Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Okay, let's see. Got the shaving blocks done and they came out fantastically...just the right amount of mashing and cooking made a lovely texture kind of like granite - perfect! I cut them by hand which gives them a funky look. Mia's brushes and dishes are tied on, ready to go. Tonight is hand creme night. Have to stop and get more jars on the way home, pray Wal-Mart has them. Make creme, roll out clay for the few more buttons I need, cut them out, cook them and try not to burn them up again. I decided to have a Hand-Spun Grab Basket with all my little bumps of hand-spun. If I have time I will empty all my bobbins on the ball winder. I love the little bunches of wool, they feel so good in my hand. Maybe someone will see the potential that I do. Still have to find peck baskets for my dyed locks. I wonder if Auntie Jan has had any luck. Matt passes a hardware store on the way home but it closes at 5! With gas at $4.50 a gallon here and time precious I can't ride around looking for them. Gotta hit the road and head for work.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Winter is back, with temps going down to the 20's tonight. I came home from school and put on my ski underwear and wool socks. It is gloriously beautiful outside, with the grass so green it hurts your eyes, and it's still bright daylight at 6:30 at night. I am crazy busy getting ready for Maryland Sheep and Wool. I found a box of lavender soap that needed wrapping. I managed to get a collection of bags together, so much work but they came out so beautiful. Three or four need buttons and I need Sculpey clay. I got a tray of clove oil shaving soap poured last night and breathed some awful fumes which made me quite agitated and feeling ill but the worst part was that it made me feel so wide awake. I last looked at the clock at 2 and had to get up at six. It was a rough day at work but the kids were okay. I am working with one student on some very basic skills and I find it so gratifying. Funny how kids who are so unruly together are pussycats in a one on one situation. Came home and got to work wrapping the soap which I had gotten half done last night. Kelly is running off labels for me tonight. Mia, Bless Her Ever So Wonderful Heart, sent me the ingredients for my Shepherd's Friend Hand Creme, and brushes/dishes for the shaving soap. I shudder to think how much she spent on shipping, but she wanted me to feel good about my booth. I have more wool than I can cram into the booth. If I manage to get there in one piece and keep my wits about myself I should be okay. I'm sure I won't be the only one there pushing myself to the limit. The weather will be cool and rainy, better for the sheep being hauled in trailers from all over the country. Last I heard they get 30,000 people through the gate. They don't charge admission and that helps. Maryland is very supportive of the sheep industry. Have to get through dinner and chores, then I can make some cream. The animals don't know that Mommy is busy and doesn't have much time for them. The sheep are yelling for hay and the dogs want to be walked. The bunnies wait patiently for their food, and the chickens always look happy - clucking and scratching around. I have a little hen sitting on eggs high up on a rafter. Last year she hatched chicks up there. Luckily I heard the chick that fell out of the nest before the kitties got it. Better get going. I have to get some sleep tonight. I am definitely going to stay away from the steaming clove oil.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
A miracle happened Friday night. Now I am not the best at checking messages on the voice mail. I am out in the barn quite a bit, or at school, and miss a lot of messages. I have to call up to get them and would rather leave it to Matt. My kids email, or keep calling, fortunately. Matt waits for me to get the messages, therein lies the problem. Friday night Matt sat down to get the voice mailbox freed up. He said You have a call from somebody in Maryland. That could only mean one thing...I had applied to be put on the wait list for the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. Could that be what the call was about? How old was the message? Did I miss out due to no response on my part? My chest tightened as I dialed the number. A nice lady picked up and asked me if I would like to come to Maryland. She had a cancellation and was offering me the spot. Now, I have applied to this festival for four years, and have attended for twelve. It is probably the toughest show to get into, and I had given up hope. I was told by people who listen to the buzz more than I do, that they have too much wool and are always looking for something new. Many of my sheep friends are in the show, but they got in years ago before it was so big and competitive. I couldn't believe it was finally happening for me. After the initial euphoria subsided, panic set in. I have fewer saleable items in my stash than ever before. With lambing and spending ALL my money on hay, I don't even have any of my famous lavender soap. I love to give away soap and my stock is way down. You can't make soap in a week. I have spent the weekend sewing bags. Today I will take inventory of my roving. I spent $45 I don't have to spend on ordering in more shea butter and beeswax for hand creme - something I can make at the last minute. Somehow I will pull this off. I have taxes to pay and fence to buy, and owe just about everybody money for something. Matt will stay home to take care of the farm. The only legal vehicle I have able to make the trip is Mia's Jeep. I have to fit all my stuff in there, which means no giant baskets and a lot of stuff will have to go on top. Jan, God bless her, will meet me in Maryland to help me with the booth. I hope to make a good impression so they will have me back next year. Rain all next week and a wet weekend in Maryland is forecast. Luckily, it's an inside space. Better get back on the sewing machine. My Bundaflicka Bags will look great in the booth and make a "statement." I have lots of dyed curly locks that I will put on the table in bushel baskets if I can find some.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Another Earth Day. In Global History class we climbed the mountain behind the school, a bit of a struggle in the heat and the wrong shoes for me, but it felt good to stay ahead of most of the kids. I was grateful for all the climbs up my own hill to the pond with the doggies. The grass is greening up but still not long enough to let the sheep out on it. We have to put up fence first anyway, or else they will be across the street on Jan's fields. By the time we get the fence up the grass will be a foot high and the sheep will think they have died and went to heaven. I keep listening to all this energy talk, and now that Matt is working for an energy non-profit I hear it from him. We were so excited about the bio-fuels but that turned out to be a global disaster considering all the forests being torn down to grow the corn, soybeans, palms, etc. I never thought I would consider drilling for oil a lesser evil, but it seems to be less invasive. Sweden is making energy from wood, but that doesn't seem practical in the US. I don't know what the answer is, but I know that using corn for ethanol is driving the price up so high I can hardly afford it for my lambs. People in the third world are starving. Hillary has just won Pennsylvania - there is hope for her candidacy. Many Obama supporters say they won't vote for her if she wins the Democratic party nomination. Well, that doesn't make a lot of sense. They care more for a candidate than the party and what it stands for? That makes them no better than a bunch of groupies following a rock star. I personally don't have anything against Obama, but I'm afraid those Republicans would chew him up and spit him out. Hillary would not be intimidated by anyone. It should be a very interesting summer.
Monday, April 21, 2008
It's just so very springy outside. There are a few daffodils here and there on my way to work, and I think I saw one cherry tree. They left a cherry up in the courtyard gardens that they ravaged. Last night I decided to sleep on the sofa and watch movies all night as the "last hurrah" of my vacation. It was fun at first but I had a hard time holding my head up in classes. Much of what I do consists of watching other people teach and it can be hard to stay frosty sometimes. Matt is so excited about his new job. State Dept of Energy people are coming to visit his weatherization teaching lab tomorrow. He's pretty energized himself about it. I'm very happy about him, and wish I could feel the same excitement. Very hot today, and I'm not ready for it. I LOVE cold, clear weather...but the grass has to grow.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Happy Hour Saturday night by Beaver Creek, dinner at Frank's, breakfast by the creek with New Jersey bagels, non-stop chatting with dear friends, what could be better? Jan got her critter-fix, Dave got to discuss all kinds of building matters with Matt. Beautiful day, rain coming tomorrow...fitting for a back to work day.
Could it be over? How will I spend my last day of bliss? Let's see...have breakfast with Jan and Dave, play with lambs, give haircuts to the bunnies, cut out a bag, skirt fleeces and get something going in the dyepot, post pictures on Adopt a Lamb, skim the Sunday NY Times (all I ever really do) play with doggies, find something to wear to work tomorrow, watch John Adams and the Tudors tonight - anything else? I'm sure there will be.
Mr. Pearson is out of round bales. He sent us to a dairy farmer friend of his in Madison Center. Jan promises me this won't happen again next winter. She and Dave are up visiting for the weekend. They are camping on Beaver Creek. Oh, how very lovely it was to sit by the flowing water, eat Brie and drink Margueritas. We went to New Berlin for pizza and then came home so they could enjoy the full moon over their fields, which used to be part of this farm. We are looking for someone to hay their property, which may be a problem with the price of diesel. (What about you, Mary?) Jan brought bagels from New Jersey for me.....hmmmmm, good. I better get going - Jan and Dave are walking over for breakfast. It's so good to see them again. If only they could get their house in NJ sold...
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Mr. LaFever came from Unadilla and determined that a wire in the ceiling of the milk room was faulty and it was not the well pump after all. A $1,000 repair became $125.00. Much more manageable. I filled up every imaginable container on the farm including the four stock tanks. The sheep tiptoed up in small groups to drink. It was so beautiful to watch these gentle creatures suck up their water. I have a short stock tank but they all prefer the tall one. Perhaps the water stays fresher in the deeper tank. Some of the bigger lambs can just about get their mouths in. The board across the water is for chickens or cats who accidentally fall in and need something to hang on to...don't laugh - it happens!
Matt replaced the electronics to the well but still no water. The pump must be shot. A well guy is coming up from Unadilla today. This is really going to be awful. Wish I had a new pump put in when I bought the place, but who could know? This one must be 20 plus years old, and pumped water for over a hundred cows, including drinking and washing them up. Speaking of washing up...I sure wish I could. I went up to the pond yesterday but it was so full of big, fat tadpoles I changed my mind. We toted dozens of containers of water over from Sister Bernadette's for the sheep and lambs. Matt didn't want to bother them with hooking up a hose (men!!) or I would have heated up enough for a shampoo in pots. There is plenty of water on this property, with a cistern in the field behind the barn. I haven't had it tested for drinking yet but the animals do fine with it. We could survive a breakdown of public utilities if we had to...better than most. Matt predicts food riots someday soon - they are already going on in other parts of the world. Food is ridiculously expensive and getting higher. I don't know how people feed their children, then buy gas at almost $4 a gallon. I hope the Sisters put in another garden, or I will have to make one of my own. I still want to plant blueberry bushes...have to start investigating which variety is best for this area. I had another lamb adopted yesterday. Molly from Canandaigua and her mother took the plunge into sheep parenthood. Molly bought my maple Robin wheel and is loving it - who wouldn't?
Friday, April 18, 2008
Last night before I went to bed I noticed the water was slowed down to a tiny trickle. Something is wrong with the well, the pump, whatever. With almost 200 animals drinking water on a hot day this is serious. The fact that I have "third day hair" is also serious. My scalp is itching already. Matt called in to the weatherization office and told them he would be late. I pray he can fix it. I fill two big stock tanks twice a day, plus two more galvanized tubs in the boys' pens. I can run a hose over to Chris Kupris' house (former farm owner) and take water from his well. Their well ran dry over the summer, as it is much more shallow than ours. Having a neighbor near by is very handy at times. That still doesn't give me household water. This could be very interesting...
Thursday, April 17, 2008
This is the first Bundaflicka Bag of the season. A nice lady ordered it on line and I finally got it done yesterday. It is the first of many I will be sewing in the next few months. Bags do well at my four fall shows, especially Rhinebeck, where they march out of the booth regularly. They are such HARD work, from cutting to the final sewing on of the hand made button - but they sell and people appreciate their durability and beauty. I've been sewing all my life and never had something so well received. At one time I made drapes and slipcovers for people, which was the worst slavery and drudgery imaginable, and the customer would stand there and just stare in silence. It made me insane. Now I make a bag, take it to a show, sit back, and watch the people oooohh and aaahhh, then hand over the cash. With all these mouths to feed it suits me just fine. Rhinebeck can't come fast enough for me this year.
This glorious weather makes me want to get the dyepots going. This lovely purebred BFL fleece comes from my ram, Legolas. I used yellow Rit dye (available in the grocery store) with a drop of brown Createx after the wool was added to the bath. I like the effect. I have to keep watch out the window to make sure the kitties, or Thor, don't decide to scatter it or sleep on it.
The weather is so balmy and beautiful this week - very intoxicating. I know I am on vacation but the drive to get things done is plaguing me. Nevertheless I have managed to stay up late watching movies until I can't keep my eyes open any longer. A couple of favorites this week have been, The Holiday with Jude Law, etc., and Casino Royale. Gosh, that new Bond is growing on me. Must be those blue eyes and that cute little hard body. He could give an old lady palpitations! I grew up with Sean Connery as 007 and thought he could NEVER be replaced...but we have to go with the flow. Last night it was The Holiday that kept me up. I would sleep on the sofa but the two end cushions have been chewed up by doggies and I filled the holes with my only blankets left. I would have to pull the dogs off the sofa to stretch out, or put my legs on top of them, and that wouldn't be comfortable for them or me...so I haul myself off to bed. I have one of those high colonial beds which requires climbing a little step ladder. It keeps all but the fittest dogs off the bed. Even little Izzy asks to be lifted up (he's the only one I help). I had a nice talk with Mia yesterday. She's so excited about going to LV. Her best friend Lisa is coming from Long Beach, Ca. to visit her in LV. They have plans to sneak into a casino to swim in one of the pools. I don't think they will have a problem - two beautiful blondes in the pool is always an asset. I can count on Mia to tell me everything that's going on with the family including AJ in his new chaplain job, Hannah and Luke in school and activities, Eric and Annie in their jobs, etc. She's been on duty for three 12-hour shifts in a row, with patients doing all kinds of crazy things, so I'm happy she will have a chance to de-stress and have fun. I am finished with the bag I made for a nice lady who's been so patient. Now I can start on Mia's new curtains and duvet cover. I can't stand this gorgeous fabric, a gift from Sally Campbell, being kept in a box any longer. I plan on taking bunnies outside to harvest some angora today, too. I let Miss Mamie out of her pen last night. I'm not even sure she is pregnant, although I saw Horatio mount her several times. I was trying to beef her up a bit, and avoid ketosis. She sure did enjoy the extra grain and hay. With this glorious weather, I just had to let her go so she could get outside.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Wooster, my BFL ram, Tommy Boy, with the Big Rack (not shown in this picture because he has not yet come over and chased everyone away from the food so he can eat)and other males live in their own section of the barnyard on the south side of the barn. It's a nice spot, always in the sun, protected from the wind and with a seperate entrance into the barn. When I'm up in the hay mow I through their bales down to them through a window. It's kind of funny to see their surprised faces when a fresh green bale of second cut hay comes out of the sky. This is the view that I see from the top.
Notice the sheep keeping an eye on Izzy. To sheep, all dogs are wolves, never to be trusted. Izzy loves to keep me company in the barn. He knows all the sheep to keep away from, and skirts around all the protective moms. Once in a while I hear a screaming yelp and I know Izzy dropped his guard and someone nailed him.
Do you think we need to be shorn? I had the shearer booked, but cancelled when two days of icy freezing rain was forecast. Matt doesn't like to shear when it's cold, but I think cold and dry is okay with this big barn for them to stay in. Cold and wet is another story. The longer the fiber stays on the sheep, the more chance of the fleece degrading. I have to get them shorn before they go out on pasture. At least with the wool on I can't see how skinny they are. Funny, I used to be teased about feeding my sheep too much. One breeder gasped years ago when she saw my sheep. Fat sheep are really something to be ashamed of in the sheep world. It is wasteful and unhealthy. If she could see them now - they are super-model skinny.
I came in from chores, flipped off the New Age music I play for the sheep, and me, and BABE was on the movie channel! Oh, how perfect. What a delightful movie, one of my favorites of all time. Every time Babe wins the sheep trial for Farmer Hoggett and the crowd goes wild, the tears just start flowing. The only disturbing thing about the movie lately is just how closely I resemble Mrs. Hoggett! The weather is so very pleasant this morning and the week is supposed to get nicer with every passing day. The grass is creeping up through last year's thatch cover. I'm told I can't let the sheep out until there is 6 inches of grass, or they will "scalp" it and tear up the roots. It's torture for them, and me. The flock is lined up against the barnyard fence, baahhing and looking longingly at the fields. There are "poop wagons" (the farmers use a different word) out everywhere, tractors emptying all that black gold on the fields, Mother Nature's reward for shovelling all that costly grain and hay into the cows' mouths all winter. It comes out the back end a valuable fertilizer for growing more food for the bovines. It costs money to run those tractors. The farmer I am buying hay from now says diesel is going up so high he will be charging $4 a bale for second cut next year. I thought he had enough for me to last until I have grass, but Morrisville College just came through with a big cash order for their equine program. Lucky horses. The farmer with the round bales has enough for me, but the second cut bales are better for the lambs. Challenges, challenges.
Monday, April 14, 2008
Almost 11 and still in my jammies. Living out in the middle of nowhere helps if you want to stay undressed. When I lived in a development you were asking for a knock on your door if you stayed in your nighties. It might be the Latter Day Saints, or breast cancer research or Girl Scout cookies. Not here. Last time someone "stopped by" it was a kid looking to pick up scrap metal, or someone telling me my sheep had crossed the road and were on their way to Syracuse (in that case I got dressed real quick). Living so isolated is cool most of the time, but if the rungs gave way on the ladder to the hay mow, and I went down, it would be a long time for someone to find me. Now that Matt comes home at night that's not such a worry. It's cold outside and cold in here. I like it that way. Matt likes the apt. to be as warm as summer. I'm trying to explain to him that now he's in the Green business he has to act like a Greenie. Greenies reach for a sweater instead of the thermostat. On the way back from the green building conference in Pittsburgh (the organizers purchased carbon stamps to make up for the energy they used to put on the conference and the Greenies coming from Vermont drove collectively in a bio-diesel bus) he stopped at his co-workers house in Ithaca. Matt says Ithaca is a tree-huggers paradise. Well, it's a college town (Cornell) which makes sense. Earl, Matt's co-worker and a environmental engineer, lives in a small energy efficient ranch house. He took Matt through the house, which, Matt tells me, is neat as a pin. Even the bedroom has not a thing out of place. Let me tell you, Matt will NEVER show Earl my bedroom, or my guest room, which is piled high with fiber and fabric. Earl's wife is a child psychologist and must have complete job/life satisfaction and no need to crap up her house with crafty things. I'm very happy for her! Earl takes every scrap of paper, cardboard and plastic he uses at work home with him for recycling. I sense Matt is slowly being brought over from the dark side of conspicuous consumption into the world of green living. He remarked last night that our purchase of the barn and making an existing structure into a living environment is very green. So is buying the pine flooring from the neighborhood mill. He wants to buy windmills to make our own electricity - fine with me but he'll have to build them himself. At $40,000 each on the cheap it's quite an investment. Right now I will settle for the third chimney pipe I need to get my wood stove working. The chimney needs to clear the barn roof, which is very high, in order to work correctly. The way the wind comes off the Great Lakes and tunnels through this valley we could have all the juice we could possibly use.
Monday morning, and a whole week off to go. I am never really off with the farm to take care of, but just being able to stay home and enjoy my critters is a real treat. My internal alarm clock woke me up at 5:30. I tried to lie there an enjoy it, but nature called. When I swung my legs over the side the dogs jumped up and ran for the door. I let them out then tried to lie back down, but the barking and scratching to get back in put a stop to that luxury. Matt put hay out before he left for work so I have a little while to spin. It's been cold and a bit wintery here but the sun comes in and out and I got in some great walks with the doggies over the weekend. Mia gave me a Barnes and Noble gift card for Christmas that I still had not redeemed. I asked Matt if we could go there last night. With gas at $3.40 a gallon here in Central New York, trips anywhere are so costly I think twice, then three times, about going anywhere. I needed to get pictures printed for my lamb moms and pick up some frames. We cleaned the apartment floor - what a difference when you can see the pretty knotty pine wood! - and got chores done early. I took the doggies up the hill and was grateful when Finn and Knut came right back to their igloos to be tied up. Barnes and Noble was just lovely...and I even found, hidden behind some other magazines, one copy of April's British Country Living! What a nice surprise. They sell out so quickly. I snatched it up and picked out some other mags I adore, like Quilting Arts, Cloth Paper Scissors, and the new quarterley issue of Haute Handbags. OH, was it wonderful. The handbags are so very artsy, and just amazing. I got a lot of great ideas for handmade bags, for when I stray from my standard Bundaflicka bag pattern. Mia's card covered my Country Living, a Fine Homebuilding for Matt, with a cappucino and cheesecake for us to share. It seemed that I just got settled down at the table when they announced the store was closing! Home to the farm just in time for the tale end of John Adams then a rerun of the new Tudors. Queen Anne looks so good pregnant. Glad she's enjoying herself for now, as it will all come crashing down when she gives birth to Elizabeth.
Friday, April 11, 2008
This room holds all kinds of funky remnants of the farm that my farm once was. I came along too late for most of the functional items which were sold off at auction. I found old cow collars, udder wash, cow hair trimmers, nail kegs, etc, in this room. I'm wary of the floor so I try not to spend too much time in there. The cats love it and like to hide under the floor boards and sit on the Milk Room ceiling. I put the Hay Mow Kitties cat food in here, as the dogs don't want to jump over the opening to the first floor to get to the bowl. If I had money to burn, I would clean it out and decorate it to the hilt with kitty beds and jungle toys. They probably prefer it this way.
As I was pulling bales away from the pile to throw down for the sheep, I noticed a kitty lying in a hole between some of them. Low and behold, she was in labor. I covered her back up with the bales and went about my chores. At last check there was only one kitten so far...fine with me!
First day of spring break. Rainy and yucky, but looks like a good week ahead when we get past the rainy weekend. Have to get more hay in, what else is new?, sew a bag for a customer, get pictures printed for my Adopt-a-Lamb angels, cut out more bags, cut out Mia's new curtains, duvet cover and bed pillows from that drop dead gorgeous Sally Campbell fabric, and clean the apt. (Let's not and say we did.) I have more alpaca fleeces in the tractor shed to list in my Etsy store, soap to wrap, it goes on and on. Have to pack and ship my last Robin wheel and my Fricke e-spinner. This winter has been too costly in too many ways, but spring is here and I have to keep a positive attitude and keep busy. AJ called last night and we had a wonderful conversation all about his two weeks at Fort Irwin in California with his National Guard outfit. It was his first encampment as a Chaplain and a lieutenant and he loved it. What a perfect fit and I am so thrilled for him (and me, not having to worry about him any more just yet.) He is really enjoying the respect the position of chaplain affords him, and is grateful for the opportunity to help his fellow soldiers. I hope he starts a MSW degree sometime in the near future, as he is already doing some spousal counselling without much training in that area. I asked him to go over to Eric and Annie's and kiss Hannah and Luke for me. Mia is headed out to Las Vegas on Friday and they will all be together again. Wish I could be there with them, but it just didn't work out this time. Better get out to the barn and start chores.
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Went outside this morning to find Finn and Knut by their igloos, like good doggies. Finn had a headless wild bunny in his mouth. He let me put him back on his line, holding on to his prize. I wonder how he got the rabbit. Maybe she was in her hole and he caught her there? I can't imagine Finn running as fast as a wild bunny. Nevertheless, Bodie (remember how I told you about Bodie killing bunnies?)decided he wanted that bunny carcass. I saw them snarling and barking at each other, snout to snout. Next time I looked, Bodie had the headless bunny. He roughed it off Finn and ate it, I think. Off to work, leaving the giant day care center to fend for itself, while I went to mingle with the complicated humans. This has been a rough year and I am drained. Small school with all the schtick of a big high school, but with fewer people it is amplified. Pairs of friends and little cliques. I'm a lone ranger. It's always been that way with me so I'm used to it. Sheep and dogs are much easier to figure out. Thankfully there are others who are upset about the courtyard gardens being removed, but I don't know who they are. My end of the school doesn't seem concerned about it at all, or if they are, they are not complaining. There were no emails or announcements explaining why the trees and shrubs were ripped out. I thought it was handled very poorly. I just printed out a sign with a big WHY? and taped it to the courtyard window. It was removed.
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Bodie was so happy to swim in the pond and retrieve his beloved tennis ball. I think it helps to stretch out his stiff arthritic legs. I know it makes him feel young again. Bodie was ten in March and I know he is on the downhill slope. I remember picking him up at the Seeing Eye in Morristown. My dear friend, Carol Hewson, is a nurse there. Bodie's litter mate was diagnosed as a puppy with some kind of doggie MS. They decided to adopt out the whole litter. Carol recommended me and I was accepted as a puppy mother. When I went to pick him up I had to put on a surgical jump suit and covers on my shoes. I stood next to a dog run and a little door slid open. Out bounced a ball, followed by several round, golden puff balls. Bodie was one of them. I'll never forget it. Bodie was not touched by the neurological problem his littermate had. I don't know if he would have made it as a guide dog as he has quite a temper and loves to kill anything with fur (a couple of my bunnies met a terrible fate between those massive jaws).
Manny, the little black buck goat, still enjoys his bottle. He was so tiny at birth and it was so bitter cold I started supplementing him just to get some weight on him and keep him warm. He has a mother who feeds him but once in a while I let him have some warm milk replacer. I just adore him and he's always so happy to see me (the bottle helps). Izzy had another idea.
I keep the bottle babies and a runty little ewe lamb in the chain link dog pen for bottle feeding, lamb grain and second cut hay. They like being protected from the big, pushy sheep and eat all they want at their leisure. When they lie on top of each other they look like a big lamb sandwich. They cheer me up and really keep me going. With this lovely warm weather the sheep and goats have been lying on the hay which heats up in the sun. I wanted to lie down with them.
Matt has been gone for two days, having a lovely time with other green collar warriors at an energy conference in Pittsburgh. I told him to eat all the free food he could find, pick up all the literature he could haul back to the hotel room, and go to bed early. I've been starting chores around 5 and finishing around 7:30. I have to throw hay down in the morning and haul water in the plastic Gerry cans to the boys outside and the big Rambo and Merino rams inside. The water is the hardest part. Most of the sheep get their water from the big stock tanks, one tall and one short. Tonight is garbage night and I have garbage everywhere. I rent a dumpster from the one garbage hauler that comes out to Brookfield, and I like to get everything down to it. Only took three trips down the lane to get it done. Took the White Boys for their walk around sunset and just had to sit down in the middle of the hill. The dogs aren't used to their person sitting down and I was knocked around by the rush of love. Good thing I just wormed them all. With all the creepy crawlies I was finding in their dung, I was wary of those big wet kisses. Amazing what a good dose of Safeguard will take care of in one dose. I use the sheep gun and managed to do them all except Knut. He smells a trap and goes nuts. Matt can't hold him long enough for me to get the gun in his mouth. Don't know how I'm going to get him fixed. Finn and Knut ran away tonight - probably up to the dead pile. Last night I got the chores done and locked us all in by dark. I told Thor he was in charge and didn't come out until morning. Now I will have to go out every once in a while and look for Finn and Knut so I can hook them up. Thor is a "close guarder" and stays in the barn yard just the way I like it. Finn and Knut tour all the original 300 acres of this farm and then some. I'm afraid some yahoo neighbor of mine will shoot them. Tomorrow is Wednesday, then Thursday and I am off for spring break. Eric bought me a ticket to go to Las Vegas but he had me flying out of JFK, five hours from here. Coming back would be a nightmare, with going through NYC, etc. I am afraid to leave Miss Mamie with her lamb coming, and Matt is gone almost 12 hours a day. I am totally bummed out about not seeing Hannah and Luke. Mia is going the week after I was to be there, and I know they will have a smashing good time with her - how could they not? She exudes joy and is so much fun. I miss her, too. I want to move back to New Jersey to be closer to her, now that she is going to set up practice in Morristown - but I can't have my sheep there. Funny, I am beginning to be glad the house I inherited is not sold. I might need it after all. The only thing I loved about the school where I work is not there any more. They tore out the beautiful, mature landscaped garden in the courtyard next to the global studies room I am in most afternoons. There was a vine-like tree that grew up against the brick wall, with twists and turns that were so very graceful and artsy. Birds nested in it in the spring. Lovely shrubs lined gravel paths to the next building. I was dumb struck when I saw it all gone, just holes in the dirt. I felt such anger and disgust and just wanted to scream. It took 30 years to get that tree so perfectly placed on the wall. I am still so filled with despair when I think about it (obviously). Gretchen must have noticed I was upset because she offered me a cup of coffee. What the heck is wrong with these people???? Couldn't they have left the tree? It wasn't taking up any room! I hate people right now. My best friends are four-legged and I am once again reminded why.
Sunday, April 06, 2008
The cats are enjoying the nice weather. Flies and moths are hatching for them to chase and little creatures will be emerging from their dens for kitties to eat. I found some dead baby snakes last year, not pleasant, but I don't know how to stop it. Without the cats we would be overrun by rats - I know that by my own miserable experience. Thank you, Kitties!
What a gorgeous day. After waking up at an outrageous 4:30 (it's been a problem for a long time - first it was premature twins, then I went into sheep) I went back to bed and actually slept until 8 am. What heaven! I could tell the weather would be glorious today and it is. Matt went to get more hay. In desperation we called the farmer who sold us such a bad batch of hay last fall that I wouldn't go back, and he had a few bales of green second cut! Matt went to get some, along with some first cut round bales from another farmer, and I couldn't believe what he had brought home. They were green, fragrant and delightful. The lambs started munching on the green, grassy, flakes. I could hardly carry it across the barn without being mobbed and knocked down by the sheep. I was kind of pissed off that he didn't give me this hay last fall, but then he was saving it for a Mr. Tainey, who has a moving fan and hauls hay "down south." I might not be able to get any more of this nice hay because Mr. Tainey is expected back next week. In the meantime, I am saving it for the lambs because I need them to thrive and grow. The sight of those little mouths chewing on brown sticks is just pitiful. I also have a pregnant Rambo - Miss Mamie - in a pen, trying to get some weight on her and the lamb/lambs inside her. She gets grain, along with the lambs. I feel like a traitor, holding a bucket over the heads of the other moms, who are very hungry, taking it to Miss Mamie and the bottle lambs. I hauled more greens to the barnyard and started taking pictures of the adopted lambs. The brilliant sunshine helps. The shutter speed on my camera is kind of slow and makes getting a straight-on head shot difficult, but I did get some cute shots...and they are oh, so adorable!
Saturday, April 05, 2008
My beautiful Bluefaced Leicesters have proven their worthiness this winter. They are hardy and strong (although skinny) despite a winter with no grain and not-the-best hay. I appreciate them more than ever...and the wool is just heavenly. I got this lovely purebred ewe from Kathy Davidson in southern Pennsylvania after her pasture dried up and she had to cut down her numbers. I am holding on to my sheep for dear life. The drought is predicted to continue this summer in the Southeast unfortunately. With luck, Central New York will continue to be the breadbasket of the East. I just have to get more of it in my barn before next winter hits.
There were three beautiful pine trees planted too close to the tractor shed. I have seen it too many times and am always puzzled. Why do people plant trees that grow very large one foot away from the foundation of a building? They would blow in the wind and scrape the side of the shed. Anyway, I asked Matt to cut them down so I could feed the boughs to the flock. We used the top of one as a Christmas tree last year, and the other two went down today. Sheep and goats absolutely love evergreens, and they are loaded with vitamins and minerals. The weather was lovely and we walked up to the pond to throw the ball for Bodie. He really enjoyed his first swim of the season. There are tiny shoots of green peaking up from the dead grass. We need more days like today to coax them up out of the ground. I spent some time hauling the pine branches up the lane to the sheep. Their enthusiastic crunching was all the thanks I needed.