Saturday, December 30, 2006

End of the year

The year is ending. Much has changed here at High Ridge Farm. This spring was our first involvement with birthing. We were extremely lucky. My only ewe had twin lambs, a black ram and a Hst ewe. Linus and Lucy are well and growing. The cows produced six calves. One died from something the vet couldn't understand. The calf just failed to thrive and lived about two months before we had to put him down. Two cows did not calve and we will see how that goes this spring.

In late summer, I bought two new sheep, a mature ewe and a lamb. They are wonderful. Mellow, the mature ewe, lives up to her name, and Millie has become my friend. I don't know for sure if the cookies are responsible, but I am pretty sure that they are. They are both white and were exposed to a F2 ram at their former home. Right now Mellow is in with Linus and Ami and Tommy are together again. Lucy and Millie are in the barn. I did not want to breed the lambs this year. Millie could have been put in with Linus or Tommy, but Lucy couldn't have been bred. We will see how this turns out in the lamb department.

The bull is in with the cows again. I hope we will have more calves from him this spring. Our total is up to 20 bovine creatures now. Eleven cows, one bull, and eight calves. Three of the calves are a year old, and the others come in at six months. Unfortunately, only three of the eight are heifers. The other five will go to the butcher. They all seem healthy and furry. My only regret is that they are not able to be handled. Since they were born out on pasture, I never got a chance to tame them. The cows that I can touch are the flower girls that we brought with us to High Ridge.

The sheep are all wearing bells, except for Ami. I will get her when I transfer her out of the back pasture when the girls get back together after breeding. My breeding groups got together real late because of logistical problesm, but when it did happen, I was able to do all of the moving all my myself which made me very proud. One of the main reasons that I chose the Shetland breed was because of their size. I am able to handle them and that is very important.
Right now Dickie, Lucy, and Millie are enjoying their time in the barn with their Christmas lights. They will go back out at the end of January. I will lamb late if my pairing settle, but that is OK with me. I will have to watch for Mellow and Millie to lamb early because of their exposure to that ram before I bought them. All in all I am happy with my shepherding experience for this year. I now have seven sheep, four ewes, two rams, and a wether.

The house pets have increased by one this year. In June a kitten showed up here. After Jake saw it for real and believed me that their was a kitten runnning around here, we captured him with a tiny live trap. After a small gender mistake by the vet, Junior became a new house cat. He is long haired, gray striped with white nose, cheeks, bib, and legs. He had a mega case of ringworm which I think caused him to become homeless. He did his isloation weeks in the upstairs bedroom where we treated and shared the ringworm. I had it in twelve places before all was said and done. When he came down to join the rest of the gang, he became the terror of the county. He has livened up many of our evenings. I sure hope he becomes more loving soon because he is a little pistol right now.

Dick is failing fast, and I don't think he will be with us much longer. His back legs are getting weaker and weaker, and this morning he wasn't eager to eat his food. I will not let him suffer.

The outside cats continue to thrive and we did not have any accidents this year. The only one that had to be in the "kitty hospital" was Baby Kitty because of her herpes virus that she seems to carry. I think she is doing OK now. She is certainly more weighty than she ever was before. She and Squirt Kitty seem to feel that the schoolhouse is their rightful home. I don't have a problem with that since this week they killed a mouse in there. That is just what I want them to do. I am so proud of them.

Animal-wise, I guess that is about it for this year. Next year will bring new work and new joy.
I hope for many new births like we had last year. The joy and wonder of that was beyond even my expected belief. I was able to be with Ami when the twins were born. What an experience!!
We did not get to see any of the calves born, maybe next year. It really doesn't matter, healthy and happy is what matters. In reality I have to find an outlet for my wool and for some of the sheep born here. I cannot continue to breed unless I find new homes or butcher some of the sheep. I will leave that for another day.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Larger family

Well, as of today, we are up to 75% in the calf department. The total would be four boys and 2 girls. That is not exactly what we were hoping for, but they are all well and the births were uneventful. The colors are interesting. The bull is black with a white belt. The heifers were either black with white faces or just black. They produces one with a white face, one with a white on his face, two with partial belts, one all black, and born last --- one brown calf with a full belt and white on his face.

They are all named after characters in the Charlie Brown comic strip. Charlie was born first - black with white on face. Schroeder was next - black with partial white belt. Sally was next - black with partial white belt. Then came Spike - black with a white face. Next came Peppermint Patti - all black. Last came Pig Pen - brown with white belt and white on face.

They are a cool group. It is fun to watch them race around the pasture with tails held high. It is also very interesting to watch how the mothers keep track of their own calf. Some of them are very consistent and others seem to care a lot less. Twice now I have seen a calf nursing on a mother that is not his real mother. I am a little worried about Schroeder. He does not seem as lively as he was at the beginning, and he has been nursing on another mother.

Out of all of those six calves, I have yet to see a calf born. Jake and I sat in the barn with Poppy for over an hour and waited while she labored. We went into to the house just to eat and when I went back out there, Spike was on the ground and getting a good licking my his new mom. I think that she planned it that way. Pig Pen was born on a wet morning, and even though that was a name that hadn't been used, by the next morning he had lived up to it. His nose was covered with mud and so was his side where his white belt was. I didn't even know until the other day that he has one white foot. His feet had been covered with mud. He is a cute big boy.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


We now have four calves. Three boys and one girl. That is 50% since we have 8 cows who could have calved. The way it looks we should have at least one more. That could be the end of it. The calves are all black and white. The two that came out of our Hereford/Holstein crosses have white heads and black bodies. The other two have white on their sides with the rest black. It is really nice to look out at the pasture and see the cows and their calves.

Now as to motherhood (since Mother's Day is this weekend)-------It would seem that all cows have a somewhat different idea of what their role is in the whole process. Although all of them do the basic stuff, they don't all follow through the same. Violet is the best mother. She is always sure that Charlie is nearby. She keeps real good track of him. Pepper was a real protective mom in the barn, but is kind of ho-hum outside. Fuzzy, on the other hand, is down right neglectful of poor Sally. Here she had the only heifer, and she leaves her laying out in the field and just goes about her business. Today Sally was left in the lean-to with Schroeder after their mothers had finished their afternoon naps and gone outside. Now who would just leave two darling little calves like that? Poppy is still in the barn with yesterday's calf. We will see how she cares for Spike when they go outside at the end of the week. It is certainly an interesting thing to watch.

The sheep on the other hand is downright paranoid about her babies. She keeps a tight rein on them. She is watching over them very well. It is fun to watch how they interact. The lambs are venturing further from her as the days go by, but anyting strange sends them bleating and scampering back to their mom. Today they spent more of the day outside in the rain. When I fed Mom in the evening, the little ones were as dry as could be. I guess the rain did not hurt them. Their wool was still curly. I sure wish I knew their secret. My hair can't do that.

All in all, spring is really a miracle here. The birth of all these critters is a positive lift that can't be beat. Being a woman, I was never an observer at a birth or post-birth observance. I like it and marvel at it. It has been a inspiring experience for me.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

More highlights

I know; I haven't posted in a very long time. That is not to say that nothing has been going on around here. In the last week we have had two lambs and two calves. It has been a hoot.

Last Tuesday about 4:30 in the afternoon, Ami gave us twin lambs. The boy is all black with just a few white hairs on his head. The girl has two while stockings on her back feet, a white head with black eye rings, black tips on her ears and two spots at the corners of her mouth. She also has a tiny white feather on her tail. They are both healthy, and their mother knew exactly what to do throughout the whole thing. I am totally impressed. They are getting friendly and let me scratch their necks when they come up to me with their mother.

Sunday morning there was a calf in the lean-to. It belonged to Violet; she is one of the four flower girls that we first planned to start a cow-calf operation with. Charlie is a funny little guy. He is all black except for his face which looks like someone took a brush and just slopped black paint all over it. It is so cool. He is calm and cool and able to be handled because his mother is also able to be handled.

Today was another story. As I drove up the hill away from the farm, I saw that one cow was all by herself at the far end of the pasture. I turned around and went back. When I checked on her, I could see that something was going on. She mowed like crazy when she saw me. I checked her two more times at about half hour intervals. Then the next time I went out there, I saw a flash of white in the alalfa field. Her newborn calf was out in the field. No wonder she was mowing. When the calf laid down, he was invisible. I went out there and got him back in with his mother, and later got both of them into the lean on the barn. That is where they are now.

We are still waiting for Poppy to calf. She is ready. Now we have another space crunch. The calf was out of the field up by the barn, and can't be left outside until he is sure to stay in the enclosure. Jake has to come up with a new plan tonight.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Waiting and Watching

Just another day in paradise. Nothing new happening here. It was a nice day, nice enough to go out and start to repair the disaster left by the snow plow. I hate raking that kind of stuff, but it was nice out at least. Tomorrow is supposed to be better, and I will continue my job.

The cows are fat or pregnant. The ewe is pregnant; I am pretty sure. That should be a real event. The only births I have been present at are the births of my two children. One I had drugs and the other one was a "piece of cake". I hope for a "piece of cake" for Ami. I am sure that I will be practically helpless. I have never even seen another animal born. I am scared speechless, and that is really saying something --(for those of you who know me). I can only hope that Ami's genes come through for her, and she takes care it of by herself. I have done everything that Nancy has told me to do, but I still feel totally unprepared. I just keep looking at her and wondering if she will give me a clue when this event is ready to happen. She probably will and I won't even know it. I hope it is one of those events like I am used to. I worry for weeks about something that is going to happen, and when it does happen, my worries were useless. We will see.

My house is progressing. I think. The Morris Brothers came last Thursday and poked around in the second floor and out on the roof. They will get us a more accurate estimate. We sent a drawing and the blueprints from our addition in Salem with them when they left. We will see what that brings. I really don't have much optimism tonight about having the project happen.

The guy? I wrote to about the historic preservation stuff said he would talk to his collegues on Wednesday next. That is tomorrow. I don't expect much from that either, but it is certainly worth my time.

I would post pictures with all this "hooey", but they can't handle my Mac.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

log houses

Tonight I faxed the Morris Brothers Carpentry & Excavating to ask them to be our contractors for the addition to our house. Boy, this is a long story. We bought this farm, literally, without knowing that there was a log home underneath its complete ugliness. After the closing the farmer asked us if we hadn't wondered why the windows were so deeply set. Well, having completely remodeled our last "farmhouse" we just figured it was another quirk in the home. But, NO, it was because some of the house was log underneath everything else. Well, at the time, it was immaterial. The house needed more work than you could shake a stick at, but I thought I could live with it. I was wrong. This place is "butt ugly" Nothing was done with any type of a plan, and we can never ask "why" because there is never an answer to that question. Now, just a minute ago as I was typing, Gene Morris called back, and we made a date for Thursday evening. He will be out here to get serious about this job.

After looking into putting a tract home on our property -- tooooo expensive. We have gone back to the original idea of stripping as much as possible and putting on a log addition. Jake has always wanted to have a log house. Well, now it looks like that just might be a real possibility. I didn't think that I have been very fussy about the places that I lived, but maybe I am wrong. I have never had to live in a place like this in my whole life. I certainly don't want to spend the rest of my life in a dump. Now, there is hope that we will have something more than this dump to live in. It is very exciting. I probably won't sleep all night just thinking about it. It would mean that I would have a huge shop in the upstairs portion of the addition. I would have more than enough room for my quilting maching, sewing machine, and "wool stuff". That would be a dream come true. Right now our living room is soooooo small, actually the "dining room". It is cramped because I am using the "living room" as my shop. The whole project will take a lot of time and money, but it will be worth it.

I just can't believe that this could actually happen. It sure is another highlight!
Now, I have these things to look forward to: 1. maybe a lamb, 2. maybe some calves,
3. a new septic system (dumb, I know), 4. beginning an addition to our home. That is a lot of wonderful things that could happen this spring. And that is another thing; it is SPRING!! What a wonderful thing to have happen again.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Another highlight

Well, this morning was another highlight as High Ridge Farm. When I went out to do chores this morning, the 2 boy sheep had gotten a door open in their pen and disappeared. They had dropped down into the shed where the manure spreader and tractor are kept. The landing and stairs are in ruins, and I have no idea how they got down into the shed without hurting themselves. I had a few scary moments until I got down there and checked them out. The next problem was how to get them back up into their pen. The first step left on the stairs was about 4 feet up in the air. I made a ramp with several pieces of plywood and added a set of steps from our old basement that had two steps on it. I was able to use my "ramp" to get up. Dickie was the first one to come up. Since they have been shorn, they remind me of goats. Now Dickie was as nimble as a goat as he came up the ramp and steps and got back into his pen. Tommy was not so sure that it could be done. I had to go back down and coax him to come up the ramp and steps. I was so happy that they were back in their pen and unhurt. I don't know how they came out of that unscathed.

I have left them in the barn because they are happy there and Ami, my ewe, is much happier to have some other sheep with her. She is all alone since my old ewe died last month. I am working with her to tame her down. She is very shy. That is an understatement. I sure hope that I can gain her confidence before she is due to lamb. I sure hope she has a lamb. She is nice and rounded now and doesn't look like the boys at all. I sure hope that roundedness is a lamb getting ready to be born.

It looks like April 15 is the approximate date for birthing around here. We have 8 cows and one sheep who have been "exposed" to a bull and a ram. Now, will there be offspring? I sure hope so although the bull may be too small for a couple of the cows. We will just have to wait and see. It should be another "highlight" at this place.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

High Ridge Lowlights

High Ridge Highlights

Well, I guess I picked the wrong title for this blog. I should have called it High Ridge Lowlights. Today was one of those days. I woke up at 2:00 a.m. with a headache. Taking my medicine makes me extremely alert. So I worked at the computer from 2:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. Then I went to sleep. The phone woke me at 8:00 a.m. It was my friend Sandy Stevens telling me that the shearer was coming to their house tomorrow. I have been calling the same shearer trying to get them to come on the same day that they come to Sandy's because she lives about 20 minutes from me. OK, that is another thing to think about.

I got up. Went to get the little dog and found her in the throws of a seizure. This is nothing new, but means that she will be literally glued to me for at least an hour. That slowed me down.

It was 9:15 before I got out to the barn. It is also snowing like crazy at this time. I need to get my ram and wether into their shed to keep them dry. After I got them penned in with a small gate and some binder twine, I decided I better check to see if the neighbor's sheep were inside. I hopped into my car, a little two-seater Suzuki X-90, and headed for Curt's house. I missed the drive towards his house and took the other side of the driveway. I started sliding and ended up half on and half off of the road, stuck about one foot from a utility pole. I was pointing downwards into the field and didn't understand why I had stopped. I knew I couldn't leave the car there because the road hadn't been plowed yet. I managed to slowly move the car into the field and proceeded a ways before I was stopped. I do not understand why I couldn't go further. I got out and walked to Curt's house.

Once I found his sheep, who were happily enjoying the barn, I managed to secure the gate that would keep them in the barn. Then I trudged home again, this time going across the field which is much shorter.

Now it was time to cover the door of the sheep shed to keep the snow from blowing in. I accomplished that with a blanket, some nails and a hammer. With this all finished, I could feed and water the cows and feed the ewe, who was already in the barn.

I don't even remember when I put in another call to the shearer to find out if they would be coming to me house tomorrow. I talked to the father who said he would get in touch with his son who was going to be the shearer. Well, that was not a "yes" or a "no", but I am used to that.

When I got in from the barn it was 10:30 and I felt like I had been wrung out and hung up to dry. The first thing I did was put on dry socks and shoes. The rest of the day was better, thank heavens.

Jake came home and used the Bobcat to drag my car out of the field. The Bobcat was even going sideways because that field is so hilly. We had to clean out a pen for the ram and the wether, and I mean clean!! Then we bedded it, made a few changes so that the sheep could not escape, and went out to get the boys. (Dickie and Tommy - after my favorite comedy team -- (I know, I am old) Jake managed to wrestle them into their collars and we led them happily up to the barn. There......they are happily munching on the new straw and comfortable for the night. I watered the cows and swept a place for the shearer. Oh, I forgot, in between cleaning the pen and after getting the sheep, I actually talked to the shearer, and he is coming tomorrow!!!! I am so happy! We were in the house by 8:00 p.m. What a day.

Now everything is quiet again. I hope that it is the same in the barn. I await the excitement tomorrow will bring, but I will rest more easily because of the raspberry cordial that Dave and Holly and I made this summer.

High Ridge Highlights

High Ridge Highlights

It is snowing up here. We are supposed to have some significant accumulations. Last time they were wrong, but it looks like this time we may take a hit. We are ready. The cows have extra supplies in the barn where they will stay while the storm lasts. They seem to like the shelter of the shed when it is storming. I guess that is not too dumb. The sheep will stay in during the storm, but they wil be out soon afterward. They are a hardy breed and are often seen laying down on the snow. The outside cats will be hopping around and begging to go into the "little house." Sometimes I will let them. It just depends
It looks like today will be a "quiet work day." That means sewing and reading, whichever I chose at the time. Right now it is the middle of the night and Pansy (inside cat) is doing wind sprints from the shop to the bedroom. I guess she thinks that is fun. It is accompanied by "mews" just to inform me about what is happening.
Up here we are expecting an exciting spring. Our animals are bred, except the cats. If all goes well, we could have a lamb and some calves. It is a guessing game because no one is noticeably pregnant. Lambing would be after April 15, and I don't have a date for the calves. I will have to check on that. It should be an exciting time. We have had two births on the farm so far. One we expected and the other was a surprise. Both were uneventful, thank heavens. That means that we have two calves now, plus one. They are all in the barn with their moms, two boys and one girl.
Now we will wait and see who else produces offspring. I am fearful that our bigger heifers will not be bred because our bull is quite small. I hope that I am wrong. Maybe he is a bigger boy than I think. The ewe did not get pregnant on her first exposure to a ram last year, before I bought her. We will see if we do better this year.
Inside, I just finished my spring quilt yesterday. Today I hung it in the bedroom. It is too big. The winter and summer quilts will just be full size. Now I need to finish some placemats and table runners. The placemats just need binding, today's work. I need to finish piecing two of the table runners and then quilt and bind them. The light should be good today with all the snow reflecting into the shop.
Yesterday I did demolition duty. I cut out the framework for a closet that was in a room upstairs. It gained me a few more inches of space for storage. I have condensed all of my "stuff" into one room now which leaves the larger room upstairs for a usable living space. I have my wool preparation machines up there and a desk and dresser for storage. It is a pleasant room because of the southern exposure. The cats sure like the two south windows for "serious sunning." Southern windows are at a premium in this house where light is dearly needed.
Only four days until spring!!!! But who is counting?