Tuesday, March 31, 2009

More Lamb Pictures

The breakfast buffet is open! From left to right: Ewe Jan with lamb Angel, ewe Daphne with lamb Fred, and ewe Gertrude with lamb Simon.

Little lambs sleeping in the shade. L to R: Sparks, Trouble, Ginger and Daisy Maisy

Little Orphan Annie


Our big ram lamb, Simon!

Our newest lamb, a total surprise that she is all white! This is Angel - Jan's ewe lamb. That brings us up to 8 lambs. And it leaves us with Shirley, Laverne, Alice, Velma and Cindy left to give birth. Aside from Velma - I think the rest of those sheep are carrying multiples!

My friend asked me the other day what we do with all these sheep - and I am reminded that we raise them for meat. That being said, we will be saying goodbye to Charlie Brown and Linus next week.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Keeping Track of the Lambs

We have 7 baby lambs now! Look at all of those little cuties!

In this picture, you can see... left to right: Trouble, Sparks, Ginger and Fred, with Daisy Maisy in the back, with her mom, Pretty Princess Penelope (just born yesterday)

Fred, nursing with Daphne, and Ginger checking out a water bowl.

Here is Gertrude, with her little Ram, Simon

This is Trouble and Sparks, who have discovered the heating pad!

This is Daisy Maisy, our newest little ewe lamb.

This is Ginger napping, with Trouble. Trouble was aptly named because we spent so much effort trying to get her mother to nurse her. Now, look at that face! She chases chickens all over the barn. She is Trouble!

This is Little Orphan Annie - Atlas adopted her and wouldn't let her mom, Lucy near her. So we had to separate the dogs from the sheep, and Lucy was so confused. We had to bottle feed Annie, and dry her off with some towels. Such a cold day for a lamb to be born. Once we got some energy into her, and her mom realized it was safe to come and find her...

Annie is now doing fine, nursing with mom.

And here is our own little Lamb, Shannon Elizabeth. She doens't have to sleep in a barn, doesn't have to figure out which one of the 11 ewes is her mom, and the dogs haven't adopted her yet.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Man Projects

My wife's job was to grow me a baby. She did a pretty good job with that.... Shannon is sleeping on my chest as I write this. My job, was to finish the hardwood floors in 4 rooms and 1 set of stairs before Shannon showed up. Yeah well... I'm a software engineer... we don't do deadlines so well. (which explains why Windows 95 sucked eggs until the year 2000.... it just wasn't finished!)

I'm not going into all the finagleing I did trying to avoid an obvious splice from one room to the next upstairs, but yeah..... its gonna look pretty sweet. Of course.... to add new stuff, you need to remove the old stuff. Great, but the old stuff is a real mess. I got all the carpet out and the banisters removed and had finally layed out exactly how the transition from the back bedroom to the hallway/stairs was going to look on Friday. As anyone who still speaks to us (long story) still knows, KB went into labor Sunday night. (I had PLANNED on knocking all this out over the weekend but sheep decided I would be doing other things....) So Tuesday (monday was spent in the hospital) my Dad came over and we tore the heck out those stairs. In my opinion, this was a fantastic way of baby proofing the upstairs.


today (Friday), I drove in the last nails and it now looks like this:


So the lady with C-section stitches is a LOT happier that the stairs don't move anymore when you walk up them. The dogs are happier... they tend to completely lose their shit when a stair moves while the are walking on them..... trust me, the last thing you need in this world is a 130lbs Great Pyr going nuts. I am very stoked. I got really lucky on a couple things:
  • I had a router bit that exactly matched the curve pattern on the front of the stair treads.
  • The stain we bought for the pine trim that I'm putting in upstairs EXACTLY matches the color of the bamboo when applied to the bamboo..... I mean, you can't tell where I hit the stair treads with the router (hitting the stair tread obviously removes the finish and stain).
  • The stair nose on the top step, if moved 1/8" forward, allows you to put in full width planks all the way to the back wall of the hallway AND the back bedroom. (WIN! I figure anyone getting on their back on my stairs with a flashlight to see if the stair nose the the riser are flush together is a weird freak and needs to be kicked out quickly)

Why am I routing the stair tread you ask? Well.... as you can see above, we have an "open" stairwell. Unless I wanted to go buy a compound miter saw, learn how to use it, and manufacture an incredible difficult cut, I would need to route the open side so that it looked the the front side of the stair tread. Finish work is hard enough thank you very much. 45 degree miters are all I ever want to have to do. Anyway........ it all worked out, and it looks great. There is yet a lot of work to do with spackle to cover up the crappy wall board damage that the carpet used to cover. Even after I spent a day with plaster trying to fix this, there are gaps after installing the stairs.
The stair stringer (the wood the stairs sit on that you see in the 1st two pictures) is square and straight, nothing else in the house is. *sigh*

This weekend I'll pick up the banisters and newel posts. I plan on stareing (no pun intended) on them for about a week to make sure I haven't forgotten something before I install them. The problem with finish work is mistakes have nothing to hide them, things look so good right now I really do not want to screw it all up.

Hopefully Shannon likes tools as much as her Dad.

PS: Special thanks to my Dad who comes over all the time and helps with my tearing up of the house.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

9 Pregnant Sheep

Boy, I was right on time yesterday - any moment now included LAST NIGHT! Daphne and Marcia both had lambs last night.

Larry came in to tell me that 2 of the sheep had lambs. Since I had been watching them (they usually bleed a little before they give birth - we saw that on Laverne) I was surprised that it would have happened last night. When I asked him who - he said "I don't know, 2 that don't like me." I'm the only one who cares about their names, I guess. But it was Daphne and Marcia. It seems those evening I would hang out in the sheep stall, just sitting with them, have paid off. They are less afraid of me than they are of Larry.

When I went in the stall, it seemed apparent that Daphne had had one lamb, and Marcia had three. It's possible. But there was one that wanted to be with her, and she kept head-butting her into the barn. That is very bad. Since she wasn't letting her eat, we thought we'd put her next to Daphne and see what happened. Daphne is showing signs of being a good mommie - she adopted this poor rejected lamb, and things were shaping up. If Daphne hadn't given birth the same night, I am not sure what would have happened to Marcia's lambs. She is NOT showing signs of being a good mommie (she even laid down on one of her babies as it was trying to drink) and she seems to walk away from them a lot. We are going to separate them into a separate stall tonight so the lambs can find their moms and get some milk during the night.

This is Fred, Daphne's ram lamb. He has done a great job of eating, and seems to like napping by himself. I think he's going to be an independent little guy.

\This is Sparks, Marcia's ram lamb. He's also doing well at eating, and likes to nap next to mom.

Here is Daphne with Fred and Ginger. Ginger is to the left, and will try to drink from either sheep. I think she knows Marcia is her mom, but Marcia keeps pushing her away - Daphne will come and rescue her if Marcia rejects her, and seems pretty protective of her. That's Fred standing underneath Daphne.

Here is Marcia with Sparks in front, and Trouble next to her. You can barely see her.

I waited all morning and early afternoon to see this! This is Trouble finally trying to drink from Marcia. Marcia kept walking away from her, and I kept trying to feed her from a bottle. She scared the dickens out of me when she fell asleep in my lap and slid OFF my lap. I thought she had gone unconscious. She wasn't taking to the bottle, and her heart rate and breathing were getting really stressed. She wouldn't open her eyes, and I was getting scared that we were losing her. I took a break to run inside and change my clothes, and when I came out, I saw this. I'll continue watching her, because Marcia doesn't seem to notice her - if she needs supplemental feeding, I'll make sure she gets it. But I know this - we won't keep Marcia's babies, and we'll give Marcia another chance, but if she gets into a habit of rejecting her babies, we won't keep her, either.

While I was hanging out with the sheep, I saw a few other things this morning, too...

All the other sheep wanted in. We separated them out so that the lambs didn't have to search for their mothers.

Apparently, chickens really dig taking dirt baths in the compost. Hmmm, that stuff is destined for my garden - it's not a day spa for chickens!

Goliath is the dirtiest dog in the world. Not only does he jump in the stinky pond, he then rolls in dirt. Yes, you are getting a bath, dirty pooch!

Two roosters decided they were not friends today. And they commenced quite a fight, right in front of me. You'd think they could get along. There are over 100 hens, and just about a dozen roosters. Can't they share?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Any Moment Now

That's kind of a saying around our house these days, for many many reasons.

But one of them is that all 11 of our sheep are pregnant (yes, even Shirley, who just gave birth in September), and they could give birth at any moment now. I am hoping that they wait until Sunday, after we get a chance to clean out their stall! I'd like the babies to have fresh bedding.

Anyhow - here are some pictures of our pregnant sheep mommies.

This is Shirley. I have been worried about her. She gave birth to surprise twins in September. She lost a lot of weight very quickly - as she was nursing her boys right when the pasture was starting to fade for the winter. Her hips got a little bony, and I always made sure to try and give her extra oats when I could. I really did NOT want Jean Claude to get her pregnant again, to give her some time to rest. Larry came in the house the other day and said "you know how you've been so worried about Shirley losing weight? Well, she's so fat now, she looks like she's pregnant with TWINS!" I replied "That's because SHE IS!!" Larry doens't believe me, but I think she is. Her hips are still a little bony, and her utters - that her 6 month old boys don't need anymore - are filling back up. I think she's pregnant. Poor girl.

This is Velma. She's a character. I guess she wants to be king of the castle - or what was that dumb song we sang when we climbed to the top of a dirt pile? This is her hay pile - she just wants to get at the good bits. They've all gotten a LOT more vocal since they've gotten pregnant. 11 hungry girls who just want to eat, and the pasture is just barely starting to turn green now.

If ANYONE DARE take a picture of me from this angle, pregnant or not, they are going to lose an eye. Poor Daphne - not a flattering picture, but you can see how wide she is. I think most of our girls are carrying more than one lamb - Velma, Lucy and Penelope may only have one, but it's hard to tell on some of our shaggier sheep. But you can see that she is lumpy on both sides. The breeds we have - all Dorper crosses - some mixed with Suffolk, some with Katahdin - tend to give birth in 1's, 2's or 3's. So far, Laverne and Shirley have had twins. I think we have a lot more twins in our future. Still hoping Laverne has a ewe lamb so we can keep one - and round out our flock to an even 12.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Shepherds with Too Much Time on their Hands

This is really ridiculous and clever all at the same time. Lots of sheep, lots of well trained border collies, and some farmers with TOO much time on their hands. Very clever. But no, this didn't give me any ideas to try and do light shows with my sheep! (Click on the title of this post to see what I am on about. The end of the article has a video you can play!)

Monday, March 16, 2009

We have a Greenhouse!

We finally finished it! A HUGE HUGE thank you to Laura, Keri, Kirsten and Warren for giving their spare time on an early Sunday morning to help us. We were a bit unorganized, but by the middle of the day - we had this!

The plastic is super thick, 6 mil polyethylene film. I hadn't even looked at it until we rolled it out that morning. I must admit that cutting it to do the second layer made me really nervous. But here is a close up of the wiggle wire. It was easier to install than I thought, but you need to be careful not to poke an eye out with this stuff!

From the inside, looking up - you can see the special hardware that attaches the purlin to the bows.

This is a picture of the installed blower motor that keeps the two layers of plastic inflated.

The German Shepherds like the new strip of shade produced on the north side of the greenhouse. You can also see the nylon cabling that runs in a "W" pattern to hold down the roll up sides.

Here's the whole house, before we installed the blower. We didn't get the plastic perfectly tight, but I think that takes some practice and skill.

Here's the inside of my house. Now we need to get to some hoeing and raking and getting those beds ready. One step at a time!

I was planting some seeds over the weekend and had the door propped open for my own comfort. I think I like the view out of the west door - Long's Peak and Mount Meeker. It was a good day to be gardening!

Friday, March 6, 2009

A little break from farming

Well, the farming is never done, but we have had some other things to work on this year. It's OK to take a break and take care of us sometimes, too.

I let the dogs out this morning, and saw a silhouette on the tree. I ran back in to grab my camera, knowing this was no starling or robin, and caught a young falcon hanging out by our garden. I don't mind him around, especially since the barn was still closed up. He can catch as many mice as he wants. I just don't want him anywhere near any baby chicks!!

We spent a large part of the winter wrestling with our wood stove. Replacement parts, root cause analysis, and trying to just get the dang fans to work. We fixed it. The cat approves of toasty fires.

Here's the status of our upstairs. We finally decided to put the money aside to replace the carpet upstairs with hardwood floors. Hoorah. This is what the house looks like after we tear up carpet and padding. And after Larry decides "while we're at it...." we also tore up all the baseboard trim, doors and door jams! We have some work to do!

This picture shows Larry installing the first of our new bamboo flooring in the upstairs. But this picture isn't as much about the floor as it is about the nice big yellow thing sitting on the floor.

Once again, Kristin and her joy of buying tools has saved the day. Thank you, Dewalt, for bringing smiles to my husband's face. I got him a cordless driver for his birthday a few years back. That sucker gets quite a workout here on the farm. And it has served us well.

We discovered that the nail driver we were going to borrow from a neighbor to install the floors... required an air compressor. I, being naive, didn't think we needed nails for the floor, I thought it was a floating floor. I was wrong, but that's OK, it gave me the chance to go to Lowe's and buy another tool. This is a nifty little cordless nail driver, containing it's own mini compressor. This tool, too, shall get plenty of work out here on the farm. And it will get my hard wood floors installed a lot faster than hand driving nails. Larry is happy, he has a new toy. I am happy, too. The upstairs will be a show piece someday when we get it all done.

I swear I am the only person I know who does home repair in a turtleneck while drinking tea. I'd feel a little hoity-toity, maybe even metrosexual, except I've got tools scattered all over. I'm pretty sure the most dangerous words in this house are, "Well, while we are at it....." I can't help it. I'm a software engineer. When you are in the code, you might as well clean up all the ugly crap you see.