Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Donkeys, stanchion and hail

Today was farm day.  I am sick with a nasty cold after having a stomach flu last weekend.  But chores still need to be done- particularly with my 2.5 weeks absence because of my back.  I initially walked the back fence line where we have most of the goats and sheep grazing on black and salmon berry plants amongst the trees.  I found that another one of our neighbors had dropped a tree on out back fence and a lot of large branches had fallen on the far fence-line over the winter.  There's also what looks like a child's fort near our far fence-line.  Looks like even more fencing in our future- Tom will be thrilled.

The donkeys were due to have their hooves trimmed 2 weeks ago, but I couldn't with my back- barely could walk then.  So I managed to get Olivia in the new (to us) stanchion which helped her hold still.  I used a leash to hold her feet up to trim them.  This meant I could safely sit down rather than bend over to trim them- thus saving my back.  But then I couldn't get Marty in the stanchion so had to do him the usual way- tied to a fence post and bent over.  Then (to top things off) it started to hail!  This did not help Marty hold still and since I got wet and cold probably won't help me with my cold either.  But the hooves are trimmed so at least I accomplished something today.  Plus I figured out htat I can use a stanchion to help with this task although Marty needs to cooperate.  As we get older we are going to have to learn tricks to get farm chores done despite our aging bodies.

Other than this, I did the usual animal chores and weeded the morning glory out of the rose patch.  Morning glory is one of the most obnoxious weeds and is one of the banes of my existence.  The other plant banes are nettles, ivy, and foxglove.  It'll be  a long spring fighting these plants  but at least spring seems to finally be here.  So I am actually thankful to be able to start this fight.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

New Shaun the Sheep!

There are new clips (at least to me) on the Shaun the Sheep web page and a new DVD.  I ordered it from!  Here's one of the clips (hopefully):

I also found 5 full new episodes of Shaun at:

Trimming llamas' toes

Today we used our new llama stanchion to trim the toes of our two llamas.  For the first llama, Winnona, it went well- she walked right in, didn't put up a fuss while we trimmed her toes, wormed her and gave her a CDT vaccine.  

Then came Fancy.  she's our less cooperative llama.  She tried all evasive maneuvers- laying down, side to side leg and body movements, spitting, trying to pee on us, yelling, but she still was contained and safe.  We were able to trim her toes and give her worming and CDT shots without injury to anyone.  She's not happy, but she's healthy.  The stanchion worked great and worth every penny!  I may be able to use it with donkey and calves too.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Taking it easy?

Today I was supposed to take it easy.  I finally made it back for a full day of work yesterday so want to keep my back happy.  I started off well- balancing the checking account, letting the roomba vacuum, folding clothes, etc.  Then I let the sheep and goats out back, checked the fence and then planted some seeds- carrot, swiss chard, beet and parsnip.  I planted some sunflower seeds in pots and brought them into the house.  So far, so good.  Then I started a fire in the wood-stove in the trailer,put away some cleaned bottles (for this next year's cider) and did some recycling- still OK.  Then I went to feed the critters.  I caught the pregnant and old sheep in a pen and trimmed the hooves of the old, skinny sheep (one of them is above) as well as worming them and giving them their yearly CDT shots.  Since there as only four of them my back only complained a little.  Then I dumped out the duck pond's water and refilled it- not too heavy, and I was careful about body mechanics.  Then I put out some grain and as able to catch all the does and kids except one to give them their coccidiosis medicine- all but one- little Mars wouldn't fall for it so I had to chase him down and catch him.  Then I pulled the cart with 1/2 bale of hay through the pastures and mud-holes at the gates to entice the rams into a new pasture and then the cows into another.  The two calves did not follow their mothers so I tried twice to show them the gate to no avail.  I had to pull the empty water trough to the new pasture, but it wasn't too heavy and I didn't lift it.  So I tried to be good- my back is a little sore, but a hot bath helped a lot- we'll see what tomorrow morning brings.

I did finally manage to get a photo of our peacock showing off- usually he puts his feathers down before I can get my camera ready.  It still isn't in the sunshine but he still looks handsome. 

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Snowy April

The above photos are from our farm this morning- snow on the the orchard, then on blossoms on the cherry tree then on the tilled garden.  It's discouraging, and for us it's costly. This is because we are having to buy hay at $9 for 65# bales and feeding 1.5 bales per day since there's very little grass growing in this cold, darker weather.  Normally we aren't feeding hay this time of year.

Today I went with Tom for a road trip to Olalla- I've been cooped up in the house for over 2 weeks healing my back and am going crazy.  So I got to sit in the truck for 6 hours while we went there and back to pick up the llama stanchion below.  It'll be very nice to have for trimming the llamas' toes as well as for shots and shearing.  Hopefully I'll never be kicked by a llama again trying to give a tetanus shot!

After we got back we put up a electric net fence in the back and now have most of the goats and sheep out there eating what grass grew there and blackberry leaf sprouts.  So today we only had to feed 2/3 of a bale- it's better anyway!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

My Ancestors' map

View Larger Map

Since it's snowing and hailing and since my back is still painful, I did not do any of the gardening or fencing tasks that need doing and instead started dreaming about an upcoming trip to Europe.  The above map is the only thing I have accomplished today.  Zoom out to see the various places my ancestor's came from (and that I hope to visit next year).  I also hope to visit the Shetland Islands (and maybe Gotlands too)- the places of the ancestors of my sheep!

Monday, April 14, 2008


Today Tom and I went to do animals chores and found a little black surprise.  She came from Ebony, our old skinny ewe who isn't supposed to be able to get pregnant anymore.  We don't know who the father is- I do note on my blog that Tom was working on the fence for the ram field exactly 5 months ago.  It's possible a ram got out at that time and impregnated Ebony.  If so, he could have impregnated our other ewes too.  So far no one else has a large udder, and there aren't any other lambs so we'll see.

Friday, April 11, 2008


This is a tribute to Maybellene.  

We bought her from Ravencrest farm on the Olympic Peninsula in 2004.  She was a bottle baby and therefore quite friendly.  We got her with Saphy who made quite a pair.  They both have striking blue eyes, very friendly personalities and black hair.  

Maybellene grew up into a very nice doe, and we bred her.  She was a wonderful mother and made great kids as you can see from the photo.  She was bred for spring kidding last year and then our buck Cody managed to clear a 5 foot gate and bred her again so she kidded again the same year.  She again did an excellent job with her second kidding.  

After weaning she was a little thin.  I kept her in with the rest of the herd until a few weeks ago I noticed she was thin as well as a few other goats.  Because of our exceptionally cold spring a number of the goats had shed their cashmere and were chilled with the freezing winds we were getting.  So I place three goats including Maybellene in a pen, put a curtain over the ventilation window there and fed them extra.  The other two goats fattened up nicely, but Maybellene didn't.  

About 2 weeks ago I noticed she had a swollen eye.  Since she was the lowest goat in the goat pecking order I figured that she had been hit.  The swelling around her eye improved, and I took one of the offending goats out.  I continued to feed Maybellene and Clara (the goat in the sweater below) extra.  Then Tuesday I noticed that Maybellene had a swelling on her jaw and wasn't able to drink water normally, only lap at it.  She was still eating well, but she hadn't been acting like herself for a while- less friendly.  I called the vet but because of my back couldn't pick her up to bring her into the vet so scheduled a vet call; the first available appointment was this morning.  The vet came out and said she showed signs of nerve damage on her face which may be from trauma or infection so brought her into the office for sedation and x-rays.  I'll never forget the sight of her in the passenger seat on the lap of the vet student- she looked like she was taking a little car trip- looking out of the front window.  The vet just now called me and stated that the x-ray and an aspirate of the jaw swelling show cancer.  So we both agreed she should be put down .

My husband Tom works right down the block from the vet so is going into to pet her while she is being put down.  I told him to tell her I love her.  Maybellene is such a nice goat, and I sure wish this hadn't have happened to her at only 4 years old.  And (selfishly) I also can't believe that I'm having to deal with another death this very long winter.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Home with a sore back

I have been home for almost one week with a painful back, possibly related to shearing 25 sheep.  I am trying to be good to allow it to heal which means no farm chores.  So  I've been occupying my time with readying, knitting, blogging, but also peaking out the window to check on our obviously pregnant Highland cow Hana who was supposedly due in March.  Finally last evening she produce a calf for us (but I missed the delivery yet again!).  Once again we cannot get close enough to see if it's a bull or heifer calf but she/he is doing well- dry, standing and nursing.  I may try to go out to the field today with binoculars to take a look- we need to pick a name!

Weather related animal photos

These are two weather related animal photos and my first attempt to switch my blog over to blogger (as I can have more photos on my blog here and hopefully more flexibility as well).  As we have been have unseasonably cold weather my goats have shed their cashmere and are quire cold.  This older Alpine doe Clara has been particularly cold so I put her in a pen and put an old wool sweater on her.  It's seems to be working to keep her warm.  The other photo is of our crazy calico cat basking in a sun beam- looks nice doesn't it?

Shaun the Sheep "Off the Baa"

Shaun the Sheep clip "Save the Tree"