|Posted by Fluffy on December 17, 2012 at 1:05 AM||comments (1)|
Upon my return home, I was greeted by 5 happy hounds, tails wagging so hard their entire bodies were in motion. The air was fresh and clean and the sun peeked through the clouds. Even though it was minus 9, it did not feel as cold as the wet coast at 2 degrees. But then, there was sadness.
During my absence the border collie had to be tied all day because he took to chasing the llamas and horses. Well, guess what? So did my livestock guardian dog, Harley, chase the horses and neither dog would respond to come back. This must be immediately corrected or there will be danger of packing and killing livestock, not only mine, but others. I did buy shock collars recently and must resort to using them for training to save some good dogs.
The Muscovy drake was found dead in his pen, likely had been for a few days, but was not noticed. He was so friendly and tame too. There was no evidence of trauma and I have no idea why he died. It was bitterly cold a few nights, but the animals all have shelters. They did not have new straw to help absorb some of the cold from the ground though and their eyes appeared dehydrated somewhat, so perhaps they did not have enough water to dip their heads in or the water froze quickly. I will never know.
When a cord that draped slightly over the edge of the gate was pulled by opening the gate, the heat lamps in the chicken coop were disconnected and the beautiful little Old English Game hen froze in the water bowl. She was left in the pen upside down with the bucket on her so I had to chip her out of the ice and take her body away. Also, the barnyard rooster succumbed somehow...the jury is out on that one, but the dogs were found gnawing on his frozen carcass too. The rest of the Japanese bantams hens are missing, but there is no sign of their bodies.
It seemed the horses prefer to eat over on the llamas side and when I went to get them to go home, the colt turned to give me the boots with two back legs. I whacked his butt with the hammer, and he bolted but he and his mamma would not leave or listen either, so there is work to be done there too. The goat's water was frozen solid to the core as well as the ram lamb's. The ram's bucket is housed under a layer of droppings and hay and does not freeze readily from the bottom, so that is a puzzle.
The hay fed to the animals was the small square bales, even though, round bales were available, but that required forking the hay over. Squares are easier and so much more costly, at $4.00 a bale versus 50 dollars for one round bale which is 1200 pounds. The square bales are about 60-75 pounds, so the cost to equal a round pound for pound is considerably more. One stack is completely diminished, about 75 bales. That makes sense at 6 bales a day for the livestock, for 10 days. Unfortunately, the sheep were not all able to eat the hay because it was only put in the one feeder that the sheep without horns can eat from. Both feeders need to be used so horned and polled sheep can eat. The water and grain were generally just tossed over the fence without going into the pens which could account for the dead duck not being noticed.
The plants were forgotten, too, so 4 died and there is a possibility that two may come back, but 2 were still OK. Tomorrow, I will work on house cleaning, which has not been done since I left. I will tackle the floors first, which seem to be the worst, then the bathroom. The place was left clutterred due to my own lack of organization and I vow to take care of that before Christmas so cleaning is easier.
I shoveled the back stairs which had accumluated over a foot of drifted snow, and shoveled a pathway to the front driveway, which had been done. Tomorrow I will shovel the lower patio pathway and do a little decorating for the B & B guests celebrating their anniversary on Tuesday. I did shed a few tears of sadness for the poor animals, especially those who lives were lost, and the plants as well. I am sad and feel I should not have left the farm. The person looking after the animals is staying with me temporarily, but works full time, so did not have the time to spend with the critters and he is not a farmer, so was not aware of what to do or look for when problems arose. I feel as though I let my farm down and I am sorry. I won't leave again without proper management in place.
|Posted by Fluffy on November 25, 2012 at 1:55 AM||comments (0)|
On the farm, there are three main breeds of wool sheep, plus two alpacas and four llamas. The beautiful white downy undercoat of the Maremmas can also be combed out and spun into a very light warm yarn without "scratch", though it might smell a bit like "dog". Upon observing the types of wool and the amount of fiber settling in the wool, a few discoveries have been made. The tightly coated sheep with short fibre repel the hay that falls on their backs. This category includes Niki as part Ilse de France, the Merinos, and the Jacobs. All these breeds have tight wool that is so dense, the hay can be brushed from the wool before it lodges within the fleece. The Cotswolds have a lustre wool that falls in curls. The hay does not stick to their fleece, but rather tends to fall away. However, the Karakuls and Icelandics have wool that attracts and keeps the fibers, as do the Shetland crosses. In addition, the Karakuls heavy coats of wavy long fibres part along the centre of their backs creating a further trap for organic matter to catch. The Icelandics long hairs not only attract the hay, but snag it and keep it within the fleece. Next year, putting sheep coats to protect the fleeces will only be necessary on the Icelandics, Shetland crosses and Karakuls and the others should be able to go au naturel without loss of fleece quality. The truth of the matter will be finalized when shearing is done in April. Then we shall see how much matter is in the fleeces for sure. Until then, the wool project remains under observation.
|Posted by Fluffy on November 8, 2012 at 2:35 AM||comments (0)|
They are finally here, all the way from two places in Saskatchewan. The breed is a long lustre wool breed and a meat breed, though considered rare today. They originated in England, but were used to improve flocks in North America, due to the sheep's ability to thrive on forage without the necessity for grain. As a matter of fact, grain is not good for these sheep and can cause serious or fatal problems.
The wool is a true worsted wool, meaning that it is spun as it grows, so the fibres are all laying in one direction and there is no itch. The curl of the wool resembles the curl in Santa's beard, and indeed, crafting raw Cotswold wool is quite sought after.
Cotswolds can live long productive lives well into the tenth year of fertility. They usually have a single lamb and have more than enough milk. Friendly and personable, Cotswold sheep are easy keepers and enjoyable to have around. They will be a welcome addition to the Fat Ewe Farm. Meet, Walter and his girls.