Santa’s Helper

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Our Christmas tree kind of encroached on Jenna’s indoor space, aka her kennel.  She’s practically living under the tree right now.  She’s not allowed to run around the house because my husband is allergic to dogs so she relaxes in there when it’s too hot or cold to be outside.  I’m sure she’ll enjoy the festivities on Christmas morning, she has a front row seat!

On Frozen Pond

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Our pond is spring fed so it takes a long spell of frigid weather for it to freeze.  We’ve had that spell, plus an inch of sleet.  What’s weird is there is a round spot near the center that didn’t freeze.   It’s not the deepest part of the pond right there off the dock.  Did some ducks spend the night there paddling around, keeping that spot from freezing or did an alien spacecraft beam up some of our catfish in the middle of the night?  It’s a mystery.

Waiting

The morning routine…  Milos and FiFi waiting at the pasture gate for us to come in and give them breakfast and some affection.  They walk on either side of me as my escort to the barn.   Those dogs are so big I can pet their backs while we’re walking without bending over.  Jenna waits patiently to be let into the pasture so she can wrangle up some sheep.

Preg Check

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Our good friend and shepherd came over to pick up his handsome ram, 802, and brought his portable ultrasound to do pregnancy checks on the flock and herd (flerd?).  The sheep were surprisingly calm about it.  They closed their eyes either to signify “Hey, let me relax a bit”, or, “If I close my eyes tight maybe this nightmare will go away!”.  My husband has become expert at putting a 150 pound sheep on her rear, but the goats don’t want any part of being ‘sat down’.  They were all about the kicking and fussing.   You can see that Jenna was ready to ‘help’ in any way we asked her to.  That’s her working stance.  She was secretly hoping we’d ask her to nip one.  We didn’t.  Maybe next time, Jenna.   The outcome of this rainy day exercise was that the ultrasound tool needed a better battery charge so we’re planning to try it again, so no results …yet.

This is Fall?

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The nearest Tractor Supply, which is an hour’s drive from here, is out of heated water buckets.  I know this because we want some.  We need to fill a new water bucket for the dogs every morning.  That red bucket is sitting on ice.  The blue one is frozen solid.  We bought an extra chicken waterer and just bring the frozen one inside the house to thaw so we can refill it the next morning.  When someone asks me what I don’t like about farming, dealing with ice usually falls at the top of the list.  At least it does this time of year!  I’m going to keep calling around. We’ll see how far I will drive to remedy this daily grind.

Curious

“What are you doing here, woman?  Is it dinner time?  Do you have food?  Where’s that black and white dog?  Is she going to run us around the pasture again for no apparent reason?”

Kat Von Sheep and her daughter Miss Kitty, who is always glued to her like an appendage, greet me at the barn.  Our visiting ram 802 looks on in amusement, but is also wondering if it’s dinner time.

Mina

Mina was one of the first two goats to come live on Missing Willow Farm.  We got her and a friend, Bellatrix LeStrange (Bella) from a dairy in North Carolina about three houres from here when they were just a week old and I bottle fed them.  Cheese manufacturers want the milk from the moms, they are happy to send the kids to new homes.  Mina is an alpine and nubian breed mix.  She’s very mischevious.  She always tries to follow me into the feed room, hoping to find some spilled grain or another treat that only she’ll be able to enjoy.  The first photo was taken last Summer, the second was taken today.  She’s obviously pregnant, the only question is with how many?  Her nickname lately is Octomom.  She’s a terrific milker and we’re looking forward to fresh chevre again.

Please Play

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Jenna never goes out to the pasture with us in the morning without an accessory.  She always grabs a toy just in case someone agrees to toss it for her, and someone always does.  Today’s toy was a lame baseball thingy she found under our deck, forgotten by the previous home’s owners.  Maybe Santa will bring her some new toys this year.  She’s been a very good girl.

When It’s Ten

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It was ten degrees when we got up this morning.  It hasn’t been above freezing for the past five or so days.  When it’s this cold out, the dogs are extra happy to see me come into the pasture to feed them.  The sheep are like ‘meh… whatever’.  They have their own woolies to keep them toasty while they graze for the last tidbits of grass.  The goats are huddled up in the barn – ‘bring us more hay, woman!’ and the chickens are thankful for last night’s dinner scraps.  They ran back into the little barn when these were gone, and I ran back to the house when I was done with morning chores!

A Barn Built to Order

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We had our barn built last Summer to our specifications.  Actually, we bought a book called ‘How To Build Animal Housing’ which is full of basic plans.  We selected the most obvious, ‘sheep shed’, and showed it to our fencing guy.  6 weeks later it was done.   Well, they put up the structure and ran an electric line and water to it.  We stained it a color of green that was hotly debated within the family but ended up blending pretty well with the surroundings, and my husband is handling the wiring himself.  He’s a genius, just so you know.   It’s got four ‘rooms’.  The tractor bay, the large loafing area where we feed, our feed room where we keep feed in metal garbage cans to keep out the mice and what we have been calling the milking room which is currently hay storage and has housed baby goats in the past.  It’s super functional for our needs and coveted by the neighors.  One has contacted our fencing guy to ask him for a duplicate.  I wonder what color they’ll stain it?

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