Friday, April 22, 2016

Donkey Paddock Fence

Just a few pictures from today. 

We made a trip to town last night and got the fence boards and cement we needed to finish the fence. Ken took a break from his studies this afternoon and we set the second fence post. It was mizzling rain but very mild. Cloud and mist hanging between the mountains, bringing memories of Scotland.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Sheep Shearing - The easy way!

I'm sure there are people out there - especially spinners and weavers - who dream of having their own flock of sheep but quickly give up on the idea when they think of the back breaking job of shearing. 

Well, not me, oh no. I got the sheep with nary a thought of the back breaking job of shearing them! I mean, you just flip them over, buzz through with the electric shears and the fleece falls off in one piece, right? Well, in our case it didn't. The electric shears wouldn't even go through the first half inch before bogging down. We worked on that first sheep for two hours! I think we have the wrong blades. But let me tell you, thoughts of giving up on the idea popped up real quick when I was laid up in bed half crippled! 

Anyway, the quickly constructed, head gate pictured above has proven to be the answer. That and my big fabric scissors. The gate just slides down over the sheep's neck, locking her in place. They're under much less stress and I can take my time and even sit down for most of the job. I can also give shots and worm the sheep while they're confined. 

These pictures were taken last year. It was the first shearing for that particular sheep and she had a lovely fleece. The electric shears would probably have worked just fine on her. I sheared her again today but this year she had a lot of lanolin and at the roots of the wool it was like a mat of felt. I think it's just the nature of Scottish Black Face and why they can endure such harsh weather conditions. 

One down and seven to go.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Dry Stone Progress

The wall's coming along and the first fence post is in. Hmm, in the picture, it looks like it's leaning but I can assure you it isn't. I need Ken's help with setting the posts but he's been busy studying for business exams and some fire department duties. It won't take long to get the fence rails on though once the posts are set. The chair's there for tea breaks! 

The weather is beautiful at the moment. Maybe this weekend I'll be able to start the sheep shearing. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Pack Burro Racing

Ooh, if you have an hour to spare, watch this movie! I've been wanting to see it for a long time and  was so pleased to see that it is now available on You Tube! We watched it this weekend.

When you think of Colorado you probably think of snow and skiing. But there'a another sport unique to the state and that's Pack Burro racing! I don't know where I first read about pack burro racing. It involves running long distances with a loaded pack donkey.  The shortest race is about 5 miles and the longest is 30 miles!! Over excruciatingly rough terrain. At 13,000 ft abs!! Some of the racers have been competing every year for over 35 years, the oldest guy is in his 60s and still running 30 miles!

If we lived over that way, me and Rimfire would definitely be in training! I guess we'll have to be content with our own little burro jogs down here on the creek.

And speaking of Rimfire... I backed him for the first time yesterday!! Woohoo! he wasn't in the least bit phased. I've been waiting for this moment for 4 1/2 years!

Ken got on Damascus and she was just as good! 

She may have been ridden before; we just don't know what her background is. She's such a sweet natured girl. I can't imagine life without donkeys.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Walling With Donkeys

With lambing behind us and the arrival of warmer weather I decided to get back to walling. In fact I've been on a bit of a walling marathon this last few weeks as I want the driveway to be finished before the end of May and the start of the really hot weather. My Dad's coming over from England in May for three months and Ken's family are coming up from NC in October, so this is about the only time I'll have to work uninterrupted for long stretches.

I was going to continue the original wall all the way down to the gate, but after making multiple sketches and plans it seemed better to break it up with fence in order to have access to and interaction with the Donkeys. They come to be petted and talked to every time we walk down the drive and a solid wall would really cut them off from us. Didn't want to do that!

I started down at the gate. It's about a twenty foot section. Then there'll be some rail fence, a ten foot gate that will allow us to drive the truck in there and a kissing gate for easy walk through, and then another section of wall. 

Damascus has been helping me. I sling a couple of rubber buckets over the packsaddle and she thinks she's the bees knees carrying small rocks - "heartings" - for the center fill of the wall. She takes her work very serious and listens well and follows instructions. I have to alternate between her and Rimfire as he gets jealous and mischievous if he's left out!

Saturday, April 02, 2016

A Little Late Night Pat Metheny

Nothing quite as exquisite as Pat when it's late and the wind's whipping and howling around the mountains outside!


Banding Lamb's Tales

We banded the lamb's tails last week end. We usually do them at a week old but Ken's been away in North Carolina so we got to it as soon as he returned home. We do this because long tails tend to get dirty and attract flies. Believe me, it can get ugly under there! Banding is a simple procedure and while it looks like it should be painful, the lambs go straight back to running around after their Mum like nothing has happened. The end of the tail, below the band will shrivel and fall off in about 7 days. Most lambs have a triangle of bare skin on the underside of the tail. We usually put the band right at the point of the triangle, where the wool starts. You may be able to just make out the bare skin on this lamb's tail. Every so often we get one that has no bare skin at all. In that case we just have to make a decision. I don't like to go too short. If you look at the Momma sheep, someone really went to town on her. She doesn't have much of a tail at all. I don't like to go so short.

Anyway, here are the lambs, enjoying a bit of freedom and green grass about 3 minutes after their tails had been banded. As you can see, they're growing like weeds, though their Momma is still rather thin. Since getting the first taste of spring grass, she's been turning her nose up at her hay. Unfortunately, we can't just turn them out on grass full time, they have to be re-introduced to grazing in short spells to avoid bloat. We're now up to a couple of hours in the morning and a couple in the afternoon/evening - plus hay and some grain.  I alternate them with the rams so that everyone gets a turn.

Hoping to get some shearing done this weekend if the weather forecast is good. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

It's a Girl!!!

And she has a twin sister!

I'm so thrilled! It seemed as if we were destined to have nothing but ram lambs, forever! I kept turning them over, just to re-check. I'd forgotten what little girls looked like. And black fleeces too!! Can't wait to be able to spin the wool. The second lamb presented backwards and I was all alone but fortunately I had no problem delivering her. 

They're almost as big as the little boy, whose now a week and a half old. He's thrilled to bits to have some playmates and keeps bouncing around wanting them to join in.

Anyway, these are the last lambs for this ewe. She's getting old and this was a very tough pregnancy for her. It was obvious that the lambs were taking all of her resources  and there were times I thought she was going into pregnancy toxemia as her legs kept going out from under her and she would have great difficulty getting back on her feet. I kept giving her Ketogel in the hope that it would keep her on an even keel and I think it helped. She's been my best mother sheep. I do hope these two have inherited her maternal instinct. 

It's been a long two months of waking up every few hours and I'm so glad it's over!  Last night was the first full nights sleep. It was wonderful!

Saturday, March 05, 2016

First Lamb of the Year

At last, We have the first lamb of 2016! This is also the first lamb for this little ewe, Maisie May. She was in labor when I went out to feed them this morning.

I was a bit worried when I saw the lamb presenting with just the head and only one front foot. You should see a nose and two little hooves. Kind of like they're diving into the world. I tried to find the other foot and couldn't. I think the leg was tucked way back. I sent Josh across the road to get the neighbor. She's had lots of experience in birthing farm animals and I'd promised to call on her if there were any complications. Anyway, just as Josh was over there knocking on her door, Maisie May really went to work and popped the lamb right out!

 She's being a good Mum but we are going out there every couple of hours to hold her still while the baby gets a good drink. Her udder is tucked up really high and he was having a difficult time finding the teat. Heck, I had a difficult time finding the teat! But he's doing ok and gaining strength steadily.

We bred the ewes to a Jacob ram so this little fellow is a Scottish Black face/Jacob cross. We did the same last year and I really like the fleeces of this cross. Not too soft but not as coarse as the pure SB.

I wish Ken could have been here. He'd just left to visit family in North Carolina.

Hoping the other ewe has her lambs during the day. She's looking very close but no sign of labor yet. We're praying for girls. Last year, all our lambs were boys, and now this one!

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Hand Carved Ex Libris Stamps

If you like rats or foxes, here are a couple of ex libris stamps I carved this week.

You can find these and some other bookplate and library stamps over in the Ex Libris section at my Etsy Shop.

Monday, February 29, 2016

The Farfarer Forge

 Joshua's been slowly collecting the necessary equipment for the traditional blacksmith's forge he's been dreaming of. He found a wonderful reconditioned anvil, a Champion 400, hand-cranked blower and a post vise at one of the annual "Old Farm Days" festivals in 2014. All he needed was the forge itself. He was planning to make one out of an old brake drum but one day a neighbor called to see if he'd be interested in this old BBQ grill. He thought it would make a good forge.

College and engineering studies are really keeping Josh busy with hours upon hours of homework - calculus II, Statics, Mechanics and Materials, physics II, Yikes! - but he and Frank were able to spend a few weekends over the summer converting the grill. I built him the anvil stand and he and Ken set everything up in what used to be the horse's run in shed.

Josh named it The Farfarer Forge and here are some pictures of the first fire.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

On the fence waiting

It's that time of year. The long slow wait for lambs to be born. We only have two pregnant ewes this year and one of them is going to be a first time mom so I'm keeping a very close eye on them in the hope that I'll be there to attend and assist if there are any complications.

In years past, I would set the alarm and be up and down all night checking on them That gets exhausting pretty quickly! Especially when you're really not sure of an exact due date. Night after night of getting up every couple of hours really wears you down. No more! Ken set up a light inside the sheep shelter and a mirror in the upstairs bedroom. I can now lay in bed and with the binoculars, see exactly what's going on. Of course it still means waking up every few hours but at least I don't have to don all the winter garb and trudge outside in blowing snow and freezing temperatures - just to see them contentedly chewing their cud.

Ahh, my kind of farming!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

It's a New Year!

 Here it is, another New Year and I'm making yet another attempt to resurrect the old blog.

So far we've only had a dusting of snow this winter and that lasted a day. Actually, it feels a lot like England: dark and dreary.

Things have changed on the farm. My old horse, Shady passed away in November. She went peacefully. We got up one morning and there she was laying in the pasture amongst the fallen leaves. There was no indication of her having been in any distress. The leaves weren't disturbed as they would have been if she'd been thrashing around in pain. It was just as if someone had placed her down on her side and she'd gone to sleep. A neighbor came with his Back-ho (JCB) and buried her for us, right there where she liked to stand in the mornings as she waited for the sun to come up over the ridge. I've missed her a lot and still find myself looking for her through the window when I get up in the morning. I couldn't resist looking at the Farm classifieds on Craigs List and yes, you guessed it fell in love with another horse! Well, not a horse exactly but a pony.

He's SO cute!! He has a nice sweet nature and even though he's only about 11 hh he's still big enough for me to ride.  So far I've just been doing in-hand work with him and I did sit on him briefly. He hasn't been ridden for a few months so I didn't want to push my luck the first time on him. But he did fine. I'm looking forward to spring and some warmer weather to be able to really start working with him.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Those pesky passwords

It's been so long since I blogged, I completely forgot my password! And try as I might, I couldn't reset it with a new one. Google had me jumping through hoops with all kinds of questions to answer. Today, I thought I would make one last attempt before starting over with a brand new blog, and it worked! So, if anyone is still checking here, thank you for sticking with me!

All's well with us. It's been a busy summer. My Dad came over from England for a couple of months. It was so good to have him with us. I hope that I'll still be up to hopping on planes when I'm eight one! His health was much better this time. He was able to do a lot more outside. He and Ken worked on our two old tractors and got them running. Dad also set about sharpening every knife and saw we own! So now I have to be careful about grabbing things because everything is razor sharp!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Two whole feet!

Of snow! I think this is the most we've ever had in one storm. I didn't even go out in it because it was over the tops of my wellies. Ken dug out some old snowshoes and managed to get to the barn to feed the horses.

It came down quite fast!

Someone forgot to bring their boots in!

Ken ventured out to see how deep it was.

The ducks were miserable!


The view to the barn.

A couple of days later our wonderful neighbor plowed everyone out with his backhoe. It was about four days before the road crews could get to us. Josh was out of school for almost a week.