April 26, 2009

The Lambs Are Growing

Our little lambs are doing well.
Pittypat (white with tan spots) is 2 months old today.
Scarlet (brown with white) will be 2 months on May 2nd.
Pittypat finally settled in and is over her bout with the scours.
Today we reduced their bottles from 3 to 2 a day.
They are not happy about that at all.

April 25, 2009

About Dad

Thank you for asking about Dad. We are a bit worried. For those who might be interested, below is a bit about what is going on.

My 78-year-old father was rushed to the ER last Saturday afternoon having intense stomach pains. After a few hours of testing, ultrasounds and examinations it was determined he had a problem with his gall bladder. Gallstones were visible on the X-rays, portions of a stone had broken off and lodged in an area that caused extreme pain. Fortunately his Dr. and his surgeon were the staff on call that weekend. Both were "Johnny on the spot" to the ER and had Dad admitted by early evening with all things covered and surgery scheduled for Monday morning.
Dad has a unique medical history; he was healthy as a horse until he hit his 60’s. He developed a brain tumor a few years ago, which was removed. To have it removed a plastic surgeon basically lifted his face up and off from his upper lip to his nose to enable the Neurologist to reach/remove the tumor through his nasal cavity. He has to take medications to keep the tumor from growing back. The tumor was one of those 1 in a million type tumors. Which I can’t remember the name right now.
Shortly after the tumor removal he then developed heart problems. They diagnosed it as Tachybrady Syndrome. He required a pacemaker to regulate his heart. Thank goodness we have a top notch Cardiologist in the family.
He is on Coumadin which is used to prevent heart attacks, strokes, and blood clots in veins and arteries plus a few other medications for different issues. They could not do surgery on Sunday due to the Coumandin. They had to work with his blood to allow the clotting factor to increase before they did surgery.
They did the surgery Monday morning. After surgery the surgeon told sister and I that the coumandin did cause a bit of an issue with the surgery. Loss of blood being one. The gallbladder was so badly infected that the infection had an adverse effect on his kidneys and pancreas.
Dad is home but not doing so well. They had to leave a drain in his side for the infection, which was also showing blood. The drain was to be removed Friday but was not. They are leaving it in until Monday.
He thinks he should be 100% but is not.
They took him off some of his meds, one being a diuretic and he is having problems with fluid retention. He is having a difficult time breathing. He went back to the doctor yesterday due to not showing any signs of improvement. The Dr. made a few more adjustments to his medication, checked all out and sent him home until Monday.
Sister is here from the city, staying until all is better with Dad. If things do not improve within the next couple of days we are calling in the cavalry…Dr. brother in Texas and Dr. cousin in St.Louis.

During the same time Dad has taken ill Jim had left to drive to TN to move our son home. They arrived back early Sunday morning. Yeah! My baby is home! He had been so much help this week.

April 23, 2009

Gentle Ewes

While sitting in the hospital, waiting for Dad to come out of surgery Sister is reading a home decorating magazine, she hands it to me and says "this is for ewe" ;-)

Look very realistic ~ no?

Click on the blog title to hopefully take you to the website where info on the ewe benches can be found.

April 19, 2009

Sparky Went A Courtin

As many have read before we raise peafowl as a hobby. At this time our pride (a group of peafowl) consists of 8 males and 8 females of various ages. Right now we are in the midst of their mating season (April to June). Things are definitely not quiet here in our valley. The boys become more verbal. Screaming and cawing at any new sound on the farm. Vehicles coming down the drive set them off like watchdogs guarding their grounds. The neighbor children find it humorous to screech provoking the birds to scream back.

When the males are courting they fan their tail feathers (trains).
Our boys have 9 ft and longer tail spans.
They shake, shimmy, flutter and strut their stuff.

They proudly display their frontal view then gracefully turn exposing their backside.
This fancy footwork is all a part of their mating dance.
You can hear the drumming like vibrations (think Turkey) when something catches their fancy.
The older birds find interest in not only peahens
I have seen them flirt with rocks (yep rocks), chickens and yesterday was our one lone guinea.
She was not having anything to do with it.

April 18, 2009

10 Little Piggies

This year's feeder piglets
Doing what they love to do - root
Definitely not going to bite the hand that feeds them
But she does smell good...
Good enough to bite!

April 14, 2009

The Peanut Game & Easter Sunday

Peanut lost the game. They now have him tied on a long lead so he can no longer escape. I imagine he will stay that way the next day or so until they can manage to fix the fence. I wanted to mention that Peanut has friends. Actually 2 beautiful little Miniature girls that he lives with. They should be foaling soon from what I hear. He has been a busy boy from the sounds of things. Oh and that mare he goes to visit, she is a brood mare at a Mule farm.

Hope everyone enjoyed his or her Easter Sunday as much as we did. Even though the day was overcast, kinda dreary and rainy we were able to enjoy and relax both on the farm and with our family.
Early in the morning (before it began to really rain) while doing the morning chores the better half called me over to watch the piglets enjoying the cool brisk morning. It’s so good to see happy, healthy little ones chasing, playing and running through their favorite wallow - mud. Every morning we fill the piglets feed trough and check their self feeding water bowl (it’s a handy little thing, just attach it to a water source and they push on a nozzle in the bowl to bring forth fresh water). They were so happy to see us (really think it was their food) that they would take turns squealing in delight then race around the parameter of their pen seeing who could return the quickest to eat.
(Note For Mama @Ruby Creek– We use what is referred to as hog panels to make their pen. 3 ft tall by 16 ft long panels. Sorry it took so long to get back to you on that.)

One of Jim’s sisters came down from the city for Easter weekend. She spent some time at the Lake of the Ozarks with a friend on Friday, Saturday spent the afternoon and night with the youngest brother’s family and on Sunday came to have a farm fresh Easter breakfast with us before returning home. So good to see her and was a lovely brief visit.
In the afternoon we were meeting family at my parents for Easter dinner. We decided we had a bit of extra time for a Sunday drive (Mom and Dad live about 20 something miles away) so we took the scenic lesser-traveled route over. You could call it a short cut though it really isn’t. Probably "the back roads" would be a more fitting description. Long dirt and gravel twisty, turny roads leading across the countryside. Up hills, down valleys, along ridges and across wet weather creeks. It really is a beautiful drive in spring and fall. This time of year the Red Bud and Dogwood are bursting out all over in purples, pinks and white.
I enjoy looking at the other farms as we drive across the area. You would be surprised how many farms and homes are located back off from the main roads nestled peacefully in the wooded areas. My favorites are the barn shaped houses. I also love seeing the newborn calves, lambs and other livestock grazing the new growth of spring pastures.
Easter dinner was delicious and family time is always cherished. Time flies when you are having fun don’t you know…I hated to leave but there were bottle babies to feed, goats to milk and Jim had to get packed to go back to the road.
Oh, look what my Easter Bunny (Dad) brought me …a smidgen, a pinch and a dash. The separate single measuring spoon on the end is a teaspoon. The others are the smidgen, a pinch and a dash, the smidgen being the smallest. If by chance you ever run into a recipe calling for a dash of something it’s about equal to 1/8 of a teaspoon.

April 13, 2009

The Peanut Game

To play the Peanut Game you will need -
Our neighbors, their little miniature horse (stud) named Peanut with a big horse attitude, a weak fence, a beautiful quarter horse mare down the road, a halter and a lead.
Little Peanut has become quite the escape artist. Seems on a daily basis for the last week little Peanut has escaped his confinements to trot up our mile long access road, across the country gravel road to visit a big beautiful quarter horse mare. He also chooses to play this game in the wee hours of the morning (when all but us early bird goat milkers are still fast asleep).
One morning I find Peanut standing in our front yard contemplating if he wanted to visit with the goats or run for the hills (he chose the hills when I attempted to catch him). Another morning at the crack of dawn on Jim’s way into town Peanut was standing on the side of the road visiting with the mare. Yesterday afternoon on our way out to our family Easter dinner we found him hoofing it midway up the access road and this morning on his way back out to work Jim found Peanut again standing with the mare.
Like good neighbors we always call to let them know he is out. Most mornings they do not answer the phone. I end up walking to their house, knocking on their door until someone answers. This morning bright and early (a quarter to 7’ish) I let the phone ring and ring and ring. The teenage daughter finally answers the phone, sleep still heavy in her voice. I say sorry to wake you, but Peanut is up at Mr. C’s. Exasperated she says NOT AGAIN.
I do feel sorry for them, know they have to be extremely frustrated. (Well I would be if Jim couldn’t fix a fence or figure out where the horse was escaping from).
Though have to say we find it quite comical. Doesn’t take much to entertain us, ehh? Who will go fetch Peanut home today? How long will it take them to catch him? How long will he stay fenced? Who will win the Peanut game, the horse or the neighbors? Stay tuned.

April 10, 2009

April Showers

If April showers bring May flowers, we should be growing a rain forrest.
A line of strong to severe storms moved east/northeast across the Missouri Ozarks yesterday afternoon through evening. We were under a tornado watch/warning most of the evening. Hope everyone in the area weathered the storms, are OK and suffered no damage.
Forecast today calls for a damp, dreary, overcast, rainy type day. To say the least it’s muddy out there, suck your boots off your feet type muddy. All the critters are hold up in their shelters this morning. The only brave souls to venture out were the Shetland boys. The rain doesn’t seem bother them.
To my surprise yesterday I found we have new barn kittens. Surprising due to our only having male cats on the farm, so I thought.
When we moved to the farm there was a stray female who dropped a litter of kittens, she raised them to weaning age then disappeared. No biggie, we gave away all the female kittens and let the males stay. Thinking with all males, there would be no future kittens and we wouldn’t be over ran with cats. I don’t mind the 4 barn cats, they are no problem. They do a job and do it well. We have no mice, moles, etc. Our barn cats could actually be considered feral cats. They are not friendly to humans, run if they see someone approach and really can’t be caught.

We call this big boy Catmando

The tomcats come and go as they please. In winter I occasionally find them sleeping in the barn, in Summer I catch a glimpse of them fleeing the barnyard with a dead mouse or frog. They get along nicely with the livestock dogs and never cause any problems.
When the neighbors moved into the area they brought cats, cats that multiplied quickly. Guess one of our guys brought his girlfriend home. This was a smart momma cat she found an empty box in Jim’s tool room to have the kittens. The tool room is close to the self-feeding cat food dispenser. The tool room is also next to the hay room, which is the warmest shelter on the farmstead.
I heard them mewing, wanted to see them, but Momma cat hissed and spat when I got close so I left them be.
Hope everyone has a great weekend!

April 9, 2009

Shepherdess in Training

If you were to ask me anything about goats, I could probably answer off the top of my head. If I do not have first hand knowledge/experience I know many that have and could find the answer quickly. 10 years of being owned by goats I have been there, done that and am still doing it. When it comes to the care of goats I have all the confidence in the world in myself.
Goat are truly amazing creatures. My day would not be complete and life on the farmstead would not be the same without our goats.
My parents say I came by it honestly, it is in my blood and I was born to be goat herding. According to them our Irish last name also roughly translates to " from goat hill or goat herder". Plus my great grandparents and grand parents raised goats.

You would think that I could just jump right in with caring for sheep. After all they are both ruminates, similar in their basic needs, behavior and maintenance. Oh I definitely know there are differences, especially after our experiences with our last flock of Suffolk and Polypay.

Before I cause anyone to worry …all the sheep are doing fine.
The Shetland boys are perfect, well besides 2 still needing to be sheared. Angus did push Jim’s patiences a bit too far while he was home on vacation. Angus is too smart for his own good. Seems that since shearing made the boy much, much smaller he found a few more weak places in the fence and believe it or not low crawled under to the neighbors property. Not once but 3 times. He would have never been able to do this with his fleece before shearing. The fleece would have gotten caught up in the fencing and he would have had to be cut free. Being bald, nothing there to stop him you know. I told Jim he shouldn’t be aggravated, Angus was just helping him find and fix fence problems. LOL
Aberdeen alerted us to the fact that Angus had escaped to greener pastures. Deenie still likes to be velcro’ed to Angus’ side. Once Angus was out of sight Aberdeen was screaming bloody murder for his brother. Plus the neighbors called once when they saw Angus out and about grazing. Kelly and Kirby are the perfect little angels of the group.

Scarlet and Pittypat are doing wonderfully well too. The only problem I am having is with their sheep berries. We switched them from goat milk to lamb milk replacer. Now don’t get me wrong. I 100 % believe in goat milk being good for many orphaned animals. Just believe that bottle babies need breed specific milk replacer (lamb’s milk is also richer than goat milk). I slowly changed over to the replacer though in doing so it lead to clumpy berries. It is slowly straightening out. There are no problems with their eating, peeing, chewing their cud. They are eating hay, a bit of lamb ration, drinking water in addition to their bottles ...they are the sweetest little things. Just absolutely adore them.

I introduced Scarlet and Pittypat (through the fence) to the Shetland boys yesterday. Of course only Angus had a problem with them. He attempted to head butt them. What a character he has become.

Scarlet and Pittypat are our first bummers (orphaned or bottle lambs). Our previous ewes were excellent mothers and we never had to bottle feed. They raised their lambs without any assistance and to be honest I did not pay much attention to detail other than to check and see if the lambs were nursing and the ewes had plenty of milk.
Something new I just found out is that lambs are supposedly weaned earlier than goat kids. Another shepherdess passed along the info that ewes start weaning their lambs at about 6 to 8 weeks old. Definitely different than the goats, with the meat and fiber does(goats) that dam raise their kids some will nurse up to 5 months old. In pulling and bottle feeding the dairy kids standard weaning age is 3-4 months.
Here I was prepared to bottle Scarlet and Pittypat until they were 12-16 weeks old.
Seems I have a ways to go on shepherding ... I learn something new everyday!

April 8, 2009

On The Road Again

As they say... all good things must come to an end.
So did the better half's vacation.
He is back out on the road again.

We decided to spend the last evening of his vacation quietly at home with "Dinner and a Movie Night".

He loves to grill and I have to say he is really quite good at it. I enjoy when he grills, not only does the food taste better to me (always does when someone else cooks) there is less mess in the kitchen for me to clean up.
We had a delicious meal of grilled salmon steaks, a side salad, asparagus and a baked potato.

After dinner we watched Australia.

If you have not had the chance to see this movie, you really should.
We rarely go out to the theaters. The last time was in 2004. Going to the theater is a bit out of my comfort zone. I have a difficult time with crowds and it is almost impossible for me to sit still for 2 hours.
Now don't get me wrong, I do watch movies. It is just easier at home where I can putter and piddle around the house while the better half can kick back in his recliner comfortably and watch.
Besides my not being able to sit still...the price of a ticket at the theater...oh my goodness, come on...in 2004 it was $6.00 per person for an afternoon matinee at that. An afternoon out for 4 with drinks, snacks or popcorn cost almost $50.00. I can think of much better things to spend $50.00 on than a movie. Sorry about the little rant...back to the movie...
In my opinion Australia was a very good movie.
I am not a big Nicole Kidman fan but still it was a good movie.
Hugh Jackman was awesome.
It was a drama, a western of sorts (better half loves westerns), a love story and much more rolled into one. We laughed out loud a couple of times and it brought tears to our eyes later on.
For the better half a good movie has to have a happy ending, this did. I actually didn't want it to end.

April 7, 2009

A Typical Day

I have recently had emails from a couple of charming readers interested in knowing how we manage things on farm. So I thought I would share a bit of our day with all.
We live on a small farm, 15 acres. The better half does work away from the farm (someone has to pay the bills :-). Though he does help out during busy times and when he is home off the road. I am blessed to be able to stay at home and be doing what I want to do at this time in my life. My day is not glamorous by any means; it is more an adventure never knowing what the new day will bring.

For Ann & Terry
I have always been an early riser. Also being a light sleeper, the rooster crowing by the window at the crack of dawn never fails to wake me. No alarm clock needed here. Usually up and around before anyone else in the house, I cherish and need that little extra time in morning to clear my head and collect my thoughts.
The day begins roughly about 5 or 6, depending on the light and cold of the season. First if there are bottle babies, it’s bottle time and cleaning playpens. I start a load of laundry then out to milk the goats after my morning caffeine fix and puttering around the house opening blinds, curtains and doors. Then back in to process and bottle the milk. While the pasteurizer* is humming along I check my email, drop in at various online boards or groups and try to post on the blog.
We are very fortunate to have milk year round. Winter for most is when they dry their does off for breeding and do not have to milk. At times I envy those who have the winter break, especially the days the milk begins to freeze before I get it to the house. Other times I am grateful to not be without milk, so we purposely breed to have a year round supply.
After finishing working with the milk, it is back outside to feed and water the poultry, peafowl and pigs. I then feed the goats and sheep. There are 4 pens/pastures that house our goats and sheep. I weigh and measure feed amounts for each group then it’s back and forth from the feed room till all are fed. I then check to make sure each pen/pasture has a clean full water trough, fill hay feeder and refill baking soda and mineral feeders and let all out to browse.
Then back in the house to make breakfast. Breakfast depends on who might be home and how hungry they are. If I am home alone it is normally something simple and easy such as a breakfast muffin, toast and jam or a bowl of oatmeal on the run. If the better half is home we usually go over the plan of action for the day during breakfast. The better half works from the "To Do List " which gives me the direction my day will take. Depending on the task chosen and if he will or will not need my help is how my day will play out.
Around 11:30 it’s bottle feeding time, I collect eggs, check on any special needs situations (pregnant goats, hatching chicks, babies of any type, etc.), then walk the farm checking for head/horns caught in fencing, making sure all is right in my little world.
It’s then time to fix lunch, again what depends on who is here. After lunch, it’s mid day bottles, then we continue whatever task or craft chosen for the day. Lately it has been shearing, vaccinating and trimming hooves. On cold days we choose inside outdoor projects, like raking out the old loose hay from the hay room, cleaning the milk room and shelters, organizing the shop, fixing things that need repaired and building a new whelping box. Puppies due anytime.
Around 5 it is bottle time again. I also check nest boxes for a late laid egg that might freeze, plus check the levels in the outside self-feeding cat and dog food dispensers. Before evening milking I call everyone back up from the pastures, do a head count and close them in their pens for the night. After milking go back to the house and we call it an end to a good day.
I try to have dinner on the table by 7 at the latest, dishes and kitchen cleaned by 8. The last bottle feeding of the day comes around right before retiring for the night, sometimes 9, sometimes 10. Between 8 and 9 is my quiet down time. I usually can manage a chapter in a book or watch a 30 minute program on TV before falling asleep sitting up.

Now in between the ins and outs during the day I do the other normal household activities, cleaning, laundry, dishes, cooking. Some tasks I have assigned to certain days. Cheese making is Monday, I use all remaining milk from the prior week that has not been bottle fed, sold or used for the table to make cheese. Thursday is for baking, Wednesday is for scrubbing floors, cleaning bathrooms and other mundane household chores. Friday is set aside for visitors and customers to pick up milk and eggs.
I also handle all other day to day tasks such as paying bills, purchasing supplies & feed, all records management, sales and supervise (if you want to call it that) our farmhand who helps out when needed.
What needs done around the farm also depends on the season. Spring and Summer comes garden work, new babies born and home canning. Fall and Winter brings butchering and winter prep.
Seems there is always something to do and never a dull moment.

April 2, 2009

Much Less Cock~a~Doddle~Doo

Happy, happy to say the roosters are in the freezer. The better half butchered yesterday, 10 birds. Things are now calm, quiet and happy around the chicken pen. Instead of 12 morning crows, only 2 today.

Getting roughly a baker’s dozen in eggs each day. Selling them as quickly as I gather them it seems.

Buffy’s boys the Boer bucklings are almost weaned. Down to 1 bottle a day. We moved the boys off the screened in porch out to the kid pen so Scarlet and Pittypat (the new ewe lambs) could be close at hand to bottle, care for and bring in at night. Yep, two more house babies. :-)

The dairy girls are beginning to show their baby bellies. Barb and Isabella are both due to kid in June. Scarlet and Pittypat should be able to handle things on their own by then and graduate off the porch to the kidding pen at that time. Oops, for lambs it is called a lambing jug. Barb and Isabella both have produced twins in the past, so we will be looking at 4 house bottle babies in June.

We are at day 5 with the new feeder piglets, they are settling in just fine. At least they don’t run squealing to the back of the pen when we approach to feed and water. They sure are little cuties. I have resisted the urge to pick them up and cuddle them. If nothing else the one lesson I have learned over the years…you don’t play with your food.

I had considered setting the seedlings out to let them harden off, but don’t think I will risk it. Possible frost warnings for the area the next couple nights. And we only thought Spring had sprung.

Update on Weight Loss for better half - Since the Lap Band surgery was a no go. He decided to go with a supervised diet with the family doctor. The new diet plan is working out well. Not really a prescribed diet plan as much as healthy eating lifestyle changes. We do have to consider sugar, cholesterol and sodium levels. At home he does wonderfully well. The challenge will be out on the road when farm fresh food and my cooking is not available to him. He has lost 10 lbs. since the 14th of March. The Dr. said the first 20 lbs. for him should drop rapidly.

Second update on soaps – Coincidentally the day I sold all the bars of soap I had on hand, the last of the local shops that carried our products called to say she was also closing (due to the economy). We were just going to let her sell the remaining product out, but that isn't going to happen. I will be picking up all products they have in-store tomorrow. I’ll let anyone that is interested know what is available.

Hope everyone has a great day!