What to do with all that yarn and cold kids?

Source: Goats born in Cumberland this week rock wool sweaters

My kids were always dressed in diapers with the crotch cut out to fit over their heads as they made nice disposable sweaters!  Back then I hadn’t taught myself to knit and didn’t have fencing to separate does and bucks so that I could plan births for more reasonable weather months!

Little Guy (aka LG) in Diaper ( Jan. 2000)

Little Guy (aka LG) in Diaper ( Jan. 2000)

 

For fun videos from Sunflower Farm check out their YouTube of kids in pajamas:

and quad kids with what looks like an Australorp hen:

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Jasper Welcomes This Year’s Chicks

Jasper Welcomes New Chicks

 

Always helpful, Jasper gave the baby chicks lots of attention.  Of course after above average March temperatures, April has been well below average.  Thus the chicks arrived on the coldest day (24 degrees F) since late January.  They are all fine although issues with the brooder light caused about an hour of worries trying to get the temperature correct.

You can tell when baby chicks are unhappy as they make a lot of noise.  Happy chicks are silent or talk to one another in very soft cheeps.  All the noise made them even more attractive to Jasper.

When baby chicks go into the brooder I give them water that is quite warm, about 98-100 degrees F as they will want to drink a lot and it’s important that the water doesn’t chill them.  After a few hours ambient water temperature water is fine.

They do a lot of sleeping the first day, but it is amazing how quickly they catch on to eating and drinking.  I start feeding them by sprinkling food on paper towels and by the end of the day have progressed to an open dish.

Watch the weavers at work! – Skye Weavers: Tweed, Scarves, Throws, Clothing woven on the Isle of Skye

A beautiful, informative 6 minute video of a small weaving company on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. Their looms are powered by bicycle! Gives me lots of ideas.  Gorgeous woolens.

Watch how we design and weave our woollen cloth, scarves, throws and more. Follow our footsteps across hills of Skye to find inspiration for our designs.

Source: Watch the weavers at work! – Skye Weavers: Tweed, Scarves, Throws, Clothing woven on the Isle of Skye

Farewell Ginger

April 16, 2001 – April 5, 2016
Of natural causes, heart failure.

Ginger was a sweet, beautiful goat with one of the best fleeces I’ve ever had in my goats, the best of those with color  genetics.  Her father Sprout was a gorgeous goat and she got her great fleece from him, and the color gene from her mother Red.  She passed the color genes on with great fleeces to her offspring too.  She lived a great long life, serving as the herd matriarch until two days before her passing.  She went downhill suddenly, enjoying life up til the last day or so.   I opted to put her down as she was showing significant signs of distress – great difficulty breathing, she would not lie down and she stopped eating.  The vet said she had never seen a case of heart failure in a goat, but she had a significant heart murmur and it was likely fluid around her heart that was causing her to have such difficulty breathing out.  Also, laying down would have been painful because of the fluid in her chest.   I believe that my goats are veterinary “experiments” because they live such long lives – most goats (or any livestock species) don’t get to live much past 2-5 years.  Ginger died of natural causes – how often does that happen to livestock?  She died with me holding her and she relaxed quickly and easily into an eternal peace.

It was so sad later in the afternoon when the other does went out to pasture because Ingrid came to the corner of the barn where Ginger had been for the last day and started calling for her.  Ingrid had been standing on the partition and checking on Ginger while she was in a separate pen. She called and called until I went out and let her smell my hands since I had Ginger’s scent on my hands.  I rolled Ginger (who was temporarily on a cart) to the pasture fence for Ingrid and the other does to smell.  Then after a bit Ingrid and the others walked off, seeming to understand that Ginger would not be back.  Ingrid did not cry for Ginger again.

Here as a memorial are some of my favorite photos of Ginger.

 

Ginger Wearing Bucket (Nov 2001)

Ginger Wearing Bucket (Nov 2001)

Ginger 7 Months Old (Nov 2001)

Ginger 7 Months Old (Nov 2001)

 

Ginger and Scamp (2002)

Ginger (left) and Scamp (2002)

Ginger with Newborns Sienna and Jasmine (2003)

Ginger with Newborns Sienna and Jasmine (2003)

Ginger with Kids Leo and Rembaldi (2004)

Ginger with Kids Leo and Rembaldi (2004)

Ginger in Snow (2014)

Ginger in the Snow (2014)

A New Breed of Opera Diva: Sheep

How do you cast and direct an avant-garde opera starring 100 sheep in New York City — in the middle of lambing season, no less?

Source: A New Breed of Opera Diva: Sheep

I posted the request for 100 sheep to our local group, the Garden State Sheep Breeders (GSSB), but thought they would have a hard time finding that many sheep willing to commute.  Due to the cost of land in NJ and eastern PA most farmers in this area don’t have as many as 100 sheep.  In addition the health requirements for bringing animals across state lines and into NY are expensive to meet.  All animals must be inspected by a Vet and have a current rabies shot at a minimum. Think how much that would cost for 100 sheep!  Not to mention the cost of transportation and housing.  Additionally they could not be ready to lamb or have just lambed due to the potential for spreading Scrapies and this is the normal lambing season.  Still I’m glad that Twin Brook Farm decided to go ahead with it as I’m sure it was an amazing sight.  Only out West on a ranch would you typically get to see so many sheep together.  It would be quite the experience  for a city dweller, one that a small farmer would appreciate as well!

Runaway Scottish Piglet Adopts Neighbor’s Sheep

In Scotland, “a runaway pet pig named Babe who thinks she is a sheep has set up home with a fleecy flock next door – evading capture for almost two weeks. Little Babe fled from her new home just moments after her owners’ trailer parked up at the smallholding they’d just moved to. This little piggy does not want to go home, living a life “on the lam with the sheep in a neighboring field, despite capture attempts by her owners.”  Read the full story and short video at the Telegraph.

 

11-week old Babe, who thinks she is a sheep, hanging out with sheep and lambs on Miefield Farm, Twynholm, Dumfrieshire (Photo: SWNS)  – included in the Telegraph article (By , 4:35PM GMT 17 Mar 2016).

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Addicted to Sheep

Would love to see the movie Addicted to Sheep.    Not often there’s a move about a small family sheep farm not to mention that they keep Swaledale sheep!!!  Love the look of Swaledales with their black mask.  Here’s the synopsis:
“In the North Pennines, tenant farmers Tom and Kay spend their days looking after their flock of prized sheep, and hoping that this will be the year they breed the perfect one. Director Magali Pettier, herself a farmer’s daughter, follows a year in their lives, capturing both the stark, stunning beauty of the landscape, and the brutally hard graft it takes just to survive. Their three children are growing up close to the land, attending a school entirely comprised of farmers’ children, thoroughly immersed in their remote rural world. As the seasons change the couple help birth, groom, nurture and sell their sheep – even when the odds often seems stacked against them. A treat for the senses, Addicted to Sheep allows us to experience life on a hill farm – without having to get mucked in ourselves. – Carol Nahra – See more at: https://www.addictedtosheep.com/home/aboutthefilm/#sthash.s6SqcBlR.dpuf”  Copied from the film’s website.
Here’s the trailer and the blog.
If you want to know more about Swaledale sheep take a look at the association web site.
The are a local breed so not often seen out of the Swaledale area (Yorkshire, England). They are beautiful and well adapted to living in a rough environment.

Photo: Kreuzschnabel/ Wikimedia Commons, Licence

 

Tiny

Tiny, an under sized 3 year old Australorp hen,  has been under the weather so I brought her in for some TLC.  She is only 2 pounds 9 ounces!  Jasper is enjoying the new play friend and is being respectful, watching her intently but no prodding.  Can’t say the same for her dry food as he keeps sticking his paws into her cage and extracting food from the dish.  She is loving the shredded carrots, apples and small bits of bread in a Greek yogurt base I made for her.  Photo below show signs of a recent yogurt snack on her beak and feathers!

Tiny, Australorp Hen

Tiny, Australorp Hen

Not sure how things will turn out as she was always under sized and last year spent a few weeks in the house with an impacted crop.   Often with under sized animals their organs can’t support them long term as they haven’t developed properly.  It’s nearly always heart breaking as these are the animals that have the sweetest nature, as if it is their defense plan to get the extra help they need to survive. She is the sweetest thing, allowing me to pick her up and do anything to her without a complaint or attempt to escape.  She takes blow drying her after washing off a poopy rear end in stride as if every chicken receives these beauty treatments on a regular basis.

The other hens were literally walking over (on) her and she wasn’t moving around much.  It has also been quite cold this last week (3 degrees on Sunday), so I felt it was time for an intervention.  She likes to perch on her food dish so I’m swapping out an empty one after I feed her.  She’s also sleeping a lot but when I take her out for some fresh air she runs around for at least 30 minutes before settling down and looking like she needs to come in out of the cold.  She’s unusually thirsty so I’m wondering if it’s kidney failure.  I’ve put her in front of the patio windows so she can watch the wild bird activity at the bird feeder.

Feb. 22 Update:  Tiny stopped eating after feeding herself a good breakfast on Feb. 21, passing away during the evening/early morning Feb. 21-22.  She had picked up a few ounces but was only 2 pounds 12 oz. when she passed.   In these situations I always wonder if there was more that I could have done.  Sadly none of us is all knowing and I did the best I could do for her.  She appeared to enjoy life up to the end without complaint or bad temper and peacefully drifted off to sleep.  A good lesson on aging and passing for all of us.

30 Inch Snow Storm

After a warm Fall and early Winter painting, installing pavers and digging drainage ditches which I hadn’t gotten to during the Summer, Mother Nature sent a whopper of a snowstorm to keep things interesting.

In mid-December I had tried to start the snow blower bought towards the end of last March and only used twice, but it wouldn’t start.  Since it was still under warranty, I had it picked up and repaired.  The snow blower wouldn’t start because a wasp nest completely filled the carburetor!   Surprised and yet not (since wasps build nests everywhere here, including in the door hinges of vehicles if they are parked outside), at least I was prepared one day ahead of the snow storm.

It snowed for over 24 hours (Jan. 23-24), and at times the snow fall rate was over 2 inches per hour.  Despite the awesome snow blower (24 inches high and 30 inches wide), I had to do the driveway and animal paths twice because of the large amount of snow piling up. By 6AM Saturday morning there was already over a foot of snow in the driveway.  It was perfect snow, light and fluffy and easy to shovel. Usually the snow here is wet and very heavy so it was a delight to be out in this gorgeous snow. Good thing since it took days to get everything cleared!  It was also good luck that the wind wasn’t nearly as bad as originally predicted since the snow fall amount was much greater than predicted.

The driveway itself only took 4 hours (two hours each time). Since there are a lot of small buildings (run in shelters, hen houses, hay shed, hay feeders, etc.) it takes a lot of time to clear the roofs so they don’t collapse under a large snowfall and some areas have to be hand shoveled.  As a precaution I had packed the hay feeders with hay in advance so I wouldn’t need to move hay up to the barn or run in shelters for several days.

James in Snow Chasm

James on the Way to the Hay Feeder

 

Jessie at Hay Feeder

Jessie at the Hay Feeder

After spending over 8 hours getting the snow cleared on Saturday, the whole job had to be done again on Sunday as if nothing had been done.  By the time the driveway was done the first time, there was already over a foot re-accumulated in the “clean” driveway.  All day Monday and Tuesday were spent moving piles from areas that had to be hand dug as the snow only throws so far and making some of the paths wider.  Quite a nice view standing on the wether’s shelter and tossing snow off the roof as far as it would go.

The whole farm is on a slope that runs down to the pond and creeks so drainage is always an issue once the snow melts.  This snow storm was perfect, with sunny days and close to freezing temps so that the snow mostly sublimed rather than melting and creating ice every day.  Of course it came to an end with 2 inches of rain a week later, turning the whole farm into mud with the consistency of quick sand.

 

TyeDye in Snow Chasm

TyDye Going to the Barn in Snow Chasm

 

TyDye EAting Grass in the Snow

TyDye Eating Grass Through the Snow

None of the animals like snow removal implements of any kind, neither human nor machine powered but approve of the end result.  When the snow is this deep they wait for paths to be dug for them. This snow was a good 4 inches above my knee and thus exhausting for me to walk in it.  I can only imagine how hard it would be for a shorter animal such as the goats or for deer.  The chickens don’t like snow but will go out in it for short periods of time if it’s not very deep.  Like the goats and sheep they will eat snow to get a quick “drink” while they are out and about.  I bring my animals warm water several times a day as I think it’s better for them to drink water that’s closer to body temperature when the outside temperature is cold.  They do appreciate it and will drink large amounts of warm water.

Rabbits raced through the paths and at times they would jump out and skim across the snow with their built-in snow shoe feet while all the other local wildlife were in hiding for several days.

 

2015 Farm Highlights in Pictures

Gallery

Pond at Sunset with Geese and Mallard Ducks

Pond at Sunset with Geese and Mallard Ducks

Girls Going Out to Graze

Girls Going Out to Graze

Leaves on Creek at Sunset

Leaves on Creek at Sunset

Breakfast in Bed

Breakfast in Bed

Spring Wild Flowers

Spring Wild Flowers

Fritillaria on Milkweed

Fritillaria on Milkweed

Monarch on Butterfly Bush

Monarch on Butterfly Bush

Hoar Frost on Sage

Hoar Frost on Sage

Hoar Frost on Puddle

Hoar Frost on Puddle

Snapping Turtles Resting Between Battles

Snapping Turtles Resting Between Battles

Young Geese with Parents

Young Geese with Parents

Spring Wild Flowers

Spring Wild Flowers

Ms Cluck

Ms. Cluck – Ameraucana hen

TyDye (Shetland Sheep) in the snow

TyDye (Shetland Sheep) in the Snow

Foggy Sunrise

Foggy Sunrise

 

11 Inch Bear Print in March Snow

11 Inch Bear Print in March Snow