Friday, May 31, 2013

Decoupage Boxes

Someone brought in cigar boxes and we decided to try some decoupage tissue paper craft.  The boxes are amazing, and so easy to do.  When we ran out of cigar boxes we used some donated cardboard fold over ones.  All you do is mix white glue, 50 glue, 50 water, paint it on the box, lay tissue paper on, and paint over it.  The more you layer the better it looks, and it makes a hard smooth surface.  I can see making a few to use as gift boxes for soap.

The Day is Spinning Away

I've been spinning a bit in Art Studio, hoping to get the students interested in fiber crafts.  Today it worked, as a couple of boys asked to give it a whirl.  One student saw my Royal ball winder and asked what it was for.  I let him wind off a bobbin and he was very enthralled with the whole process.  Made my day.

I didn't hear her voice calling me for a bottle when I opened the barn door like she usually does.  There she was, lying flat on the hay.  My eyes saw it but my mind didn't want to recognize the reality of it.  Little Maya, twin to Cinco, the fragile ewe lamb that I've been feeding bottles to three times a day for the last month was dead.  I've been a shepherd for a long time but it still hurts.  She's so adorable, with those black eyes and tiny black mouth.  Her mother is aged, and that can be an issue with lambs.  Lambs of older moms are sometimes not viable.  She was so weak at birth but I was determined to bring her along.  I thought we were out of the woods when she would call me with gusto to tell me she was hungry.  I don't need this today, with problems at work, but I never need this.  What happened?  I got new hay yesterday, at Homestead Feed, but it was mostly sticks.  Don't think that gave her bloat.  I've bought hay there before and it didn't cause a problem.  It could have been anything.  I banded her last weekend, gave her vaccinations.  I'll kick this around all day, with everything else I have to deal with at school, and never know the real answer.  So glad I have my other babies to hug and love to pieces.  

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Babies

I rush home every day to make bottles for this little white guy. He has a pitiful cry that cuts right through me and sends me into the kitchen to mix his warm milk.  His sister figured out how to nurse from her mother, who rejected them at birth and wouldn't even let them try.  I kept milking mom out to keep her flowing, and gave it to the kids in bottles.  I think the doe kid figured out how to get her own from mom and kept pestering her

until she gave in.   I don't mind mixing bottles.  I'm so used to it now as Robert and Duvall just recently got off theirs, I'm embarrassed to say.  Those boys see me coming with the goat bottles and want to nurse again.  I foolishly gave one of them a taste and he bit the Pritchard's teat right off the bottle.  Learned my lesson - let them stay weaned.

Smoky Mountain

The storms that swept through my little valley left a smoky mist that clung to the creek bed and the piney ridge.  The sheep who had been driven back into the barn twice by heavy rain ventured out to graze in the fog.  During storms like this I am always grateful for my "big strong barn" with the metal roof.  Sister Berndadette, my next door neighbor, likes to remind me that every panel has three nails in it.  The nails were pounded in by herself and her sister, Sister Grace, when they were teenagers, before they were recruited by the Franciscans and taken away for a life of prayer and service to the Church.  The Church got them off the barn roof and "out from under the cows." Oh, the stories those Sisters can tell about life on my farm, long before I got here.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ridiculous Rain

 Got home after stops for gas and pet food, put the leashes on and ran the dogs up to the pond.  Best balm a troubled mind can find is a good long look at the stunning view from the top.  After being shut in all day the dogs like it too.  Let the sheep out on the way up and watched them run for the green grass.  They didn't have much time to eat.  The sky turned black and wave after wave of rain came down.  They took it for a while then ran for the barn.  Came back out, started nibbling, then another deluge.  Lost TV and hope I don't lose power.    Lots of grass out there and would love to get some of it bailed but in this weather don't know. Now it's thundering.  I noticed Lola, aged goat mommy, left the barn to follow the flock and her baby wouldn't come with her.   While I gave afternoon bottles I saw him relax and play in the barn, running up and down the length of the barn.  Guess he knows she'll be back when her udder is full.  Things going well in school until today when it totally went so bizarre and weird that it defies imagination.    Don't know why I even let it bother me.  Couldn't wait to get home and be with my animals.  They are the only people I can trust.  Crash boom bang thunderstorm going on now, at 6:30.  This is the kind of storm that Luke and I like to watch sitting on round bales in the hay mow with the giant doors open to the hillside.   Three more weeks...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Love My Black Girls

There she was, the elusive little black yearling doe I adore, but who I rarely get my hands on.   She is so fast, and so little, I can't catch her.  I did get my hands on her last summer and clipped her baby hair myself, holding her squirming on my lap.  I like to give the mama goats who are loose in the barn with their babies some cracked corn while the big fat sheep are out grazing.  When the giant corn hogs are in the barn the goats don't have a chance.  I saw the little black girl in the group and threw down some more corn.  I grabbed her horns and she was mine.  Luckily Matt was here tonight and consented to hold her horns while I gave her a haircut.   The mohair is wonderfully soft and a lovely gun metal dark gray.   It will blend nicely with some black angora rabbit.  Hmmm, hmmm.   I finished and that girl was gone, back out to the pasture in the dark to eat grass - and there is a lot of it.  Raining tonight in Brookfield.  I don't think we have any drought worries this summer.  I have another little black girl who will give birth soon.  Wouldn't it be nice if she has a little black girl, too?   I have one in the nursery - tiny little thing herself.  She wiggled out of the maternity pen tonight and was running around in the big barn, giving her mom - and me - fits.  Luckily I caught her before she was run over by the big toe-crushing sheep.   I gave her back to her mama and covered up the hole.   Ask me how I can leave this crowd and go to work all day?  I've thought about installing a barn cam I can check from work, but I would be looking at it all day long.  Three more weeks and I'll be home with them all summer.  Can't happen too soon.

Tiny Blessings

Did not stop to write in my journal all weekend.  A quick catch-up...

Saturday - what to do about the market. Cold and rainy, but Memorial Day is  traditionally a good market day.  Radar looked promising (a lie) and we were mentally geared up for it.  The previous weekend was so good it gave us false optimism about this one.  Wipers were not turned on the entire 17 mile drive to Hamilton.  Guess what - we got rained on.  The pop-up held and the die-hards came out any way.  I saw old friends from Morristown and new friends from Brookfield.  My market friends were there, too, and I got my brie-mango crepe while holding my hands close to the propane cooker for warmth.  Once home my totes had to be carried in and dried inside.  Lesson learned.  When the weather is awful stay home on the farm.  That's what I did the entire rest of the weekend. 

Sunday - I worshipped at the Church of the Universal Shepherd and took care of my flock.  I could work on sheep and goats all dang day.  Sadly, spouse does not have the same enthusiasm.  He bravely soldiered through a day of docking tails and banding scrotums, not a pleasant task but one that pays off for years to come.  The little boys can stay with their mommies forever and will have no desire to mate with them six months from now.  They won't grow horns but they will grow lovely mohair and wool for me,  a much more pleasant destiny than the other option. The docked tails will not be a magnet for manure and draw flies.  Yes, sheep naturally have long bushy tails.  A simple band placed up high will cause the little lamb tail to slough off and prevent the deadly flystrike.   I was shocked to find three hens had hatched their clutches in this cold, wet weather.  I resolved to capture as many as possible and found some wire rabbit cages in the silo room.  They even had baby guards around the bottoms.  Luckily, due to the cold and a mother's inclination to keep them under the wings for warmth, I was able to scoop up the hen cupping my hands around her wings with the babies inside.  Only dropped on tiny fluff ball on the way to the rabbit cages.  Hannah and Luke will have 20 or so chicks to take to the new chicken house at the Hinds Boy Scout Camp in Portland, Maine, where their daddy is the head man.  More work for me keeping them fed and watered, but now they are safe from cats, etc.  Sunday night was spent cooking, stoking the wood stove, and relaxing, what a joy.

Monday - I sat outside wrapped in a long wool coat, love that coat,  with my coffee and my book - The Farm She Was by Ann Mohin, fabulous read - and coffee taking in the emerging sun and blue sky.  What a joy after having my bones chilled at the rainy market on Saturday.  I purchased a cord of wood from a neighbor and put much of it to good use over the weekend.   I basically took care of critters all day long with some time here and there for walking the land in the stunningly gorgeous weather.   With school on Tuesday and the Bouckville show coming up, I will have to kick it into high gear again.  Annie and the kids are coming to help me get some things done around the farm this weekend.  I have to get ready for Fancy to deliver her kid.  The milk room will be a milk room once again when I get her milking stand set up in there.  Much mucking out needs to be done.  I hate walking on the stuff. 

Family news is good.   Chaplain Father Aaron has received his Army Captain bars.  He continues to counsel and assist the soldiers in his unit, and serves at Christ Church in Las Vegas.  Mia is working hard as a Nurse Practitioner for the cancer surgeons in Morristown.  She ran a full marathon in Burlington, Vermont on Sunday - in the rain and snow.  Eric recently returned from a district meeting of the Boy Scouts of America where he voted on the issue of allowing gay Scouts in the organization.  He has his work cut out for him back in the Pine Tree Council in Portland, Maine.   Annie is working hard as a technical writer.  They are looking forward to a motorcycle vacation to Nova Scotia.  Omi is very much looking forward to having Hannah and Luke at the farm this summer.  They are big, strong, and willing workers.  We'll swim in the pond, light campfires, and sit in the hay mow on the round bales to watch the storms come in from the west.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


Hot and humid yesterday, broke out the shorts.  It was 20 F. not two weeks ago.  Glad my new babies were born in the warmer weather.  Instead of putting sweaters on them I was worried about them not getting enough fresh air.  Yesterday's black mama is still very protective of the tiny new twins, and I've seen them both nursing.  I got my hand on one of their bellies today after work, to check for fullness, with mom making a clucking sound that means get away from my kids.  I obliged.  I was thrilled to see reluctant white mama who gave birth on Saturday letting one of her twins, the doe kid,  nurse.   The last few days of keeping  her milk flowing paid off!  Her little buck gets all excited when he sees me coming with the bottle.  What a cutie he is with those blue eyes.  I love these little angora goat kids.  Lambs are delightful but there is something so endearing about these curly cuties.  Goat babies love to cuddle, unlike lambs who would rather have four hooves on the ground - or in the air, bounding around the pasture or running "chariot races" in the barn with their lamb pals.   One more angora goat to give birth - a smallish black doe, first time mother.   Fingers crossed this one goes okay.   Little Maya, sister to Cinco, born May 5 when I was on the way  back from Maryland with Kim, is coming along.  She's still a little woozy, but is standing much more and baaing to me when she sees me coming with the bottle.   I have to pick her up to nurse, or she would be content to take a few sips and leave it at that, becoming weak with hunger.  In my arms with one hand under her chin and the other holding the bottle I can get her to take half of it.  I want her to grow big and strong like her brother.  Mom wants out of the pen and I don't blame her.  I don't dare let little Maya out in the pasture.  She's just not ready.  This is what shepherds do - take care of everybody regardless of the inconvenience and trouble. Protect the weak and give succor to the needy, then rejoice when they no longer need you.  Raining again tonight.  So grateful for my big strong barn during the last few nights of wild weather, but then, I always am.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


I've been hoping for a black doe kid and finally it's happened.  As I was doing morning chores before work I saw my lovely, aged black doe pawing at the ground. Then she made her "I'm hurting" goat call. That was it - I called Fawn, my aide, to make sure she was okay with my being out today, and called in "goat."  It was a while before a little black gooey bundle was lying on the hay.   Mom was vigorously licking the babies off - a very good sign.  I waited a while to do my clip-dip-strip, as I did not want another reluctant mom on my hands.  Not to worry, this girl not only wants her babies...she wants to kill anybody getting near them, namely me.  I managed to dodge the chopping teeth trying to take a chunk out of me enough to get the baby cords clipped and dipped in iodine ( to prevent germs from traveling in).  Squeezing the waxy plug out of mom's teats was another matter.  I grabbed her horns and put my knee firmly on her neck with my face on her body while I gently nursed out some colostrum into a cup.  Luckily, mom has plenty of thick, wonderful milk for the babes.  I let go and moved away quickly then heard the clamping down of the teeth near the back of my leg.  That would have been a big ouch, but I would have forgiven her because I adore little black angora goats.  Black mohair is my very favorite fiber.  I made sure this girl had a nice belly full of colostrum to get her started.  Typically, her brother, a buck kid, went for mom's teat first.  Some things never change.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Eggistential Goodness

After longing for farm fresh eggs all winter I am now inundated with them.  The girls are working overtime.  I made spinach quiche yesterday and we're eating some splendid omelettes.  I should bring my industrial mixer home from school and cook up some pound cakes to freeze.  Anything to put these lovely packages of healthy deliciousness to work.  Luckily spouse likes eggs and doesn't mind "breakfast for dinner."

Maternity Ward

The corridor behind the stanchions is filling up with mom/baby pens.  It's important to let the moms and babies be together to "mother up" for a few days after birth.  Goat moms will steal each other's babies, or ignore them as I found out on Saturday.  I came home from the Hamilton market and walked in on a twin birth.  I think mom was thrown by the fact that there were two of them, then I walked in and interrupted the maternal bonding process.  I am cautiously hopeful.  Saturday she was stepping on them in the little pen I confined them too.  We've been nursing mom out to keep her milk flowing and I'm bottle feeding the tiny little fragile babies - one of each.  I can hardly stand to leave them to come to work.  They are like little tea cup French poodles, and root for teats on my leg.  Precious little sweeties...

Mad Art

I just can't get past Peter Max.  I adore his work and the kids/staff is enjoying it too.  Today I taught the little ones how to make a symmetrical drawing with things like hearts and butterfly wings by folding the paper and doing one side at a time.  They had so much fun and I love working with them.

Painting is very cost effective for us as I've inherited gallons and gallons from various teachers who are thrilled that I am full time art now.  Anyone can come in, sit down and paint.  It's very stress relieving and good for the soul.

Apple Orchard Walk

Looks like we've got some blossoms after all.  I've been told the apple orchard is too old and not worth pruning, etc.  It seems to me if it is still producing apples it is worth putting some time into it.  The boughs were heavy with apples two years ago and my sheep grew fat on what dropped onto the ground.  We took a leisurely walk up to the pond then down to the back pasture.  It was a cloudy and cool day - perfect for a stroll over the land.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

First Market Day

We set up earlier than usual at the Hamilton town square.  I have new market neighbors and am one space away from a local shepherd and potter, Kylie Spooner.  The weather was glorious - cool and sunny - and the patrons started coming.  It was Colgate Univ. graduation day and the families were wandering through the market.  I said hi to some market friends I haven't seen since last October and bought some granola, home made butter, jalapeno cheddar dinner rolls and Gouda cheese.  There is a new lunch/dessert crepe vendor.  Three sisters make delicious crepes while you watch.   The mango/brie crepe is fabulous.  Couldn't help but go back for the Nutella/strawberry/whipped cream for dessert.  It takes an hour to set up, and another hour to take down, but it was a very worthwhile and enjoyable market day.  It should be good for another month after which the market will be slow, and the weather very hot, and I will sit in front of a fan and spin.  Rainy Saturdays will give me a day off once in a while so it's not so bad.  After stops at Tractor Supply and Price Chopper it was back to the farm to find big white pregnant mom - the one I found stuck upside down a couple of weeks ago - had given birth to twins.   I think she was thrown by the fact that two came out of her, and me walking in immediately after was not so lucky either.  Mom fled to the back of the pen without licking them off.  I left them alone, hoping she would come around, but when I went back a while later she had not bonded with them.   I built a pen around them, and got them all isolated together.  Got the cords dipped and Nutridrench into the babies, one of each.  Mom was still very nervous, stepping on the babies and was in no shape for me to nurse her out.  Fortunately I had some colostrum from another birth in the fridge and heated it up for the hungry newborns.   I went to bed fearful that I had a set of bottle babies on my hands.  Goats do not accept another goat's babies very easilly.  Goats are notoriously GOOD mothers.  I have only had one bad mother goat in all the year's I've had them, and that was after a horrible birth where I found her screaming in the back of the barn and had to assist with getting the baby out. This morning I found the little white boy in his sweater far from the pen, sound asleep.  Somehow he had crawled out, looking for food and succor no doubt, and given up.  The dark brown doe kid was asleep with her mother, who was not looking as nervous as the day before.  I bottle fed the babies and was relieved to see mom nuzzling the babies a little and checking the rear ends.  Good sign.  Mom's udder is swollen and the teats are low.  I'll nurse her out this morning and give some to the babies.  We'll see how it goes...

Thursday, May 16, 2013

New Baby

Finally home after stops at four places.  It is unavoidable some days. Out of checks - stop at bank to order more.  Post office to mail bills and Colorscape contract.  Stewarts to pick up NY Times (Thursday is my favorite issue) and Dollar General because it has the cheapest Friskies salmon cat food.  Home to check the barn first thing for new babies - nothing going on.  Little ones look fine.  Mommies want food but will have to wait.  Doggies waiting to go out.  Took them up the big hill to drink out of the pond/take a swim, then back down to find a new buck kid just born.  Gorgeous dark brown boy born to my beautiful badger doe Sheila, an older doe who hasn't kidded in years.  She is aged and I was concerned, but he is feisty and healthy, and was looking for the teat straight off.  Mom's udder is working fine and producing plenty of milk for him.  After chores, which are much more lengthy with all the various pens for lambs and kids, we built more pens to keep moms with their babies separate from the rest.  The black boy born yesterday is very  beautiful, and his skinny little black mom adores him.  Always a better situation when mom is on board.  In from chores at nine thirty with the sunset sky still pink on the horizon.  Lovely, breezy cool night.  I have not yet caught up from Maryland Sheep and Wool and confess this birthing business has taken a toll.  Ready for night-night right now.  Might have to give in.  If only I was as obsessive about my housekeeping as I am about my animals.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

So Far Away

The glorious weather today is reminding me of the lovely weekend we spent at Maryland Sheep and Wool.  I was walking on air watching my faithful patrons in the Maggie's Farm booth.  I am anxious to get my sewing machine going again, as soon as the birthing business is over on the farm.  Who knows what I will find when I get home today, that is, after I divert to the feed mill in Waterville.   The weather looks good for the Hamilton market this weekend.  Wish I had more bags left to bring.  Will have to remedy that situation.  In the meantime I'm thinking about my bag ladies.  I got a sweet note from one of them thanking me for bringing so many beautiful knitting totes to Howard County.  How cool is that? 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

In at Ten

Inspected apple blossoms on our daily walk up to the pond.  Incredibly, they look okay.  Still cold tonight, it's 25 F. now, am hoping they make it through another freeze.  Came home from work to find a skinny little black doe with a new black buck kid.  Adorable boy, very healthy.  Got them situated with molasses water and some of Stan's gorgeous green second cut hay.  Mom hardly had two squirts of milk, which I gave to the boy.  I used the reserve I had in the fridge from another mother to fill his belly.  Found a thick wool sweater for him as he is under a window I covered with a fleece blanket.   Three more mom's to go in the maternity pen.   Will make another larger communal kindergarten pen for the one's who graduate from the baby jugs.  Flighty Mom's baby is fantastic.  Caught him and made sure his belly is full.  Not to worry he is doing fine, jumping and playing alongside mom.   Still worry about him roaming at large, but with all these dogs the varmints tend to stay away.  The ewe twin lamb, Maya, born the night I came home from Maryland, is not coming along the way I would like.  She is very lethargic and doesn't like to stand up.  Like a Raggedy Ann. I'm giving her Nutri Drench, milk replacer, B complex, Bo-Se (selenium/vitamin E).  She's growing, but is not strong.  Her brother jumps and plays but she doesn't join in.  She was a little perkier today, but not the way I like.  I won't give up on her.   Mom would love to get out of the pen.    Came in from chores at ten, now it's time for Maya's night-night bottle, then night-night for me.  Wood stove is going, night sky is clear and lovely with a pretty orange crescent moon.  Love the sky here and my big hill is the perfect venue to enjoy it.

Cold Snap

I fear my apple orchard is doomed for yet another year.  Two years ago conditions were perfect for a booming crop of apples.  I've been told my old orchard, which date back many decades, is too old and not worth saving.  The bountiful crop of two years ago proved them wrong.  The sheep grew fat on the apples as I left almost all of them on the ground for the flock.  Frost zapped the blossoms last year, and, sadly, it's happened again. It was 20 F. this morning on the farm, today, May 14.  The weather here in the North Land is fickle and harsh.  Just when we thought winter was behind us we are lighting the wood stove again.  My newborns are all in sweaters.  I am expecting four or five more births and I was sure they would come last night in the wee hours when I am the least prepared to keep them from freezing.  I went out between three and four and found nothing but big round moms.  One girl is so heavy with babies she can hardly lift herself up.  I found her one morning last week, on her back, unable to roll over and right herself.  The babies on either side weight them down.  That position is deadly for sheep and goats as they can suffocate.  Luckily I looked to that side of the barn and saw her before I left for work.  When I got her turned over she staggered dizzily away.  Warm weather is coming tomorrow and we should be out of the woods, but with no apples to look forward to in the fall.  Whatever will I tell Lilly?

Monday, May 13, 2013

That Mommy Thing

I'm homesick for my lambs and kids back on the farm.  I spent a good bit of Mother's Day in the barn with new babies, checking and rechecking them,  helping them stand up, making sure they are nursing, putting sweaters on, etc.  Flighty mom, who sailed over the fence to her jug on Saturday morning, spent the night next to her baby in the barn.  She apparently stashed him in the barn then went out to graze, and either forgot where he was or he moved.    She ran around the barn screaming, frantic over her lost baby.  I was sick about it and berating myself terribly over not doing a better job securing her and the infant in a pen.  I looked and looked in every nook and cranny I could think of.  No buck kid curled up anyway.  I got the dogs and crisscrossed the hillside, checking every ground hog hole and under every bush.  No baby.  Mom continued to run around screaming.  I was working in the barn with the twins and single kid born Sunday morning, still frustrated about the loss of a baby.  Certainly there are losses, but this one was stupid.  Suddenly I noticed no screaming and turned around to see mom and baby reunited.  Where the heck was he?  I knew that no one could do a better job of finding him than she, but she was so hysterical.  Maybe he just walked out of hiding and appeared.  All's well that ends well.  I put out cracked corn and water for her, hoping she would stay in the barn with her baby, and slipped a sweater on him.  Figured if he was going to get himself lost at least he would be warm.  I was busy making jugs for the new newborns, putting on sweaters, etc., and was annoyed with him for making us worry after he came out of hiding.  Later on when we went on the afternoon hill walk mom came running up to us screaming.  You lost him AGAIN?????  I ignored her and went about my walk.  Sure enough they came frolicking down the hillside into the barn around dusk.  I'm constantly inspired by my goat, sheep and chicken mommies.  Their mothering drive is very strong.  I often think if all human mothers were as good as my farm mommies the world would be a better place.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


While I was at MD. Sheep and Wool last weekend, Matt found some lovely second cut hay right across the creek.  He only has a few bales to spare, but it's enough to keep my mommies in the pens happy.  I have grass growing on the hillside, but I still need bales for the nursery.  This grass is the prettiest I've seen in Brookfield.  At only $4 a bale it's a steal.  We were paying $3 a bale for sticks in North Brookfield.  I'm dishing it out like watercress.  I bought round  laundry baskets at the dollar store to nail up for hay feeders in the pens.  This lovely grass has got to last until the babies are outside.

Happy Mother's Day

He says I'm not his mother but he'll make me an omelette anyway.  Nobody makes an omelette like Matt Redmond.  It was years before he would admit to knowing how to cook anything.  Now the secret is out.  After a night on maternity duty and a long morning in the barn this luscious breakfast really hit the spot.  With my bio kids spread out all over the country it's good that I have all these little four footed babies to take care of.  I'm too busy to be sad.  More babies are on the way.  I get excited just thinking about it.

Twins at Dawn

Was waiting on two nannies in labor last night.  Finally went inside figuring my staring at them might not be the best way to make them relax and let go of their bundles.  Went back out at 2 am and found the tiniest, spindliest little buck kid at the far end of the pen.  Good thing I had put a fleece blanket over the window as the temps were diving and a cold wind was coming through the window.  We had put Lola in her own jug (sheep lingo for lamb pen) too, as she is a very bossy old doe and I feared she would rough the others' babies off them and take over.  No baby for her yet.  Put a coat on the new baby and gave him some Nutri Drench.  Colostrum would have to wait until morning when Matt could hold her horns while I nurse her out.   All sheep and goats need the clip-dip-strip routine when they give birth.  Cords must be clipped and dipped in iodine, and teat need the waxy plus stripped out.  I go the extra length to nurse out some of the life saving fluid that holds all the antibodies the flock has developed against a variety of diseases and squirt it into the babies' mouths with a syringe barrel.  Cheap insurance.  The babies become woozy and drunk on it and frequently flop down and nap.  I went back to bed and woke with a start at dawn.  Took the doggies out to pee and heard new little voices from the barn.  Another doe had the teeniest little twins - one of each.  Finally a female.  They were soaking wet and shivering in the cold.    I knew better than to interfere too soon.  It's important for the mommies to lick the babies off, shivering or not.  It gave me time to make coffee, fix bottles for Cinco and Maya, and wash buckets.  Popped warm, fuzzy, angora/wool sweaters on the babies and squirted Nutri Drench with all the electrolytes and minerals into their firmly fixed and closed mouths.  I always have to wait until they scream for momma to get in those mouths.  Matt got up, built new pens and helped me get the new moms away from the cold outside wall into a warmer place.   That leaves more room in the maternity pen for the several moms to come.  What a blessing on Mother's Day to have all these little bundles of joy to love and care for.  I'm so grateful for this life of wonder and enchantment.  I'm also grateful the mommies waited until I got home from Maryland Sheep and Wool last weekend, then waited for Mother's Day weekend to start the population explosion.  Who knows what the day will bring.  Finger's crossed I will get a BLACK DOE KID out of this production, my favorite fiber, next to black angora.    With mohair going at $40 a pound, I am going to keep all the baby bucks and wether them in a couple of days.  All I have to do is put a band around the tiny sack and it won't grow.  No blood, minimal discomfort.  They won't grow horns but I can deal with that.  All they will grow is beautiful, glossy, sturdy mohair.  I'll spend the day doting over my babies and getting some work done in between.  Life is good.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Wondrous Wool

This felter looked like a character out of one of Shakespeare's plays.  I asked if I could touch the horns of her felted hat - amazing!  This was only one of the many inspiring creations on display - on the artists - at Maryland Sheep and Wool.  The unusually cool temps made wearing all this wool a pleasure.  Kim and I were so cold sleeping in the cargo van - basically a big tin can - we piled wool all around us.  Wool is good, yes, very good.

Men Who Knit

There were some fabulous knitted creations on display at Md. Sheep and Wool - and many were knitted by men.  These talented male knitters were very proud of their work and didn't mind posing for photographs.  I love the matching fish hats worn by a couple.  The oversized knitted bag was fantastic and I confess I wanted a photo so I could attempt it myself someday.  My favorite male knitter - Jim Shelley who teaches knitting at Loop in Philadelphia - stopped by to see me wearing some nifty socks he put together.  Too bad I didn't get a photo of them.

First Goat Kid

I was about to climb up the ladder to the hay mow when I looked down to see a young doe standing next to a perfectly clean and healthy baby.  I remembered catching her a couple of weeks ago and putting her in the maternity pen, but she was slim enough to squeeze through the stanchions and escape.  She did a great job all by herself.   The baby was well taken care of and had been nursing.  I could tell by the way one side of her udder was empty and the other full.  Matt helped me nurse some more colostrum out and I fed it to him along with some Nutri-Drench.  I got his cord dipped, much to mom's distress, and put them both in the pen next to where she gave birth.  There was no holding her there, either, even with cracked corn, warm molasses water and fresh hay.  She sailed over the top and stood a distance away while calling her baby to follow. That was not possible for him, so I lifted him over to be with her.  I figured they were firmly mothered-up already.  Now they are on their own and I am waiting for more goat kids to be born.  It was too rainy for the Hamilton market today, but we motored over there anyway for a stop at Tractor Supply and Hamilton Whole Foods for a Mother's Day lunch.  I had the most delicious goat cheese chutney wrap with cashews.  I hope I can cook like this when I have my own goat cheese, which should not be too long away.  I will hose out the milk room and set up the milking stand that is rusting away in the back of the barn.  Will take a bit of work but it's the perfect place to milk Fancy, then Matilda, my beautiful Nubian girls.  In the meantime I have visions of more luscious mohair from my angoras.  Better go check the barn right now.

Friday, May 10, 2013


It's always bittersweet to pack up and head for home after a fabulous festival weekend.  Annie kept track of all my sales, Kim, Hannah and Mia worked the booth, and I was able to spin and chat with old friends.  As we were travelling home the phone rang.  It was Matt telling me that "an old sheep had twin lambs!"  I thought he was mistaking goats for sheep, but no, it was the truth.  An aged ewe, probably ten years old, gave birth to two beautiful and healthy black lambs - one of each.  I couldn't wait to get home and check out my new darlings.  I named them Cinco and Maya, as they were born on the Mexican holiday Cinco de Mayo, the fifth of May.  I have them both on supplemental bottles, as mom only has one teat and you have to really be careful with older ewes not having enough milk.  I adore my babies.  I'm still wondering how it happened, as my only intact ram, Zack, was secured in the back pen.  I've heard of ewes putting their rear ends up against a gate and the ram jumping up enough to do the job.  I think that might have happened to me.  I'm grateful Matt was there to bring them in the barn and get them situated with clip-dip-and strip.  When I got home in the wee hours I was able to sit and cuddle with them a while before I turned in.  Four hours later I had to show up at work, ready for duty.  The good show and new lambs really put a spring in my step.

Hannah's Hat

My beautiful granddaughter, Hannah, is quite the needle felter.  While we were wrapping soap and getting ready for the festival, Hannah was busy embellishing her felted hat.  We insisted that she enter it into the Maryland Sheep and Wool Fiber Artist competition.  Wouldn't you know Hannah won a blue ribbon!  I'm thrilled and so proud of this budding young artist.  Hannah has an unlimited supply of lovely, colorful fiber at her disposal, courtesy of her shepherd grandmother, yours truly.