Sunday, August 31, 2008

One thing off the "To Do List"

As with all small farms our To Do List is never ending it seems. But there are some jobs on it that are so miserable to even think about that they just keep getting pushed down the list. Today was our day to get one such job off our list.

In early Spring of 2007 Neil removed hundreds of feet of 5 wire electric fencing wire so we could install our new six foot woven wire fence for the alpacas. The wire was still fine to use but we had no immediate need for it so we left it lying on the lawn to roll up another day. (At this time we were not living on the farm yet and were only here on weekends. We couldn't use our limited time here to roll up the wire when there was so much more still to be done.) Then of course as things go we didn't get around to rolling up the wire and the grass under it needed to get mowed so the wire was pulled up into a tighter area so most of the lawn could be mowed at least. After a few months of that I got tired of the tall grass along the front of the pasture that is visible from the road so I hooked it onto the backhoe of the tractor and towed it down to the future garage platform so it wouldn't be on grass anymore. There it has sat for another 4-5 months untouched.

But yesterday, Neil decided something must be done with it finally. He spent several hours yesterday afternoon and most of today untangling the five wires from each other and rolling them up on a spool for later use. What a hot, miserable, tiring job that was. One we are very happy to finally have off our To Do List!

Oh, and Neil pointed out that one of the turkey hens was setting on a nest of eggs over by the tool shed again. I went to check her out and she seems safely tucked in among the items stored there. Hopefully, we will have more turkey chicks in a few weeks.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Stuck alpaca.

Went out to do evening chores tonight a bit later then usual... it was already past dusk and darkness was quickly coming upon me.

When I went out to feed the alpacas in the far pastures I noticed our breeding male Novio cushed by the fence that separates him for the other males. He seemed comfortable so I called to him to come up to the shed to eat. After feeding the girls and the other males Novio still had not come up the the shed... which was unusual for him. It was now dark enough that I could no longer even see him along the fence line. I got everything else settled in the shed for the night and then the kids and I walked up the fence line to check on Novio.

He was still calmly cushed by the fence. As I approached him he did not get up so I knew something must be wrong. In the dark I ran my hand up his neck and quickly discovered what the matter was. Novio had woven his head and neck through the woven wire fence. He didn't struggle at all while I tried to figure things out. I didn't want to cut the fence (but would have if need be) to get him out. Novio let me scrunch down his ears and stretch the wire over his nose to get him loose from the fence. He was so good about it.

As soon as he was loose he run straight to the shed so all was fine. Evan ran up the shed as well to give Novio some dinner. But I figured he was more thirsty then anything else.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Yeah... new turkeys!

As I was getting ready this morning to go out to do chores the kids had already headed out to play outside. A few minutes later McKayla comes running in the house to tell me that the turkey eggs had hatched into turkey babies!

Wow! I had only discovered that the turkeys were setting on eggs in the blackberry bushes less then two weeks ago now. When I went out three of the turkey hens were over by the kids playground. The kids had taken some bricks and made a circle nest and filled it with hay. One of the hens was squatted over the nest and I could see several little poults sticking out for under her. As cute as that was, I was not willing to loose these poults like I had the few that were hatched out this past spring. I needed to move them and the hen into one of the brooder pens in the chicken coop.

I had my Wulsummer hens and rooster in one of the pens and I first needed to move them out to the hoop house instead. Once everyone was shifted around I collected the poults... there were five... and put them in the brooder. Then I got the hen and they all quickly settled into there new home.

Neil was home today as we had an appointment in Durham this afternoon. While I finished up morning chores, he took the weed whacker and cleared out from under the electric fence (it was turned off) all around the pastures. He then went back with the tractor and mowed around outside of the pastures to keep the weeds down. The tall weeds can short out the fence and make it so it doesn't work as efficiently on the animals. It looked really nice when he finished up.

We had just enough time to clean ourselves up and take the over an hour drive to the city for our appointment.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Happy Birthday or is that Happy Birth Day?

Today is Neil's birthday! "Happy Birthday" hun! Since it is a Thursday and Neil is off working we will be celebrating his birthday this coming weekend instead. We always look forward to some relaxing family time on the weekends but when there is something to celebrate we try to do something extra special.

Another bit of excitement and something to celebrate occurred today as well...

Our black alpaca, Eloise, gave birth to a handsome male cria this afternoon! They are spending some time together in a stall in the barn for a few days to bond. I do this not so much because I feel it is necessary for the cria but to keep the dam safe from Emmie, our female LGD (livestock guardian dog). Emmie loves new babies so much that she will try to keep the mothers away from them in an effort to "keep them safe".

Our last cria was born without me there and Emmie snapped at the dam, Gritona, and ripped her lower eye lid. I ended up taking her to the vet's office to have stitches put in to repair it. So, now I isolate the expectant mothers about two weeks before their due dates anytime I am not around to avoid any further drama.

Anyway, our new little boy is a wonderful rich color. What color is that? I am not really sure yet. He might be a medium brown or a dark rose grey. Once he is out in the sun in a few days I will be able to evaluate it better. His sire, Kanaka, has thrown many rose grey cria this year so it is a fair possibility that could be his true color.

Here are some shots of him several hours after birth. He is up and standing and all dried off.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

I'm back, hopefully...

One of my regular egg customers (and now friend) told me today when she stopped by for her eggs that she stumbled across this blog and really enjoyed reading it. She noticed that I hadn't had an entry since the beginning of May and wondered why.

Why? That is a good question. Let's just say that is has been a very busy summer and more then a bit stressful. The first month I found that I just didn't have the time in my day to do any blogging. Then it just fell out of my normal routine so I stopped thinking about what I would blog about. After about 6-8 weeks of no blogging I started feeling a bit guilty about stopping. When things worthy of noting happened around here I would think "I really need to post that on the blog tonight." but still I would never get around to actually doing it. So, I am now determined to get back to my former habit of blogging at least 3-4 times a week.

Meanwhile, just to recap a few major highlights over the past few months:

We have had lots of ducklings and chicks born. We have sold many of them but still have many that will need to be butchered in the coming weeks.

We had a cria born to our alpaca Gritona on May 22nd. He is a light fawn that we named Seamus (sounds like Shamus). He is a very bold young male so we have had little contact with him as he wants to "play" and this would lead to disrespecting of humans and possible agression in the future. We have left his correcting to his mother and herd mates.

Neil and I got a good bit of cross fencing up and created two new alpaca pastures. In one we put the males Peter, Sidney and Finley. Into the other went the male Novio along with the females GeeGee, Abby, Celtie and Joy. Moving the pacas to new pastures has greatly improved the condition of the grass. I still am mowing the pastures to prevent the thistle from growing up but the pastures are so much better then last year. I can only hope that they will improve every year. Our Nigerian dwarf goats gave birth for the first time. Pepper had a single doeling that we will be keeping. We named her Mary Jane.

Gabby had twin bucklings that we sold to a neighboring alpaca farmer so I know that will be well cared for.

I have been milking Gabby (I let Pepper raise Mary Jane herself) and have made some fresh goat cheese, a batch of Feta that is still in the brining stage and some whey ricotta.

The wild blackberries around that property ripened and we made a batch of Blackberry jelly with them.

And finally, and sadly, our cat Sweet Pea that I brought home from the feed store last Fall went missing the first week of July. I have owned a lot of cats in my life and I have to say she was one of my favorites. I wish I knew what became of her; car, fox, coyote, stray dog? I miss her every morning as I go down to the barn to do chores and she is not following behind me or riding on my shoulder. The farm is not the same anymore.