A Lot of Random Stuff This Week

Can you believe that it is going to be over 100 degrees by the weekend …IMG_0163

…and  just four days ago it was in the 60’s-70’s with a thunderstorms…IMG_0164

…and hail?


The morning of the storm, when it was bright and sunny out I saw that a big branch of this weeping willow had broken during the night–not storm related. It’s hard to tell from this photo, but where that big space is with sun shining through–that is where the branch was.


The sheep made quick work of the leaves up to the height they could reach.


Big event–my husband retired last week. I was worried that he would wear out his end of the couch, but after getting over a bad cold, he’s been outside spending time doing Stuff That Needs Doing.IMG_0191-2

One of those things is cutting tree branches that block the view from the driveway.


In the sheep world, we’re getting ready to go to Black Sheep Gathering next week, so that means halter breaking lambs. A few Farm Club members have come over to help. That sheep is not hurt or dead. She is just protesting.


This is a blurry photo of the back of a ram lamb’s head. What it shows is two horns on the right that are growing close together. Ideally Jacob sheep have symmetrical, balanced horns. I’ll wait and see how that 5th horn is going to grow out.


I put a 40-yard warp on the Schacht loom and cut off 12 baby blankets. There are more to go but I needed to get some of these done. That reminds me I need to contact someone who ordered pink blankets.


New items in the shop and on the website soon. These just came–Schacht flick carder, tapestry beater, and weaving cards.

I wanted to finish the warp on the AVL. The computer that is attached to it decided to update itself. This is a PC and everything else I do is on a Mac. I don’t remember the PC world at all.


This message had me really frustrated. I can’t weave on that loom if I can’t get the computer and the loom to talk to each other. With trial and error I finally got it going again, but I have no faith that it will work when I turn it on the next time.


So I stayed out there at the loom until I finished that warp so that at least I have some time to work with it if there is another problem.

Today in the Barn

It’s been kind of crazy here over the last 16 days. That’s when lambing started. Maybe I’ll find time to go backwards to share photos. But here are some from today.


Isadora and triplets.

14014 Janis

Janis displaying signs that she was going to lamb today.


Catalyst and Joker, some of the sires of this year’s lambs.

Today’s lambing began with Noel’s triplets about 1 a.m. When I went to the barn in the morning Vanessa had twins.  Lambing began in earnest about 2:00.

Isabelle and lamb

This is Isabelle with a single lamb.

Janis and lamb

Janis cleaning the first of her twins.

Ava and lambs-2

Ava, who I had my eye on since first thing in the morning, lambed with twins.

Ava and lambs-3

Lambing is not always pretty.

Sheena and lamb

Sheena with a large single lamb.


This photo shows all four ewes that were lambing this afternoon. That’s Isabelle in the pen on the right with her lamb. Ava is in the pen in the corner. She and Janis (foreground) were delivering lambs at the same time–Ava had the first lamb, then Janis had her first. Ava had her second followed by Janis. Notice the lamb just behind Janis at the fence. Sheena who was in labor this whole time really wants this lamb. No wonder lambs and moms get mixed up if more than one ewe is lambing at the same time.


Outside the lambing barn we have plenty of other lambs already.


lambing board

Here is today’s record. This is how I keep track of lambs and we leave it up all year to refer to in the barn. The letters under the ewes’ names refer to the rams: Dragon, Joker, Catalyst, and Buster. The lamb numbers are color coded and I record weights. That’s 80 lambs since February 26.


Onyx is on the list for tomorrow…

1030 Jazz

…and Jazz is only another day or so off. I’m going out to check now.

Lambing in Plain Sight

Yesterday morning I saw these two.marilla-and-marilyn

That is Marilla, born 2/25/16 (and named in a Spinzilla contest) and her dam, Marilyn. I didn’t know it at the time but shortly after taking this photo I realized Marilla was in labor.


She was moved to her private maternity quarters…


…and produced a good-size BFL-x lamb. I bred her for crossbred lambs because she is very freckled and I don’t want to perpetuate that in the flock. Marilla has a beautiful fleece however.


At about that same time in the morning I noticed Sonata standing back with the tell-tale sunken sides between the ribs and the hips. Before I went to the house I put her in the barn.


Spinners were here for the day and we kept trooping out to the barn to watch for lambs.


Sonata lambed with the first one with no spectators but there were plenty for the second one.


My flock is used to people being around and Sonata didn’t care about the observers.


The second lamb born.




The Hole That Ate the Chicken

Subtitle: Or why I don’t get much done during lambing season.

I am so behind on blogging. I really do like my blogs to be in order. I have lots of photos and blog ideas that I want to post but at this point they will be all out of order. There are more cute grandkid photos, photos of my weekend trip to Ft. Bragg, photos of sheep, but the last two weeks was hectic. I wanted to spend as much time as I could with my daughter and grandkids but I also needed to work on my new website and get it mostly underway before lambing began.

So there is nothing very exciting about this morning but I was in the barn from about 6:30 until 11 when I could get in for breakfast and there was one incident, very minor as things go, that gave me the idea for this blog post.

At 6:30 I saw that Hallie had lambed with twins and they were clean and fed. I had put her in the night before thinking she might be ready. The other ewe I had guessed might lamb had not and was supremely annoyed. I let her out.


I caught these two sheep. First I brought in the older ewe, Sophia, who I had been watching in the back. She didn’t go in with the others when I fed but got up as I approached. She has shown some lameness on a back foot and I haven’t had time to look at it. That could account for her not getting up but she just didn’t look right.


The younger ewe, Alice, needed her eye treated. I had been putting ointment in it but stopped before I should have (or there is another problem I don’t know about–I never did find anything in it).


As I looked in the back again I saw Jean (the sheep not at the feeder). This is an excellent photo of the sunken sides of a ewe ready to lamb. She appears gaunt after the lambs have moved into position. So I brought her into the lambing area.


I took video of Jean during lambing which I will edit and post eventually. Here are the two healthy lambs.

I continued to watch Sophia because she didn’t look right. I spend a lot of time just watching sheep during lambing. To make that effective you have to spend time watching sheep that are not lambing as well. You need to know the difference to know when one of your sheep isn’t quite right. I left her in the lambing area while I worked on other things…like when the phone battery died just as I was doing more video. I went to the house for the cord and then spent some time rerouting the extension cord that is going to the scale so that I don’t trip over it. Why not spend time fixing the plug that doesn’t work which is why an extension cord is necessary? I can do extension cords. I can’t do electricity.


Before I move lambs and ewes out of the lambing pens I tag each one, give BOSE (selenium and Vitamin E supplement), and place a tail band. I started with #1 and then realized that I made my first mistake. The real #1 died (triplets born while I was in Ft. Bragg but that’s another story) and this should have been #2 or #3. So I already messed up. But I messed up prior to this by buying tags a size larger than I usually buy for the lambs. I haven’t quite decided if I want to keep using these or get the right ones. They seem awfully big for little Jacob ears.


My routine is to move 3 ewes with their lambs into a group pen for a few days. I can keep a better eye on them and the lambs learn to stick with their mamas and not annoy the other ewes, who are quite convincing to any lamb that gets near. In this case, Clover is with her two, Rosie is behind the bale with her single and Jillian is out of the photo behind a feeder with her twins. I have been trying to get all the ewes’ feet trimmed BEFORE they lamb because it’s much harder to do when they are worried about where their lambs are. Mistake #2 today. I forgot to trim Rosie’s feet. I’ll have to remember before she goes out.

I was still watching Sophia. She is a week from her due date but she is big and round…and fat. She stands like she is uncomfortable and her leg is bothering her. My feeling is that it is the hip, not the foot, that is the problem. We used to have cows that would be gimpy in late pregnancy because of the calf positioned on a nerve. She ate a little grain, but not a lot. As I watched I felt like she was a little quivery. That can be a sign of pregnancy toxemia or hypocalcemia. I got out the jug of propylene glycol that I hardly ever use. That meant a trip to the house to look up the dosage. It won’t hurt is she does not need it, but it will be interesting to know if it makes a difference.


Back to work. I was cleaning pens as I went, moving water buckets, etc. Mistake #3 and what inspired the title of this post. This is looking down on a half wall that separates the lambing area from the main part of the barn. There is plywood on both sides of the 2×4’s. A chicken fell in there once and it required rescue. This is the story as Maggie told it. The end of those two 2×4’s on the right makes a convenient place to put things like hoof trimmer or gloves…one of which fell into the hole. That’s when I thought about all the little things that add up that are the reason you spend the whole day in the barn and you don’t really accomplish much.img_7719

This is the view that I use when I make a first check on the sheep. I can look out this window and they don’t all get up like they do if I go into where they are. Now that the weather has changed and the pasture has started to dry out I want to get them out but there is a break in the electric fence and I need to fix it before I can let anyone in the pasture.


This is a closer shot of another ewe that looks suspiciously ready to lamb, but really a lot of them do.


Here is where we are so far.


Onyx isn’t even on the list for two weeks.


According to the list Esmerelda still has a week to go.

The glove is still in the wall.

And the Cuteness Begins

No, it’s not time for cute lambs yet. How about cute grandkids?


Meeting Kirby at the Oakland Airport.


Holding her baby brother while Mommy gets the carseats strapped in.


We got home in the early evening and someone wanted to go right to the barn to see “sheeps and conkey”.


I got a couple of photos with sheep but the donkey photo will have to wait.


Uncle Chris has the right touch to get a smile out of 7-week old Kasen.


Tracing Aunt Meryl’s hand.





Letting Ginny clean up the egg that was dropped.


Papa Dan, Kirby, and Rusty.

Winter Rain and Some Random Farm Photos

Rusty wrote in his blog a couple days ago about his own private lake in front of the barn. Once it stopped raining, the water in this area drained off quickly. img_6008

The next evening things were back to normal near the barn.


This isn’t so normal. Why in the world is this rose choosing to bloom now, in January?)


This scene is normal behind the barn in a winter when we have rain. The sheep avoid the deep mud when given a chance. Another storm was due to come in.


And it was a doozy. I haven’t seen water like this here in several years.


This is the area where the dogs were standing in the first photo. Fortunately the barn and those smaller buildings stay just out of the water.


For anyone who has seen what this is normally like these photos are dramatic, but we really can’t complain. The shop (behind the tractor) and the houses (out of sight here) are built up off the ground so we don’t worry about water inside them. We have never had to worry about the serious flooding that other people have. It is especially amazing to realize that this is not water from a creek overflowing or a levee breaking. It is just a lot of rain over  a period of days on flat land that is already water-logged. Some of this water comes from the property to the north because the only drainage is at the southeast corner of our property (see this post).


One problem we have is that our cellar floods when the ground water is high and that’s where our water heater is.  We keep a pump going but during yesterday’s storm I decided that I really need to reroute the water somwhere other than this field because it’s too close to the houses and seeping back in, as well as causing trouble with the septic system for the other house. So I wired this PVC pipe to the fence at an angle and put the hose from the pump in the upper end.


Now that water drains into the ditch which is taking water away from the houses. It’s really just a drop in the bucket (uh…no pun intended) but it makes me feel like I did something pro-active in the face of all this rain.The pump hasn’t turned off in at least 36 hours as it continues to try and drain the cellar.

Today the sun was out, the driveway and the area that looks like a lake in the upper photos have mostly drained. I taught a weaving class today…


…and when I’m in the shop the dogs take turns at the spot by the door.


This is from tonight while doing chores. I cleaned the ram shed and while I was in their pen Ginny tried to get my attention. She succeeded. Drop the ball in the water through the fence and chances are I’ll get it out for her.





Seen on the Farm

This one isn’t actually on OUR farm. I love this sunflower crop that is Across the Road.


I took the rest of these photos here.

Monarch caterpillar

Monarch caterpillar on narrow-leaf milkweed.


Alfalfa butterfly. The caterpillars are considered pests in fields of alfalfa. They also consume other legumes (like clover and trefoil in my pasture).


I still don’t know what this one is. Previously I tentatively identified one in a better photo as a forage looper moth. Maybe? Do you know how hard it is to chase a butterfly/moth that doesn’t want to be photographed?CA Red dragonfly

California Red Dragonfly. While we’re looking at insects here are nasty ones that supposedly the dragonflies eat.


We were doing pretty well keeping the pasture mosquitoes at bay.  I guess it was the last irrigation followed by a heat wave that brought them on to this degree. This morning in the pasture I was covered head to foot–overalls and a hooded sweatshirt with the hood tied around my face. I could still hear them buzzing.

paper wasp-2

While on the subject of nasty buzzing things in the barn last year’s paper wasp nests are active again. I guess I need to find the wasp spray.

Black widow

Same subject. Different pest. This is another black widow on the hay. You have to be careful pulling bales of hay away from the wall or off the floor.

brewers blackbird nest

Also in the barn but no stings or bites (except maybe when the parents dive-bomb the dogs). This is another nest of Brewer’s blackbirds. This photo was taken a couple of weeks ago…

Brewer's blackbird nest

…and this one a little later. These birds have left the nest now.


Sheep going to pasture in the morning.


These are some of the new sheep. That’s Bronagh who seems to take the lead. They are out with the rest of the flock now and are as anxious to come to the fence for grain when I rattle the bucket as the other sheep.