Monday, January 28, 2008

Where, oh where has my gulmoget gone?

It has been pretty chilly here, just like most of the rest of the country. Friday's actual temperature was minus 10 with a wind chill that I don't even want to discuss. But today's high was 50 degrees above zero, yippe skipee! Yesterday started the warming trend with temperatures rising to somewhere around 40, and it was finally comfortable enough to spend most of the day with my critters without my appendages freezing and falling off.

Since it was warmer and not windy yesterday morning, there was all this fun, feathery, frosty stuff on everything.......kind of like the inside of the old freezers that we were supposed to defrost and I never did.

As I was looking up the forecast, I came across this calendar of sunrise and sunset times. So there is proof, right there, documented evidence, that yes, the days are getting longer. We knew that they were, but sometimes, in January you like to see these things in black and white.

Anyway..... I spent a lot of time with "the boys" yesterday. Compared to the ewes, the rams and wethers are pretty neglected. With the cold weather that we have had recently, I have been just eyeballing them briefly twice a day when I throw them hay to make sure they are all upright and breathing, and adding straw to their shed when the temps really drop. So I wanted to take a closer look at everyone yesterday to check condition and fleece.

My gulmoget ram, Max, that started out with such striking markings, is fading to lighter and lighter shades of grey. He is Ag (fading) and he is going to look pretty peculiar after he is shorn.

I think this photo was taken in October.

And this is what his fleece is doing now : (.

(Not the veggie matter, the color!)

When he was born with such stunning color, I had hopes of using him on a couple of ewes next year, he has really great conformation and a nice little fluke tail that I would like to pass on. But It quickly became apparent that he was fading to grey, and I really don't want more Ag genetics in my flock since I primarily breed for spots.... I don't want my spots fading away. I don't have anything against Ag sheep, I even have a couple that I adore....I just love my spots too.

I am also keeping a close eye on his horn growth, there could be an issue with that too....time will tell, he is quite a bit younger than the other ram lambs.

Okay that's a picture of his tail...not his horns.

I spent some time with Rocky yesterday too, which I always love. Rocky is such a silly character. He is a very gentle wether, but he is definitely the boss of the boys right now since they are all youngsters. Every time one of the other boys gets close to me, Rockmiester has to place himself between me and the offender and push them away. That works great for me, since I want the intact rams to learn to keep a respectful distance.

Rocky also loves his tire. We weighted this tire and buried it half way in the ground so it is good for bashing or rubbing horns on.

I wish that you could put your hands in this guys fleece! It is unbelievably soft and yummy.
Seriously, you need to feel this!

Diego is another very sweet wether, with incredibly nice fleece too......the "apple ball" is his toy of choice..... Why are my rams with the best fleece always the ones that I have to end up castrating???

Momma Llama and Ande enjoyed the nice weather too.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, January 21, 2008

Spring must be coming, my catalogs are here!

Things are looking up at Crosswinds farm. I don't normally share a lot of personal information here, but the last 6 months have been a bit of an adventure for us, to say the least. On August first Gary was informed that the company that he worked for was downsizing, cutting back it's workforce, and he would be out of a job effective immediately. No severance package, no more company car or insurance. After the initial shock wore off, we tried not to get too worried as we were confident that he would find something quickly. Over the last few months, Gary has had lots of interviews and job offers....if we would consider moving. But being that we have our feet firmly planted in our fertile Iowa soil, coupled with the fact that I would have to enlist the services of a convoy of semis and potentially an ark to move all of my animals, of course that was not an option.

Keep in mind that I have worked from home for the last, ohhhhh, 20 years or so, by myself, uninterrupted except for the occasional cat jumping into my lap or something of that sort. And now having my dear hubby, who is not used to being home all day, here for 6 months of "quality bonding time", was a bit of an adjustment for both of us. So I am ecstatic to report that after 6 months of diligent job hunting, sleepless nights, and endless budget revisions, he has secured gainful employment with a new company that is a great fit for our family and our lifestyle. Woohooo! Now we can turn the heat up in the house over 60 degrees...I wonder why we haven't had many visitors lately.....

Now that I have become accustomed to Gary being home for all these months I will have to readjust when he starts back to work on February first. :(

With that stressful chapter of our lives behind us, I am turning my thoughts toward spring, and focusing on positive things. My gardening catalogs have started to arrive, and that always gets me excited about the coming season. There is something so hopeful about perusing through gardening catalogs, planning a garden, and dreaming of spring lambs. I just received my 2008 Murray Mcmurray (chicken) catalog, so I am creating my wish list for new chicks that I will be ordering this year. Some of you, (like our dear wise-arse friends, Steve and Sue, that recently gave me this door mat) may be wondering if I really need any more chickens..

...don't be silly, of course I don't need any more chickens, but I have come up with a few good rationalizations to help me justify adding a few hens to the mix:

1. I do sell eggs at the local farmer's market and with the skyrocketing price of eggs, I really do need to bolster my flock a bit. They at least have to pay for their own feed! Hmmm...if I had less chickens maybe they would use less feed.................

2.I like to have my colorful hens wandering around as insect control since I don't use any chemical pesticides on our property. And it is so much fun to see how many people will stop by to let me know that my "chickens are loose". I am assuming that they are concerned about them not being confined, and are not referring to my hen's moral character.

3. When I ordered my chicks last year, they were out of one of the breeds that I wanted, so I HAVE to get some Blue Laced Red Wyandottes this year. And a few more Araucana/Americanas that lay my pretty colored eggs.

4. When you order chicks they have a 90% accuracy on sexing the chicks, so even though I ordered 25 female chicks last time, I end up with a few males which I end up giving away because I don't keep any roosters. And I don't eat anything with a face or a mother so they had to find new homes. Now I need to fill in with a few more hens, right? (Factoid: You do not need a rooster for hens to lay eggs, they will lay regardless, the eggs will just not be fertile).

For those of you who have not had the adventure of ordering chicks, it is pretty much like ordering anything else from a catalog...except it's a box of chickens...and postal workers call you from your local post office and say "hey, we have a chirping box here for you to pick up".

This is how it works, you thumb through the catalog, pick out your favorite chicks and pick the dates when you would like delivery, then send your order (FYI don't mark the box that asks if you want a free rare breed chick with your order, that is their way of getting rid of all the extra boys). They ship the chicks within a few hours of hatching. The chicks absorb the yolk sac prior to hatching and that is all the food and water that they will need for their little voyage. Then Voila, you have your box-o-chickens. There is a minimum order of 25 chicks so that they can keep each other warm. Don't panic, I will be splitting my order with a friend...I'm not keeping them, really. Why don't you ever believe me?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Have you kissed a llama today?

It occurred to me that I haven't done any real updates on Ande for a while. Oh, an occasional photo of him doing something cute, but nothing more. People always ask me about him, (probably because I posted graphic photos of his birth on this blog) a lot of people feel a connection to him.

It's hard to believe that he is almost 6 months old now. It sometimes seems as though he should still be that gangly, newborn conglomeration of legs and ears. But like all babies, he is growing. Since I see him everyday, sometimes the gradual changes as he matures go unnoticed. But today I glanced over and saw him standing next to Momma Llama and I came to the realization that he is now nearly as tall as she is, and he doesn't look like a little cria anymore, he is taking on a much more regal appearance. Thankfully, the one way he is not growing........his "manly" parts are still very tiny. llamas mature pretty slowly in that department, so we have a bit more time before the removal of the dingle berries, but it will be done. Then we won't have to worry about aggression as he gets then there won't be any shenanigans with Momma Llama.....sorry, I don't know why I went there.

There are certain questions that everyone asks about llamas, so I will try to provide answers that pertain to my llamas specifically (your individual results may vary):

No, he won't spit at you! Really! Llamas generally spit at other llamas (occasionally at my sheep if they get between said llama and a flake of hay). That being said, like any animal, if they are mishandled or raised to think that they don't need to respect you, then you can expect a big, gooey, green, gob of cheek stench to be hurled into your eye.

UH, nooooo, you can't ride him! NO, not even a little bit! Seriously, why would you even ask that?

What is that big pile of jelly beans in your pasture, you ask? Well, for those of you who are not familiar, llamas tend to "go" in a community pile, and yes, they do look like (black) jelly beans. One big pile makes for a much easier cleanup (yeah). They could teach our dogs a thing or two...when the last round of snow melted, Gary went on a scavenger hunt of sorts, wandering the property until he gathered 6 bags of doggy surprises out of the yard.

What noise do they make? Llamas are generally quiet gentle creatures. They will sound a shrill "alarm" if there is some perceived threat, which mine have never done, probably because they lead a pretty cushy life and don't really have anything to be concerned about. But, they do communicate with each other with quiet humming. Ande hums to us when he is happy to see us, or sometimes when he is nervous. After we had our first winter storm this year, seeing the ice and snow covered ground, Ande didn't want to come out of the barn. After a LOT of coaxing, I finally got him to follow me out. His nose immediately went to the ground, curiously touching the snow and humming. With his nose on the ground all the way across the pasture as he walked beside me, he said "Hmmmmmmm Hummmmmmmmmm". Translation, " Ohhhhhh, I dunnooooooo, I don't likeee thisss".

One of my favorite things about my little camelid is that he runs up to the fence to welcome everyone to our farm like some kind of overzealous Walmart greeter. He also loves to give kisses. Yup! You heard me. If you lean toward him with your nose, he will reach his nose to you and wiggle his lips and nose on your face and hum. It's not nearly as kinky as it sounds. I have even made my big, burly, farmer friends lean over and give him a kiss. They protest at first, but then they giggle like little girls. They like it.

Okay, watch Ande grow.

What is with the brown tail???

Kisses for Auntie Marie.


Sunday, January 6, 2008

Just something to think about

Things are getting back to normal around here. We drove rent-a-ram back to Wisconsin on Saturday.....and I didn't bring any sheep back with me! I am so proud of myself. I spent most of the day today cleaning and rearranging my barns, reuniting the groups of ewes, and adding fresh bedding for the girls. The high temperature was almost 60 degrees today, a wonderful change from the low teens and single digits of just a couple days ago....I even went Carhartt-less today! Now, if we could only do away with the mud.

Anyway...since there is not much new happening, I thought that I would share some of the fascinating "goings on" in Eldridge. Every Wednesday is when our local paper comes out. It is filled with news and gossip from all of the rural towns in Scott county. My very favorite section of the paper, has to be the police reports. I have added a couple of them here for you to ponder.

Now, I don't know, maybe it's just me thinking irrationally, but I'm wondering... if police officers find a drunk driver stuck on the ice...should they free him?

Hmmmmm...I don't recall ever having locked myself inside of my vehicle, maybe it's because my door handles are still intact?

Just something for you to think about.

Copyright info

Creative Commons License
The content of Crosswinds Farm blog is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.