Not much was getting done around the farm while the temperatures dipped below 20 degrees. On Sunday the thermometer finally pushed upwards and when it hit about 45 I decided it was time to get to work on the garden. With tiller in hand I set to work preparing the bed. Sometime later I heard Ruth the Donkey making a ruckus so I looked in her direction and didn’t see anything spectacular (boy did I miss it!). I figured they may just be low on water and I’d be down there soon to take care of it anyway so I kept on digging.
When I was done I packed up the tiller, filled up the animal dishes and headed for the barn. We went through our usual routine, with one exception. One of the sheep didn’t come running to the barn at feeding time. Strange, but I’d take care of it after everyone was safe and sound.
The time came and I approached said stubborn sheep. Then I noticed something I didn’t quite recognize at first. Suddenly my brain told me what my eyes saw…4 itty bitty legs behind the sheep…she had a lamb!
I turned to our 4 year old and told him to run and get mommy, quick! He looked at me, puzzled, and said, “What?” Okay, so he comes from my bloodline and isn’t very quick to act 🙂 I went to get her and together we gently got momma and baby into a lambing pen and watched.
It looked like momma had done a great job of cleaning up her baby and the lamb seemed in good shape. It was trying to get milk while momma stood there patiently, but couldn’t latch on. I caught momma up in my arms, leaned her back and my wife trimmed some overgrown wool, cleaned everything up and then checked the milk flow. Nothing was coming out, but she tried a few more times and the blockage cleared, nearly spraying me with a nice flow of milk.
We guided the lamb to momma and it took a nice long drink then let momma up again. This time baby lamb was able to latch on and began drinking.
Since then we’ve watched carefully and everything seems to be going well. I administered the CD&T vaccine (not my favorite chore) and we’re keeping momma well fed and watered. An exciting day on the farm welcoming our very first lamb!
Wanda’s First Lamb
Since buying an entry-level scroll saw a couple years ago I have always enjoyed the limited amount of time I get to mess with it. Last year I determined that at the very least I was going to create a new Christmas ornament every year. Christmas was coming fast and I still hadn’t had the opportunity to visit my little saw.
When the cold front blew in this past weekend and the temperatures dipped below 30, I took the opportunity to do a little indoor work. I cleaned up my little shop area some and set to work on my 2016 ornament. Below is the official 2016 WhirldWorks Farm Christmas Ornament!
(The lighting wasn’t very good, but it is a yellow star with blue numbers)
Farming is fun, remember that romantic ideal, then start a farm and let reality sink in for a few months. Okay, it’s not all that bad. The summer was terrific on the farm and we settled in pretty well with all our new chores and responsibilities. Just when we were getting accustomed to routine, the goats and sheep started looking like they may just be pregnant. We slowly started making preparations, but the weather began to change. I realized we were way behind the curve from where we needed to be if the animals are indeed pregnant.
The girls needed their own pens instead of the communal arrangement and the boys needed to have their own separate living accommodations. Building the pens wasn’t all that difficult, but the idea of building a whole other barn for the boys with the time we had available seemed all but impossible.
Then we realized we already had the start of a small barn in a small pasture. It was a simple 4 post structure we put up in the summer to provide shade. It was only 8 feet by 8 feet so we were pretty certain it needed to be bigger. Simple math (my favorite) said to just double its length and that is what we did. It isn’t the prettiest barn in the world as we rummaged through the last of our left-over construction material to piece it together. We did end up having to buy a few things, but overall it was very affordable.
We moved the boys (and Ruth the donkey) into their new home. I wasn’t sure how well or quickly they would adapt, but apparently as long as they know food is in there, they don’t seem to mind leaving the ladies behind. The ladies on the other hand appeared rather upset the first couple of days. They’d sit by the fence that separated them and made quite a bit of noise. I guess they’ve already gotten used to it though as they don’t seem so concerned anymore.
Next project…the garden!
Yes, I’m quite a bit behind in my posting as of late. Partly due to the fact that I planned my next post to be about the “ram shack” we are building in order to give the “boys” a place of their own. Unfortunately the weather hasn’t been cooperating very well and the short winter days contribute to a loss of productivity on the farm. In the meantime, I thought I’d share a neat story about how our donkey, Ruth, continues to amaze us with her character and abilities.
We typically close the gate that leads to the barn, but on rainy days we leave it open so our animals can make it to shelter. Of course the goats rarely need any prodding to get out of the rain. They’ll usually head for the barn at the mere hint of wetter weather. The sheep though seem to prefer standing out in the rain. I really don’t mind when the days are warmer, but when it is cold and raining I get a little concerned for their health.
It was on just such a day when we were all huddled nice and warm in the house while it was cold. I noticed it had begun to rain and thought maybe I should go out and get everyone in the barn. I stepped into the garage and as I slipped on my boots I looked out on the field to see where the animals were.
No surprise, the goats were already in the barn, but I saw the sheep huddled together under the trees. But then I noticed Ruth. She was walking towards the sheep, but when she reached the sheep, she stopped and turned around. She began to nudge one of the sheep forward. They all began to walk, but turned towards the trees. Ruth headed them off and turned them towards the barn and didn’t let them stop. As soon as the sheep were in the barn, Ruth stood in the doorway to make sure they didn’t come back out. She seems to like the rain too and only popped into the barn a couple of times, but while the rain came down she didn’t wander very far from the door.
My work was over before it started all thanks to our smarter than expected donkey!
Ruth, the rain monitor
Vacations are a rarity these days, especially with a toddler and a barn full of hungry animals. Thankfully, due to the grace and friendship of neighbors who agreed to take on our responsibilities we spent this past weekend on the wonderful island of South Padre. It wasn’t just a simple time alone however. We enjoyed the tremendous pleasure of a Weekend to Remember Getaway retreat by FamilyLife. It was not only a great respite from the daily grind of farm and work life, but it was indeed a weekend to remember spent with the one I love.
Our love for each other has been a wonderful adventure these past 10 years, but in these three short days we learned more how to better apply the precepts of love, respect and honor.If you and your loved one have yet to take a weekend to remember, we highly suggest you find a way to do so. If you’d like more information about the weekend getaway, please feel free to ask us.
Or better yet, find a Weekend to Remember event near you!
For the past month we’ve been preparing our farm to receive friends, both old and new. We have never prepared for such a big event and weren’t quite sure what kind of turnout to expect so we worked a little extra to prepare for a big event. Doing so was a good idea as it turned out that over the course of the day we had 49 people come through our gates.
Of course the animals were the hit of the show. The goats stood up well to the constant flow of people in and out of their pen. They even had a few small puppy visitors. I purposely kept the dogs, donkey and sheep isolated in a separate pen as you never really can tell how they are going to react.
I also spent some time in the week before the open house to cut a walking trail through our woods. This particular section of woods is one we haven’t explored much if at all because the area around it was so dense with briars and intertwined small trees. On a tip from a neighbor I bought a brush cutter attachment for my weed eater and was able to forge a very nice trail. It still needs a little work, but our visitors seemed to enjoy a walk in the woods very much.
The event seemed so well received that maybe we’ll plan to do this again next year!
In the recent past our friendly neighborhood farmer would cut our hay fields for us and he would reap the whole harvest as we had no need of it. Now that we have the animals it is going to be important to store up some hay for the winter. The problem was that we have no means of moving the large round bales. I mentioned this to him when he came to cut the grass this time and he said, “Not a problem. I have an old square baler that I haven’t used in years. I’ll just bale you up some of those.” And so he did! When he was done baling there were 20 large round bales and 56 small square bales on the ground.
WhirldWorks Hay Field
First thing Saturday morning we borrowed our neighbor’s flatbed trailer and I began loading the bales. Our youngest son saw what I was doing and he was not about to be left out of the action. He climbed aboard the trailer and as I threw each bale on he would pull it into place. That was until it got to the second level and he couldn’t pull it anymore. From that point on he gave me direction in the proper placement of each bale in order to create a huge nest. Indeed we did! The bales ended up stacked three high, but at the center was an opening for the nest.
Once fully loaded, we backed the trailer to the barn, but unfortunately there isn’t a gate in the fence wide enough for a truck and/or trailer so I had to park it about 15 feet away from where it was going to be stacked. Little man tried hard as he may to carry, drag or push the bales along the ground, but despite his best determination he couldn’t help with this part. One by one I offloaded the trailer and stacked the bales under the barn overhang. They didn’t seem quite so heavy at the beginning but by about the 20th bale they began to get heavier and heavier. By the last bale I hardly had the strength to throw them to the top of the pile, but made it through and ended up with a winter’s worth of stored hay!