Monday, May 25, 2009

Spring cleaning

Oh, did you think I meant cleaning my house? Don't be silly.
It was finally warm enough to wash the dogs outside over the weekend. Spring cleaning of the dogs always has to wait until spring is well underway and air temperatures are warm enough to compensate for the numbingly cold water that comes from the well. Jordan, the Dalmatian, shivers in August with 90 degree weather and steaming hot water from the hose that has been baking in the sun.....Emma could not care less how cold the water is, she just loves to have a bath.

"Ohhhh, yeaaahhhh".
"Got my jolly ball and a bath....that's all I need".
"And maybe a drink...yeah, my Jolly Ball a bath and a drink".

"OK, that's enough, I'm done".

"Now, to put all that dirt back on".


Friday, May 15, 2009's for the birds!

Although it hasn't felt much like it lately, I am going to go out on the proverbial limb and say that spring has officially arrived. Oh, I know the calendar said that it was spring weeks ago, but someone forgot to tell the weather makers of this new development. The reason that I know that spring has finally come to pass, is that my barn swallows have returned! OK, I know that they are not cliff swallows, and this is by no means Capistrano, but I am very excited nonetheless.
This is the same young pair that nested in the sheep barn last year, and after a dismal kickoff to their parenting career, they were able to raise 4 beautiful little fledglings last season.
They are off to a much more productive, and thus far successful, start on nest construction this year. I am still amazed at the ability that these tiny little birds have to seek out a suitable surface upon which to affix their nesting materials, making hundreds of trips to gather beakfuls of mud, mixing it with the proper amounts of straw and dry matter, and then attaching it all to a vertical surface upon which it not only stays, but houses a nest full of wiggling chicks.
This was taken after the first day's work.

Back and forth.
...and back and forth.

After the first day of nest building we got some very heavy over 3 inches, so, like any normal construction worker would do, the swallows took a couple of days off. Today they resumed their efforts and are nearing completion of their new abode.
I am not sure if I will be able to get photos of the chicks this year since this nest is much closer to the ceiling than last year's......and there's that whole thing about me on just generally ends badly.
Either way we will be following their progress.

Another feathered friend that recently captured my attention while I was walking in the pasture was this Killdeer. I love Killdeer because they remind me of the Sandpipers that I used to see scurrying along the seashore when I was a child.....obviously not here in Iowa, I was born on the east coast....not a lot of coastline here in the Midwest...unless the Mississippi counts, which I am pretty sure it doesn't. I digress.

Killdeer "build" their nests on the ground, and I say "build" because basically they scratch out a little hollow in the ground and, well, there you go, voila, a nest! I am not too sure about the basis for the logic of placing a nest with fragile eggs on the ground in the middle of a horse pasture, but they do it every year and there are always more Killdeer around, so apparently some are surviving.

One of the Killdeer's clever ploys for distracting predators away from their nests is to flail about pretending to be injured, screeching all the while, hoping to lure any intruder with bad intentions toward them and away from their nest. The problem with this strategy is that you can pretty much tell exactly where the nest is, because the closer you get to the nest the more convincing the display, and the closer the bird will come to you. This little guy/girl (they look very similar) got closer to me with each step I took until I could have almost reached down and picked him up. As much as I wanted to see the nest, I didn't have the heart to look any farther for it, I wanted to let him think that his valiant display payed off. Did I mention that their eyes are red?

Charles Bronson wanted you to know that he has some awesome skills too.
He can crow.
Loudly.At 4:30 in the morning...outside my bedroom window.
"Wasn't me!"

Lamb updates

I thought I would do a quick update on the lambs now that they have all arrived and are growing by leaps and bounds....quite literally. As an added bonus, I actually have names for them all, which is highly unusual for me...normally I keep something around for months before a name comes to me.
Crosswinds Lunar Eclipse, "Luna". Luna will be staying here.Titan. Titan is a little tank of a guy. Titan has been reserved.
Phoebe. I haven't decided yet if she is staying permanently or not, I will have to evaluate her further....she is so stinking cute!
Ariel. Nice little ag/grey ewe. Ariel will be for sale. Reserved

Cassiopeia, black flecket ewe."Cassie", she is definitely staying.
Callisto, nice musket ewe with very soft fleece. Callie is a very....umm...."sturdy" girl. Callie will be for sale. ReservedMagnus. Nice ag/grey ram. Magnus has been reserved pending horn evaluation.
Halley. Moorit gulmoget ewe......duh, of course Halley is staying!

Sagan. Really nice, square, flecket (spotted) rammy with awesome fleece.

And then there is Ferdinand. I don't know quite what to make of Ferdie. He reminds me a bit of a Shetland mule, but he has got the most incredible fleece ever! He looks to be half polled at this point. He had little horn buds that only grew about a half and inch and then fell off. I knew that his dam probably carried polled genetics, but I was hoping that Khazar's genetics would dominate. My first inclination was to wether him, but with that fleece I am hoping that someone could use him in a polled breeding flock.

Ferdinand's fleece.

Random lambie pics.

Phoebe, Luna and Sagan.

"Hey, buddy, you have this horn thing stuck on your head, let me chew it off for you."

"Back off you little pip squeak, I am not a jungle gym!"

"You're not so bad, for a little sister."

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