dense, something I've been striving for in my flock. Nicholas has more curliness, but Loki is more Merino. Softness and density - good things in a fleece.
The lambs are growing like crazy, busting out of their sweaters. I'll pull them off and wash them for goat kids, then save them for next year. Calvin and Hobbes are almost ready to lose theirs. I have a heck of a time catching them and pulling them off when they are tight. These sweaters are life savers when lambing and kidding comes in January, in the Great North Land of New York State.
This is what I see when I open my apartment door. I'm going outside now to move some moms and two day old kids up to the hay mow to live. There are hardly any sheep up there and Chris, the llama, will guard them. The layer of loose hay on the floor will keep them warm, along with the sweaters I put on them. A good thick sweater, knit from real wool, not acrylic, combined with angora or alpaca, will keep a kid warm in very cold weather providing it's nursing okay. The room adjacent to the apartment is full of moms with babies. The moms attack Izzy as he goes out the door. I've rescued him a couple of times already. Good mommies, just protecting their babies. It's getting a little ripe out there and I want the babies to breathe clean fresh air.
We are down to just a few bales of hay, so Matt hooked up the old landscape trailer to go get hay from Mr. Postma in New Berlin. He's a dairy farmer and has plenty of hay, great big bales, tightly bound, nice and dry. One of his bales is heavier than 2 from some other places and he delivers for free if I buy 200 bales. I can't do 200 this week so we have to pick up enough to get us through until we can get a full truck load. Our motor is broken on the elevator and Matt can't fix it. We found a guy in Brookfield, Mr. Barnes, who might be able to do it but we have to disconnect it and carry it to him. In the meantime, Matt is hopelessly stuck in the lane going up to the hay mow, on the icy slippery slope. The heavy Postma bales will have to be carried to the mow. I don't want to think about it. Oh, the woes of buying hay in the winter. Most of my summer teacher's pay will go to filling up the mow to avoid this happening. I hope Matt can get at least the truck unstuck so he can go to work tomorrow. I asked him to call Will Nolan, our dairy farmer neighbor, to yank him out with his tractor, but you know how men hate to ask favors. I'm up to my neck in newborns, sweaters, bottles and making sure everyone is fed sufficiently to get through another day of life on Maggie's Farm.