Saturday, August 25, 2012

Mystery Solved

Our latest broody hen would make a wonderful mother I am sure. Too bad the eggs beneath her are not fertile.  During the first half of her nesting I have only seen her off her nest once to get something to eat.  At that time, I took all but two of her eggs.

Since she decided to be broody in the favorite laying spot, I have not been able to figure out where the others are laying.  Yesterday, I decided to make a nice big batch of zucchini bread from the garden surplus.  The recipe called for 6 eggs.  When I went to the refrigerator, I found only one left.  I went out again in search of eggs but still could not find any.  John was going into town so I asked him to actually buy eggs at the grocery store.  Since we have not bought eggs in 3 years, John forgot there was a difference in eggs and I am sure picked up the first carton his hand touched.

Back in the kitchen, I decided it would not be such a bad thing using store bought eggs because it would give us an opportunity to do a comparison and remind us how fortunate we are to have farm fresh eggs whenever we want them.  Then I opened the carton and found 12 rather small uniform white eggs.  I knew before I even cracked the first one that we were comparing "apples to oranges".  But crack I did, and found the yokes were such a dull yellow instead of rich orange.

Never-the-less, the zucchini bread was wonderful and the fresh garden salsa made at the same time (with the help from a friend) was delightful as well.

This morning I went out early to follow the chickens and find out the new laying spot.  Brown 1 was not with the others so I went looking and listening.  Up at the barn, I saw her go out from under the wall of the closet where the broody hen is nesting.  I opened the door and noticed that the broody hen had spread her wings broad and just seen on one side were two eggs hanging out.  That was all she should have under her, but now looking at her she must have around a dozen under her.  Instead of pushing the other hens out, she must be allowing them to lay an egg and leave, and then scoops the latest egg under with the rest.

I tried to nudge her to get a few eggs but she declined and pecked me (politely).  I would insist but we are leaving in a few days and don't need the eggs.  Besides, it will be interesting to see what happens when there is no more room in the nest.

We don't sell eggs, we just have the chickens to clean up after the sheep but it would be nice to have a few more chickens and Black 1 or 2 would make a good mom and John is way out numbered gender wise; I wonder if it is time for a gentle rooster?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"Meaningful Work"

I am SO fortunate to have a husband that likes to do "meaningful things".  That is what he called starting the new addition to the fiber shed.  He had been doing a bunch of small projects and decided to start on the fiber shed while still in summer, whereas I was thinking more like next spring or late winter maybe.

John has been digging the footings by hand instead of machine.  He would start early and work until it got too hot, which some days was 9:30.

And today, the cement truck came to pour the footings.  Cement is heavy but all went faster and easier than I thought.  It was actually fun.  Now, we just wait for the footings to set up and we can start the block work.  I say we, but John will probably lay all

the block.  Not that I can't, I actually
took a course at a technical H.S. near us in MA and laid some block in our house and my greenhouse.  It is just that I have a lot of "meaningful things" lined up for this week before we go on vacation.

One of the meaningful jobs I must complete, is trimming 28 hooves ( 7 sheep).  The other two sheep had theirs trimmed not too long ago.  I just put the word out, for help, this morning and already I have a volunteer to hold sheep.  I guess more people than I thought are looking for "meaningful things" to do. I could use more help still, as I have noticed that after 3 or 4 sheep, the fun factor drops off.

Also, I recently found out, that someone I know, was hired to be the new Ag teacher at the high school.  I am hoping that this will give me access to a microscope to do fecal egg counts.  Naomi suggested that I even let the students do the testing for me.  Is that like white washing a fence or will they look at it as an opportunity to do "meaningful" work?  I will report back.

Friday, August 17, 2012

33 Years

33 years ago today- Wow.  h.b. Wednesday.  Was that the same lifetime?  I never would have dreamed that day that I would be here today.

I was talking to Mira today and I told her about Wednesday.  I was wondering what she would have thought about Mira.

Could not have been here 33 years ago, or at least most of the time between then and now.  Too much sun, too many stairs, but I am here now and it is the right place to be.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Envisioning Protection

Remember the story of the guy who went overboard in a storm and was hours in the sea and as he was getting tired he prayed to God to save him?  As the story goes on, someone comes by in a boat and reaches out to the guy and he says something like, "that's O.K. God will save me; you can go on".  Hours later we find the guy getting worried but alas another, would be rescuer, comes by and is ready to toss the guy a life ring until he says, "God is coming to save me, you go on and see if anyone else needs help".  All good stories have a third occurrence and this one is no different.  And yes the same answer, "God will save me".   When the guy eventually drowns and goes to heaven, he asks God why he didn't save him and God replies, "I sent three rescuers."

Here is my dilemma- I asked for another guard llama and was offered a guard dog, an alpaca, and most recently two older llamas that came as a package deal.  I turned down all three - now what.

There was one guy who had a llama that he had for six months but didn't know how old it was and the story seemed a little foggy in a couple of other areas.

I found a llama on craigslist today, but it was an intact male and everyone says that is not a good idea except the guy selling the llama.  What am I to do?  Read less?  Think less? or do I still have opportunities yet to come?  Two other considerations are, that none of the llamas available are close and I don't want to spend a lot of money.  But then as I hear the coyotes in the distance at night I worry that I am not being responsible and tell myself, "what's money".

The time has come to ask in a new clearer way and listen carefully.  I think I will envision the animals here being protected and see what comes.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Playing in the Mud

Yesterday, I finally brought out the bucket of mud that is some I saved when Adam and I dug a hole to build a bird bath many moons ago.  Anyway, it was great letting it ooze through my fingers and spread it down my arms.  I know it is not the full experience that Karen had a couple of weeks ago in Roxie's mud hole but none-the-less awesome.

I have been playing "Keep Your Heart Young" by Brandi Carlile lately since Lyndy downloaded it onto my computer and also my new/ her old, iPod (yes, I confess, I have an iPod now).  I decided trying to figure out electronic gadgets will either keep me young or drive me crazy - either is better than getting old, which I don't plan to do, since my mother got away with staying young until she died at 88.

Back to the mud and memories of mud/clay.  One of my earliest memories of mud, was getting my boots stuck in it, when I was 5 years olds, and having to step out of them and walk through the mud in my socks.  The boots were probably way to big for me since I wore my big brothers's hand-me-downs for the first decade of my life (at least).  I loved making mud brownies too.

Advancing a few years, I remember a solar fest where I got to practice making cobb blocks.  That too was great!  You spread out a big blue tarp and mix together clay, land sand, straw, and water and stomp around in it until it is the right consistency to build with.

I went home from that festival and looked all over for the right ingredients, which were hard to come by on the Cape.  All the beach sand you could ever want and then some but few pockets of clay, and the rest of the stuff you had to buy at a premium.

Here, I have all the ingredients readily available, but just have't taken the time to put it all together.  At least yesterday I made a start.  One of the chickens looked back and forth between the bucket of mud and me for quite some time, cocking it's head and glaring at me like I had really lost it this time.

I want to make some little pots and bury them in the hot coals when I wash fleece.  I washed some, out front, a few days ago, I have more pre rinsing.

Still haven't had the family meeting, but John fixed the fan, I tied it up, and Charlotte (and all the others) are enjoying it for  sure.

 I guess I can't complain about the heat anymore, after a woman I walk with, told me it was around 112 degrees every day at her mom's place last week when she was visiting.

Staying coolish is all about following the shade all day when you have to do things outside.  In another hour, I can go check on my mud and see how it is doing.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Time for a Family Meeting

The sheep keep peeing in the barn and making it wet.  I put a fan in the barn to cool the sheep and dry out the barn and someone stepped on it and bent the plastic grill in.  Today, as I drove out the driveway, like I always do, the sheep freaked out and ran in different directions tearing down the electric fence in several places.  I had to go up in my "town clothes" to temporarily fix the fence.  Later, I went up briefly, to show the sheep the new gate, since it was time to rotate again.  I told Charlotte not to put her foot on me and get my good pants dirty, but she did.  We need a family meeting.

But mostly we need a family meeting to hear the sheep's complaints and comments.  The things I have been reading about sheep lately (actually all animals) is very interesting and I want to check in and ask the sheep what they can tell me.

I want to find out what stresses the sheep who reside here, since knowing that will keep them healthier than anything else I can do.  I have been reading how animals take on our stress and physical ailments to relieve us or at least to dilute the problem.  Very interesting indeed-- I need to read more.

On another note, I got my new McMaster slide (a slide for a microscope not a playground).  At $60, you should be able to do more than look at parasite eggs but, oh well, it should be fun.  Now I just have to find a microscope to use.  I have our extension agent looking into it and also I asked at the middle school where I am part of the after school program.  That should give me some perks.  Should hear soon.  When I am able to do fecal egg counts, I will be able to better monitor how affective my parasite treatment is scientifically, instead of wondering if it is effective and waiting to see.

There are other indicators of general and specific health, of course.  FAMACHA, body language, general movement, and soon to be, Family meetings.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Made it to the Front Page

A couple of campers, from earlier in the summer, came over today to have a fiber day.  They decided they wanted to spin for awhile this morning.   At lunch, one of them asked if they could do some dyeing with plants.  We decided to dye with Queen Anne's Lace.

Then of course we spent the rest of the day with the dyeing jokes.  "We are practicing dying (dyeing)", we love too dye,  etc.  When we googled dyeing with Queen Anne's Lace,  guess what we found on page 1?  An entry from 6 Sheep and a Llama, right there on the first page with 195,000 entries.  Amazing.

 The morning started out cool, (hot chocolate for morning snack) but half way into picking the Queen Anne's Lace,  in the afternoon, I heard across the yard, "are there any growing in the shade?"  The sun got quite warm but we managed to stay comfortable moving around and about.

The girls spun some yarn from some  white fleece. Then we put our Queen Anne's Lace in a pot and boiled it for a while.  We strained it and put the home spun yarn in the dye bath.

 The yarn came out a beautiful light shade of yellow.

We added some rhubarb leaves to get the next yarn a little more orangy but we ran out of time and let it be a slightly different shade of yellow.

What a great day.  I love fiber camp.  It is much more fun than registering with eVA and working on the website and marketing in general.  If I can make it to page 1, I should be able to have a marketing department, shouldn't I?