Saturday, July 30, 2011

Getting Easier All The Time

Rain again, yea! It rained about a week ago but the sun is so intense that it was getting pretty dry again. Now I can trim Charlotte's hooves.

Last week after the rain John helped me trim 48 hooves in two days. Just 4 to go. We put all the sheep in the barn and let them out after they got their trim. It was so hot that I was "sweating like a pig" (do pigs really sweat, Karen?) after 6 sheep. Six sheep went pretty fast (so much easier when hooves are wet and soft), and in the old days, I would have been finished after 6 but with seven remaining I decided to leave the rest for the next day.

So the next morning we go out to finish the job and I am thinking about getting the ones I want in the barn and putting the rest out when I look up at the barn and realize that, all the sheep that we needed were in the barn except Charlotte. I went around to the back door and John waited till I had the sheep's attention and then closed the front door. The only two extra were Sammy and Mira and Mira was easy to coax out. AMAZING!!

We finished the sheep in no time but I was sweating big time again. I was too hot to go through a big ordeal getting Charlotte to come in. The problem is I have to do the trimming in the sunlight to see what I am doing easily. At least John was able to sit in the shade to do the holding but he didn't get that figured out until we were nearly done. Maybe, next time I will go back to doing it in the shady part of the barn with my headlamp on.

Each time I do some procedure with the sheep I figure out a little better way of doing it. (Note John is sitting on a bucket with a seat cushion) Eventually, these chores will be a pleasure.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Snake in the Barn

This fellow was not in the wrong place at the wrong time. And I had my camera with me- how unusual is that? I love black snakes; they are so beautiful and I grew up climbing trees with them. It was interesting watching this one work its way up to the hay loft in the barn.

I was thinking this snake was looking for where the chickens were laying their eggs since he invaded their coop last week.

I waited for him to be well up there before I climbed the ladder.

When I did go up I saw him/her disappear down into this well and thought perhaps the chickens had laid an egg here. I am not brave enough to be up in the loft with him/her (the startle effect) so I went back to the house and when I came back later I saw no snake or eggs. The chickens are laying in the coop again and I am trying to be more consistent about checking for eggs so the snake gets no reward for going in the coop.

Even though the snake was not in the wrong place at the wrong time I am not sure it was in the right place but I figure if the sheep and Beau don't mind sharing their home with a snake who am I to cast an opinion?

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Many people have a fantasy about "saving lives". It used to be that if you asked a young person what they wanted to be when they grew up they would say, "a doctor or a nurse, or a fireman". I don't know what they say these days. In reality, we all save lives every day but we put an end to lives every day also.

I think I have become aware of this more since living on this farm. We all live in connection with many other lives on a regular basis. Some more with human life, others with animals. Days go by when I see only a couple of people but thousands of animals (if you count all the insects).

I save thousands of lives by not using pesticides and end many lives by hand; when I drop insects into buckets of soapy water. I move turtles to the side of the road, watch out for squirrels, and try to educate about snakes, but some snakes lose their lives here by being in the wrong place at the wrong time when someone else is in the same place (I won't name any names).

I feel some emotions when ever a life is saved or lost-- some I feel for longer than others. I still remember sitting with a bird as it died after flying into a window a couple of years ago (that one was not my fault). Last night, I hit a deer for the first time in my life. I probably killed the deer- it was too dark to see where it went or what happened to it. I felt terribly sad. Today, I saved a sweat bee from drowning in a bucket of water. As it crawled on my hand and dried itself, revved its wings a couple of times, and flew off I felt wonderful.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


We are back from our trip. As we were getting ready to go, one of the things I had to do was find someone/s to look after the animals. So many people have animals that it is generally easy to line things up, but this time it took more phone calls. Usually our neighbor across the road and our neighbor across the cattle pasture can take care of things but our neighbors across the cattle pasture took a trip to Italy.

Charlie is often available in the evenings but mornings aren't good so another neighbor came over one morning and a friend the other two mornings. It always comes together in the end but I can't remember who knows what as far as the routine goes.

With the weather SO warm the main concern was having enough water available at all times.

This was my solution but I didn't put the tub out until a couple of days before we left, so I had only seen a few of the sheep and Beau drink out of it. Sarah must have seen her reflection because she started to drink and then jumped back. I decided I should put a smaller bucket next to it for the chickens. I knew they would all figure it out and their other 4 buckets were in place, so I thought I was all set. John suggested I bring a hose up to make it easier to fill the tub if necessary (a great idea).

Since the sheep don't need grain right now I decided to keep things simple and not ask anyone to give them any grain. Besides, if you aren't used to the sheep, it is kind of intimidating when they all try to get the grain at the same time. So, just before we left, I gave everyone some grain with ACV.

I forgot to pick up the bowls afterwards and when we came back they had 10 sources of water. I was glad John had suggested bringing the hose up as I would hate to think of someone filling all those bowls and buckets from the rain barrels.

I don't think there was any rain while we were gone but the animals had plenty of water.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Gaining Trust

I recently read a story about a boy who tamed a wild horse by following it all over the place and running after it to keep up and just being always visible to the wild horse but not trying to catch it. Finally, he went back down to his home and the wild creature followed him and looked at him as if to say, "O.K. what's next?" They went on to have a beautiful relationship.

Ten days ago, I said it was time to shift focus and work with the lambs to be able to put a harness on them. Well, I have not begun yet but I have been noticing most of the lambs are getting friendlier and trusting me more and a couple will seek me out and Norma Jean came up and licked my hand today and I had no food. Lambs are not generally as friendly as goat kids. They will come up and chew on a pant leg if you hold still but they do not come up to get scratched like older sheep that have learned to trust. Maybe it is different if they are handled often by young kids from day 1.

I have always given animals space and they say sheep do not like people to make eye contact. I think this is true unless they come to you for attention. Sometimes Mirabai will come up and look at me with her big eyes seeking much attention. She will sometimes choose being scratched under the chin over grazing down below for a long while. Greta, her daughter, is very cautious and does not like me to get close to her or even look at her. This evening I was scratching Mira and putting my head next to hers and Greta just looked at us like she couldn't understand and I told her her mom wasn't afraid and she should not be either. We will see what tomorrow brings.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Footnote

In the previous blog I did not wish to imply that what I have accomplished this summer, I did solely, I meant only that, for the most part, no other human has been available when I chose to do the projects. I have had much other help.

Is It The Same for Everyone, I Wonder?

It is another foggy morning-- a gift. The temperature this summer is O.K. here but the sun is intense. Unlike my previous place of residence where there was 90% shade and afternoon fog, here there is 90% full sun. It is very difficult to get all the outside things done. And it goes long days without raining sometimes.

BUT if I reclaim a garden and plant seed and water a couple of days then the rains come and take care of the watering while I attend to other things. When I am wondering how I am going to tackle a difficult task that I really want to accomplish, along comes two foggy mornings.

If I commit to something, the way is made easier, if something is important to me, I am given an opportunity. It seems the only thing required of me is action-- I don't even have to believe it can happen- to begin with. Give me days of afternoon or evening of showers or morning fog and I begin to believe.

The unbelievable part is that most of the tasks I have conquered have been solo operations except for the HUGE reclaiming of the vegetable garden which was tackled by the family of some fiber campers. That was a profound gift. At the beginning of the summer, I was not sure how I was going to keep up with the farm work without Adam (see last summer's blogs). As summer began, I just took care of high priority projects, and then, time seemed to slow on some days and a little extra was accomplished. Suspended time= another gift.

I often feel like I am in a sub climate set up just for me; rains timed for my schedule, a little extra time no one else notices, unworkable weather when I need a rest. After all, even others near by, don't have the same needs.

This spring when I went to the pruning workshop, I remember the old guy presenting saying-- when he looks at a fruit tree he not only sees where he is going to prune that day but also knows what he will prune the subsequent 5 years. That has become my philosophy for farm work. I see what I will do today, next week, next fall, and the next 5 years. The exciting thing is I can see the rose bush on the fence by the shed and almost smell it even though it will not be planted for awhile. It is not something that has not been done it is something to look forward to.

The lifelong pruner went on to say-- sometimes the deer decide to prune for you but that's O.K. you just have to alter your plans a bit.

This blog is here to remind me, when I get discouraged, that all is fine; there will be morning fog, afternoon showers, cool dry days, and sometimes you just have to alter your plans a bit.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

July 3rd

Two things I associate with July 3rd-- my mother's birthday and Jen's states shorts neither is a clue for a password. I remember for certain it was my mother's birthday- the states shorts I am a little foggy on.

I was talking to a friend a couple of days ago who said she still looks for our truck at the 4th of July parade even though she knows we moved three years ago. In Chatham the 4th of July is BIG and stretches into at least a 3 day celebration with fireworks staggered for different towns and boating and cookouts the big parade and the first band concert of the summer. One of the reasons it is so big is that it also announces the beginning of summer FINALLY.

Lyndy and I were just talking about the 4th last week and saying we didn't need all of that this year. Those Chatham 4ths were memorable but they all run together. Other memorable 4ths that come to mind-- being alone in Boulder Colorado hiking around flagstaff, I think, very mindful of how QUIET that day was and how odd that seemed and being at Monticello witnessing immigrants gain their naturalization.

And now it is the 4th and Lyndy and I went tubing in the creek and we 3 are spending a quiet 4th. Happy Independence Day. Lyndy commented this morning on how the chickens get their freedom and can come and go as they wish but the sheep and Beau don't. I guess their are just differing degrees of freedom here on the farm.

Friday, July 1, 2011

More Lamb Photos

Sammy in the early morning.

Mary getting a good scratch

Gretta with her perfect heart on her nose in the sun light

Annie, Rosa and Sammy grazing thin grass with plenty of grass around them.

They are getting bigger but they still act like lambs. Most of them are getting friendlier. Need to start spending more time with the lambs alone. Last week's camper thinks the sheep sleep too much. I told him they graze all night but he still didn't want them to sleep so much. He was all about the sheep and llama. They are pretty cool.