Maine Fiber Frolic 2017 Poster
MOFGA Common Ground Fair Poster

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!

leaping into March

February was longer than usual by 1 day and it still managed to slip by me.  I didn’t go on holiday or anything…just got caught up in family, farmy and fleecy things and then it was March.

We celebrated our younger son’s Birthday on Groundhog Day.  Yes, he was born on the 2nd at home while we were still in NJ. As he made his way into this world, there were jokes made about him seeing his shadow and retreating for another 6 weeks.  That seems humorous now but at the time…not so much.  Anyway, we had a little family party at the local Thai restaurant and had a great time.  I’ve recently discovered Thai and have fallen in love.  I’d always thought it would be too spicy but not so.  And we shared fried ice cream…ginger…worth every calorie! Forgot the camera.

On the 10th I reported for jury selection.  This was a first for me.  It was a really interesting process and the Judge was a wonderful educator. I wasn’t chosen for either of the juries they were selecting but I met a lot of interesting people and got to knit whenever the Judge wasn’t in the courtroom…which was a lot of the time. No photos in the courthouse.

Our neighbors at Ruit Farm North, Nina & John had their shearing on the 18th.  Happily, it coincided with our spinning group’s 3rd Saturday meeting so a bunch of us went to help and brought our wheels &  knitting along. We stayed for a yummy potluck lunch and a relaxing afternoon of fibery fun.  Wow! A fiber-full day!  Photos posted at the group’s site.

All month, Jim was tap-tap-tapping and sawing away at lumber for new sheep feeders. One we had was falling apart and the other had already totally self-destructed.  It’s really important for pregnant ewes to have lots of space around the feeder. They can get very grumpy and hurt each other if they’re crowded and the less aggressive ewes will get pushed aside and not get their fair share of food.  This is more of a problem than you might think and can lead to serious, possibly life threatening, problems later in pregnancy. I think Jim has been posting photos of the feeders at various stages on Facebook but here I bring you the finished product…very spiffy indeed!

The girls are loving their fabulous new feeders - made by Jim

Looking at these girls…shearing can’t come too soon!  And it already has — March 10th was the big day.  Jim and I put our camera in the capable hands of one of our guests that day, Maureen, and she took wonderful photos!  We’d never met before that day…wonder if she thinks we’re a little strange.  I’ll be back shortly with her photos.  Thanks Maureen! Until then, enjoy these sheep face shots…

Hazel expects more hay

 

Teasel needs a haircut

 

what’s been happening

Just before shearing last year, I gave up on this blog Farm Journal.  Getting photos into posts was such a pain in the neck that posting just wasn’t fun at all.  Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who noticed because the good folks at WordPress have streamlined the process.  I’m giving it another try…

The ewes get to eat indoors the day after shearing.

Shearing in March went off without a hitch.  Thanks to all who came to help out, we zipped right through the woolies and then enjoyed some good food and down time together.

In early April, our first batch of meat birds arrived and then, after 2 lambless years, we welcomed lambs to the farm.  We’d really missed all that cuteness.

Candice bonding with her newborn lambs.

Our ewes did a great job and gave us tons of cuteness but one of the lambs suffered a broken leg at 3 days old and ended up in the house with us for 4 weeks.  By the end of the first week, Margaret (she got a name when she visited my spinning group) was leaping out of her playpen…cast and all. There was no containing her!  Eventually, we let her have the run of the house (wearing a diaper) and she would go into her playpen when we went to bed.  She learned to eat hay in our living room…I don’t recommend that!  Skye tolerated her and Gemma was happy to have a playmate…the cats mostly avoided her.

Little Margaret's big day out...no more cast! YAY!

Today she’s part of the flock but she’s the first to greet us at the gate and is quite the character.

The critter count was growing… piglets arrived in May.  We parked them in the shearing pen where they had lots of bedding to root in and could learn about fences.

The piglets get acquainted with their nipple waterer.

Throughout the Spring months more meat birds arrived in batches of 50 and 75.  We’ve become big fans of the slower growing old-style birds that thrive on pasture.

In June we were running everyday to stay ahead of the grass.  There was so much of it that we were moving the sheep every couple of days sometimes.

After the winter, there's always fence to be fixed and we're managing to stay just ahead of the sheep!

We could almost see the lambs growing if they stood in one place long enough!

We had fun at the Maine Fiber Frolic weekend…always great to see old friends and meet new ones!  The piglets outgrew their pen and moved into the woods where they have tons of space to roam and root and wallow and play.

Once they were well muddied up, they investigated their new digs.

We joined a budding Farmers Market right here in Bristol so for the rest of the summer, I was easy to find every Saturday morning.  It turned out to be lots of fun and I think it was a good beginning. Hopefully, it will grow and become a fixture here in our town. Put up some strawberry-balsamic-black pepper jam.

Skye in one of his favorite places.

July began on a sad note.  We lost Skye to prostate cancer.  There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t think of him and miss him.  We still expect to see him rounding the corner of the barn after his walk around the farm.  Although Border Collies aren’t supposed to be guardians, he always checked our boundaries and we wonder now whether his absense will make a difference here.  We’re grateful that Gemma got to know him at least for a little while.

We had a bit of a dry spell mid-summer but it turned right around and the grass came back pretty well. Put up some tomato puree and bread & butter pickles.

Ewes and their lambs loving the grass.

The grass is growing like crazy and the lambs look great!

By September, some of our lambs and all of the pigs were ready for the butcher.  Emily came to shear some of the lambs on a stormy day.  Thank goodness for the generator and an adventurous crew.  I don’t think the sheep noticed the power outage!

A number of our lambs and a couple of our adult ewes and rams went to new homes as breeding stock, too, so they’ll be making lambs and beautiful fiber for someone else.

Shearing lambs by headlamp during a power outage. Emily is such a trooper!

Farmers Market was winding down but SOAR and NY Sheep & Wool Festival (Rhinebeck) were coming right up.  The start of October was a little crazy with Jim at SOAR and me at NY but we managed and had a good time, too!

Our first customers at Rhinebeck. Happy spindlers!

And then our attention was turned to breeding time.  Which rams would get lucky?  Which ewes would be with which ram?  All the ewes were checked for body condition and internal parasites. Then they got pedicures and nice clean coats. Bartok and Cole met the girls in mid-November and by Christmas, it was all over but the waiting.  We finished our Good Eats page…phew!

The holidays were quiet and very enjoyable with our boys and grand-dogs visiting.  It was so low key that I forgot to take photos…but maybe Jim posted some on Facebook.  Santa brought us an iPad which I’m really liking.  I’ve already moved a couple of magazine subscriptions over to it. Saving some trees is nice but really, not having that paper coming into the house is wonderful!

It took winter a long time to get going but it’s here now and we actually have some snow on the ground. Coasting along now waiting for shearing and the arrival of lambs.  This is a good time for playing with fibery things.

 

 

 

Nine Drummers Drumming ….

Christmas Eve at Hatchtown Farm —

color photo: Coopworths in the snow -- text: Merry Christmas

...and to all, a "Good night!"

 
Our cable internet has been half-frazzled for more than a week. Time Warner says, “Not our problem!”. Luckily for us we have enough bandwidth to keep the email coming and going along with some v.e.r.y S..L..O..W browsing of the W W W.

My best advice for the holidays is to sit down …JUST for a MINUTE — you can spare a minute. …close your eyes, take a deep breath and REMEMBER …past holiday seasons, your grandparents, your Mom, your Dad, that first two-wheeler with a ribbon tied to the handlebars. Take another breath; let it out slowly. You’re welcome.

Facebook friend Helen York (a/k/a Aunt Rhodie, previous purveyor of fine yarns and Xmas wreaths) reminded us: ..the old legend says that just as Christmas eve turns into Christmas day, you can go out in the barn and for that one minute you can understand the language of the beasts…

Love to all!

Twelve lords a-leaping,
Eleven ladies dancing,
Ten pipers piping,
Nine drummers drumming,
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five gold rings,
Four colly birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves, and
A partridge in a pear tree.