Saturday, January 31, 2009

Farming ain't for sissies

It would be wonderful if farming was all sunshine and baby animals frisking in the field, but it's not. Reality checks come in the form of 13 inches of snow that require you to stay up all night sweeping snow off the high tunnel where the hens live so the plastic doesn't collapse and frozen faucets on subzero mornings when the water tank is dry and all the animals are milling around waiting for you, and babies with life threatening scours.
And yesterday it came in the form of a still born lamb. Yoshi, my niece's retired 4-H ewe, had her lamb some time between when I checked on everybody in the morning and 2 o'clock when I went out to load up the horse we sold. It looked like she hadn't even tried to clean it off or nurse it at all. In fact, I stumbled over it in the snow. It was white and I didn't see it because I really wasn't expecting it. Yoshi, was no where near it. Odd.
I couldn't stop just then and do anything so I loaded the horse and got them on their way. Then I spent some time trying to figure out what happened. I found the placenta about 25 feet from the lamb and Yoshi another 25 feet from it. We won't ever know for sure what happened. Next year we will be sure to put Yoshi in a "jug" when she is getting close to term so she will be more likely to bond with her lamb and so we can keep a closer eye on her. We never thought of doing it this year because the Shetlands are so hardy they actually refuse to bring their babies in no matter what the weather is. We've never lost a Shetland lamb even in the worst weather.
If you've never tried to bury anything in frozen ground- don't. Pick axe and shovel. Tears and cuss words. I got the baby and the placenta buried so they wouldn't attract coyotes to the flock. Then went on to care for the other animals.
As with all things in life. Live, learn, keep going, do better next time. Still it is sad.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Brian is down until spring

Today, Brian had his foot surgery. The doctor went in and released his plantar fascia in his foot. It's supposed to make the severe pain Brian was experiencing go away. Of course we won't know for sure for six weeks.
In the mean time, Brian is laid up. He has crutches and wheelchair. He isn't to let that foot bear weight at all for 4-6 weeks. He's sort of bored, sort of grumpy and very restless. It's driving him crazy that he can't go out and work around the animals, can't get busy on all the projects we hope to have done before spring. So now when I go out to do the chores I carry my cell phone. We talk on the phone and I send him pics.
Next week when he feels a little better he's going to start back on his Red Wattle Hog history research and work some more on the overall layout of the new intensive pasture system for the hogs and catch up on the stack of books he has laying by the bed. They're all farm books, from tree pruning, to intensive grazing, hog, and cattle, bee and sheep books, tree farming, seed starting and seed saving. Maybe I can get him to do a couple of book reviews on here.
It's going to be hard for him to be good. He's never had surgery and he's never been this confined.
Wish us luck!!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

What a surprize!

Brian called me at work last night. He never calls me at work unless something is wrong so my heart skipped a beat as I picked up the phone.
"It's a girl!" he laughed.
"What do you mean 'It's a girl!' Did Brandy have her calf?"
"Nope," he said. "Rosie did!!"
I was speachless, Rosie wasn't even showing any signs of being close when we checked her yesterday morning. We thought she'd be at least another 10-14 days.
It seems my sister was coming up to visit and noticed a calf in our field, so she told Brian. He didn't really believe her since we have sheep in that field too and she could have been mistaken. He asked her to look again on her way out the driveway. She called him back from her cell phone "Yep, it's a calf!"
She stayed and helped Brian get Rosie and her new dunn heifer into the barn with the others.
This little girl is the biggest of the Dexter calves so far. She's beautiful and perfect. Her momma is very protective of her. Rosie staked out the warmest corner of the barn for her baby.
Guess what we're naming her?
KMGF Grass Kissed Evening Surprize!

Oh baby it's cold outside...

Well, Tiny's calf waited to be born when the night time temps plunged below zero and it was blowing snow! On the 13th of the month, he made his entrance into the world at less than 25 lbs. He's the tiniest calf I've ever seen and absolutely adorable. :)

We worried that even with the protection of the barn and his mother's warmth he might not make it, but he came through all the snowy, freezing weather. Today, we turned him out with his momma, and Katy & her calf, Promise to play in the sunshine out in the corral.

Since he's lucky to be here we're calling him KMGF Grass Kissed Lucky Charm - Lucky for short. He's rapidly becoming our favorite!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Of Winter Gear and frosty mornings...


I've been trying to get up and do chores on my days off before Brian wakes up. He really needs to take it easy on his foot until after he's had his surgery on the 30th and recovered for 6 weeks. So this morning I glanced at the thermometer; -10 degrees, looked out the window; tree limbs waving in the wind- and wondered how many layers I could put on and still be able to walk.
Turtle neck, followed by polar fleece hoody, over leggings with sweatpants, 2 pairs of socks - 1 cotton, 1 insulated hunting socks. Next comes the Carhart subzero overalls, then the balaclava with the hood of my polar fleece jacket pulled up over it. Finally on top of it all was my Carhart coat. Add 2 pairs of knit gloves and boots. There that about does it. I can't find a scarf this morning.
I step over the dogs in front of the heater on my way out. They aren't moving. First I feed the big hogs and then the small hogs. They aren't moving either. They just look up at me from their hay nests and snuggle back down. Then up the driveway to check the cows and their babies. Everybody's up eating hay.
Nursing mommas need lots of water. The ice on the water trough in the barn has to be broken. It's nearly 6 inches thick. I close my eyes with every whack of the pick to avoid getting ice slivers in my eyes.
By now my eye lashes are full of frost. Thank goodness there is a heater in the other water trough. A couple of bucket of water from the heated trough get carried over to the mommas' trough in the barn. Then a quick head count of cows, horses and sheep and I'm headed back to the house.
I stop on the way to feed the cats and fill the bird feeders...
Here is a "self portrait"! Note the frost in my hair!
IT's really COLD! :)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

New Baby

We have our first baby Dexter. Katie gave us a beautiful little black heifer sometime during the night on Friday. We found her Saturday morning. I think we'll name her KMGF Grass Kissed Promise.
My mother, Brian and I had a "baby pool" to guess when Katie would calf. We each put in $1. I won. I'm putting my cash in the piggy bank for future wishes.
Momma and baby are in the barn and doing fine. I'll post pics as soon as I can get them off the camera.
We have 3 more Dexter heifers ready to calf any time now... so stay tuned for updates!