Whole Lotta Lovin’ Goin’ On!

Sheep week may be over for most people, but we still have no shortage of ovine happenings around here!

LambCam is still up and running and is more or less a permanent fixture, at least through lambing.

And speaking of lambing, Susan and I convinced our friend Tanya to join us on an adventure to pick up a ram yesterday!

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His name is Francis, and he is a gorgeous Border Leicester we are borrowing from the best darn shearer around, Emily the Amazing!12.18.13d

Our colored sheep are Border Leicester like him, but we are also breeding him to the Cormo ladies and the Cormo/Southdown ladies.  I can’t wait to see what the babies will look like!

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He’s a little stand-offish with us bi-peds, but I can’t blame him, considering we’re the ones who stuck a halter on his face and put him in the back of a truck for a four-hour drive home yesterday.

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He’s definitely not crazy about the dogs, and head-butted Cini pretty hard when he got too close.

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He’s smitten with the ladies, though.  There’s been plenty of sniffing and nuzzling.  I haven’t seen him actually accomplish the deed, but not for lack of trying!

The real obstacle to Francis getting an ewe loving is really Samantha.  You know, the dairy goat.  She’s having a bit of confusion about this interloper.  She’s been swinging back and forth between ramming him, biting his wool, knocking him off any lady he tries to breed (and then trying to breed them herself), and snorgling up to him like she just can’t get enough of him.

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The poor, hormone-addled, confused girl.

Keep an eye on the LambCam, and with any luck, we’ll have lambs by May!

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Sheep Week!

This week is very exciting for us around here for two reasons: the return of the LambCam, and Modern Farmer Magazine.

LambCam has been a crazy popular JMF institution since Susan came up with the whole idea waaay back when she was still up in New York.  It’s called “LambCam” for obvious reasons: it was a way for shareholders of her newly minted fiber-based CSA (also her invention – she was the first one in the US to do it) to see the lambs being born and finding their legs.  LambCam followed her down here to Virginia where it continued to have heavy traffic.

This past spring it was with heavy hearts that she dismantled the LambCam as we moved her out of her farm and installed her – and the animals – here with us temporarily.  Susan never stopped talking about getting it back online, though.  For my part, I thought she was crazy.  Who would want to watch the animals at my little farm?  Wouldn’t they rather wait for Susan to move them to greener, lusher, better pastures?  Wouldn’t they rather see Susan herself out there instead of me?

Susan didn’t think any of that mattered.  And you know what?  She was right!  People want sheep, sheep, and more sheep! And goats!  And a llama!  And even though currently her flock is here, it’s still her farm, her vision.  It’s as though we’ve blended to become one happy farm for now, and I am thrilled because I get to care for my best friend’s animals and have my best friend living with us whenever she’s not traveling.

This week Paul finished up the camera placement and we went live.  That’s where things got super exciting, because the JMF LambCam is now the official Modern Farmer Magazine LambCam!

It’s a bit shocking to see how many people are watching at any given time but it’s also been pretty fun.  We are expecting a new microphone to come any day and we can get the sound working so you can hear just how ornery and prehistoric Cosmo’s baa sounds.

Edited to add:  WE’RE ON BUZZFEED NOW!!!!!!

Until then, keep an eye on that cam, and here are some flock pics!

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Cosmo

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Martin calls shenanigans on this weather.

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Peregrine

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Adelaide

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Caramel

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Piper

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Yummy hay!!!!

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Jerry

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Fairfax

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Lucy, trying to eat through the fence.  I love how Orzo is in the back all, “Mom?  I really don’t think we’re supposed to do that.”

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Hannah

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Samantha

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Cassie

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Alabama

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Cosmo and Darby, snorgling a bit.

Feeding times are roughly 9:30 am and 5:00 pm, so stay tuned to that LambCam!

Iced In

Right now I should be drinking wine, eating delicious homemade pumpkin ravioli, and enjoying a lot of warmth and laughter with some of my best friends.

Instead, I am sitting in my pajamas drinking coffee and looking forward to next week, when our annual holiday book club meeting will take place due to today’s ice storm.

We are well and truly iced in here.  And by “here” I mean our property, not necessarily the house, because we have to go outside and care for the flock, ice or no.

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It’s miserable out there.  The gates were iced over and stuck shut.  The slope down to the pasture was all iced over.  The outer pen where Lucy and Orzo currently live is all slushed mud and poo. The pig pen is nearly solid ice.  So is the back deck, though Cini has been hanging out there anyway.

So yeah, feeding was tons of fun, with all that cold, wet wool pressed up against my legs, and jerk-face Jerry trying to knock the bucket out of my hands.

The good news is that the tank de-icer is working beautifully! The water tanks are nice and full and liquid.

In between feedings we all huddled around the fireplace for a bit and I got some actual sewing done.

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New pajama pants for me in a lovely flannel I bought last year. I also reconfigured the serger so I could put a rolled edge on some holiday fabric squares to make napkins.

There’s a zillion other things I’d really like to get done.  Like my Shepherd sweater, or some new Christmas pillows for the couch.

I also wouldn’t mind getting started on some cookie baking.  Or knitting some socks with some of the yarn I’ve been dyeing.

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These are the holiday colorways I came up with. It’s been fun messing around with color and learning how the chemicals work, but alas, the whole caboodle of supplies has been boxed up and is on its way to Lauria so she can finish up the JMF Sock Club yarn.  However, I’ll be playing with it some more in the near future and helping Susan and Lauria with it next year once I’m a little more confident.

BUT rather than all of those super fun and creative things, I am going to make dinner for everyone.

No rest for the weary, as they say.

 

 

Today in Chickenland

If you’ll recall, way back in 2012 we were losing chickens at a maddening rate to foxes, and we had a particular group of free – rangers who would NOT stay in their pens, despite our many efforts.  We built them a Fort Knox-style enclosure and dubbed it “the chicken prison”.

We still call it that.  The residents are still “the prisoners”.

We had one mishap there shortly after the prison was put to use: a fox had reached through the wire, dragged one chicken out and slashed another’s throat.  Her crop had been torn open and food was contaminating the entirety of her wounded breast.  But after many hours it became apparent she was not ready to die and I ended up getting my hands on some sutures and sewing her back up.

That chicken’s name is Fleur, and she is still with us.

Which brings us to last night.

Around one this morning, Emily heard a disturbance coming from the front coop (lots of squawking and thumping), so she ran out; but cautiously.  Two weeks ago the same thing had happened and she discovered a giant possum.  This time, something large was heard crashing away through the trees, dogs barking wildly after it.

No intruder was discovered inside the coop, and no one was missing; but Lenore was suffering a deep gash in her throat.

I was in no condition to perform hen surgery at one am.  And the wound looked significantly worse than Fleur’s had been.  I told Emily to put her back in the coop, close it up, and if she lived until morning we’d sew her back up.

Not only was she still alive, she was full of piss and vinegar.  She gave Emily a terrible time trying to catch her.  She was also still scratching and clucking around, nibbling on food and bugs.

It turned out that though the wound was much larger, it had missed the crop entirely and had only torn the skin open.  We thanked our (or Lenore’s) lucky stars and I cleaned out the area with saline, cut away some of the feathers, and sewed her up (I have a supply of sutures now, thank you very much).

It wasn’t the prettiest surgical job, nor even the most complete, but at least it will make healing more likely.  She got a nice spray down with Blue Kote to protect it from infection and flies, and a good shot of antibiotics for good measure.

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See what I did there?  I spared your sensibilities by not offering a “before” picture.

What happens from here is up to the great poultry gods.  I’ll keep her wound clean and give her meds to fight infection, but that’s about all I can do.

From now on, that front coop gets secured at night, guard dogs or no.