Always an adventure when keeping a little homestead!
We had an escape incident this week. It was very stressful on all of us. Thankfully, it ended well and all animals are accounted for and back home. The entire flock of sheep, plus Anya the LGD, all got out of the barnyard and took off on an adventure into the woods. Apparently it didn’t occur to them that the coyote pack had just been through the property that morning and it therefore might be dangerous to leave the safety of the barnyard – it was the first thing on our minds when we realized they were all gone. We found Anya first.
She apparently does not have strong “stay-with-the-flock” instincts, probably because she has been raised with them in a confined barnyard environment, not a pasture environment. We got her put away, which pleased Pansy very much. Somehow in the break-out Pansy the goat was left behind in the barnyard and was feeling quite lonely. The entire family spread out and we searched the properties around us and the immense forest behind our property for over an hour before we finally laid eyes on them. As soon as we saw them we immediately counted – all there! Now, how to get them home? We had buckets and bowls of feed, plus some lead ropes and halters. Fiona, the matriarch of the flock, who LOVES grain, was at first interested in coming towards us, and the rest of the flock followed and even started nibbling. But then Fiona must have remembered that it was on her bucket list to live in the wild for a night and she decided to take off. The rest of the flock followed suit, except that we were able to grab Autumn and Remi before they got away. With two sheep with us, the rest of the flock didn’t go far and we were able to carefully herd/lure them back to the barnyard. It took awhile, and once they were in we all collapsed in relief. Let’s not do that again – please! All animals stay put.
This week we start our only planned chick brooding for this year. Our incubation is hatching and we also ordered chicks to arrive in the mail. With the sheep flock being larger than normal and expecting more lambs than normal, and needing to separate the ram off from the flock before lambing, there isn’t housing space for raising chicks after March. Plus we will be learning the ropes of dairy sheep this spring, so we decided that if we wanted to do chicks this year we needed to do it early. The brooders are set up and ready for the new little fluff balls arrival (to see how we brood our chicks, click here). Obviously, if we have any hens want to set this year we will have some more chicks hatch. The housing for broody hens and their chicks is not effected by the sheep situation. But other than broody hens, this is it for chicks this year.
We are having issues with our incubator. It is a 1588 Hovabator and is 5 years old now and I have had issues with the thermostat for the last 3 incubations (last year and this year). It says it is at 99.5, but it is actually much cooler. Unfotunately, to learn this we had to accidentally have it kill a bunch of eggs because we didn’t realize it was too cold so they developed until about day 10 and then all died. It was a bummer. Always have a second thermometer in your incubator to check the first one by!!! To get it to 99.5F I have to set it to 103, and it will say it is at 102.9, but it is really 99.5. I also put a separate hygrometer in there and the hygrometer is off too. The incubator says it is about 15% lower than it is. It has been OK to use it with extra thermometers in it and set it as such, but after I did lock down this week I noticed it is having trouble keeping it at 99.5, it is a little lower, and I can’t set the thermometer any higher than the 103 that I have it at. I am hopeful that this wont affect the hatch this week. After this incubation Young Man and Mountain Man will take it apart and see if cleaning it out helps at all (it has quite a bit of chick dust in the motor from all the hatches it has done). If not, we will probably buy a new lid (with the motor, thermostat, etc) before we do any more incubations. I estimate it has done 2-3 incubations each year for the last 5 years, so I am guessing it has done about 10-15 total incubations. I don’t know how I feel about that amount and whether it should be dying yet. What do you think? Should I buy a different brand, or is that a good long life for an incubator?
I am continuing with my progress on the Match Play Poncho. I really like how it is turning out. Closing in on finishing the first side.
I have also started a new dress for Little Miss. She loved the last one I made her SO much (click here to see it). Unfortunately, I tried to make the same pattern again for her for Christmas in 2018, but larger because she had outgrown the last one, and it didn’t work out. So I had to tear it all out and then I let the yarn sit on time-out for awhile until I felt inspired again. I found a new pattern and am tweaking it a bit but think it will turn out well. This pattern is called Ribbed Dress for Little Miss – which is ironic since I am making it for my “Little Miss.” 🙂
I made Sunshine a new ear flap hat because she needed one for the cold. The pattern is Very Basic Bulky Ear Flap Hat by Ann Gilmour and the yarn is Lion Brand Hometown Tweed in the colorway Key Largo Tweed.