Tag Archives: Farm life

My sheep is soooo fat!

15 Mar

Every Sunday for the last 6 weeks, we are asked the same question “Any lambs yet?”. No, she is still fat, although it did not seem possible that she is even wider than last week!
On our farm, we have raised Bummer Lambs and been blessed with the lost, little ones thriving. The combination of children’s prayers, hard work, fresh raw Goat’s milk and a Lot of Love are a reckoning force united!
The children enjoyed raising the lambs so much that last year that when a new friend from church called one afternoon asking us to take in a “Bummer Ram Lamb” we did not hesitate! After several months, he was so infatuated with our goats that we were on the search for a species similar companion for him. The Goaty Girlz were getting quite annoyed with his constant bleating and his lovingly following them around from sunrise until dusk!
Our friend Sarah gave us Lambie (Now a 200# ram!) offered to free lease us an ewe unrelated to him until after she kidded in the spring. We were enthralled and asked a friend Sam who owns a truck and canopy to transport the living link to our future flock.
Sam arrived at our farm and we drove over to pick the sheep up.
Let me enlighten you by what transpired when we went to bring her home. Most people who raise sheep for meat, only have their sheep handled once or twice a year for shearing, vaccinations, deworming and feet trimming. I had purchased a book on Sheep and read many sources to ready for this new venture. Even though I spent hours researching raising sheep, I never thought that other farms would not raise sheep like our Lambie! This sheep of ours can be summoned anytime of anyday by just walking outside and talking over by the pasture. He comes running, tail wagging and face turned up anticipating a scratch or treat. Knowing he is a “Ram”, he is not led around and we set up feed while they are locked out to keep him sweet and not too demanding or give him opportunities to get rammy!
It was a beautiful, unseasonably warm fall day and the first red flag was as soon as we pulled up the driveway we were greeted with “park over here and don’t let the sheep see you!”.
I figured we would have to treat them so we could shut the pasture gate as it was the middle of the afternoon and usually they would of been out grazing. Next, Sarah who owns the sheep proceeds to rip me a new one because we didn’t call right before we left! I apologized and was thinking to myself that I had just talked to her less than 2 hours before and I had called already, but oh well!
Now, I almost forgot to mention that my friend “Sam”who owns the truck with canopy confesses to me on the drive over that he is afraid of sheep! I burst out laughing hysterically because he is a tall man who looks like he can take care of himself! He did not grow up on a farm or have much exposure to sheep except while strolling in a childhood friends’ pasture a ram suddenly appeared who chased them everywhere.
We were standing over behind the barn when I heard “okay, you need to come help, I have her!” exclaimed Sarah.
As we come round the corner, we glanced at each other and ran towards her. Sam is directed out into the yard to the other side of the feeder. I quickly grab a hold of the rope that my spry, grey lady friend is grasping. Looking down into the stanchion is a lovely ewe who is clearly terrified! A rope is noosed around her neck and Sam looks at her, not knowing what to do next.
Sarah yells at him “get her on the ground and put the lead around her, then go get the truck!” I run around to where the ewe is bucking, snorting and frantically trying to get away as if she is in fear of her life! Sam has obviously overcome his fear and as gently as possible puts his knee on her and rolls her over as she is still kicking and trying to turn to get up. We succeed in getting a lead around her neck and convince her to buck her way towards the truck.
When we reach the tailgate, Sam reaches down and grabs fleece at the nape of her neck and hips and picks her up and puts her in the truck.
With lightening speed he pulls the canopy hatch closed and we simultaneously wonder if this ewe settle down as she wildly runs around inside of the closed canopy. Sam reaches in and slides the windows to keep her safe and ventilated on the way home.
We say our thank you s and pile in the truck, and I nervously peek behind us at our new addition to the farm. She finally stops and stands in the corner during the ride. She is a nice looking ewe with huge gold-colored eyes and a beautiful fleece that has multi colors woven through it. Sarah says she is a Cheviot and Icelandic cross and Icelandics are famous for the soft, long beautiful fleeces they sport.
surprisingly, she jumps right out of the truck and compared to the first introduction to this sheep named Diane she is easily led to the barn. Since I knew the owners of this sheep and how healthy their flock, I did not quarantine her. Ironically my Mom’s name was Diane, my children think this is so funny!

Now almost six months have passed and yes, my sheep is still soooo fat that Sarah says she may have triplets!

Lambie smiling

Keeping one glove…

8 Mar

We had lived at the house in town for seven years. Now, against all odds our dream had come true. We had just purchased a home in the country.
Amidst our crazy busy schedule; up at 5 am to get ready for work, son ready to be dropped off at school across town and enough time to navigate through the stagnant traffic of city life five days a week.
Not taking a lunch at the regular time, my boss let me take my break at 2:30 so I could go and pick up my son from school. He came back to work with me and after work, we drove home, ate dinner and went out to take care of the horses who were boarded at a private barn.
Being four months pregnant, I was a little particular about the way I wanted things to line up! The weather that November was typical for the Pacific Northwest and being that we were in the elements so much, I had just purchased new hats, gloves, boots for staying warm and dry.
It had taken me awhile to pick out a pair of gloves, I have children’s sized hands and feet and the choice was overwhelming! Finally I decided upon a turquoise pair of gloves, they had grippy dots on the palms and stars on the backs of the hands.
When the offer was accepted on our new house, we did not have long to sell our house in the city. Friends and well-meaning family warned us not to buy the house until our city house sold.
I recall receiving the phone call from the realtor that our offer was accepted, literally five minutes before it expired! I stood there holding the phone receiver in my hand, my husband asking me “what? is it good, what is it about?”. After slowly hanging up, I looked up at him and told him. “We have less than two weeks to sell this house before our first payment is due!”
The realtor we had already spoken with was wonderful and gave us some tips to make things go well. We packed most of the personal items, stored them in our huge garage and burned a Sugar Cookie candle in the entry. Less than a week later our house sold to a young couple buying their first home.
Mind you, it certainly wasn’t our great works that sold this house for us. It was meant to be and sometimes you have to step out and have faith. This was one of those times.
We packed and packed and drove out to the country house. It was such a wreck with much to be done prior to it being close to habitable, but that is another story!
We love our new home, yet there are adjustments with any move.
Being out in the country, it is DARK after the sun goes down! While unpacking, I realized that I couldn’t find the box with gloves and hats. Our house didn’t have a wood stove yet that was operational and we were sleeping in the front room with oil filled base heaters to be warm. We were still traveling to care for the horses and it was cold in December! We had over a foot of snow on the ground shortly after we moved in.
Darn, where is that box? Finally found the box and gleefully pulled all the warm winter stuff out and looked again. There is only one of my new gloves! Well, I had put some mismatched socks in a bag and brought them with us because I hadn’t time to match them up before we moved. I searched all over the place, sigh, only one of my new gloves could be found.
For some reason, I am an eternal optimist. Can you believe that I kept the one glove? Why? Growing up with bare minimums, I appreciated little things. For example in our family at Christmas we were given necessities; socks, new undies, new outfit if we were lucky.
I wanted to hold onto the idea that I could find that glove!
Time passed and my beautiful daughter was born, my ten-year old son growing and that fall I “spring cleaned”.
Surprisingly the second glove appeared out of nowhere. Rather like when a lost sock finds it way home. I was overjoyed!
We were out doing farm chores and I finally got to wear my pair of gloves, reunited at last! Filling water buckets, one of my hands got wet and I took off the gloves and put them in my pocket.
Tired and satisfied at the work we had done, we went back into the house and hung our coats up to dry.
I put some muffins in to cook, set the timer and dashed out to do chores. Not one thought about the gloves.
Next day was the weekend and we were all outside, reached into my coat pocket to get my gloves…pulled out…one glove.
Not again, I frantically searched all over to no avail. Sigh, setting the glove aside by this time feeling like it is the precious.
More time passed and that spring we were having shavings delivered.
We were in the shavings room and scraping the floor clean. I had already found 2 socks, a flip-flop and a hat. I look into the turn out and see a spot of turquoise amidst the grass. Could it be? I rushed out and lo and behold, the long-lost glove!
At first I was ecstatic, I could justify keeping the one glove to my husband who likes to razz me for my eccentric behaviors!
Then as I reached down to pick it up, I noticed that it was in tatters. One of the animals had liked the texture and it was only a scrap of glove now.
It sounds silly, but I was so disappointed. I went back into the house and really thought about why had I kept that mismatched glove for so long? What drives me to keep a huge bag of socks waiting to be matched? Why couldn’t I be like my friends who just throw everything away without remorse?
Mulling this over I came to realize that I have hope in silly things, including people when others do not. Gloves, socks, children I always have faith and hold out when others just go and buy new. Growing up with little I see things differently, constantly looking for the good. Whether you be a glove, sock or wayward person there is always something positive that can be found if you look hard enough!
Hope is not encouraged in this me world and I am content to be peculiar and be on the search for it, as I pull on mismatched gloves.
One glove navy blue and one glove…turqoise.

Just an average Day…

20 Feb

Stayed up late, you guessed it..blogging! I thought that I should stray back towards the origins of this blog and write about an average day on Life on Z Farm.
Up at 3 am, stoked fire and checked to make sure children and husband are covered up. Husband has flu, so I am sleeping on our antique couch in front of the wood stove.
Waking at 7 to my hubby asking where my phone is, as he needs to call into work again, poor guy. Sure hope he feels better soon, he is worried even when he is sick about making our ends meet. We do not have health insurance, nor sick days.
Started a pot of coffee, love the new coffeemaker we got!
No fresh milk, so drinking it black and sweet.
Now breakfast plans, muffins in oven. Onto waking children for school.
We attend virtual school, but they still have a schedule to follow.
Stoke fire again, let kitty into get warmed up, then kick her back out.
After drinking 2 cups of coffee, I am out to do chores.
First stop is the chicken coop. We currently have a dozen laying hens and two roosters to let out, feed, water and throw scratch to.
Next it the Chicky tractor which houses the pullets until they are big enough to go in with the big girls around 5 months of age.
The sheep stall is on the backside of the Chicky Girlz coop, so I carry out alfalfa and divvy it up into two feeders, fresh water and let them out. We have one coming yearling Cheviot ram a Cheviot/Icelandic ewe close to lambing and a Southdown ewe just 2 months bred. After putting the carry lid back in the barn and letting sheep out, we walk over to the Big barn.
This is where the pony, old grey mare & her daughter and our dairy Goaty Girlz reside.
Up into the hay loft to drop hay, we used to cram the loft full. Since selling my horse and thinning out the goat-herd the loft is still used and much appreciated, but the price of hay has more than doubled in the last few years.
Walking down to the end of the aisleway, I get a can of Senior grain for our 26-year-old Arabian Mare Silk AN Silver. I feed her first she likes to savor her grain and it takes her the longest. Grain for Beauty her daughter and a I’m sorry you’re fat handful for the pony!
Goat doelings get grained next, then I put fresh hay out in hanging feeders in the pasture. Orchard grass, locally grown is topped off with Christmas Valley alfalfa priced at $270 a ton!
We have two senior does who are due to kid in 2-4 weeks and they are turned out into the pasture to eat while the little Goaty Girlz finish their grain. Don’t forget the clean, fresh water!
I have to leave one little doeling and her sister in the stall, as she broke her leg 3 weeks ago and she is a wild jumper. Probably how she broke her leg to begin with ,she is one of the smallest and bossiest kids we have…Well of the Goaty kids anyway!
Ah, I forgot to mention that upon entering big barn that we have our resident mascot~ Miss Peep~ to let out and feed and water.
She was in a batch of pullets that was brutally attacked through the wire on their pen.
When I went to move the pen one morning I walked around the side and found a pile of wings, feathers and legs. I checked the remaining pullets and one did not move. I picked her up and realized she only had one leg left! She is pretty amazing creature, we cleaned and salved her open wound where her leg used to be and she has been keeping us company at the barn ever since!
After the horses eat their grain, we put the old girl out with her daughter and after hay is eaten we throw the pony out. She is such a bossy little meany that she will eat and eat until she can no longer move! Don’t forget the clean, fresh water!

That is how morning chores are usually done. I used to drag the children out with me every morning, but now I get them up and breakfasted and then they start school. I discovered having them help with the evening chores when I am starting to fade is a good way to go! Evening chores are more involved, we clean stalls, make sure all have fresh bedding, food and water. Coop is tidied, eggs collected.
Here comes the sun, that means time to go out and possibly greet the sought after warming, golden rays of light.
What would you like to me to write about next? Kidding season, farm emergencies, children silliness, beauty in nature, creatures?
Hope your day is utilized to count your blessings, thank you for reading!
Zion Farm Goaty Girlz

Next installment of parenthood…

20 Feb

My youngest daughter went to a friends on Sunday nite. She and her friend had fun and took and posted pictures of their antics.
Oh my, I guess I am not ready for my little girl to get the attention that she doesn’t even know is starting to happen already!
I have to state that raising boys is a lot easier than girls. I think i can make this statement as we have 2 boys in the family and 3 if you include my husband!
Since we live and operate a small family farm,whenever one member is gone, the others have to pick up the slack. Or, sometimes Mom just likes the solitude and does all of the chores.
It is amazing that I can get all of the chores done right now, since we are not milking yet in an hour. If I take my time and play with the critters like I usually do, make that 1 1/2 hrs.
When I have many hands, they do not always make light work!
Our two youngest children ages 10 and 12 help out with chores in the evenings during the week. We quite often have our 11-year-old nephew out on Saturday nights and to add to the crew the grandchildren will come out for the weekend as well.
With so many helping hands, one would expect chores to fly. Well, they do breeze by and right off into the spring swirl of wind!
My daughter being the eldest in the group, likes to take charge and of course the others resist, not realizing that resistance is futile.
I have to brag, my children have gained enough life experience on the farm , from expectant animals to watching for illness or injury.
We have had a crazy schedule and while we were rushing to do the chores, amidst a chatter cloud of resentment I sighted a silver thread.
We sat down and had a Mom-children talk. I asked my daughter if she remembered the animal rescue & anti-horse slaughter research she had just completed for school? She gave me a funny look and answered “yes, why”? I laid my proverbial cards right out on the table. I entered into the arena of conversation by informing them that we had our very own rescue horse, Silver. Did they really think that we could find her a better home than she already has? How many animals had been sent to their horrifying deaths and suffering being neglected by owners who carelessly cast them aside when they encountered difficulty in keeping them or they were no longer interested?
Had this 26-year-old mare not been ridden by them and most of their friends? Did she not deserve to be retired with love, respect and small amount of sacrifice financially from our farm to show her honor she had earned?
This dramatically changed the whole attitude of complaint during chore times. Instead of being resentful, the children now take pride in the fact that we have our own “old girl”! Even though our old girl has sought after bloodline in the Arabian breed, so many animals have glutted the market that papered, young, old, pregnant, trained, healthy are trucked to slaughter destined to be put to death for the sake of the almighty dollar.
I overheard all of the kids and some friends added to the mix talking about our various animals and the work involved. My daughter stated, yeah, we have had Silver for quite a long time and we are giving her a good life now! That made my heart soar!
This last month consisted of 2 full weeks of illness from the children, dealing with having a tooth pulled, a goat doeling with a broken leg, testing for school and the flu added to life on Z Farm.
It makes everything worthwhile to hear the children’s laughter, see them outside enjoying the property and animals we have been blessed with.
Why do the eye rolls, sighs and complaints always seem to occur when I am on my last nerve? I think it is part of the divine plan to keep me humble, for I am constantly reminded to partake of the joy of the little things…as much as I dread this next installment of parenthood…I give thanks for the children and their remembering to stop and notice the raindrops capturing the early morning light and glistening like rare gems, or the spicy fragrance of the fresh rainsApple blossoms.

About those peeps…

5 Feb

There are a few blogs about chickens. I belong to several of them.
One thing I have noticed is, there are a lot of other people who like chickens!
When we first moved to our property, my husband stated very adamantly that he HATED chickens and never wanted us to have them!
Several years transpired and we started the eternal “this old farm”.
Our horses and goats were doing well. I ventured to revisit the why we couldn’t have chickens topic.
He finally confessed that when he was growing up, he worked for a family friend in upper state New York that had a chicken farm. The expressions that came over his face as he told me the story were incredible. I could almost smell why he would never want chickens as the tale unfolded!
His job was shoveling all the chicken poop from the floors that missed the conveyor belts! Ewwww!
Over the next few months, I was able to talk him into the next chapter of our farm adventure. He told us as long as he didn’t have to take care of them he would compromise.
We brought home our first tiny chicks we bought from the local farm store. Our fuzzy, peeping box of tiny chicks brought about feelings of wanting to nest. Not for me, but for them!
Day after day of caring for them, bringing them fresh tidbits of greens “chicky salad”, clean bedding, fresh water and having the children hold them while we changed things out evolved into an ongoing, growing 12 year love of chickens!
We look at egg colors, chicks, coops, runs, incubators, brooders, predators of chickens.
Our tiny, fuzzy chicks that we started with are now going on 7 years old! They are the queens of the coop and very fair with new pullets and help to keep the peace. They still lay eggs 2-3 times a week once Spring makes itself known.
So if you are considering having chickens, just do it! But before you do, study up, join some chicken habit support groups. They are wealth’s of knowledge and help you get set up for success.
If my friends wonder why I keep chickens, this is the answer I give them.
Wouldn’t you love this~as soon as our chickens hear my voice, they come running, no matter what time of day!
~Chicky girlz are always happy to see you
~Chicky girlz always have time and will listen to your problems
~Every spring is like a new adventure
~Seeing fresh eggs in nest boxes on your own farm, priceless~
~Being able to watch a Mommy hen hatch chicks, precious!
~Eating eggs from happy chickens~Delicious!
If you would like to talk about chickens, let me know!

This picture is of Miss Peep our farm mascot, she only has one leg.

Ms peep head profile

Broken…

30 Jan

I really need to watch what I say in spiritual perspective. When we were gathered to study in the book of Psalms Sunday morning, I asked “would you still praise God, if things don’t turn out the way you think they should?”. I guess this was taken as a challenge, am I able to set the example? Can I tow the line? Am I just talking the talk?

We come home from church, have lunch and after relaxing for a bit we go out to get the chores done early. We are leaving before dark to watch my grandson play basketball. My nephew and his cousins had just gone out before me to start the watering and haying, when the back door is whipped open with great effort. My nephew proceeds to tell me that one of the doelings has an injured leg. By the time I get my boots, hat and coat on to go out and help with chores, she apparently has several things wrong with her.

Now, let me tell you that this little doe and her sister had been advertised for sale and had an interested 4-H family coming to look at them on Wednesday, of course.

Poor little thing, she broke her leg. No doubt about it. I have my daughter hold her and put a splint on her leg, then traipse back to the house to read up on splinting goat legs.

Way back when, I was a licensed Veterinary technician. Certified in; Radiology, Dentistry, Anesthesia, Bandaging, Lab, Surgical Assistance, Small Animal Nutrition. I worked in this profession for over 10 years, managed several clinics and was employed at the local emergency vet as well.

It is quite a humbling experience to have the training, then have your own real life situation with one of Your animals. I suddenly felt inadequate, ill at ease and not qualified to do what others had paid for me to do for years.

She is eating, drinking, sore because of the antibiotic injections, but no longer lonely. Her sister is not very happy and trying to figure out how to get out of the straw stall we built. I did not realize how difficult it would be to provide right conditions for her recovery and healing. Initially I was thinking of creating a wood pallet stall, then it was pointed out to me that..ya know the Murphy Law thing? Hmmm, she did break her leg in a grassy pasture! Probably not the best idea, we progress to the next idea. No, can’t put her makeshift stall across the aisle way, it was pouring down rain that night and that end of the barn might flood. Arghhh, frustration after what seemed like hours, we thought back to last year when the barn did flood. We kept the Mommas and kids safe in the straw room with straw stalls. So that is what we did.

I don’t know who is in more pain during this experience, the little doeling or myself? Her bones are broken, my spirit is broken. There are so many things going on that I can’t even put into words. I am choosing thankfulness over despair.

I will praise Thee O Lord, amidst the darkness. I will call out to Thee O Lord and I know you will hear my cries.

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