Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

It's Halloween, 
so we did a little pumpkin carving here at the farm today.

" Hey, guys! What's inside this thing??"

"I don't know...let me take a look."



"We want to see!"
"Oh wow! You guys weren't kidding! That's gross!"

"You bunch of babies! Crime scene or not, as far as guts go, these are pretty delicious!"


Friday, September 28, 2012

Chickens poop. A lot.

Chickens poop. A lot.
I am sorry for the harsh verbiage, but I was cleaning coops yesterday and was up to my eyeballs in...ummm... repurposed chicken feed, so to speak. Does that sound better?
Now, I don't mean to insult your intelligence, dear readers. I know that intellectually you understand the concept that chickens poop, and that they are...well...messy birds, but, unless you have raised them you may not know the depths to which this is true.
It doesn't matter how "Free range" your birds are, or how many acres they have available to roam. They're gonna poo in the coop. Always. IN THE COOP.
With fall weather swiftly making its arrival, I felt the need to get the barns and coops winterized and ready for the animals. I want them to be as comfortable as possible once they start spending more time inside during the fall and winter months. 

The chicken coops are always the most time-consuming part of the process. The sheep, horses, and llamas can be messy as well, but their messes are generally limited to the floor of the barns. Chickens, on the other hand, roost on their high perches, making messes on the floor, down the walls, on the perches, and have, on occasion, made a mess or two on me when I haphazardly walk beneath a perch in the wee hours of the morning.
Too much information?
I do not use any chemical cleaners in the coops, and I am always trying to find natural products for cleaning and disinfecting around the birds.
I have used vinegar with good success, but I wanted to share my favorite weapon in the coop - cleaning arsenal.
Hydrogen peroxide. 
Yup, the kind you get in the drug store for less than a buck. 
In the concentration sold in drug stores, it is completely safe.
It's cheap, it cleans, it disinfects, and best of all, it fizzes. 

This is a 'before' picture of the gross, dirty perch. The chicken in the background probably came inside to add to the mess.

A few sprays of Hydrogen Peroxide.

Now, let's look at that again.
It makes my little OCD heart so happy. It's like you can see the germs dying.

After a couple of minutes, I take a putty knife and lightly brush the perch. The gunk just wipes off!
Look at that! It's a thing of beauty!

For those of you that are new to my blog, you should probably know, if you haven't already figured it out, I have issues. Or as my cousin would say, I don't have issues, I have a subscription. He underestimates me. I don't have a subscription, I own the magazine and the publishing company.

Now, go clean your chicken coop!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Konrad's revenge

 I always like to keep a handful of roosters around the farm. 
Their only job is to wander around the property, eating bugs and making happy rooster noises.

We have pretty roosters...err...I should say handsome roosters.

Stately, strong roosters.

Debonair roosters. 

....aaaaaand we have Konrad.

Konrad is young, so he isn't quite as...fancy, as some of the other boys. 
Not yet anyway.

His feet are downright creepy. 
He is a Salmon Faverolle, so he has a fifth toe, which is characteristic of the breed.. 

The bigger boys aren't very nice to Konrad. They don't physically pick on him, but they only allow him on the outskirts of the group. 
He's not allowed at the 'cool kids' lunch table.

The others sometimes chase him off when they find a tasty snack and they don't want to share it with him.

But Konrad is patient, he just keeps trying to befriend the bigger boys.

Konrad may not be as magnificent as some of the older boys, yet, but he has something going for him that the other boys don't. 

Like the scientist, Konrad Lorenz, after whom he is named, Konrad the rooster is a thinking man. 
He is a problem solver.

I was working in the garden one day, and the roosters trotted along with me, hoping that I would save them a little work by stirring up some tasty bugs. 
When I failed to produce anything to their liking, they eventually lost interest in what I was doing and wandered off to check the raspberry patch nearby. 

Our yellow raspberries are ripening, and they are a tempting treat for the marauding band. 
I had to chuckle at the persistence of my feathered friends as they stood on their tiptoes, and occasionally jumped to try to reach the sweet fruits.

The roosters are able to pluck all the fruit that grows closer to the ground, but they miss out on some of the elusive, golden fruit at the top of the raspberry canes, just outside of their reach.

So close, but so far away :(.

We tend to have a lot of birds of prey flying over during this time of year, checking the newly harvested fields for an easy snack, so I try to keep an eye on the roosters when they follow me out to garden in the back of our property. Although roosters are fairly large, that doesn't stop the hawks from trying to nab them. 

While I was busy working, I began to wonder where Konrad had gone, I hadn't seen him for some time, so I stopped what I was doing to take a look. 
I heard a rustling sound coming from the back of the berry patch, and when I peered around the back, I had to chuckle at the resourcefulness of my little buddy.

He found a piece of fencing that had been leaning along the side of the raspberries, and he climbed on it until his weigh toppled it over onto the top if the patch where he was able to reach all the best fruits.

" I'm king of the woooorld!"

"Nom, nom, nom"

"Hey, guys! Where'd the little dude go?"

"Seriously, dude, how'd you get up there?"

"Brains over brawn, my friends, brains over brawn."

Who's the cool rooster now?

Friday, September 21, 2012

So long summer, don't let the door hit you!

Saturday will be the official start of the Fall season, and although I am not normally in a hurry to bid farewell to the bright sun and warm summer breeze, but this year I say, good riddance summer! You were kind of a P.I.T.A. ( Pain. In. The....)!

The weather has recently taken a turn and we have gotten some rain over the past few weeks. Not a lot, but it has been enough rain to turn the pastures green again and to provide some much-appreciated relief from the heat. A few days ago it was 90 degrees and now the predicted temperature overnight on Saturday is expected to dip to 32 degrees which means, in all likelihood, we will see frost on the pumpkins....if I would have planted pumpkins...but I didn' in this instance it is only a figure of speech.

The signs of the changing seasons abound as the fields turn from drought induced yellow, to a more seasonal harvest gold- we'll take it! Remember in the 60's and 70's when all the appliances were Harvest Gold? I didn't like it on appliances, but I like it in the field....I digress.
 I don't know if we will have any Autumn color in the trees this year. Because of the unusually dry summer many of the leaves seem to be simply drying up, and falling off, without changing color. But even if the trees don't give us a show, I still love the colors, the lighting and the shadows that this time of year brings.
Of course I have been taking a few (hundred) pictures.

Thistles growing along the fence.

Soybean field ready for harvest..

Checkers, anyone?

These are some of my Amish Cockscomb. I love these guys. The flowers can grow to be almost a foot across, and they are so brainy...errr..they look like brains. 

These flowers contain probably eleventy billion seeds nestled all along their sides. The seeds fall out once the flowers dry, peppering the ground around them. Eleventy billion is a real number, if you saw these seeds you would understand.
I never have to plant these flowers....due to the aforementioned numerous seeds that hit the ground they tend to self-seed and I have many volunteers every year.

I just realized that I have a lot of red-based flowers. Sorry for the inconvenience. 

Other signs of fall are evident around the farm. The rams are getting....rambunctious, smelling the air for lady-sheep perfume.
Yeah, you probably noticed that Avyt isn't going to starve to death anytime soon. He has remained...ummm... a very healthy weight in spite of the lack of grass this year.

Speaking of rams, I still have a few boys available to good homes..not the spotted gulmoget in the middle, he's taken ;). There is more info about these boys on my Shetland Sheep for Sale link on this blog.

So, on to the next season! Good-bye summer.
Breeding groups will be decided soon and thoughts of spring lambs will soon be dancing in my head.

I know that I have made, and broken, this promise many times recently, but I vow to update my blog on a more regular basis!!!
A couple of weeks ago I was whining to some friends at the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival about the rut that I have fallen into, and my general lack of enthusiasm and creativity lately,  my friend Garrett looked at me and said, "WELL, KNOCK IT OFF, LADY!!"
Well played, G. Well played..
That's what friends are for, right?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Lamb update, sort of..

Look at that! I'm back again already!

Well, my whining about the weather in my last post paid off; the day after I  posted, we finally got rain! Clearly I have just not been complaining enough and need to do so more often!

And not just a smidgen of rain, mind you, we got nearly 2 inches!

Of course 2 inches of  rain is not going to undo all of the damage that the drought has done, but it is a start, and it made me positively giddy! Things are even starting to turn green!

So, you are probably wondering what happened to all of the lambs from this year? Well, some have already left for new homes.....and, as you may have guessed, a few are staying here. I still have a few ram lambs that I am evaluating- it has been a slow process this year. Without green pastures to munch on all day they don't seem to be growing as quickly this year. Another challenge has been trying to keep the animals free from internal  parasites. The sheep are trying to graze on pastures that are already eaten down to the ground, and because they are eating so close to where they...well....poop...I have also had to be vigilant about checking to see if they need deworming to ensure that they are not continuously picking up worm eggs. All in all they are doing very well and have been pretty worm-resistant.

First some of my 'keepers'.
This little modified Gulmoget/katmoget is out of  Crosswinds Halley, and Whitepine Nessie's Monster Mash ( M&M).
Her name is Mandalay- Mandy for short.
I am sure you can tell right away why I wanted to keep this one..who wouldn't want to keep a lamb that freaks you out every time you walk in the barn because she looks like she's dead?
This is her baby picture.

She has matured very nicely.

Okay, so she's not totally mature and refined....just the way I like them!

Another keeper is Crosswinds Palisade (Sadie) Luna x Avyt
Lamb photo.

Here is Sadie all grown up.

Odessa ( Dessa) ....or as my husband calls her, "Fence Neck"...we have had to rescue her twice having her head firmly stuck in fences, one wood, one wire...she's not picky.  
Dessa is out of Crosswinds Menemsha x Avyt

And Crosswinds Rio
(Out of Crosswinds Natale Holly x Avyt). 
Baby Rio

 It's hard to get a good photo of her since she is usually in my lap.....she also likes to put her neck through the fence ( Note the missing fleece).

 Here are a few of the remaining lambs. I was going to post all of them, but I will do a few today, and the rest n my next post. I do have a waiting list for rams, but sometimes after evaluation,  lambs don't necessarily always match up with the traits that people on the waiting list were interested in, so some may still be available to good homes.

Firth of Fifth Avyt x Crosswinds Ashumet
Colfax, as a lamb.

...and now.

Love this guy! Colfax is a solid black ( possibly modified) ram with great conformation and fleece. Full horns that look really good so far. Carries moorit and spots.

If this guy wasn't related to every ewe I own I would be keeping him.

Remember these little spotted Gulmoget boys?
Crosswinds San Diego (Diego) and Crosswinds Dakota

I am thinking about keeping one of these boys, but I change my mind about which one every other day. I am watching their horn development and how their fleece is looking. Initially they had almost no crimp in their fleece, but now they both have very nice crimp coming in....very different from each other, but both nice.
Diego has more of a 'purled' type fleece. It is very soft.

 Dakota has more defined crimp coming in at the skin level....I'll be interested to see how both rams turn out. I will likely be sending fleece samples for micron testing next week. I know, it's just lamb fleece so the results won't tell me a whole lot, but it will give me a baseline for now.

More next time. Tomorrow is market day and I still have nut rolls to make!
Have a great weekend!

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