To have cleaned barn twice a day for 65+ animals, and to feed, water, and grain all those critters. 30 years is long time to do goat and sheep pedicures, deworm them all quarterly, fit coats to preserve fleeces and then refit those same coats at least twice a winter as the animal and fleece grew. 30 years also means 60 shearings and mounds of fleece to skirt and process! 30 years is a long time to make fence annually and not be able to leave the farm for more than a couple days at a time IF I could find hired help. 30 years is a long time to stack bales in the haymow during the heat and humidity of the summer. 30 years is a long time to have baby bottles and goat and sheep formula on the kitchen counter from March through July--there was always at least two bottle babies each spring with this many animals. 30 years is a long time to lug 50 pound feed sacks around and 40 pound mineral and salt blocks around. It was time, it was bittersweet, and the last goats and sheep left the farm July 31, 2017. I still have my miniature donkey, a Paint horse that I board, and a flock of chickens along with the dog and cats. But chores just got a whole lot easier and the farm a whole lot quieter. And, I've still got 2 years worth of fleeces to process yet and then we'll see where I'm at with the store in 2019.
Sunday, April 2 shearing got done --for all the sheep, goats, and bunnies! That same day the first lamb was born and there are 8 more lambs on the ground, running around bleating for momma! Two Angora kid goats joined the circus on Saturday morning, April 8 and there are a whole lot of pregnant mommas still standing in the yard! Happy Spring and Happy Easter!
Two years ago I had a total hip replacement --I should have done it years earlier! Suffice it to say that year I did NOT shear my own sheep, even though my recovery was a speedy one. I worried about a stainless steel joint popping out of the socket.
Three sheep needed to be shorn yesterday (they were sold) so I put on my "big girl panties" and lots of warm clothing and just "got r done"! The first sheep had a rather bad haircut, but the next two turned out rather nicely. It's amazing how much confidence and pride shearing sheep gave me!
It is simply gorgeous outside tonight. The Christmas trees against the barn porch and the gazebo are lit up and the snow is falling in huge flakes. By tomorrow we're supposed to have 10-13 inches and it'll be a lot less pretty when I start shoveling and cleaning the barn out. The Angora bunnies need a haircut, but we've had subzero weather all last week with more predicted for next week, so they just got face trims today so they can see.
Sammie, the 5 month old yellow lab puppy is nearly full grown and the cats around the farm are learning that they can back her down with their claws. She's a bundle of naughty and energy for certain.
The goats and sheep are fast out-growing their "coats" so weekly replacments of one or more is necessary, especially for the yearlings who are growing yet.
Life is good on the farm!
The farm acreage is abound with trees (I plant at least 10 every year), and the colors are beginning to change. I love this time of year--the beauty, and the prep for the Rural Arts Roadtrip. Today brings dyeing mohair socks, yarn, scarves, and roving.
And the season is replete with a 10 week old yellow lab puppy that came to live here. I forgot how much work they are! It's a good thing they are cute or I'd look for a return policy!! If I bring her in the house, she trims the houseplants, bites the rugs, and strews anything not nailed down into the next room. If I take her outside, then the chickens, bunnies, and cats have to worry, and so do I then!
The heat is in the high 80s with 70% humidity . . . I picked and froze 22 meals of cauliflower from my garden last night; this morning I picked green beans and have to get them in the freezer some time today yet. And the ripe raspberries await picking yet!
An unexpected Angora goat gave birth to twins; she's feeding the male, whom I named Surprise, but she's leaving the female, whom I named Summer, for me to feed . . . . every 4 hours! Summer is adorable and just 5 pounds; she proudly wears her milk mustache all day long.
And the horses spooked at the 4th of July fireworks and ripped off the barn door that needs to be put back on the track. Then they itched their behinds on the chicken coop and dented and broke that. And the chickens got in on the action and used their feeder as a swingset and broke the bottom out. (They are free range chickens so they are not confined to their coop, so they have plenty of other places to "swing" other than their feeder.)
The Angora bunnies have taken to sitting atop their outside condos and would rather have me pick clover for them instead of finding their own in their spacious grass courtyard. What a spoiled bunch!
I'm behind on dyeing wool and hope to get at that in the next 10 days. Stay tuned.
Well, I just finished digging out from yesterday's snowstorm. Snow blows into the barn and the animals all hole up in the barn --and no one appears to be potty trained out there, so you can imagine what a mess it is come morning!
Sheep pen cleaned, check; Angora goat pen cleaned, check; Horse pen cleaned, check; chicken pen cleaned; check, Angora bunny pens cleaned, check . . . Walkways shoveled; check . . . and guess what? It's snowing like crazy AGAIN!
It's been a difficult spring! I lost my dad to depression and needed my right hip replaced, so that took me out of "commission" for most of May. Thankfully, most of the babies were "on the ground" by the end of April. It's warm enough in April to leave the windows open a crack at night, which is a "mixed" blessing! It's nice to hear the summer birds, crickets, and occasional sheep or goat calling. But nice weather means that goats and sheep tend to wander around in the middle of the night more because it's so mild outside. In the winter, the animals go in the barn and sleep. In the summer, it's not that way. There's always some "baaing" and "bleating" back and forth between mother and babies (translation: "Get over here; I'm lost, where are you mommy?") but the trained shepherd knows when the baa or bleat is distress instead of the normal shenanigans.
So one night I heard the distress baa and after 30 minutes I decided I needed to get dressed, find a flashlight, and see what the problem was. My Christmas baby (now full grown) had pushed her head into the feeder as she always had 80 pounds ago when there was still hay in the feeder and no pasture, and her head was stuck. So, there I was at midnight, pulling apart a feeder via flashlight and pulling Christmas' head out. Whatever possessed her to jam her head in there, I'll never know.
A few nights later, a baby Angora goat was crying and because they're so little and need to nurse every 4 hours, I got up and found mama for the baby too. A sheep would come running to find her lost lamb-----Angora goat, not so much! There is a reason they call the babies "kids"!
The sun is out for the first time in days, despite 6 inches of new snow that arrived last night amid fierce winds and really cold temps. Those of us who live in Wisconsin know that it doesn't matter what Jimmy the Groundhog says in any given year; we know we're getting more winter!
Yesterday, the all the sheep and goats got de-wormed (routine, quarterly job), and they all got their coats checked. Some of the girls are eating a bit too well and needed a larger size. I can empathize with them!
Only 57 days left until the first little lamb or kid could show up (barring any unexpected surprises).
Bleating Heart Haven · W1993 Thede Road · New Holstein, WI 53061 · Phone: (920) 286-0971