Sunday, May 18, 2008

Farm Update 5/18

This was one of those weeks that felt completely uneventful until I started to write the update. Looking back on it now though this week was packed. 

The biggest development was that Miss Linda was unable to feed both of her kids. You may remember that before Linda kidded her udder was huge, so swollen with milk that it was very taut and uncomfortable. I was worried that she might develop mastitis so I brought in The Specialist to nurse from her to help relieve the pressure. The Specialist is Sweet William, one of the bottle babies that we bought last month. Sweet William is also known around the kidding barn as "the little milk thief" because of his tendency to wait until the nanny goats are eating and latch on to which ever mom with a bag full of milk is closest. I don't exactly encourage this behavior but I do admire the fact that this kid goes after what he wants.

But even with Sweet William's help, Linda bag was really stressed while waiting to deliver, and by the time Cumin and Cayenne came along, she was leaking milk from one side and the other was obviously giving her pain. She was very good to both of her babies, cleaning them and protecting them from curious onlookers, but she just didn't seem to have it in her to nurse them both. I left them with her for a couple of days, but the buckling (male kid) was weakening and I finally made the decision to bottle feed him.

So now we have two bottle babies living in our townhouse. Bay Leaf seemed happy for the company and I'm happy he has a buddy to hang out with until the two of them rejoin the flock later this week. 

Snuggling in the laundry basket.

Cumin is on the left. He was weak when I first brought him home but he has grown as strong as Bay Leaf in the last few days

Bay Leaf
Cumin checking to make sure Bay Leaf doesn't have any milk in his ear.

The babies are keeping me crazy-busy, screaming at the top of their voices for milk all day long. They are only supposed to be eating four times a day now, but try telling them that! I actually tiptoe around the house so as not to wake them up.

I have started moving the sheep and goats at Felix Neck everyday to keep up with the green grass and their appetites. We use a flexible electric fencing by Premier that makes it very easy to move them a little bit every day, although complete moves are more problematic.

I took the above picture to show you what I mean by partial moves. I moved the fence to open up a six foot swath of new grass and you can see that the entire flock is in the fresh area eating. Within a day, the green area will look just like the brown part in the front.

Unfortunately, it isn't always possible to move six feet in one direction every day and sometimes you have to pick up the whole shebang and start somewhere fresh. When Patrick is here to help it's not a huge deal. We have lots of fencing and we just set up the new one and one of us leads them over to the new pasture with a bucket of grain. It's a little harder to do it alone because there is always a chance that the flock will decide that they'd rather have the green grass in between the two fences than the grain and will take off. Rounding them up is a huge pain in the rear so I tend to be pretty cautious when doing it alone.

Another draw back to a big move is that I have to pour out all the water from the tanks because they are way to heavy to move when they are full. Of course, that means that all the water tanks have to be filled, which is a huge job. I hauled more than 180 gallons of water this weekend! After I finished I was exhausted and sore and so proud of myself. I felt like a superhero!

There was one bit of bad news this week. Right after the Spring shearing, Patrick and I dropped off all fiber at a small mill in New York that we have used before with great success. Unfortunately, a couple of things happened in the last few weeks that have caused me to lose confidence that the mill was going to process our fiber this year to our satisfaction. I don't really want to get into the details because I really like the people who run the mill, but we won't be using them to process the spring clip. 

I want to be clear here that the mill we were using isn't one that I've ever mentioned by name in any of the updates. We had originally planned to have all the fiber processed at my friend Sara's solar powered mill, but our flock has grown so much this year that they couldn't do it and get their own fiber processed in time for all the shows that they do. So we went to plan B, and now, we are looking for a plan C.

After spending hours and hours on the phone with just about every mill from here to Michigan, we have narrowed it down to two and will be making a decision in the next few days once we receive sample yarns from each of them. Both mills have excellent reputations and do really great work. As soon as we settle on one of them, I will be driving the fiber up to drop it off [either 12 hours north or 7 hours northwest]  and will keep you apprised of the new schedule. [One of the mills I interviewed was perfect except that they were on a five month turnaround.] 

I feel terrible that the Spring shareholders will have to wait to get their yarn but I really didn't want to give you a product that I wasn't proud of. I hope ya'll understand.  

Going forward, we will be using which ever mill we settle on for Spring and this shouldn't be a problem again. Turnaround times for mill work are always longer in the Spring because everyone shears around the same time. Fall is much less problematic because only Angora goats and a couple of breeds of sheep are shorn then.

In better news, the ewes all look like they could lamb at any moment, especially Salina. See that hollow  near her behind?

It's actually easier to see it in profile below. That hollow means that the lamb is dropping in preparation for lambing.
Daisy doesn't have the hollow spot yet, but her udder is getting bigger.

I had hoped that they would go over the weekend because I'm going on vacation next week and I really wanted to be here since two of the ewes will be first time moms. Patrick will be here and I'm going to ask our friend Melinda of the Farm Institute to be on call just in case.  But you know how I worry...

So, I am going to Texas for a week on Wednesday and I am so excited! My best friend Becca's son, who I've know since he was in diapers, is graduating from high school and I wouldn't miss it for the world. I am also planning to eat Mexican food three times a day, spend time with my family and wear clean clothes every single day. I haven't had a vacation in a million years! Patrick is going to take care of the farm all by himself and he promised to blog about it. Stay tuned.

Linda's udder problems seem to be completely under control and, as always, she is the best mom in the kidding barn. Here she is trying to wake up Cayenne.

I love this picture of Mint sleeping.

Ancho and Chipotle are not only twins, they are best-best friends.
Besides calling mills and feeding bottle babies this week, I spent a lot of time learning to dye yarn. I'm getting better at it and I will post pics tomorrow. 


--Deb said...

Oh, lordy, so many adorable pictures. Bay Leaf and Cumin (shh!) look so happy together, and poor Linda, not being able to nurse both of them. But, really, all those little baby photos get me every time!

And, as to needing to wait to get my share? I'd rather wait and have the fiber be everything I know it can be, than to get it faster and be disappointed. Where would be the fun in that??

Enjoy your clean-clothes vacation, and say hi to your Mom and sister for Chappy, Mom, and me!

Anonymous said...

The babies are just adorable. :)


Pumpkinmama said...

Those photos of the kids are just adorable!

Katom Burke said...

very cute pictures! i love the ear nibble! enjoy your vacation!

Maggie said...

Exactly what Deb said :)

Jenny said...

What a great post! I LOVE those pictures of the kids on the grass with the sun behind them. I am so in love with Bay Leaf that I might just quit my job and move to the island so I can see him smile every day.

Have a GREAT vacation! You deserve it!

Joan said...

I just don't know how you can stand so much cuteness on a day to day basis. I know I'm only speaking for myself, but I would say, don't sweat the delay in delivery - this is all part of the program. If we wanted an immediate fix we would go to the store (or the nearest convenient fair). This way, we make a little investment, and you do all the work while we just sit around, look at cute pictures, and drool.

woolies said...

your pictures are the best, and I love love love all the farm stories.
PS working on a little lamb made from MV fiber - stay tuned!

Diane said...

>>I actually tiptoe around the house so as not to wake them up.

Like all moms do! Have a great vacation, Susan; SLEEP A LOT!

Susan said...

Thanks for being so understanding. I actually put off writing the update this week because I was dreading telling ya'll about the spring yarn and I hoped to have it worked out before I posted.

rubycakes said...

Wow! You have had a busy week! Enjoy your vacation!

And I totally agree with what Deb and Joan said regarding the Spring fiber!

Thanks for giving us a bit of insight into working what its like to work with mills. Its very interesting.

puppernaut said...

Oh my the babies are adorable!! :)

Jessica said...

Oh Susan, you KNOW she's going to go the second you get on the plane! (And good move having some back-up while you're gone - just in case)

Safe travels - try not to worry about the kids every single minute. :)

Dr. Knitter said...

I laughed aloud by the end of your blog to think that you thought this had been an UNeventful week!! My gosh...I don't think there's a broker on Wall Street who worked harder or slept less!

Was that a little hoof I saw poking out!! If so, I'll bet she'll have that baby BEFORE you get on the plane.

Looking forward to Patrick's insights. Thanks for the updates!

Crista said...

Would you bring some good Mexican (food that is) back for me? :)

The babies I want to hug...

Anonymous said...

This is my first update--what fun! I am so glad I decided to join this community and I am looking forward to "meeting" more of you here and in the Ravelry group. But I had no idea how much work is involved the the sheep business--enjoy your vacation Susan, you deserve it.


Awesome Condo in JP for sale! said...

I know having the bottle babies in the house must make your life harder, but they are so friggin cute!! I want them to come live with me!!

Have a wonderful, relaxing vacation!

mydogpetey said...

I love what you did with the photos this time - when you click on them, they are HUGE and of really good quality. I just saved them to my desktop and an making a screensaver from them. LOVE that!

When you get back can you tell us a bit about those hawk or falcon photos you just added in your flickr account? That one with him holding the fish is a great shot. Is that on your property?

Happy resting and enjoy your time off - and I too am interested in getting Patrick's point of view!

Mary, Mary... said...

Honey, you deserve a big margarita after all that work. Don't forget the chips and queso! Besos y abrazos from Austin.

goodkarma said...

That was one of my favorite farm updates so far. I love the pictures of the kids! But mostly, I feel like I learn just a little bit every time you do these kinds of updates. That's so fun for a city girl like me! Thank you so much.