28 February 2008

A room for The Princess

Princess Girl's bedroom is finally ready!

We won't move over to the addition until all the bedrooms are in place, which should be some time next week: we have a bit more finishing work in Dinosaur Boy's room, and then flooring and trim in ours, and that'll be enough to allow everyone a place to sleep out of the dust and construction. The rest of the main floor will take a bit more time to complete, but it is sooooooo nice to finally see real progress!

Features of this amazing 'castle themed room' include the following:
- the bed is a real antique, it belonged to my great-grandmother (and is a size that is no longer standard, so it has a custom made foam mattress on it)
- the bunny on the bed belonged to Gram (my mom) and she gave it to Princess Girl at Christmas this year
- the ivory bedding was on this bed when it lived in Gram and Grandpa's guest bedroom last year
- and the oil painting of the ballerina girl is from my Grandma and Apple Jack's house (it hung in the bedroom I always slept in when I went to their house to visit)
- the curtains are a very bright red-pink crystal organza, from Ikea, and the curtain rod hangers are hand made by The Reluctant Farmer himself

Additional touches yet to come include the requisite wall shelves, of course, and several pictures of castles, many to be supplied by Auntie Ausra and Uncle Nato who have been to a few neat places in their time in Europe, and take wonderful photographs.

Have a look!

24 February 2008

Hmm ... do you think maybe Natalie is pregnant?

or do you think she just needs a sign that says "Wide Load"?

Introducing ... Dingledork!

I promised pictures... here is one taken just after she was born.

District Public Speaking

The Boy, having won at the club level, was advanced to the District competitions in public speaking for 4-H.

We went today to the competition, and he did an absolutely fabulous job. His impromptu speech must be between 1 and 2 minutes: the biggest challenge is usually in filling that first minute, but he did exactly one and a half minutes on the topic of "my favourite animal" ... which was his dogs! Duggan, the beagle, featured prominently in the speech, as did Bob and McKenzie in their jobs as guardians.

He did not place first or second (the only two ranked positions), but he certainly did a good job and stated after he finished his speeches that he was proud of himself - as he should be.

Very few people really enjoy public speaking, and for him to be comfortable and competent in such a difficult task is something to be proud of, for sure!


We've been working steadily on the addition ... this weekend, we were painting!

And, a third lamb!

Bear, one of the new Hampshires, was looking rather out of sorts today. The Reluctant Farmer noticed that nothing seemed to make her happy: she pawed at the ground, sat down, and then got up and repeated the procedure a few feet away. She rammed other ewes who got in her way, and kept trying to get comfortable and didn't seem to be succeeding.

The Boy and I were away from the farm at the District Public Speaking competition, so we missed all this entertainment. The Reluctant Farmer was busy installing flooring, so he kept an eye on the happenings outside, figuring a lamb must be on the way (I believe his words were more along the lines of "I know a grumpy pregnant female that's about to have a baby when I see one"). Well, he was right: in the ten minutes between one glance out the window and the next, the lamb arrived! This is a bit of a surprise, as usually the process takes some time and there are clear signs that the whole thing is underway.

Being the good Farmer that he is, the Reluctant Farmer moved the mama sheep and her new lamb into the isolation pen. We were actually on our way home, so we were able to get outside and help The Boy do all those lambing tasks that are so important: making sure the lamb is fully dry, dipping the umbilical cord in iodine to prevent infection, tagging the ear so we know who she is and who she belongs to, and docking the tail so that the grown sheep won't be afflicted with fly strike in the heat of summmer.

So, we now have yet another ewe lamb - or, more precisely, The Boy has a new baby ewe lamb in his flock. The mama sheep, Bear, is officially part of his 4-H flock, and so this lamb will be his prospect ewe for the project year.

How to get a mama sheep to follow you

To get a mama sheep to follow you, you pick up her baby and carry it, low to the ground, where the mama can see it.

You have to remember that "low to the ground" part. If you pick up the baby and hold it up too high, the mama can't find it: baby lambs are short and mama sheep know this, so they won't bother looking for their baby three feet up off the ground. She'll lose track of the baby and wander back to where she last saw it ... and then you get to try again.

I figure by now you can guess out how I know this. :)

Here are some pictures of me getting Jaws and the newly arrived Dingledork across the pasture and into the isolation pen:

18 February 2008

Two lambs in two days!

The Reluctant Farmer looked out the window Sunday morning, came back to the bedroom door and said “Well, get dressed!”

Jaws (the Columbia ewe that I acquired this past summer - she's very sweet, I'm not sure why she's called Jaws) was out in the pasture with her new baby.

The new lamb was up and walking around, nursing all on her own, and very sturdy. She’s got some funny looking spots (she is half Hampshire and half Columbia: Columbia sheep are all white, and Hampshires have black faces and legs … somehow, the crossbreeds seem to end up with spots!) and with those long lamb legs and big adorable ears, she just looks cute and goofy.

The Reluctant Farmer named this one Dingledork. It’s a name he uses for people who are being goofy or weird (“Oh, come on, don’t be such a dingledork…”), and it just seemed to suit her. He had added this name to the list of “D” names early on, and when we saw this lamb, it just seemed to fit!

Pictures will be posted as soon as we get them uploaded.

Oh, we also measured and weighed both new lambs today: they are BIG babies! Dilly Bar is 13 lbs and Dingledork is 15. They were both out meandering around the pasture today, poking at the fresh straw and investigating their new world.

Lambs are great.

16 February 2008

My family

My family, all of them, at The Boy's 4-H Public Speaking contest a few weekends ago.

Handsome crew, eh?

Dinosaur Boy (and Bob, in the background)

The first of this year's lambs

I got up this morning and checked out the window, as always, and I thought I saw something small and dark in the pasture. I looked again, and realized that it was a cat. :)

Then, I thought I saw something else ... and when I looked again, I saw that indeed, it was a lamb!

We all got dressed and headed out to welcome our newcomer: the lamb was really quite new, not even fully dried off. We got the mama sheep and the baby into the isolation pen, and checked to see how they were doing. The lamb seemed rather weak and was shivering: she was not strong enough to nurse, and without that immediate dose of milk, a lamb will quickly develop hypothermia. Many who get that nasty first chill don't make it, even with subsequent intervention.

So, realizing how chilled this baby was, we apologized to the mama sheep and took the baby indoors to warm up: the little lamb's temperature was pretty low, so we submerged everything but her head in a bucket of warm water to ease her shivers. I spent a few minutes collecting some of that precious first milk for the lamb, and then we used a tube inserted into the baby lamb's stomach to get the milk into her: we use a tube rather than a bottle so as not to confuse the baby's sucking reflexes, it is the same reason that human mothers who nurse their babies avoid using bottles.

The lamb warmed up after about ten minutes in the water, and we let her dry out while we ate our Saturday breakfast of waffles and strawberries (a special breakfast made in response to a request from Dinosaur Boy). One more dose of milk (this time from a syringe, as she was much more energetic and I thought she might fight against the tube) and the lamb was sufficiently recovered to rejoin her mama Pugsy outside. Bob took up his position just outside the pen when we arrived with the lamb, guarding the new family.

The new lamb has been christened Dilly Bar as she was rather frozen, and as a purebred Hampshire, although she is gray and black now, she'll be white and black in fairly short order. It seemed a good name for the start of the season!

All the lambs this year will have names that start with D ... we've started a list of ideas, and we're anxiously awaiting the next arrival!

15 February 2008

Sick Kids

We've had a round of strep throat in the house this past week, and I'm not feeling 100% myself.

Princess Girl just showed up with a really interesting rash, even after her antibiotics are finished, so I suspect we've landed in "interesting times".

I think I'll go get a cup of tea. That helps a sore throat, right?

02 February 2008

2008 Public Speaking Competition

Today was our 4-H Club's Public Speaking competition.

The kids are divided into groups by age: 9-11 are Junor, 12-14 are Intermediate, and 15 and over are Seniors. They can do either a presentation, in which they demonstrate how to do something, or do the combo-pack of a prepared speech and an impromptu speech. We had three presentations today, and nine speeches.

The Boy has been steadily improving his public speaking skills since he started: in his first year of 4-H, he was petrified of the whole idea of public speaking, bursting into tears while practicing his speech at home, and saying "don't look at me!" Of course, by the time the competition came around, he had gotten past that and he managed to get up there in front of a room full of people and deliver his speech just fine.

Last year, he came in a very close second in his age group.

This year, he came in first. :)

The Boy will be going on to District level competitions and we are very proud of him.

I think the best moment today was when he got up to do his impromptu speech. The kids get to draw three topics at random, then pick one for their one to two minute speech. His topic: I am grateful for...

The first thing on his list: My parents.

Yep, there I was, grinning like a fool, and thinking to myself how absolutlely wonderful it was that The Boy chose the plural for that, including The Reluctant Farmer as his parent. The Reluctant Farmer is, in every way, The Boy's parent, and it's awfully nice to hear those words spoken out loud by The Boy himself.

Also on the list of things he is grateful for were his pets, who are loveable and keep him company, and the dogs, who guard his sheep and keep them from being eaten by coyotes ... good food ... his toys, because many people in the world don't have many toys ... the whole thing was really rewarding for his mom, I must say. :)

So the big red ribbon will go in his record book, and he'll be practicing for the next level of competition, which is in three weeks. Exciting times at our house!