Monday, February 27, 2012

Wind and Chickens

It is very windy today. Taking the mail out to the mailbox at the road was quite the adventure. Dierdre and I walked back to the house with our heads down, leaning into the wind. It's one of those days I consider putting weights on the chickens to make sure they don't blow away!

Actually, we're down to just one hen. She's eight-and-a-half years old now and isn't laying anymore, although she did give a few eggs last year.

I'm planning on buying some baby chicks next month, Americaunas again. I really like their personalities, and, of course, they lay those beautiful eggs with the greenish shells. I have a place to put the baby chicks, but I'll have to build another pen for when they're old enough to be outside but not yet big enough to roam freely. My last coop was smashed in a wind storm; luckily it wasn't in use at the time. As I said at the beginning of my post, it can be very windy here sometimes!

Sunday, February 26, 2012


I made Missouri Cookies this morning, also known as Chocolate No-Bake Cookies and who knows what else. My mother gave this name to the recipe because she got it from a relative in Missouri -- and, thus, traditions (and cookies) are made! They're one of my favorites.

Missouri Cookies

2      cups sugar
3      Tbl. cocoa
1/2  cup butter
1/2  cup milk
1       tsp. salt
1       tsp. vanilla
1/2  cup crunchy peanut butter
3       cups quick rolled oats

Place a sheet of wax paper, about 24 inches long, on a counter or table.

Mix sugar, cocoa, butter, and milk in a large sauce pan. Bring to a rolling boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add salt and vanilla. Stir. Add peanut butter. Stir. Remove from heat and mix in oats.

Using a tablespoon, drop spoon fulls of cookie mixture onto the wax paper. Work quickly, as it will start to harden fairly soon. Let cookies dry. Makes about 50-60 cookies.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Rural Living Books

A few days ago, I finished reading Jenna Woginrich's book Barnheart: The Incurable Longing for a Farm of One 's Own. I quite enjoyed it. It tells of her progress from a beginning homesteader on rented property to her final success of buying her own farm.

I love rural living books, as I call them. Even though I've finally got land and sheep of my own, I still thoroughly enjoy reading about other people's journeys along similar paths and their continuing adventures, large and small, in rural living. I've got a large collection of American and British memoirs, as well as lots of "forgotten crafts" and "country cooking" books. (I love cookbooks, too.)

I'm about to start Made from Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life, Woginrich's first book. Both are put out by Storey Publishing ; I seem to like just about everything they publish.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Trials of Motherhood

I was sitting at my desk working, with Dierdre laying nearby, when she suddenly started barking. At first I thought she was responding to a dog in the distance, but then I heard what she did: a sheep baaing. A single baa doesn't worry me, but the noise continued. As we went outside, thoughts of a dog or coyote on the property entered my mind.

From the deck, we surveyed the scene. Boudica, the newest mother, was standing alone, voicing increasingly desperate-sounding baas. A lamb some distance away responded and started towards her. I watched, assuming a tender reunion was about to take place, but the lamb trotted right past Boudica and on to Minerva and started nursing.

Boudica's baas continued as she joined a group of sheep, searching among them for her baby.

By now I was worried. I could see the older three lambs but not Boudica's. Dierdre and I left the deck and headed towards the sheep. A few yards from the barn, I spotted the errant youngster. He was snoozing in some left over wool in the shearing pen, totally unaware of his mother's growing panic.

Dierdre entered the pen and nosed the lamb. He raised his head, looked at her, and got up and stretched, giving a little baa. Boudica immediately responded. He baaed a couple more times, and she came running.

Dierdre and I moved away a bit to watch. Mother and lamb met, Boudica full of concern and checking him out, the lamb, only interested in milk, trying to nurse while Boudica ensured he was safe and sound.

As we returned to the house, I congratulated Dierdre on her sheep-guarding abilities. She had heard a sheep in distress, let me know, and together we solved the problem. Luckily, it was nothing serious, and now everyone was happy.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Are You My Mother?

While I was feeding the sheep this afternoon, I picked up Boudica's lamb to check on him. As I set him down, Dierdre, my dog, approached. I told her to get away from the lamb, and she did.

The only trouble was the lamb decided to follow her. So Dierdre trotted off, the lamb followed, and Boudica, in a panic, hurried after. Dierdre sped up, so did the lamb, and, definitely, so did Boudica. The scene was hilarious until Dierdre entered the shearing pen, closely followed by the confused baby lamb. As Boudica came in, too, I was really worried about the dog and ewe getting into a fight in the enclosed space.

Luckily, Boudica decided to make sure her baby was alright, and while she was doing that, Dierdre slipped out of the pen behind her.

What do you think -- is it understandable that a two-day-old lamb would confuse Dierdre, a big, gray, furry animal,

with his mother, a big, gray, woolly animal?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Baby Pictures and More

Boudica gave birth to a black ram lamb yesterday. She's a first-time mother and a little uncertain about my motives with the camera, so it was a bit difficult getting good pictures.

Sierra's twins, now 22 days old, and Minerva's lamb, 16 days old, look so big and mature compared to the new little one.

I was trying to take a picture of one of her twins, but Sierra decided to be a camera hog. (Actually, she just wanted to be petted.) That's her nose at the right of the photo.

And a few more pictures because they stood still long enough to take them.

Hildegard, voicing her opinion

Snowden, Hermes, and Scout (in the back)

Heloise, just being Heloise

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Family Picnic

When I went out to feed the sheep this evening, I saw Heloise, Minerva, her lamb, Sierra, and her twins off together nibbling on a scrub oak.

Heloise is the mother of both Minerva and Sierra and, hence, the grandmother of all three lambs. Maybe I'm assigning more importance to this little gathering than I should, but I thought it was kind of neat.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Another Lamb and Shearing a Mother-to-Be

Minerva gave birth to a good-sized black ewe lamb Saturday afternoon.

Below is a picture, taken by my nine-year-old friend Kenneth, of Sierra and her twins (now 1 week old) and Minerva with her little one (1 day old). It's a bit blurry but a great shot.

Kenneth, his six-year-old sister Violet, and their parents helped me shear Freyja yesterday. She is likely pregnant and had too much wool on her to offer easy access to milk for lambs. If a sheep has lots of wool in the udder area, new lambs can end up sucking on wool instead of a teat in their search for milk. It's best to give them a clear path to dinner.

The shearing went very well. Freyja behaved nicely except for shearing her tail and back legs. Every sheep seems to have particularly ticklish spots: the tail, the front legs, the top of the head, somewhere that they get really fidgety, or downright troublesome, when you shear that area. Also, they tend to wag their short tails just when I'm trying to shear that area, which can make safe shearing quite tricky!

At one point, Kenneth climbed through the window into the room where the hay is stored in order to get a couple handfuls of hay to feed to Freyja. Unfortunately, the other sheep saw him enter the Sacred Hay Area and raced to the door, eagerly awaiting hay and leaving no room for him to climb back out again. Violet went to his rescue, explaining to the sheep they needed to move and scolding them when they didn't listen to her. She and her father finally convinced them to shift out of the way enough for Kenneth to escape.

Everyone had a good time.