Saturday, April 30, 2011

Our First Sharecropper

My friend Ruth took me up on my offer of a garden plot today.  Her Allen yard doesn't get enough sunlight to grow the kinds of things she'd like to raise.

Today she invested some sweat equity getting the weeds out and loosening the soil for her little veggie starts.

She made a lot of progress, and now, with the coming rain, we'll see what grows in her garden!

What a great improvement over that stand of Johnson grass and henbit.  A little hay mulch from the pasture, and she's good to go.

There's plenty more room if anyone wants a piece of this green thumb action...

Let's Play!

It's a hazy, lazy day in the pasture today.  The lambs are getting big enough to try to make their own fun.  C'mon, Nana Ruth, play with us...

They'll be on top of her before the morning's out.  In the meantime, in the south pasture, I turned Noah out, into the big pasture with the rest of the herd.  Time to get acquainted...

Noah is a good sized boy, and intact.  This levels the playing field quite a bit--it will be interesting to see what kinds of alliances form in the group.  Pasture politics is fascinating.

From my perspective, the meeting was blissfully uneventful.  After some sniffing and half-hearted ritual spitting, the crowd broke up, and went looking for some snacks.

That's what we like... peace in the pasture.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Hondo Becomes "Noah" Today

I rode down to Balch Springs with John and Peggy Ralson to help load Hondo into their van for the ride up to Jacob's Reward Farm today.  He is one pretty boy.  I'm familiar with his fleece, as Peggy has shared some of his fiber with us before.  It's dense, and lovely.

Doesn't he have a sweet face?

He said goodbye to his sweet home, and set out on a new adventure...

...which started with a van ride through town and down highways.  He may have developed a taste for air conditioning.  Peggy, anticipating his move to a farm where everyone gets a Bible name, asked if we already had a "Noah."  Well.... we do now!

Once we unloaded in Parker, his new pasture mates were on us like ducks on a June bug. 
Quite curious, the boys were.

So we closed him in the pen to give him some personal space
while the old boys gave him the third degree and a thorough sniffing-over.

He was just as curious about them, and glad to have some company after nearly a week of solitary confinement.

He really is nicely built, and regal.

He spent the most time conferring with the suri boys - this is the real Men's Club.  All three of these boys are intact.  My only concern is they settle into a good working relationship.

Thank you, Peggy and John, for trusting your baby to us.  I promise he'll have a great home here with plenty of friends--four legged and two.

Okay.  Now the pasture really is totally full.  Really.  Full.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

So Many Blessings

Another gorgeous day in the pasture today - cool temperatures (cool enough to discourage legless reptiles), deep shadows, and bright sun.  I look around and thank God for a day as beautiful as this, especially when some areas of our country have taken hits from lethally severe weather.  My thoughts and prayers are with all those who have suffered so much loss in the past couple of days.

I'm spending the next week preparing for my annual pilgrimage to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival - making and assembling stuff to sell at the Jacob Sheep Conservancy booth.  I'll also get to meet up with a bunch of folks who want to learn to use a drop spindle, like last year.  Really praying for good weather for our completely spontaneous meet-ups on the grassy hill.

 Sorry Ruth, didn't mean to wake you..

T-Shirt News:  if you pre-ordered a JRF t-shirt, I should have them by the beginning of next week-yay!  When I have them in hand, I'll invoice you and you can pick it up (or I'll drop it in the mail).  I've ordered extras to take to Maryland, so when I get back, the shirts remaining will be up for sale.  I can always order more in any specific size or color, as well.

They'll also come in red, blue or green, if you prefer.

 Do I smell breakfast?

Critter News: I know I said before that our alpaca pasture was chock full, but I'm making an exception, just once.  Last week, our friends Peggy and John Ralston had a dog get into their pasture and attack one of their two alpacas, Osceola.  Hondo was not injured.  But Oscie did not survive his wounds, despite great vet treatment.  That leaves Hondo alone, which is not a good situation for a herd animal.  The Ralstons considered getting another alpaca, and a guard dog, but weighing all the factors, they finally decided to re-home Hondo with us.  Here, he can have lots of good companionship, and soon, the protection of our dogs.  Hondo is a beautiful boy with an outstanding fleece, and we're blessed to have him.  I'll let you know when he comes, so you can see for yourself.

 Stay awake, or nap?  Maybe a little of both.

If you need me, I'll be in my office...

I'm off to the feed store now.  The pasture is greening up very nicely, but the critters still appreciate a little Bermuda hay to nibble.

Have a glorious day.  Hug somebody you love.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pasture Walk

Lovely visit with the critters today as I went about my daily feeding chores.  Here are a few who haven't been getting much press lately...

 Sweet Judah rests from his overnight shift.

A Golden Laced Wyandotte looks for her favorite place to lay her egg.

 An Ameraucana on the hunt for grubs after the rains.

 The alpacas enjoy the sunny pasture after days cooped up in the stalls with rain and high wind.

 Muddy chicken tracks.

 Alpacas in the sun.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Street Legal

Finally got the pups to the vet for their second round of shots.  Their medical regimen took a temporary back seat to all the shearing and lambing going on around here, but finally they're caught up with all the poking and prodding they were needing.

Clearly, we need more leash practice for the babes--what a rodeo.  Turns out, Vanni now tips the scales at 65+ pounds, and Tella is about 46 pounds.  And yes, they're just a little over four months old.

Tella's as busy and wiggly as ever, giving Dr. Wallis a moving target for her injections.  She also had the most challenge with the car ride.  Lost her breakfast both coming and going.  Note to self: no breakfast before trips in the car.

Vanni, the chunk, just lies down and makes himself at home, even at the vet's.  He's shedding his baby teeth, and will be ready for the Big Snip before too long. 

They are such good natured pups, that even in their adolescent goofiness, it's hard to get frustrated with them.

The pasture got back to normal once the pups were returned to their pen.  Even the big dogs were a little agitated that they had been gone. 

We're very close to setting up new (separate) quarters for Vanni and Tella.  They're overdue to begin working with the big dogs, and with their livestock charges.  We've had to do some juggling, with the complication of baby sheep in the pasture, but I think I have a plan for at least the short term.  Never, ever a dull moment around here.

The lambs continue to grow and thrive, even with all the severe weather we've had blowing through here.  Their mama and their Nana-Ruthie keep such a careful eye on them.

One blessing follows another around here lately, and we're very, very content...

Monday, April 25, 2011

Rainy Monday

We need the rain.  As a farmer, I just have to be philosophical about the weather, because there's no changing it, for good or ill.  So, we make or adjust our agendas for the day based on what's going on outside.

Fortunately, our friends Bunny and Brett got to stop by and visit the lambs this morning before the clouds really opened up.  Bunny has a similar dream to ours - property and animals for fiber and companionship, and a wood shop for Brett.  I'm happy to help stir up the dream and keep it alive.

Then another line of thundershowers blew in and ended the farm tour.  I'm inside now, tending to the list of things that can be done from the shelter of the house, for as long as we have electricity.  I'm thinking about all the folks who are dealing with fires or the aftermath, and grateful that all I have to deal with are a few downed tree branches.  I'm very grateful that my friend Jose was able to get the property mowed and trimmed before what promises to be several days of sporadic storms.

My heart is a little heavy on this dark, rainy day as I think of some of my fellow fiber farmers - Cyndi, who just lost her new baby alpaca, Peggy, who just lost one of her two adult alpacas to a dog attack, and my friend Susie, who has struggled with a very difficult lambing season--battling the dreaded White Muscle Disease in her lambs.   We've all experienced this grief and mind-numbing exhaustion that sometimes comes with raising animals, and it never gets easy.  I'm praying for you all, farm sisters.

When I look at the radar map to try to predict when the next hammering storms will pass over, sometimes I look at the areas not covered with red and orange.  I realize that people in those areas aren't seeing our storms - they're looking at blue skies.  And I remember that soon, those blue skies will return to my part of the map before I know it. 

It's true: this too, shall pass.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter

All of us at Jacob's Reward Farm wish you a wonderful Easter tomorrow.  

"When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?' 'Yes, Lord,' he said, 'you know that I love you.' Jesus said, 'Feed my lambs.'" ~John 21:15


Our new ram lamb, Moses, owes his existence to a poor banding job.  My sweet breeder, who shall remain nameless, doesn't do a great job of neutering her sheep.  As a result, we had an unexpectedly fertile boy in with our ewe, Mary Elizabeth, who produced twins last week.  There are several suspects, but we'll never know for sure who the daddy is.

Moses has reached the tender age where we needed to perform this delicate neutering procedure, and so with Nurse Gail's able assistance, I did the deed.  No more ram lamb.

Raise your hand if you just lost your sports package...

It doesn't look like he's going to hold a grudge.  

Happily, he has gained three pounds since he was born a week ago at 6 pounds, topping the scale now at 9 pounds.  Rachel weighed 8 pounds today.  They're growing well.  I don't expect this little operation to stunt Moses too badly, but we'll keep an eye on him.  In fact, he took it much better than Shadrach did three years ago - my, what a drama queen HE was.  No, our little stoic did very well and dealt with the whole ordeal by taking a nap.  In a few minutes he was up nursing and bouncing around just like before.

Another big milestone under our belt.