I’ve Got Coooooookies!!!!

Did you know sheep and goats can have animal crackers?  You know, those animal – shaped cookies we all ate as kids?

I didn’t know until I met Susan.  Nor did I know just how crazy they are about them!

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I don’t always give them cookies; it’s more of a treat once in a while.  I’ll stuff my pockets with them and head out, and once they see I’ve got them, they swarm.

When they’ve had a few days’ where I have them, they automatically sniff around my pockets looking for more as soon as they see me.  It’s kind of a nice trick to get them comfortable enough so I can approach them for whatever reason I may need to.

They also tend to jump on me and shove their noses into my pockets trying to get all the cookies they can.

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They certainly know where their bread is buttered!

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The goats, of course are terribly pushy and greedy, but one sheep is likewise eager for cookies, and that’s Orion.

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Fairfax and Alabama really appreciate treats and will follow me hoping for handouts, but Orion beats his way through the goat crowd to make sure he doesn’t miss out.

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If you’re not careful, you can lose a finger!

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Inevitably I run out way before they’ve had enough.

Time to go buy another box!

 

 

 

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Snow Comes to The Farm

A few days ago we got happy reports of potential snow for our area, and started making preparations in case we got hit.  Projections were for 6 inches or so, and though Paul was very unenthusiastic and grumbly about the idea of snow, he helped me get the farm in order so that we could actually enjoy it from indoors, unlike last year when we spent an entire storm outside trying to keep everyone dry.

But I digress.

The snow was not expected until late morning, so after we made sure all of the water troughs were full (and the tank heater working), we got busy delivering extra hay to both paddocks.

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Once that was complete I made sure the dogs were in where they could access the bigger shelters and Paul cleared space for the tractor in the garage.  Then we went inside and I got the kids working on their schoolwork while we waited for the snow (no sense cancelling school for home-schooled kids when there is no snow actually out there to play with!).

We waited.  And waited.  And waited some more.

Susan teased me with pictures of lovely white snowfall in northern Virginia, and we heard reports of plenty of the white stuff just to our west.

Some time after noon we started seeing some snow “drizzle” and then our weather reports changed.  We would now see around two inches total.

Needless to say, the kids and I were very, very disappointed.

Fortunately by around evening feeding time the snow began to pick up and we say some actual accumulation on the ground.

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Everyone was fairly unfazed by it, and focused more on FOOD!

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Though not much snow had fallen we double-checked on everyone’s hay and water levels and made sure the chickens were tucked away safely for the night.

Happily, we did get at least an inch, and the next morning dawned super bright and cold.

The water tank without the heater had to have the ice broken up.

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Aside from that, everyone was rather unfazed and unimpressed.

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Orzo and Lucy played a bit after they’d had their breakfast.

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The pigs and the little ones were content to remain in their shelter with the hay until I brought their grain.

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Only the ducks seemed confused; they’re the only animals here that hadn’t seen snow before.  They weren’t sure if they should eat it or nest in it.

Although we’re still disappointed we haven’t seen a really good snowstorm, I’m glad we at least got some taste of winter.  It’s such a lovely and welcome break from the rain and mud!

 

 

 

 

 

Art Day

For Christmas Paul and I got the girls painting sets modeled after the Great Masters’ most iconic works.  They’re called “Master Kitz”, and each one includes some information about the artist and his work, plus instructions to make your very own version.
Emily got Hokusai’s “The Great Wave”, Neve got Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” (thanks to a very soft spot for a certain Doctor Who episode featuring said artist), and Oona got Monet’s “Water Lilies”.

Today the younger girls decided they wanted to break out their kits and work on them for school (Emily was deep into The Joy Luck Club and I wasn’t going to complain).

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Thankfully Oona’s kit used chalk pastels instead of paint.  Less mess for me to worry about!

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Oona had fun shading with her fingers and tracing the water lily stencil.

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Her finished product!

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Neve’s project looked like a lot of fun.

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Neve’s Starry Night!

They had A LOT of fun making these.  Each kit came with two heavy pieces of paper along with all the paint/pastels and stencils you need, plus super instructions.

No, I am not getting paid by Master Kitz!  I just love how much fun they are!

Rainy January

This month has mostly seen us dealing with rain, rain, and even more rain.  The ground has had little chance to dry out and firm up and we are all just feeling that the world is rather bleak.  We’re still hoping for some snow this winter, but who knows what the next month or so will bring?  The few days that we had super cold temperatures the skies were also startlingly clear.

Our energy levels are down, there’s a few cases of the sniffles, and mostly we all just want to hibernate in our beds where it’s dry.

Every so often, though, we have been gifted with stunning sunsets and misty fields.

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You could almost grab your cup of tea and pretend you’re in Britain somewhere; wouldn’t that be lovely?

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Sadly, it’s too warm to break out the Aran sweaters for now.

Maybe next month?

Nice Shootin’, Tex

There’s a whole lotta shooting going on!  Photo shooting!

(And Susan’s from Texas, so it’s funny, see?  No? Sigh…..)

Today was day one of the Juniper Moon Farm Yarns spring/summer photo shoot.  It was also 18 degrees when we left the house this morning for it.  In years past we’ve always always shot the pictures outside, no matter what.  There is one photo of Emily wearing a light blue springy wrap that we shot while it was sleeting.  Let no one say we haven’t suffered for this art.

This year Susan was very, very nice to us and rented some studio space indoors.  I know, she’s a saint.

Actually I am pretty sure it’s because we don’t have the big farm anymore and here it is just all muddy and icy and gross.  But we’ll take it either way!

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As usual, we put Emily to work.  She’s getting better and better at taking direction and she and Susan found their rhythm pretty early today.

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Maddie also came along to pose, as did her friend Gabi.  Neve and Oona brought up the rear and kept everyone annoyed entertained.

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Lauria is seriously photogenic.

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I can’t wait for everyone to see the stunning pictures Susan took of Emily.

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This is the reality behind any fashion shoot.  Clothes are pinned to fit each model perfectly.  All of the samples are one size, and since people aren’t one size, we have to make each garment fit as though it was made for that person.  Emily happened to be a bit too small for this sweater.

Yes, they absolutely do this in your favorite catalogs/magazines.   Your clothes don’t fit you the same way because they aren’t pinned on you just so.

That’s the beauty of knitwear like this, though.  You can pick your pattern and your size, and adjust it while you knit so that it fits you properly.

We’ll be doing this the rest of this week, and I hear tell that we may be doing some sock yarn dyeing as well.

Should be fun!

 

Cold Snap

While the northeast has been getting hammered with snow, we’ve been dealing with rain, sleet, wind and cold.  Normally here in central Virginia we don’t get a lot of the arctic temperatures I was accustomed to growing up in northern New York State, but occasionally it gets down into the twenties, and even more rarely, the teens.  After a full two days of rain, which made the ground a muddy, sodden mess, we got sleet, which made it an icy, sodden mess, followed by cold and wind, which froze everything solid.

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See how the mud froze?  The deep ruts from the tractor are pretty bad.  It caused a lot of problems trying to get the gates open, as the mud around the bottom is frozen in this very uneven pattern.

Fortunately, we have a tank heater in the water trough for the flock, so their water never freezes, as long as it is full.

Unfortunately, the water lines out to the trough are frozen.  But, the flock needs water, frozen lines or no, so Paul came up with the solution to fill up buckets up at the house, put lids on them, and drive them down to the flock in the tractor.

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It took ten buckets to fill the trough and the water bucket for Lucy and Orzo (who are in a separate pen they can’t escape from and terrorize the neighborhood).  We’ll have to do this at least once, if not twice, a day until the temperatures come back up.

The water in the pig pen has not frozen because it sits up against the house and the faucet there has (so far) been fine.  We’ve put the littlest lambs up there with the pigs (both for extra grain, extra shelter in the pig shed, and so that Mr Francis doesn’t breed any little girls that aren’t ready yet).

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They’ve been getting square bales of hay inside the shed, and the pigs have spread it all around in there to make a nest for everyone.

Did you know pigs make nests?  I never did.

As for the rest of the flock, I hadn’t spent much time before worrying about shelter because adult sheep and goats can generally handle the cold fairly well.  It’s the ice rain we’ve been plagued with that’s been the trouble.  The Angora goats aren’t tolerating it all that well, so Susan decided to order some calf hutches for them.

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They’re pretty large; several goats can fit in it at a time, with room to spare.

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Milkshakes and Adelaide still prefer the dog house.

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Roquefort and Martin have claimed one for themselves!

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The sheep have shown no interest in them at all.

I feel a lot better about the flock’s situation now, especially as we’re expecting more sleet tomorrow. Is it any wonder I’ve been feeling unwell?

Once the flock was squared away today I made a big pot of Susan’s Garlic Chicken Soup. That’ll keep us warm for the night.