Monday, December 31, 2012

Walking walking walking

On Sunday, I headed up to the farm to get chores done, walk the dogs, and stop at my sister's place.  Got everything on my list done, and then some.  My sister and I watched an episode (she has dvr) of Pioneer Woman on the Food Channel... most of the food looked great; though some was a bit rich looking for me.  I do really like her blog and well, most of what she does!

Then I headed up to the farm, put on my gloves/boots and walked the dogs.  Joe and Dan work hard to run in this stuff, but they seem to not mind- though they do sleep when they get home...  After I walked them, I fed a couple bales of hay to the sheep, grained them and then looked at the barn.  It needed mucking out, so I did so.   The other method of keeping the barn in the winter is to just add more straw on top of the old.  Well, being that I have no machinery and it's only me, I don't want to do that.  I can't imagine the work it would be come spring.  And, I am no spring chicken!  I am not old, no, but certainly do not want to tackle that sort of work.  Anyway, got it cleaned, added a new bale of straw (don't like this straw at all- too crumbly), and then I got Dan (he was sitting watch looking out at preventing sheep from coming in the barn as I was cleaning).  After all that I was a bit tired.  Stopped at the grocery store for some kitty litter, and headed home.

Did not get much done yesterday afternoon, and ended up watching some football and reading my book. 

Today it was VERY cold when I got up- in the teens.  No plans this week at all.  No way I want to work my sheep, or my dogs in the very cold weather coming up, and well, I guess our walks will be more important than ever.

Ciao for now!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

No Rush

Last night I took a fall as I went to get in my Jeep.  I slid under it when my foot hit a hill of ice- only my head sticking out.  That hurt a bit.  And, what made it worse, was I was heading out to get chicken wings for dinner, and they were terrible.  Think dessicated chicken.  Woke up with a head ache this morning; wonder why?

Anyway, it is BEAUTIFUL out this morning; baby blue skies, snow everywhere, and a quiet that you don't get that often in life.  I am so happy to be having a real winter, even if it means more work and cold, that's still not a bad price to pay for such beauty.

I have put notice out that I would like to find a home for Lucy.  She is not permitted near the other older girls except for when outside, and the other day Nikke, my twelve year old slipped going up the stairs and you could see Lucy had to work very hard not to attack her.  She just wants the other bitches gone.  I don't know why this happened.  Lucy is a very sweet dog in every other way.  It pains me, and I don't honestly know if I *could* give her up.  Maybe by the time I do find her a home, the other girls will be gone.. There is no major rush.  

My old kitty Ginger is losing it mentally. Yesterday she kept going to the bathroom and howling in there.  I finally had to shut the door.  She had an upset stomach previously, so maybe that messed her up.  The thing is, when she goes walkabout, most of the dogs (Dan is the WORST) follow and harass her.  When I shut the bathroom door, I picked her up and put her in the bed and lay near her, and that seemed to work.

This morning I just had toast.  I am duly sick of eggs at this time... Trying to avoid bread, but well, I slipped! Can't wait for work's retreat to open this week so I can get back on my wonderful soups for lunch!  I do love them!  In a while will head out to do the normal, and then home and stay warm.  Cold out today...

Saturday, December 29, 2012

"Get it"

So, I stopped by and picked up some sheep and dog provisions at Agway (using my gift card- thank you family!!) and then up to the farm.  First thing I did was walk the dogs.  I figured I better do that first, as I may not want to after I did the chores.  So, took our walk, and paced myself- and tried to walk in my previous foot prints- which helped a bit.

After our walk, I got a couple bales of hay, and went out there.  I noticed some hay was still left from the previous day, so I ended up leaving about 1/3 of a bale of mostly alfalfa on the sled, and gave a full bale of grass hay.  I spread it out- I was getting winded now, trudging through the snow.  When it was time to give out the grain, I had Dan push the sheep far away, but they stopped at the hay bales.  One small sheep, not sure if it was a ram or ewe lamb, stopped and faced Dan.  Dan looked, and waited.  I figured I would let it have a second or two to think about it.  The snow is deep and crunchy on top, so it's tough going out there.  So, then it went and then turned again.  The third time, I told Dan to "get it" and he did- gripped on the face, and she/he finally turned.  Hopefully that lesson was learned well.  I don't blame this sheep, it's tough going out there.  Glad that Dan can back up what he asks for, or soon all of them would be doing the same thing.

I got the grain out and as I started to leave, it really started snowing.  Stopped at my parent's house and had a Gjetost sandwich (look this up if you don't know what it is) :), and also a piece of carrot cake. Man, do I love that stuff.  Then I headed home.  I have been home a while now and have been out several times to shovel.  I want to keep up with it. It's really coming down at a fast clip now.

Tonight I believe I will have tomato soup and grilled cheese for dinner. Glad I don't have to be any where today!

Gimme my pancake!

Just had breakfast... Last night for dinner I had oatmeal with some raisins. For some reason, every time I nuke it, it explodes all over the microwave... This is messy folks!  Anyway, it was very good, and I find a good night time meal- helps me to sleep better.  I love the milk instead of water.  Book was good last night- am reading the newest book by Cleo Coyle- her coffee house mysteries- forget the name now, but if you are looking for a decent mystery - try Cleo.

Like I said, I finished breakfast, dogs and cat all got pancakes.  Kitty adores these so much the minute I take the griddle out of the cabinet, he's at his station, near the stove waiting, and as they get done, he assumes the position to remind me of his dire need for them!

We are supposed to get around 6" of snow today, to add to the 6" we already have.  Am using a sled to bring the hay to the sheep.  I gave them 1.5 hales the day before yesterday, and when I got there yesterday, all of it was GONE,  just basically green spots in the snow, that I don't like- as there is no other fodder to eat out there- and even if there was, getting around is very tough- crusty snow that they fall through as they walk on it.  So, yesterday, they got two bales, and they kept falling off my sled.  Oh the joys of winter.

Today, I need to hit various markets, and get some sheep feed, and then will go up to the farm.  I doubt I will walk the dogs, maybe, but truth be told my calves are killing me from walking through the snow...  The dogs seem fine, but I worry about them getting hurt too.  Will have to see how it goes.  I would like to go see a movie- not sure which, but that would be a nice way to break up the monotony of this winter!

Well, better get a move on, hope everyone has a great day!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Proud of myself....

Busy day at work yesterday, and after, I went up to the farm.  More snow at the farm than at my place.  Really glad I have 4wd, as the driveway was plowed in.  The Jeep had no problems at all with it.  I walked the dogs first.  I think it was on the order of 5-6" of the white stuff.  About 1/3 into the walk, I was getting winded.  The dogs were okay, although I am pretty sure Dan was annoyed, because Joe is shorter than he, and could get ahead of him and block him...  Anyway, after the walk, as I was gasping for breath... Time to feed the sheep.  Wheel barrow was no use in this snow, and the sled was missing, so I carried one bale out to them, spread it out, then back for a half, and then to get the grain.   Had to search for the feed pans as they were completely hidden.  Anyway, got all that done, and mental note to find that sled...

So, I then head up to my parents' for a visit, and had some left over carrot cake, which was amazing.. just amazing...  Then, I decide to go back to the farm for another walk; this time the other direction more down hill then up... I thought...  So, did the walk and then I was officially tired, and felt like it was time to go home and warm up.  Dogs had frozen whiskers too :)

When I got home I decided that the pile of paper work I had needed to be gone through- in order to get some cleaning done.  So, I went through everything; filed, shredded, threw away, you name it.  MUCH better.  Only thing left to do is find a home for Dan's ribbons...  Then, I made myself a grilled cheese sandwich for dinner, took a hot shower and got in bed.  Was a good energetic and productive day, indeed, I was pretty proud of myself!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

We shall see....

After work yesterday, I loaded up the dogs and headed up to the farm, but first, I stopped by my hay purveyor to pick up a couple of bales of straw.  It was very cold out- low to mid 20s.  When I got there, another customer was there picking up some hay- looked like a store was picking it up to sell.  The older gentleman who lives on the property was very friendly, and chatted to me while I waited for the kid (I call him a kid, he's probably in his mid 20s!) to get plastic bags to put the straw in.  Our conversation went like this "Hi Julie! How are you" (as he is throwing bales).  My reply: "Great, how are you?!"  Then it went on "How many sheep you have now? Fifteen.  Oh, that's a good number.  How do they like the hay?  They love it.  We've got more saved for you in the back, but it's got alfalfa.  That's okay, they LOVE it!  After that, I went and paid for and loaded up the two bales and went on my way.  I really like this aspect of farming- the people.  Salt of the earth, polite, decent people.

When I got to the farm, after walking the dogs  I started cleaning out the barn.  I had a big group of on-lookers, as they could not believe that thing in the shape of a bale was not food... So, got it all spread out and looking quite comfy, and then went on to get them their hay and grain.  Everyone was happy, and I was frozen.  Could not feel my legs...  But, took the dogs for another walk, knowing it would be bad today, and it is!

This morning I awoke to about 2" I think, of snow, and sleet coming down.  I warmed up my truck and got my ice/snow scraper out... It's officially winter I guess!  The 4wd was a God send, as they did not plow anything and the sleet in addition to the snow made it very treacherous out there.

Today, after work I will head up to the farm and see about the sheep, and probably not linger.  It's supposed to snow for a while yet today.. We shall see.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas and onward

Christmas was very nice.  We had a fresh ham, roasted potatoes, veggies, and for desert we had a choice of chocolate cheese cake or carrot cake.  It was a great meal.  We were all a bit tired though; two days of festivities is hard on us getting olders...  But, it was a nice time.

Now it's time to get back to normal- or some sense of it.  A big storm is fore-casted for tonight into tomorrow, and I am hoping to be able to go pick up a couple of bales of straw for the barn.  I noticed yesterday that the straw on the barn floor has done a good job of keeping wet at the bottom, but when I checked further, I saw that indeed, I need to clean out.  This storm is bringing lots of WET- rain and snow and sleet.  I know the sheep will be in the barn.  I really feel for sheep who can't get out of weather like that.  I also feel for sheep who have to go into really dirty barns- it's a pet peeve of mine.  Nothing worse than seeing a line of filth where you know the sheep had to lay in it.  It's *really* easy to throw some straw on top so at least they can be dry and clean.  

Have not worked the dogs lately, and won't be doing it today either; too cold and too wet.  I think it's good for them to get a break too.  I have no plans for the coming several weeks, so definitely in the winter doldrums.  I will get Joe out different places to work, but that's basically it.  The years go by so fast now..... I just hope to keep up....

Well, that's it for now.  I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas!!!!!!!!

Christmas 2012

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve is in the books, and it goes down as one of the best ever.  Many reasons, perhaps the quietude of the night, not a lot of loud talking, just happy people enjoying each other's company.

After work, I drove up to the farm with the dogs, and walked them, but decided to give the dogs and the sheep a break.  So, after the walk, Dan and I went out to feed them their hay.  I always take that time to look over everyone, and it really relaxes me.  When I went to feed grain, they were on to that notion quick :)  They have totally accepted this as a good part of their day.  I fed them, and then checked their water- which was lower than I expected- they are definitely drinking more these days.

After the sheep stuff, I went home and tried to relax a bit, and wrapped the few presents I had (mostly I was giving gift cards).  I fed the animals and headed up to my parents.  It was a very nice time there.   I ate a lot and talked a lot.   I got home about 8:30, and that was good, because I was truly ready for bed.

This morning I awoke to snow on the ground and still falling; what a perfect Christmas morn!!!

Today, work again, and then back to my parents for a fresh ham dinner... mmmmm!!!!


Monday, December 24, 2012

Switching dog foods...

So, probably most of you have lamented like I have, about the cost of dog food.  When I see what I pay per month, it's sort of scary.  I think I may spend more on the dogs than me...  I feed Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream.  They all do very well on it.   It is not cheap though.  So, recently, I checked out other foods.  I was in Agway last week, and spoke with the owner of the store, and she suggested I try a brand called "Exclusive".  It has a bag program (where you buy so many bags and get one free), and it also had several different types for different needs.  I took some samples of the high energy version and lamb/rice for my dogs.  I mixed a bit in slowly, and everything seemed pretty copacetic.  I then decided to go ahead and get the high energy and lamb rice- so, two different kinds for the dogs, depending on what they were doing.  I then find out they only make the high energy in 38 lb bags- that's for two dogs... that makes no sense.  But, still, I wanted to try and save money, so I bought an 18 lb bag of the lamb and rice.

When I opened the bag, I could instantly smell that it was stale.  This is never a good sign, as it means they don't move much of it, and well, stale, is that much closer to bad/buggy...  I fed some of it, with the ToTW, and later in the day, I saw that Kylie was scratching her face/ears more, and I also noted, that there was a difference in all the dog's out put...  This all gave me pause.. To me, it's simply not worth it to save maybe $20/month and feed low quality food.  Garbage in, garbage out.  I have been eating better quality food myself, feed it to my cats and sheep, and therefore, not going to cheap on the dogs.  I may try and find a way to add healthy food to their dry food to try and make it last longer... But, in the end, what I did was return the food, and learned my lesson.

I hope you all like the new look

Hi everyone, I hope you all like the new look.  It was time to update the blog to reflect the changes, and status of my life, and also to freshen up the appearance.  Next is a new pic of some sort; that will come.  I am using the "Wish in one hand" moniker for my blog, because I believe it fits me.  My grandfather used to say "Wish in one hand, spit in the other, which one gets filled first?"  It fits me to a T.  Basically, it means, if you want something go for it- and work for it, don't wish it to come.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sheep, dogs, Christmas

I am going to up what I am feeding my sheep, based on weighing the bales... Some are just about 50 lb and some are near 40 lb bales.  They have been eating more, so a bale and half will have to suffice.  This means I need considerably more hay than I have, so will be getting about 50+ more bales next month.   They really love the alfalfa, and seem to be doing very well.  There is still a bit of grass, but not much, so given that several should be pregnant, I am upping everyone... Grain will start soon too.  I thought about not doing grain, but for my own sanity, they will all be getting a wee bit of grain starting today, and gradually increase; very slowly until we hit a peak of about a 1/2-1 lb of grain per sheep per day- that's not that much...  But, I do think the pregnant ewes will appreciate it.  The lambs too.  I strongly believe lambs get the short shrift if not supplemented in their first winter.. They need to not only maintain, but grow.

The black ewe who likes to go off by herself when I work the dogs, she's looking lean, and I don't think she's pregnant, but I can't tell- really...  She doesn't get worked much because of her independence, but sometimes she does.   They all get worked during the week and they all seem quite fit.

The sheep are not using/eating any of the mineral, it's weird.  Maybe this hay has just about everything they need.  I keep giving fresh mineral just in case...  but the pan is always full...

We are having horribly wet weather lately, so I bedded down the barn in fresh straw, and left the door open so they could get out of the wet if they chose.  I find my sheep will use the barn in the worst of the weather.  This is weird weather- warmish, not very cold, so yesterday when it rained they hung out under trees. 

Dogs are good; am trying a new brand of food that is not grain free, but I just can't afford the cost of what I am paying for the grain free anymore.  I will see how it goes. 

Cats are good.

House needs cleaning (as usual).

I have not started (well, my sister picked a few things up for me to give) any Christmas shopping.  So poor lately, not feeling very festive.

That's all there is for now!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Where's the time gone?

I've no idea.  Sometimes, I go back in this blog to see "where I was" this time last year.  I find a lot of similarities.. for instance- I am walking more now.   One big change though, is my diet.  I have cut out the sandwiches, and other bread items, and eat either a salad or soup for lunch.  For dinner, there is protein and a veggie.  More veggies in general.  My pants have gotten a bit looser and I feel better.  The dogs love the extra long walks too.

The temperatures have been "temperate" so far this December, and that makes me happy too.  Less heat/oil used.  The sheep eat their bale of hay, and I have learned that they are choosy about what they want to eat.  Two days in a row last week they got grass mix hay, and that second day, the lead ewe actually called at me as I left, I am sure wondering where the heck the alfalfa was!  Well, you get what you get my lady.... The runty ewe lamb is active, but small.  She will be butchered this spring.  She's just not breeding quality and her lack of resistance to parasites is not something I want hanging around my flock.  I don't blame her 100%, as it was a bad year, but in the end, I don't want to perpetuate that.

John and I have to bring back the ram that he borrowed to sire his next year's lamb crop this week.  Not sure when; the weather should be good until Sunday... I think he's done his job with aplomb.  Lots of ewes to do, we will see how successful in the spring!

There are a few more things I need to clean up at the farm, but all in all we are in good shape. 

Dogs are good; both Joe and Dan are working well, and Joe really seems to be maturing.  Yesterday though, he was quite full of himself and did not want to quit working - not at all when I told him... It's a new side of him, and one I quite like.  He's not becoming robotic and it shows that he's just enjoying himself more.  At his young age, that's really important, I think.   The girl dogs are well.  I feel for Lucy a bit, as she's not doing any work lately but she seems happy.  Heck, she's the only one who gets to sleep on my bed at night! 

I found out that we will indeed be doing Christmas eve at my parent's house this year.  Initially I thought no, because it really is too much for my mother- doing both that and Christmas day dinner, but we will be having relatives from Norway come visiting, so we will go ahead.  I know my sister and I will have to be taking  over more and more from my mother as she just isn't as strong as she used to be.  Luckily, I am a pretty good cook in my own right, so I guess it will all be okay.

Well, there's my update :)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

F%(#%#(*%# awesome!!!!!!!!!!

Last night I got a call from one of my lamb buyers- he bought some lambs from me and grew them out.  He had them processed recently, and cooked up some chops last night.  He called me just as he finished.  He said that they were F(#&%#( awesome.  Best he ever had.  He went on and on about how good/tender the meat was.  This is very very good news, as he stocks local farmers markets with various home grown meats.  This means I have a buyer for all my lamb.  This is very very good news.
If my sheep can at least pay for themselves (all their hay/feed/ and some of my time), I will be very happy.

Monday, December 3, 2012

A nice Sunday

It was a very nice day yesterday.  It started out with me getting up with a headache and sore upper back, but I took some Aleve and it resolved pretty well.  Later in the morning I headed up to the farm and my brother had a bunch of friends over hunting.  I took Joe and Dan for their walk and then I worked them both.  I had a bunch of spectators, and they looked like a bunch of traffic cones watching ;)

Joe did super nice.  We only worked for like ten minutes but his outruns are pretty much spot on - he's paying attention to his sheep all the way around and his fetch is still good.  I stop him before he thinks he can go to head them- that is one thing I let happen, which I am in the process of squelching.   We also did a little bit of driving- flanks too, on the drive, and then we just stopped.  It was short but sweet. 

Sheep were given their bale, and none were eating it that great- it was pretty stemmy, so I got another half bale which had more grass in it and they seemed happier.  Will see how much they left behind today.

When I got home I decided to tackle the rest of the leaves- it was nice out and it was just time (long past time) to get it done.  A few loads on the tarp, and then just blew the rest into the woods.  Then I cleaned up all the sticks (as many as I could) in the yard and put everything away. YES!  I am done with the fall work!!!  It turned out to be very good that I did the leaves yesterday, because it rained pretty hard last night.

I had oatmeal for dinner last night, and I think I have finally gotten it to where I like it regarding the consistency.  I don't like really THICK oatmeal, so this was not quite a slurry; a little thicker.  It was so good... Even the dogs wanted some...

Well, that's that..  Let's see what this week brings!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Sheep management

Read about another shepherd having another sick sheep... People, in case you don't know, sheep are generally a hardy animal, and as long as they have good forage and minerals and clean fresh water, you don't really need to do much on a daily basis.  Sheep can be prone to pregnancy toxemia at the end of their pregnancies, but that can be prevented by not having fat sheep going into pregnancy, then having them get lean and having their bodies not be able to meet the requirements of the pregnant ewe late in pregnancy.  The point I am making is that adult sheep should not just appear "weak" in out of the blue, unless something is lacking or you have stressed them some how.  So, here's the deal- if you are feeding hay 100% of the time and your sheep keep cropping up with weakness caused by low Selenium, this is a management issue, not a sheep issue.  This is your fault.  So, get your hay tested, and MAKE SURE your sheep have ad lib access to minerals at all time.  Better yet, get them OFF that hay 100% of the time...  this will ensure a wide range of food stuffs to better cover their needs.

Sometimes it's good for us to read stories like this, because it just reminds us to keep being careful with our sheep and ensure they have what they need... They certainly don't need much.  So ends my sermon for today.

Today I have some errands to run and then up to the sheep and then home.  Nothing other than that.  Am very poor right now, as I have to pay my oil bill by next week.

My sheep are doing well.  I am feeding one bale a day, and also putting another when needed as over flow into the hay manger.  It seems to last a few days, so they do need a bit more than one bale, but in the hay manger, at least it's not being wasted... Hard to judge how much they need at this point... The ram lamb is quite confident.  Yesterday he went up to a station where a black ewe was and she made to butt him- he just put his head down lower and was ready to play...  then she went back to her hay :)

Dogs are good, cats are good.  Boy Kitty was super sweet last night and cuddled with me all night, even when I got up a few times he came right back.  He's just a great kitty.  I thank God for him.

Well, that's it for now :)