So, this happened…

We actually had some baby rabbits born on the farm a couple weeks ago. Okay. So I should have said something awhile ago about this good news, but honestly, they were dropping like flies and I wasn’t sure how many we would end up with.

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Seven were born by Indigo and Hasselhop, all colored. Indigo’s milk did not come in for almost four days, even after attempting to “force nurse” the kits for a couple days and feeding Indigo oats to help promote milk production.

The first day we lost three kits, two runts and one to cold temperatures. Within the first week we lost two more to freezing daytime temperatures. I brought them in every night, but that only helps so much. Now we are down to three kits: two chocolate agouti and one self chocolate.

Ah, such is life. We are lucky to have three bulky babes.

Lessons From A Year On My Own Farm

You know how all the farming magazines, homesteading books, and old-timers say that you need a whole year on new land to observe before starting up farm projects? They give you all this blah-blah-blah about watching how the land reacts to each season and taking time to build up livestock.

Well, it turns out they’re right. It just happens to be one of those lessons you have to get through yourself. It’s not as if I didn’t believe this seemingly sound advice. When you finally have a place to call your own, somewhere you can do as you please without “the man” comin’ down on you, it’s exciting! You want to get everything going just the way you like in a hurry because –for some reason– the whole house and farm should be as picturesque as a Better Homes & Gardens cover shot within the first few months of living there.

I must admit, I had those expectations even though everyone kept telling me to take it slow, things at a new house took time and this was our first year. I’m nearly thirty and yet good advice went in one ear and out the other.

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May 2014

In this last year we have gotten quite a bit done. I didn’t realize how much we have change the property or ourselves until I looked a photos I took those first few weeks we moved in. We have turned a shed into a rabbitry, painted every surface in the house (with the exception of the cut-in around the ceiling fans?!), we brought home our first dairy goats and built a milking stanchion from pictures of others, Trevor’s parents helped us get two large areas fenced in, with my family’s help we installed one big hügelkultur, we sold some bucklings and bought two more dairy goats, got rid of lazy chickens and brought in new chickies, had great success with cabbage and heritage breed turkeys, added a pair of Viking sheep, made billions of delicious pretzel, and disposed of multiple truck loads of creepy-gross carpet. Oh, and the front door is an awesome egg yolk orange.

So while it didn’t seem like much progress was being made during the year, I can look back and see that we did –in fact– get a whole lot done on our new farm. That even includes the whole month of a “screw the drought and the world” attitude I had during the summer while I got absolutely no blogging done.

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May 2014

Well, now our first year is almost up. (I can say that because our mortgage is paid through the month of February and we moved in on March 8th of last year.) Close enough I’d say. After a year of home ownership my best advice to others looking down the same path is: to spend a whole year taking it slow.

The Lovers, The Fighters, And Me

It has been my experience that the boys on the farm are much friendlier than the girls. Which, really, is too bad because female animals tend to contribute more than their male counterparts: milk and dairy, babies, honey, eggs. Sorry guys… it’s true. Maybe it is all this work that the ladies do that makes them so cranky at times.

This guy, is such a lover.

Bolverk (like the name?!) loves for his ears to be scratched and begs for attention. I am quite amazed by how sweet our new Shetland ram can be. The best part about giving a sweetheart ram some love, is how nice all that lanolin feels on your skin even after washing up. I don’t think I have ever gotten so up close to a sheep before so I am truly enjoying this experience.

Funny story: My mother had a ewe sheep when she was growing up named Delilah. From what she tells me, Delilah was evil. She had glowing red eyes and fiery smoke poured from her nostrils as she breathed. My mom used to walk her to the bottom of their property to eat weeds and grasses. On several occasions she dragged my mother down the hill so hard and fast that she had bloody stumps for legs by the time it was all over. I’m sure she said that the sheep laughed afterwards too. True story.

Inga, on the other hand, is nothing like my mother’s childhood sheep, Delilah. Thank goodness! Inga seems even tempered and maybe a little shy. Then again, she hasn’t given birth yet. Perhaps those touchy motherhood instincts will kick in once some lambs are scampering around.

Speaking of which, Freyja is really beating up on the little goats. Our two Nigerian Dwarfs are pregnant and I think Freyja can sense it. I wonder if she is trying to preserve her status as Herd Queen with the impending additions to the goat tribe. Either way, I think I will have to separate Freyja from the others soon to keep her from hurting anyone.

New Kids On The Block

Sheepies! Yeah baby! And to think that this whole farm was started all because I wanted some wool producers to go with the chickens we bought. As you know, I ended up with French Angora rabbits instead of sheep on that tiny quarter-acre, but now I have my sheep at last!

The Frühlingskabine is now the proud home of two Shetland sheep, one ram (dark brown) and one ewe (cream colored). Shetland sheep are a heritage breed –also called a primitive breed– of sheep that originate from the Shetland Islands between Scotland and Norway. It is thought that the breed evolved on the Shetland Islands over one thousand years after being brought there by the Vikings. Shetland sheep are a very docile breed that also make good mothers… an excellent trait considering that our new ewe is due to give birth any day now. Baby lambies! I’m excited.

Shetland sheep colors have distinctive Viking names too. Our ewe is a fawn color, and our ram is a dark reddish brown color, “moorit”.

Eleven main colors are recognized (most including many different shades): light grey, grey, white, emsket (dusky bluish-grey), musket (light greyish-brown), shaela (dark steely-grey), black, fawn, moorit (reddish brown), mioget (honey-toned, yellowish-brown), and dark brown.

Over 30 different coat patterns and markings are recognized, many of which can occur in combination. They include katmoget (“badgerface”: dark belly and dark shading around nose and eyes, lighter elsewhere), gulmoget (“mouflon”, the reverse of katmoget: light belly, dark face with light marks around eyes, dark elsewhere), yuglet (generally light with dark “panda” patches around the eyes), bleset (dark with white blaze down face), smirslet (white marking around the muzzle), sokket (with white socks on the legs), bersugget (irregular patches of different colors) and bielset (with a collar of a differing color).

Now we just have to come up with names for the sheepies. Obviously they need Scandinavian names. If we have a ewe-lamb, I might keep the best one back. Fun stuff ahead here on the farm!

The Results Are In!

Welcome to the Frühlingskabine, Hasselhop!

Our big, fluffy, sweet chocolate agouti-colored buck (boy) has a name! You all submitted names and voted over the last two weeks.

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I have to admit, I was really pulling for Hare-ison Ford. Whoever came up with that one was brilliant. Chewbacca was a good one too. Maybe next time we can do a Star Wars themed name game.

For now, we love this guy named after a certain washed up actor. Wait until he has a “Kit” or two. Har, har.

Friluftsliv

I know, it looks like a cat just scampered across my keyboard. Actually– Friluftsliv is a Norwegian concept that translates as “free air life” and describes a life philosophy that Cami and I are trying out this winter. Friluftsliv has no strict definition, the idea is to simply explore and appreciate nature no matter the season or weather. It can include camping, hiking, meditating outside, taking photographs, dancing, or playing. All you have to do is get outside.

Of course, this is a beautiful day and it isn’t difficult to be drawn outdoors on such a day, but it is winter and it is cold. We are practicing Friluftsliv by sitting in the new winter grass, on the cold and frozen earth. Cami is practicing Friluftsliv by doing yoga with Heidrun. I don’t think Heidrun sees it as yoga, more like eating juicy grass, but Cami likes the thought of goats doing some sort of regimented yoga routine.

I am using my day to take photographs of everyone outside. I like sitting with the goats, scratching their chins, whispering sweet nothings into their ear. Well, I do tell them what pretty goats they are. I’d like to think that if they could talk we would have long conversations in the winter sun about which weeds taste best and what Bridgit and Luna want to name their kids. You may not have noticed, but the two shorties are looking a wee bit plumper than usual. Nothing is guaranteed around here, especially not baby animals, but it’s a nice thought for the end of winter in a few months.