The farm house

The farm house

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

And Now A New Beginning Or Is It The End?

It seems that many people I know have suffered a loss this year. Whether it be the loss of a job, a loved one, pets, independence, you get the picture,it has been a trying time for many: including myself.

My losses however,have been through my one choices. I chose to sell my Canadian horse as we didn't see eye to eye and I honestly can't justify paying to keep her as I am not benefiting in this relationship. She is best suited elsewhere where she would be used. As for the sheep,I made the decision that an aggressive ram that is busting up my barn not just in breeding season, also must go. However, he is not suited on a hobby farm or small farm in fact..I hate to think of sending him to the salebarn..And Trickster,same thing. The surgery required to correct his issue is just not feasible for a wether. It sounds glib but,there will be more. It's that simple. When you breed, you will get rams and the old can be replaced with a better suited prospect.

So there it was decision made. I don't eat lamb or mutton but I had decided that the best thing for these two was the abbattoir. They have both had good lives here and the most difficult part in all this is for me to come to the decision. Letting go is definitely the most difficult thing when you have seen them born on your own farm.

I was about to post them to be picked up for a small fee as I can't afford to bring them in anywhere when a FB friend posted that her sister and partner had had their freezer full of meat stolen. The two had worked on a CSA farm and made preserves and sold them in exchange for the meat. All that hard work gone. Of course they were disappointed but they saw that the problem went deeper than that. Who feels the need to steal food? Ponder on that.

So I contacted my cyber friend and offered the two boys provided they were picked up as I have no means of transportation. So,on Monday,they were loaded up and on their way to the Kingston are. The abbattoir is run by what is left of the Kingston Penn farm program, or something to that effect. Inmates work there providing them with another trade and some life changing experiences like witnessing the birth of animal and even assisting in the process.

Above is what I was brought by the hard working young man  and his girlfriend. He even bought some of my wool to support my business. And, if possible, he may even process the hides for me. I was in awe. Something terrible for both parties and with a bit of networking, it has turned into something  good, something rewarding almost. I still shed some tears but I know that the boys have fulfilled a purpose; just not the one I had originally planned.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


So Trickster is coping well in his new environment. However, Lothario aka Harry has broken a horn. It's hard to not look at the sheep in the backyard as I leave to go outside, there they are. What I saw, I would only believe because I saw.. Charity, probably tired of being chased around by the boys put a stop to it by flipping Harry onto his side. It was quick, a cloud of snow from him falling made it all the more spectacular and it took a few seconds for me to register what just took place.Very odd indeed!

So a little later as I am touring to check on water-I do this frequently in winter as it freezes and these guys don't have a heated tank, I see Harry doing laps around the shelter with his head tilted. Oh no! Not this polio thing again!! And then I see blood and his horn bent close to his head. Holy Crow! Did the ewe do this or rather the impact from her flipping him?? Here I thought rams were dangerous!! Sure enough the poor boy has a broken horn and man, do they bleed out! Lots of blood vessels involved. The good thing is that it was cold and very little chance of bugs getting into the wound attracted by blood. Then the weather got colder and the blood was frozen to the side of his head. The boy is fine now. I keep monitoring but I do call him "Dirty Harry " now...

The day before yesterday, the big rams broke out. It happened shortly after the morning feeding. I was walking past the barn with some water for the turkeys and I heard the sound of something moving from within the barn. Sounds much different than chickens make.. I pushed the door open to see the boys, Magnus and Liam playing around in their old pen that I should be cleaning but with all the wind recently makes it impossible to pile anywhere. Liam decide to bash on one of the doors and Magnus was just taking it all in.. After 30 mins of trying to coax them back into their pen, I shut the door,had breakfast and then woke my son and told not asked to come help me put the rams away.My patience with them is waning as it is with my son. At least they were contained in the barn. It's breeding season and one has to keep this in mind when dealing with these displays of behavior.

So dear son went right into the pen where they were. I warned my son about them taking runs at him but he knew and he said: If he even tries to, I'll just flip the bas___! No fear at all. He's tall and big so towered over them, I told him to bend his elbows-makes it look like he has large horns. My son moved slowly towards them and then they took off to where they were supposed to be. Shut the gate, locked it and checked it again and that was that! Took but a few minutes.

In conclusion, rams have been proving to be a pain in the butt. There is something to be said about renting one but OSMA does not find this to be a safe practice due to bio-security...I will leave that topic for now. AI is a bit tricky..maybe no more rams ? But then someone knew someone who is expecting border collies in Feb.came to my attention. That might work!

So now I am waiting to hear from a friend who has trained dogs and had different breeds of herding dogs to hear what she has to say,the pitfalls, what to look for and not make the same mistakes as she did..

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Embarrassed Yes, But Educated Nonetheless

The frustration continues but add surprise to the list also! On the weekend as I had mentioned, Trixie was chasing Fingal around and acting very much like a ram. This behavior continued and from the onset, the fact that she had horns bothered me. They are quite big for a ewe. It does happen in this breed just like you may have polled rams. Some of us breed for these characteristics and sometimes the opposite occurs. It's like that.

So assisted by my support group of Shetland sheep breeders on Facebook-yes I actually consider these folks to be very knowledgeable and helpful, so I do trust the majority of the information and recommendations provided from this source.

If you are squeamish with anatomical vocabulary, this may not be a post for you. However, one must describe what I saw in order to explain how I came about the conclusion that Beatrix aka Trixie is a ram and not a ewe. You may be snorting and thinking to yourselves, as a breeder how could I make this mistake? Easy-it happens. What is more complicated is how it happened and what will happen next...

So when lambs are born, we check for "buds"-where the horns start to grow and "balls" testes in the scrotum which at birth is highly visible. It is common for lamb ewes to have little bumps on their heads where horns might grow but they are not as prominent as with a ram lamb. Such was the case with Trixie. Also, Trixie has no scrotum. So, I thought, a ram and a ewe.

Trixie's horns started to grow. I thought that was interesting as I've never had that before and was never produced by the breeding of the same couple at any time...Breeding season is here and Trixie is sensitive to all the ewes.-best investigate.

So, On Monday, I braved the wind and went out to the barn, caught Trixie, flipped her over and sure enough, no scrotum but testicles, 2, one small and another even smaller tucked under the tail and no scrotum. Well, to ensure no inbreeding should occur after this point, I carried him to the outside/backyard are where Lothario is with 2 ewes- no relation to any and the gals aren't registered anyway. As I carry the sheep to the pen it bleats. I've never heard Trixie bleat ever as Bertie was way more dominant. It was a most definite macho bleat. But, what is unknown is if Trixie aka Trickster can breed?? What can I do with this sheep? He does not fit in with my breeding program nor would I use him because of the genetic issues; the horns are starting to grow in towards the head, can't be registered(good thing I held off on that) and castration would have to be a surgical procedure-all this and it's not his fault... So a decision will have to be made on the fate of Trickster.

I have learned thanks to hatching all the eggs that the more you do, the more you see good and bad. It's a numbers thing. In my 2+ years of caring and breeding, I've had some interesting experiences, not all good, not all bad. It's just that: experience. Some day I may be that person that people call when they are not sure of some issue their sheep are having. Meanwhile, I read, ask questions and let the sheep do their stuff.

I will wait a bit longer before pairing up the breeding couples and only time will tell if Trickster will have sired any lambs. It will be determined by lamb birth dates. And when the new batch are born, every inch will get a thorough going over, especially the dangly bits!!
Trickster on left, Bertie on right

Monday, November 17, 2014

Intimation of Frustration

My rubber boots have holes: both of them.. They were purchased in June and lasted until August! I don't have winter boots-I wore them out. It's been snowing, wet snow that sticks to everything. I have wet running shoes because I don't have boots. I also am not getting a satellite signal. It will be a long winter if this little amount of snow interferes with reception... Boots are on the list this week.

I cleaned the chicken coop from top to bottom. The hens have almost ceased laying so I figure now they have no reason;there is a light on for them also. One of the younger heritage turkeys is laying every other day...odd as it's November! One ram is very frustrated, meanwhile a ewe that I mistook for pregnant is very receptive to the young ram. I also have a young ewe-with horns- who is trying to mount the wether!! I'm pretty sure she is a she as there is no "sac" with marbles.

My wool is still not ready. Why must it take so long and now is my busy selling time? It may not be... I also missed the Needler's Retreat, again. I had a spot reserved too. It just seems that at that time of the year, the planets must line up in a certain pattern in order for things to work out in my favor.

Christmas preparations...not sure what we are doing. My Mother may be coming to live with us for the winter.No worries, a friend has a bunch of empty wine bottles saved for me so I can brew my own. If I start now, I may have a chance!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Be Inspired!

I have always believed that inspiration can be found anywhere. In fact, you don't need to go find it, it is right before your eyes. It seeks you out. One just needs to recognize it much like the sound of opportunity knocking on the proverbial door.

On the weekend, I was knitting up the edging on a sweater. The tv was on and I had stopped channel surfing. Like most knitters, tv is mostly listened to and not watched while working on pieces. I was not paying attention to what had just come on until I heard what the person was saying. It spoke to me in volumes. It most certainly was about inspiration and it did inspire me.

Another interesting thing about this event is who the person was. We all have a story to tell and I never figured I would have anything in common with this person. But through technology and a television set I was connected. Now there is no looking back for me. I noticed my attitude change right after the tv show. I giggled as I thought about whom it took to inspire me so.

So, if you every watch Oprah's Master Class, or sneak a peek on Youtube, Billy Bob Thornton as unlikely as it sounds is my source of inspiration. Another lesson, don't judge the book by it's cover when it comes to these things. Accept it-don't question it and be an inspiration for others.

The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.
~W B Yeats 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Like Sand Through The Hourglass...

In the last couple of weeks I've chided myself as to how much time I spend on the internet not always to garner anything productive or necessary. This morning I had a chat with a friend from high school. She is a breast cancer survivor. She never complained about the ordeal. All I noticed was a decrease in posts. She is an avid photographer, so not seeing as much of her work should have been a clue. I just put that down as being busy.

I only found out about the cancer "thing" when she posted about a bell one can ring at the oncology ward of a particular hospital after your last treatment. Wow! What a revelation!! It's not like we were close friends but we did share some moments and I remember horseback riding with her and her sister and a few others after school at a trail ranch just out of the city. Cancer is not a pleasant thing for anyone to endure. Knock on wood, I am grateful for my health as no matter what income you have, you can't buy it back. You may be able to buy more experimental drugs though...

So meanwhile, dear colleague has been inspired to be part of Head Scarfs for Cancer Patients-Three Cousins Seamstress on Facebook , also this business and a walking meditation album of photographs on Facebook.

What made me reach out and contact her this am was this post:"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is GREAT WORK. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking, and don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. "
-Steve Jobs
 I wholeheartedly agree with this. I told her that I was doing what I love. I am fortunate. We both agreed that time is not to be wasted. I thanked her for her time- she read my blog.

I thank each and every one of you who do take the time to read my "musings" as you can be doing other things.Things that you love. 

So, what will you be doing today?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

My Private Thanksgiving Toast

Yesterday was Thanksgiving. It was also my uncle Brian's birthday. So ,when Fall comes around I think of him, especially at Thanksgiving even though the two days don't always coincide. I think of him as the days get colder and wetter. Since I've moved to a farm I never see him. Why so much thought to an absentee relative? Well, my uncle Brian is a homeless person.

I always found him different but I could easily discuss things with him. He's only 6 years older than myself. My Mother is one of 10 siblings and the oldest daughter. He lived with my Grandmother in Ottawa. My Grandmother passed away 19 years ago. That's when things went a little haywire. He had to live on his own. Did not keep jobs for long. What did not help is as a teenager he lost the sight in one eye just by being pushed into a telephone pole. Somehow, my Father brought him into the hospital he worked at, which was a military hospital. Perhaps under the guise that because my Grandfather had served years ago? Not quite sure how that came to be. So, essentially he also has a disability.

A bit of time later, a few more "incidents" and there you have a schizophrenic wandering the streets refusing any one's assistance because he is "fine". In 2011, my Aunt Brenda passed away. I wanted to let my uncle know that his sister, to whom he would sometimes visit unannounced had passed away. I had to call the union Mission and did locate him. He did not show up for the service but at least he knew. My cousin , the deceased's daughter had an issue with him showing up and yet she was very close to him in her early life.I don't understand how cold some people are but I let that go as she was grieving and may have not been thinking as she normally would.

So when I tuck into that pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, it's with a bit of sadness but also a few good memories and the reminder that winter is coming. Be well Brian.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Puddle ducks!

Fall is a beautiful season but a frustrating one. Things you've put off doing now may not get done until Spring. The sun shines and the wind blows. The leaves abandon the trees and become carpeted as the rain beats down on them. That was a description of yesterday's weather. The sun would shine and warm everything up but never stayed out long enough to accomplish anything as the rain fell and fell and fell. The only appreciative crew were the ducks.

Puddle ducks.But not your Beatrix Potter type. The rain created quite a few puddles deep enough in some spots for the ducks to immerge themselves and splash and bathe about in a quite contented state. There a very small puddles left today as the ground absorbed the rain. So I wonder, how will the ducks be in the winter? They were quite noisy this am. They wanted out of their night shelter to play about in the water.
This has me pondering what I will have to do with them for fun in winter yet I've seen mallards live near the Rideau River over the winter when I lived in Ottawa. At least they won't be migrating as they are unable to fly!
Not my ducks but gives you an idea of what I am talking about.
Soon my sheep will be divided into whomever will be bred groups..Still not done cleaning out the barn. windy days make it difficult to burn some of the stuff that I'm taking out of there and I am working solo. Hubby helped out a bit one Saturday..and the calendar pages quickly flip on...

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Sans A Camera!

No photos. My friend picked up her camera. So now I must find the cord to my old camera, which I found , is a pig on batteries-yes batteries. It will not play nicely with cheap brands either...

I've heard from Bertie"s new owners and he is settling in well, has taken a liking to one of the ewes and follows her around. I figure it is a Mom substitute thing until the hormones kick in and that will be soon enough.

The leaves are falling and the fog is taking some time to lift today. The sun is poking out which makes doing outside chores less tedious. The ducks are exploring new territory-Yes I have 4 runner ducks!! I think they may be all female. They are only a couple months old but I picked them up beginning of August. It will be some time before eggs appear.

My clip is still not back from the mill. I hope it comes before the Knitting guild vendor night!!Meanwhile I knit for a craft fair and farmer's market. If it doesn't sell, I have Christmas gifts made!! This morning I rewarded myself by purchasing a pattern. I hope I can use some of my own wool to knit it once it arrives.

This weekend I will visit my friend Anna Hammond and her farm and pick up  a few varieties of garlic. Planting season is soon and I thought this would be another lovely feature or product to sell next year!! Fingers crossed for that crop as my pumpkins were a failure this year. Strange as that never happens...I will have to purchase a couple as they are huge hits with the chickens and the sheep!

Time to knit!!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Bye, Bye Bertie!

Yesterday, a couple came to see the rams for sale and took Bertie home to be the herd sire to the 2 Shetland ewes they have. I was tickled pink that he would be going to another hobby farm!! I also dreamt about him last night. He is no longer my worry but I still do worry. I hope he is settling in and coping in a different environment. Silly isn't it?

Meanwhile a breeder near Peterborough has pulled her ad as she has been harassed by potential buyers who wish to "sacrifice" the lambs:their word not mine. They even sent her a clip of how it will be done!! Wow! What intrigues me is why this particular "fibre" breed? Wouldn't they want a meat sheep? Or is it simply that sacrifice? I did not ask what prices she had posted but if the prices were higher, would she be able to avoid certain types of buyers? Is it her location that is appealing? I also think lambs sell better as they have that cuteness factor but if you are breeding for a specific characteristic, wouldn't you want the more mature model? Any defects would be visible then...a point to ponder.

Meanwhile, what to do with Magnus.He is still listed for sale. However he may breed a ewe this Fall and then become an"it". The big boys also provide more fleece He is graying out in the hind which is a fault in the 1927 breed standard ; yet another point to ponder.

Only time will tell what's in store for the big boy!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Never A Dull Moment!

No udders but a round belly that protrudes a little more to one side.Yesterday morning totally stressed me out. The last couple of days have done that also but I thought I was finished with those the little annoyances that keep you from getting to the things I had planned on accomplishing. Not so.

After putting the dog out in the morning, I promptly fed all the big animals( sheep, horses) and then I do the birds. I open the door to the coop and notice that the heat lamp is off, the ducks are in with the meat chicks, huddled in the corner, quacking. I start to see what has taken place. The boards separating the 2 areas had fallen down, the heat lamp had been clamped to a board. Wait, the heat lamp is still on and burning the wood shavings!! I move board to find 2 squished chicks, dead and a third looking a bit frazzled. The heat lamp was so hot that it burnt the read paint off the outside of the bulb, burnt the shavings and also one of my fingers as I tried to re-position safely in order to turn it off!! Oh My!! Another chick was either burnt on it's back or hurt by the board but he's doing ok...

Well, better to lose them young but my,oh my, I could have lost the entire barn!! Not just that but guess what's next door? Sheep and turkeys and all the other chickens including the grown meat birds that are at the processor right now!! That would have been the end of my small holding and what is left of my sanity.

Meanwhile, I suspect that one of the ewes that acquired in July may be pregnant!!I will have more out of season lambs than regular at this rate. No udders but a round belly that protrudes a bit more on one side. A careful watch is on as the temps drop overnight. Also, the group of animals that that sheep came from have barber pole worm. So, deworming will be a-happening!! The gal who confirmed it in her flock found out as the Finn crosses were suddenly so weak and she was unsure why. Sadly they are in with the rest of her flock so the must deworm the whole lot. My group that is potentially exposed is a group of 5. The other sheep can wait a bit...

Back to cleaning the barn for the upcoming colder months. Oh, and we have  chicks that hatched, in the Fall...
Never a dull moment!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


On September 9th we were blessed with the birth of Jasper!! At first, I wanted to wether him right away-another ram,unregisterable...But wait! He's white(brown really but we won't get into the whole color genetics thing) I have two white ewes and now one white ram. Spinners and knitters love white because they can dye it. So, by keeping him intact, I can now produce more white-no guarantees but better chances!!

He moves around so much, it's hard to get a good photo!

This only occurred to me after being disappointed by another buyer withdrawing from the sale of a ram. These things happen. I would prefer they go to a fiber farm than a freezer. So, having said that, I pondered who could I contact to sell a ram, for another farm to diversify their gene pool? Well, folks, there are no other registered breeders within 50km of here. Registry does not necessarily make a better animal but as a breeder, you pair them up for a desired outcome of better fleece, conformation or color if you dare. Again, no guarantees. Yes, you will end up with flops. That happens within all breeding possibilities. you learn from theses things, hence the importance of keeping records and registries do help with that. I did contact another breeder that I know from spinning guild who has been breeding Shetlands for some years. Waiting to hear back.

So, do I wish to step up and become a bigger breeder? Maybe. I have limited funds and property to consider. But I will say this: I will not discount my animals to make a sale. Too much time, effort and energy goes into providing a better fleece. With everyone retiring and moving, I understand their motivation to sell at a lowered price but from now on, I stand by my product.

Back to keeping an  unregisterable white ram? Fleeces sell and provide funds for their food. Regular breeding season is around the corner. So, I have decided to breed and now must decide what I am striving for in the pairings. I'm kind of glad that my wonderful ram of great fleece will be staying!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Wildflower Or Weed?

There aren't many flowers blooming in my front garden.In fact, what's flowering aren't flowers but weeds. Looking at them takes me back to a visit to my Grandparents' home in the prairies. Let's take a trip down memory lane! Back to a time when you had to get up and dial the knob to the 3 channels you could view on the t.v. if the reception gods were smiling at you at that moment. Back to a time when phone service to this quaint town was made up of party lines. Ring once for the home, ring twice for the store!! Very annoying if your bedroom is near the phone stand-no mobiles or portables then.

There wasn't much for me to do to entertain myself at their home but being an only child, I adapted. About 500 feet away from the front door of their house was the railway. The china in the cabinets most certainly got a workout. No brittle stuff here or you would find it broken on the floor.The tracks were still in use and so was the grain elevator. I would walk along the tracks for miles, past the dug out where I sometimes caught tiny frogs and salamanders or a quick swim. Someone had even left a couple of boards so you can get out easier. Out to the the cemetery on the South side and then leave the tracks for the dirt road to the other cemetery where I found some familiar names. I sometimes continued down that road where I picked Saskatoon berries with my Father and was chased by cows. There was a dugout there where my dad said he used to swim and catch lizards-a rusty old slide ladder protruded from a corner. I don't think the cows were using it much.

It amazed me that my Grandmother always knew when I was on the tracks. Apparently, my pants were covered with black "tarry" stuff that only she could see. To curb my appetite for wandering I was told to do some reading. I've always been a reader and had brought my own books. I was introduced to Reader's Digest and the family bible that held information on the family tree. So, while the Priest came to visit my Grandparents;the local church was almost in the backyard, I scampered off, this time to gather some flowers to embellish my basement bedroom.

The coast was clear when I came back through the front door with a bouquet of mostly yellows and purples and a few whites. The wild roses were flimsy and had very little stems so did not do well in my mason jar vase. Beside it was my mason jar of swimming frogs. A few hours later, Grandma came to see if all was well and if my bed was made and had asked what that smell was in there? I said "What smell?" There are a few smells in a basement after all. She took a look and said "What are you doing with those weeds?" I said they are flowers, making the room look pretty. Those aren't flowers, they are weeds-it's time you learned the difference between the two. That meant if it wasn't raining next day I was to help weed the flowers, the real ones. The ones you sow, nurture, cut and delight in arranging into a vase.

Since that episode, whenever I would visit their home, there was always a small juice glass filled with sweet peas, as a reminder of what a true flower was meant to represent and the little secret we had.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Knit? Not So Fast...

Tomorrow a friend is going to hospital for some surgery. I would like to take this moment to wish
Rose-Marie Bellinger well, a safe and speedy recovery and to keep up with her amazing attitude in her battle against cancer.May we have more knitting days together!!
On Sunday, I decided I would enjoy the beautiful weather we were experiencing of late. Admittedly, I was feeling just a bit sorry for myself because I could not attend Twist 2014, which is a fibre festival held on the Quebec side. A bit of a drive but I'm sure there was weird and wonderful things to be had. Turns out I exchanged this opportunity by purchasing a rare Lavender Orpington rooster and 2 blue Orpington hens. Have I swapped hens for wool??

I chose my spot on the back porch to catch-up on some knitting. With all the changing and adapting and cleaning to accommodate all the recent additions(woolly and feathered) I've not had much time to knit. Once everything is the way it should be, routine begins and I will be able to squeeze in some needle time...A fleece on the skirting table was begging my attention,my garden was screaming for weeding but I held fast to my resolve. I'm knitting today!!

Not long after I sat, I realized how quiet it was. Very little traffic,a few birds and roosters singing and calling.Crickets were humming and an occasional baa from the backyard making for a fairly peaceful background noise. A horse whinnied. I knew which horse it was. It was Whiskey; he has such a wimpy whinnie. Why is he calling? He only does this if there is a horse trailer around or if he can't see any of his friends...And right now, there is no reason why he shouldn't be able to see his friends unless...

Ah crap! Horses are on the other side of the electric fence. I yell at hubby and I tell him to tell our son that his horse is out. I head for the barn and grab a lead line and a bucket of feed. I head towards what appears to be a colorful spot through the trees- a pinto on the outside of the fence, the other two, inside and a woman who had seen this while driving along and helped put them back inside.

So, I feed them some more hay to keep their mind off all the grass that is beyond the fence and give up any thought of knitting for that day. It took a few hours to eliminate some issues and  repair some sections.
This, has really mad me decide that the 2 horses must be sold. So if anyone wants a Palomino qh gelding, he's yours. The Canadian is for sale...The escape artist will be going for training according to my son.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

August Is A Peculiar Month...

August is..a peculiar month. The days can be sunny and extremely warm while the mornings and evenings can be rather chilly. The daylight is fading causing the blue of the sky to become more of a pastel than a dark rich Wedgewood color. The flowers are fading and the vegetables are ripening as are the crops. This maturing produces a golden hue over the landscape.

Soon, more colors will be more apparent as we prep ourselves for colder days. I like the Fall-knitting begins full tilt. Although, lately I've been so busy taking care of the sheep to get any real good knitting time in..ironic isn't it? At the Farmer's market last week, I was asked how I could knit while it was so warm? I pushed all sarcasm aside and replied because die-hard knitters knit all the time. But seriously, if you drank hot coffee, baked bread, cooked a meal, all of this and more on hot days, I suspect no-one would critique but one might empathize at you sweat...

Already, there are a few maples and shrubs displaying a new look...
I am looking froward to the new colors but not the new weather. How about you?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

But I Don't Have A Belfry

After 6 years of living in a tall house in the country, I was not surprised to hear my youngest son announce that there was a bat flying around upstairs. I replied: "Hmph, it's daylight."

So I trek upstairs and see absolutely nothing different than what was there before. I checked the spare room, nothing. I asked my son what he was smoking because there is nothing "flying" up there.He put his hands up in the whatever pose and walked off. Later as I'm putting laundry away, I opened my bedroom door to gain access to hallway and sure enough!! A bat-flying mid-height in daylight! So, I eventually get it into the bathroom where I suspect it first gained entry through an open window without a screen.(note to self: get screen for window) I opened the window in hopes it would venture out.

I then apologized to my son. I told my other son to not open the bathroom door. Minutes later,I hear doors slamming upstairs. I had forgotten to shut the transom window in the bathroom and so the bat was touring once more. I asked the boys where the bat was. Older says in the spare room. I then said "You were just going to leave it there??" Geez ...I suppose until it's darker...

So now, it's evening,I'm listening to the tv and trying out a new knitting pattern when I hear a holler from the living room. Oh, the bat must be out!! My husband was victim to the kitten being outside on the back porch and the bat swooping over his head right as he made the discovery that the kitten has escaped.

So,I said "Turn the lights on in the kitchen."-the bat was up on the corner of a kitchen cabinet. I grabbed a blanket and said to husband-"Here put this over it and gently grab it with 2 hands. I will open the door to outside." He glared at me. I said" You're taller."Which is the truth. And so with squeaky little noises, the bat was caught and returned to the outdoors to fly around at dusk.

Each evening I wonder if any of  the bats I see are the one who had an indoor adventure and where the heck was it hiding?...

Friday, August 8, 2014

Some Days Are Just...

Yesterday was one of those days,when everything you do turns to sh--!

It began with waking up earlier to travel with son #2 to his workplace in order for me to have the car to drive son #3 to work later. I realize as I'm getting ready to leave and putting dog out that there are 2 more bodies sleeping in my house-friends of son #3.

I return with car an hour later, boys are still here, my hay that was to be delivered last night was not. I begin to water and feed the chickens, turkeys etc..anyone who can be fed and needed feeding. Boys follow me out and ask if I can drive them to  a local friend's home. I offered breakfast but they wanted to go. Just then hay arrives. I said I will feed and then go. All is good. Except that the Partridge Chanteclers that I had isolated the night before so I could obtain purebred eggs had left?? No feathers, door locked???Oh,my! I discover a piece of fencing had become detached and they "flew the coop"! Plan B- breeding will be slightly delayed...
Drive boys, come back-check the garden-overgrown with weeds and difficult to access due to electronet fencing for sheep. Gain access and search for sage that I had planted.

Bitten by all kinds of insects, I find the sage and really need to clean out that section, next time when I bring gloves and bathe in mosquito repellent. I notice yellow beans that need picking but I didn't bring a bowl, but..maybe I can collect in my shirt? As I reach to pick them I hear a cat screeching as if fighting. I look over to see it is Ray, large male and dominant, excellent mouser by the way. He had got himself caught in the sheep fencing. He managed to free himself but he also managed to pull a small section out of place.
I repair. At  this point I think, resistance is futile. For the rest of the day, do nothing,think happy thoughts- your attitude will change the outcome. Sure, in theory,maybe.

I decide to knit a few rows. I am behind but a few rows here and there do add up.I decided then that surely, this luck thing is fiction and decide to trim the weeds and saplings by the front gate. Foiled again by a pair of clippers that have sprung to have my thumb caught in the handles.

I decide to relax until it's time to drive son to work. We won't go into the gas station incident. I arrive at son#2's workplace and hubby calls to say he will be picking up son #3 as they don't need him today!! WTH? They could have called- all that driving and gas and time for nothing.

Today is a better day and that's all it is: another day.

A few pics...
New ram lamb
New spotted ewe lamb! She's camera shy!!
Here's Aster in Mom's favorite corner!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

A Bittersweet End Of The Month

Poor Maverick- has passed away.

Thursday am I noticed that he was not up and about like the others. It happens-they don't all chew cud at the same time. But, when he did get up,his neck was tilted to one side and not moving too swiftly. What, oh what could it be? Well at first I thought pulled muscle? Horn caught? No- looks more like a deficiency of sorts. I solicited to advice from some established Shetland breeders and - a thiamine deficiency is  upon what we all concurred.

Next, find some B1 or Thiamine to inject...After calling several feed stores, only one had it, the vet did not have any...time is of the essence with these things.Meanwhile my meat birds are being processed and within hours, people will be coming to pick up. what rotten timing. By the time we located the Thiamine,he was down. I gave him 4 doses and I rubbed him under his chin. A little while later, he was up. He stayed standing for some time. My day went on; he was still not out of the woods.

Next morning , he may have been blind at this point,I found the water bucket upturned and the ram tangled in the electro-net, dead. A very unpleasant sight at 5:48 am.

Now, what to do? In a couple hours we are heading to almost Peterborough to pick up a ram and ewe lamb!! I felt horrible and a few what ifs were starting to cloud my mind. Well, what ifs exist only in your mind. Sure, different fencing may have helped him live longer? Not 100% certain on that. Would he be ever well enough to reproduce again? would this condition be hereditary?? Well, none of it changes the outcome. He's gone. A friend came and took him and will dispose of him. We agreed that the cost of deadstock removal is crazy and they profit from your unexpected expense.Although, I prefer losing a ram over a ewe any day...

Meanwhile, Dahlia gave birth the night before to  a lovely little ewe lamb-Aster! My concern was poor Dahlia may not be able to stand frequently to feed baby and she is a very thin gal to begin with. She popped that baby out with no difficulties at all! Aster is dark brown like Mom with white on her head and ears, and so tiny but very healthy. I will need to take some photos of her and the new additions.

All the colorful Aunties welcoming the new lamb!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Chicken Day Approaches...

Last night was a busy night,... an eventful night. The meat birds are scheduled for processing Thurs. am. We must bring them inside to be on a strict diet of water for 36 hours and on clean bedding. Sounds simple enough right?? Well, Cornish cross chickens must be the stupidest creatures on the face of the earth. They are in it for the food and that's it. Every year I remember hating this part- getting them inside. They smell, don't cooperate and they are heavy and yes, they do bite...

This was done after we moved the sheep. The reason for moving some sheep was to provide a cleaner area while one pen is being cleaned out. What I had forgotten in my haste to get them moved was that like cows, sheep can climb but are reluctant to drop down.

This meant, nobody was coming out in a hurry causing much stress for my husband, who, does not always understand the queer ways of animal instincts. In the end, I had to enlist the help of my youngest son. From the time I summoned him to come help and the time he came out to the barn, we had heard some cracking noise. My husband and I both turned our heads to see what was happening and a huge branch from a maple tree fell!

Husband says: "Great, more work to do..." I replied, "It can wait-it won't be going anywhere."Luckily our hay had been delivered just minutes before this happening. Sheep were moved. They then behaved as if everyone was new and head butting one another...Silly sheep

Then the meat birds. I took out a few that were slow movers in order to get the chicken tractor closer to the barn.Daylight was fading.
I had to stoop in the chicken tractor, take them out individually which meant being hunched over a lot, take them out and walk them into the enclosure inside the barn. I am dripping with sweat and the buggers are heavy and uncooperative, flapping about and squawking as if I was trying to kill them-not me and soon enough.

So it's after 9pm all is secured, everyone watered and I head for the bath as the chickens smell.

This am, I am a bit stiff from that workout. I'm not sure if I would fare any better if I were in any better physical condition...perhaps if I were a bit younger??

By the way, the new ram's name is no longer Elvis but Maverick in honor of James Garner who passed away the weekend we obtained him.
Maverick and his posse.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


There are thunderstorms occurring off and on today. Thus, my work is more geared to the inside. I am prepping my fleeces to be sent off. That is, I'm deciding what I want done to each one and then wait for it all to come back.There is a reason why 3 sheep just won't do-volume and thickness. What if I want 3 different weights in 3 different colors etc??? This should keep me busy for a few minutes. Also,since none of the boys are no longer in school, why are there no pens in my office?? I suppose they'll turn up in the land of lost change and mismatched socks...

Yesterday while my world was warmer and drier I took a few photos to share while there is still something blooming in the garden!

A bee hard at work!

I think these are Elderberries??

A lily that is brighter than your typical Day Lily.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Here we Grow Again!

Soy beans have been planted in the field across the highway, to the east of the house followed by corn followed by more beans. I know this because I can see what is to the front and a bit on the east side of the house. Having to run through all these fields to catch the new ram that got loose provides one an up close and personal view of the local agricultural landscape. And it was muggy. Corinne from Alpaca Tracks was kind enough to help load and trailer the four new Shetland sheep to my farm and then was super supportive by helping myself and my husband run through the fields to catch the new guy.

A good Samaritan driving along stopped to somewhat corner the ram with her van. He then decided to go through the field there behind the house. An OPP officer stopped to see if all was well. I asked if he had a tranquilizer gun? He grinned, said no and then patted his rifle positioned between the 2 seats. Too terminal I said. But if I can't get him home before the sun goes down, it may be an option. I then told him to  not even think of breaking out the ticket book. I said I was insured for the livestock, explained what happened. Meanwhile, ram had crossed the road. I suggested the officer take the road and come down the right of way from the next concession and perhaps flush him out. He said sure- I don't know much about catching goats. I said that's a ram- sheep- not a goat. And thank you.

Off he went. I saw the SUV turn down the farmer's right away,the dust from the tires and gravel road billowing in the air. The ram did turn and head towards our place. I admit I was almost in tears, yelling here sheepie  come here Elvis and shaking a plastic coffee canister filled with grain. No crying- that's not productive,I must change his name, Elvis will not do for this very reason; if my husband doesn't divorce me now, -he's a keeper..All these thoughts going through my head as I am jogging through the beans. I've never run so much in the last 3 years!!! Hubby and Corinne were ahead of me. I ended up near the corn field,heard some cracking and wondered and waited. Then I heard my chickens making a  ruckus followed by my dog barking- He must be in the yard!! Hubby followed him into the coop but the hens were flying and the ram was off again!! Into the horse paddock where two horses rounded him up and then Corinne and my husband coaxed him around the corner to where he should be. I appeared at he far corner and we did get him into the electronet area. He then tried to make another run through the fence that was not on but we were getting to. His horns got caught in the net but he was ok, so was the fence.

Now all 4 are in their quarantine area. The ram settled right away when he saw his friends. The poor ram did not know where home was so kept running. As frightening and frustrating as that was for the humans, we all understood that and worked together. Supportive friend are an incredible asset! Thank you Corinne and Barry.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Due Date : August 7th

Look at that! On the down slide to another month! My garden is thriving despite its wet, rock start! Tomorrow the sheep will arrive. Not the ones I originally agreed to purchase but different ones Shetlands none the less. The other 2 require a road trip and the vendor is pushing now.(biting my tongue)

This past week, I have made an effort to not complain about things. It is in interesting process and I have seen positive results. Will continue to work on this "skill".

Meanwhile, Dahlia-the poor ewe I bought last year with horrible fleece because she came with the others is most definitely pregnant. In fact her due date is Aug 7th as  she jumped the gate on March 15th!! Beware the Ides of March. Hubby's concern is a repeat of Misty, which nothing can foresee ringwomb.I called the vet to see if I could purchase an individual dose of a vaccine that is to be given to sheep approx.3 weeks before lambing.I am trying to ensure a successful outcome...They don't sell individual shots. I thought I would ask as it's kind of off season for the rest of my flock to purchase a jug if it were available. Which it is not. In fact, back ordered for over 3 months! Really?? There are  plenty of commercial flocks around that breed year round....where are they getting their supplies??

Well I gazed into "Teddy's"aka Dahlia's(her fleece last year made her look like a teddy bear so I call her Teddy) eyes and asked myself why must these things be so complicated? Misty was staring at me,poor Misty whose udders are still swollen after her c-section delivery of the dead twins. Almost telepathically, I hear in my mind"because you wouldn't learn anything and you are the learning type"

In my next post I will show you a when she arrived and after a year's difference in Dahlia"Teddy's" fleece. Night and day. A slight change in diet and now we suspect her limp is arthritis. She's been standing more often which is great because how can a lamb nurse from a ewe who lays down a lot?? I will buy bottles and milk replacer just in case...Will be calling the vet about Misty also- we've milked her a bit with difficulty and still big udders....Ah yes, another lesson to be learned. Thank you sheep.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Almost Midway!!

Wow! So far July is proving to be more of a whirlwind than June and I am coping very well! Fleeces are almost ready to be sent off to become closer to someone's ideal knitting companion.

Yesterday, I learned how to weave a stake and strand basket. I have to say, basket weaving is far more difficult than I ever thought!! I have vines growing on the side of the house and I will see what I can accomplish with those at a later date.

Fleece hasn't been the only thing I've been picking. This year, there seems to be quite a crop of blackberries!

This what's left after making a double batch of scones. Today is a wonderful day for baking or jam making as it is not so incredible hot and humid.

This evening I will be checking out some sheep. There will be a story to follow on this topic and how it came about. Hopefully, there will be some happy ending...

I've also received news that the Fibre Fun festival on Wolfe Island has been cancelled. I was looking forward to that...Now, let's see if all my wool comes back before that was scheduled to see if fate is at hand!!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Goodbye June, Hello July!

Hello Folks! It's July and it's summer and it's been hot and hectic around these parts!! Many things are happening but first let's get caught up! Last month I helped count inventory at the local feed store-5 days of fighting illogical entries. After the first day I gave in to the fact that logic was not to play a role in this adventure. Find the item, find the category and count. One of the evening s during that week, I did some bookkeeping for a friend.End of quarter for HST is coming up so to give her a general idea of what to expect to either remit or expect, I did a trial balance sheet. I texted her what she would pay and she launched into a tirade that has me thinking, find yourself another bookkeeper!! She wanted to know why she would have to pay so much... did I put the receipt for her ride-on mower in?? Yes there is more but at the time I wished I could reach through the phone and bring her face close to mine and say:" Not my effing problem"! Crude but so apropos for the rant 6 texts as to why she should have to pay. It's also the type of language that she responds to... I laugh now because, well, it is her problem!

Last month also saw my article for the
Ontario Sheep magazine published!! It's brief and desperately needed in a forum of commercial"meat" sheep land. The day after receiving my copy of the magazine, I received an email message from Carol Precious of Chassagne Farm. Her Father In Law was responsible for bringing the first shetland sheep to Canada. just said that she liked the article!! I was thrilled to hear that from someone who knows the breed so well.

I am still skirting fleeces but the end is near. I plan on shipping them next week in hopes that they will return before the Fiber fest on Wolfe Island.

I've also been offered a flock of Shetland sheep...more on that another post!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mother's Day on My Terms

This past weekend, I was given the opportunity to work at Alpaca Tracks shop above the Brigadoon restaurant in Oxford Mills.

 I was honestly flattered to be asked to fill in for Kathy and Corinne as they were busy shearing their 50+ alpacas. Because of the number of animals to be shorn, it takes 2 days, ad a few animals from smaller flocks and a few get the picture. It was a delight to be surrounded by such nice fibers and finished items. I now so want my sheep to be shorn!!

Sunday was Mother's Day and because I knew I was to be working, nothing was planned. In fact,I'm quite pleased with not adhering to schedules too rigidly. There is always work to be done: pleasant and not so pleasant. So, plot a few jobs and pending on weather,they get done. Feeding and taking care of the animals takes precedence over all the activities, chores odd jobs that need doing and sometimes it is because of the animals that the list grows.

I am still waiting to hear from the Kemptville Farmer's Market if I will be considered a vendor this year. Less than 2 weeks away from the season launch. I still don't know what day my shearing will be done but I think I will have an open house another day as shearing stresses me out more than the animals...

More big news, I have been on a waiting list for years for the Needler's Retreat.(see Many years ago,I had to give up my spot as 2 of my boys were playing for a city championship football game. I couldn't miss that! And rightly so. They did not win but I accompanied my middle son to the hospital via ambulance for a concussion. So, this year, I have a spot!! Patience requires much practice!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Changes Are A Happenin'

Hi all,

I've created a page with prices for the wool and roving. It is work in progress. I will also be listing a page with other items that are available from our little farm. Things are starting to really take form-business wise!

I am hoping to get some fencing done this weekend-low budget but very functional and only if the weather allows. Poor sheepies are in the barn as the ground is very boggy and it is not great for their little feet. It's not great for the horses either but they can travel a bit further to higher ground. Misty is recovering from her surgery nicely. She now needs to "dry up" as no lambs are nursing I must watch for mastitis. We are halfway through her round of penicillin.

I've had to grab for cardigans lately as the weather is unseasonably cool. My favorite is "Rhinebeck" by Lisa Lloyd. It is huge on me. So,I think it's time to knit myself another and yes,using my very own product. There will be some shameless self-promotion coming up!

This photo was taken from Ravelry and the owner is Chili.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


Yesterday was another very difficult "farming" day. Misty began labor on Sunday but was not progressing as she should. I called the vet Monday am and he gave her some injections to induce hard labor. A few hours later we are performing a c-section to remove 2 dead lambs, a ram and a ewe. I deep seated resentment is what occupies my mind and my heart. All the farming cliches and expressions are not a source consolation in any way.The ewe has been saved but must be retired, To add insult to injury, her fleece has been shaved on her left side which will mean a bit of a mess for shearing day...This is so not what I expected and it always brings about that question: Why?

 Why do these things happen? How could God let this happen? What could we have done differently ? etc...
And these questions fall on deaf ears because it does not change the outcome. Instead, I must deal with what is at hand: Life.

On a positive note, after months of sluggish egg laying, we are now finding eggs everywhere! An Easter egg hunt is a daily thing occurrence. Also, things are greening up but still a bit boggy and will remain so as the forecast calls for wet days ahead.
For now, I will be working on some brochures to give out for folks to see what we offer on our farm fro produce and wool. Perhaps a new sheep will be in order....

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Chocolate Lambs For Easter

On the weekend, we moved the ewes over to the pen where the general population is located. I don't trust the rams to not accidentally bash a lamb. So, the gals left and we put Clover in with the boys. Clover will go into season like a regular sheep as she is a cross. Poor Octavia called for her Mom. Well, since she is now 6 months old, you'll see her again when the fence goes up when the ground thaws, when the water all disappears...

All Monday night, the rain came down. Washing away much snow and flooding many fields,interrupting satellite tv service and making a general mess of my yard. not to mention my basement as one sump pump stopped working!!...
It also rained a good part of Tuesday and it was cold. So far for an entire week,we've yet to reach the forecast high temp of the day. There's not much I can do about it but it became a concern to me yesterday when I observed Clarice at morning feed. She was not eating. In fact, she did paw in a corner,did a funny hunch thing and I knew then it was early stages of labor. I checked on her a few times in the morning but it seemed to stress her out. I then decided, she probably did not need my assistance.

After lunch and time to give the sheep their grain, I met Clarice's twins, a ram and a ewe. The boy was dryer so I figure he was born first.
Ewe on left, ram on right. The band across his forehead is a cream brown and they are both a deep chocolate color.
Now that I have put them in a "jug", I decided to use a heat lamp as the overnight temp did drop below freezing.I aim for success/survival. The lambs were ok this am, so now I have decided on names. Beatrix and Bertram. I thought it fitting to name the ewe after Beatrix Potter as she was a sheep breeder herself: Bertram was her brother's name.
Now we wait on Misty...

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Signs of Spring...

Signs of spring are about despite freezing my ar-- off and seeing quite a bit of snow left on the ground. The weather forecast for the weekend is promising-rain and warmer temperatures. I will be pleased when there is no bloody windchill to accompany the actual temperature.

Another sign is horses shedding- no pic for that as there is too many "poopy" things on the floor. You get that picture. Yesterday,I discovered a strange cat living in my basement which explains why the dog would sniff at the door( she will not go in the basement) Also,my cats would hiss quite a bit when dining... I also have a Starling in the attic,mice in the feed bin and the worst yet, I saw a coyote across the field. Not cool. I would be naive to believe that my farm,as little as it may be would be untouched by that part of nature. So,fences a most definite item on my Spring list of very important items to secure. Putting it all in, now that's another headache for another day.

Still no lambs- I think my ewes are smarter than anyone else's. They are waiting for cleaner bedding and warmer days. Yah, that's it!! Meanwhile,I still have nice wool for sale!!

I fell sorry for those Easterners that must endure another blast of winter.. I'm sure everyone is wondering "Will it ever end ?"
So for now, I will be knitting- getting ready to add to my inventory for the Kemptville Farmer's market- I will be a vendor there this year. I hope to see some of you there!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Mid March Morning

I just spent an hour shoveling horse poop. I see no need in posting photos about that. It is a warm day so I am taking advantage of the fact that not"all" the poop is frozen, but there certainly is a layer below that is. The wheel on my wheel barrow is flat. We can't find the puncture. Last Saturday, we spent some time at the neighbors replacing tubes, valves, using the air compressor to fill and then soaped it with soap you use to clean milking equipment(-yup-dairy farm neighbors) and still there is a mysterious leak. So, lots of poop. Lots of dirty bedding also that I need to get out;sadly I must buy a new tire -_-.

Prior to shoveling,I made my way out to Vernon to meet with two people. I decide to abstain from the bird auction because honestly, I have very little funds this week,and a new tire to buy. I did meet with these folks to purchase a dozen Ameracauna eggs(blue/green) and 5 blue laced Wyandottes. As much as I like hatching my own, the ladies aren't laying as they should and new genes are welcome. So, tomorrow the eggs will be put in the incubator. The Farmer's Almanac states tomorrow as a good date for setting eggs. Cool!

I've decided that some of the roosters I have will be sent to the South Mountain auction next month. I am now officially launching myself wholeheartedly into farming. Yes folks, in desperation I applied to Tim Horton's (popular doughnut and coffee store for the American followers who don't know)and guess what? I did not get the job. For a fleeting moment, I was not sure whether to be disappointed or relieved.

So stay tuned for more farm antics.I'm considering purchasing a milking goat in order for me to legally sell my goat's milk soap. No, not mid-life crisis. After all how many of crises can you have??

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Knitting Lesson

Yesterday, I spent an afternoon teaching a good friend to knit! She desperately wanted to knit the "Penguin jumpers" that were seen on the news and on Facebook. However, as creative and craft oriented as she was, she had never learned to knit.

So Jen came over for a one-on-one session. she's a quick learner even with some wine ! I firmly believe that if one has a gift, skill, ability whatever you want to call it, that at some time it is good to give back to society with that gift for free. It won't kill you and it doesn't take away too much of your income. It's almost like a social obligation...

This is the back of the penguin jumper. The front is constructed the same way. I used Briggs and Little Sport weight with which I had experimented some hand painting !

It was great fun and no tears were shed. It made me realize that no matter how low or down things may seem, you can always find something or some way to give back! I may just hang a shingle for private lessons! This proves once again that knitting is a wonderful thing!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Aching For Acres

I suffer from an interminable case of acre envy. I am limited with just under 5 acres of property wherein my house and 2 outbuildings are located. Also, the in-ground pool which I do call the "cement pond" as there was once a turtle swimming in there, occupies some prime real estate. This leaves me pondering if I should sell off the horses? Lease some land from the neighbours? Buy land from neighbours? Sell my house and move to more acres? Because, I would like to farm bigger.

That being said, I believe that there is a market for my lovely wool and would like to expand. However, 5 acres makes rotational grazing very important and must be adhered to in order to get the maximum use of every little piece of land. My sheep currently reside in the barn as my fencing is not secure and there is no pasture-all snow. Another expense for the spring... I currently have 9 ewes. If they were bred this Fall, imagine the population boom! Now, imagine feeding them all. I don't have the capability to produce my own hay...If the sheep could graze on pasture, it's less expensive.

So, the most likely is sell the horses. Which, takes time, which is tricky because one is my son's and because I am emotionally attached to the hay burners. If I moved, I want this house on more acres. Perhaps I should just ask the neighbours when they plan to retire, how much they want for the piece of land next to my house...and then watch me pull a rabbit out of my a_ _se, because that's what it's going to take to make it happen. Kind of like what I did in order to get this house. So, yes, anything is possible if you are determined enough to follow through.

By the way, in a fit of desperation, last week I applied to Tim Horton's. Oh, yes, I did. And guess what, they haven't called for an interview either. If I did not have such evidence to back it up, I would come to the conclusion that I was meant to be my own boss, my own farming boss... Ponder that!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Chesterville Spin-In

On Wednesday I attended a Spin-In for the very first time. It was their 15th anniversary of such a gathering and the theme this year was All Things Shetland. So, I attended as a vendor. I sold a bit of roving but met all kinds of helpful people. Spinners were spinning with all kinds of beautiful things some good quality, some just because it was given to them. If you had questions, they had the answers and were very willing to share them with you.

Of course there were the folks I already knew which is comforting when attending a new "venue". Of course I never thought to take photos as I always seem to become overwhelmed in these places: so much to see, feel, hear...I would love to attend Rhinebeck but I could see myself freeze, like a deer caught in the headlights just taking a glimpse at all the items etc...

After speaking with a few attendees, I may be setting up shop at a Farmer's Market end of summer-fall.It will take that long to get this year's product back. I also saw a demonstration of a blending board...Pretty simple and effective.I may invest in one of those.

Still no lambs and I'm glad as it has been cold. Today's weather is much warmer but...snow, lots of it and blowing. School buses are cancelled and my walkway is covered by drifts...I'm supposed to do some bookkeeping for someone today but it will have to wait as there is also no car available. The ewes are not bagged up yet, although they are lounging more and biting at their sides because there is movement in there. Maybe for my birthday? But no Valentine's day babies.

Now, I think I will continue knitting a double knit mitt, pattern provided by a spinner I met on Wednesday. Reversible and 2 layers of warmth. If I ever finish the pair, I'm already prepping for next winter!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Catching Up

Yesterday, an old friend came for a visit. In fact she brought lunch and some wine and we had a blast discussing thing and venting on other topics. A visit is not complete without a tour of the barn and the critters! While we were chatting in the barn, Fiona decided to jump pens. Oh, no! She was in with the rams. She decided she wanted back on the other side and was bleating for her friends. I also did not want to be with the rams. I went into her old pen, lured her over and grasped her firmly and put her back where she belonged. Add sheep wrangling to my resume!

 In the evening I attended the February gathering of the Ottawa Knitting guild. I had an overdue library book and felt compelled to attend if not only to return the book. Fortunately, there are no fines! Meanwhile, I heard a wonderful lecture about different cast ons and how the knitter utilized them for different purposes. It is good to have a repertoire of techniques. This way, you have options and you decide what suits your project best.

I had brought with me some of my wool so folks can "feel" how nice my Shetland wool is. By doing so, I met a few new faces at the knitting guild. Some old familiar faces were also about squeezing the wool. I was too shy to get up and speak about my lovely product but I will have to get over that and promote my product as shameless as it may be!

This morning I also met with an old friend. It is totally awesome to have all the wonderful vibes from folks coming to me and I hope that I can reciprocate the feeling.Knitting is a beautiful thing!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

February Blues..2014

February has almost always given me the blues, even though the color blue does not appear often throughout the month. The sky is a drab grey or shades thereof. Right now it is white because it is snowing, yet again. I can barely make out the farms on the next concession over. Mother Nature has been oppressing this year. Almost as much as Hydro One... The local utility company who charges a delivery rate, a debt retirement fee on top of what you use thus doubling your invoice in one month, to the point that some folks can't afford to pay- I being one of them. $600 for an actual consumption of $308-which is high due to a furnace coming on at all hours because it has been a cold winter. It's unreal and now I wonder if I must sell my house, sell some livestock, what else? The cost of living has gone up so much since we've moved here I truly fear for the future.

Last week, Mr. Guinness passed away. I did not expect this. I figured he would have more time. I swear that with every animal that passes here, a piece of my heart gets harder. Enough said about that. The hens have not been laying and I am anxiously awaiting the ewes to have lambs. I really can't get into the whole shopping from the seed catalogue as I don't think winter is anywhere near done. I also think my hens know it. Heck I can't collect enough to spare any eggs  for hatching... The turkeys haven't started either.

I am now debating whether I should apply for farm status or just a small business. at least with farm status you get a break on the municipal taxes but...There is a minimum amount of income required. And right now, I can't even sell eggs! However, next week I am attending a Spin-In as a vendor and not as a spinner as my spinning is not as refined as I would like it to be.-I need practice and with a small cat around who figures the belt is exclusively for his own amusement-no deal; for him or for me...

This photo is of a geranium that I purchased 2 years ago. I bring them in in the Fall and now I do have a bit of color all year 'round. If any of you are on Facebook, go to Karberry Farm and tell me what dates and what sex, singles or twins the ewes will have...better hurry because they can happen anytime after the 7th!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The sun is deceiving. It's a beautiful sunny morning but you know it's absolutely frigid and you have no choice but to go outside. It is a bit cloudier than the day before and not as cold but still frigid.Two pairs of socks are a necessity, a hat, lined gloves and off I go.

Please pardon the screen...

My coat makes a crackling noise as I move towards the barn. My eyes begin to water and the wind bites at whatever is exposed. I am having trouble opening the latch to the barn because of my gloves but I know if I tough the metal with my bare hands, they will be cold for some time, almost numb. It opens and the sheep greet me with baas and a few jumps for their chins to be rubbed.  Their water is frozen solid. At least there isn't much left in the bottom of the bucket to thaw. I go outside and get their hay and notice how quickly I've been going through the large bale. The horses are the culprits here. They eat a lot. They also need more water to drink to digest all the extra hay they've been eating to stay warm. In fact with 12 sheep, I think the hay for 2 horses on a not so cold day would be the same.I currently have 4 horses.

I chuck some flakes of hay to the horses outside and by now my legs are starting to feel cold. I check their trough- they have enough water for today and the heater is working well. All is good until I see a rip in the horse blanket on the rescue horse. Better the blanket than his hide.

Next stop, chicken coop. Turn light on and check for casualties, check for food and I know their water always needs replacing in the morning.Check for eggs just in case and then proceed to house with all buckets and water dispensers in hand. Thaw buckets, fill with lukewarm water, trek back out to barn. This is far quicker to read about than achieve. This whole passage can take about 45 mins-not including any possible slips on ice or trouble cutting into new bales etc..

I now head in for breakfast and coffee or tea. I know I must make frequent trips to the coop in order to collect eggs before they freeze and to stir up the water bucket so they don't freeze solid.

Happiness/Comfort/Gratitude is: Warm, wool, hand-knit socks and hat.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

To Pedigree Or Not To Pedigree ? n..That Is The Question...

When I first purchased my two ewes, I didn't think much about pedigrees. I did buy registered because I wanted the real thing and it was like a certificate of authenticity. I wasn't sure where I was headed with sheep..Would 2 be enough? Do I want a flock? Are they going to cost me the earth to care for? etc...Now, I have 12 sheep, most of whom are registered stock, I feel it is an important element to my flock. It's not an elitist thing. I have ewes that provide wonderful fleece who are not registered.

The pedigree provides useful information such as who the parents are, the lineage, where the animal is from. Some of mine I can almost trace back to the original flock imported to Canada in 1982-it would cost me more to get the older abstract of the pedigree. Genetics are a funny thing and color is where it's at with this breed. So, sometimes as in the birth of Fiona and Fingal, you end up with some unexpected coloring and markings. I then turned to the pedigree to see how and where this came into play.

Another aspect of the pedigree is that it would provide a building block for a future generation if the number of sheep decreased again. Shetland sheep are no longer at risk in Canada but are still in the recovery stage of the American livestock conservancy.

So now, when I look at my sheep I see lovely, soft colored, fleeces who are also wonderful bits of history. Woolly time capsules.
What a messy bunch! These are the spring 2013 babies(except far left)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Ah, Sunday...

Ah, Sunday... A few friends kid me as if I even know what day it is since I don't "work" outside the home. Ha, there are no sick days or calling in on a farm. Octavia's cast has been removed and she limps a little. She now must get accustomed to all the mobility again.

A friend who has recently bought a flock of sheep is now going through the lambing season. It's great fun anticipating the next generation. I think mine will be end of March lambs, so definitely Spring lamb-but not for eating.

This week, 2 passages caught my attention and made me realize how important it is that I maintain my current fiber flock. If you take a look at the Northern Lace Blog on my home page, there is a pdf you can download about assessing a fleece. Short and concise.  Here's what caught my eye :"Remember that the farmer has spent a lot of time and energy growing the fleece, and I think it is
only fair to pay him accordingly. The result of this is that local farmers will keep their very best
fleeces for me to have first refusal." Amen.

An article that someone shared on Facebook also lifted my spirits. Why Bother Knitting A Scarf..if you manage to read it, the entire article is basically how I think about much of my knitting. Also, no fiber farmers, no beautiful local fleece etc... Also a friend that I chatted with online said" I admire you for taking such a huge leap and doing what you love." People are taking notice. How cool is that? I've tried my hand at being a suit and now I deplore what they represent. Farming is a business: the clothing and hours are different and your business partners don't have opposable thumbs!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

January blues..

What a beginning!! Freezing cold temperatures, gusting winds, snow...more cold.. I thought Hell was supposed to be hot?? It takes me 45 minutes in the morning to feed and water everyone as it takes time to thaw what's left in their waterers and buckets in order to provide fresh.

Octavia's cast should come off tomorrow and we'll see if she needs another. I hope not. Yesterday, Mr. Guinness pulled a fast one on me. He looked to be having a bout of colic. There was no way I was walking him all over as it is sheer ice under the snow: just like my driveway that I must cross a few times a day ever so surreptitiously in order to not end up with a sore butt or worse. What scared me the most was he threw himself down on the ground, head in the snow and his front leg straight up in the air and was no longer moving. Bear in mind, blowing snow and very cold temps. I yelled at him to get up and he just moved his head slightly and moaned.

I had to fill the trough of course and it was tricky due to everything freezing. Before I began that I texted the farm next door and asked if her hubby could possibly clear our driveway as the belt in our snow blower is broken and hubby is clearing the house next door and oh, could you please be on standby in case we need to winch a horse out of the pasture? Excellent neighbours I have indeed. Snow has been cleared and I can manage walking on some drifts without falling with water buckets in hand.

I gave Mr. Guinness some water from a sheep bucket but he decided to lay on it. I went into the house and prayed that I didn't need to call the vet today for an emergency. When I checked on him again, after I had regained feeling in my extremities, he was happily munching hay and wind sucking as usual. Although, he looked awful from rolling around in poop!

And now, plus temps announced for the weekend with rain to boot! This am I am very stuffed up and feeling very sluggish. It may be due to the fact that we ran out of fuel for the furnace and I had to wait for husband with truck to get works instead of paying extra for an emergency delivery. Our propane provider(fireplace in living room) sent a letter asking us to reduce consumption if we are not heating out home with this gas. Apparently there is a shortage. Wow! As much as we would like to go back to the "simpler" times , there is no way. We are so reliant on electricity and fuel Progress has certainly come with a cost. I will be researching where I can put a woodstove in this house for next year as I  am so tired of shelling out money for things like heating and electricity. We can't control the weather so we pay the price. As a small scale farmer. it is expensive as we need to provide water and shelter and sometimes heat or light for the animals- add that to the bill and then talk to me about quotas.

Here is a letter written by a fellow farmer :My letter to Kathleen Wynne:

It was with some interest that I watched your latest photo op on Sun News, down in Toronto handing out food baskets to people. Too bad that as the Agriculture Minister you don’t take more interest in farmers and how they are dealing with these harsh weather conditions. My husband and I live just outside of Kemptville, where we raise heritage pigs. Since before Christmas we have been dealing with frigid conditions, frozen water and trying to keep our animals warm. Farmers right across Ontario are dealing with the same thing but I haven’t heard anything from you on how you’re going to help us deal with this – how about a break on our hydro bills to offset the cost of running heat lamps and tank deicers? Or how about a gift card we can use at the feed store to help with the cost of having to feed our pigs extra to help them stay warm during this cold weather? Shame on you, Premier Wynne, for even daring to call yourself an Agriculture Minister when you have shown no interest whatsoever in the farmers of Ontario during this coldest of winters.

Food for thought!!