Friday, September 26, 2008

More animal updates

I love our sheep. OUt of the 11 we have now, there are 4 that allow me to pet them. Sometimes even give them hugs and kisses on the head. Next to me is Shirley, and the head in the corner is Laverne. These are our original sheep, we've had them for over a year, and they are very used to us. I am petting Lucy (although Atlas and Goliath are trying to get all my attention) Lucy is a doll, she's about 9 months old, and the hair on her chin and neck is still super soft, not coarse like it is on Laverne and Shirley. So I love to pet her. She closes her eyes when I pet her. Every night when I put them in the barn, I go in their stall and crouch down. Laverne, Shirley, Lucy and Velma inevitably come forward and let me pet them. Laverne and Shirley also try to chew on my fingers or my clothes. Most sheep breeders won't do this sort of thing. They also have hundreds of sheep. We have 11. And I like it this way. It's like having even more pets!

These are our Double Breasted Bronze turkeys. I asked Larry to get colored turkeys this year, because I think they are pretty. They grew a little slower than the whites. We lost a couple to crippling (well, we ate one before she suffered for too long) BUt these guys, man, they think the whole world belongs to them. In this picture, they have come into the back yard. They can safely eat their turkey feed back here without the sheep getting into it, but they poop everywhere! But just look at those Toms getting all puffed up, trying to show me how cool they are.

Speaking of turkeys... here are our baby turkeys in the barn. These guys will be ready to go just in time for Thanksgiving. We got the white ones again, I don't remember why. But even as month old chicks, the Toms are trying to strut their stuff. Little goofs.

Sherri asked for pictures of baby chicks... I need to get a picture of the group of them. But here is me holding one of my new chicks. It's an egg layer. A breed called an Ancona. When they grow up, they will be black with white spots. I'm so excited!! I like seeing new, pretty birds!

OH yeah, forgive the hair. It was Sunday, sometimes I don't crawl out of my jammies on a Sunday. A girl needs a break every now and then!!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Some photo updates

Here are some of our sheep. Since this picture was taken, we bought a few more. But this clearly shows who the leaders of the pack are - or maybe they are just the adoptive mommies for all our new young sheep... Laverne and Shirley are leading the pack, followed by Pretty Princess Penelope, Daphne, Ethel ,Gertude, Lucy and Velma.

This is a close up of one of our Toms. He's holding his breath for us, to turn his face blue, in case that impresses us.

This is one of our bantam roosters. HA HA, they are so small. I need to upload a video of him crowing. It's like Peter Brady going through puberty, he tries so hard, but just doesn't sound very masculine.

This is Marie, our very friendly and agile barn kitty. Her sister is just as agile, but not so friendly. She keeps climbing on the roof of the barn (and she likes to do this when Larry is out of town. And I am afraid of heights and won't climb a ladder to go get her) They are young and light and have very sharp claws. If it is made of wood, they can climb it. And only until they get too high do they realize they are scaredy cats. But Marie stays close to the ground, because she likes to play with us, and the dogs, and the turkeys, and the baby chicks...

I hope this isn't creepy, but I found this picture in our camera, too. It was a nice shot of Atlas and Goliath together, and just happens that Baby D is in here too. Goliath and Atlas really really liked him and would follow him all over the pasture. Not sure if it was because he was their size when they were pups, or if it was how he howled when they tried to play with him. Either way, Ditka wanted nothing to do with these big dogs, but boy they sure loved him.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I am looking forward to spring

I know, my friends are probably confused by that. Fall is my favorite season, and anyone who has been to a Halloween party at my house knows it. I love the colors, I love College Football, I love pumpkins and cool air, and Halloween costumes.

But there is something that doesn't happen around the fall or winter around here - and that's babies. No more baby chicks, no baby lambs. If we get our ram in October, Laverne and the girls (the ones who are old enough) will be having lambs in March, maybe April. That's around the same time that we'll be bringing in baby chicks.

It isn't really about babies for me right now - it's about life and growth. Farming is hard, we see a lot more death than most folks. Back when I was a happy Suburbanite - how often did I face death? And my contemporaries who are still happy Suburbanites? Yes, you face it. We all lose loved ones and pets. We lose parents and grandparents, we lose people we care about to illness, longevity, accidents... But you don't face it monthly. Heck, we'd all break down a little if we had to attend a funeral every month. Death is hard.

On the farm, we see a lot of it. I'm getting accustomed to saying goodbye to chickens. We just did that a month ago - 50 in one weekend. That's a lot of death. But that's pre-destined. Those are animals that live a good happy life, and go on to become food. I can handle that. It's not my favorite way to spend a weekend, but I'm OK with it. We also lose chickens and turkeys to other things - injury, heart attacks, disease. Those upset me more. Those animals may have been hurting, and with their death there is no gain. They don't nourish anyone else. They just go away, and I don't like it. I also lost my precious Ditka this year. I still would have faced that in my happy Suburban life, too. It made it easier knowing he had lived a full life and that he was surrounded by loved ones until his very last breath. But it was more death. And we have 5 more dogs at home that we will say goodbye to.

We also lost 2 sheep this year. One was to an accident with a dog. It happened. I'm sad for Ethel. I can't take it back. I still have guilt for not doing more to protect her. And I broke my promise to her. But we know how it happened, we know how to avoid it. We also lost another sheep this past weekend. There is no reason that we know of. Was Carol sick, Larry thought he had heard her coughing. But Gertrude coughs too, and she's still with us. Did she have some other illness? Did something happen to her? We'll never know. This could happen any time, any where. It happened to our neighbor with their 4H sheep. She just died. It made me realize that I don't get to see life again until spring. And winters are hard. We lose animals in the bitter cold. We do what we can to provide them shelter, but I can almost bet we'll lose some chickens in the cold.

I look forward to spring - when the farm is about NEW life. When the barn and the field are full of new babies. For the fall - I hope we don't lose anymore than we plan to lose (our last batches of chickens and turkeys for thanksgiving, yum!) I hope there are no more surprises. I miss Ditka. I miss Ethel and Carol. But I am looking forward to spring - when I get to pick out silly names for all the baby lambs. I look forward to the farm being full of babies and being able to focus on LIFE again.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Sergeant goes home!

Sargie's mom is finally feeling better, and is hopefully on the road to recovery and we hope that road is a short one. She decided it was time to get her boy back, and she took him home yesterday afternoon.

I am wondering when it's going to hit me. Since July - we have gone from 7 dogs to only 5. Only 3 of them now in the house. I'd say things are quieter around here, and maybe they are. No more howling from Ditka (at 3AM when he'd get lost outside), Sergeant won't be here to tell the sheep just how disappointed he is that there is a fence in his way and he can't come play. But there are still Athena and Hobbes, Atlas and Goliath, and sometimes even Grish pipes in to express his feelings about this, that or the other thing. Plus there are talkative turkeys, sometimes confused sheep, one very loud rooster (and 2 quieter ones) and an entire pack of coyotes that are doing their best at providing me a sleep deprivation experiment. So even with one or two dogs going to better places, things will never be quiet on the farm.