Sunday, June 29, 2008

End of June Pictures

Atlas is hanging out in the shade with Lucy and Shirley. However, Lucy suddenly realizes that all her other young ewe friends are not with her in the shade and she can't quite see where they are! You wouldn't believe the noise she made trying to find them, but she did and she took off after them...

Of course, I was standing in her way, and she had to run around me, for fear of getting to close to me!

I know it takes forever to grow plants from direct seeding. But seeing as I don't have a greenhouse yet, that's my option. It may take longer, but it's so much fun to discover what is growing. Look at this little teeny tomato plant. Before I know it I'll be putting the cages up over these guys!

These made me even happier. In a big portion of my garden, I planted a lot of corn to help break up the clay soil. Between the corns, I planted pumpkins. They are already sprouting! Fall is going to be so much fun!

I had 2 of these beauties dancing around me all morning yesterday. They seemed to enjoy the freshly watered soil and were just flitting about as I weeded and planted more seeds. If butterflies eat bugs, then I love them even more.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

I'll have a better post tomorrow

I just wanted to get something up real quick, I took some cool pictures of butterflies today, but I don't feel like dealing with our camera right now. So instead, here are some other pictures...

A better view of our orchard. We actually have some apples growing (Sweet Sixteens) and some cherries growing (Montmorency) Happy pie time is coming! I can't wait! And being jobless, I might actually have time to bake!

This is a potato plant. They came up quite well. Tomorrow I will post some of our other infant plants that are growing. I don't know what the future will hold with me having or not having a job. I do know that if things get tight, I WILL have food.

This is just a funny picture of Grish. Seriously, this is just a BIG DOG! He still is bigger than the GPs, and my god does this dog eat a lot of food.

Happy chickens out and about in the field. We are adding more nesting boxes to their house, and hopefully we will find the egg eater and we will have to eat her ourselves. You can't train a chicken that eats eggs to stop doing it, and in the meantime - she's eating eggs!

German Shepherd telling Larry - HEY, fill up the sheep tank. Well, no, it's a German Shepherd tank, we just let the sheep use it because we are so nice. It's hot, bring on the water!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Happy Birthday Ditka and Animal NEWS

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DITKA! The old man is now 16 years old. I never thought he'd make it this far, but he's doing well, considering his condition. He's still happy and smiling. He even made the long road trip with us last night - one of his favorite places is in the car!

Here are the next batch of broilers and turkey babies. They will be heading out to a crate on the pasture this weekend. A big step for them!

Here are our youngest egg layers - some Production Reds and my Buff Cochin Bantams. Ridiculous mini-chickens.

Laverne and Shirley are still not too sure about the latest additions, and Atlas and Goliath came over the check them out. We drove down to a town called Karval last night and picked up 6 more sheep! HURRAH!

I've already named them all. I can't help it. These are Dorper/Suffolk crosses. Meet Daphne, Velma, Lucy, Ethel, Gertrude and Penelope! These girls were born in February, and they are our new batch of mommas!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

New Blog

I created a new blog to talk about my latest saga in the world of unemployment. That way I can keep this one about the farm, and our lives in general. And I can blog about my experiences in another place. If you are interested... it's here:

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Day One

I realized that today is the first day of m adult life that I have not been employed. Sure there are weekends, and such. And maybe I shouldn't be such a drama queen... There are many others in my shoes, and until I am late with a mortgage payment, do I really have anything to worry about?

But I will admit that when Larry walked out this morning it was a surreal feeling. He was going to work. And I was not. For the first time ever.

I really should be getting things done, but I found a mouse in the house and am having better luck getting Hobbes to chase it, than the cat. I also found baby chicks outside the barn, and had to round them back up and seal them up inside the barn. I have plenty of chores to do, and just finished a 45 minute bike ride.

But it's hard to be motivated. It's only day one, and I have yet to deal with any of my emotions. but I am trying really hard to take this one day off... and not apply for any jobs (yet). I have furiously put a budget together and have already filed for unemployment. If anyone knows me, they know I get to it on some things without the patience to wait. But that list of chores that I have all of eternity to complete... I guess I'm just going to have to take my time.

Ah well.... I'm still not sure what I am supposed to feel right now. Trying to put that job behind me and not be angry, and not second guess a million things... And I'm trying not to think about what I want to replace it, because do I really know? So I guess I need to go back to baby steps... think about making some lunch, taking a shower, and tackling some gardening projects while I have the time... hop to it KB... if you can't earn a living, you might as well earn your keep.

but I'm really scared....

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Leisure Wife

I heard this term years ago from my friend Amy. Her friend's husband got a job in Japan, but the company didn't have a role for her. They decided to take the assignment, even though she wouldn't be working - for the experience, etc. She coined the term "leisure wife". They didn't have any kids, so she wasn't a stay-at-home-mom.

So I guess, if I try to look at the bright side, I get to be a leisure wife, too.

This isn't an announcement I am prepared to make. I don't even want to say it, because somehow it makes it real. Like the (first) time I got bit by a dog. Saying it out loud made me cry - that man's best friend could do me harm. It was a hard lesson to learn. So I guess I need to say it.

I got laid off.

The job I've been bragging about at the company I thought was so great - well, they laid of 20% of their work force today. At a moment's notice. I think we knew there were some tough times ahead, but when I looked at the room of people who were being let go with me, I was truly shocked. It was worse than any of us imagined.

So like they say - it's a recession when your friend loses their job. It's a depression when you lose yours. I can't say we're destitute, but I wasn't planning for this. Believe me, Larry and I had other plans. So I guess now I get to take the mental list of all the little things that need to be done, and start tackling them. Along with my favorite friend - Maybe some good will come of this. I can start biking daily and maybe I'll lose those extra pounds. Along with tending to the farm - I can start working on the little projects that I never get around to, like staining the deck, weeding the garden, mowing the lawn, and maybe even learning how to sew. I'll consider picking up some part time work in town, along with my unemployment check. Hmm... I'm trying to see the silver lining, but right now, my ego is a little bruised. It's hard to think I was in the bottom of the pile - the least valuable employee, the easiest to let go. Maybe it had to do with seniority, it possibly had to do with pay level. But there's no crying over spilt milk, right? Time to find another cow...

I'm sorry to friends and family that I didn't tell you all directly. That I didn't at least send a tacky mass email. It's just too hard to talk about, and I really only want to say it once. And I wish I didn't have to say it at all.

Friday, June 13, 2008

All About Jobs

Just some random notes about Jobs...

Larry's shepherd's need jobs or they do ridiculous things. Like Grish will eat an entire role of toilet paper every day unless he feels he is important in some way. So sometimes Larry brings him to work. Athena, in her lack of job-i-ness, has been ambitious and pro-active in finding her own jobs. That of the "official bark at the sheep when they come near the fence" job. she's gotten good at it. The sheep have gotten good at ignoring her. She has an understudy, and his name is Sergeant. Because they are so good at those jobs, Larry and I have been taking them to work. Yeah - real jobs. Larry takes Athena (sometimes Grish) and I take Sergeant.

That brings me to another point. I sheepishly asked if I could bring Sergeant to work with me. The answer was, "yes, unless we tell you otherwise. He has to behave" Of all the dogs we have at home, he is the least likely to bark, cause trouble, or pee in my office. So Sergeant wins. And then I realized - what the heck! I finally have it! I finally have a job that I can wear jeans every day AND bring a dog to work? This is heaven, isn't it?

Anyhow - almost all of our dogs have "jobs" now. The Shepherds all come to work on occasion - so they have fancy corporate jobs. The GPs have BIG jobs - guarding sheep, barking at coyotes, chasing away hawks, jumping in the red neck water feature and keeping tabs on all the neighbor horses. Important jobs.

Ditka's job is to just grow old gracefully, which he isn't doing very well. I guess his job is to ensure that I get new hardwood floors soon. Very soon. He's wrecking every square inch of carpet in the house very slowly and methodically.

That leaves Hobbes. He has a job! He's the farm dog. He rides in the farm truck. He rides in the truck bed. Last night he accompanied us out on the pasture to move the chicken house. (well, we could build a giant badger....) He and I rode in the back end, so I could open and close gates. His presence ensured the sheep would NOT come inside the chicken enclosure in search of chicken feed. Which is good. I hate chasing sheep. And then, when we went into the barn.... as the GPs stared in amazement (great at barking at coyotes, bad at catching critters) Hobbes caught a mouse and ate it. (ew) Maybe we don't need a barn cat after all! Hobbes was quite quick with it and seemed to sort of like it. Hobbes has certainly taken to "country living". All I know is that he was a happy dog in the back end of that truck (no, we would never let him ride there on an actual road, just in the pasture) and I think he knew just how cool his new life is.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

For Margaret (AKA Mom)

OK, Margaret asked for a new post, because the last one made her sad. I told her not to read it! SO, I hope this doens't make you sad... but some pictures of Lenny and Squiggy on their last night at home PLUS the raspberry and strawberry patch!!

A Happy Strawberry Plant

A Happy Raspberry Bush

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Goodbye Lenny and Squiggy

Yes, our baby boy lambs have gone on to their destiny. If this upsets you, please stop reading. If you don't want to know where your food comes from, again, stop reading.

I want to take a minute to talk about what it was like for me to say goodbye to our boys. Of course I shouldn't have named them, but I did, and I'll do it again, and that's just that.

Born on January 1, with no assistance from us, Miss Laverne gave birth to these precious baby boys. For 6 months, we never had a lick of trouble with either of them. I named them Lenny and Squiggy, to coincide with their mom and their aunt's names. Lenny quickly stood out as the trouble maker, and the one more likely to wander from mom's side. Of course, when he would look up and realize he was alone - he'd bleat and bleat and bleat. Squiggy was our goofball who ate his food while standing IN the manger. Lenny was the one that let people pet him. Heck, I could even hug him.

I knew from day one that these boys were destined to be food. Larry told me not to name them, but I couldn't help it. He said if they were boys, they were going to be food and not to get attached. We even asked the neighbor to verify that they really were boys, as I was hoping to get girls so we could keep them for breeding stock. It wasn't to be - the horns and some other highly visible components were obvious. We had ram lambs on our hands.

When Larry told me that the meat locker had an opening in their schedule - and to check with the neighbors to see if their GTS (Goat Transportation System) would fit on our truck bed, I knew it was time to say goodbye. Larry wasn't home that night, so I got to hang out with my sheep that last night for the boys. I will post pictures later tonight, I promise.

I went outside and sat in the pasture next to Lenny. Knowing I could pet him, I thought I would take advantage. Next thing I know, all 4 sheep consider me their favorite new snack/scratching post/interesting thing to sniff. I had Lenny sniffing my hair, Squiggy using my knee as a scratching post, Shirley trying to eat my fingers and Laverne trying to eat my wedding ring. I was surrounded by sheep! I took the opportunity to pet each of them, give hugs to Lenny, let them sniff me and nibble my clothes, and look right into their little sheepy eyes. I took them to the front yard for a snack. They love the lawn, and it's too tall for the manual mower now, so we are using sheep to mow the lawn. I think I stood and watched them eat for 2 hours. When they went to the barn, I closed all 4 of them in for one last time.

The next morning, we got some treats and tried to coerce the boys into the truck. Well, those 4 aren't often separated, and trying to get the boys in and the girls out - it just wasn't working. We had to result to using their halters, and Larry had to lift them into the truck. They bleated to their mom for help, and mom couldn't help. I thought they would bleat all the way down the road, but they settled down in the truck and laid down for most of the trip. We finally got them to the house, and sent them into the corral. I got one last pet in with my boys and said goodbye. I was sad for them, to be in an unfamiliar place like that. Our chickens don't even know what's coming. They wander around in the grass until we pick them up. No car ride, no strange people, no weird corrals and gates. As Larry went in to handle some paperwork, I grabbed the butcher so we could talk. I wasn't sure I wanted to know, but I had to ask - what are you gonna do with my boys? Larry was telling me awful stories about shooting them with guns, or hitting them over the head. (Seriously, stop reading if you can't handle this) But they were MY boys, MY responsibility - I wanted to know how their lives were going to end. Was he going to be nice to them? I mean, he had to kill them, but you can CARE about it or not. He said that killing lambs was the hardest thing for him to do, so he made sure to give extra care. He said he was taught to slit their necks and let them bleed out. But he didn't like that method, because they die slowly. He said he has learned, in one swipe (seriously, stop reading...) he cuts their artery and bends their neck back to break it. That way they die quickly and don't suffer. He said he holds them between his legs to help keep them still. (Can't do that with a cow!) OK, either way I was sad that my boys were going to die, that they were separated from their mom, and they weren't out in a nice grassy field for the first time in their lives. But this guy - he cared about the animals he processed. He wasn't heartless, he wasn't a brutal killer. Without guys like him, those of us who eat meat wouldn't get to eat meat. He said it's a good job, and that it isn't easy, but that he's good at making it quick and painless, and knows how important that is. I'm glad my boys got to spend their last minutes with him.

These were never going to be pets, it had to happen. I can't tell you I'm not crying about it. I can't tell you I don't miss them, and being the first, I probably will remember them more than any of the lambs that are to come. And I tell you, it's heartbreaking to hear Lavern bleating for her babies, that aren't lost and won't be coming home. She RAN out to the pasture this morning, calling for them. I wonder how long she will search for them until she realizes they are never coming back. That's heartbreaking too. It's hard to realize that I have a part in causing Laverne's sadness and confusion. That I (and Larry) decided it was time for the lambs to go. Even though logically, I know they had to - if we kept 2 rams and 2 ewes, we'd have quite a herd in a few years if none of them left! And this is our business now. Those 2 lambs will feed and nourish a lot of people, including myself.

But that doesn't mean I won't miss them. And it doesn't mean I won't be sad about it. Because I am.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Happy House Anniversary

We've been in the house for a whole year now! We've raised chickens and turkeys, bought some sheep and had two ram lambs born. We've adopted 2 Great Pyrenees, and temporarily, a third German Shepherd. We've build chicken crates, a chicken house, nesting boxes, brooding boxes, and perches. We've put together a strawberry/raspberry patch, a fruit tree orchard, and a small garden. We bought 2 old Ford trucks, a reel lawnmower. Ditka and Grish are still with us, even in their old age. Hobbes hasn't gotten run over by a car or eaten by coyotes.

We've had ups and downs, but we're just getting started! Here's a short picture update for today. Happy Anniversary, House!

Here is our orchard. It's hard to see, but all those white things are the tree wraps around the trunks of the trees. 30 trees in all, surrounded by electric tape fencing to keep the sheep and horses from trying to eat them!
The square patch of dirt here is my garden in the making. Lettuces are growing, lots of things are planted, and this month, I get to keep planting more. Cantaloupes, watermelon, corn, pumpkins, squash... more and more seeds! I am going to cover with a hat mulch, one of these days...

Here is Atlas, being his usual watchful self.

And this is poor Goliath. He got neutered on Friday. No Goliath babies for us, and we are hoping it will chill him out a little bit. For now, he's off duty as he is not allowed to get wet.

This is Bandit. He's an Americauna - a breed that lays green eggs. Calling this breed flighty is putting it simply. Not at all as friendly as my Cochins, these guys panic at every thing. They haven't started laying yet, but hopefully they will soon.