Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Now that all the lambs have left for their new homes, I am down to 8 ewes for the winter. Err, I was down to 8 ewes. I have 5 older ewes, plus three ewe lambs that I retained. So that's eight, or was eight......until I traded my ram for a pretty little gulmoget ewe so I guess that will make know I'm not good at math!

In order to get my new ewe, I needed to get my ram to the breeder in Michigan, and the ewe needed a ride home from Michigan. I wasn't sure when I would be able to go and make the switch since Michigan is a bit of a drive from here. Luckily for me, the Michigan Fiber Festival was going on a couple of weekends ago, and being that I have some pretty awesome friends, it didn't take me long to find transportation. My friend, Juliann, was going to be attending the festival and was willing to transport sheep for me. So, Wednesday before the Festival, I hauled my ram to Juliann's Little Country Acres farm in Illinois. Juliann is one of a handful of breeders that are breeding for polled (hornless) Shetlands, and she has had amazing success achieving the goals that she had set for her flock. She is producing some really well conformed polled Shetlands with wonderful fleece. Unfortunately, they were not very cooperative for their photo-op.

After a nice visit with Juliann and getting to spend some time admiring her beautiful flock, I left the ram with her. Juliann then dropped the ram off in Michigan and then brought my ewe lamb back to her place after the festival.

Last Wednesday I made plans to head back to Juliann's to retrieve little miss sheepie. I decided to take Bailie, my 10-year-old Golden Retriever along for the ride. Gary always feels better if I take one of the dogs along on my excursions...I am not sure I mentioned, Bailie is a 10-year-old Golden retriever, not exactly like traveling with, say, a Rottweiler. The worst thing that Bailie could do would be to "happy" someone to death.

I must say though, Bailie makes a wonderful traveling companion. She never asks how much further the ride will be, she doesn't care what radio station I listen to-or how loud it is, and she doesn't even mind my terrible singing........

....OK, maybe she minds a little bit.
"Make it stop!"

It is only about 2 1/2 hours to Juliann's place from here, and since I live a couple of miles North of I 80 and Juli lives a couple of miles South of I80 it is pretty much a straight shot. However, there seems to be a lot of 'phantom' construction happening on the route that slowed us down a bit. The entire trip there were signs, barricades, arrows and flashing lights telling us to reduce speed because there were construction workers.....I guess they were invisible (you should never take pictures while you are driving).
Other than the mystery construction, the trip to Juliann's was pretty uneventful and Bailie was eventually able to tune out my 'singing' and snooze most of the way there.
When we arrived at Juli's farm we could hear the faint rumblings of thunder in the distance. I knew that we were expecting some bad weather back at home so we quickly gathered up my new ewe, got her loaded in the truck, said our good-byes and headed back to Iowa. We got about 20 minutes away from her farm and suddenly the winds kicked up, and the rain was coming down in buckets. I heard on the radio that there were tornado watches and warnings, but I had no idea what county I was in, so I had no clue as to where the really severe weather was....being that I was in the middle of torrential rain and getting blown around by the strong winds....hmmmmm, not good. I could no longer see the road, or the pair of taillights that I had been following. I desperately wanted to just pull over and wait it out...but I had no idea where 'over' was and given all of the construction barricades that I had seen earlier, I was afraid that if I did pull over I would fall off the face of the earth into some construction pit. At this point Bailie was sitting up, staring at me, like "are you going to do something about this, Dorothy?" and the ewe was looking at me with the same expression through the back window. After a few harrowing minutes the storm let up as quickly as it had begun and ( once I was able to release my death grip on the steering wheel) we continued on our way and arrived in one piece safe and sound back at home. is my pretty little gulmoget ewe in her new home.
She is an awesome addition to the flock. Gorgeous conformation, a perfect tail and beautiful intermediate fleece....not to mention that flashy gulmoget pattern! Thanks Stephen!

The other girls aren't doing their happy dance because of the new ewe...they heard that I will be going to Wisconsin in a couple of weeks to pick up boyfriends.....for the ewes...I guess I should have specified....that did not sound good..

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

They're baaaaaccckk!

As I was mowing the lawn yesterday I noticed some familiar little figures affixed to the bark of the trees-lots of little cicada shells. Within the last few days they have made their way out of the ground and up the trees to shed their crispy shells for a shiny new set of wings. I am not sure why, but I find myself both simultaneously fascinated and repulsed by these creepy insects.
I couldn't find any of the actual cicadas to photograph, just their former homes. Each year when they make their appearance in late summer, it is a sad reminder that summer days are waning away. And if their appearance is not enough of a reminder there is always that deafening, earsplitting RREEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW to remind you.
And, if this is not enough creepy goodness for you, here is a link to an interesting video about the little
cutie pies. Er, Enjoy!

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Don't worry, I didn't get all crazy with empty nest syndrome and get a new puppy and a pig. These both belong to my friend Chanin, but they were so cute I had to share.
Today Carl Sagan (the ram lamb, not the man) and Titan left for their new home.
Sagan is going to be a flock sire...which, if you read my last post, you know will make him very happy. Titan (minus a couple of body parts) will be a companion sheepie.....I am not sure that Titan will be as happy with his lot in life as Sagan will be with his, but he couldn't ask for a better home or a nicer family to live with. Thanks Janna, Jim and Connor!
I wanted to do an update on some of the chicks that were raised by foster mothers earlier this summer, so I set out to take some pictures this afternoon after the rammy lambies were safely on their way. When I was in the chicken barn, I heard a little peep coming from up above my head and when I looked up, I was surprised to see that the barn swallows that I was so worried about during the infamous "skunk incident" had, after several unsuccessful attempts, finally been able to hatch out a brood of babies.
And, apparently, they thought that I was going to feed them. It looks like there are three in the nest, so hopefully they will all make it to adulthood.
As for the chicks, the Mille Fleur Leghorn chicks (the first chicks that pawned off on an unsuspecting hen so that she would raise them for me), have been off on their own and incredibly independent for quite some independent, in fact, that I can barely catch the little boogers! They do come into the coop at night, but otherwise they roam the property and are pretty darn wild.....note to self- Don't get any more chicks with "Leghorn" in the name.The later batch of chicks still rely quite heavily on their adoptive mother for protection and security. I must say that their mama, Black Chicken, does an awesome job at protecting them. She strikes fear into the hearts of any and all chickens that so much as give her babies a sideways glance. I am not sure how much longer she will tend to them, they are getting nearly as large as she is!
The Barred Rock chick is getting some really nice plumage....and unfortunately, is looking a bit masculine.

My favorites are still the Blue Cochins. This is the little pullet (female) chick. I love the lacing on her feathers.

This one is going to be a little rooster, I don't normally keep roosters, but seriously, how cute is he???
And look...bunny bum??? No, it's the little rooster's tushie.
Now that these babies are all nearly grown and doing so well, I think I need to get a few more chicks so that they will be laying by next spring...really...I NEED some, I do. Don't judge me.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Saying good-bye to lambs

This is one of my least favorite parts of being a shepherd....when the lambs are weaned and have to leave for their new homes. Generally I am pretty OK with them leaving as long as I know that they are going to good homes and will be well cared for, but it is never an easy thing to do. This year I am having an especially difficult time with it...maybe because it has been an emotional year, maybe in part because of my daughter getting married and moving away, maybe because I just got more attached this year....Whatever the reason, it has been hard to let them go.

This morning 4 of my girls left to start a new flock of their own. I know that they are in the best hands and will have a wonderful home, but it is still sad to see them go.

Ariel, my ag/grey ewe lamb.

Phoebe-adorable flecket ewe lamb with super soft fleece.

Callisto- musket ewe lamb.
And yearling ewe, Fallon- I think I will miss her the most. She is an awesome ewe with super dense soft fleece and a dynamite personality. She is a carbon copy of her mother though and her mother is one ewe that will always stay. Apparently she is itchy in this photo.

Some of the boys, on the other hand.......I am not sure how much I will miss them! Hormones are starting to kick in and they are starting to act more like small rams than cute little lambs.
Ferdinand has been moved to the ram pasture and is not too sure that he likes being one of the "big boys" as much as he had anticipated!Titan, like most growing boys, eats...a lot....that's pretty much all he does.

Sagan spends his days (much to everyone's dismay) sniffing behinds and testing the scents.

When the ewes refused his amorous advances, he thought he would try his luck with Mama Llama.
"Hey baby, come here often?"

"Why do you have to make that face, Mama, what's with the ears?"
"Why is your mouth open, are you going to blow me a kiss........uh oh, wait, I know what that means! I am outta here!"
I guess I will even miss the antics of the ram lambs when they leave this weekend.

"Don't worry mom, we'll be OK."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Confessions of a lazy gardener

I am going to have to admit it, my garden has been woefully neglected this is a disaster! We have just had too many things going on between job issues, the wedding and life the garden has been lower on the priority list. To make matters worse, the weather has been dreadful this year as far as gardening goes.....unless you are a weed....then you are flourishing joyously in my garden. The cool wet summer has created a perfect environment for some nasty fungus to take over my garden.

My tomatoes have only attained the size of golf balls and remain hard little green orbs, never ripening or even showing any glimmer of a blush. Notice the withered fungified leaves.I did spray an organic fungicide a couple of times and it seemed to help momentarily, but the effects were short lived. I try to keep things as organic as possible........which is somewhat a mute point considering that I live in the middle of corn fields that have crop dusters flying over.
As soon as we got a few days with warmer temps my broccoli promptly bolted, leaving it only suitable to feed to the critters.
Most of my green beans also succumb to the evil fungus...well, that and the proliferation of weeds that have taken over.

One thing that has not been a problem this year though, bugs. I think I have some friends to thank for that. Rooster Cogburn and Charles Bronson spend their days combing the gardens for insects and gobbling up every little creepy crawly that crosses their path...they have to do something for excitement, since I don't let them in with the hens.
We also have tons of toads this year. The wet summer has provided them with plenty of places in which to lay eggs and an abundance of food.
It is hard to tell from the picture, but this toad is so fat that her skin is absolutely stretched as far as it can go to the point where it is shiny.
A few things are doing remarkably well. My pear tree is loaded to capacity again this year. This poor tree gets so heavy every year that branches break with the weight of the fruit.

The apple trees are equally laden. Some of the apples are a little buggy, but will still be good enough to cut the bad parts out and do some canning and freezing.
Although there are weeds as tall as I am in my potato patch, the potatoes are looking really good. I planted 20+ pounds of potatoes and should end up with about 150 pounds to store for the winter...there is nothing like fresh potatoes!
I have just a couple of pumpkin plants, this one is a white should know by now that I don't like "normal" things so I had to find something kind of funky to plant.
My Butternut squash is fighting the fungus as well. It has set some awesome fruit and I am hoping that the vines can survive until the fruit has ripened.

Fungus on cantalope as well :(.
The peppers are doing OK so far. I sell a lot of peppers at market and have around 60 pepper plants so I am hoping that they continue to do well.
OK, That was hard for my OCD self to show things that are not going is even hard for me to look at those weedy pictures!
Tomorrow we will be back to sheepie news. I am leaving this afternoon to take my ram to Juliann's Little Country Acres farm in Illinois so that she can give him a ride the rest of the way to his breeder in Michigan.....Marie is going with me, and that is always an adventure!

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