Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy 2015!!

It's the obligatory end of the year post. And it's been a heckuva year.  I didn't make this public knowledge for various reasons, but most of you might be aware that I ran the farm solo in 2014. At Thanksgiving, 2013, Larry took a year assignment at Bloomberg in NYC. That left Shannonigans and I to run the farm on our own. I was promoted to a supervisor role at work shortly before that, so my off-farm duties grew, and my on farm duties doubled. It was quite a juggling act. I'm coming clean now because Larry is back home, safe and sound, and helping with the farm once again. Let's take a look at 2014..


We started the year with a new resident in the house. Her name is Nina, and she's an older Belgian Tervuren. She had some medical issues and lord-knows what kind of training in her 10 years before she came to us. She's a bit crazy at times, but sure takes care of the young'uns around the farm. She helped a lot with our little bottle lamb, Hattie, who was born in a very cold February morning and abandoned by her mama.
 
Hattie is such a trooper! She even rode in the Berthoud Day parade! She waited until the parade was over before she relieved herself on the trailer, thank goodness it was my trailer so I didn't mind!
 
 
2014 was a great year for lambing. Jason StathRam, shown below, was a prolific breeder, and he gave us plenty of gorgeous lambs. We have kept 3 of the ewes and grew our permanent flock to 17 ewes. Jason, however, became a bit of a stinker, and he went to the butcher on June 5th. This was after a brutal beating he gave me, where I took 8 hits in a row before I could safely get over a fence. I fended him off with the heel of my boots before I could scramble to safety. You don't turn your back on an angry ram! We're glad he was a good papa, but he wasn't much for manners!

 
After a year hiatus, we finally made it back to the Farmer's Market! Berthoud Local organized a wonderful market for us this summer, and at the end of the season, I finally started attending again. It was well worth it and great to make new friends again, at the market!  We also participated in the Farm to Table dinner hosted by Berthoud Local. What a fun event! I enjoyed being one of the sous chefs for the weekend!

 
We brought home some new mousers this year, and were surprised with a litter of kittens! All the kitties found good homes, and mama and the kitten we kept were both spayed, so no more kittens on our farm! My toes can finally dangle out from under the covers again without being ambushed in the middle of the night!
 
 

 
We amassed a great crew of volunteers for turkey processing weekend and got the work done in record time. We also ran a crowd-funding campaign to purchase our new turkey plucker, that really helped keep the process moving for us, and some decent weather didn't hurt, either! 

 
I started prepping for winter as early as I could, bringing in hay, setting up heated water tanks and getting in the firewood. Again, all with the help of neighbors and friends, take a look at the list of things we accomplished this year...

 
 
We raised a few less chickens this year, due to the reduction in work force, kept sheep activities to a minimum, but tried to keep our turkey flock at increased pace for the growing demand for holiday turkeys. All year long, I depended on volunteers to help all throughout the years. My crew of helpers helped me vaccinate lambs, they helped me shovel a LOT OF POO, and they helped process poultry. We did a lot of work on the farm this year to help reduce the daily chore load. 
 
  • Automatic waterers for all animal areas to ensure plenty of daily water, rain or shine
  • A new hay storage area that is sheep-proof and safe for people to get in and out of
  • Heated water systems for winter that store enough water for each poultry area for 2 weeks of water usage
  • Bigger poultry feeders to ensure feeding for at least a week in each poultry area - extra benefit is that they are sheep-proof if tipped over!
  • Fenced in turkey run and chicken runs this year to keep poultry safely where they belong - this reduces dog accidents, and sheep eating their food. It also eliminated the need for electric fencing which can sometimes be harmful to the sheep
  • A new duck house that is more wind and rain resistant and provide a safer home for our duckies to sleep at night
  • A 4th compost bin, which we promptly filled. We found that shoveling poo isn't such a horrible job if you have good company and good conversation!
  • WE replaced 8 dead trees in the orchard, and discovered they are likely being done in by voles
  • We brought in Katniss and Ginger (and we "hatched" Lynx) as our new cat army to exterminate the voles and mice around the farm
  • We eliminated the Mycoplasma from our farm!
  • We switched our egg layers and some of our meat birds, and our ducks to organic, GMO-free feed!
A lot of those things eased the chore list and eased my mind knowing my critters would be safe while I was off at work. But there is still more work to do. What did we NOT do this year?
 
  • We didn't grow any plants. Well, the mint grows on its own. But nothing was planted, and the strawberries were weeded just enough to keep them going for the year.
  • We didn't have eggs. Not a one. We finally started getting eggs laying by the very end of the year, but didn't get our hens until mid-summer so that we knew we were myco-free.
  • We didn't have eggs, which means we didn't hatch anything. No incubator action for an entire year.
  • We didn't raise any cattle. But we're thinking about getting just one in spring.
  • We didn't raise as many meat chickens as we could have. I just didn't have time, and what I raised was way less than my demand, but I had to make some cuts somewhere.
There's always a long list of things to do for the year. And I swear, this is the year I sew some covers for my pluckers. I really hope I do that. And I hope we build a sink-stand and set up a kitchen sink near the processing area. I do hope I can get that done. Little improvements every year. We'll see what 2015 brings for us!
 
Have a safe, and Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Eggs!

Holy moly, we just got home from driving Larry home from NYC. We checked the coops, and voila, we had eggs. Now, these are young birds, so the eggs are still small. And it's the wrong time of year for good egg production, BUT, at long last, after an entire eggless year, we have eggs again.

Depending on how their production goes, we may have a dozen or two available every other week. We won't have a lot of eggs, but some, on occasion. Some are organic, GMO free fed birds, some (very very very few - we only have 6 chickens on non-organic feed) will be conventional feed. All the birds are outside, free range.

The organics live in our chicken truck, and there are about 150 of them, plus some roosters. These are Rhode Island Reds, and come march, I'll start hatching some more to grow the flock.

The non-organics live in a small coop in our backyard, called the "love shack".  It was used in past years as a breeding house to isolate specific breeds, but now is home to a small flock of Speckled Sussex. I'll be breeding them, too. But for now, the weather is too cold for hatching, and fertility rates will be low. So whatever doesn't get cracked or eaten by us, we'll set aside to sell.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Organic Transition

We are in the process of transitioning our farm to feed our animals organic feed. We will not be able to be certified organic until the transition is complete +3 years after that.  So it will be a while before we can claim we are certified.

We are doing it for ONE main reason - to get GMOs out of our food, and support agriculture that doesn't use chemicals. We are also doing it because our customers want us to, for the same reason just stated. People care about their food and what is put in their bodies. Therefore, we care what is put in our animals' bodies.

Why aren't we just switching overnight? Because it's expensive. I just purchased 2 tons of layer feed for my chickens at over $2000. Those are going to be some expensive eggs. I recently purchased 2 tons of non-organic feed for some of our meat birds at less than $800.  The price difference is ALMOST 3x.

Some of our customers don't balk when I tell them that an organic chicken is $7/lb, or a duck is $7.5/ lb. I haven't priced my eggs yet, but it'll be up there. That's partly why I still raise some meat birds on non-organic feed. Many people can't afford the price difference, or choose not to. Many justify that the bird being happy and living outside and eating grass is enough for them. That's totally fine with me.  It's why I still offer a non-organic bird.

But for many other reasons, I want everything on my farm to be organic. I don't want another penny of my farm's money going to Monsanto. I don't want GMO grains in my feed. I don't want my grains sprayed with round-up, pesticides, fungicides, herbicides. I don't want these things sprayed on my chicken feed because those things kill bees and beneficial creepy crawlies living in the soil. I don't want this stuff.

But this year, the farm is suffering due to the price. What have we done so far?

All my egg layers are now being fed organic feed. It took them 6 weeks to eat $1000 worth of feed. And guess what, THEY AREN'T LAYING EGGS YET. There is no income coming in while they chow down on some very expensive food.

My ducks are also eating organic. Not as much, but one 5 gallon bucket a day. They, also, are not yet laying eggs, or old enough to be butchered. No income coming in for them either, yet.

My meat chickens were about 25% raised organic this year. I will raise more. They pay their feed back much more quickly. But I will still raise some on conventional feed for folks that can't handle the price. Eventually we will switch away and go all organic.

It does require managing 2 types of feed, segregating flocks, and working a little bit harder to keep everyone organized. Which isn't fun. And we were unable to separate any turkeys this year, since they can fly, they would be swapping groups and I would actually not have very many truly organic birds if they kept flying in and out of pens.

So the organic transition has been rough so far, financially. We lost a lot of money this year, as I have been feeding egg layers for 6 months, with no income to compensate for their expensive feed. We'll have to feather it in slowly on the meat birds until we make the full transition, and until our customer base can handle the transition.

So that is our plan, hopefully in a few years - maybe even the demand for organic feed will go up, and the price will come down. Or really, what we need is the government to STOP subsidizing GMO corn production, and get feed pricing balanced. It shouldn't cost 3X MORE to grow grains without using chemicals and patented seeds. Don'tcha think?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanks everyone!!

We had the best turkey processing weekend ever. It was a little chilly, but not too awful. We had a GREAT crew of volunteers, thank you so much everyone! We couldn't have done it without you!

For the first time ever, we finished on Sunday before sundown! We even had time to build a fire, get cleaned up, do all the farm chores, eat some dinner and relax before the day is done.  Great job to all our helpers!

A big thank you to all our customers for coming out and picking up your turkeys. We did a much better job this year with getting the right size of birds, so we'll try to keep that formula in place for next year as well.

We love our new plucker, it did a great job on the birds, which sped up the entire process. Thanks to Featherman for making another wonderful product for us!

Thanks to Larry for coming home for the weekend to help!

So much to be thankful for, and right now, I am most thankful for some much needed down-time this week to recover from the turkey harvest, and start planning for next year!  Thanks everyone!


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

SOLD OUT (almost)

We have only 1 turkey left available. It is a large (20+ pound) organic turkey, at $7.00/pound. Please fill out the form (even though it says waitlist, we had one cancellation)

The first to fill out the form to accept the organic 20+ pound turkey - gets it! Entries are time stamped, so I will select the first one, and communicate via email when your reservation is accepted.

You can sign up for the wait list, if you want to see if anyone doesn't claim their bird, we can contact you over the weekend if one opens up.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Reservations almost sold out

Conventional turkeys are sold out - we will take a waiting list for a short time.

There are only 3 organic turkeys left, so sign up for yours before they are all gone!!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Turkeys are almost sold out

Edited for an update: we are now over 85% sold, with some conventionak and some organic birds left.  They are almost all spiken for! 

As of the date of this posting, we are 72% sold on turkeys, we have just over 25 birds left to sell. That means, YES, we have birds. Get your order in before it's too late.  When we are sold out, we will post that here and REMOVE the link to the order form. So if the link is still active, that means we still have birds to sell.

So get your reservation in while you still can! When we sell out, we will take a waiting list that we can use in the case anyone backs out of their birds. We often don't know that until the weekend we are butchering, so if you are OK with waiting until the last minute, I can get you on the waiting list.

Links are below:

  • Turkey Reservation Form

  • We are in need of volunteers for Turkey processing this year. We'll have so many birds to butcher - we need help plucking, cleaning, and keeping everything organized. There are so many people coming and going and I typically have to stay focused on customers. We'd love to have some extra hands. So if you ever wanted to see the process, learn the process, or spend the day as a farmer, sign up!!

    And don't forget our campaign for the new, larger turkey plucker. This should help us keep on track with turkey processing. We hope you can help, any little bit will help get us there.

    Thursday, October 23, 2014

    Reserve your turkey soon!

    We're over half sold, and in years past - we have sold out by Halloween. If you are still thinking about a turkey, don't wait too long. All the links are in the previous post - where to sign up for your turkey, where to sign up to help process, and a little campaign to help us with our new plucker, just for turkeys!

    Sunday, October 5, 2014

    Forms Forms Forms

    So much going on, so many forms to fill out...  so I thought I'd put some of the timely and pertinent ones right here:

    First - it's turkey season. If you want one reserved for you for the Thanksgiving or anytime after - here is your form. Organic and Standard, all pasture raised, happy turkeys!

    Next - we are in need of volunteers for Turkey processing this year. We'll have so many birds to butcher - we need help plucking, cleaning, and keeping everything organized. There are so many people coming and going and I typically have to stay focused on customers. We'd love to have some extra hands. So if you ever wanted to see the process, learn the process, or spend the day as a farmer, sign up!!

    Last but not least, it's never too late to sign up for our CSA program. It's a meat CSA, but any products we have are eligible. Click the CSA tab above for more details. If you're ready to go, the form is there, it's also here.

    And don't forget our campaign for the new, larger turkey plucker. This should help us keep on track with turkey processing. We hope you can help, any little bit will help get us there.

    Wednesday, September 17, 2014

    Seeking Help

    OK, this is difficult for us to do, but we've done it. I was raised with a work ethic that if you want something, you work for it. We work are arses off on this farm. We invested in some great equipment in order to process poultry. Over the years, we have discovered that poultry processing is becoming a dying art. So we started butchering for other folks, too. We started lending out our gear for others to rent, folks who might not afford the equipment to purchase or even see the benefit of owning it when they only need it once a year.

    It was a sense of community, of teaching and sharing that lead us to expanding our poultry processing to others. To help folks be able to raise their own meat, to keep us all with a little more food independence and more local options.

    Over the years the gear has had a workout. We were able to afford the original purchase, assuming it would pay itself back, and it has. Now we know our scalder and plucker are essential pieces of equipment for our farm. Worth every penny, and they need to work when we need them to work. We thought they were indestructible!

    A few years ago, we started having issues with the scalder. A friend used an air compressor and cleaned the carbon build up off many of the burner orifices. I replaced the thermocouple and it started working again. The year after that, out of winter storage, issues were happening again. A new thermocouple fixed the deal again. This year, I pre-emptively replaced the thermocouple right out of winter storage.

    The first renter couldn't get it to light. Again, cleaning the orifices, fumbling with the thermocouple, it hobbled along for a bit. Came back from the next renter, and the thermocouple failed again. The last renter - it never worked at all. Now, with an ignition switch busted off, some piping bent, and a propane leak in the pilot assembly - the scalder may be down for the count.

    Keep in mind, each time we discovered it wouldn't light, which has been at least 6 times this year alone - this is happening at 3AM when trying to prep for the day. Not getting it functioning until 7AM sets the entire process back 4 hours and makes me a very grumpy person. Having plans to start butchering at 7AM to be done by noon or 1 is common. Not getting started until 11AM, and not being done until 5PM? That's a rotten day for me and we've had many disappointed customers as well.

    Again, it's difficult to ask for help. But in the year of flying solo on the farm, I've gotten better at it. We are a community, and I am reaching out to the community. The farm is not in a financial situation to be able to afford this purchase right now. But it's needed. We are looking at putting up hay for the winter, and filling a grain bin with organic feed to get us to spring. Finances are already tight for us to be able to do that. At the end of last year, I assumed my investment in the scalder would be an extra $15 each year for a new thermocouple. We hadn't planned on 4 thermocouples, a new pilot assembly and the possibility that even with those repairs, she won't light again. We can't butcher turkeys without our scalder. We have at least 100 turkeys this year, plus another 100 meat chickens - and without a scalder, I'll never get through butchering them.

    So, with that long, piteous story, here is our plea: any bit can help. With a fresh scalder, we can continue to provide our community with home grown pastured chickens. We can continue to teach others how to butcher their own birds. We can help other farms butcher their birds. It's not just for us, it's for a lot of folks - from those with 1 or 2 roosters, to other farms with 100+ chickens. We want to keep processing.  If you can help, it'll keep us running through this fall and beyond. We really appreciate those who already have contributed and anyone who will. Humbly, I thank you.
     
     
    

    Thursday, September 11, 2014

    Turkey Reservations are now open!

    Turkey reservations are now open. You can reserve online here.
     

    We have about 80 birds available so far, that number will likely increase as we get closer to the holidays, as we get a better count of how many birds will be big enough to harvest. We butcher all the birds the weekend of November 22-23. If you want one for a subsequent holiday, we can freeze them for you, and you can make arrangements to pick them up.

    We will have a handful of small turkeys available prior to Thanksgiving, as first-come, first-serve, that you can purchase if you want them beforehand.

    Details are in the form linked above, but here are some more details:

     
     Like always, we can't promise an exact size, but we really do our best. For reference, they generally state that you need 1 pound per person eating. Realizing that some of the weight of the bird is going to be bones and such, so that doesn't mean each person is eating a pound of meat, though I know a lot of folks could! You can round that up or down based on how many leftovers you would like to have.

    Some info about our birds - we raise 2 types of birds. One is called "Heritage" which means they come from a long line of registered breeds that can breed on their own, and have some traceability back to wild turkeys. There are 6 recognized breeds by the American Poultry Association, and we have a few of those on the farm - Bourbon Reds, Black Spanish, White Holland, Narragansett, Blue Slate and Royal Palm. If a heritage bird is what you want, keep in mind that the hens are usually 6-11 pounds in size, and the toms are typically 12-18 pounds.



     The other breed of bird is called a broad-breasted, or double breasted turkey. These guys are genetic hybrids, just like our chickens, bred specifically to grow an extra breast muscle. These are the big turkeys that have that big round chest and look great on your holiday table. I struggle with getting the size just right on these guys. Three years ago, they grew way too big, and no one wanted 30 pound turkeys! Two years ago, I overcompensated and got them way too late, and most never topped 20 pounds. Last year we did better, and I am hoping the toms will come in around that perfect 20-25 pound size that a lot of people want. It's too early to tell, as they are still quite small, but they grow so much faster than their heritage cousins.  


    The second change we have here is that we have some birds raised certified Organic this year! What does that mean?  It means that all the turkeys were raised on pasture. The ones at Long Shadow Farm were raised on conventional feed - it's non-medicated feed, but the feed is not certified Organic.  Our friends at WiMo Farms are raising double-breasted turkeys this year on certified organic feed. That means no chemicals sprayed on the grains in their feed, and no GMOs in their feed. The prices are different. 
    • Pastured, conventional feed turkeys : $3.75/pound
    • Pastured, Organic turkeys: $7.00/pound
    You can make your selection on the reservation form.

    We are looking forward to providing your holiday turkeys for you this year. The reservation form will be taken down when all reservations are full. Last year, we sold out on November 1st!

    We are also looking for extra volunteers this year. Long Shadow Farm is down one operator for the turkey harvest. We would love some volunteers for November 21, 22 and/or 23. You can sign up on our volunteer sign up form. Any help would be appreciated! You won't be asked to do anything you are not comfortable doing, and can include butchering, scalding, plucking, cleaning, bagging the turkeys - cleaning up at the end of the day, or even helping with some other chores while Turkey Processing is happening. However you would like to help would be appreciated!  We'll need help on November 21, 22 and 23.

    Saturday, September 6, 2014

    Berthoud Farmer's and Fleas Market

    We had so much fun at the market, that we signed up to finish the season. Oh yeah, we'll be on for next year for sure. Berthoud Local is doing a great job of organizing, marketing and getting it set up. Some have squabbled that being at the bank is outside of town and not a great location. Well... it's a nice open space, plenty of parking, and I think it's great!

    Shannon made new friends, and particularly loved Chicken Bingo. I brought home some yummy tomatoes for canning and some corn for dinner tonight. Our great friend Margaret sold some scarves and wash cloths, too!

    If you haven't been yet this year, you need to come to the market! Saturdays from 9-1 in the parking lot by the Adams Bank at Hwy 65 /Mountain Ave and Cty Rd 17.


    Tuesday, September 2, 2014

    Turkey Deposits

    The forms for turkey deposits are coming soon... I have a few final details to get straightened out, and trying to get a decent head count on the birds.

    We are selling birds from Long Shadow Farm for $3.75/pound - raised on pasture with non-organic feed. We are also selling pasture-raised, ORGANIC turkeys from WiMo Farms, for $7.00/pound.

    Forms will be posted soon, I have been getting a lot of requests! 

    Tuesday, July 29, 2014

    Goodnight Alice

    I am very sad to be saying goodbye to Alice today. It's been coming for a little while, as I noticed her weight loss between her lambs from last year and this year. Most of the girls lose weight after birthing and during nursing, and usually put it back on in between. Alice usually has twins, so it's not uncommon for her hips to get a little bony while nursing.

    This year, she didn't put the weight back on after her fall babies, and it got worse after her spring babies. I needed to make sure her babies would be OK when I took mom, and they are fully weaned. Since Jason is now gone, she is not pregnant again.

    There are 2 usual ways we lose mamas around here. We cull them ourselves when they turn out to be bad mamas. Abandoning lambs, having some sort of genetic issue - we choose to cull those. Trouble will also being going for BOTH of those reasons, but I suspect she is pregnant right now.  We have also lost them to illness or bloating if they get into too much chicken feed - which is the more common route, and often loses us mamas we didn't want to lose. (It makes mobile pasturing of the chickens much more difficult if you need to keep the sheep out of the chicken feed)

    I guess this is also illness related. My suspicion is that her very active CL (her face has had several lesions this year) has moved to her digestive tract, and is not allowing nutrients to be absorbed properly. I don't want her to suffer any longer, and CL has no treatment and no cure. Typically, CL doesn't kill an animal, but in her case, it will. 

    The photos below show the Alice that we've always loved, and still do. I'll post a picture later today of what she looks like now and it is a stark difference with incredible weight loss. It's time. Not a time that makes me at all happy. I've been dreading this for weeks. It feels like such a betrayal. She's been so good to us.

     Over the years, Alice has given us Arlo (gosh, he was adorable), Tigger and Eeyore, Max and Cindy Lou Who, Yakky Doodle, Odin and Frigg, and Zeus and Athena. She was always a good and attentive mom, although an eye infection effected the sight in her right eye, and another sheep sort of stole Yakky Doodle from her because she had trouble finding him. I will miss her solemn eyes, her calm demeaner, and the fact that she is one of the few that will let us pet her.

    The farm won't be the same without you, Alice.





    Tuesday, July 15, 2014

    Helios and Selene

    New lambs were born this morning. Here is little Helios, he's adorable!
     
     


    Here is mama Marcia, Helios in the front, and sister Selene laying on the ground.

    I had a hard time taking photos, as Hattie was climbing all over me. But these two are adorable. For the sake of the Greek Mythology theme, we have Helios, God of the sun, and Selene, Goddess of the moon!

    Saturday, July 12, 2014

    Berthoud is getting a farmer's market back!

    I am still weighing the options on going... especially since I spend a LOT of Saturdays butchering chickens... but that won't stop you from going and checking out the vendors!!  Have some extra crops you want to share? You don't have to be big to be a vendor!!
     

    Find out more about Berthoud Local

    Sunday, June 8, 2014

    Berthoud Day

    Long Shadow Farm joined Berthoud Local at the Berthoud Day parade yesterday.
     Berthoud local works with volunteers in Berthoud to grow and share a community garden in pioneer park, and to educate folks about how they can grow their own food. So far this year, they've had workshops on growing apples, blueberries and bee keeping.

     Here's the parade crew. It was a nice overcast day, and the folks in the bee keeper suits were so thankful!
     Lisa Marie (our farm truck) got to make an appearance, too, driving our trailer in the parade.
     Folks really loved the bee keepers, the cute kiddos on our trailer and Hattie, our bottle lamb. She's a favorite of everyone who meets her. She's wearing Ditka's old collar, good thing it came to good use some 6 years after it's been worn!
    Hattie made it through the whole parade, and was calm and curious about what was going on. She even waited to relieve herself until after the parade was finished. What a good girl!

    Thursday, May 15, 2014

    Bee Event in Berthoud

    Bee Event in Berthoud

    Click on the link above for details and how to RSVP. 

    Sunday, May 25, 2-5PM in Pioneer Park.  $15 per child.Fun activities for children to teach them about bees and pollination!

    Also check out Berthoud Local on facebook

    Tuesday, May 13, 2014

    Volunteer Weekend!

    Saturday

    Starting at 9AM, we'll start mucking out the last barn stall for spring. Bring boots, gloves, water and sunscreen/hat/sunglasses. We'll get this taken care of in a giffy!

    With any extra hands, we can do some lamb vaccinations and hoof trimming of the mama ewes.  Pizza and beer for lunch, maybe even breakfast for the early birds!

    Sunday

    Starting at 8AM, processing about 60 chickens.  If you want go learn how, or practice your skills, feel free to come by. Wear clothes you don't mind getting muddy or bloody and wet. I've got knives.

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014

    Devastating Loss

    So.. things happen sometimes. Things happen that sometimes make us want to quit farming.  Last night was one of those nights.

    When I got home from work, the first thing I do is get a bottle to our bottle lamb. She's doing just fine, but without constant supply when she wants it, she isn't growing as fast as her sister. While I was feeding her the bottle... I heard strange peeps from the barn. Thought maybe some turkeys had hopped out again, and were trying to find their way back to the warm heat lamps.

    So I went to investigate.

    What I saw still has me sad and angry today.

    The automatic waterers that I bought to make my life easier and ensure my birds always got the water they needed, no matter if I was at work all day or asleep in the middle of the night... these waterers that worked great for 2+ weeks doing exactly what I ordered them for... had overflowed.

    Something went wrong with one of the units and it spent how many hours filling their brooder with water. Most of my darling little birdies that were slated to go live outside this coming weekend... had DROWNED. Over 3 inches of water filled their brooder.

    I quickly moved the ones that were still alive (albeit soaking wet) to a new, clean brooder with heat lamps and a heated pad underneath them.  16 birds survived. I had started 2 weeks ago with 75 birds. Though soaking wet and relatively miserable, those 16 survived the night, and will likely be OK going forward, assuming no other mishaps.

    I am so glad my daughter wasn't with me to see this. I could hardly move this giant stock tank with so much water in it. I am heartbroken at the loss. And still so angry that I haven't called the company to complain (yet.)  Believe me, I sure will.

    I put in a standard 1 gallon waterer, and with only 16 birds, I don't think they'll run out while I am at work. So disappointed, and so sad for those poor birds. What an awful way to go. I would have thought that after 2 weeks of use (I even set them up 2 days before my birds arrived to see if they would leak!) I was home free with a functional product I could rely on. Nope.  Back to square one on the automatic watering...  And back to square one on getting my birds started off for this year.

    I am so sorry little birds... I guess this engineer is going to have to engineer a product herself, since she can't trust products on the market...

    Thursday, March 27, 2014

    More lambs and some turkeys


    Just a couple of days ago, we had two more lambs born on the farm.

    This one is Zeus, one of Alice's new lambs

      
    And here is his sister, Athena. Good job, Alice!


    Here's our little bottle lamb, Hemera, aka Hattie. It's hard to take pictures of a lamb that literally stays at your heels at all times! And she had just been fed!

    Peppermint Patty had lambs born on Shanny's birthday. So we named her pair of ram lambs Happy and Birthday. The black one is Happy, the white one is Birthday. 

    And today, we brought home the first of the Thankgiving Turkeys!!

    Thursday, March 13, 2014

    Nina's New Job - and Surprise Lambs

    I can't really say these lambs were a surprise... I knew Trouble was pregnant and I knew the lambs were coming soon... but just didn't expect them last night.  When I went to close the barn, I found these two. YAY. Baby lamb! I named her Demeter (this go round, we are going to use Greek mythology) So I got mama some oats, and closed them in together. When I went to put the rest of the sheep in the other stall, I found this little one mixed with the rest.

    Strange that she would be away from mama, so when I put her in the stall, Trouble was furiously butting her away, and keeping close track of the other lamb.  In the off chance that she belonged to someone else, I put her with the other sheep to see if anyone claimed her...  Some of my other mamas have been allowing other lambs to feed off them, so I thought maybe she had been adopted. It didn't seem the case - so we quickly went to bottle lamb mode.

     I ran to a friend's house, because the feed store was closed, and got some lamb replacer to get her through one day, found a box and some towels and brought her inside for the night, so I could feed her in the middle of the night when she got hungry.


    I was a little worried about Nina's attentiveness at first. But it seems she is just making sure lamby is clean and dry, and protected. This is what Nina was born to do.


    I will love her and pet her and squeeze her and hug her and name her George.


     I will break Nina's heart today by taking Hemera to my neighbor's house so she can be fed during the day when I am at work. But no fear, dear Nina, Hemera will be back in the evenings.


    Sunday, March 2, 2014

    Learn to Grow Apples!

    Dear Berthoud Local Supporters and the Northern Colorado Community,

    Here is your golden (apple) opportunity! You are invited to a special presentation by local  Fruit Tree Expert Joel Reich. The event is only two weeks away.

    A flier is attached with all the details and a bio of the guest speaker. In order to compensate our speaker this workshop requires a small fee. You will leave this workshop with a wealth of information to grow great apples in Northern Colorado!

    We hope to see you soon. Feel free to forward this information to anyone you think may be interested.  Come and pay at the door.

    Feel free to contact Tracey with any questions:

    Tracey Long, Co-President Berthoud Local
    tracey.long@comcast.net

    Sunday, January 26, 2014

    Unexpected Triplets

     I was pleasantly surprised to find 3 new little lambs in the barn this morning. Since I had two mamas left to give birth, I only assumed that they both did. I wasted about 15 minutes trying to get Gertrude to go back into the barn to tend to her lamb. Sharon never left their sides. Knowing that Gertrude IS a pain in the rear, but NOT a bad mama (she's one of the more protective ones) and seeing the size of the littlest lamb that Sharon was still working to clean off, I realized, my brand new mama had triplets!

    Sharon is Shirley's daughter from last year. Shirley, until now, was the only mama we had that bore triplets, she tends to give us triplets every other year.  Shirley is now nine and a half years old, so I have been trying to keep her genetics whenever she gives us ewes. We have two of her daughters, Peppermint Patty and Sharon, and one granddaughter - Clarice.   Shirley's genetics are also beneficial because she is out only 100% hair sheep - no shearing!

    Peppermint Patty has lambed 3 times, giving us a single, twins and another single. Clarice has lambed twice, giving us singles both times (one of them being the very lovely Beyla!) Sharon is off to a good start, she's almost all hair and sheds well, like her mama, and her first time out of the gate, she gives us beautiful triplets. One of them is super teeny, just not enough room to grow inside a new mama's tummy. 

    They are all ewe lambs, often ram lambs are a bit bigger than their sisters, but all three of these are different in size.

    Here is the first born, Sol (sun). She clearly had time to nurse with mama between lambings, and was already full and napping in the sun.





     Here we have the second born on the right, Nanna (mother). She had a great latch and was nursing from mama for a while.  Gersemi (precious one) is on the left. She's the smallest lamb I have ever seen.  I'll try to get a photo of all three together so you can see their size difference. It won't last long.

    Mama's udders went from grapefruit sized to basketball size over night. Just like her own mama, I have no doubt she can take care of all three of her young.  It's a nice warm day today, but to make sure these lambs all get a strong bond with mama, they will be locked in a stall today. It's easy for new lambs to get lost in the jumble at the hay feeder. And we don't need any stressed out babies or mamas.

    Friday, January 24, 2014

    Beyla

    This little beauty was born Tuesday night. I absolutely LOVE her coloring! This is Beyla, a little ewe lamb from mama Clarice. This is Clarice's second time lambing, she's doing great.








    Beyla has some of the same speckled, splotchy white coloring as mama, but much more of it.  If I don't keep her, I am considering keeping her hide as a blanket!

    Wednesday, January 22, 2014

    5 New Lambs

     
    We had 5 little lambs born just a few weeks ago, I am finally getting around to posting their pics.
     
    Here is Angel mama with her 2 lambs - in the background we have Gerda, who is looking at us, and we have Freyja who is trying to get a drink from mama. We will be keeping Freyja!  The one in the front of the photo is Bragi, who belongs to Judy (who isn't in the picture).  Bragi is Judy's first lamb, and he's super cute.
     
     
    Marcia also had two little lambs, the one on the left is Tyr, her ram lamb. The one on the right is Skadi, her ewe lamb, who we are also keeping!
     

    In this photo, we have two lambs up front who aren't little anymore, but I don't think I ever posted their photos. On the left is Gefjon, and on the right is Sif.  Just behind Sif is our first born, Odin, and the little black lamb behind him, who is growing quickly, is Eir.

     

    Saturday, January 4, 2014

    Volunteer Program

    Long Shadow Farm is starting a new and organized volunteer program this year. I need some helping hands on occasion to get projects done that take more than one person to complete. Check out the "Volunteer" tab over there on the right to find out more.  I know, sometimes volunteering means shoveling poop, sometimes it'll be things that are a big more fun than that! It's a chance to lend a hand, spend some time getting dirt under your finger nails or spending time with the animals. We look forward to working with you this year!