Thursday, June 13, 2024

Let's hear for the boys

Tuesday I trimmed hooves on a dozen sheep (all but the lambs). I don't handle the boys much, so haltering each was a good opportunity to remove coats (Sanson needed a bigger size), look them over with a critical eye, take photos, and evaluate how well they reflect my goals.

First up is Bijou, one of Blaise's 2023 twins. He is reserved by the fine-fleeced, polled Shetland breeder from whom I got Spot. We plan to trade sheep; I'm hoping to get a katmoget from her.

Next up is Sanson, who I got in trade for a ewe lamb last year to replace Spot as my new flock sire. All the boys are in excellent flesh, but Sanson is bigger in size and build, as befits his almost-namesake Samson.

Finally there is Bench (I traded his twin sister Bailiff for Sanson). Bench strongly resembles his sire Spot, and his micron test results from this spring blew me away: his AFD is 20.6ยต, and his 'Comfort Factor' is 97.3%. He is for sale, as he is too closely related to all my ewes but Bridget to use here. But if he's still here this fall I'll happily use him on Bridget and let him keep Sanson company. (Sanson's test results aren't far behind, at 22ยต AFD and a CF of 96.6%.)

The other 'boys' have been busy in Texas this week. The huge pile in the back yard is trash from Dad's shop to be hauled away by Mom's wonderful next-door neighbor. What's left in the shop may well be sold with the place (to the same neighbor), but at least one can walk through it now. As I feared, though, the 'candy shop' proved irresistible. They filled a 16' box truck with 'treasures' to bring home and left late yesterday afternoon, only to suspect they were overweight. Sure enough, they had to turn around and spend another night at Mom's. But did they jettison some of their load to get down to the 12,500 lb. weight limit? No, they rented a trailer and are moving the excess weight to it! ๐Ÿ˜ณ๐Ÿ˜ณ๐Ÿ˜ณ Heaven help me (I'm going to need it).


On my way home from work Monday, I noticed a 'committee' of eight turkey vultures along the road, one of them in the horaltic pose; so cool! I took a photo from the car but the light was behind them, so I drove past and turned around. That made them move, but not far. 

First daylilies blooming outside,

and an explosion of blooms on my African violet inside:

My littlest orchid's blossoms have finally shriveled up, but it has new flower spikes growing. Encore! Encore!

Trying to accentuate the positive at . . .

Sunday, June 09, 2024

March to July in one week

That's what it felt like, weatherwise. The month of June started cool and wet (yay for rain!) and ended hot and sunny (back to watering the garden). Speaking of the garden, it's looking good. Some of our new strawberry plants are even blooming, along with some tomatoes and bell peppers. A neighbor had extra tomato starts, so I planted two more (a Beefmaster and a Red Torch) Friday afternoon.

Poppy and I had a fine time at the agility trial last Sunday, qualifying in all three of our classes and winning two of them. (A friend recorded video of  all three runs; let me know if you want to see them.) She has figured out the photo booth, and poses like a pro. ๐Ÿ˜

While we were gone, Rick spent hours turning our chicken run into Fort Knox – almost. He covered the big gaps between fence and roof with wire, and filled the gaps between rafters with scrap wood. He ran out before he could fill in all the rafter gaps on the driveway side (north), but so far the raccoon has not scaled that side, preferring to approach from – and escape to – the woods (south and east).  I still run out to chase it off when I hear the hens sounding the alarm, but feel much better about their safety. With continued success, the pullets can keep growing!

On the shepherding front, I've finally skirted the last of the 2024 fleeces and started halter-training lambs. In spite of my initial disappointment with some of the professional shearing results, it turns out the suspect fleeces just needed a thorough skirting to remove second cuts. When I scissor-shear them myself there ARE no second cuts to deal with so seeing them always makes me cringe, but the cost, extra skirting time, and small loss in weight may be a worthwhile trade for the physical toll exacted in doing the fleece harvest myself. But by next spring I will have detachable sides for my stand which should make it easier on me and the sheep, so I may tackle it again  – depending on how many sheep I have.

Halter-trained sheep make shearing and other husbandry tasks easier, so working with this year's lambs has been on my mind. One night last week when Bud and Blossom ran to the barn stall where they used to stay instead of into the Sheep Sheraton where they were supposed to go with their dam, it was time; they are getting rather big to carry. Oh, the drama! Bud is a 'leaper;' Blossom is a hybrid of 'leaper' and 'flopper.' The next day I introduced Bitsy to the indignity of constraint; she behaved a bit better than Bud and Blossom. The next morning I haltered Bitsy along with her mother to lead them out to pasture from the barn (where Blaise gets extra groceries); now I do that every morning so Bitsy is well on her way. Now to work with Bud and Blossom more and get started on Bernice and Bethany, and trim all their little hooves, as well.

This week I'm holding down the fort alone. My guys flew off to Texas early this morning to rent a truck, pack some designated items for us, and hopefully clear out Dad's shop and some of the garage to facilitate Mom's planned move. This is risky business, sending men to go through all kinds of tools and other 'man bait;' Rick and Brian could end up bringing back a ton of stuff for which we have no space instead of taking it to the auction house as requested. Cue ominous music....

Deep breaths; focus on beauty and chores and the little (very little) I can control.

A quote I thought worth sharing:
I'm sometimes asked “Why do you spend so much of your time and money talking about kindness to animals when there is so much cruelty to men?” I answer: “I am working at the roots.” – George T. Angell, reformer (5 Jun 1823-1909)

That's it for the start of June here at . . .

Friday, May 31, 2024

Uff da

I shouldn't have wondered what else this month might have in store for us. It has been quite a day – and week.

After working in town Tuesday-Thursday (my part-time job and covering Rick's office for his secretary) and trying to get the loud clunking in my car diagnosed (it refused to reveal itself to the technician – of course), today has been a whirlwind of at-home chores. I got up early to do the vet clinic payroll and review with Rick what he had gotten done on the garden water lines, then did barn chores, chopped thistles, trimmed and swept the front walkway, and worked to complete the water lines. Then I came inside, gathered a load of laundry, went to the basement where the washer is – and spotted a small puddle beside the upright freezer where we keep fruit. With dread I opened the door and found everything thawed. So I hauled all the dripping bags and containers upstairs, stashing what I could fit into our refrigerator/freezer and plotting how much I could use up for potluck dishes and supper (not nearly enough).

While doing all that, I was keeping my ears alert to chicken squawking through multiple windows opened for that purpose. Our next-door neighbor on the east lost one of her two hens to a raccoon Tuesday evening; I chased a raccoon away from the hen yard yesterday afternoon (my chickens had retreated, squawking, into the henhouse), and this morning I learned that last night our same neighbor beat off a raccoon that had grabbed her last hen by the rump and was trying to drag it over the fence. Good thing I was listening, because I did hear squawking, ran down and found a raccoon halfway up the 6' fence of the run! So yep, the hens got shut in early again, and will stay in until we have the chance to turn their run into Fort Knox.
Hens, still safe

Pullets, still safe
Believe it or not, on top of all that the power went out for over two hours late this afternoon. Since I couldn't do much else, I enjoyed the chance to SIT and spin for awhile, guilt-free!

On a more soothing note, my iris bouquet has been opening up to reveal rich, royal purple blooms. My little orchid is not only holding onto its three blossoms, it's developing more flower stalks. And after a long hiatus, my African violet is finally blooming again (unlike the African violets I cultivated at the office, which bloom non-stop thanks to regular feeding).

That's it for May from . . .