Archive for March, 2009

Down for the count!

March 27, 2009

GRRRR…Wednesday morning I came back from chores, started up the steps to the porch, and my knee hyperextended, along with a mighty nausea, see stars sort of pain, and I was left barely able to hobble into the house. A friend took me to the ER at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, and now I have a brace, have been icing and resting and bracing and elevating, and today, 48 hours later, I have started heating…Monday I have an appointment for an MRI and with an orthopedist to see what the damage is and where we go from here. The good news is, from the xray the ER doc told me I had no arthritis in my knee, so, hey, it’s not all bad news, right?

However, I can’t milk goats.  They are at friends down the road, who are graciously milking them for me.  Interestingly, I had decided that morning before the accident to sell the goats, that I am just NOT a goat person…so I put an ad on a couple of lists, which I could do from the computer while not able to walk.  I’ve had three inquiries.  One seems hopeful.  It’s quite a deal: two does in milk, 14 months old, and one doe milking her doeling kid, all for $300, and I’ll throw in the milking stand…a real bargain for purebred Nigerian Dwarf goats.  If I don’t sell them, I don’t quite know what I will do, for I can’t ask these neighbors to milk and feed them forever.  AND, the sheep are about to start lambing.  For once, I’m glad it hasn’t started yet, not impatient.  And I sure hope they don’t need help, for I can’t bend down, can hardly walk, steps are a real challenge…I have a couple of other neighbors who can come in and dip cords and strip ewe teats to make sure there’s milk, but that’s about it.  Anyone needs help…I guess I can call other sheep friends.  What are friends for, anyway?  And these will respond, being good folk, all.

Anyway, I’m bummed.  However I need to keep reminding myself that this is a minor injury and there are many other people in very bad health and I’m lucky not to be among their number, and be grateful for all the friends and help I have, and for having these wonderful, independent sheep, and for being able to have sold the first two goat kids so quickly to a really good person who will love them and care for them.  So, I should stop whining, already!  Okay, I will!  It’s a beautiful day out there.  The sun is shining.  Life is good.  I hope you all have a marvelous weekend…and if anyone wants to buy some goats, let me know!


Cold, damp, windy, GRRRR!

March 23, 2009

Well, I just checked the weather, which says it is not going above 30 today, and will be 14 by morning: just my favorite kind of weather for lambing.  Actually, LAMBING will do fine…it’s the KIDDING and the kids which I worry about.  One little kid got a swollen ear a few days ago from the cold.  The other little kid almost died, a combination of cold, and apparently Mom’s lack of feeding her…weird, really: mom fusses over her, grooms her, but walks away when the little one goes to nurse.  She was so cold I didn’t think she’d make it, but several warm baths and a couple of tubings and she was in good shape again…but I think she’s a bottle baby.  She’s also not real thrilled about the bottle; clamps her jaws shut and her mouth becomes a thin line.  She’s very feisty and red haired…so how could she not be named Minerva, after Professor McGonegal from Harry Potter, and as she’s 2 pounds, we call her Mini for short.  At the moment she is a house goat, which I think she will be for awhile, at least while this very cold weather persists and while she takes a lot of convincing to nurse. I’m thinking maybe the pritchard teat is just too big for her, and will try to find some human preemie nipples today.

No lambs so far.  I haven’t been out yet this morning, though.  I’ll go out in about 10 minutes…it’s starting to get light out now at 6:36. (I hate Daylight Savings Time this early!)

I got my yarn back from Friends Folly Farm.  It’s beautifully spun, a darker shade in sport weight, a lighter shade in worsted, enough to make two sweaters and a bit left for socks perhaps.  Pogo does small lots, and usually she streaks these jacob fleeces.  This time they’re not too streaked. Not sure why.

Okay, now I have to get my milking supplies together and go out and brave the wind and the chill and feed the flock.  I’m actually hoping NOT to find babies this morning, as I have plenty to do with just feeding them and milking the two does.  The third hasn’t delivered yet.

Another doe delivers…

March 20, 2009

Daisy just had a little baby doeling:


She also weighed 2 lbs.  At the point this was taken, she still hadn’t gotten up yet.  It’s been an hour since then, and I’m headed out to see if Mom’s got her up and drinking yet.  (I make mom VERY nervous, so I left.)

Naked sheep

March 20, 2009

Here is a photo I took this morning of some “naked sheep”,one day post-shearing.  You can see that one of them, and old girl, fairly pure Lasseau sheep, if I figured correctly, is “freckled”, that is there are little black spots all over her.  As she has aged, she’s gotten more and more of these “freckles”  If a lamb has freckles, it’s not a great idea to register her or him, and if s/he is greatly freckled, s/he isn’t registerable.  Aging freckles are okay.

So, sometime in the next 3 or 4 weeks, these sheep will have popped out babies…at least 12 of them will.  The other two probably won’t…Here’s the photo:naked-sheep

By the way, I will have bucklings for sale for $60 and doelings for $80.  Get your reservations in now.  These are purebred Dwarf Nigerian dairy goats, but no papers!

Afternoon surprise!

March 19, 2009

Went out to check the sheep.  Didn’t think the goaties were ready…and found Rosie O’Goatie with a fat little 2 lb boy, all dried off, fat belly, mama full of milk.  Got a bit out of mama just to make sure she was working.  Will try again in a while…She seemed pretty full, but then he seemed pretty full, too, so…

Here’s the lad:


He seems pretty content at the moment.  I also think it will be a while before I can castrate him: he’s one tiny little fellow!

Shearing Day photos…

March 19, 2009

Here’s a photo of David shearing Gandalf, my four horned Jacob ram:


And here’s one of me (left) and Suzie (right…I know this is grammatically incorrect, by the way, BUT it’s easier to align the person with the photo this way, so forgive me, Mrs. Rossiter!–high school English teacher) skirting the fleece, removing the coarser leg wool, any poopy tags, any bits with hay in them (neck), etc.  Not sure exactly which fleece this is, not Gandalf’s, that much I know: when they were skirting his fleece, I was with the rams, controlling the ones still in the pen, awaiting shearing!


Thanks, Kay, for taking the photos and sending them to me…

Now, Spring is really on the way!

March 19, 2009

Well, yesterday was shearing, so I know now Spring is really coming.  The rain held off until a couple of hours after we finished. For once, it didn’t rain during the three days prior to shearing, so the fleeces weren’t full of hay from the sheep having been locked in a small space and eaten over each other.  Suzie, Kay, Lise, and Lucas came to help, and neighbor, Sonny, dropped by on his tractor to watch for awhile.  It was a busy time.  David doesn’t mess around or stop and visit.  He’s got lots to say, but keeps shearing throughout.  At the end, I have 17 beautiful fleeces, one iffy one, lovely but short, all weighed and in the basement waiting for the May shows, and a bum knee…don’t know what that’s all about. It started aching the night before, while we were serving St. Patrick’s Day dinner to the neighbors and enjoying the evening, and was worse in the morning (the front coming through?  These old bones are not what they used to be!  But it feels more like I stepped on it wrong or twisted it without knowing it and it is injured. ).  Today it’s a bit better but still not right.  Got out the ol’ Ace bandage, and I am confident with a little time, it will be fine.

It looks like there are definitely 12 pregnant ewes, one not sure, (could be one of the last, and as a first timer, not bagged up yet much), one definitely not pg, three pregnant goats.  They could start anytime, though only one of the sheep looked at all like she had “dropped” so I suspect it will be a few days.  I need to get all my lambing supplies together and set up my little table down there with everything I need for lambing.

It rained off an on all night, sometimes fairly heavily, and they were mostly in the shed before dark while it was raining.  With all the snow, I’m sure the floor of the shed is soggy.  The good news is it is 37 this morning, infinitely better than the usual 10 or 15 after shearing, which seems to be the way it usually goes.  Nevertheless, my guess is they will be very happy to have some grain and some hay this morning for energy and warmth.  As soon as it’s light, I’ll go out there and give them lots.  I also have to call Boz (the buther) for there’s one little ram lamb ready to go.  (that short fleece!) I didn’t put him back in with the rams, but have him in a little holding pen between the sheep and the goats, so he doesn’t feel alone.  Rosie O’Goatie doesn’t like him: she keeps going over to the green gate between them and trying to butt him through the gate.  He’s not real impressed.

This morning I’ll try to get some photos of the “naked” sheep!

A busy week…

March 17, 2009

There is still mud…lots of mud. Negociating the dirt roads can be interesting, as there are deep ruts and lots of squoshy bits…it helps to take the truck sometimes. Today is St. Patrick’s Day! So, we celebrate the fact that St. Patrick chased all the snakes from Ireland. (So, were they snakes, which is okay, or was that a symbol for the old goddess religion, in which case it is not okay with me, that he chased it out…or tried to.  The Church announced it accomplished.  But Celtic influences on Gaelic Christianity abound…those snakes just hibernated, I think.  You just can’t get rid of feminine influence that easily!   Some neighbors will be coming for dinner to celebrate the day, so I have lots of corned beef and cabbage to cook. There’s a pound cake in the oven which will get green frosting.  I have to find that recipe for Irish Soda Bread…AND, on top of that, I have a luncheon appointment with my former seminarian, who dropped out of the process, victim of a power struggle between the bishop and the standing committee, many years ago, which left him frustrated and greatly annoyed with the church…can’t say as I blame him.  But now, it seems (big surprise!) he is rediscovering that he really IS a priest.  Now it remains for the Church to ratify that discovery.  Let’s hope they are more reasonable than 15 years ago.

And, I have a friend coming for tea in the afternoon.  In between all that, I have to go to the hardware store to pick up two big garbage pails, which I need because my current ones (grain bins they are!) are rusting through, and they are frozen into the ground, so it’s a good time to replace them, since I need them to hold the skirting table tomorrow for shearing…which means I have some beef stew to get ready for lunch (everyone comes for lunch after shearing), some egg salad sandwiches to make, some banana bread to make, and some preparations out in the shed.  The sheep will be locked inside tonight.  The rain isn’t supposed to start til late tomorrow afternoon, but better safe than sorry.  Shearing wet sheep, and more importantly, drying out wet fleeces off the sheep, are not fun.  Thursday, my quilting group is meeting here.  Friday, mercifully, at least at the moment, is free…though I do have to call some friends about coming for dinner…Not Friday, I think.  Fridays we don’t eat meat, and I’m just not that good at preparing fish type meals…so, yes, Friday will be free.

I bought a Gentle Leader for Lizzie, and miraculously, and instantly, she is not pulling anymore.  She doesn’t much like the bit around her nose, but she is getting used to it.  It is an amazing contraption, which causes the pull to be on the back of her neck instead of the front, and (they say) dogs resist the pull and push against it, so she isn’t pushing against the front of her, causing her to pull against ME!  And with the leash attached to the bit under her nose, when she tries to pull, it pulls her head around and down to face me, which stops the forward thrust.  It all makes good sense: sheep and goat leads attach at the nose, not the neck, for just that reason.  I am a lot less frazzled after walks and a lot more likely to take her on walks, when she “walks nicely”. ..but not today…there are only so many hours in a day!  Okay, I think I’d best use this “window” of time to set the tables for dinner.  That will be one more thing done.

Enjoy this lovely Spring week, if you are also the recipient of it.  My husband thinks the snow is over…I think we have two good storms left.  The good news is that the night after shearing, it will not be cold, a rarity!  So the sheep won’t be shivering in the morning and making me feel guilty. (Which guilt disappears very quickly as they stop shivering the minute they hear the grain bucket being filled. I think perhaps the shivering is for my benefit, to make me feel bad.   Even sheep can be manipulative, you know!)

Mud, glorious mud…

March 8, 2009

I remember about 150 years ago when I was in college (okay, slight exaggeration, but only slight!), which college was under construction for all the years we were there, beginning it’s growth process which has now rendered it a huge university, I used to say, “Ah, yes, Harpur College, from the Greek, “harpux,” meaning “MUD”.  Now, the Greek for mud is not harpux, but I was a Greek student and it sounded good…and there was surely a lot of mud, as various sites were excavated to build yet more dorms and dining halls and library space…

I was reminded of that last night and again this morning, when I went out to feed the sheep.  The “floor” of the shed, which is just dirt, gravel, and hay, is all squooshy, as the snow behind the shed and up to it’s roof, melts and seeps under the wall into the shed floor, seeking the lowest place to flow.  The actual yard that they eat in, higher than the shed floor, because it is layers of hay and snow, frozen into ice (which won’t melt until June or later, unless I scratch away at it every few days, removing a layer) is a bit drier, even though it rained last night.

Mud season has started: days above freezing, nights below. Of course, that also means maple syrup season has started.  Driving around, I see the big plastic holding tanks with plastic piping leading to them, with sap flowing in it.  Every day I can see the progress made, as the sap gets higher, and then as the guys making syrup come and empty the tanks, taking the sap away to their sugar shacks to boil down.  Or, in the more traditional situations, buckets are hung on trees, and I see folks driving or sledding or snowmobiling along, emptying the buckets into a bigger “bucket” to take it back to boil.

Sugaring is surely a more romantic image for March in Vermont than wall to wall mud everywhere, but both are indicators that winter is slowing down and in another month or two, all the snow will be melted away, and we will start to see green grass sprouting, peeking under the edges of the snowbanks.  Usually, about the time the lambs are starting to pop out, the end of March, as the snow recededs out by the gate, where it has been shovelled away some, those little bits of green show themselves.  By early May, the snow will be all melted from my perennial garden and I’ll be splitting and potting perennials for our yearly sale…but I’m racing ahead of myself here.  For now, although the mud has some tactical issues involved, it is indeed good to see it, knowing it is as much a harbinger of waning winter and coming spring as robins are…only a little earlier.

Winter isn’t over yet, though, you understand. Today it is to be sunny and in the 40’s, pushing close to 50, perhaps.  Tonight it rains, and by tomorrow afternoon, it will turn to snow and we are expecting 2-4 inches of fresh white stuff.  That means this afternoon, we got out and dig the bits of our driveway which are being revealed in the melting snow out of said snow and back into the driveway. (A neighbor plowed our drive for us, a generous gesture, but his sight isn’t what it used to be, and he tried to dig all the snow out of the drive, so he dug up a good amount of the newly laid down last spring “surepac” which now is in our meadows where he dumped the snow (and surepac) he dug out of the driveway.  We have been going out and digging it out as it appears, looking at first like a few small stones, and then, when we dig in, looking like we struck the motherlode.  Our driveway has been having snow dug back into it for the past couple of weeks as we retrieve the expensive surepac from the snowbanks and return it to the drive, along with snow, to melt and settle back in.  The trick, as our usual “snowblowing” neighbor, the guy who regularly “plows” for us with his snowblower, is to leave two inches or so of snow on the drive, so you don’t spread the surepac all over the grass!  Live and learn. )

I got some neat birthday presents yesterday, and wonderful calls from friends and relatives far and near.  The most unusal gift I got, one probably a lot of people I know would never have gotten, but a most appreciated gift, was a $65 gift certificate (I turned 65 yesterday!) to the grain store.  Now, as it happens, I need a bunch of equipment for milking the goats next month, when, theoretically, they “kid” and start dropping milk, and that wonderful gift will buy me my stainless steel bucket and filters and what-all, so it is a really great gift.  But I don’t know too many people who get gift certificates to their local grain/feed store!  I love it.

I stayed home from church today with a headache/weird don’t feel like eating/not quite myself thingie, probably just from eating way too much dinner at our celebratory birthday dinner last night. (John’s birthday is next week, so we could really cash in at the local “l/2 off your entree and free dessert on your birthday” restaurant. Poor folks: they expect people to come in pairs, with one paying full price, but with both our birthdays being a week apart, we made out like bandits, with $88 worth of dinner for $44!  Still more than we usually spend, but for a birthday dinner once a year, why not?  Result: both full, but the desserts are free, so …gobble, gobble, stuffed, and way overeaten.  Oh, well…I’m sure I’ll be back to normal by this afternoon, as I regain my desire for food, which right now isn’t functioning.  A little tea, and maybe a little nap, once I get Lizzie in from her time of playing outside, which happens every day around 9:30 or so.

By the way, I find this early daylight savings time very depressing: we just get to the point where we’re NOT getting up in the dark, and we’re plunged back into it again.  So, for another few weeks, it’s feed the animals in the semi-dark, not fully able to see them because we had to “spring ahead.”  Since I’m a morning person, I appreciate light early rather than later, (when it’s only an hour!) for after dinner, that extra l/2 hour or so just isn’t that exciting.  I wish we’d go back to April 1 instead of this early March thing. I’m still waiting for someone to explain to me how it saves fuel, because I sure can’t figure it out.

Not a puppy anymore…so when does she start behaving?

March 6, 2009

Lizzie was a year old on Valentine’s Day.  I finally got some photos of her last night, which are good, except for the eye thing, but that’s the way life is.  Here she is, the little monster:


and another…


Actually, she IS behaving quite well.  I just wish she’d get the “come inside” thing down, so I didn’t have to go and retrieve her when she’s out there, or put her on a leash at night, so she doesn’t go on walkabout around the property for an hour in the dark, which scares me a bit, especially at really cold temperatures.  She certainly has got the “don’t touch anything on a table or on the furniture” thing down pat, and is not jumping up on John anymore, but lying down nicely and smiling when he comes inside from being out or at work.  And she has the “don’t come for dinner unless invited” thing down.  So, I really can’t complain too much.   She also pulls a lot while walking on a leash, which is not terribly comfortable for me, but once the weather warms up a bit we’ll work on that one.

It was 30 this morning when I got up at 5 a.m….a sure sign that spring (and rain) is coming!  I’m sure we’ll have plenty of cold mornings before May but at least this shows there are warm days coming.

I finished the back of the Aran sweater I’m working on last night.  It is quite lovely.  Now, the front…it is a slow process, for sure…

Okay, off to finish the novel I’m reading, then off to Sue’s for the morning, and lunch, then supermarket, then home to cook dinner.  Lizzie will be thrilled, because she’ll get to play with Henry, Linda’s dog, at Sue’s store.  She loves him.