Sunday, March 29, 2009

Earth Day

We celebrated Earth Day (and Hennings birthday one day late) with candlelight, beer and fajitas. Here's Dennis and Shane playing backgammon and Henning building a "play structure" for the lambs out of the unused stock box.

Here's a little overview of some of our farm activities and guests. Here's Tomasz, our resident computer expert with the bamalama. He's on the phone talking to his friend Roma in London, U.K and getting directions for a delicious chicken dish called Catalan Chicken. We're having that for dinner on Sunday (today).
Our friends and guests Shane and Dennis spent two days with us earlier in the week. They have property near Wilno and have often stayed at our suites when they are visiting the area. Because we weren't open in Wilno, they visited us here at the farm and cooked us a lovely pot roast on their second night here!

Martien says that Agnes may have been "cast". This is farmer terminology for an animal that rolls over onto its back or side and is unable to get up again. It happens to cows and to sheep and results in their death from pressure and bloating on their internal organs. There isn't anything that can be done about it and it is one of those inevitable things that happens on farms. I am thinking about putting a webcam in the least one could check on things more frequently and possibly avert some potential disasters.

My brothers came in for coffee break half way through the afternoon, and mother and dad had also driven up so we had a little family gathering just like in the olden days when everyone was up here haying. Very pleasant.

A beautiful Spring day

Saturday March 28 was warm and sunny and my brothers and two nephews arrived to do some fencing in the big field behind the house. They brought along a four wheeler to carry the supplies and roared off into the distance. Tom and Henning unloaded a big round bale of second cut hay and brought it into the barn for the new lambs. Meanwhile, Bama still loves to come inside for a little snooze and a bottle in the rocking chair. Pretty soon he will be too big for that and besides, I have to go back to Wilno next week so he'll be at Henning's mercy....and there won't be any rocking and bottles by the woodstove!!

Agnes R.I.P

On Friday morning when Henning went to do chores and let the sheep out for the day, he discovered Agnes lying on her back in the box stall unable to get up and clearly in pain. We checked her over thoroughly but couldn't find any obvious signs of injury. First thought was that Alfie had bunted her too roughly with his big horns and caused some sort of internal damage. Henning gave her a shot of penicillin and we left her water and grain and tried to coax her to eat or drink but she was not interested. She was breathing shallowly and grinding her teeth which is usually a sign of being in pain. Henning had to go to Barry's Bay but I kept checking on her every hour and at one point, rolled her over and did another examination of her stomache and ribs but nothing seems outwardly amiss. When I went back to give Bama his bottle at 4 o'clock, she had rolled over on her side and was dead. I got the scissors and clipped part of her fleece...mostly because I wanted a momento of her and I think I got enough fleece to be useful. Poor Agnes...she was one of our first two lambs who lived with us in Wilno all last summer. She and Carmelita inspired all my sheep endeavors that followed. Rest in good pasture, Agnes. You were a lovely little ewe.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Grand plans for this season

March has been a busy month! Tom finished painting the upstairs bedrooms and the living room. The stair rail and all the spindles were varnished and the bathroom has a new sink and countertop. I found a couple of white enamel beds at value village and made a trip to our gallery for some artwork and sheets and bedding.

Henning has cleaned the woodshed and the summer kitchen which resulted in a huge trailer load of rubbish for the pit and a trip to the dump. He's also working on the shop, the chicken coop and building a composter out of reclaimed lumber. Tom cut and hauled up some more firewood as we were getting low for the kitchen stove.

I have started seeds for our salad garden and filled out the paperwork for our summer student employees. Minimum wage has gone up again!

My brothers are buying yearling cattle to run in the pastures here this summer. We hope to buy two heifers to pasture also for beef in the fall and I am hot on the trail of weaner piglets, chicks for laying hens and meat birds, and tracking down someone to shear the flock within the next month or so. Also looking into options for using our fleeces.

I am still feeding the bamalama his daily bottles and he now spends the night in the barn although he was very mopey the first few days and I relented and brought him back inside during the day. He definitely wasn't feeling well and didn't even want his bottle until Henning gave him a run of penicillin. That seemed to help and we also dosed him with molasses and some vegetable oil as he seemed to be constipated from eating (and not digesting) grain and hay. A sheep's rumen doesn't start working until they're about a month old, so bammer was actually too little to be having anything except milk. It's hard to believe that in a few months he will be an ordinary sheep...right now, he is such an affectionate little creature who loves to lie on my lap and snooze beside the woodstove. There are definitely some lovely perks to being a shepherdess with the house duties...

spring is here!!

Just discovered that we set a new "least amount of snow" record for February and March. It's been 77 years since we had such a snow drought. And the sunshine!!! It's been a cheerful winter with very little of the difficulties that country life can bring. Although several of our sheep lambed in twenty below temperatures, all except little Clinton survived with no adverse effects. Our barn, really just an old-fashioned stable with a very low beamed ceiling and good old fashioned chinked log walls has a haymow above it filled with round bales. We covered the north side window with plastic and snow fencing so it lets in light but no drafts. The front of the barn, facing into the shelted southern side, is open with chicken wire fencing to let in sun and air and light and keep out predators. It's worked really well as a shelter and Henning has built two new feeders and three lambing pens which have all had their share of occupants. The sheep are waiting to be let in by dark as they are used to getting a snack of grain once inside. Any ewes with new lambs are already in their pens with their water bucket and hay and they get an extra ration of grain and pellets which they don't have to share in the general feeding frenzy. In the morning, Henning lets everyone outside once he's filled the hay feeder and there's a couple of hours of concentrated eating and jockeying for position and a perpetual problem of the more agile sheep leaping into the feeder. Then they all file out to this end of the barnyard for their water slurping and then amble back to lay in the sun, eat more hay, supervise the lambs and lounge about waiting for supper. It's not a bad life being a sheep here!!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Japanese visitors, jamons and other farm images

Ritsuko and her sister and brother in law and their friends came for a visit to see the lambs.
We had Ian and Anna for dinner one evening and Tomasz made a turkish dish called Kofke's which are ground lamb, pita and a tomato sauce. Delicious!!!

Tom, Henning and Tomasz and a toast to another delicious dinner.

Our jamons are aging in the refrigerator.

Sure hope they work out. Here is a jamon after a month of weighting in its salt cure.

Lambs and woodstove cookery.

Here I am organizing the food for our pot-luck open house on Feb 28. With no electric stove, all cooking, and I do mean all cooking including breakfast is done on the old Belanger cookstove. We've had lots of great meals and the only important criteria are: lots of dry stove wood and remembering to keep the stove hot enough to use the oven. It gets more difficult as the days get warmer and its sunny and the kitchen gets warm enough with the sunshine from the windows.
Poor little Clinton survived for ten days with tube feeding and lots of love and attention and penecillin but in the end, his difficult beginnings were too much and he died peacefully in his sleep. Rest in good pasture, my lambie.
We haven't had much snow this February and March but here was a tiny blizzard one afternoon. Obamalamba, Clinton's black twin brother is following me out to the barn where he has to spend his nights now. His days are usually spent lying by the stove or following me around the kitchen.

Out in the barnyard, a lively playgroup of fifteen lambs bounce around, using their mothers for an obstacle course. This is Aydie and Angie Chocolate with their blondie mom, Marilyn M.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Oz and Vanna visit

We also had a great weekend on Feb 14 with a visit from Oz and Vanna and all of Tom's girls, as well as young Dan. I cooked a roast pork dinner in the woodstove oven and by the time we ate, the kitchen was 90 degrees. Its been really pleasant to socialize here. The kitchen is so cozy with the woodstove and of course, there's the big Elmira dining table to extend so it seats up to 14 people.

Housewarming gathering

We had a very pleasant gathering on Saturday, the last day of February with a bunch of friends from Wilno and area. Weather was cold but sunny and the lambs were in their playpen in the sunroom and everyone oohed and aahhed over them. We had pulled pork and coq au vin from Ritsuko and Pete's evil and (now dead) rooster, and venison tenderloin and bigos and baked beans and sledgie and chocolate cake and pumpkin pie and rhubarb crisp. No one left hungry.

lambing 2009

It's been a week since Clinton and Obama were ignored by their mother and it has been a struggle to keep Clinton alive. Obama took to the bottle with a vengeance but Clinton is still being tube fed and has had one foot in the grave more than once. I refuse to give up and we are giving him penicillen and have needled him for white muscle and I am spiking his milk with electrolytes and maple syrup!! He alternates between being weak and unresponsive and then perks up just enough to give us hope.