Leaps and Bounds

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This is my favorite time on the farm-lambing season. We had 15 lambs on the ground in February. Thank goodness, we have had such a mild winter-so far-this year. Our second group of ewes will lamb in March. I can’t wait! There’s nothing sweeter than a lamb. I love their pink noses and their soft hair and their……well, what’s not to like?

We also now have three pigs on our farm. We have enjoyed the beef and lamb meat raised on our farm so much that we thought we would try pork. By the way, we have been selling a lot of lamb meat lately. It seems like when people’s thoughts turn to spring, as they do this time of year, they decide a leg of lamb would be mighty tasty for Easter lunch.   We also have a tub full of baby chickens. After reading that the best way to get rid of insects in your garden was to let the chickens have at them, Bill has decided to try it. I’ll let you know how it works out.

So our farm is growing by leaps and bounds. If we could just keep everyone where they belong. The animals like to play fruit-basket turnover. We’ll look out and the pigs will be in the pen with the ram, the dogs will be on the front porch, and I don’t even want to go into all the places the Pygmy goats will be. Such is life on the farm. I love it.

 

 

A Holding Pattern

We’re in somewhat of a holding pattern here on the farm. We made it another year through the Christmas festivities with the family (children and grandchildren). We had a great time and began a few new traditions as well as upheld most of the old ones. The girls read “‘Twas the Night Before an Ozark Christmas”. While it was kind of cute to see Big Hog Santa riding a sleigh pulled by little Razorbacks; it lacked the charm of the original Santa, with “eyes how they twinkled” and a “nose like a cherry”. I expect we’ll go back to the traditional next Christmas.

We’ve been through our first snow of the year. I hesitate to call it that because it only amounted to a few hours of little flakes that never stuck on the ground. But it did bring in the frigid temperatures that exist as I write this post. Last time I looked it was 22 degrees. We’re waiting on our oldest group of ewes to lamb. They were bred to our new ram so we’re anxious to see how they turn out. Last year, the first eight came in one day during a snowstorm. I figured they would come this year during this cold snap but none have yet. There bellies are getting big and sticking out on the sides so it shouldn’t be much longer. When a ewe lays down all day with her nose sticking up in the air, we know to start watching because she’ll have one that day, most likely. That hasn’t happened yet. So we’re just waiting and holding on . Pretty soon, we’ll be hearing those tiny “baaaas” that make this venture worthwhile. Happy New Year!.

A Shout Out

I don’t want to leave the month of October without giving a shout out to my husband, Bill. We celebrated our 44th wedding anniversary this month. We took a trip to El Dorado, in south Arkansas, and enjoyed a few days roaming around their lovely, downtown square.

Bill and I are total polar opposites in every area. It has kept life interesting.  He  is quite a guy. He has done a lot of different things in his career and his life: running a restaurant, church administrator, football player, baseball player, athletic administrator, and now a sheep farmer. He says he enjoys raising sheep more than anything he has done since he was a boy playing ball. He has poured his heart and soul, and his boundless energy, into turning our place into a first rate sheep farm.

We both love this lifestyle, but he had to drag me kicking and screaming into it. That’s been a pattern in our marriage: Bill wanting to try something new and me wanting to stay in my comfortable rut; Bill dragging me to the new place and then me thrilled to death with our new change. That’s how it was with the farm. I love everything about this way of life but he has been the driving force, the architect and the physical laborer.

If you are looking for a sheep or two, or a lamb chop or two, you can rest easy that ours are of the highest quality because Bill has done everything possible to insure that he has the very best. Because that’s the kind of guy he is.

 

 

Soul Soothing

This post has absolutely nothing to do with farm life. It has to do with finding a place that soothes your soul. Several weeks ago, I went to the beach with my youngest daughter, her husband, and my two granddaughters. Bill doesn’t care about going to the beach so I had not been in years. When I was growing up, I went every summer.

We had a fabulous time. I had not realized how much I needed the sun, sand and sea. There is just something about the ocean that’s good for your soul. Laying there and letting that sun soak right through your insides, warms you up and burns away every bad thought. Experiencing this with my little granddaughters made it twice as good.

This post is going to have something to do with farm life after all. Of course it is. Since I’ve been home, I’m reminded that living on this farm is good for my soul, too. Sitting on the deck and watching the sheep graze is about as peaceful as you can get in this life. Seeing flowers and vegetables grow from tiny seeds I planted fills me with good feelings all the way down to my dirty, barefoot toes. And having the dogs  to love on, the eggs to gather. Need I say more? I’m thankful to God for providing this soul-soothing farm for Bill and I to be a part of. We love the farm life! It sooths our souls.

 

The Family Reunion

We hosted a family reunion at our farm last weekend. Around 50 came. Thank goodness we had recently enlarged our deck because we needed every bit of that space. And thank goodness it didn’t rain because no way did I want 50 people running around in my house. Praise The Lord!

Bill had the meal catered by the “Catfish Hole”. Hallelujah!  Because there ain’t no way I’m going to fix a meal for 50 folk-even if they are family. Just saying. The food was delicious and everyone liked my strawberry pie. I did make pie-at Bill’s request-8 of them!!!

If any of you have ever attended a family reunion, in the south, in July, then you know it will be hot as blue blazes with nary a breeze. The flies, however will be out in full force; and neither the box fans, nor the toxicish spray , nor the flyswatters will make a dent in their numbers.

But, you know, it was fun! In spite of the heat, the sweat, the flies, and the cousin’s little girl who screamed at the top of her lungs for 10 minutes every time she spotted one of our 6 dogs; it was a lot of fun. We got to see kinfolk we had not seen in years  and got to meet others that we had never seen.

Yes! Family Reunions are the stuff that memories are made of. We can’t wait until the next one. But we’ll let someone else volunteer to host it.

Chicken Ladies

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I haven’t written about our chicken ladies before. I don’t know why because they are an invaluable part of our farm. I love going to their coop and gathering the eggs every day. There is nothing like a fresh brown egg or two, scrambled or fried, to get your day off to a good start. I don’t think I could ever go back to buying eggs from the grocery store. There is just something about those fat, warm eggs. Yuuum!

It has become my job to keep the coop clean and to suggest (nag?!) to my husband better ways to take care of the hens (gleaned from Facebook and other expert accounts). And he has actually taken some of my advice (nagging?!). This spring he built them a new, super-duper hen house and gave them a large grassy area to “free range” in.  He recently got them new waterers that hang up and have little nipples to drink from so their water stays clean. Really, the ladies have it made on our farm.

We average around 6 eggs a day from our 7 ladies. We give the extras to our daughter-in-law and neighbors. Eggs are nice to take as hostess gifts or as a special treat for a hairdresser. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like farm fresh eggs.

I haven’t named them although my granddaughter suggested “Rose”, “Rainbow”, and “Happy Birthday Cake”.  I agree those are mighty fine names for chickens. But who has time to name chickens when we had 24 lambs born this spring and there are the vegetable and flower gardens to tend to?

Today I just want to give a “shout out” to our chicken ladies for a job well done!

 

 

 

Peaceful

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It’s peaceful on the farm this time of year. It’s our favorite time The lambs have been weaned from their mothers. The new ewes and ram have settled into their pastures. The two ewes, who had late lambs and are still nursing, are quietly taking good care of their little ones. Ruby Slippers is growing up and eating grass like a real sheep. (She’ll always be my baby, though). The big dogs haven’t run away in a while. Even the pygmy goats are industriously eating their way through the shrubby bushes in the West Pasture and you can see the grass. All is well.

Bill sold all the alpacas. He wants to concentrate on sheep now. I miss watching the alpacas’ graceful beauty but I feel good about who we sold them to. The new owner spins and knits and will be able to do something with their luscious fleece.

When we are not having thunderstorms, (which we’ve had a lot lately), Bill and I like to sit on the deck and watch the sheep graze. I know to some people that would be the most boring thing in the world to do. It’s our favorite thing to do now. I thank God for leading us to this farm and for knowing it was exactly what we needed at this stage of our life. It’s so peaceful. And Amen.

 

Choose Life

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I went to Bible Study Fellowship this year for the study of Moses. At one point in the study of Deuteronomy, we came across this verse: “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses…Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants may live”, Deut. 30:19. Bill and I will always choose life. We’ve chosen it for ourselves when we committed our lives to Jesus Christ. And we choose life on our farm anytime there is an animal who is having a hard time thriving.

I’ve already written about Ruby, the triplet lamb that we had to bottle feed because she couldn’t get enough milk from her mama. I’m happy to say she now weighs 16 pounds.She is weaned from the bottle and is eating enough grass and grain to survive. And she has been moved to a pasture with other lambs so she can feel like a sheep again.

We had our third cria (baby alpaca) born. She was beautiful with chocolate brown fleece. It was the oddest thing, none of the alpacas would claim her as their baby. None of them tried to nurse her, none of them licked her. Poor baby! So we stepped in and gave her a bottle every 2 hours. She wouldn’t drink it at first, then she started drinking it all. We thought she was going to make it, but, alas, she didn’t. We were so sad! We hate it when one of our animals dies. We do our best to provide all that they need to thrive. Even so, some farm deaths are inevitable. But we’ll always choose life when we are given a chance.

 

Worming, Weaning & Weighing

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Last Friday was the day we took the lambs away from the ewes. That sounds heartless, but it was time. You’ve never heard such crying from the mothers and their babies. They kept it up for two days. By the third day, the crying was sporadic as they learned that they could fill their tummies with grass and grain; that life went on; and that all was well.

We had our strong, athletic, 15 year old grandson help us and it about did him in. Lifting 22 of those 30-50 pound lambs over the fence and into the correct pasture is no job for the faint of heart. We also wormed them and gave them a CDT shot. I’ve gotten pretty good at giving them shots. That’s my job. I can’t do the heavy lifting.

Now, a week later, all is peaceful on our little farm again. The sheep are grazing contentedly in the pasture; the trauma of last week is forgotten. Our sore muscles have healed; and happy days are here again.

 

Ruby Slippers

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My blog wouldn’t be complete without a post about Ruby Slippers. We had one set of triplets born during our lambing season this spring. The mother had a strapping male of 9 pounds and a solid female of 8 pounds; and then she had Ruby Slippers. Ruby came into this world with all the odds stacked against her. She only weighed 1 pound, was weak and spindly, and she wasn’t even pretty. “A lamb not pretty?!?”, you say. Yes, Ruby was not a pretty lamb. Where the other lambs have pink noses and lips, Ruby had a big, brown spot on her face that covered up the pink, and she had a brown spot covering each foot that looked like dirty, unmatched socks. But she could stand up and she could “Baaa” so Bill and I cut and sprayed their umbilical cords and put the new family in a pen in the barn with fresh hay, water and food. All was well, we thought.

Later that day, Bill brought Ruby in the house, saying “I don’t think this one is going to make it”.Her mouth and lips were cold and she was too weak to stand up. No matter that she wasn’t big or pretty. She still had some life left in her and as long as she did, Bill and I were determined we weren’t going to lose her on our watch!!! We covered her with towels to warm her and began feeding her milk replacement every two hours. She could latch on to the false nipple and suck. That was a good sign. At bedtime, we put her in a box with newspapers, towels, and a stuffed doggy friend to snuggle with.

We weren’t sure what the morning would bring but we prayed she would make it. She was a little stronger the next day and each day she became stronger . When we found her sleeping in our Pomeranian dog’s crate, we searched the garage and found Ruby her own dog crate to sleep in. She seemed to be enjoying life in the house and our lives settled into a rhythm. Bill would give her a bottle when he got up then put her in the pasture with the other lambs and ewes. Her mother had easily adjusted to life without a third. Around 4:30 Bill would bring her in the house and I would give her a bottle then and again at bedtime. Next time Bill weighed her, she weighed 5 pounds. We were thrilled! Then she weighed  8 pounds the next week, and today she weighs 15.

Now we are trying to wean her off the bottle and get her to eat enough grass and grain to keep healthy and growing. Whoever says sheep don’t have personalities haven’t met Ruby. She follows Bill and I all over the farm like a puppy. In the house, she wanders around, smelling and biting on anything she can reach, also like a puppy. The cutest thing she does is jump up and down and from side to side on our carpet, like she is dancing. She’s smart, too. Why, she has figured out that if she jumps up in my lap in the evenings, I will hold her and stroke her neck for awhile. Now, if we could train her to use the doggy door, we just might make a house sheep  out of her.