More sheep needed

This has been a challenging year, animal-wise. The weather was cool and wet, then hot and dry, then wet again, which puts stress on the grass and the animals. Unfortunately, we’ve lost several due to that stress, including 2 of the Corriedale sheep (one being the ram). As much as I love the Corries, they just aren’t turning out to be the right breed for our farm, for various reasons. One of the other breeds I had looked at were Shetland sheep, a smaller and hardier breed from the Shetland Islands, Scotland.

Did some searching to find breeders in my area, and was surprised to find at least 4 within a reasonable driving distance. Made an appointment at the closest one, and now have a new fiber friend and 3 Shetland sheep!

One of the reasons I was wanting to have Corriedales is that they come in colors – the most common one around here is the cream, but there are also shades of brown and black. I discovered that the Shetlands come in those colors as well – white, and 10 registered shades of brown and black. Plus the lambs can be any of those colors and not necessarily the colors of the parents. The rams are typically horned, but they are curved horns – the pointy end is not toward the human! The ewes are usually polled (no horns).

I’m keeping the 2 Corriedales (Vicky and Sydney), and have found that Shetland/Corriedale crosses are not a bad thing, wool-wise. Hopefully next spring we will have some examples to show!

lily
Lily
ruby
Ruby
sven
Sven

 

 

Day 258 – laptops and plumbing

First off, the laptop and the plumbing are two separate things – although I would like to throw technology in the toilet at times. My laptop had been clunking along for awhile, then it got a little worse, but was still clunking along. This past week, it up and died. For a piece of technology […]

First off, the laptop and the plumbing are two separate things – although I would like to throw technology in the toilet at times.

My laptop had been clunking along for awhile, then it got a little worse, but was still clunking along. This past week, it up and died. For a piece of technology that was purchased in 2006, I’m told that this is a good long life. Off to our computer boneyard it goes, probably to be resucitated at a later date as a robot or something. We do have the “family computer” for me to use when the tablet or phone just won’t do the job. At this point, the only thing I really need it for is making presentations for my humanities class. I’ve figured out how to do everything else on the tablet. Yay, me.

It’s been a relatively calm week on the farm – it was too stinkin’ hot for a few days to do much of anything except stay inside and drink lots of water. So I got some studio time in – mostly glazing. I went to Cornell Studio Supply in Dayton for their “Clay Day” festivities. Nothing like a bunch of clay artists getting together for food, beverages and clay games. I was the left hand in a pair throwing contest, and made a 30 degree bowl – while blindfolded! Saw some friends, made some new friends, and generally had a good time.

My friend Erin (who owns Cornell Studio Supply) – she was part of the 13 pound challenge, which was to form the tallest/widest work from 13 pounds of clay.
2013-09-14 17.13.00

The highlight of the week came today – plumbing! Our kitchen sink has needed a new faucet for a while, so a trip to Menards netted a nice faucet/sprayer combo. That was about 4 months ago. I guess I needed time to work into it. Or something! My problem is I want/need a whole day for this stuff in case I screw it up and need to make trips somewhere to get, well, something to fix the mess.

As expected, it took awhile to complete – the cold water hose was cemented onto the threaded pipe under the sink (we have really hard water). Denny suggested the Dremel tool and diamond blade for some plastic wingnut demolition. It worked.

Here’s the remains of the wingnut, and the new faucet assembly:

2013-09-15 15.55.06

2013-09-15 14.53.09

Something I now know how to do, although it’s ok if I don’t have to do it for awhile!

Food for thought – we were discussing how people view animals and food. Example – at one of the farmer’s markets, a lady was very upset that the veg seller would be taking his unsold produce home at the end of the market and feeding it to his chickens. He and I weren’t quite sure why she was upset – the chicken eats the produce, gets big and strong, and is butchered for meat to feed the human. Seems like a pretty good cycle to me. Moving along to our own garden. We decided that we had canned enough tomatoes for our future needs, and have been picking tomatoes to eat fresh. This picture from last week shows that we still have a lot of tomatoes on the vine:
IMG_0361

And after the mini heat wave, they are going bad very quickly. What to do? Pull the vines and feed them to the chickens, who pull off the leaves and tomatoes for a nice feast. We humans will still get the benefit of the tomatoes down the road when we eat the chickens. So have the tomatoes (or the leftover produce of my farmer’s market friend) been wasted?

Day 258 – laptops and plumbing

First off, the laptop and the plumbing are two separate things – although I would like to throw technology in the toilet at times.

My laptop had been clunking along for awhile, then it got a little worse, but was still clunking along. This past week, it up and died. For a piece of technology that was purchased in 2006, I’m told that this is a good long life. Off to our computer boneyard it goes, probably to be resucitated at a later date as a robot or something. We do have the “family computer” for me to use when the tablet or phone just won’t do the job. At this point, the only thing I really need it for is making presentations for my humanities class. I’ve figured out how to do everything else on the tablet. Yay, me.

It’s been a relatively calm week on the farm – it was too stinkin’ hot for a few days to do much of anything except stay inside and drink lots of water. So I got some studio time in – mostly glazing. I went to Cornell Studio Supply in Dayton for their “Clay Day” festivities. Nothing like a bunch of clay artists getting together for food, beverages and clay games. I was the left hand in a pair throwing contest, and made a 30 degree bowl – while blindfolded! Saw some friends, made some new friends, and generally had a good time.

My friend Erin (who owns Cornell Studio Supply) – she was part of the 13 pound challenge, which was to form the tallest/widest work from 13 pounds of clay.
2013-09-14 17.13.00

The highlight of the week came today – plumbing! Our kitchen sink has needed a new faucet for a while, so a trip to Menards netted a nice faucet/sprayer combo. That was about 4 months ago. I guess I needed time to work into it. Or something! My problem is I want/need a whole day for this stuff in case I screw it up and need to make trips somewhere to get, well, something to fix the mess.

As expected, it took awhile to complete – the cold water hose was cemented onto the threaded pipe under the sink (we have really hard water). Denny suggested the Dremel tool and diamond blade for some plastic wingnut demolition. It worked.

Here’s the remains of the wingnut, and the new faucet assembly:

2013-09-15 15.55.06

2013-09-15 14.53.09

Something I now know how to do, although it’s ok if I don’t have to do it for awhile!

Food for thought – we were discussing how people view animals and food. Example – at one of the farmer’s markets, a lady was very upset that the veg seller would be taking his unsold produce home at the end of the market and feeding it to his chickens. He and I weren’t quite sure why she was upset – the chicken eats the produce, gets big and strong, and is butchered for meat to feed the human. Seems like a pretty good cycle to me. Moving along to our own garden. We decided that we had canned enough tomatoes for our future needs, and have been picking tomatoes to eat fresh. This picture from last week shows that we still have a lot of tomatoes on the vine:
IMG_0361

And after the mini heat wave, they are going bad very quickly. What to do? Pull the vines and feed them to the chickens, who pull off the leaves and tomatoes for a nice feast. We humans will still get the benefit of the tomatoes down the road when we eat the chickens. So have the tomatoes (or the leftover produce of my farmer’s market friend) been wasted?

Day 250 – tomatoes, chicks, fall, onion eggs

There’s still so many of them – I picked the left side of this row and ended up with a 1/2 bushel basket full.  And I still have the right side to pick!  I’m going to enjoy tomato soup this winter, I’m going to enjoy tomato sauce this winter.  But right now I’m tired of […]

IMG_0361There’s still so many of them – I picked the left side of this row and ended up with a 1/2 bushel basket full.  And I still have the right side to pick!  I’m going to enjoy tomato soup this winter, I’m going to enjoy tomato sauce this winter.  But right now I’m tired of picking tomatoes!

IMG_0368It’s done!  And I have no idea what that fuzzy bit in the center is all about.  But the mini-yard is enclosed (and lidded to keep little nuggets from becoming hawk snacks), the door has latches, and —

IMG_0370—we have new nuggets!  These are Barred Rock hens from Meyer Hatchery – we’re trying them to see how their chicks do for us.  They were shipped on Tuesday, arriving on Thursday morning.  So they are already growing their wing feathers and giving me the “stink eye” as I call it – that sideways look that chickens give when they’re sizing you up.

IMG_0374 IMG_0373

More nugget pictures, just because they’re cute!  And one has figured out how to jump up on the warmer.  That’s, Just. Great.  Usually if they are that quick, they are going to be a handful when they grow up.

IMG_0363It’s looking more and more like fall.  The tall grasses are dried, the bean fields have a little more yellow in the green, and the corn is about 1/2 dried (or more).  It will be nice to see all the way to the river.  Corn makes me a bit claustrophobic – it’s so tall and looming!

IMG_0375

And which of these things is not like the others?  I’ve been drying the onions on racks in the garage, and it seems that a lot of the onions are more or less egg-shaped.  Which leads to the hens pulling the onions off the racks, and nesting them.  Sigh.  They’re going to be pretty upset in the morning – I removed all the onions.  This is the fun you get with free-range chickens who are too smart for their own good.

 

 

 

 

Day 250 – tomatoes, chicks, fall, onion eggs

IMG_0361There’s still so many of them – I picked the left side of this row and ended up with a 1/2 bushel basket full.  And I still have the right side to pick!  I’m going to enjoy tomato soup this winter, I’m going to enjoy tomato sauce this winter.  But right now I’m tired of picking tomatoes!

IMG_0368It’s done!  And I have no idea what that fuzzy bit in the center is all about.  But the mini-yard is enclosed (and lidded to keep little nuggets from becoming hawk snacks), the door has latches, and —

IMG_0370—we have new nuggets!  These are Barred Rock hens from Meyer Hatchery – we’re trying them to see how their chicks do for us.  They were shipped on Tuesday, arriving on Thursday morning.  So they are already growing their wing feathers and giving me the “stink eye” as I call it – that sideways look that chickens give when they’re sizing you up.

More nugget pictures, just because they’re cute!  And one has figured out how to jump up on the warmer.  That’s, Just. Great.  Usually if they are that quick, they are going to be a handful when they grow up.

IMG_0363It’s looking more and more like fall.  The tall grasses are dried, the bean fields have a little more yellow in the green, and the corn is about 1/2 dried (or more).  It will be nice to see all the way to the river.  Corn makes me a bit claustrophobic – it’s so tall and looming!

IMG_0375

And which of these things is not like the others?  I’ve been drying the onions on racks in the garage, and it seems that a lot of the onions are more or less egg-shaped.  Which leads to the hens pulling the onions off the racks, and nesting them.  Sigh.  They’re going to be pretty upset in the morning – I removed all the onions.  This is the fun you get with free-range chickens who are too smart for their own good.

 

 

 

 

Day 205 – looking like fall

IMG_0327There are a couple of things “wrong” with this picture:

1.  It’s before 8:00 am and the cows/horses are out in the pasture – they’ve been in the barn every morning for the last month or so, and

2.  This morning sky is not a summer morning sky.

We heard cicadas for the first time earlier this month, and it’s said that the frost is about 6 weeks away from that date, which would put our first frost around mid-August.  A lot of people pooh-pooh folk wisdom, but it’s been right too much for me to discount it all.  And I figure it got passed through the years for a reason – things that aren’t true don’t tend to be shared for very long after they’re proven wrong.

 

Day 200 – heat wave

IMG_0323

I heard someone at the Vandalia farm market say that the weatherman proclaimed this past week the longest heat wave this year.

Uh, I’m pretty sure this is the first “big heat” we’ve even had this year, and it’s July, people – it’s summer in Ohio!

Even a short time working outside or moving around to care for the animals makes me drip sweat, but I guess that’s all part of the job description, and I can always cool off in front of the fan.  Lots of water and lots of breaks.

Still, I think the cat has the right idea – sleep through it all.

Day 165 – i see you, chicken

165Some of the hens really like this stand of tall grass next to our house – I’ve been getting 2-3 eggs here every day.  This Buff Orpington hen sits for awhile, goes to eat, walks around, comes back, sits for a little longer, maybe lays an eggs/maybe not, takes a walk, sits down again, and lays an egg if she didn’t before.  Then off she goes and another hen comes along to continue the process.

Not only the humans have routines on the farm – I’m amazed at how routine-driven the animals are. You can just about set your watch to which parts of the pasture (or which pasture) the cows are in during the day.  Recently (because the flies are getting to their summer levels) the cows are in the barn in the morning, work their way out to the back pasture and around it in the afternoon, then head to the front pasture in the evening.  They have their own timetable, which varies throughout the year, but if you pay attention over a few days, you can see the repetition.  The chickens are a little less predictable – they’re everywhere, all the time.  This nest in the grass may get “stale” in a few days, or it could go on for a few more weeks.  Then they move to another area, and I play “Easter egg hunt” once again in the afternoon.

 

Day 163 – 17, 23, 26

163Nothing to do with sports, but everything to do with chickens.  Those three numbers are my egg counts from the last three days.

I’ve learned that free-range chickens are dodgy critters.  They spurn the laying box to nest under the hay rake (or in the barn, or in a sack of trash – I’m not making that up).  They lay eggs on their schedule, not mine nor those lovely people who buy our eggs every week.

So I hunt eggs – under the equipment, in the barns, don’t forget to check the trash area and the dog house (we have another hen nesting in there and she has at least 2 viable eggs, so we may have some more little nuggets soon), and lastly, the nesting boxes in the hen house.  I’m going to start checking the nesting boxes twice a day, because the box that has one egg, soon has 5 or 6, and that’s a recipe for cracked or broken eggs.

I know that some days I’ll get more eggs, some days I’ll get fewer eggs.  If it’s hot, I shouldn’t expect too many eggs over the next couple of days as their laying cycles change with the weather.  I’ll find new nests (that inevitably have 2-3 eggs in them already – I throw those out, since I don’t know how long they’ve been there) and will watch them for new eggs.  The chickens will wise up, stop laying there, and start a new nest somewhere else, which begins the game anew.

It’s a good thing their eggs (and they themselves) taste so good!