Monday, December 27, 2010

Lamb's first snow

Winter snow arrived last night with a vengence although we are always ready for it in New England. We got about 18" of snow overnight so getting to the barns this morning was a knee deep excursion. The wind was howling and the snow still swirling when we met our cheerful greeters at the winter barn this morning.
Due to the storm's wind direction we shut the flock into the open barn last night to reduce the blowing snow load inside this morning. Prudent decision. But in order to get the flock out for loafing Jack had to remove the snow from their area.

While cleaning and feeding I realized the spring lambs hadn't seen snow before as they were born in April so upon opening the barn door what a surprise they found!

From their side they faced a flat wall of snow keeping them inside the barn.
While they licked snow and gazed out upon the morning's wonder, we cleared away an area for them to roam about...they love the snowfall. Shown here are Wetherby and Maggie.

Here is Della with one of her lambs, Maggie. Striking genetic resemblance.

Welcome winter!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas enters....

and the celebration begins!

Blessings, love and joy to you as the season unfolds!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Three's company

Things come in threes, they say. And number two was a surprise.
We have had a long period of cold weather this month. Daytime highs in the teens, moderate winds and no snow cover to temper the edge. One day this week we decided to leave the hens in their house for the day, with the option for a small outer fenced area. They have pretty nice digs really but I suspect it was a bit tight for a full day. I actually don't know what happened but when I closed the hens in for the night our beloved Bianca was bloodied up. During the day something got to her (probably literal hen pecking) and the rest of the hens took to the blood, which is their wont, and she was a bit of a mess in the head area by 5pm. Although the damage doesn't show, this was her after I got her to the big barn (now known as the infirmary!)

I wisked her straight away to join Peach and Crystal for some recovery time. I set her up so she could rest and recoup. She is able to get into a pen for her food and water but still be able to come out to hang with the ewes and mill about.

Peach is doing a bit better as of today. Your prayers are helping. Last Friday I called our favorite vet supply, Pipestone Vet Supply, who have, in addition to the best inventory of sheep supplies, a phone line connection to large animal veterinarians. It is the darned best connnection for livestock questions ever. When Pipestone answered the phone, as usual, they forwarded me on to a vet who happened to be Dr. Kennedy, Pipestone's best (and all the docs are darned good). I have called them for about 6 years now and never had the honor of speaking directly with Dr. Kennedy. He's a sheep vet and a sheep owner. He has raised more head than I could ever imagine running. He's encountered it all and he just plain loves sheep farming. I told him about Peach's predicament. I described the place in her leg where the injury is. I explained what course I had taken with injections, meds and x-rays. To make a long story short, he offered a one week course of another anti-inflammatory and the assurance that, knowing the leg wasn't broken, that in due time and limited movement, she would heal. Perhaps this won't be true... but on that backside of a cold day I was given hope that, in time, she would recover. I felt elated.

Peach's course now is for another 8 weeks in the big barn with the company of Crystal and perhaps Bianca! The barn space is large and as healing permits, the area provides enough space to move about for the winter. She is putting actual weight on her hoof now as she ambles about.
While Peach rests, Crystal chooses to have an inquest with Bianca.
Meanwhile at the winter barn Friday night, during chore time, I found one of the wethers had an abcess. Nothing serious...we rounded him up, did a bit of cleaning and flushing and all is healing nicely.
That's farming, that's three and that's it!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Peach's predicament

Peach's injury has me concerned. After confining her and Crystal Tuesday to the big barn for an unforeseen period I hoped that giving her an anti-inflammatory and "hay rest" would start the healing process. But by Friday morning she was no better. As you can see, she held her right rear leg up off the floor and hobbled on the other three legs to get about. There is a limited course for the drugs to be safely given before other problematic symptoms might set in so I felt a vet visit was in order. The doc was here by 10AM. She checked every possible issue, as we had before. The leg is just so darn swollen above the fetlock.

With no clear answer, I bit the bullet (with Peach) and opted to x-ray the leg to be sure there wasn't a fracture. At least it would rule something out. After a mild sedative we got Peach on her side and I held her, although she was quite peaceful, for the films.

The doc took 4 films, different angles.

Later Friday afternoon the doc called to say nothing was broken. So it must be a torn ligament or tendon. A slow heal if at all. But she did suggest a 5 day course of steroids, one injection per day, with a continued half dose of the anti-inflammatory. I gave Peach her first shot yesterday. This morning no improvement. But she has an appetite and is calm...seemingly accepting her plight with her chum Crystal. We are having a miserable rain storm today and I suspect they are sharing sheep smiles in their high and dry digs despite the confinement. Tonight at chore time, Peach was up and putting ever so little pressure on that hoof. I am looking for any improvement and it was ever so small but perhaps a ray of hope. I know most farmers would cull Peach at this point. It's too expensive and time consuming to treat. But I have to see it through. If she heals, awesome! If she doesn't I have already accepted that reality. For now she is calm, eating, perhaps healing.

If you say prayers, please include Peach. She's a lovely ewe and a special friend.

Meanwhile back at the winter barn Griffin is holding court at the hay racks....

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Breakfast of champions

We're having a serious cold snap for so early in December. Not that the sheep mind. Northern New Hampshire is now blanketed in snow as winter blows on into New England. Our farm ground is frozen and any hope of a snaggle of grass is gone. Hay is now the daily menu, plus we had a few pumpkins left over and put them out this morning after feeding. And a few carrots, too. Mila asks..."what's up doc?"

and tells stories with that tongue...

while sharing a breakfast bowl with Memphis...

but as the flock enjoyed breakfast we had to move Peach to the big barn for some rest and recuperation. A few weeks back I wrote about her having a lame rear leg. It got better but then she must have done something to re-injure it and this morning I decided it was imperative to remove her from the flock with one roomie for company until she heals for sure. After swift and careful consideration, Crystal was nominated the lucky one to live the good life in the big barn with Peach. It is not an easy transition to separate sheep from their flock. They don't like change at all. Seen later today Crystal and Peach having a snack of their own....

There was a lot of baaing tonight as they all sorted out the separation...but Peach is in recuperation, on some anti-inflammatories and limited movement until she heals. Thank you Crystal for carrying the torch with her.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My day

Today is my birthday! This is where I was born. We had a dairy farm in Amherst, NH.

This is me with my brothers....

This is our family...

me and my big brother with one of our Guernsey's...

my 18th birthday...

and the rest is history! Life is good and I am thankful! Thanks for stopping by today!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Enjoy the feast!

First a few greens...(mind your manners Griffin!))

Lucy says yum yum...

Peach thinks mmm mmm good...

Della smiles a yes!

then a side dish, stalks of fresh brussel sprouts...

brussels on grass, delightful....

Dessert anyone?

this morning Luna helped me create some paper art with a punch and found one on her nose!

May your Thanksgiving be filled with gratitude, thankfulness and love.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Merging Continuums

Saturday I took a road trip with Faith and Veronica along the Connecticut River and the White River into the Green Mountains of Vermont to Rochester, a small town which the townspeople describe as "right in the center of things". The countryside was lovely as we wound our way along the mountain roads viewing farmlands and hamlets.

The destination was to see Merging Continuums, Joan Morris's solo show at the BigTown Gallery.

A brief description offered by the BigTown Gallery:
BigTown Gallery is pleased to announce a solo exhibition of Joan Morris's most recent exploration in shaped resist dyeing* on textiles and precious metal mono-printing. Morris's two-year study combining museum textiles with found and natural objects has formed a new vocabulary for visual expression in the realm of dyeing and printing. In her new work, the shadow translation of an opaque gold imprint on the wall uses light to elaborate the description of image, surface, and structure simultaneously. This work opens a fresh perspective on the distinct cultural and natural iconographies that inform the evolution of textile.

One of the striking dimensions of her work was the shadows created behind the artwork.

You can view the details about the show and Joan here. The show is open until the 21st of November. And across the street is a yummy place to eat! Take the trip, if you can!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Red Hens and Redheads

The weather has been lovely the past few days and afforded us the chance to wrap up hay for the winter months along with flock maintenance. It is always easier to get such duties done when there isn't a biting Northwest wind and no sunshine to ease the chill. Follow the sun, I say!
Hay's in, elevator put down, barn secure. Great feeling!

The hay loft is wiggle room only. I love a hay loft when the bales are more than head high. As a child I spent hour after hour playing in the hay loft on our farm, the memory is always fresh.

The hens are all grown up now and Bianca, our sole hen from last winter has taught them her tricks. They come to the shed door off the kitchen and wait for a treat. And so it's Cheerios!

When it was warmer the hens would lay eggs wherever they pleased, this was not only a clever but cozy choice.

Now that cool weather is here they are all laying in the coop each day. Good girls!

We spent the better part of a day getting all the sheep tended to for winter. We trimmed hooves, changed coats and de-wormed everyone.
Coats are ready...

Maggie and Lily ready...

As the coats came off the fleeces appeared...this is Georgia, I just love the spots!

Jack trims the hooves, while I hold the sheep. We do it while they stand up rather than setting them on their rumps. They have gotten quite used to the process, most are quite compliant. This is Jackie...behaving.

Here's Daphne...waiting for me to get a coat. Her fleece is lovely. I sunk my fingers into it and oh my!

Peach has been lame the last week or so on her right rear leg. I had watched her and treated her with some anti-inflammatory meds but after 10 days I thought a look from the vet was in order. The lambs all needed their rabies shots so Peach popped into the barn and the doc checked her over. As I expected there is no explaination other than she probably did something dumb like jump off a rock and strained it somehow. She is now on a longer dose of meds and time will heal it. Peach is a big ewe and is headstrong to boot. She manages to get to the hay and water and treats just fine!

Jack did some touch-up barn staining while the sheep were out grazing one day. Apparently it didn't dry as quickly as we hoped! For the minimal areas he stained at the winter barn, Mila managed to find one!

Now the North winds can blow...and they will soon enough.