Sunday, April 29, 2007

Lots to do and so little time!

We arrived back at the farm at 1am this morning. The kids managed to sleep until about 8am when they came in to wake us up. It was a good thing since we have so much to do in a very short period of time. After all the set back in the past two weeks in getting our animals up here to the farm we hope to finally get them moved by the end of this week. I will keep my fingers crossed!

Anyway, the goal for the next two days is to get the barn cleaned out and seperated into pens for the animals. We also need to put up some temporary fencing for the cows to be in just for a few days until we can get the 6 foot no climb fencing installed. That fence is scheduled to be delivered on Monday along with 2 rolls of electric netting fence for the goats and poultry.

So, this morning we had to go out and purchase the supplies we needed for these projects. That meant a stop at Lowe's and Southern States here in Roxboro and then a 30 minute drive up to South Boston, VA to the Tractor Supply store. While we were out we stopped and picked up groceries as well. By the time we got home it was almost 5pm! Not much left of the day to get anything done.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Visit with Blossom and her new calf.

Evan, McKayla and I traveled the 30 miles to Dr. Parrish's farm this morning to visit with Blossom and her new bull calf. Stephanie had expressed some concern over Blossom being so docile. Before her calf came she was low-cow-on-the-totum-pole in the pasture. She was concerned about coyotees getting the calf as Blossom showed no signs of protecting her calf. So, Blossom was put into a smaller grassy paddock with the bull and another cow to protect her and the calf.

Well, this morning when we got to the farm little McKayla (almost 3 years old) ran ahead of me into the paddock while I was closing the gate. I turn around to find McKayla about 30 feet away from me and Blossom, head down, charging toward her! My heart stood still. Then Blossom stopped about 5 feet in front of McKayla, stomped her foot and ran back to stand over her calf. I breathed again, said "Good cow", and quickly walked up to McKayla who hadn't moved a muscle durring the charge. We moved back to a safer distance to watch Blossom and the calf and take some photos. Blossom still didn't feel he was safe so she moved him behind a tree. So, I quess the question of will she protect her calf was answered!

I hope that once at the farm and we are caring for her daily that she will relax. But, I think the kids won't be going into the pasture with her alone for some time. :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Our first calf is here!

I got a call from Stephanie Parrish (DVM) today. She has been keeping one of our Irish Dexter cows, Cherry Blossom, since last fall for us. She called to let me know that Blossom had given birth to a healthy bull calf today. He looks to be a little red boy! It will be a little while before I will be able to tell if he is polled or not. His sire is heterozygous polled but Blossom is genetically horned so he only has a %50 chance of being polled.

We hope to move the cows up to the farm next week. Once the calf has been nursing for a few weeks I will start training Blossom to the milking stand. She is normally a docile cow so I hope she excepts her roll as the family milk cow well. Although, she is quite protective of her calves which may be an obstacle to overcome first. I hope to go see him in the morning.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sad news today.

Recieved this e-mail from Pat Cothran today:

I am writing you with a heavy heart. The foster farm where Black Dyamonds was living sustained some damage during the recent harsh weather. As a result, a tree blew down and fell across the fence in the llama pasture. Apparently, Black Dyamonds crossed over that downed fence and wandered off. That was about a week and a half ago and she has not been seen since. The local authorities have been notified and have her photo in the event she is spotted. Several searches of the area have been made. I worry about a llama out like that because of dog packs and other predators. I just found out about this only three days ago, and I am so very sorry to have to pass along this sad news. We can certainly pray for her safe return as I feel she was destined to become your family's llama. I will let you know of any news that I receive.


Friday, April 13, 2007

We have hay!

Today started out well as we got a phone call from the garage to let us know that our Surburban was ready to pick up anytime. We have been without the Suburban for 5-6 weeks now. This is the second garage in that time and the one that finally got the job done. The call came just in time too as today we were scheduled to go pick up our hay in Virginia and the Suburban is our heavy tow vehicle.

I had tried to find some Orchard Grass hay local to us but those that I had found that grow orchard grass were currently out and couldn't quarentie any more until the end of May. We needed some before then so I started to look further out. Finaly, someone on the alpaca classified yahoo group I belong to posted the contact info for a hay dealer in Virginia. A Google map search showed his farm, Allendale Farm Hay and Straw, was about two hours North of us. I called him up and confirmed the pick up of 50 bales of orchard grass and the day we could come up to pick it up. Which is now today!

So, Neil, the kids and I went to pick up the Suburban and then came home to empty out the big trailer of the wood we had stored in there. Once we set off it was a nice easy drive to Allendale Farm. But, I guess we were later then they had expected so we had to wait for them to finish loading another truck & trailer before we could load ours. They do not keep the normal size square bales in stock. Instead they store their hay in either large round bales or large square bales and then they rebale the hay to your order while you wait. We needed to wait about an hour for them to finish with the truck ahead of us. They were nice enough to allow us to take the kids up to their yard behind their house were we could let them out of the car and play. They was a great tree swing there and a huge boulder to crawl and play on. Just about when the kids were runny low on patience it was time to load up our order. The process they have setup to rebale was really neat to watch and I loved being in the baling building and smelling the hay around me. Neil on the other hand sneezed the rest of the afternoon. We didn't have to do anything but watch the process as one guy ran the baler and another loaded the trailer for us.

By the time we left there, stopped at a grocery store and then made it home it was after 8pm! So, needless to say we didn't get much else done today. Oh well, we had a nice drive, got our hay and fun with the kids and that is all that matters.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Power of Diesel

So, I decided that the lawn could stand to be mowed today before it got really out of control. I went down to the barn to get the tractor only to discover that the diesel gas tank was hovering just above empty. For a brief moment I contemplated leaving it for another day since I didn't figure I had enough gas to do more then a loop or two around the yard. But, something told me to just do what I could get done today so off I went to mow the lawn anyway. Every time the tractor was farthest from the barn I figured that was the time it would quit on me... but no... not only did it mow the entire front yard it did around all four sides of the house and got it parked back in the barn to boot! I don't think the needle on the tank ever dropped lower then when I started. The power of diesel I guess!

In the garden I got my year old asparagus crowns, 25 of them, planted in their 4x8 box today. Evan and McKayla helped mix up the garden soil components in the box. They do love to play in the dirt but what kid doesn't?!

I promised McKayla that we would have meatballs for dinner tonight. The kids have never helped me make homemade meatballs before and I think they thought it was almost as much fun as playing in the garden dirt! I had to make up a recipe since I didn't have all the standard ingredients in the house yet. To a pound of ground beef we added about 1/2 sleeve crushed saltine crackers, some Italian spices, and a little olive oil. We then made them into 1" balls and baked them in the oven at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes. They came out very tasty! Added them to some sauce over pasta and we had spaghetti for dinner.

While the kids watched a movie before bed I pulled out the Knitting Board and alpaca yarn that I won at the Palmetto Alpaca Classic auction this past weekend. It came with a little book of the different "stitches" that can be done on the board and some easy sample projects to try. I figured I would start out easy and began making the scarf out of the book. Using the board, at least for the scarf, is pretty easy and goes pretty quickly. Still, I think for most of my knitting needs I will stick (no pun intended) with my needles. There is something cathartic about the feel the yarn sliding through your fingers and the sound of the needles clicking away. I will finish off the scarf and might make the matching head warmer for a gift or maybe for sale. I think the kids will really enjoy using this as they get older though. I have been wanting one of these knitting boards for some time and I am happy that I finally have one.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Almost Easter

The kids had a ball coloring Easter Eggs tonight. We don't get too fancy with our eggs yet. Just getting an almost 3 and 5 year old to keep the eggs in the dye long enough for them to change color is our goal! But they had fun and that is all that matters. We can make fancy decorated eggs in future years.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Meet Black Dyamonds

Over the past few days I have been in contact with Pat Cothran, the NC adoption coordinator for Southeast Llama Rescue. Neil and I have been talking for a while about getting a llama to add to the farm... for several reasons.

  1. Our LGD puppies will not be up to full guarding duties until they are about two years old. Llamas are known for their livestock guarding abilities.

  2. When people visit the farm we will be able to show them the differences between alpacas and llamas.

  3. It would be nice to have both alpacas and llamas on the farm for my (hopefully) future camelid 4H club.

  4. And finally, to help a llama in need of a good home.

On the SELR website they have listings for all the llamas that are currently in foster homes. In looking through them I found Black Dyamonds, a 10-year-old female llama, in Georgia for adoption. It stated that she was well behaved and was a good guardian. Just what we were looking for. I e-mailed Pat about myself and what we were looking for and she responded right away. Pat agreed that Dyamonds would be a good match for us and put a "hold" on any further adoptions on her.

SELR has a pretty strict adoption process to make sure their llamas go to good homes. We will need to get our farm up to snuff (barn and fences) to pass the inspection. I have hope that Dyamonds will be able to come home to the farm the beginning of May.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Do we stay or do we go now....

Today is Sunday. We usually go back to SC on Sunday afternoons. This morning, Neil and I talked about how much we really hated to leave the farm. After a couple of hours of going back and forth over it we finally made the desision to stay one more day. Yeah!

The day itself wasn't the best. We had rain showers on and off most of the day. We took advantage of a break in the rain to go outside to work. Neil helped me get the last two of the garden boxes that we had lumber for put together. I didn't have any soil to go in them but still the layout of the garden is more aparent now that six of the ten boxes are in place.

Once the boxes were done we laid down landscape fabric in the 3 foot rows and covered them with straw to keep the grass/weeds from growing up between the boxes. It looked so good once we were done. I also got the string square foot grid layout on another box. In one of the boxes I planted Elephant Garlic I picked up at the grocery store just to see if it would grow. Now we just need to get the materials for the last 4 boxes.