Thursday, May 16, 2013
Sunday, May 12, 2013
Today's weather was rather nasty. Woke up to cold blowing snow, and the lights flicked on and off several times which led me to fill up several jugs of water to have on hand....just in case. Always works like a charm because we didn't lose power.
Around 4:30 I went outside to check on the maternity sheep. Gaia was in full blown labor. Ran inside to grab the camera and watched the whole birth. Will post those photos separately.
Zanzibar and Mull (he is going to be gray!).
Really? Don't hold your breath!
Saturday, May 11, 2013
Yesterday while in the midst of shearing alpacas, Elle decided to give birth to two ewe lambs. We quickly put her into a jug with her lambs and they got to work nursing. Both are black with some white markings mixed with gulmoget markings. Both very sweet.
Krunet sokket gulmoget ewe lamb...the first born.
Gulmoget ewe lamb with a tiny white mark on her head.
Today we were supposed to be going to Mackinac Island. Star line ferries gives residents of Mackinac County free passage to the island one day a year so we were all going to go over. Twenty minutes before heading out the door though, we noticed Zanzibar was in labor. Trip delayed.....she tried pushing for about two hours and was getting tired. The short chase it took to catch her exhausted her. The lamb was presenting normally but had a really big head. I helped out a little by easing his head out and pulling a little on his legs. It was a big ram lamb with huge horn buds! He is a flashy fellow.
Yuglet socket black ram lamb; his name is "Mull".
Ann here is Nala's ram lamb, "Rum", who is a week old today. He only has tiny bits of horn tissue which may be scurs (the tup has scurs). He is a trouble maker and bounces all over the place! He will have fun with the other three when they all get together....which won't be today because it is SN*WING. Cussing weather.
Saturday, May 4, 2013
I thought I had finally caught someone giving birth....but when I got out there, this is what I saw:
Meanwhile, the Vanimans showed up to gather some Bunny Poo for the school garden and they had their roto-tiller with them to use at the school. They very generously offered its use to us so Will spent an hour tilling all our gardens while I chatted with Sue and Mark.
Friday, May 3, 2013
Every fall for the past few years Will patiently waits until the spring bulbs go on sale for super cheap and then stealthily sneaks around the yard planting them. Spring is that much cheerier finding some spots of color where they haven't been the past year. He never tells us that he has done it so it is a sweet surprise.
I've been keeping a close eye on our white pregnant Shetland ewe, Nala. She is looking miserable, though alert. Not interested in treats, but getting an occasional mouthful of hay. She is our most social sheep and doesn't want anything to do with me. I feel slightly paranoid because it seems like there is a thin line between pregnancy toxemia symptoms and early labor. This is likely because I've not had a toxic ewe, so I'm probably fretting for nothing. She is restless, then lays down for a bit; goes into the shelter then comes out; stares off into the distance and lays down with her head extended. Her vulva is bright pink and puffy but no discharge. Poor thing....I'm sure it annoying having a human staring at your bum all the time. I'm giving her a break by using binoculars from the kitchen....and no, I wouldn't say I was obsessed...not really....
Pizza dough is rising and the beers are chilling. Sounds like we will be watching "Garfield".
Monday, April 29, 2013
On those days I just don't know what to make for dinner, Ponyo Soup is a favorite request.
Haven't seen "Ponyo" the movie? It is a lovely Japanese anime movie by studio Ghibli that Disney has somehow picked up the rights to distribute. It is very sweet and the mum in the movie makes this soup that is basically doctored up ramen noodles. Good in a pinch!
Busy this past week and into this week as well.... Had a relaxing and productive weekend doing chores around the farm. Spent a few hours at the field down the road where the alpacas will spend the summer trying to figure out where their pasture fencing should be placed.
This is a screen shot from Google Earth. If I was smart and knew how to draw on the photo I would do so but I'm not and you will have to figure it out verbally instead of visually. The top of the photo is north (handy eh?). We will fence in two fields which may be further split up. The first will be on the west side of the photo adjacent to the tree line and between it and the island of trees. It will be approximately two acres. There would be afternoon shade there in the summer.
See that finger running from the east side through the center? That is a depression in the field where there is a bit of a draw and it is slightly wet in the spring and the trees are apples and crabapples. The property owners would love to have animals in there to graze because haying equipment can't get in there and the grass "goes to waste" there. That area is approximately 5 acres. Bought three rolls of field fence today and need to pick up a bunch of posts and then we will start fencing in the west pasture splitting up both labor and funding. We still need to pick up a couple of portable shelters too. We also may be able to buy the hay off of this land if we can arrange the haying...checking into that.
We are on lamb watch! First possible lambing date is this Friday so I've spent much time looking at sheep vulvas wondering who goes first.....excited! In the midst of lambs the alpaca shearer comes (May 10th) which should be an adventure as we've no idea what to expect. Then the sheep shearer comes the end of the month and hopefully everyone is done lambing.
Busy work week too; climate change conference three days this week in Sault Ste. Marie (Michigan side), downstate today, and off part of Friday to take Mr. Gingerpants to the vet for a urine culture (oh joy).
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
I had this post on the farm's Facebook page today.....I'm pretty excited that they included our farm on this map! It is a really interesting article too.
"Just wanted to let you know that YarnPlaces.com, a nationwide directory of yarn places and events, is running a feature article today on CSA fiber farms, and Spinner's End is included on our nationwide map (see link at end of article):
Have a great day!"
So in my last few posts, I’ve been talking about my longing to connect with the animal behind the yarn. I’ve been researching alpaca shows, shearing festivals and farm tours as ways to do this. I’ve found lots of wonderful events along the way, but the events come and go, and my longing for alpaca continues. Well, yesterday, I came across something that may just provide city and suburban dwellers like myself a more permanent fix–participation in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) fiber farm.
Many of you are probably familiar with the CSA movement in food. Typically, a farmer offers “shares” in his harvest in the late winter or early spring. The money raised through the sale of shares helps the farmer plant, cultivate and harvest his crop. Once the crops are harvested, the shareholder is given a share of the produce. For the consumer, it is a way to eat fresh and local, and to support area farmers. There are over 600 CSAs in the US .
Recently, the CSA movement has begun to take hold with fiber farmers. It works on the same principle. Shares are offered prior to spring or fall shearing. After the shearing or “clip”, share holders receive a portion of the fiber- either in its raw form, or as processed batts, roving, or yarn. Additional perks often involve an invitation to shearing day, family farm visits, and the opportunity to help out on the farm.
Although the specifics vary from farm to farm, a share generally costs between $100 and $200 and buys you a percentage of the clip. At Juniper Moon Farm in Palmyra, Virginia, a share costs $175. The number of shareholders is limited so that each one gets a “bountiful” supply. After the shearing, the fleece is sent to a mill and made into yarn, then divided among the shareholders. Spinners can opt to receive a “spinner’s share” in roving rather than yarn.
At some farms, shareholders can identify the specific animal and type of product they want. At Creekside Acres Farm, in Pleasant Valley, NY, investors can buy “sponsored” shares for $50 more than the standard share, and choose a specific animal for their fleece.
Mike has made a terrific Yarn and Fiber CSA Map for us, with information about each farm and a link to their websites. There are 41 yarn and fiber CSAs across the country. See if there’s one near you!