Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Wool On Wheels

Imagine what folks must have thought when this passed them on the highway? Well we certainly got a lot of strange looks. Crammed into almost 350 pounds of wool, my mother, friend Betty Stover, and I hit the road as soon as the kids got on the bus Friday morning headed to VT.

It was a quick trip down, with a stop in Kennebunk to purchase Cushing dyes from the Maine based business. I enjoyed seeing the beautiful hand-hooked rugs created by the talented Joan Moshimer. He artistry was brilliant, her rugs were exquisite. Sadly she has passed away now, but her work lives on for the public to enjoy in books and at this small gallery in Kennebunk.

The next stop was Green Mountain Spinnery, where owner David Ritchie greeted me with the usual laugh and smile. We unloaded the bags, weighed and recorded the blends that he would then spin into yarns for us, took a deep breath, then headed to Nashua N.H.for dinner and a good night's sleep.
I had to get back. The condition of the Queen weighed heavily on my mind. Although she wasn't due for a few days, I had my good friend Dr. Tammy Doughty "on-call" in case anything happened. So far she has held on, looking like a water balloon that was dropped from a few stories up and did not break upon impact, but rather displaced the water to it's sides. Poor thing.

Yesterday, I rototilled the garden and increased the area for more veggies. With a day of rain on the way, I decided not to put down the weed cover and let "mom nature" give the soil a good soaking. Friday I will place the cover and plant. The weatherman tells me that it will be in the 70's by then, and I want to get the planting started before the pesky blackflies arrive and ask me to donate blood.
I was lucky enough to catch these shots of Priscilla stalking and attacking the Guinea hen. She is one of the highest jumpers I have ever seen. The Guinea ran back and forth trying to escape the black devil that chased her, then fluffed up her feathers and turned on her attacker!
Surprised, the little lamb ran off the rock wall and straight under my legs! Her mom then ran after the Guinea hen! It was quite the drama that played out in the late afternoon sun.

Today is paperwork day (yuck), but the rain is falling and the wind is blowing, and there is nothing I can do outside. I will take a break at some point to do some felting. I have new pillows to stuff, and a few crocheted hats to finish off. So off I go to get through the dreaded number crunching.

Watch for udpates on Queen Uma. :)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Ahhhhh ...The Sun

Nooooo! I don't want to be inside. That's how I feel on days like today. I did assign Monday as my Paperwork Day, but gosh it is hard to be in here when the sun is shining so brightly, and lambs are hoping around, and raking needs to be done......
Yesterday I discovered that my garlic endeavor is successful! These shoots were poking through their winter ground cover, exposed by scratching chickens. I quickly covered the patch with chicken wire to keep the eager-to-dust-bathe hens from disturbing the growth.

Speaking of chickens ...or rather roosters. This hen is not what it seems. I've been watching it's neck get longer, and it's waddle increase in size. Then, a few days ago, a rather muffled, sickly, screeching "rrrr-rr-rrrrr" exploded from an inexperienced creature who appeared to be stunned at the noise that came from his own beak.

The first crow was mysterious, it sounded like he had crowed into a tin can. I turned and looked in the direction of the familiar first-timer's crow, and spotted him on the compost pile. He scanned the yard, searching for "anyfowl" who might be as impressed as he was with himself, and finding no head was turned, no eyes were upon him, he puffed up his chest and let out another screech, this time a bit louder than before, and for added affect, he flapped his wings and shook his head when he was done.

Not one hen ran to him with adoring eyes. Not one hen swooned over his majestic song ( that sounded more like a smokers cough to me ). Disappointed he wandered down from the compost and began scratching the ground looking for springtime goodies in the dirt. Not long after he discovered what he could do, he was chased away by Bob our resident rooster. There has been no real fighting between the two, only Bob, running after Elvis from time to time. But Elvis seems content to be number #2 rooster for now. If things change though, he will be looking for a new home. But we will hope for the best.

My garden plans have out grown the current fenced in, Romeo-proofed, plot that I used last year. So rather than scraping out the winter paddock, I have decided that I will rototill, amend, and use the space as a pumpkin and squash patch. This will move the larger plants out of my current space which will also be expanded by a 128 square foot addition. Then after the growing season, the sheep can do most of my clean up work. Keeping in mind the dangers of nitrate poisoning from the tomato plants, I will have to pull all expended plants, but they can eat the pumpkins, and whatever else I decide to throw into the mix.

I have cleaned and packed away most of my lambing supplies for the year, keeping only a few items out for Uma who is due on or around the 23rd. I watched her sides pop in and out as she was eating last night, I wish I could tell how many babies are in there but I cannot be sure. I will guess just one as she is not that big herself and it seems that most of the action only occurs on one side at a time. But Queen Uma has fooled me before. Here she is, almost all clipped. Finishing her is on my to-do list for tomorrow.

Here are my cuties, Lyra, Pixie, Mike and Angus. It was so nice to have just these four babies this year. They are growing and healthy, and such important members to my flock.


Priscilla is enjoying life as well, hopping around, playing hide-and-go-seek, and harassing chickens. I have yet to meet a lamb that won't chase chickens when it gets the chance. It is pure joy to them as they are just slightly afraid of the feathered beasts ...delightfully scared I call it.

On a funny note, here is what happens when you spray Blue-coat ...the wrong way. It is a great healer of woulds, cuts, and all around skin conditions ...for animals. It will take a few days for the purple stain to wear off, so as I anxiously await the arrival of my green thumb ... I will opt for a purple finger. :)

Thursday, April 02, 2009

THE TALL, TALL MAN ....and the little tiny sheep

I have, without a doubt, the best shearer in the universe. Jeff Burchstead of Buckwheat Blossom Farm in Wiscasset, has been shearing for me for quite a few years now. I marvel at how this 6-foot plus man can stand so tall after a day of being bent over, holding struggling sheep between his knees, and running shears up, down and around pregnant bellies, swollen udders, and the unmentionables of the boys. And the best part you ask???? He operates similar to me ...relaxed, at a good pace, and efficiently.

I joked with him the year I began having more Babydoll Southdowns to shear. I thought it would be easier to shear little sheep as opposed to giant Columbias and Romneys. Not so ... being bent over a big sheep is easier to being bent waaaaaay down for a man of such stature. Still, he works through my rouges gallery of long and shot fleeces and tall and tiny sheep.

On another note, one sheep presented me with quite a surprise. Isabella, who roams free on the lawn all summer ( and who grows one of my nicest fleeces ) presented a full udder when Jeff flipped her up to be shorn. Two days later, she was standing over a tiny little lamb in the corner of the barn.

This new little life, all four pounds of her, was standing, licked clean and nursing aggressively within minutes! After scooping her up and leading Isabella into a jug, the two settled in for some good food and a rest. I have named this baby Priscilla.
Lambing is done ...now we wait for Uma. She is due in two weeks.