Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Until Next Year - A Lambing Update

Well, another lambing season has come and gone and I thought it time to update for those of you who check here for that sort of thing.   We have a pasture full of beautiful Corriedale lambs!

As is likely to happen, the weather didn't cooperate with our plans.   In an effort to get lambs born and growing well during the colder months (when the air is cold but dry and the ground is frozen, not wet and muddy) before going out to pasture we bred earlier than usual for us, planning to lamb from the end of February through March.  But the combination of an older ram who maybe wasn't settling his ewes like he should have and much warmer than ever recorded Michigan temperatures we ended up with something of an odd "up and down" lambing season.

One of the bottle lamb triplets
All in all, though, we're happy.  You might remember we started very early with a pair of twin ewe lambs?  We ended the second week of April with another pair of twin ewe lambs!  We had only one set of triplets this year, thank goodness, but of all the ewes to have triplets it was "Sarah", who can't count past one as it is, to have three!  Sarah, though she gives us beautiful lambs, will not be part of our brood flock next year. 

Final count is 29 live lambs from 19 ewes, so 150%.  Even with those triplets, single births (again from the old ram) in the middle of the season brought our percentage down some.  My husband cares about these things, I care about thrifty colorful lambs, LOL!   That old ram gave us lovely lambs and we were lucky to have him for two seasons.  We'll keep some of his daughters in the flock.

This is Collette and her twin ewe lambs
Another nice number is 16 ewe lambs from that group of 29, much better than the high percentage of ram lambs born last year.  Some of very favorite "original" ewes from Mar-Rita Farms gave us ewe lambs that will most likely stay in the flock as their mothers are getting older and we want to keep those bloodlines going.  I've been spoiled all these years by these beautiful and amazing sheep, their wool and their mothering abilities.  This weekend I am going to check out some new bloodlines and especially a new ram prospect - I'm pretty excited about that.  I'll keep you posted!  In the meantime, as the sun sets on this years lambing season, here are some more photos ~

The good thing about this funny weather is that pastures were ready for sheep earlier than usual!  They have been enjoying good growth, but we have to watch them carefully and rotate quickly because regrowth is slow.  I just realized there aren't any pictures of the white lambs, but we do have some here!  I'll have to make a point of getting their portraits taken next.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Projects and Plans Around The Farm

You know, most of the time I'm so caught up in the beauty and blessings of our farm life (like the glory of green grass and the morning sky at left) that I don't notice the unkept or declining parts (hmmmm, that sounds like what can happen in our spiritual life, too, doesn't it?)  I say most of the time, but I also know that every time I come down the road to the farm the first thing I see is this:

In fact this ugly old shed is what anyone coming to the farm from the main road sees!  Our last post was "Paint and Possibilities" and now I bring you "Projects and Plans".  I actually "planned" to write this post last fall, thinking about lots of different things that needed to be done around the farm.  We slowly get a few crossed off the list, but the daily chores of necessity get in the way of these other projects that would be nice to have done - but aren't really required for the farm to continue.  And truth be told, even though it's practically falling down/rotting away this little building still serves as a run-in shed for the rams when they aren't living life with the ewes.

Here's the crumbling southside, and this is what you see up close and personal when you're pulling into our driveway.  It's literally feet from both the drive and the road.  Ugh, a poor first impression (but see the beautiful main barn in the background?)

The building is 12' wide and 32' long. It stands 8.5' tall on the high side, sloping down to 8' on the low side, with doors on two ends of the east side, pictured above (notice the hitching rail?)  This is the view I see out my kitchen window.  It has the two small windows in between the doors and they are mirrored by windows on the opposite side, though one of them is boarded over.  It's completely open on the north side as you can see in the picture below (not the best plan for a livestock shelter). It sits on a cement pad and it has electric running to it, but not water so any water for livestock up here has to be carried or run from the hydrant in the barn.

When you walk in the little door on the southeast corner, you see ~

Some beautifully weathered boards that I'd like to salvedge.  In fact, even though it can't be repaired to stand as it is, I think there are lots of great elements that might be reused/rebuilt (maybe into a smaller building on the same site?)  When you turn to your right and look out towards that north side you will see some not so salvedgeable parts ~

Years of housing first Morgan horse stallions, then Percheron draft horse weanlings and yearlings and now Corriedale rams have taken their toll on the interior wall and stall door (yes, that's a pallet helping to brace the door, lol!)

Last fall I was given the bones of a greenhouse that I'd love to incorporate into this area if we could change things up.  I dream of it being a small farm store/office/classroom building, with that greenhouse attached and handicap accessible for both Bill and visitors to our farm.  What do you think?

A farm wife can dream and plan, can't she?  (Oh, and any helpful hints and tips for carefully taking down an old building while trying to preserve all useable pieces would be greatly appreciated!)

In the meantime, I'll continue to let that beauty around the farm I mentioned before inspire me - like the magnolia tree in a late March sunset, blooming a full two months earlier than usual!  Lovely ~

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Paint and Possibilities

Its not hard to imagine endless possibilities when you are around creative, enthusiastic and energetic people!  Angela at Maple Valley Farms is just that kind of person, and whether you've visited with her in person, follow her on Facebook or read her blogs you certainly know what I mean.  Recently she went through a big spurt of painting and decorating posts that were absolutely inspiring (maybe springtime has something to do with this, too?)  Now the Maple Valley Farm family is offering some amazing Homesteading Courses to help the rest of us along that inspirational, creative road!  Be sure to check them out here

I'm honored and excited to be leading a session in Beginning To Knit (for beginners and those who might want to refresh some skills) and I hope you'll think about joining us for that - I promise you will enjoy yourself, learn something and come away with some pretty awesome knitting goodies fresh from our own farm!  I'll also be a student in several of the other classes offered.

Encouraged by possibilities, I look with a new eye on the pieces around our farm that could make their way inside the farm house.  Two that have been "teasing" me are these pieces (above and right) from the tool room in the barn...what do you think, Ang?  I don't even think these need change in paint - I love the colors on both.  The soft grey to the right  has held some of my garden tools.  The turquoise/red/white above is a really cool corner cupboard!  It currently holds nuts and bolts, nails, chains and chainsaw parts.  Certainly could be repurposed inside the farm house, don't you agree?  The Art At The Farm Homestead course would help with this project, wouldn't it?

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Back Porch Post

I'm blogging from my back porch this morning! 

As I write I can see the sheep in the pasture - they're pretty quiet this morning.  Our calico barn cat, Christy, is sleeping by my feet.  There is a pair of "twitter-pated" Mourning Doves in the magnolia tree, courting.  Quite different from that loving scene, on the roof of the barn an ugly starling and a fierce sparrow are fighting about something. 

Looking towards the woods there are streaks of blue sky in the north, but off to the west the sky is dark and heavy.  Storms are predicted for today, including hail.  I had planned to move the net fence in the pasture for the ewes and hoped to get some fleeces skirted later but I guess that might wait.

Oops, I feel rain drops and its time for Bill's shower anyway!!!  Better go....have a wonderful, blessed day where you are.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

I Took Some Time Today

In the busy-ness of sickness, farm care, people care and more its easy for me to find myself just plain tired.  And then resentment starts to creep in.  Resentment and nearly as bad, apathy.  When I just go through the motions, doing the minimum of what I need to do without joy or appreciation.  And with all of the beauty and grace that surrounds me - with all that I've been blessed with - that kind of attitude is just wrong!  Forgive me Lord!

So I took some time.  I took the time when I got Bill up for the day and made his breakfast, to sit down and enjoy that breakfast together instead of rushing through it and on to his shower or getting dressed or me heading back out the door to finish chores.  We took that time together, and enjoyed it.

My lamb-watch seat in the hay mow
I took the time, after chores were finished and Bill was settled with a good book that he's reading, to pour myself a cup of coffee and go back to the barn to sit and watch a ewe we're still waiting on to lamb.  I watched the already born lambs romp and race and play, stretching their legs in the sunshine and green grass.  And instead of grumbling to myself about how many things I would like to change in my barn routine, I took the time to think about the good changes we've already made that make chores easier and even allow Bill, in his wheelchair, to come to the barn and do some things with me.  I took the time to be thankful that I still have hay in the barn to feed while we wait for the pasture to fully be ready to feed the sheep.

It was a good thing, to take that time, and the power of it remained with me through the day.  I thought a lot, and prayed a lot, about Palm Sunday and the upcoming Resurrection Sunday and the meaning of that, and how to make this time real for my grandsons.  I thought about my responsibilities and God's help and hand on my life.

I really needed that time today, that pause.  Gives me the strength to continue...

By the way, we're still waiting on those last two ewes to lamb!