Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

2
Jun

vacation, summer, and back-to-life-ness

   Posted by: liz

IMG_2967we recently returned from a too-short, but refreshing trip to visit friends in Savannah, GA, where the sun never seems to stop shining, chameleons roam freely in backyards, and the hauntingly beautiful spanish moss hangs in thick canopies providing never-ending shade.

the weather here at home is still turning, slowly, from spring to summer. it’s a gradual transition, so to drive 12.5 hours south and be in full-on summer weather was a bit of a shock to the system. it’s been spring/summer in GA since february, and their vegetable and flower gardens are already producing delicious and beautiful fruit.

this weekend at home, we had summer-like weather in the high 70s/low 80s and lots and lots of sunshine, so it felt like it was time to get our yard ready for outdoor living. we got some flowers and plants, vegetables and seeds, borrowed a tiller from our neighbor, and dug up some lovely dark brown dirt in several areas (adam insists on his very own garden, so a new patch was made just for him and his sunflowers and cantaloupe seeds).  we pulled weeds, mowed the grass, watered the garden, and cleaned up the deck. we enjoyed dinner with friends on our deck, played with other friends in their yard for an afternoon, and fell hard into bed each night.

the winter feels like a long, easy, drawn-out sleep. but summer is full of activity and harder, shorter sleep cycles. the sun is already up at 5:30, and so are we, with the birds and their morning song. i love the feel of dirt under my nails (kept really short in the summer because of all that dirt!), and a cold shower (or dip in the pool) every night, crisp sheets on the bed, and the changing sights and sounds of evening: the song of spring cheepers give way to a conversation between frogs, fireflies darting about in june, and then a symphony of crickets at night in july.

summer is short up here in the northern section of the country. its the friend who visits with gifts for everyone, and then steals away one night and isn’t seen again for 8 months. the older i get, the slower it seems to arrive in the spring. the older i get, the more i feel the need to live where it is nearly always summer. those winter months are harsh on the bones, harsh on the soul.

but summer…the warmth on my shoulders…it’s the best gift of the year.

7
May

lambing season: it’s a wrap!

   Posted by: liz

10292142_10152394699142970_2074714224835446309_n …at least we hope so!  we have one more ewe, but we do not think she is pregnant. or if she is, she is a month away from lambing because she is showing no visible signs of carrying. it is possible that we could have a late may/early june baby from her, but we are hoping that lambing season is done. this season has been a doozy!

our last set of twins was born without our assistance (what we were hoping for!), but it also happened at the crack of dawn, just before we arrived at the barn to check on our last pregnant ewe (daisy). in fact, she delivered outside of the barn, under the “porch” (probably because the barn was too crowded with other sheep).

IMG_2828kenny and i walked towards the barn after we noticed that daisy was on the porch with two white lambs. as we walked nearer, we noticed she was head-butting one of the lambs and not allowing it to get near her.  there was a larger lamb already cleaned off and sitting up, alert but daisy wasn’t cleaning off the smaller one and was in fact showing signs of rejecting it. this is yet another lambing experience we had not encountered, so we set off into learning/experiment mode. the first few hours of a lamb’s life are crucial in getting it to bond and eat. when the mama isn’t allowing the lamb near her milk source, you have to get creative.

rosie was still in the lambing pen with ramburger. so we let them out and they headed out to pasture. we picked up daisy’s lambs and carried them into the pen hoping daisy would follow. she wasn’t as eager to be near her lambs as the other mamas we had, so we had to coax her in with the one lamb she was seemingly accepting.  she finally made it back into the pen with her lambs and again was head-butting the smaller lamb (they are called “bummer” lambs). we kept them in the pen, and headed to do some research on tricks to get a mama to accept her lamb (which usually doesn’t work), or ways to get the bummer attached to another mama (which is actually harder to accomplish).

IMG_2887we read a few things we could try so we headed back to the barn and tried the following:

  • rub the bummer with the afterbirth (yep, it’s gross) so the ewe will start licking/bonding/cleaning it off again. didn’t work.
  • rub the bummer with mollasses (which sheep LOVE) so the ewe will start licking/bonding/cleaning it off again. didn’t work.
  • spray both the rear-ends of the twin lambs with air freshener. yeah, we laughed at that one, but since nothing else was working, we tried it. it WORKED!  as soon as we took the lambs away from mama, freshened their rear ends with some Glade Fresh Scent, and brought them back to mama, she allowed both of them to try to latch on and eat.  the idea is that the Glade Fresh Scent confuses the smell of the lambs and mama doesn’t know the difference between the accepted lamb and the bummer, so she just lets them both nurse. when the lamb nurses, the mama encourages it by pushing it closer to the milk source with her nose to their tail.

we were encouraged that the bummer was being allowed to nurse and it wasn’t being head-butted anymore. it wasn’t snuggling with mama, but it was eating and walking and this step was really important. throughout the day, we had friends over and we were able to check on them continually, snuggle the bummer lamb (allowing it some warmth) and finally by the end of the day saw that the twins began to snuggle together (while mama hung out on the opposite side of the pen).  i just don’t think this ewe has the mothering instinct. she’s just not a “good” mother, like the other ewes have been to their lambs.

~~~~~~~

IMG_2631to recap, we have had seven (7) lambs born over two (2) weeks to four (4) of our ewes. we’ve more than doubled our sheep population!  two (2) of the lambs are rams, so they will stay with us until late fall. we might even send some of the older ewes to the butcher as well since they’re getting up there in years, and won’t be able to produce lambs or wool anymore. our sheep are happy and comfortable, but they still need to earn their keep! otherwise, we’d run out of grass if we keep all of the lambs!

  • Iris (five years) delivered Lily and Chops (ewe and ram)
  • Violet (five years) delivered Marigold and Holly (ewe and ewe)
  • Rosie (three years) delivered Ramburger (ram)
  • Daisy (five years) delivered Sweet Pea and Buttercup (ewe and ewe)

Iris’ twins were the easiest delivery and she accepted both. Violet’s delivery was complicated, but she accepted both. Rosie’s birth was complicated, but she’s also accepted her lamb. We aren’t sure if Daisy’s birth was complicated or not, but she showed signs at first of rejecting a lamb. She isn’t very motherly to either of her lambs, but they’re nursing and growing.

 

IMG_2878It would be best if these ewe lambs would deliver next year, instead of waiting a few years for them to start lambing. But I don’t know if I have it in me to have another stress-filled few weeks of waiting for a ewe to go into labor, stressful births, or rejected babies. I say this now, but I also said once that there was no way I’d ever reach into a sheep and pull out a lamb. There was just no way I could do it without fainting or gagging. And both Kenny and I had to do just that this year. It’s surprising what takes over you, what fears you just ignore when you realize there are no other alternatives.

“If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.” 

And really, seeing those adorable lambs in the pasture, never leaving their mamas’ sides, bounding and chasing each other….it’s really the sweetest thing a small farm can witness. These spring mornings when the sunlight is urging itself through the fog after a night of rain, white buds of fruit trees and lambs rolling about in the pasture, and the birds filling in the background noise…you can’t get any better than those spring mornings!

 

 

 

22
Apr

more new life on the farm

   Posted by: liz

IMG_2631The last time we “rented a ram” for our ewes was three years ago. Three springs ago, two lambs were born on the same day, and apparently I texted Kenny, who was at the office, “I’m never lambing again! This is too stressful!”  I don’t remember saying that to him, but he reminded me of it yesterday when Iris, our five-year-old ewe had a prolonged labor, and I texted him, “I’m never doing lambing season again!”

The three previous lambs born to our farm were born within 30 minutes of labor. At 1:30 yesterday, I noticed Iris was beginning labor, and by 3:30, she hadn’t delivered yet. Kenny had just arrived home at 3:25 and decided to give a local sheep farmer a call in case we needed to intervene. We know better than to get involved too early, but two hours seemed to us to be a bit long, even though she was continuing to labor. The farmer was extremely helpful and said to give it another hour and if nothing happened by then he would rush over. Within ten minutes of that phone call, the hooves and nose appeared and within another two minutes, a male sheep was delivered. Mama Iris started cleaning off the baby and making sure it was moving, nuzzlingIMG_2635 it with her nose and talking to it with a low bleat. We were all relieved.

And then Rowan noticed another hoof had appeared in the birth canal.

Sure enough, another hoof and a nose appeared. Iris was not doing any pushing or laboring – she continued to clean the first lamb. So Kenny helped deliver the second lamb. A girl this time (to the boys’ relief!  We raise male lambs until they are about 7 months old, and then we butcher them. Females get to stay and become mamas).

So now, we have Lilly and Chops. We are fairly certain that a few of the other sheep are also pregnant. We will find out soon enough!IMG_2629

 

30
May

the hamptons

   Posted by: liz

i have to be fully and honestly frank. the facade must be put to rest.

i am not a camper. i am not a camper in the woods, or in a motor-home. i’m not a camper in the summer, fall or spring. camping does not thrill me because i like clean and comfortable a little too much, especially if we’re talking “vacation.”

i think this is where i need to also admit that i think i’ve become a bit OCD. with cleaning and cleanliness. but i have a theory about this:  i’ve always been a neat freak and i never had to fight for an organized and neat home until i got married and then had three miniature tornadoes children. children who don’t know how to put anything away, or to keep food from falling on the floor, and who have no idea how to close a dresser drawer. and since moving to a farm, i’ve learned to embrace the dirty lifestyle we have. we get out in the barn, the pasture, the animals…and we get dirty. but i do have a thing about bringing that “dirty” inside the house. leave it outside and get a good, hot soapy shower before you sit on any furniture or put your hand in the fridge or the ice cube tray.

and this is why i don’t like camping. there’s dirt, no matter how hard you try to keep it out of the tent. there’s bugs and sweat and (shudder!) swimming in a pond or creek with crayfish.

i’ve become a girly girl. i love my comfortable hotels with the chlorine swimming pools and hot soapy showers and warm, fluffy pillows. i know camping is cheaper and don’t talk to me about the bedbug outbreak because i’ve already become a bit paranoid about any hotel we stay in because of it.  but i know that but when it comes to vacation…camping is more like a prison sentence than rest and relaxation.

there is no resting or relaxing for me when my boys are wading through a creek with SHARP rocks sticking out of rolling water that can have up to a thousand different flesh-eating bacteria floating in it. bring on the chlorine, please…and you’ll see my shoulders relax.  there is NEVER resting or relaxing when there is a campfire and toddlers and crazy/excited boys around, especially with sharp implements that are stuck into the fire for roasting marshmallows (that end up in your hair, then in your sleeping bag and guess who is then prowling around your tent at 3:15 looking for that sweet smell coming from your hair?  mr. rabid raccoon or mrs. black bear.

bring me my hampton inn, my comfort inn, and leave the musty-smelling tents at home. i know this does not mesh at all with my normally “natural” way of living.

maybe i need a 12-step program. but i know it won’t help me enjoy camping. it might help me tolerate it, but definitely not enjoy it.

 

9
Apr

running thoughts (III)

   Posted by: liz

a week and a half ago, i injured my toe. i’ve talked enough about it that i’m sure you know which injury i’m referring to.  the morning after injuring it, i was aching to go for a run. but i could barely put any pressure at all on the toe. i couldn’t even put a sock over the toe without yelping in pain.

i knew i had to take it easy, and not do any form of exercise until my toe felt much better.

eight days after the injury, i was back at the track and ran a full mile before stopping to walk. i know that’s peanuts to the majority of you reading, but it was encouraging to me. this morning, after a cup of black coffee, and a few almonds (for energy) i went back out and clocked a mile and a half. that’s half of a 5k!

what i learned from the toe injury: “i don’t feel like it” will never be an excuse not to run. i will run every opportunity i have. because i can.  when you have a real reason for not running, all you want to do is run. “i don’t feel like it” is an excuse, not a reason.

so get out there – pound that pavement! dance your run!

14
Feb

knitting for the boys

   Posted by: liz

with all the knitting i’ve been doing for kenny and myself, it would seem i’ve left out the three boys!

i have not forgotton our offspring in my latest “making” adventures, i promise you. in fact, here they are sporting their brand new, made-with-love from mama sweaters!

sawyer’s covering all his bases, “it’s cool,” and “peace out!”

adam DOUBLE LOVES his sweater!

rowan THINKS he likes his sweater.

they have yet to wear them out anywhere. in fact, for some reason, they all put them in the garage the minute after i snapped these photos. good thing i’m so in tune with my boys to know exactly what they love to wear! i will never be that aunt who crochets big bold sweaters that never see the light of day….

 

*lest you think i’m serious, these were made by me, but not knitted. we were invited to an ugly sweater party back in december, and i cut up an old afghan and sewed some granny squares onto the ugliest sweaters we could find. the boys decided nto to wear them to the party at the last minute, so they’re up for grabs if anyone likes them! ;)

 

 

16
Aug

starting school…

   Posted by: liz

…but not for two weeks yet!

i’m so glad that we’re still in full summer mode here because i would be completely distracted if i had to “do school” right now. i’m considering a very organic, easy-going start to school in a few weeks’ time, when i can finally put summer behind me and “get excited” about falling temperatures, feeling stuck inside, and non-grilled food for 6 months.

we are nearly ready with all of our curriculum, but actual planning has fallen by the wayside as our busy summer has just started to slow down.

the next two weeks we will squeeze out the very last bit of summer, practice going to bed early and getting up early (ha!), and i will finally plan out the first few weeks of lessons. then we start our weekly co-op again, and we’ll be back in the swing of things. secretly, i am looking forward to getting back into the swing of things…but overall, i still have an attitude of “let this summer go on forever!”

i’ll leave you with a few of our favorite summer things from the summer of 2011!

4th of July Sunset…

Spending our days poolside!

…or lakeside

on this day, it was even too hot to be in a 92-degree pool!

a summer roadtrip splurge!

darkening skies from a summer evening thunderstorm.

our new backyard swimming hole…this photo has inspired a swim-up bar in the deck plans!

24
Jun

seven quick takes

   Posted by: liz

*this week was VBS at our little local church. this was the 4th VBS that the older two boys have gone to there, and it was adam’s 2nd year. as usual, they all loved every minute of it. i’m glad that the older two don’t feel that they’re too old for something like this. i love going early to pick them up and watching them get really involved in the singing and dancing to the music. makes a momma proud.

* i mentioned this on facebook a while ago: kenny and i can’t get enough of the British show Doc Martin. we’re nearing the end of season 2, and i just noticed that it will only be available as “watch instantly” on netflix until july 6th. i think the first three seasons are available on hulu.  not only is it a quirky “big city doctor meets small seaside village,” but the writing is great: the storylines in each episode are so clever, and the dialogue and character traits are so charming (especially that of Doc Martin). i wholeheartedly recommend you begin watching TONIGHT.

* just because i’m a conservative woman…doesn’t mean i support a sarah palin or a michele bachmann presidential run. in fact as of right now, i wouldn’t vote for either of them. i believe in their politics, just not their leadership.

whew! glad i got that off my chest.

* i’m addicted to the runner’s high. and the running part is getting more and more enjoyable as well. for the past few runs, i’ve had to cut them short for rain (i’m afraid of ruining my android in the pouring rain, and i use it as my music and workout tracker (CardioTracker). i’m open to suggestions on music/cardio tracking devices that hold up in the rain!
since i’ve been stretching before and after my runs AND since i’m running in good running shoes, i’ve had no knee or ankle pain at all. i’m considering doing a 5K in july to get ready for the bigger 4 mile run/walk in august that i originally thought would be my first run. i think i’m ready to just dive in and get running in public. :)

* i saw a recipe for tostados recently and i have been craving them ever since! at book club yesterday, the hostess served us these great margarita jello drinks complete with salt on the rim of glass. also, apparently i am addicted to chips and salsa. or chips and texas caviar. or chips with sour cream. summer always brings out the mexican foodie in me. kenny and i once made homemade tamales after having them in Colorado. and one summer we were on a “Huevos Rancheros” kick. and now that it’s friday…i’m ready for a really good margarita!

* i have done absolutely zero planning for the upcoming school year. this is strange for me because i’m usually on it by now. we have done absolutely zero “courses” and i’m so much enjoying our time off. so are the boys. i’ve met a lot of homeschoolers lately who work through the summer and for a while i thought we should probably do that as well. but, on serious consideration of it, i am so glad we’re a “summers off” family.  i know i’ll have some reviewing to do in the fall, but by that time, we’ll all be ready to work again. at least i will.

* here is a picture of adam’s birthday cake. he designed his entire party!

11
May

gratitude ~ may 11, 2011

   Posted by: liz

dining al fresco after spending the afternoon in the warm sun…

28
Oct

owls! (again)

   Posted by: liz

our owl family was “featured” on the frugal family fun blog!  i’m so honored. :)