Sunday, August 29, 2010

The last ewe lamb leaves.

Today the last one of this year's ewe lambs-well, that is to say, the last one that I am not hoarding for myself-went to her new home. Gary and I loaded up the truck this morning with my ewe lamb, Bayberry, and three lambs from Sommarang Farm that also needed a ride in the same direction. Sorry for the foggy photo, Bayberry decided to kiss the lense right before I took the picture.
It is always hard to see the lambs go, but it is especially hard when they are as sweet and friendly as Bayberry is, and even harder when they are the last of the 'for sale' lambs to leave. The longer they spend at the farm the more I get attached. Bayberry was sold as a pet because she initially had a very slight underbite which is an automatic 'no register', her tail is also longer than I like to see in my Shetlands, but that was a moot point with the bite issue. Of course, by weaning time I had already promised  her to a great 'pet only' home, aaaand her bite straightened out, it also became apparent that she is modified and will have beautiful shaela (dark steel grey) fleece.
So with sheep loaded in the truck, we set out for Des Moines....yes, another trip across Interstate least this time of year the corn is changing color...which makes the trip much more scenic.
It was going to be 87 degrees today with higher humidity, so even though we were leaving early in the morning, and we had the screens open on the topper of the truck for ventilation for the lambs, I was still worried about them being too warm, so we opened the little window between the cab of the truck and the back where the sheep were riding. The window is not big enough for the sheep to try to squeeze through, but it is big enough to let a little air flow from the cab stream back.....not cold air mind you, I have no air-conditioning in my truck so it was whatever temperature the wind provided. We were sweating like pigs up front, but I am pretty sure the lambies were comfy.
And, as if I didn't feel bad enough taking Bayberry away, THESE are the looks that I got every time I glanced over my shoulder to see how Bayberry and friends were doing in the back-

For the most part the lambs lay quietly for the ride with the exception of an occasional "BAAaaaa" from Bayberry, unfortunately she inherited her mama's baa which sounds a bit like someone losing their lunch. We made one stop East of Des Moines to deliver the Sommarang Farm ewe lamb to Deb, who has a small, but growing, flock of Shetlands, and then continued on to the West side of Des Moines with the rest of our charges where we met two of the nicest young women, Meg and Hannah. Hannah is Bayberry's new owner, and apparently Bayberry knew that because she instantly bonded with Hannah.

Meg got the two gorgeous, friendly wethers. It seems as though Meg was camera shy because I only got a couple of pictures of her. Here we are loading up her vehicle with sheepies.....we look like we were all talking at the same time...maybe we were trying to distract the on-lookers at the rest my husband so helpfully stood there and took pictures-thanks Honey!
The sheep eventually got loaded and the girls were ready to go.

Yeah, Bayberry is not making me feel guilty at all.

Here are some baby pics of Bayberry.
Not sure why, but she looks very surprised or worried in this baby photo.

Farewell Bayberry, we will miss you.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Ande shows 'em who's boss.

I have not posted much about Ande as of late and I often get questions about how he is doing. For those of you who may be new to this blog, Ande is one of our fearless guard llamas and he is responsible for keeping the flock of sheep safe from predators.
Here he is in all of his regal glory.

Today we had a family gathering at our farm and my nephew brought his dog along. The unfamiliar dog immediately drew the attention of  the dedicated guardian of the flock and he went right to work....sort of.
Ande is in this picture somewhere.....oh, yeah, that's him, hiding behind the barn.

OK, now he is going to get to work and show that dog who is boss!

He just needs to get a little closer to assess his options.....of course leaving a couple of fences in between him and the vicious canine until he plans his strategy-then he will move in for the attack.
Maybe he thinks he will have a better advantage from this angle....behind the sheep, in the far corner of the pasture. He probably should let the sheep check out the dog first, and then he'll make his move.

I am not sure how Ande's strategy of running in the opposite direction of the intruder is going to save my sheep in the event of an attack, but Ande seemed to think this was the best alternative to confrontation.

And where is this terrifying, vicious beast that has driven away such a brave and noble creature?

Pretty scary.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Attack of the Dragonflies!

We have been invaded by Dragonflies! In the evening, after a rain, they come out in huge numbers. Once you get your mind wrapped around the 'kind of creepy' aspect of it all, you can really appreciate how amazing these little critters are.  The little dudes eat tons of mosquitoes, so they are OK in my book. Our barn cats, however, are not feeling the love for our little flying friends and have been tormented by the large dive-bombing insects when they emerge in the evening to feed. I was hoping to capture a video of a favorite game of the barn cats which entails leaping into the air to grab, and eat, said Dragonflies-GROSS. But of course there was no cooperation from my feline friends in this endeavor, so we have a video of lots of Dragonflies harassing Junior, the barn cat, but no kitty aerobatics. The longer you watch the video the worse the swarm gets....enjoy your dinner : ).

Friday, August 13, 2010

Chicken and Squash

I have made no secret of my hatred for summer squash, so of course it is growing better than almost anything else in the garden.

I can only take so much of it to market, my friends and neighbors have reached fact, I am pretty sure that they lock the doors when they see me coming...although that may have nothing at all to do with the over-gifting of squash....hmmm. 
I had to come up with a recipe to rid myself of the golden intruders-
Chicken and Squash.

What you will need:
1) As much squash as you can/want to get rid of. It doesn't matter if it is overgrown or not for this recipe.
B) A whole bunch of me if you need some I may be able to help with this step.

3) Add a generous portion (bucket full, wheel barrow full, barge full-whatever) of the yucky yellow curcubits to a liberal amount of chickens, mix well and enjoy.

As a side note, this recipe is not species-specific or produce-specific. In a pinch you can substitute other types of produce and livestock-mix and match as you like.

Corn and sheep work equally as well.

"What kind of recipe did you think this was?"
"Ohhhhh, dang! We thought she was finally going to do away with some of those ridiculous chickens."

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Skunk Sheep goes home.

Last Sunday it was time to send another lambie off to it's new home. Circe, formerly known as Skunk Sheep, went to live in Decorah, Iowa with a very nice family who already have a Crosswinds ram. I am going to miss her silly antics. I am not, however, going to miss her sneaking up and trying to jump on my shoulders when I am sitting on the ground.
Here are some of her baby pictures.

Always leading the lamb races.

And as she grew......

Now she has grown into a lovely young ewe.

Good bye Circe! Thank-you Janna, Jim and Connor for giving her a great home.
I have one last ewe lamb that will be leaving sometime soon, so I will update you on her and the 4 ewe lambs that are staying here.....if I can ever get them all to stand still for pictures.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

It's better to barter

Sorry about my recent absence, but it is August in Iowa so I am up to my elbows in produce. I know, you miss the animal posts, me too, and I will be getting back to the critters soon, but for now harvesting, freezing, canning are my life...and baking..and weeding....and mowing....and...notice that I made no mention of cleaning the house...I digress.
I have 'outed ' myself many times on this blog as a bartering/salvaging/repurposing  fool. I think perhaps this obsession stems from when I was a small child. I remember whenever we stayed at my Grandmother's cottage (back in the olden days) there was no garbage collection so we had to gather up any unwanted items and haul them to the town dump. We are a strange family so this was always kind of an adventure for us. Back then you could drop off your discarded items at the dump and you were allowed to wander about in search of treasure...granted there was not a whole lot of treasure to be found but there was a whole lot of really disgusting stuff, and huge, swirling flocks of seagulls searching through the mountains of debris . But I liked the concept- you drop off junk-you bring home junk, it all made sense to I am typing this it just occurred to me what an odd practice this was, and how strange it must sound, but if you've been reading my blog for any length of time you have probably grown immune to my oddities, plus it gives you a little insight into my twisted childhood.....once again, I digress.
ANYWAY, I love to trade things, especially at this time of year when there is the mad dash to 'put up' food for the long winter months. So, when my neighbor Don called to tell me that another neighbor had finished picking his field of sweetcorn and gave Don permission to take whatever he needed and bring some to me if I wanted any, well, I just got all tingly! I gladly accepted the offer, and in return, when the corn was delivered, I gave Don some of the Summer Squash that I accidentally grew...and loathe (his family likes it), and a bucket of pears. See how that works? I got rid of squash I didn't want, pears that I didn't have time to get to (I already made 4 cases of Caramel Pear jam and have another pear tree that will be ripe soon) and Don got stuff his family needs-I got some free corn. Now all I have to do is take a basket of cookies, nut rolls and jam to the neighbor who grew the corn....nobody expects anything in return, but that is part of the fun. The corn was delivered on Tuesday, which is a day that I have Farmers' market, so I wasn't going to be able to process it until the next day. That evening, at market, a friend traded me more corn for some baked goods. So, I had a whole lot of corn..almost like chicken math. 

I have always frozen sweetcorn by blanching it before I freeze it, but my market buddy informed me that I don't need to do that, he gave me an old time recipe for freezing corn that sounded too good to be true....maybe it is....he swears by it though. I tried his method, but won't know how it worked out until I actually thaw some and taste it... I probably should thaw some before I freeze another batch so that I don't waste a whole bunch of time, corn and freezer bags if it was a disastrous endeavor. Anyway, I am going to drag you all down with me and give you the recipe so that we can all improperly freeze corn together.
15 cups of corn cut off the cob-raw. I think I used about a bushel of corn to get 15 cups.
5 cups of ice water
1/2 cup of sugar
2 Tablespoons of salt
So basically all you are doing is cutting the corn off the cob, well, after you husk it of course. Dumping 15 cups of it into some sort of large vessel, vat, bowl, pot, cauldron, what-have-you. Add the sugar and salt-throw it in freezer bags-liquid included. I dunno, he says it works.
OK, when I looked at this picture I, like you, thought, "boy, that looks disturbing" but the dark spots are just ice cubes.
Now that you have it all tucked neatly away in freezer bags, all you will have to do is get rid of your big bucket of corn leavings...maybe you could take it to the dump.
I put mine in my compost pile and my roosters promptly took them back out of the compost pile to pick the cobs clean. See? Dump-picking is fun for everyone.

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