The Best Kind of Weekends

This weekend has been the perfect storm of excellent mild weather and time for both relaxing and productivity.

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The temperatures have made being outside during the day an absolute joy.

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The garden is starting to finally show some signs of the bounty to come.  The bees are all over it lately, and I am so excited to see the results!

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I brought home a fig tree from Whole Foods yesterday and planted it today.  There’s already little figs growing on it.  I hope in a few years it produces enough to make fig jam!

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We’ve also been seeing more of our neighbors lately.  The little boy across the street loves to visit the flock, and we always love to show them off!  It’s also super important to us that the people living around us are happy with our little homestead. The hollow that our property sits in protects most of the neighbors from animal sounds, but you never know.

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Another turtle found wandering around down by the stream!  Lucy was taking an interest in this little guy so Neve relocated him to the garden.

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Friendly little Thomas.

I love it when the kids spend full days out of the house; it’s not often that it happens in the summer (unless they are in the pool, but that doesn’t really count as being outside and exploring!).  I’ve spent more time outside exploring as well, and I’ve found countless wild blackberry bushes, wild rosebushes, and even wild blueberry bushes.  It’s important to me that we start trying to make a deeper connection to this land that we own. We will be here for awhile, and taking care of what is here in addition to putting in a mini orchard and improving the soil will be worth it for years and years to come.  Hopefully this will help my kids to grow up with an appreciation for the earth that sustains us and a mindfulness towards its care.

In the meantime, slow down summer.  These beautiful moments are far too fleeting.

The Farm Report

We’ve had some spectacularly mild weather here this week!  I could get used to low humidity and temps in the mid 80’s.  If this was always what summer was like I’d be MUCH more inclined to have it stick around longer.

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July has been pretty dry, and I’m not one to complain about it.  Not after last year’s sogginess!  I think it may be helping keep  much of the bug populations rather low.  The one exception seems to be the flies.  They are HORRENDOUS right now.  Speaking to our vet this week, she agreed that this has been a terrible year for flies.  I’ve been having to spray down the sheeps’ back ends with fly spray every few days, and the vet assured me it was the smart thing to do.

Right now my main objective has been to keep the flock comfortable and well-fed.  They have plenty of shade throughout the day, and I have put an extra water tank out as well.  They are getting a dose of electrolytes in their water and so far it hasn’t been hot or awful enough out to warrant a heat tonic.  (We still have August, though, so…..)

I want them well-fed to give them the best chance against any parasite that may pop up.  We did copper them this spring, and they get Levamisole every so often to be safe.  We are taking NO chances.

Aside from that, I have had a few opportunities to get to know our new vets.  Most recently we had a farm call to take care of a ewe I’d found with a prolapse.

***WARNING –  NO PICS, BUT STILL NOT FOR THE SQUEAMISH ***

Sunday evening when Oona and I went out to take care of feeding, I noticed one of the colored sheep has quite a lot of red going on under the tail area. My first thought was flystrike (it’s terrible.  Don’t click on that link if you don’t really, really want to know).  There were a lot of flies buzzing about and her tail was wagging a lot as though she were itchy.

I dropped everything and ran for my permethrin spray and gloves, prepared to do battle with maggots. But as it turned out, there was no fly infestation.  Her vagina had prolapsed and pushed out of her body, and that was what was attracting the flies. As bad as fly strike is, this felt much, much worse.

Thankfully, our vet arrived with confident reassurances, and after an epidural was administered to the bewildered ewe, the whole area was washed well, pushed back up inside where it belonged, and a large stitch was put in place to make sure it stayed put. The bad news is that this ewe cannot be bred again. Ever. Once the vagina or uterus collapses outside of the body like that it has a tendency to want to continue to do so.  That stitch that the vet put in her is permanent.

Today I did a thorough check on everyone and she is healing well, and there are no more flies buzzing about her ladybits.

Also doing well is Mr. Paddington.  When he and his twin, Piccadilly, were about a week old, we noticed he had a limp.  It got progressively worse over the next two or three days and then we discovered a large lump above his front hoof. When we picked him up, it burst.  Susan and I were stumped; when a second spot appeared on his back leg and a third on his chest, he went straight to the vet.

She found that his hoof was broken.  Most likely his mama stepped on him, or one of the other mamas.  When they are that little and trying to nurse, they tend to get underfoot a lot. The broken bones were surrounded by a pocket of infection, which was spreading to other parts of his body.

After lancing and draining his abscesses, she scrubbed him down well, splinted his leg and bandaged him up.  I was sent home with instructions to re-bandage every two to three days, administer antibiotics and a painkiller.  The kicker, for me, was that the bandage changing and scrubbing of the wounds required him to be asleep, so I was given a vial of sedative to knock him out every few days for a good cleaning.

If you’ve never had to knock out a small animal, it’s rather disconcerting at first!

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Despite his handicaps, Paddington continued to thrive and nurse and hop along after the other lambs.  We have been calling him “Hop-A-Long Paddington” ever since.

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He’s a bit crooked, since his other joints and muscles grew disproportionately in response to how he was using them.

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He will win no prizes for conformation.  But this lamb by all rights shouldn’t even be alive.  It’s a miracle the infection didn’t settle into his bones.  It’s amazing that he never stopped nursing from his mama, despite the fact that she was not the most attentive parent.  He is the friendliest lamb in the field, owing to the time he spent being handled by us, and even though he’s crooked, he is growing just as well as the other lambs.

And if we are all very, very lucky, there will be no more vet calls this year!

 

Weekend Away

I was lucky enough to get away to the mountains this weekend with some friends.  My friend Diana is moving to Germany for work later this summer, and we are trying to spend as much time with her as we can before she leaves.

The house we stayed in was just outside the small town of Nellysford, and came with a wicked surprise:

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A driveway we couldn’t drive up, even with a four-wheel-drive vehicle.  It was steep and slippery with loose gravel, and it became a character in our getaway, but it also made for some fun memories.  The fact that wild blackberries were in bloom all alongside it were also a bonus! The only way to walk up (and worse, down) the hill was by doing switchbacks. It was like skiing on foot. The picture does zero justice to the angle of steepness.

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It also forced us to earn those toasted marshmallows!

Nellysford is a beautiful town nestled below the mountains and full of lovely hiking trails.

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I loved this trail we took; I may have to head back there with the kids and spend some time splashing in the stream.

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The trail followed the stream and the edges of both a lovely farm and Bold Rock Cidery. If it wasn’t so far out I would love a farm here.  Of course, the lack of cell service and reliable internet would make me crazy!

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It was amazing how clear the water was; of course I am used to the stream on our property which is lazy and meandering.  It doesn’t have enough volume or speed to keep itself free of algae and mud.

After our hike we toured Bold Rock Cidery.

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They are building up their bottling facility, and their new tasting room is gorgeous.  I hadn’t realized just how local this brand is, having seen it in most of our grocery stores. All of their apples are grown close to home at several local orchards.

To round off our day we had dinner at another local gem:

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This weekend I had several moments of absolute gratefulness to live where we do.  This is a real breakthrough for me; I’ve spent the better part of our time here missing New England. But taking the time to explore what is right here in our own backyard (figuratively) has helped me see just how lucky I am to not only have the friends I have here but to be in such an eclectic and interesting place. We’ve been here a long time, and it really is finally feeling good to be home.

It’s amazing what a great weekend away with some of your best friends can do.

Proud Sister Moment

This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for several months now, and I figured I’d better get it done before another school year was upon us!

I am so incredibly proud that my sister Maddie completed her first year of college! There’s been a whirlwind of changes and activity and I can’t believe just how well she’s taken to it all.

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Aside from going to school full-time, she’s worked several jobs; two at stores in the mall, and babysitting for my friend Lisa a few times a week.  She’s also made herself available to model for Susan when needed (as you can see from the picture above that I shamelessly stole from her).

I would be remiss, however, in not mentioning that she’s had some incredible help along the way.

Firstly, college is expensive.  Although she was awarded some financial aid, Paul and I filled in the gap for the first semester and helped her buy books.  Her second semester, Susan paid for tuition and books.  It’s one thing for family to pay; that’s what family is supposed to do.   Susan is my best friend.  She had no obligation to help out, but as she told me, she believes in Maddie and wants her potential to be realized. Not going to college was not an option. She was in a position to help, and she did. We owe a great debt of gratitude to my dear friend for making it easier for us to keep Maddie where she needs to be and help her on her way to her future. Her encouragement means the world to us.

Secondly is our new friend Kate. Maddie met her during her first semester when she signed up for a required writing class that Kate was teaching.  It was a tough class and Kate has high standards for college students (as she should!), so Maddie spent a lot of time with Kate during her office hours, getting extra help and learning how to manage her time. In the process, she and Kate got to know each other well, and became fast friends.

After several months working together and spending  a lot of their free time together, Kate and her husband Brian offered to let Maddie stay with them so Maddie could be closer to school and work.  We’ve become friends with them as well (what, you think I’d let my little sister move in with someone I didn’t know? No way!) and have been overwhelmed by how much they’ve helped my sister.  They pushed her out of her comfort zone (not an easy task!) to branch out in her job search, and as a result she found a job she adores (she works at Coach, and has discovered she loves work in sales).

(As an aside, I do love that I can go into town and meet my sister for a meal regularly; its one of my happy places)

 

They helped her learn how to save and manage her money and buy her first car. Now, Kate is working with her to narrow down her choices for college when she transfers out next year, and how to navigate the admissions process.  I’m watching my sister bloom into an incredible, capable woman and Kate gets so much of the credit for that. She believes in Maddie, and has stepped in give Maddie the push she needed in order to be successful in school and life. I cannot overstate this: I will never be able to repay her for all she has done this past year.

We are getting closer and closer to Maddie stretching out her wings and heading out to a bigger school, potentially someplace far away.  We will miss her, but I can’t wait to see what she will accomplish with her life.

Congratulations on all you have done so far, little sister. I am so proud!

Today In Sheep

The lambs have gotten HUGE!  Their tails have all fallen off, and they are more and more independent every day.  They are still nursing, but it’s becoming rather comical as they have gotten a bit big to be under their mamas!

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Oona has been learning how to handle taking care of feeding; she has the advantage of being fast enough to outrun them to the troughs, but the disadvantage of still being small enough to get a bit trampled.  She gets smarter about how she manages it every day, though.

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Paddington and Piccadilly nursing.

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This is Darby, if you can believe it!  He looks enormous to me now!  Luckily he is still just as sweet as ever.

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Wembley.

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Wimbledon.

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Esmont.

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Snacking on the go.

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Keswick.

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The fabulous Knightsbridge.

Everybody is doing well and growing like weeds!  So far even our very hottest days have not been too awful; hopefully that will remain the case and we won’t have to administer too much heat tonic this summer!

 

About A Kitten

Not so very long ago, a stray cat made her way into my friend Amy’s barn and gave birth to three kittens.  I’ve watched the status updates and pictures and videos Amy posted and tried to avoid falling in love with the little marmalade one. I was almost safe when it looked as though a home had been found for her.

Alas, she was simply meant to be ours.

May I present our newest family member, Piccadilly the kitten (as opposed to the lamb of the same name!).

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The kids are spending their days fighting over whose turn it is to hold her.

She has settle in rather well; we are keeping her in Oona’s room until she’s been cleared by the vet for contact with the other cats.  She spends a lot of her time curled up purring in a lap, but also very much enjoys playing with strings.

Neve keeps saying “I didn’t know they made them so tiny!” Oona is still in disbelief that we actually have her.

However, Paul is the one that’s easily the most in love.  He comes home from work and snatches her right up to cuddle.  He’s hoping she’ll be his lap cat.

Pippa desperately wants to make friends with her (and perhaps lick her all over).

If I’m lucky, the other cats will like her as well.  But I’m not holding my breath.