Thursday, December 18, 2014

Time marches on!

It has been a very long time since I have posted.  Time is marching on, and by the end of the day, it seems I am just ready to shut my eyes...

We are just about into the winter solstice.. thankfully, the days will get longer starting on the 22nd, I believe of this month.  For that I am grateful.  I was at a meeting yesterday late into the day, and I could not believe how dark it was at four o'clock.

I have made some improvements to the farm- the floor of the mixing room has had 3/4" crushed stone added to raise the level, as it was getting absolutely soupy when it got rain (bank barns have less than wonderful drainage at times...).  I had wanted to get stall mats, but after learning they were 100 lbs each, and I needed several, I decided to hold off.  But, winter was coming.. so I rented a truck, and headed out to Tractor Supply to go get them.  My friend Mark and I put them in, I laid some straw on them and  we were good to go.  Soon after I finished that, we had our first freezing rain storm, and the floor stayed dry!!

I have been working Johnny a bit, but sort of hit a blockage in our progression and then I learned, by having gone to another place, that Johnny needs more than just balancing at this point, he needs to work the sheep.  So, we are now going to be moving out of the round pen and let his brain get stuck into the whole process.  I really like Johnny.  He has a great temperament, almost funny at times, and is keen as mustard on sheep, but not crazy.  I love his looks too.  Smooth coats are the way to go in terms of keeping your house clean!

Joe is doing great.  He just turned three, and now I have a dog who I not only can trust to bring me the sheep- using his head, and to push when needed in any circumstance, but now he has some nice style coming through.  So funny, when I think back to how he was a rank novice dog, to how he is now...I am reminded that *so* much changes as they grow up... he certainly was not inordinately special as a youngster, but one thing he did have was a connection with me.. that I think is very critical;  a dog who has an inborn need to learn and work with his trainer..

The flock is doing well, and I expect to start lambing some time in early February.  There is one Cheviot ewe who I don't think is bred, but I am not sure.  I sold the ram off rather early in the breeding season, so it is quite possible she cycled out of sync with the rest.  I have sold several Cheviots, and am only keeping the ones I truly like, so though numbers are down, we are in good shape in terms of quality.

Christmas is almost here, and I really am not ready.. but then I am never ready... this year seems worse!!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Johnny on sheep

I finished the round pen yesterday.  I put the welded wire up, and am using bungee cord and clips to close it to a panel.  I think that will do.  Looks good.  Brought Johnny in there, he is keen as mustard, but not ready for training.  The things he did that I really liked were how he went to the head, tried to get between them and the fence (they were stuck to it quite a bit), and how he already seems to know how to gather.  He was very tired after that.  He was very happy too.  Johnny hates the car as it makes him nauseous, and he hates it when I put the leash on him at the farm, as it means car.  Well, for the first time ever yesterday, I put him on the least after we worked, and went and sat down with him to rest.  Instead of trying to disappear from my view while on leash, he actually sidled over to me for some loving- that is the magic of sheep on sheepdogs.  I was so happy!

I have a lot of barn clean up to get to this week, now that the pen is finished.  Hope to start on it today.

Let's hope we get some rain soon, as we are so dry, it is bad.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Work

Jenna Woginrich has embarked on a series of vlogs that have been, well, painful to watch.  I cannot watch a single one of them through until the end.  Jenna has become a full fledged public figure and is redeeming this designation to try and reap more income from her adoring (cough) fans.  Those of us who actually farm, and pay our bills know what work is.  We do it every single day.

Jenna's most recent vlog is on "work".  Really Jenna? Honestly?  Have you *ever* done anything at that place of yours that does not include the majority of the work being done by your adoring fans, or friends? If you have, maybe you should tell us when.  With the abundance of blog posts on your recent forays into new hobbies, you don't really seem to actually do anything alone.

Let me tell you what work is Jenna.  Work is getting up at dawn, downing a cup of coffee, if you have time and pounding posts, by yourself, pounding until you cannot move another muscle and have to sit and rest.. Just long enough to catch your breath and go back to it, and you go until you cannot physically do one more single thing.  Then you rest again, and do a bit more, just to push yourself.

Work is getting on the tractor and mowing fields sun up to sun down, bouncing around when you hit holes, or mounds, and only stopping to fill up with diesel, and when done feeling like you are still moving.. and getting blisters from holding onto the steering wheel so long.

Work is stacking hundreds of bales with one person throwing the bales off the wagon (not five people helping).  It is cleaning the barn muck bucket by muck bucket every single day so your livestock don't live in their own filth.

It is looking at a problem, figuring it out, and addressing it by yourself.. doing a good job, because a job worth doing is a job worth doing well.  It is having worked so hard you feel like you can't get out of bed the next morning because you over did it, but having to suck it up and take an Aleve and get to your agenda.

Work is not: Hauling buckets of water to your animals because you refuse to get a hose, because sharing that you carry buckets of water will get you more hits to your website (lookit me I am so strong).

Work is not: Chatting like a school girl into a webcam, and pretending to know what farming is.

Work is not:  Owning lots of poultry because you know the majority will be killed and eaten by predators simply because you do not have space to keep them in.

Work is not:  Leaving mangy pigs in a mud pit, can calling it "raising them".  Neither is it leaving pigs in a dark barn, until they are old enough to be put out of their misery.

Work is not: Riding horses.


PLEASE do not espouse that people are afraid to work when you would not know work if it bumped square into you.  You live off the backs of hard working people, you do *not* work.

By all means, keep on with the vlogs, because we can archive them as examples for how NOT to conduct oneself.




Sunday, September 28, 2014

Training pen time

Yesterday I started the training pen I wanted to set up for Johnny.  Although he is not quite ready to start, I want to be ready when he is.  So far, the few times I have put him on sheep, they run into the woods, and even though he is game to get them, it is just not a good idea.  So, I started by pounding posts in yesterday.  I think I did about 10?  Today was time to finish.  I wanted to make it as big as I could, as bigger is better for training pens.  I used 5 16 ft combo panels and also some left over sheep and goat fence I had.  I am about 24 ft short of what I need.  That amount includes space for a gate, so probably more like 21 feet.  I have some cheaper welded wire fence I may just use.  Then, this will be done!  It has not been easy, but honestly, if I wait for someone else to help me I may just die of old age.  But, I have to thank those who could not help me for whatever reason, because they have taught me to be more resourceful, strong and persistent, and really know what I want.  Tomorrow I move sheep (need to find a new ground rod for the charger since mine is missing.. One thing you will note is that some of these posts are not so level. This bothers me, but they will be removed after about a month, as this training pen is temporary.  One of the posts in particular fought me and I call it a draw. It is not as deep as it should be, but I had either hit rock or a massive root.  I had moved it several times, but well, like I said, it's a draw.   In the first pic, the sheep were convinced I had grain and ran ahead of me.



Saturday, September 27, 2014

I am baaaaack!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well, I am not sure who is still even paying attention to this blog, but after an extended, and cathartic, I might add, absence, I finally feel ready to come back and share my life.  I have re-centered myself, and am hoping I can keep this place not only fun, but perhaps a little educational- in the don't make my mistakes sort of way.

I feel like I should share why I had to take leave for a bit.  I felt sort of empty, and even more so, extremely unhappy with other bloggers who have taken the very meaning of a blog; a life diary on the web, and subverted it to the explicit purposes of funding their lives.   I found that extremely offensive and decided I did not want to be part of it- and that meant a break.

Well, now I am back and ready to move forward!

So, what has happened... Well, I had a very nice crop of lambs this year.  Almost all lambs have been sold, or retained for breeding.  The ram I have is just great, and produces excellent well muscled lambs, with quiet temperaments.  He is being sold this year as too many of my flock are related to him.  I also have one cross bred ram lamb for sale.  Other than that, I purchased three ewe lambs from the owner of the flock from whom I rented sheep for my sheepdog trial.  They still have tails, which is rather annoying, but they have good confirmation and I hope to eventually produce really nice lambs from them.  As I mentioned, I hosted a sheepdog trial at the property across the street from the farm.  It went very well, and was a monumental effort.  I do mean monumental.  BUT, it was so worth it.  My goal was to have a calm, relaxing trial on good sheep, and that is exactly what we had.
There was a lot of help by many, but still, it about wiped me out for days afterward.  Hopefully we can have it again next year!

On the dog front, not sure if I mentioned it, but I have a pup named Johnny, he is about 7 months, and is a smooth coat.  I named him after my friend John who passed away.  Did I mention that?  My very very good friend John passed away at the end of March; he was found in the sheep barn having suffered a heart attack.  It was very very difficult for me to process and I miss him every day.  His property is for sale.  So very sad.

The summer flew by, partially, I think because of the long winter we had.  The hay (most of it) is in the barn, and I still have a lot to do.  Lots of barn clean out.  I did get a load of crushed stone in the barn so that I can put stall mats on the floor, and I will put straw on top of that.  I should save a lot of money in straw, as now the floor should be raised above the wet zone (water seeping in),

This fall, I don't have many plans,  I would like to do some trials, but in all honesty, I am not sure I could afford it (to go away).  This is one reason I wanted to have my own trial...

Well, that is it for now.  I hope all has been well with you.  I have attached some pics of some of my favorite things.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Now on FB

Hi Friends

I have created a page for the farm on Facebook.  I had to come up with a name for my farm enterprise as it were, and the name is "Cheviot Hills Farm".   I wanted a name that referred to the origin of my sheep, and my dogs- they both originate in the Border area of Scotland/England, and Cheviot Hills is a town there.

Here is the address for the farm

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cheviot-Hills-Farm/1476073055947900

Sunday, February 16, 2014

So, let's see... Lambing began last Sunday - a set of twins.  The mother rejected the very small, but strong female, but kept the male.  I brought the rejected lamb (a ewe) to my friends' house to bottle raise, but sadly, but Tuesday she had died.  I did not have real colostrum for her and I believe that is what caused it.  Very sad.

Then, on Tues, the cross wool ewe who had lambs last year, had a single ram lamb.  It was breech- I ended up pulling the lamb because I was worried that normal contractions would not occur.. anyway, he is jet black and beautiful.  She's a good mom too.

Then, on Weds, one of my original Cheviot ewes had a lamb.  I got there to let everyone out and feed in the morning and she was already in labor.  I sat and waited.  She pushed to beat the band.  The feet finally appeared, but no nose.  I gave it a long time, but went to help.  I want to add that the ewes seem to really appreciate my help when it gets to that point.  This was a big lamb- head was off to the side of the feet, I am not sure she would have gotten him out.  He was the biggest lamb yet, and she the smallest ewe.  I feel like I should let them try harder, but at the same time I worry about dying lambs... real judgement call.

Then, we got two feet of snow on Thurs/Fri.  I spent all day Friday shoveling.  I opened a place for the maternity sheep/lambs go to and be outside.  Needless to say I was so tired Sat that I did not do much.. plus it snowed again on Sat.

So, today (Sunday) I had to clean the barn.  I dreaded it because sheep were locked in during the storm(s).  I got it done though.  I find that all this work- it is worse when you think about it- you just need to get to it.  I was on a roll, and after I cleaned out the big room, I cleaned the two jugs and also picked up and re-organized the surrounding rooms.

Home now, just chilling until I go back later to put moms/lambs in for the night.  That's basically my schedule these days...

Hope everyone is well!