This week Mtn Man made a good analogy of what our life feels like lately – he said it feels like every day we start competing in a new episode of American Ninja Warrior. We are constantly facing one obstacle after another and have to decide how best to conquer each one quickly, but effectively. But in our daily life version of the show if we fall in the water we aren’t done…we just have to continue on with the rest of the obstacles while sopping wet. And at the end of the day we are anxious to just slam down on that buzzer, celebrate that we survived, and collapse into bed exhausted. It seemed very fitting to me when he described it. So, needless to say, we are in a busy season right now. But we are getting through it well, with only occasional sopping wet moments, and a lot of good buzzer moments to look back on.
The loss of Gretchen’s doeling and the stress of the ordeal surrounding it has been hard on the family this week. But the morning that she died, as I walked out to the barn at 5:30am, I saw this amazing sunrise. It was even better in person…I find that my phone camera never does justice to a sunrise or sunset. But it helped give me perspective on how blessed we are despite the loss. And I will continue to choose the homesteading lifestyle even though it sometimes breaks my heart. Because really, every version of life will break your heart at some point, and we love all the blessings that come with the homesteading life.
Heidi and her baby, Fern, are doing well. Fern is oh-so-cute bouncing around the barnyard. She loves to play king-of-the-mountain on top of the compost pile. Her ears are pretty funny – since her father was a Nigerian Dwarf (upright ears), and her mother is a Nubian (droopy ears), she has these in-between ears that kind of stick out to the sides most of the time, but also go up a lot. Very cute. She is anxious to have someone to play with, so I hope our first lambs arrive soon.
Gretchen is recovering from her delivery. Her milk amounts are slowly increasing, but are way below what we expected. We don’t know why she has such low production. Maybe her old age? Maybe the trauma from the delivery? Maybe the meds she had to take afterwards? We still can’t drink the milk until Monday because of the meds. We haven’t decided what we will do with her yet.
It was really cute when we started letting Heidi and Fern back out with the flock. Gretchen was so happy to have them back. She definitely does not like hanging out with the sheep and is adamant that she is a goat and needs to hang out only with goats. Her and Heidi were rubbing on each other with their heads, kind of like cats do. Clearly happy to be back together and able to form their own little group separate from the sheep.
We made our first batch of Chevre this week with the goat milk. It tasted good just plain, but we are also experimenting with adding different herbs and such to the cheese.
We are closing in on our first sheep lambing due dates. Rianna’s udder is starting to bag up quite a bit, and her babies have dropped. So we are expecting hers this week. We are struggling to keep weight on her because #1 she is old and her back teeth are not good, #2 her babies are taking up space so she can’t eat as much, and #3 she is the bottom of the pecking order and always being chased away. We have been putting her in her own stall to feed her and we are giving her as much grain as we can safely give her, plus almost unlimited alfalfa, but she is still underweight. We are contemplating getting her some alfalfa cubes and moistening them to see if that makes it easier for her to eat. This is definitely her last year as a breeding ewe. We bought her a few months ago, already bred, to hopefully sire the future breeding ram for our flock.
Violet is the next one due and she is a first-time mother. Her udder is bagging up just a little at this point. Agnes is starting to bag up as well, and might be due sooner than we expected. Fiona is the last one due – mid april – and she is the flock matriarch. She is getting quite overweight in our efforts to keep everyone else up to weight. So we are contemplating ways to be sure she doesn’t get any fatter because it can effect her ability to give birth safely.
Managing the flock has been a bit high-maintenance lately, as you can see, but we are really excited for all the upcoming lambs.
The chicks have left the fluffy stage and are in the half-fluff/half-feather stage. They will likely move up to the coop, with their heaters, sometime in the next week or so.
We don’t have any pasture since we live on a rocky mountainside. So all of our animals live in the barnyard. The main key to making that live-able and clean is to be very careful not to over-crowd the space. We keep our number of animals low so that all the animals have plenty of space and the area stays cleaner. A few times a year we rake all the barnyard mess (droppings and leftover hay) into the compost piles in the center of the yard so it can mix with the stall scrapings and break down into compost for the garden. It helps keep the ground cleaned up for the animals too. The chickens and Mountain Man stir and turn the piles throughout the year to help them break down.
We had some really nice weather this week, after the winds died down, and we used the opportunity to do a barnyard cleaning. As we raked the spots that had a lot of hay on them we found a layer of snow and ice under the hay that hadn’t melted because it was insulated by the hay. So raking it up will help that melt as well.
Despite the crazy busy life lately, I still am working on my heritage arts projects – they are my sanity :-).
I finished a cross stitch bookmark for Little Miss:
And I am now working on this cross stitch pattern called “Market Carrots.” I have never done a project on black Aida cloth before.
And I am also working on serging the edges of the new spring/Easter placemats and cloth napkins I am making.
Plenty going on around here!