Like a walk through the country side living on a small farm is full of daily surprises, sometimes wonderful and amazing, and other times puzzling and sad. I hope you will walk with me as I live out my dream of living on this tiny farm. You will come to know the dogs, cats, Shetland sheep and chickens that make up this farm and what goes into keeping them happy and healthy. Come and join the journey with me.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

It's That Time of the Year!

Rosemary (like it's my fault it snowed!)

Obviously Nancy decided to sleep outside last night!

Sheep Snow Angel

Not that you could tell by looking outside. Outside the snow is falling fast and furious, and it's cold. The temperature is hovering at 28 but the windchill is 16, so it's not a pleasant pre-spring day out there. After 70 degrees on Thursday, it just seems bitter. It's a little bitter (and whiny) in here too.

Back to 'it's that time of the year'. Time to start indoor seeds, time to get the ewe flock ready for lambing, time to work up the soil....
This year I ordered seeds from Baker's Creek Seeds. I am splitting them with my brother who lives in Illinois, so that we can have more awesome gardens than my Dad. Uhm..I mean so we can share the cost of seeds and have productive and unique gardens this year. Yes. That is what I meant. So anyway, I haven't started seeds indoors for a long, long time, so there is some apprehension at the thought. However I'm a little tired of poorly performing Better Boys and California this and thats, so thought that I would try starting some heirloom type tomatoes and peppers. Nervous twitch. I'll keep y'all posted.

Last week I took off a vacation day to get caught up on the dreaded Spring Sheep Maintenance. Shearing will be coming up on March the 28th, which is a little later than normal, but lambing will commence on or about March 18th. (twitch, twitch...) Therefore, getting vaccinations done was imperative. Somehow I managed to pick, like, the best day in the month to take off. Sunny, up in the sixties. A gentle breeze for the soon sweaty brow. The Shetland girls were all easily penned up (read sneakily trapped) and I was optimistic. That didn't last long. The girls were pushy, shovey and just genuinely a pain in the patootie. Within the catch pen I set up a smaller working area--to keep from getting pushed, shoved, stomped and chewed on. It was a good idea, but the sheep kept shoving their heads through minuscule openings and then getting stuck and on and on. Very few of them cooperated with getting set on their behinds, so there was much thrashing (sheep), muttering (me) and generally just all around ill will. Also I forgot the cookies, which notched the ill will way up there. (I did go and get cookies before I turned them out, but that is not how it works. The routine is: trim hooves, vaccinate, worm and then three cookies each for their pain and suffering. I got allot of incredulous and angry looks.) All in all it went pretty well--casualty list was one finger pricked with a dirty needle, one tiny wrist slash with hoof trimmers (also dirty), one sore back and one hoof quicked on the last sheep. So it went and I got all twelve done, but it took awhile. It's a very good feeling to have that chore completed. I still have to do the five dorsets, but supposedly they aren't preggie so I have between now and the shearing date to get them done. I'll do the four rams/wethers on shearing day.

More breakfast please!

From what I could tell, there are four obviously pregnant ewes--Lark, Rosemary, Luna and River. Selena is not and I'm skeptical if Duckie is. There are about three other ewes that could be as they were mixed up in the ram breakout, but none of them looked it. It's harder to tell on the older ewes though and they are further out on their due dates. Should be able to tell more at shearing time.

Now, I need to finish cleaning out the barns and getting panels ready to set up for the 'blessed events'. Lambing is coming up awfully fast all of a sudden.

Our strange weather continues. Last Wednesday was the balmy sixty degree day, and Thursday was even warmer with a high seventy. On Thursday though the air was heavy with humidity and it didn't feel 'right'. Thursday night storms started building up quickly and before we knew it, there was a tornado warning for our area. Our exact area. (I live in a very rural area, but now the weather casters have started naming off these little areas as bad weather hits them). So I grabbed up blankets, pillows, my purse with cellphone, transistor radio and flashlight and stuffed it all in my pantry which is where I go in tornado warnings. Then I went about washing dishes and getting the dogs fed. I went outside frequently and since there was allot of cloud to cloud lightening I could see if there were any unusual clouds. Nothing looked like a twister. This all happened so fast that the weather spotters hadn't even been deployed. I had my scanner on, but it was uncharacteristically quiet, and of little help. We then got a burst of wind, hail and hard rain, and it was all over. Cooler weather ushered in and now today we have snow(around three inches so far) and cold temperatures. Next week we will hit the seventies again.

Tonight is our annual Fire Department Soup Supper and Annual Meeting (& Elections), so the snow will likely play havoc with the attendance. Our events are held in the Community Building, which has no running water, outdoor toilets, wood heat and is not insulated. There are no parking lots or sidewalks to scrape, just a road, a hill and stone pathway. We do have a microwave and refrigerator. ;-) Hopefully one of the guys will have the fire going hot and there will be enough bodies in there to warm things up. I am secretary for FD so myself and the treasurer get to sit back by the door and take money for the event. All you can eat for $3.00!! This is also a good time for any delinquents to pay up their dues for the year. (oops, that would be me!) I usually enjoy seeing my neighbors and friends, even if I don't get to mingle much. I have veggie soup simmering now, and will also take a plate of brownies. (begin commerical) Volunteer Fire departments constantly struggle with making ends meet and keeping their equipment as updated as possible. Besides keeping the equipment up to date and in working order, they also have to pay utilities, insurance and work comp insurance. In order to keep dues as reasonable as possible, 'fund raisers' are almost constantly being planned. If you live in a district where your only fire protection is from a volunteer department, consider supporting them as much as you can with not only monetary donations, but your time as well. Volunteers need not be as a 'firefighter' (although those are always needed too), but as a behind the scenes worker---helping with fund raisers, upkeep on the Fire House and property, and by attending fund-raisers. (end commercial) Fortunately we have not had to raise dues in a few years ($30.00) and have over a hundred members. We have operated 'in the black' for the last three years after paying off the tanker. We have a pumper, tanker and brush truck currently in operation. We also considered reducing the number of fund raisers but the community wanted the opportunity to be able to meet and visit at the dinners. Currently we do a supper in February, a garage sale in the Spring, and another supper in the fall. In the past we've also done drawings, ice cream socials, a fall yard sale (disaster), 'turkey' shoots and the like. As with most organizations like this there are about ten people who do most of the work to keep it going, so it's important not to try and take on too much, so people don't get burned out.

Well, what a strange post! Talk about all over the charts! No telling what I'll bring up next, so it's probably best if I stop now. Have a great weekend.


Nancy K. said...

I don't even want to think about sheering.....

I also need to get my butt in gear and get some feet trimmed. Do you do it all by yourself?

I'm such a bad shepherd!


Vicki Lane said...

Tammy, you are, what they call around here, one stout woman! And that's stout in the sense of strong -- mentally and physically.

It's always meant as a compliment.

Pat in east TN said...

I agree with Vicki ... handling that all on your own is quite a feat!

Our weather is about the same as yours ... a few days of spring like weather to tease us, and then intense winter weather. It sucks, even though you know it can't last long.

Volunteer Fire Departments rule! Myself, husband and 2 sons were a part of one when we lived in NC ... glad you explained so much as most folks simply don't understand what it takes to keep them going.

kristi said...

Single woman have to be all-over the place and off the charts because we are the queens of multi-tasking:) Homes to run, farm to tend to, work to go to, cooking, cleaning...list goes on and on!! I just got the Baker catalog per your suggestion...great catalog just to look through. Oh, I forgot to email you the address, I need yours too:)I can't believe you have bulbs already up!!!

JK said...

This time of year I really enjoy the days in the 60's and 70's, but realize a storm of some sorts follows. Glad all is well for you and the storm missed you.
I am so looking forward to shearing. Can't wait to see what the boys look like under all that fleece. Bet they are tiny little fellas.
Oh, we switched their feed to one we found at Tractor Supply. A feed for show sheep. A bit more pricey than the other but with just the 4 boys it lasts a long time. They seem to really like it too.