Shearing Day Prep

Shearing Day was a week ago and I’ve been so busy that there has been no time to sort through my photos or do anything fun on my computer (like writing blog posts). Now I’m going to try and catch up.

Shearing Day at our place is an Open House event so it’s a good time to get the place cleaned up and ready for visitors. It took me several hours to finally deal with the mess in the “milking stall” of the barn. That’s where we used to milk the goats but it is now kind of my barn office. I don’t have photos of before and after but I did take a photo of one solution I found for organizing some of the vet supplies.

IMG_4547                  I not only found a plastic tub to keep the dust and cobwebs and rats away but I wrote the names on the tops of the bottles so that I don’t have to pull each of them out every time I’m looking for something. This is so simple, but it makes me inordinately pleased–why didn’t I think of it before? IMG_4548             While I was cleaning inside the barn Dan was working outside. We had finally had some rain so felt more comfortable burning the brush pile.IMG_4541               By the way we burned this on Thursday. This doesn’t look like much but it was a pretty not fire. Even though it looked like it was out on Monday there were still hot spots and smoke.

IMG_4544                    That burn pile is right next to the ram pen. Here are the five of them. The 4-horned rams are Serrano and his dad, Buster. The lilac 2-horns are Cayenne and his sire, Catalyst. That’s Gotham in front. IMG_4546                  In the meantime, Dan is working on the west side of the barn. This has been a multi-year project but I think it may get finished this year.

I was trying to get ready for shearing but was also dealing with taxes, the clutter I still haven’t taken care of in the house after painting my office, weaving deadlines, etc. I found another way to procrastinate.IMG_4553              Let’s put the GoPro on a sheep. Jade is the obvious choice, being the best pet sheep.IMG_4549              The first thing she did was run into the barn. When one sheep runs, they all do.IMG_4553           Then she shook her head and it was obvious that I didn’t have the camera secured well enough.

IMG_4554                 At that point I needed a scoop of grain to entice her.            IMG_4561                  I had used the headgear that is meant for wearing the camera, but it was meant for a human head and didn’t wrap around the horns very well. I found the brace I use for my elbow and that seemed to secure it better.IMG_4566              I’ve looked at the footage. It’s not as exciting as we might hope for. Maybe if she wore the GoPro all day (and there was enough battery life to do that…and then we condense it all into a minute) it would be interesting. But it’s not like she’s going to be skydiving or snorkeling. For this trial run she pretty much just looked at the barn, the pasture, and me.

IMG_4563                  I will still do something with the video but it probably won’t be winning any film festivals.

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Donkey Photos

So many blog posts to write now that maybe I’ll have time…The show is up at the Artery, Hug a Sheep Day was yesterday, lots of natural dyeing, lots of weaving, trip to Tahoe. But I’ll start with Amaryllis because I’m going to the Donkey Welfare Symposium next weekend and they have a photo contest. They asked for “cute” donkey photos and I think they will make up categories for prizes as they go along. Here are some contenders.

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“She’s at it again.”

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“Let’s pretend we don’t notice.”DSC_4481

I love this photo but the announcement said 8 x 10 and this is square. I don’t know if it matters.

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I like this one. I will crop it to remove that sliver of tree on the right.

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This is the most recent. I wish that I had a little more of her head in it but it’s cute.

What do you think?

 

More Farm Views

I have dozens of blog posts in my head and I’m determined to catch up with them.

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Look back at the post before this one to see the dallisgrass in the paddock where I put the sheep a couple of days ago. There comes a point after they have grazed it for five days or so when I want to move them. The plants I prefer (clover, trefoil) have been eaten to the round and I know that they will never finish off this grass. Besides, while they are in one paddock the dallisgrass in the next is just growing more. After I move them, then we mow. This is what the paddock looks like after mowing. I’d really like to rake up all that leftover grass and get it off the field, but the only way that happens is if I go out and do it by hand.

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This is Trista, also known as the Velcro Sheep.

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Do you see why? When she was a lamb she actually got herself stuck in the blackberries. Is this a the sheep way to always have a snack with you?

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Cattle egrets in the eucalyptus tree.

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Take off.

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Donkey

Amaryllis looking slim(mer).

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As I go through this batch of photos, here is another dallisgrass one. This is in the horse pasture (so called because when we had horses that is where they grazed–no horses now).

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Yes, there are sheep there.

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This is at the end of Dixon Avenue on our way to town. I am amused that someone added a tail. I’ll be at this festival in Dixon next weekend. I’m teaching three weaving classes, will have a vendor booth, and will have sheep there for the show.

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Last random photo for this post. That’s Chris with his unexpectedly large pumpkin!

Getting Ready

It is always work to get ready to go somewhere. In my case I cram in all the things that I would probably put off if I were here, but now feel like they have to be done before I go. Part of it is to try and make things as foolproof as possible so that the people taking care of things don’t face issues.

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Now that the tractor finally works (sort of) I spent some time mowing. Then I wanted to try “spreading” manure. Spreading is in quotes because we don’t have a manure spreader. I have a tractor with a bucket and me with a shovel. Not practical…

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…even though I have made some darn fine compost.

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To make good compost the manure pile needs turning now and then, but the dryness on the top is deceptive. It’s wet underneath and it’s easy to get the tractor stuck–which requires me with the shovel again. Move onto other things that need doing.

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The ewes are on pasture and the white net fences are moved around to change the paddock to be grazed. I moved the ewes to the side of the pasture where there is less risk of them rubbing on a gate and inadvertently (or on purpose) pushing things out of wack while I’m gone.

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It’s hard to see in this photo but I set up the next three fences so that my kids don’t have to do it. They will have to close one but then the sheep just go to the next. There are always tricky things (like where there is concrete so the stakes for the fence don’t go in all the way and where you have to block off the irrigation ditch so they sheep can’t go under the fence, etc)

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I had the ram lambs grazing in the back but don’t want fence-to-fence contact with them and the ewes so they had to be moved. These are the panels that were keeping them away from the ewes while grazing the back. There is no water in that back field so they needed access to the corral for water. I’m going to leave this in place so that the ewes won’t be near the big ram fence (not a big fence, although it is double, but the big rams). I don’t need any more reason for the rams to try and mangle their fence while we’re gone.

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They did this just yesterday.

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Here is a temporary fix. They also beat up the other wall and pushed it away from the corner post. That green panel in the upper photo is keeping them away from that part of their shed. Not fixes, but hopefully stopping further destruction for now. I expect when I get back that wire panel over the hole will be mangled as well.

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Rusty doing his job of keeping the rams away while we put up the wire panel.

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I said that I need to move the ram lambs out of the pasture. Ginny helps with that.

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You can see Ginny behind here. She doesn’t work with finesse, but she can do the job.

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Back up at the house, the birds are starting to get to my black sunflower seeds. These are for future dyeing projects.

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I put net bags and bird netting over the flowers.

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I water the garden and picked coreopsis. A friend will come and pick during the week to keep the flowers blooming and take squash from the plant that is taking over. The beans in the foreground look great but haven’t produced anything yet.

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This is the wether in with Peyton. He had his leg through the front of the coat the other day so I caught him to take it off. Don’t want that happening while I’m gone and I didn’t have a needle and thread handy to make it smaller.

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I was watering my barrels that have been neglected. Ginny knew where my attention was and placed her ball appropriately.

When condense into a few photos this doesn’t seem like much but I was going non-stop yesterday. I realized at about 9 p.m. that all I’d eaten was granola in the morning and watermelon through the day–it was too hot to want anything else. I am now  gathering up the last of the stuff to take. Where is that book about my camera?

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Here is a hint about the road trip. Do you think I have enough reading material with me?

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?

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Isadora and triplets.

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Janis displaying signs that she was going to lamb today.

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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.

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This is Isabelle with a single lamb.

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Janis cleaning the first of her twins.

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

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Lambing is not always pretty.

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Sheena with a large single lamb.

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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.

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

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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.

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Onyx is on the list for tomorrow…

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…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.

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She was moved to her private maternity quarters…

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…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.

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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.

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

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

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

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The second lamb born.

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