Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bracing for a cold Holiday

Tomorrow marks the longest night of the year.  As a farmer, I spend half the year counting down to the longest day, knowing that the tides start to turn after that. And then I count down to the longest night, just waiting for the days to get a little longer, a little warmer, and for things to start growing again.

In the meantime, it's been COLD. It's going to snow again, and I still have silly birds sleeping in the trees, some perched too high for me to reach, to get them in to safety.  Larry is home sick with a nasty cold, and I am fighting to not succumb to it myself. I see our wood pile grow smaller each day and hope there is enough to get us through February, if not, also March.

I'm already planning for next year, getting my orders lined up for baby chicks and turkey poults. I'm waiting for that magic day when the sun stays up long enough, that it triggers my chickens to start laying again. And getting the chance to take some lessons learned from this year, and apply them to next year - and hopefully have a bit better of a year.

I am already partially done with our taxes, which means I've been looking at numbers. We get a little better every year, but the expenses pile up, too. Feed costs have gone WAY up, the spike in hay prices this year really hurt, too, and not to mention that freezer that went caput!

My brain is in crisis mode - too much going on, too much to do, so it's trying to block out the next two weeks and thing farther into the future - back when life goes back to normal, and I can get on with things. But for now, it's the hustle and bustle of trying to get gifts completed, the house cleaned, get a holiday meal planned and make it through these hectic days. But I just keep daydreaming about baby birds, and planting my greenhouse, and waiting for my rhubarb to pop through the ground...

Larry says I borrow trouble, and wish my days away, so I need to remind myself that planning is good, but that I have to BE in the moment, too. But no worries, I have a 2 year old to remind me to BE in the moment.

So even though it's cold, and we all want to be warm, and probably sipping drinks on a beach, don't forget to BE in the moment (and remember that the snow we have now, is the water for our spring plants!)

Friday, December 2, 2011

I'd feel like no one reads this blog... but I know for a fact my best friend does because I talked to him today and he told me he does! I guess its just that no one comments... :)

Anyway, here are some pictures from turkey processing this last weekend. We had 3 different people bring in their turkeys to us and we chopped them up for them. I was surprised, usually people that come and "help" are about as much trouble as they are help the 1st time, but these folks really caught on quick. It looks cold, but it wasn't actually too bad.... muddy, but not too cold.

Anyway, that is me in the fine red Munster Ruby cap. Much Thanks to Ian for giving me his when I lost mine last year in England.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Weekend Lambs

Two if our ewes gave birth overnight this weekend. Trouble had a single, and Marcia had twins. Still waiting on Fat Cindy to drop hers, we thought she would be next!

Here is Trouble's little one, Huckleberry Hound. He's got cute markings across his front.  I have to pay close attention to the markings so I can tell them apart. Unless they are really unique like Strawberry Shortcake or Captain Caveman, I have to find something that identifies them, for this little one, it'll be the patchy black spots across his front.


Here are Marcia's twins, hiding out in the gap between the barn and the open stall door. These two scared the bejebus out of me yesterday. Marcia wasn't acting like they were missing, but I couldn't find them. Huck was on the wrong side of the fence, apparently found a sunny spot to sleep but didn't notice that mama was beside herself. So I went looking over there for these two, wondering if they squeezed under the fence, too. Of course, my mind went to other places, and I realized I didn't know where my dog, Moose was (he was asleep inside the whole time) but why wasn't Marcia worried, and I finally thought to look behind the door. Happy as clams, and warm as could be.  This is Boris and Natasha, well, I guess, Natasha and Boris.  Natasha is the white one with the orange ear, and Boris is the one with the little black spots. Cute little buggers! I am going to vy for Natasha being a keeper! She's adorable!

This isn't the greatest picture, but I wanted to add it. If you can get past Shirley glaring at us in the corner, you can see Captain Caveman in the back, he's standing in front of Strawberry Shortcake, and next to Blueberry Muffin. This little bugger is growing like a weed. I had to pick him up yesterday and move him to a stall with his mother. He's HUGE! I can't believe how much he has grown! And he's a little stinker, his mama, Angel, is a big worry wart. She calls for him all day long and he never answers! He runs and plays and does his own thing. And at night, when she calls for him so they can bed down in the same stall, he just finds a spot, lays down and never answers her. He hides in corners and even I have a hard time finding him. He's going to give his poor mother high blood pressure!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

We seem to spend a lot of time thinking about food this time of year. And since we are farmers and ranchers, I guess we think about it a lot!

But Thanksgiving isn't just about gorging on yummy dishes. It's about giving thanks. So I want to take a moment to do that here.

I want to give thanks to our birds. They lay us wonderful eggs, provide us with meat for our dinners, allow me to hatch dozens of cute little baby chicks, and on occasion - hatch a few of their own!

I want to thank our sheep for being such good mamas to their little lambs, for being so quirky, even on their bad days. For letting chickens ride on their backs in the cold, and again, for putting wonderful food on our table.

I want to thank our barn and our coops for keeping everyone safe and warm as the winter approaches.
I want to thank my family. We give each other grey hair and bounce ideas off each other. And then there is my little girl who reminds me that sometimes the only time is NOW, that things aren't what they seem, and that boxes are a lot of fun. My family has taught me to learn new things (canning and sewing), to appreciate what we have, and to work hard for the things we deserve.
I also want to give thanks to my wonderful day job, that I truly enjoy, surrounded by people I love working with, and for helping me keep a roof over my family's head. And I am thankful for my husband's new job opportunity that he is so excited about.

And last, but far from least, I want to thank our customers. We have some of the best customers in the world. They are patient with us through our struggles, they understand that some things are out of our control and that most things can not be adjusted quickly. They have survived with us through egg shortages every winter, turkeys being too big or too small,  and our vegetabl garden generally being a bust. We have some of the best customers in the entire world, and as things are winding down for the year, and I start thinking about planning for next year, I hope that you will stick with us. You are part of the larger Long Shadow Farm family, and we appreciate you very much. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake and Blueberry Muffin

Betty gave birth to her second set of twins today. Betty is the surviving daughter of Laverne, who was our favorite sheep. We are planning on expanding our flock a little, and happy to have some ewes, especially descendants of Laverne.

However, after naming Captain Caveman, I just decided to stick with ridiculous names. That generally works on rams, because we don't keep them. However...

Introducing Strawberry Shortcake and Blueberry Muffin. I am sticking with the cartoon character names this time around, though I think these cartoon characters came AFTER the toys, in this instance.

Here they are with their mom. Strawberry Shortcake is the one in the front, another one with really unique brown markings. Blueberry Muffin is a more standard dorper, with pure black and white markings. I didn't get a good picture of her, I'll try again this weekend when we can be outside. It's hard in the barn.

Here is Strawberry Shortcake, she almost looks like a Barbados goat!

OK, you can tell I was trying to get pictures of this unique coloring. Pretty cool, huh? We are definitely keeping her, and Larry is not impressed with the names I chose. I'll have to think again, but it's hard finding female duo names, as I have already used Laverne and Shirley, Lucy and Ethel... So if anyone has any female duo cartoon names, send them my way and I might reconsider (Jane and Judy from the Jetsons are on my list)

 Oh, Lucy says she us ready for her close up, while Annmarie turns away.
And here is Mama Angel again, with Captain Caveman - isn't he just adorable?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ducks and another Lamb

So, here is proof that my stubborn ducks DO now how to come through the fence and back into their house.

 They even walk around the house, hoping that we put some food outside (we put it inside the house for them, so the sheep don't eat it.)
 And then when they are done eating, they go back out the fence and into the pond. Sigh. I keep waiting for them to decide to sleep inside their house, where they are safe and warm, but I guess to a duck, they are safe and warm on top of their pond.

Angel gave birth yesterday. I noticed that she was in the barn by herself, so I gave her a peek, and saw that she was in full labor. She gave birth to a healthy ram lamb with some really unique coloring. We were disappointed it was a ram, because we wanted to keep it!
Being on the hook for a name, and being sleep deprived,  I tried to think of one quickly. I wanted to use cartoon character names this time, and the first one that came to mind was Captain Caveman. So, yes, his name is Captain Caveman!
I just love his markings! He's the sweetest little thing, and Angel is such a good mom!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Deciding to Cull

We have never had to cull an adult ewe before. We've had some bad luck with losing a few. But being a young farm, our sheep are all relatively young themselves. Shirley is the oldest at 7. The rest are 4 or younger, assuming the ages I was told when we bought them were correct.

We briefly discussed culling when we found out they had CL, which is highly contagious. We now vaccinate for it on all our ewe lambs, and our adult ewes get vaccinated every year.  We also discovered the hard way that they all carry OVH-2, which is what gave Bridget MCF, and caused her to die.  At that point, we had the decision of culling all our sheep so we could continue raising a cow or two, or say goodbye to our cows and not raise any more. I thought it would be easier to keep all our sheep, than to start over.

So we decided to vaccinate for CL, and maybe in 10-15 years it will be gone. We've decided not to cull PURELY because of that.

But we are now facing the decision again. We have plenty of ewes, maybe even too many,. We kept all 6 ewe lambs that were born last season. So we have room to spare some.  And Lucy abandoned a lamb this year. I looked back in her records and saw that this was the THIRD time she has abandoned a lamb. She abandoned her first lamb, Little Orphan Annie. We assumed the dogs got between them, and Atlas was being protective of her. We managed to wean her back onto mom, and thought nothing of it.  This last year, she abandoned Cornelius. I thought it might have been that we handled him too much, and that he got too cold in the snow, and she left him behind. Turns out, she's just a bad mom. She abandoned Charlie this year, too. And we TRIED and TRIED to get her to take him back. To no avail. And to our heartbreak, he actually did freeze to death, and we lost him. So Lucy gets no more chances.

She's a relatively nice lamb when she isn't a mom. She lets us pet her, and is pretty calm, if not a trouble maker sometimes. But when she has lambs, watch out if you are less than 3' tall! She is the ONLY sheep that has knocked Shannon over, and she did it more than once last year. That's trouble. We don't hurt her babies, she doesn't get to hurt MINE.  I wouldn't have culled her just for that, but add it all up - CL, abandonment, mean distemper - we are saying goodbye to Lucy as soon as she weans Annmarie. We won't take her away from her baby until it's time, but we can't have ewes that abandon their babies, when the rest of our ewes are such good moms.  It will get one CL sheep out of the flock, and start us on the path of replacing our ewes with new, vaccinated lambs.

So watch out ladies, you make too many mistakes, and it's mutton for you!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

November Lambs

So, one of our sheep had lambs yesterday, but it wasn't Jan!!  Here is Lucy and her little ones. Charlie and Annmarie.  Annmarie is the larger one with the big white spot on her back, and Charlie is the almost all white one with the black head.  I'll go out and check this morning to see if Jan gave birth yet, too!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Snow Days

This snow and freeze has already melted, as that is the way it goes in Colorado. But here are a few snaps of the weather our turkeys chose to endure outside. The turkeys choose to sleep in our aspen tree, and still made it through the 17 degree night up there.

The world is covered in ice, but the sun is coming up, so that won't last long.

 All of our fences were wearing a coat that morning, they must have been cold, too.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Early Snow

I don't sleep well on nights like last night. Although I got an extra hour of sleep since the power went out and my alarm didn't go off.

We busted our butts yesterday getting ready for the storm. Larry disharged the sprinkler system and pumped out the irrigation system - to ensure no pipe cracks all away around. We patched up some holes in the greenhouse in hopes of protecting my newly sprouted lettuce. The tomatoes were all in decline already, so I picked what I could, in the hopes some would still ripen in a window sill. I cut down all the basil, because I'd hate to see it wilted and ruined. Looks like we are having pesto for dinner tonight!

I also picked all the rest of the turnips outside, so they wouldn't get ruined. They had stopped growing, but were hanging out nicely in the soil. I fed all the greens to the sheep as an extra treat.

We scooped up all the egg layers and made sure they went to sleep inside their truck house, instead of under it or in bushes. We searched for any errant birds and made sure they went to the turkey shed or the barn. EXCEPT the big turkeys that sleep in the trees. We got down the ones we could reach, but most sleep high in an aspen tree, and we couldn't reach them!

The young birds and meat birds still had their tent on the ground. I really wanted to stick a heat lamp in there, and admit I didn't have the nerve to check on them this morning. Larry claims that they would be OK, as the tent stays pretty warm with all of them in there, and being that the ground was dry as they went in, they would stay dry and warm in there without a heat lamp. I think tonight they will need one, or they will all need to be moved to the shed or to the truck. This is a pretty intense storm for October, and I know it's only temporary.

I drove to work completely stressed out about this. I know the sheep are OK in the barn, and everyone that is inside a structure will be OK today. I worry about the ducks and hope they came into their house. They were still on the pond the last I looked last night. I worry about the big turkeys in the trees. Tonight I plant to try and catch them before they start roosting and get them into the shed. The more birds in there, the warmer it will be for everyone.  I hope we found everyone - anyone left sleeping outside on the ground last night probably would not make it, so I hope we didn't miss anyone!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Turkey Time

I know I know, it's not even Halloween yet!  I'm still working on my costume and my nugget's costume and I haven't even started decorating yet, but no fret I'll get there.

But it is time to start thinking about turkeys! Those little goof balls are now roosting in our aspen tree, and on our pergola. Our back porch is no longer a safe place to hang out. Good thing the cool weather is keeping us inside anyhow. But never fear, the pergola will be empty by the end of November, as we are hoping turkeys will all end up in your tummies!  We'll keep a efw and try breeding again. And I am very partial to the ones I hatched myself this year and kind of want to keep them, too!  But there are plenty to go around.

We weren't very successful with the double-breasted breeds this year, so our birds are mostly going to be 20 pounds or less. The likely weet spots are 9-12 pounds (heritage breed hens) and 15-18 pounds (heritage breed toms). So if that suits your needs, go ahead and reserve one using this form.

If we don't have space left, I will return your check to you and let you know. But right now, we only have a few reservations (and I owe an email to 2 of you letting you know that I did add you to my spreadsheet!)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Colorado's Right to Farm Statute (Colo. Rev. Stat §§ 35-3.5-101 to 35-3.5-103)

§ 35-3.5-101. Legislative declaration

It is the declared policy of the state of Colorado to conserve, protect, and encourage the development and improvement of its agricultural land for the production of food and other agricultural products. The general assembly recognizes that, when nonagricultural land uses extend into agricultural areas, agricultural operations often become the subject of nuisance suits. As a result, a number of agricultural operations are forced to cease operations, and many others are discouraged from making investments in farm improvements. It is the purpose of this article to reduce the loss to the state of Colorado of its agricultural resources by limiting the circumstances under which agricultural operations may be deemed to be a nuisance. It is further recognized that units of local government may adopt ordinances or pass resolutions that provide additional protection for agricultural operations consistent with the interests of the affected agricultural community, without diminishing the rights of any real property interests.

§ 35-3.5-102. Agricultural operation deemed not nuisance--state agricultural commission--attorney fees--exceptions

(1)(a) Except as provided in this section, an agricultural operation shall not be found to be a public or private nuisance if the agricultural operation alleged to be a nuisance employs methods or practices that are commonly or reasonably associated with agricultural production.
    (b) An agricultural operation that employs methods or practices that are commonly or reasonably associated with agricultural production shall not be found to be a public or private nuisance as a result of any of the following activities or conditions:
          (I) Change in ownership;
          (II) Nonpermanent cessation or interruption of farming;
          (III) Participation in any government sponsored agricultural program;
          (IV) Employment of new technology; or
          (V) Change in the type of agricultural product produced.
(2)(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section to the contrary, an agricultural operation shall not be found to be a public or private nuisance if such agricultural operation:
          (I) Was established prior to the commencement of the use of the area surrounding such agricultural operation for nonagricultural activities;
          (II) Employs methods or practices that are commonly or reasonably associated with agricultural production; and
          (III) Is not operating negligently.
   (b) Employment of methods or practices that are commonly or reasonably associated with agricultural production shall create a rebuttable presumption that an agricultural operation is not operating negligently.
(3) The court may, pursuant to sections 13-16-122 and 13-17-102, C.R.S., award expert fees, reasonable court costs, and reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing party in any action brought to assert that an agricultural operation is a private or public nuisance. Nothing in this section shall be construed as restricting, superseding, abrogating, or contravening in any way the provisions of sections 25-7-138(5), C.R.S., and 25-8-501.1(8), C.R.S.
(4) As used in this article, “agricultural operation” has the same meaning as “agriculture”, as defined in section 35-1-102(1).
(5) Any ordinance or resolution of any unit of local government that makes the operation of any agricultural operation a nuisance or provides for the abatement thereof as a nuisance under the circumstances set forth in this section is void; except that the provisions of this subsection (5) shall not apply when an agricultural operation is located within the corporate limits of any city or town on July 1, 1981, or is located on a property that the landowner voluntarily annexes to a municipality on or after July 1, 1981.
(6) This section shall not invalidate any contracts made prior to September 1, 2000, but shall be applicable only to contracts and agreements made on or after September 1, 2000.
(7) A local government may adopt an ordinance or pass a resolution that provides additional protection for agricultural operations; except that no such ordinance or resolution shall prevent an owner from selling his or her land or prevent or hinder the owner in seeking approval to put the land into alternative use.

§ 35-3.5-103. Severability

If any provision of this article or the application thereof to any person or circumstances is held invalid, such invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of this article which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this article are declared to be severable.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Birds and Thoughts of Spring

Just taking some random photos today.

 This is Mr. Belvedere. He is our tom from last year, trying to impress some of the new girls from this year.

This is Rooster Man. I segregated him with two of his hens (Speckled Sussex) and hatched about 6 chicks that were sussex. I am looking forward to hatching many more this spring.

 Here is one of the Speckleds that I hatched earlier this year!
This is Gorgeous George, and I have 2 hens of his breed (silver laced, red wyandotte, I got them at the 4H fair)  I am looking forward to breeding them this spring, too!

 This is one of Gorgeous George's hens
This is why turkeys are a pain in the butt.

 These are our youngest turks. Likely to be breeding stock for next year because they are so small, they won't be ready for Thanksgiving
Here is part of my duck flock. They are running away because they don't like when I come near. 
 Remember the three little chicks my Spangled Hamburg hatched on her own in the spring? Here's 2 of them now! They are all grown up, and still hang out together. Though I think 2 of them are roos...
 The guy in the front is one of the turkeys I hatched myself. Definitely part Black Spanish, and I think part Royal Palm, but who really knows.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Why do I always forget the joy of turkeys?We built them a beautiful shed, with laying boxes, and big perches.... And the goofballs take to the pergola. Partly because Larry was doing some carpentry stuff, and left the saw horses on the back porch. they made a mess of the deck that way!  I am not sure if it was intentional to try to hit Moose with some droppings, since he has harassed his fair share of young turkeys.

I guess it's a good sign that the birds are growing up, but the ones that misbehave are first on the chopping block for Thanksgiving. Did you hear that birdies? If you sleep in the shed we built for you, you may be spared!!

(Oh, and BTW, Larry has a book on building animal housing, that we use as a resource when building things. This book states that Turkeys don't need perches. What do you think???

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Lambs to Processing

We have a big crop of lambs this year, and the first six made their way to the meat locker. I always hate saying goodbye, but these boys were ready to go. They were starting to harass the ewes.  It's been raining a lot, so I didn't get a chance to take pictures of them in the field, but with such a great crop of horns, I had to get one last picture of these guys.  Here they are in the sheep transport system.

 Comet (whose little spot on his forehead went away as his horns grew in)

 Bumble - not horns on this guy and he was soooo friendly. I hated to see him go.
 Rudolph - Rudy was born with little nubs of horns, look at those suckers! What a handsome boy!
 Hermey and Cupid. These two wouldn't cooperate for pictures. Stinkers.

Bye guys! Off to your final destiny!