Thursday, January 12, 2012

Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away

Yesterday was a glorious day. The sun was shining and it's warm rays were gently caressing the soft breeze. I spent most of the day working outside in just a sweatshirt.......well, I also had pants neighbors think I'm weird enough already, thank you.
The thermometer in the chicken coop already read into the 50's when I was out doing chores in the morning, and by afternoon the mercury was almost at 60 degrees- unbelievable for January day in Iowa. The entire winter has been unseasonably warm, so warm in fact, that the plants are confused.
My Clematis vines are still actively growing.
  As are the Dianthus....
 ..and the Asters.
 Of course the Wild Geranium is flourishing...because it's a weed.

I must admit, I had to smile at the Dandelion's tenacity to muster a bloom even in the dead of January.

It has been so nice to have the grass stay a little greener during the winter months, and I really enjoyed finding previews of spring under the dead leaves as I was cleaning out gardens yesterday.

The barn cats spent the day doing what cats do on a warm day...... synchronized sun-bathing.

The hens scratched about in their yard while Yellow Man kept a watchful eye on his lady friends.

And the hens rewarded the warm day with a bounty of eggs.


This is today.

There was a 'high' temperature of 16 degrees today with 25 mile an hour winds. Factor in the wind chill and, well, I don't even want to talk about it.

With the exception of the hesitant ewe lambs that had never experienced snow before, the sheep didn't seem to mind the drastic weather change. The ewe lambs took a bit of convincing to leave the safety of the warm, straw-filled barn, but once they bravely ventured out into the unknown, they seemed invigorated by the cold.

The dogs didn't mind it either....obviously.

Even Jolly Ball didn't mind. I hope Emma doesn't lose that darn ball in a snow drift again this year.

BUT, do you know who did mind?
Me! I minded a lot!
I was loving the warm weather. I was loving that it was unnecessary to bundle oneself to look like Ralphy's little brother in A Christmas Story. I was loving that I could fill buckets from the hydrant without the wind blowing water onto my clothes, instantaneously creating frozen, crackly pants. I was loving that I could keep my boots on the back porch and slip into them on my way out the door without finding them filled with snow.

Ugh. It is Winter, so I suppose I need to deal with it.
In the meantime I will wrap myself in a blanket, grab some tea, and busy myself dreaming of planting gardens, and perusing the pages of some chicken porn...errr...ummm....chicken catalogs...

Yes, Chicken Math will be happening again soon.

But, for now, Morgan and I share the same sentiment about our current weather situation.

Make no mistake, she is not smiling here, this is her way of thumbing her nose at the weather....sadly, she doesn't have opposable thumbs....

I promise to be less cranky next post...if it's warmer.

Friday, January 6, 2012

I am here, I am here, I am here!


I will be surprised if any of you are still reading my blog after my long absence! You can cancel the missing persons report, call off the cadaver dogs, I am still alive!

The problem is- it is winter, in Iowa, and I have been feeling a little like this.....

Let's see....where did we leave off?
Ah, yes, when we last 'spoke' the chicks were but wee little fledglings. By now the chicks have grown by leaps and bounds and they are looking like.....well..... real, live chickens.

You may be wondering what ever became of the little Egyptian Fayoumi? Well, as suspected, the truth became apparent when the chicks reached the tender age of 5 weeks old. One morning I opened the door of the coop and was greeted by a pitiful attempt at a faint crowing sound - similar to a crackling voice of a teenage boy - this confirmed my suspicions, she is a he. He is almost all grown up now.

 I must admit that he did not grow to become as hideous as I had anticipated.

....except when he crows.

I was also 'gifted' another rooster in that batch of chicks. Note: even when you uncheck the box that asks if you want a free rare breed chick with your order, you will still get one, and you can be pretty sure it will be a rooster.
This guy is an Easter Egger.

"Aren't I cute though?"

In sheepy news, when last we met, the rams had just been set up on their blind dates and I 'promised' to let you know which ewes were bred to which rams. You should know by now that my promises are meaningless! OK, so I am a little slow, especially since the breeding groups have been broken up for nearly a month already, but here it is.

Firth Of Fifth Avyt.
Avyt sired some gorgeous lambs for me last spring. He won Supreme Champion Shetland ram at the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool festival last year. I was thrilled to lease him from Sommarang Farm in Wisconsin for breeding again last fall. Here he is pictured with his owner, Lori Stephenson.

Yep, he is a pretty handsome guy even with his broken horn.

Blind dates #1 and #2
Mira ( Sheltering Pines Mirabile Visu) and Ash (Crosswinds Ashumet) were two of Avyt's lady loves. I am hoping to get some gulmogets ( the pattern on both of these ewes) or possibly a spotted gulmoget from Ash, since she carries spots and Avyt is spotted.

Bachelorette #3.
Crosswinds Luna. I. LOVE. LUNA. Luna has gorgeous conformation and really nice fleece. She is the dam of Athena, my ewe lamb that won third place in a large class at the Jefferson, Wisconsin show last fall.
Love her.

Bachelorette #4
Crosswinds Menemsha. Menemsha is a beautiful, mioget girl with fabulous fleece.

Girlfriend #5 is Sommarang Edrea. 
Edrea is standing funny in this pic, but she has great conformation and lovely fleece.

Lady #6 is Sommarang Dolly (Lilly). 
Lilly has very nice conformation and good fleece, she is not the fanciest ewe, but she consistently has some of the nicest little lambs. She was paired with Avyt last year and gave birth to a stunning set of triplets.

Lucky #7 is Crosswinds Natale Holly. She is a pretty katmoget ewe with very fine fleece, and she carries spots....and an attitude. Holly's hobbies are: taking long walks in the pasture and head-butting the other ewes, finding chicken escapees and head-butting them back to their own pasture, and making threatening postures to our 12-year-old Golden Retriever on the other side of the fence...who she would like to head-butt if not for the aforementioned fence between them. She's a lady, whoa, whoa, whoa, she's a lady.

And, Last of Avyt's ladies, but not least, is Crosswinds Mountain Laurel. She seems to be doing the splits in this picture, but she is a very nicely conformed ewe with great fleece. She gave me twin spotted RAM lambs last spring, so I am hoping for girls from her this year. C'mon Laurel!

Next we have a nice ram that I got from my friend Garrett- White Pine Nessie's Monster Mash......or, as we like to call him, M&M. 
M&M is just a young lad, so he only had two girlie friends. This little guy has gorgeous conformation, fine fleece and, so far, his horns are looking really good. He took third place in a large Ram lamb class at the Jefferson show last fall. He may carry spots ( fingers crossed).

His lady loves are: 
Crosswinds Halley. 
I paired her with M&M because she doesn't have the best conformation in her rear end and I don't love her tail...M&M has a very wide, square rear and a perfect little tail, so the hope is that his good traits will correct her faults in any lambs they have...that is the hope. This could be an interesting pair. Both Halley and M&M may carry spots. He is katmoget, and she is gulmoget. Halley also carries solid...not sure about her boyfriend. So there are lots of lambie possibilities. Katmoget, gulmoget, solid, spotted, kat/gul (both katmoget and gulmoget patterns expressed ) or any of those patterns with spots. It's almost like Chicken Math!

And the last of M&M's soon-to-be baby Mamas is Crosswinds Bellona ( Bella). I am really hoping that M&M and this little lady will throw some spots. She is my wild child, but her fleece is yummy!

Well, boys and girls, that gets you caught up on the sheep and chicken shenanigans for now, plus you can now be pretty certain that I am not dead, so there is that.

I will be a better blogger. I will be a better blogger. I will be a better blogger....that's for you, Little Cuz.

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