Saturday, February 28, 2009

Spring Yarns

In the dreary, colorless land of Februaryinmaine, if you look hard, you'll find a surprise.

The color palette used by Mother Nature is limited to shades of grey, whites, dark greens, and dirty snow that a color? The brilliant red winter berries that screamed "look at meeeeeee!" this past fall, have been devoured by the birds leaving only bare branches ... no color.

The autumn oak leaves are still hanging on to the trees, but their pumpkin oranges are now dreary, decaying browns. Everything seems so blaaaaaahhhhhhh ...and then I hear him.

At first he is far away. I whistle. He comes closer. "Reveal yourself!" I yell, and whistle again. And then there he is, sitting in the tippy-top branches of the tall pine tree. My friend, the cardinal. The sun is peeking through the clouds and creating a glow around him, he sings his beautiful song and tells me, "Get inspired Kelly!"

I look around me. The plain white ducks, who splashed with joy in the tub of water I set out for them to bathe in, are not plain white, but rather yellow with bright orange feet and beaks. The sheep are not dirty white, but beautiful, rich browns, blacks, whites, even tones of blue are visible in the white fleeces. Look at those beautiful pine needles! Look at the shades of blue in the sky! Look! Look! Look!

And then ...they dye-pot comes out .....look!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Diggin Out ...again

It was sneaky arrived after I scoffed at the weatherman came later than predicted and hit with brutal force. I do not find it pretty anymore. I do not want to shovel or snow blow anymore. I curse the groundhog. Where is spring?

As frustrated as I am with this latest round of heavy wet snow, I have to thank my lucky stars that everyone/creature is safe. A tree was brought down by the weight of ice and then heavy wet snow. I chill came over me as I looked out the window yesterday morning to see it had fallen into the pony paddock. I did not see movement ...but I also did not see casualties. I quickly pulled on my boots and coat and ran out to asses the damage. The large maple had fallen, missing the pony barn, the ponies, my ram, fences and the power lines. It must have been horribly scary for the animals as we had lost power overnight and no lights were on.

L.T. ran under the tree and enjoyed some comfort from me as well as a nice breakfast. Everyone was safe in the back barn as well.

It feels very small and enclosed when we have these storms. Branches, that have not broken from the weight, are bent to the ground. There is no openness unless I walk up on the hill, and that is pretty much impossible with the snow so deep and crusted. I spent almost two hours yesterday making wide paths with the snow blower, scraping snow from roofs, and digging out gates. I was spent when I came in.

The kiddos enjoyed another day off from school, playing in the snow and building snowmen with the sticky snow. No t.v. no power...just imaginations and board games.

Today the sun is starting to melt the un-needed mess, but it will take more than one day with temps in the 30s to make it all go away, and they are telling us we will have heavy rain by the weekend....YUCK!

Sprout is due to have her lambs soon. I watched her last night as I fed Lyra her last bottle for the evening. She reminds me of Judy in the last stages of pregnancy. We referred to her as the aircraft carrier. Poor thing, she seems so uncomfortable. If I watch closely, I can see movement on he sides. This is an exciting year for me ...I am actually crossing my fingers for ram lambs!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Lyra & Pixie

Amazingly two weeks have gone by since Lyra and Pixie arrived. It is a very different lambing season for me this year.

1. Lambing in February.

2. Having only three bred ewes.

3. Having large lambs.

Keep in mind, that my ram is a Babydoll Southdown and his genetics have alot to do with the size of the lambs he helps create. So it is a little surprising that these lambs have such a good size to them. I love their long legs and loins!:)

Pixie has gained 5 lbs since birth and Lyra has gained 8!

Lyra has become a member of the flock now, bouncing around, pesting everyone she can during the day, then snuggling in a safe, warm stall with Katie at night.

Katie was my bottle lamb last year, she has remained small with a loving personality. She wasn't so sure she liked Lyra at first, but now they are chums. All of my sheep are good friends, a tight unit.

Giving my usual breeding ewes the year off has been great for their body conditions. It has been a nice break for me as well. I have had more time to work towards growing my yarn business and have still enjoyed a few babies hoppin' and poppin' around the paddock.

The dyepot is full today....stay tunes for my latest creations!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Super Bowl Baby

Since the Pats weren't playing this year, I managed to have another source of entertainment last Sunday ...Lyra.

There was quite a commotion in the barn as I walked out to feed. I had put Shirley in the jug the night before as her udder had tripled in size and she was not all that interested in her dinner ...a sure sign that something is up. Sure enough, lying in the straw was a long-legged black lamb. Shirley was not happy. I quickly moved in to grab the lamb as mom blew and snorted at her, slamming her against the wall . A sinking feeling grew in my chest as I tried with no luck to make the mother realize that this little miracle was here to be loved, and was hers to nurture.

After a day of trying, tying mom, milking a swollen udder, and showing her time after time that it was okay...I gave up. If there is no bond within a few hours, I don't think there ever is one. I've been told that mothers can be forced to accept their lambs by putting them in a stanchion and forcing them to nurse. But where is the love? Where are the gentle nuzzles and sweet mumbles? Lambs crave love is true. And why tie an animal and force her to do something she is clearly not happy to do, and create fear and distrust? This is why I tell people I am not a real farmer.

So the new "black sheep of the family", Lyra, spent two days in the kitchen, and now resides in the barn with Katie and Sam, two of last year's lambs. She is happy, she is not alone and she is loved.

My daily and nightly treks to the barn to feed her, a bit hard to adjust to at first, are now routine. Her happy little bouncing, to greet me and climbing me like her own mountain to conquer, show me that she is content in her environment. He mother, who resides just on the other side of the barn is still uninterested in her. No longer mean, just not sure Lyra is something she is supposed to care about ...I told her that it was okay. She is sill an important member of my flock, things just didn't work out.

Lyra, like any toddler is an imp. Her days are spent exploring, pesting others, eating, sleeping and pooping ...what a life. Last Friday I took her to my feed store, where she bounced up and down the isles and charmed everyone in her path. Then off to visit the creative ladies at MaineFiberarts. Knitting needles stopped clicking when she arrived in her green sweater. Confidently she explored the bags of yarn and papers that were at her level, then fell asleep in my arms as I chit-chatted with the ladies. Now isn't that a better life than being left in a stall with a mother that doesn't want you. I think so.

Three days after Lyra was born, Laverne, another early-bred ewe, presented me with a beautiful little white ewe lamb, Pixie. She is as beautiful as Lyra with her long legs, and fuzzy ears. This time, this mom took on her role is caretaker of the new life.