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december flew by

It’s definitely true that as we age time flies by faster and faster. This past year went by so fast! And the time since Thanksgiving…well, I don’t know where the heck that went. All of a sudden, it was Christmas!

It’s been a really crazy month especially weather-wise, and I think that must be part of why December is a blur. One day of clearing snow ran into the next until we didn’t have a clue what day it was and the temps were brain numbing. We just tried to keep to the routine of chores. Jim brought hot water from the house to the animals and we prayed they would be OK. The chickens are always most at risk when the temps are lower than usual. We had a bunch of frozen eggs and a little frostbite on one of the rooster’s combs but otherwise they did pretty well.

what a mess!

The first big snowstorm took out our livestock greenhouse. It had survived many heavy snows in the past so it wasn’t even on my list of concerns. Thank goodness our rams’ access was on the uphill side and their pen was sturdy enough that it held the roof from hitting the floor. It was a great relief to see their faces peering out from under the wreckage.

the survivors — Reece & Cole












After that, there were the ice storms that plagued so many people as they moved through the country. Even just a short distance from us, friends were without power for days. It sounds like they’re all up and running again now. All in all, we were extremely fortunate. We never lost power and had a really lovely Christmas with our immediate family. For the first time in about 20 years, we didn’t host Christmas Day celebrations so our morning was relaxed. I even spent some extra time visiting with the sheep. It was warm enough to take my gloves off and get some pets and ear rubs in, too.

Our Christmas gift to ourselves — not by choice — is a new furnace which is being installed as I write. We knew this day was coming so it’s not a big surprise, but we’d hoped to get a little more time out of the old one. We sure do hope all the claims of better efficiency and more heat to the bedrooms upstairs are true! And if we can jump on a tax rebate or something, that would be nice.


EllenG — enthusiastic eater


got any apples?







snowy chickens







Just a few days away from the New Year. Wishing everyone the best!


rams get a mention

We do a lot of talking about the girls…ewes…moms — especially as we get into lambing season.  But not much is said about the boys. Let’s face it…there wouldn’t be any lambs without them. Well, there’s always artificial insemination but that’s not happening around here just now.  So I thought it would be nice to give some time and space to the very important but not often mentioned rams.  Just before they were sheared I actually thought to take some photos of them.  One young ram, Hatchtown Dickens, just couldn’t be captured on film so you’ll have to meet him another day. But here are the bigger boys…all Coopworths and handsome devils!

I know…there seems to be disproportionate number of rams to ewes here at Hatchtown Farm.  That’s because I adore rams.  Can’t help myself.  I can justify my addiction because with this many rams, we can switch the ewes around at breeding time each year and get lots of years out of the two groups.  Besides, I think they’re sweet — at least ours are — and they make so few demands.  They just hang out and eat (ok – a little more than ewes) make gorgeous lambs and grow a delicious, humongous fleece every year.

This year’s lambs were sired by Cole and Bartok.  Hoping for lots of natural colored lambs.

more hay…in April?

I think I must have miscalculated somewhere along the way because we’re still getting hay that I ordered last summer.  It’s lovely stuff…certified organic and it smells so good, I might eat it.  Jim thought it might make good tea.  The sheep certainly approve and they’ve been staying in very nice condition on it.

preparing to off load hay

There’s another 100 bales waiting for us to pick up so we’ll definitely have some left over when it comes time to put the sheep out on grass. That could be a good thing, though, because the soil is very dry…we had very little snow.  It might mean a not-so-great grazing season and maybe we’ll be happy to have that extra hay in the barn.

lambing begins

Lot's of action under EllenG...everyone is making a run for the milk bar!

Yesterday evening our oldest ewe, EllenG, had triplets and made it look easy.  It never occurred to me that she was carrying three…she looked like a “normal” twinning ewe. But here they are…2 ewes and a ram…and all nice sizes right around 9.5 – 10.5 pounds. And very spunky, too!  Great job, EllenG!!!

It’s beyond me how people can think sheep are stupid. EllenG can count!  Take one of those lambs away to weight it and she knows…she looks for it…calls it…and isn’t happy until it appears and is counted.  At eight years old, she’s been a mother many times and she’s also had three a couple of times so I guess this is her normal.

On this lovely Spring day, the little family is doing really well.  The babes are well fed and warm and snuggling with Mom.

The other ewes…still waiting…



wide body

still at least a week to go

getting some D after breakfast

shearing 2012

We sheared all the ewes on the 10th.  Well, actually Emily sheared them and did a fabulous job as always.  She makes it look so easy and is never grumpy even when there are challenging moments.  It may have been over a week ago but memories of the big reveal are fresh, and Jim and I are still talking about how many people came by.  It was really fun to be surprised!  The weather was pretty good so nobody froze and afterwards, quite a few of us celebrated with a potluck, lots of chatter and laughs.

soaking up the sunshine

We had a wonderful crew of helpers who did such a good job on the fleeces that I’ll hardly have to do anything when I get back to them.  Thanks so much to everyone…for coming…for helping…for the food and good cheer. We couldn’t do it without you all.  And it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun either.

happy skirters

The photo above unfortunately doesn’t include the sheep wrangling/sweeping/shearing portion of the crew who really get down and dirty and don’t even get the chance to get their hands into those warm fleeces…except while trying to move the sheep onto the shearing floor.

The fleeces are stunning this year!!  I do believe the abundant grass and excellent hay we were able to get has contributed…we are what we eat, right!  The girls are also in excellent condition as they go into lambing and that makes the shepherd very happy.  It’s nice to get a look at what’s under all that fiber.  From what I can see right now, 8 of the 10 are definitely pregnant.  The other 2…we’ll see…still early.

really really like this one...

really really liking this one too...

Shearing done -- what a good day!

We were so glad the weather cooperated and we were able to get the girls back to their paddock on Tuesday. The sooner the better as far as I’m concerned. Depositing poop outdoors is preferable to indoors where the shepherd gets to clean it up.

They know the way home.

And what of the boys?  They’ll be sheared this Saturday — 3/24.  Looking forward to seeing what they’ve grown this year!