30 March 2008

Boy in the Headgate

The Reluctant Farmer built me a head gate to hold my sheep while we are shearing them (or doing other unpleasant things that require them to hold still).

The Boy tested it out:

Construction Update

So much has happened it's hard to put it all into a single update! Let's try a list:
  • the bathroom works (although the shower isn't there, the walls are painted and the sink and toilet function, which is the most important part of any bathroom!)
  • the bedrooms are all finished and inhabited by their respective owners (Dinosaur Boy even got an undersea wall mural for his room ... the installation is an adventure we don't intend to repeat, but it sure does look neat!)
  • the living room and hallway are painted, trim is on, curtains are up (well, there is one small window that still needs something, but the big windows are covered) and there is even some furniture in place
  • the pantry is complete (this is one of my favourites: the Reluctant Farmer made shelves for the pantry from leftover tongue-and-groove pine boards, and the cupboard holds plenty of food in a way that makes it really easy to see what you have and what you're running low on ... and, the kitchen has been entirely reorganized to make use of the freed up space)
  • the front entry way now has laminate flooring, and as I type, The Reluctant Farmer is installing that same laminate in the 'bridge' that goes between the two houses
  • the old boiler has been removed, and we run off the new high-efficiency boiler that lives in the basement of the addition: this means we have room in the front hallway where the old boiler used to be, and we can walk through the passage between the houses without having to maneouver around that bulky thing
  • the washing machine has moved to the bridge: The Reluctant Farmer now has plumbing skills too, he moved the washer and it's associated hookups with some guidance from our plumber, but he did all the work himself ... and this is one less thing to walk around in the entryway as well (the washer used to sit beside the boiler, making the front entryway very crowded)
  • The Boy got new curtains for his bedroom, from a very bright Celtic knotwork cotton he picked out at the fabric store
  • Many things have shifted to new homes, making for more 'breathing room' throughout the living spaces ... we're not clambering over boxes of things quite as much any more, and the storage unit is slowly emptying out as room is made here for things

Lambing Season

The new lambs are here!

The sun has warmed the pasture and most of the snow is gone, although the sheep are still eating hay as the new grass isn't up yet and we need to let it grow before they start nibbling on those fresh young shoots.

The other day, I noticed that most of the new lambs were basking in the sun together, so I captured the image: you can see almost everyone who has arrived so far this year in one picture! The big sheep at the top is Cutter, one of the first sheep born here last spring. She is a very dedicated mama who is rarely more than a few steps from her little guy: he's got a face only a mother could love, but she certainly does dote on him.

We have had a reasonably uneventful lambing season (knock wood ... we have two ewes still waiting for their delivery dates to arrive), with lambs arriving about once a week or so, and only a few minor interventions required. We warmed up a couple of chilled lambs and we did end up with one bottle lamb (his mama had twins but is quite sure only one of them is hers), but for the most part, the sheep did quite well on their own.

Our one big obstetrical adventure came a couple of nights ago: The Boy noticed that Natalie, one of our purebred Icelandics, was way off at the far end of the pasture. He went to check and saw that lambing had begun, but there was only a nose showing and no feet (lambs are normally born with their front hooves tucked under their chins, sort of like they are saying prayers). The Boy knew that this was likely to be a big problem so he came running, and The Reluctant Farmer and I spent the next hour and a half assisting with the delivery of two beautiful lambs. I am sure it was a painful experience for Natalie, but she bore it all with good grace and was absorbed in caring for both of her babies as soon as they were put in front of her. Both are up and active, despite their rough entry into the world: it's always rewarding when you work hard to save them and things go well.

The biggest news for me is that one of the twins, the ewe lamb, no less, is solid black! I have been wanting more colour in the flock (and as you can see from the first image, we did get a few with spots and speckles of brown or black on white), and spinning naturally coloured wool is really enjoyable.

Here is Despreaux:

Despreaux is named for a character in a book that The Reluctant Farmer and I listened to this past year ... I was saving the name for my favourite ewe lamb of the year, and here she is!

07 March 2008

Two more lambs...

On Sunday, Cherub delivered a pretty ram lamb whose colouring leads us to believe that Bruce, our Icelandic/Suffolk ram was indeed doing his job this past fall!

And, Wednesday morning, we found Mama (the sheep who, last year, couldn't seem to figure out that both of the twins she had delivered were actually hers) with a nice ewe lamb, and although we did look around to see if there was a missing twin, it would appear that there was, indeed, only one this time. It's a bit surprising to have no twins yet ... but, healthy singles are good too. :)

This one has the dainty ears and fine frame of Clarence, the Icelandic/Southdown ram lamb who was born to Natalie last year. You can see the Icelandic influence in them right away in the fuzzy fleece. If you compare to the tight curls of the Columbia/Hampshire lambs (the ones born so far this year ... scroll down for pictures) the difference is immediately clear.

I am really excited to see the colour, at least, I want more colour in my flock and as all the lambs last year were white Southdown babies, so this is exciting! It will be interesting to see how these lambs look in a couple of months when they get to be a bit bigger. They sure are cute now!