Bummer Lamb

Bummer Lamb

The saga of the bottle lamb continues.

I have heard bottle fed lambs be called “bummer lambs”, and never thought much of it. Until this past year I’d never raised lambs before. With this lamb, I’ve learned some things, mainly why they are called bummer lambs.

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Here’s the thing. I like hooved animals…. outside. But this guy pulls at my heart strings. Maybe it’s that I’m a mom now, or maybe it’s that my toddler calls him “my baby” and has stopped asking me about our dog that passed on last week. Either way, I have a hard time kicking him out. Look how he adopted our lab.

This weekend we put him out with the other lambs, it was so depressing. His mom didn’t seem to recognize him and all the sheep acted like he was, well… the black sheep. It was sadly horrible and funny to watch. Here is this 2 week old lamb trying to make friends with chickens – they were not impressed. When that failed he tried to make friends with the goats (they couldn’t run off – they were penned up in the bard). The goats just rammed the panel between them, sending him back to chickens for comfort. Chickens are unsurprisingly not into lambs and therefore little comfort to the bummer lamb.

With this in mind, my main goal this past weekend was to make my house not smell like urine. I am the queen of my castle overrun with boys. My husband is the only male in the house I don’t think is making our house smell like pee. Who knows, I could be wrong hahaha.

My oldest, is pretty good, but I still regularly yell “LIFT UP THE SEAT!” My youngest is smack in the middle of potty training so he’s that kid right now. You know, the one always in sweat pants that regularly smells like pee. I have an old lab that it’s a crap shoot if he will make it outside – thankfully he is respectful enough that if he has an accident it’s on the concrete at the back door – but STILL! On top of these, we have “my baby” off and on still in the house. The dang place had a heck of a go last week, and needed a full disinfecting.

Turns out the training pads for large dog breeds work pretty well, and they have scent lock. However, I’m pretty sure my pac ‘n play is now a barn tool. Don’t judge – baby goes back to the barn to make friends during the day. He’s actually doing better. His sister is starting to be more gutsy and stray from mom enough to play. Mom is not impressed with the small lamb that smells like dog and can’t seem to understand why her daughter keeps trying to play with him. Even with starting to integrate back into the herd, his loyalty is still at the house. As soon as he hears us or the dog he runs to greet us in hopes of coming along.

He’s gotten pretty good with the bottle, and we’re just about through the late night & early morning feedings, so he’s destined for barn nights.   He has been entertaining though. If he could be house broke he’d be even cuter.

 

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Life Cycles

Life Cycles

On a farm you see life run full circle at a faster pace it seems than in a suburb. For the most part I love this, other days, it’s hard. Recently you have seen we have added to our farm in multiples, 3 new goats, and 2 new lambs (you can read it here if you missed the cute pictures).

This past weekend was both heart ache and joy. We lost a member that has been with us for over 7 years. Jemma was our great dane – a great play mate, pillow, friend, companion and baby. Though I would definitely consider her a gentle giant, I don’t think the mail man, UPS driver, FedEx driver, or any other delivery person would agree hahaha. She would stand up on her back legs and look down through the window at anyone she didn’t know, use her biggest bark and make sure they  knew they were being watched. I watched her turn a large bone into shards within seconds, and yet, she was as gentle as could be with the family.

The average life span of a great dane is about 6-8 years so we were aware and enjoying this past year. Since moving to our Dayton farm she had turned into a puppy again, climbing rock walls and chasing rabbits. She definitely lived each day to its doggy fullest.

The hard part is the kids. My oldest does not remember a time without her and she has been his dedicated movie night pillow since he was 2. He took it the hardest understandably. Our toddler is still trying to understand which leads to lovely awkward toddler conversations.

Toddler: “My dog died”

Mom: “yes”

Toddler: “Isaac died”

Mom: Yelling to down stairs – “Isaac”

Isaac: yelling – “yes”

Mom: “no, Isaac is not dead”

Toddler: “but dog died”

Mom: “okay new topic”

The house is adjusting, but the lab (another old man) is getting spoiled out of family sadness and he’s mopey so it makes everyone feel better to give him a scrap here and there. Jemma was his gateway dog before and without her he can’t get scraps off the counters or tables anymore.

Of this past weekend, the hardest part for me was that it was not a smooth process. In my head, knowing this day would come, I never thought about how to take care of the situation. Jemma was around 100 pounds and if standing like a person, over 6 feet tall. Her bed was upstairs. Hubby was out of town taking care of business, but had a friend come help me get her outside. Our home isn’t that large, and the kids were curious what was going on, as much as I tried to send them down stairs, it didn’t work for the youngest, and both ended up seeing the fiasco of me and another trying to carry her outside. My humor turns dark in bad situations and I felt guilty thinking how I could never get away with murder – and how the F do people move bodies!   To top it off, we were not the only family to think a good resting place would be under this large tree on the property. I don’t think the kids noticed, hubby was pretty discrete, but quickly had to expand the site the other direction.  – Needless to say, we needed a family outing distraction and went for root beer, beer, and wine.

However, where there is sadness there comes joy, and this weekend was no different. The following night 2 new lambs were born, a boy and a girl.

These two are pretty adorable, so that is an improvement to the weekend.  Mom is healthy and happy. Though they could not look anymore different, white mom, red boy, multi color girl. Looking for more names, so far we have suggestions of Honey for a red girl, and Whiskey for a red boy. Any votes or suggestions?

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13

New Farm Additions

New Farm Additions

Today we had two new additions to our farm, and I am on cloud 9! They are so adorable.

It’s twins – A new baby boy and baby girl. Mom is fairly healthy, though battling some mastitis.  She dealt with this last year as well, leading to slightly malnourished labs last year.  We will watch her closely to make sure the labs continue to feed, and have milk and bottles on hand in case needed. We call  Momma “Red”, and she is the guard sheep of our flock.

This past summer and fall we had problems with cougars bedding down and finding a home in our “habitat plot” (a stretch of trees boarding our hay field / pasture). Red was the fearless leader of the flock, leading the others away from trouble as needed and gathering the flock when danger was present. It was impressive to watch when she would go into protect mode – all business, head down, in command of the flock, directing the others. The others wouldn’t take a step unless she gave the approval.

This past weekend we also added three other new ladies: Rosie, Freckles, and Gina. These ladies are Angora Goats – producers of mohair. If you read my goal setting post, you may have seen I am looking at trying my hand at fiber processing. Hubby wanted goats to eat the yard trimmings his landscape business produces, so this was a perfect compromise.

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So now we have sheep that look like goats, and goats that look like sheep! The goats are super friendly though, and from what I can tell will make great entry level show animals for the kids. For this type of goat, you don’t bathe or trim their hair, so for showing the boys would pull any hay out of their hair and be ready to go.

Jumping back to the lamb topic – We have between two and four more sheep left to lamb, we expect one to lamb sometime this next week. Any name suggestions for us? All in all, we expect to have 8 lambs this season.

Stir crazy with kids

Stir crazy with kids

I have this mental picture of myself as a mom and its a little Mary Poppins like. The reality isn’t as pretty. I tend to be the yelling mom. I find that I have 2 settings, easy going laid back mom, and yelling mom. Yelling is directly related to my 2 year old terrorist toddler. He’s a brute, 45 pounds of handful. Nothing is childproof in our home, and not from lack of trying.

This is what I’ve resulted to for our kitchen sick.

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Baby gates act as door bells to let us know he’s trying to go somewhere he may need supervision, and don’t get me started on how many cabinet and fridge latches I’ve gone through. I could go on for hours. Our 9 year is awesome with his brother, though he seems to forget he’s only 2 and plays with him like he’s 6 or 7. This can be great and allow me to clean the house, or horrible and have me looking for an escape window. Yesterday I broke up multiple fights, keep in mind, my 9 year old is 50 pounds, its a crap shoot who will win, and given the older one feels bad if he’s mean, he usually looses. I looked over at one point and the toddler had pinned big brother down and was sitting on him, all I hear is “I can’t breathe!”. UUHHHH, get off your brother!

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So now, in a town of 2500, what do you do when you need some sanity during Christmas vacation? Kick the kids outside to play in the snow and do some chores I guess.

Our home is set up weird to say the least. Don’t get me wrong, I love it, but it’s not conventional. As such, we have a wood stove in the basement that has ventilation set up to move heat up into the upper levels of the home. On the main level is a propane stove for added comfort and convenience. In the upper loft there is electric ductless heating and cooling. We heat mainly off wood heat. With a landscaper husband, you need a way to dispose of wood from trimmings or trees that come down during storms. Our area also has firewood harvesting really close by, so why not…

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Firewood is one of my favorite chores. Crazy I know, but when you get done stacking wood or cutting kindling, you have something to show for it – plus its a good workout.

Look at our before and after – it was a great feeling of accomplishment to get this cleaned up.

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Try that with doing dishes, or laundry – talk about Merlin’s bag chore. There’s always more and more. I have a perpetual pile of laundry, its like a monster in the corner. I do not understand how little people go through so many clothes, and theirs are half the size of ours!!! – Sorry, got distracted.

When cutting firewood or kindling we end up with scrap pieces, usually bark or big slivers that are too small to be good kindling, I pile these up and fill paper grocery bags, they make great fire starters. Plus, it’s a good way to use up grocery bags. Don’t get me started on plastic grocery bags – I have no idea why, but it’s like I turn into a depression era woman, hording bags because I may need one…. Ya, not logical I know, but if I get plastic bags I save them. What I have learned though with my fire starter bags is that you need to have a good mix of wood shards – and light from the bottom. If you get all bark it has a harder time getting going – which is the opposite of a fire starter and your husband looks at you like “thanks, I have to clean out the ash and mess”, He may also bring in a propane torch to get it to burn. Haha that entertained me!  I have to give my man credit, he humors me, and never calls out my bad choices. I sometimes think he’s afraid if he discourages my trying, I may quit.

Side note – clean stove glass with water – you can buy special cleaners, but they are a bit expensive for what they are, and if you use cleaner not designed for the stove glass, it tends to cause stippling. Doesn’t hurt the integrity according to our inspector, but looks bad.

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Work Mom Farm Mom

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Its been awhile since I last posted. My life took some crazy twists and turns. I accepted a promotion with my company that has made me a Tolling Opperations Manager. Basically, I will be overseeing a new relationship with a company that took over my plants operations. Real life is messier than that. Its almost like overseeing a new branch startup.

However, I’m excited and optimistic about the changes. We have relocated to a sweet new town in the heart of wine country. We purchased a 12 acre turn key farm just outside of town. We inherited roughly 4 sheep, 5 lambs, and 10 or so chickens. We also have a couple additional sheep and lambs, and i’m not actually that sure which ones are ours and which ones we are holding for the neighbor until he finishes his pasture fence haha. We also inherited a great relationship with another neighbor who apparently will be growing hay and barely on some of our acreage and we will be collecting part of that in trade.

I’ve been able to set my work hours to go great for family, I still have to work a bit extra above and beyond the standard 40, but for the most part, I’m holding my own. I’m able to start my hours at 7, and leave at 3 to grab the littlest one from daycare, getting home in perfect time to catch the oldest getting off the bus. I then pull a few more hours after the kids go to bed, but i can’t complain. My commute has dropped from about 40 minutes to 10. The extra time in my day is amazing!

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The farm has made life more interesting though. I followed my youngest around outside one day and ended up having to take a business call. luckily it was my closest working colleague, because as i’m standing there on the phone try to chase the youngest from going into the sheep pen, the rooster lets out the biggest call I’ve heard. Said colleague was entertained, so I had that going for me, but I’m pretty sure I was blushing. haha.

I think anyone who has tried to talk to a mom on the phone understands the entertainment that is life of mom. Talking to my sister on the phone the other day in a 30 second span I yelled at the dog to stop peeing on the hay, & yelled at the youngest to get out of the chicken coup.

But so far, life on our little farm has been heaven. wp-1489629946963.jpgwp-1489630028235.jpg

This is what I picture for my little homestead

Every year more and more happens at our home. Progress is slow, and at times  possibly reversed, but day by day we move closer to our end goals.

While reading the blog below every picture my brain goes “see thats what i picture!” I love what they were able to do.

Once upon a time, there was a house. A little prairie house. It was born in 1918, a homesteader’s dream, built to shelter a growing family from the harsh conditions of the high plains. It’s seen a lot in the past 98 years. Lightning strikes. Blinding snowstorms. Rattlesnake infestations. A shop fire. Tornadoes. The Blizzard of ’49.…

via The Story of Our Prairie House — The Prairie Homestead

Saving Seeds

Saving Seeds

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As a person that works for a seed company I often hear confusion and complaints around the idea of “saving seeds”. When I first started working in Ag, I too was confused on the concept. I mean really, what do you do with the leftovers?

Let me use wheat for example, and clarify that I am not in any way speaking on behalf of any companies, and all companies have contracts on the topic (allowing or not allowing).

All sates have an agriculture department that monitors regulated seed. Regulated just means that somewhere along the way someone managed to perfect (usually by breeding, but GMO would fall into this as well) a seed and give it a name, file some paperwork on it to claim the specific breeding of seed. In Washington the department that monitors this for wheat is called Washington State Crop Improvement Association. Their job is to monitor and make sure seed doesn’t get we’ll say impersonated or counterfeit, that customers can trust that it is what they are told it is. They do this with a certification process.

Now to clarify more, no one is required to buy certified seed. The benefit is that it has documented results, where as with non-certified seed there is no real way to know what you have. Think buying a papered dog, papers mean its not a mutt.

However, if you choose to buy certified seed, you will often be required to enter into a contract agreeing that should you not use all of the seed you will either return the seed or dispose of it. This clause prevents “mutts”, it’s the spay or neutering of ag.

Scenario 1: farmer Joe goes out and buys seed to grow 100 acres of wheat, he is farming dry land and his field is in a good area, no real risk of disease or other issues. After planting he realizes he has seed leftover. If he purchased non-certified seed, he’s free to store it and use it again next year. Doing so he risks quality and contamination. Depending on his end goal, this may not be of concern, which is also why he may prefer non-certified seed. This is the scenario most people think about.

Scenario 2: Frank has a field in an area that tends to have issue with disease, he is limited on land, and his customer is looking for high protein levels. After researching he finds that company x has a product that seems to fit his needs. He talked to neighbor farmers and decides that he is going to purchase wheat seed 2468. The company goes over the contract with him explains the certified guarantee and the no seed saved clause. Frank gets the benefit of perfected plant breeding and if his crop has a bunch of off types or problems, the company will work with him and have some kind of resolution where he would get compensated. The company gets the benefit of the no seed saved clause so they don’t have to worry that Frank will harvest his field and then start selling the seed to neighbors – basically considered pirated seed.

When you think of it as seed its harder to see what the big deal is and why they can’t save seed, I mean they purchased it after all. But if you look at it as if it were a different product it would make perfect sense.

Look at software for example. Generally, people don’t question why when you buy Microsoft office you can’t buy one license and then download it on your computer, all the computers at the middle school, and all the computers at the high school too. Most people think, no, you need a license per computer or an agreement for multi-user.

Look at DVDs, its not considered okay to buy the movie and then distribute copies of the movie to all your neighbors. Yes, you bought it, and you bought the blank DVDs, but the base material was not yours to duplicate.

Basically the work behind the scenes is considered intellectual property. The seed itself is not the prized possession, its the breeding that went into it.

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