Thursday, May 31, 2012


The sheep seem to enjoy the rotational grazing and some of it is figured out from my perspective.  I think I am finished with my rotational grazing for a little while.  The seafood in New England is WONDERFUL and last night we were eating mexican food near Baltimore but tonight I am glad to be eating peas from my garden.  

The first day I was home from the New England trip, I found 3 critters I needed to relocate but actually the snake under the tub I use for pre rinsing fleece is probably back there again.  Not sure where the mouse in the orange chest ended up or the huge spider carrying her egg sack.

freedom from the orange jail but he stuck around

but really, I need to work with this fleece in the bag

Farm Sweet Farm

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Vacations are Good

Don't get into trouble, don't eat too much green, don't eat to fast, don't poop in the barn, and have fun.  Why do we dwell on the negative?  No wonder the the newspapers have bad news on the front page and get around to the good stuff around page 12.

I am on my way to New England on the train.  Going to be away from John and the farm for five days.  Yesterday, I was taking care of a few things before I left and the sheep added a few more to the list.  It was time to rotate to a new area and I forgot I hadn't put cages around the two young pin oaks I planted a few weeks ago.  Norma Jean reminded me, immediately.  A few hours later, when the sheep were behind the garage/barn, I was doing something and then I heard all the sheep going out the red gate, which I had neglected to latch, and saw them running toward the house.  Next, I heard John yelling from his tractor, "get away from the peach tree, don't eat the peaches".  I grabbed some grain and got their attention, and John herded them back with the tractor.

Time to look at a different side of life for a few days.  I am glad John loves the sheep and chickens and will be there to make sure they have minerals, open and close gates and doors, and collect eggs.  I took care of all the things I could but some things are day to day.  It will be better when I put down the new floor in the barn.

Hopefully, the week after I get back the excavation on our cost share farm project will begin.  I am so excited.  Things will be easier all around.  What will I do with my new free time- HA HA?
It is nice to think about the good things our taxes pay for, like fences and watering systems.  It doesn't all go to fighting wars.

Friends, family, the ocean, New England clam chowder (the real stuff), and the salt air.  That will be my focus for the next few days.  Vacations are good.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Country Music

From a distance they sound like a car alarm going off and up close they sound like a rain stick.  My neighbor across the field,  just had her baby girl last week and when we went over to oooh and aaah we were talking about the arrival of the cicadas.  She liked the sound but John says they sound like an alarm. At her house they are closer and actually all over her bushes.  Here, they have just arrived, and I must say I like the rain stick better than the alarm but I don't know if I like the idea of them being all over the place and eating young fruit trees.

I have heard that this year the 17 year cicadas coincide with the 13 year cicadas so I guess we are in for a lot of Country Music.  Hopefully we can change the station in a few weeks- they are apparently not long lived.

They closed the local schools early today and this morning they had a 1 hour delay to begin school.  Not much school learning happened this day. The one hour delay was due to poor road conditions after so much rain yesterday and the early close was because they predicted high winds and heavy rains for this afternoon.  Don't know the official measure but I can tell you the sheep feed bowls have over 4"s of rain in them.  The degree of wetness has changed dramatically.  I wouldn't mind if we didn't get what they predicted for this afternoon/evening.

The thunder last night added to the country music and I like music but sometimes I like to just listen to the quiet or the peepers and the crickets.

The sheep don't like thunder, or at least they run for the barn. They haven't told me what they think of the cicadas or the sound of heavy rain on a tin roof.  The chickens are much closer to their roof but they sleep soundly.  Actually, maybe that is why one of the hens moved out- maybe she is a light sleeper.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day

The sermon at church today reminded us to think about what it was that our mothers gave us growing up. What gifts?  What immediately came to mind for me, was that my mother encouraged me to be an independent person.  What is funny is that when I became that independent individual she didn't like who I had become.  I think she grew to accept who I had become and was O.K. with it in the end.

It is also because of her that I am accepting of all people ( she wasn't).  Well, at least not when I was living at home.  She did become more accepting in her later years, I believe.   Anyway, I believe it is what our mothers do and don't do or did and didn't do, that  shapes who we are and who we become.  And that is no matter if we are a sheep, a llama, a chicken,  dog, cat, camel, human, or any animal I suppose.

Give thanks to all moms on Mother's Day and don't forget when you wake up in the morning.

"Happy Mother's Day" all moms out there.  And that includes Mother Nature and all who mother in anyway.

Saturday, May 12, 2012


Recently, this chicken decided she did not want to roost with the others.  We haven't figured out where she sleeps yet.  By the time we go down in the morning, she is out and about.  Last night I checked in and around the barn.  Maybe up in the trees behind the barn.  I have been thinking we need a couple more chickens- I wonder where they would sleep.

I wonder what makes a hen decide one night that she is not going to sleep with the others.  The sheep are often out grazing at night so she might be all alone at night.  Actually, I have not been down to the barn late since Beau died.  Maybe they do hang out near the barn and trees when it gets late.

The sheep are much more spread out without Beau to direct them.  When they get to go in the new wild area behind the garage/barn, Norma Jean heads right for her favorite area to graze and browse.  She never seems to look to see if anyone is following her.  They still don't seem to have a real leader.  Maybe it is time to find another Llama.

Individuality is a good quality most of the time but when it comes to protection, it is not always the best idea.

Tomorrow is mother's day.  I have 4 ewes that have a daughter living with them.  They still act like mothers and daughters.  They can always count on each other except after they were sheared,  Rosa kept baaing and seemed to not recognize her mom and Annie did not answer her call.  I wonder what that was about.  Rosa has always been the one who likes to have mom around.  Gretta, Norma Jean, and Zorra are much more independent.

Someone I was talking to the other day, told me her strategy for keeping her sheep straight and knowing which she had treated and which she hadn't.  I told her mine were all different looking and I always knew who I had treated.  The sheep all have different personalities too but if you had a hundred ewes or even forty or seventeen and they were all white, I imagine it could get difficult.  Even when there are a hundred, like at Naomi's farm, there are always a few, she says, that are individuals.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Degree of Wetness

I think I don't mind all the rain we have been having so much because of the degree of wetness.  What I mean is-- although it has been precipitating for quite some time it is not so bad because it is really fogging and misting and drizzling and sprinkling and just plain being damp.  The sun comes out periodically so it is not so dreary and the grass is so green as we watch it grow.  And though the barn is mucky it is not soupy since I moved all the straw out last week.

I am looking forward to drier days but I can't complain about the rain.  The hedgerow is loving this weather.  I need to find the flax seed I stashed somewhere and get some chicory seed at the coop before the weather changes.  Also, should see if James has some horseradish.

The best thing is, it is cool and great weather for working or sleeping.  I went to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival over the weekend and the temperature was delightful.  Usually, it is too hot or raining and muggy.

The festival was good.  I connected with the people I wanted to and I didn't spend too much money.  New ideas and new inspiration.   A little of everything one goes to a fiber festival for.  And of course lots of sheep to look at  and talk to -- but none as beautiful as the ones who live at Cabin Spring Farm.

I am so glad I don't have huge sheep to take care of.  There are some BIG ones.  And no fleece as nice as the ones I am currently processing.  A friend came over last week to help me get started on the new fleeces.  I washed some last night and it is pretty amazing.  The Cotswold /CVM cross fleeces are softer than I expected.  They will be delightful to knit some sweaters out of next winter.

Now if I can just wash the rest of the fleeces over the campfire out front before the weather changes.  Drizzle is the best weather for washing fleece.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Rotational Grazing

The rotation is underway and today I read that "it is a misconception that pasture rotation will help with parasite control".

The article did go on to say that if each area was big enough it would help, but it said most people put the animals in a small area and then the animal are more likely to ingest parasites.  Tuesday, May 2nd, I moved the sheep to the lower upper pasture where the grass looked great and there is plenty of it.  I think the cycle is 21 days.  It was 18 days ago that they moved to the upper upper.

I finally did enough research to make a decision about what to do about the barnyard.  The grass is long and lush but I am going to cut it short and rake it every couple of days.  The best way to kill parasites is for them to be exposed to the hot sun and we have plenty of that here so that is what we will do.  Also, one article said, if you get the manure up before it sits for three days the parasites won't be at a stage that they can transfer to the grass.  I also have a few more ideas like spraying manure areas with hot pepper juice.  Eventually, I will have a very good plan.

 When I went to get the mower to mow the barnyard some green stuff was leaking out of it so I decided I would wait till John gets back (today hooray!)  It wasn't there yesterday- I wonder what I did mowing today (no loud noises).

We were approved for a cost share project with the Commonwealth of Virginia so soon we will have real fencing at the bottom of the lower pasture.  And we will have a permanent self filling water trough!  Yay the end of dragging hoses up hill both ways.  I asked one of my sheep friends if they get a lot of algae in the summer and she said she puts gold fish in hers.  O. K. goldfish that sounds good.

Tomorrow and Sunday is the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival that I go to every year but I may not make it this year.  Maybe I will get up at 5 A.M. Sunday and drive up --Maybe not.

John is back, the mower is O.K., and tomorrow I can do a major clean up before the next rain comes.