Before Christmas, there was this. Then came the rain that washed all the snow away. (There followed wet and brown.)
At last a bit of snow and ice, but some really cold temperatures to go with it. The mother hen in my head began to afflict me so I go out and check on the animals. Twice (it was in the -30’s with windchill) I went to put them inside but they were fine. Even with the animals inside for the night, I lost some sleep when the actual temperature was -33. The barn is far from air tight with four by six feet chunks of open mitigated by hanging feedbags only. I was too afraid to check the windchill while my mother hen head kept me up fretting .
The girls like to have their picture taken (as do the eunuch sheep, but we call them girls too). The husband sheep is in there somewhere right now. He arrived December 13th. With about ten others, he will leave for sunnier pastures sometime in the next few weeks . . . at which point we will not eat chicken for two or three weeks out of gratitude for the fullness of our freezers.
Buster is a rather sulky lad. He is especially irritated by all attempts to have his picture taken. This was his best attempt at a smile. Most attempts end in pictures of his backside.
I have limited patience for this and my fingers outside the glove were beginning to harden.
Misty will look at me for an apple, otherwise, not so much. At least the kids like her. If we lived in France, I’d vote for her making the final journey with the sheep in a few weeks. Alas.
Hope everyone is staying warm. The snap has lifted a bit and the house is toasty again. This weekend we hope to clear the pond and at long last inaugurate the skating season.
Thanks to the dog, who really needed some exercise, the three younger kids and I took a good long walk yesterday. Everyone was allowed to take three or four pictures of whatever captured them . . .
A tree that caught Girl one’s attention.
From Boy two who ran ahead to try and find beautiful things first. He didn’t quite manage the focus, but I liked the way he set things up with the leaf.
What about you? I said to Girl two. What do you see that is beautiful? We walked at least another 5 or ten minutes through thousands of leaves. Then . . . stop right here, she said. Where? I said looking around at the trees. Right here, she said and pointed down at her feet.
Two different young photographers were desperate to capture this. It looks like the prairies in the books you read, they said.
It takes about 45 minutes to get here. Boy two begged for the destination because he said he had to photograph the, “Rows upon Rows,” his official name for this section of the forest.
“Rows upon Rows,” the hoped for destination so he the girls the seemingly never ending rows of trees.
These are Girl two’s perpetually backwards boots. She swears it doesn’t hurt her feet and she likes them that way. None of us had felt like a walk. Only the duty of the dog got us there. More than an hour later, we all came home happy and content from the tips of our toes to the top of our heads. As Girl one pointed out, if you actually get out into the woods, no matter how much you didn’t want to go, you never, ever, regret it.
Boy one the beekeeper in the beeyard.
Some of the girls on their way out to work, or just back.
Filippa is crazy about lego . . .
Buster has grown a bit since March.
Against her wishes, Misty the pony/pig cross is slowly shrinking.
Other girls out for a walk. The foxes would prefer if they were available for daily picking but we limit the free meals and make them sporadic to keep flock numbers up.
I saw this from my bedroom window and went to get the camera.
Ms. Bird apparently liked the restaurant. She walked around without a care, stopping to pick up a bite, then wandering on.
She outlasted me contented on her perch so I went in for breakfast.
First real hive inspection a week after the bees arrived.
The book you can’t see the top of is “Bee Keeping for Dummies.” :)
We don’t know what we’re doing but they know more than I do. I enjoy their fearless lack of worry about all the things they don’t know.
I guess everybody sees this spot on the road as a good place for deliveries
Getting the delivery room set up
A nice lady in labor
Labor with more attitude
There’s two here, but they didn’t stay together long.
This doesn’t do justice to the iridescent blue that was visible when he was flying, but I found him beautiful anyway. Two of them were perched on the clothes line talking while I hung clothes, but they didn’t stay for the camera. :)
One of my favorites (a girl from the four batch)
Checking out the kids to see if they smell right or if they’re somebody else’s and need a good shove to the ground
The boys . . .Filippo and Georgie
Friends of ours keep a chalkboard at the end of the driveway each spring for cars to see. It’s a tally of how many lambs have been born so far. Unlike us, they are actual farmers, so their tally goes on for a few weeks and reaches 600 plus sometimes. We like our lamb count around 9 or 10. That’s enough excitement for us.
This year, the skinniest ewe (who we suspected would be late – if she was even pregnant) was the first to deliver. She must have been keeping one in her leg, as she birthed not one but three healthy lambs. Saturday morning, her lambs will be a week old. They look great. Very spunky. Two boys and a girl. They’re the snowy white lambs in the pictures. Lambs are born with a yellow coating gooped all over them. Their cute because they’re little and new to the world, but they look very dirty. After a few days, the yellow is licked and rubbed off, and then they are downright gorgeous.
The mid sized ewe was second to deliver. She had four. This is one too many for perfection. Our sheep breed, the Rideau Arcott, was developed in the 1970’s in Canada (Animal Research Centre Ottawa . . . ARC OTT). They’re a great sheep for a couple of reasons; they tend to have multiple births for one. Many other breeds typically have one lamb per birth. Rideau Arcott typically have 2 or 3, and 4 is not uncommon. The problem is that for milk supply, a ewe can really only handle 3. The extra are usually separated and bottle fed. We did this for a few years. It works, but the bottle fed lambs never thrive the same as the lambs with the mother. Based on our friend’s experiments and some ideas of our own, we currently have all the lambs with the mom, but are also bottle feeding every few hours during the day to supplement. So far, everyone looks good.
Our large, bursting any minute ewe, Lily (our original ewe, and herself a bottle fed, “extra,” from a multiple birth) is still waddling around giving us fits wondering what exactly is going on inside her. Her biggest year she delivered a group of 5. Last year, she was bigger than ever before and we thought another basketball team was en route. Instead, she birthed two lambs bigger than the two week old lambs. We called them the football players.
This year’s group of four is interesting. They’re only three days old, so they’re still pretty yellow. Unlike most of our lambs, they have quite a few markings of black and brown patches. A few more pictures will come next week. Currently, the camera has no zoom, and lambs were not in the mood to sit still while I shoved a camera in their faces for a close up.
You can see the dirty coat as well as a little of the speckles, although it’s hard to see which is which. This one is yelling for his mother to save him from all the scary other lambs out there and reminding her that she is not to go more than a few feet away. If anyone wanders it is supposed to be him, not her. (Amazing what they can communicate in one mad little bleat, yes?)
Nineteen chicks arrived this week and have the kids eager to get home from school. Boy two has already begun collecting bug and worm treats. Sadly, he also specializing in dewinging flies and thereby delivering catchable favorite treats.
This is what has my husband happy to drive in the driveway this week. I think he beamed the whole ten kilometers he drove it home.
Giorgi (officially Pier Giorgio) roughly pronounced like Georgy but with a softer G, like Shzorgy. We’re making up the pronunciation part as we go, but we like it.
Filippo (officially Filippo Neri) Pronounced Fill eee poe with the accent on eee (I think I should get a job with a dictionary pronunciation guide)
These two little lads were the Easter surprise, which couldn’t arrive until after Easter but are here now! We named them after two men whose individual stories we loved, both of whom happen to be saints and both of whom happen to be Italian. This was the Catholic heroes naming go round. Someday we’ll get ourselves a little John Wesley or an Amy Carmichael. Then again, a writing theme awaits some day. I think I could use a C.S. Lewis and a George MacDonald around here.