Don’t Worry

Dont worry… I know the website URL reverted back to “FMicroFarm.wordpress.com”. I am working on converting some things to a format easier for me to use on crappy Internet. The regular url “FMicroFarm.com” will be back on Thursday. 

Thanks for your patience,

The Mangagement

Lambikins

I don’t actually know that lambikins is a real word, but I feel as if I’ve heard it somewhere. Maybe I am projecting my need for an afternoon snack on you. I’m pretty sure lambingtons are some sort of Australian dessert food. Perhaps that was what I was thinking of.

Food and snacks and Australia aside, our farm has some new babies. Tiny lambs!

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ewe lamb; temporarily named “Eyebrows”

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ram lamb; temporarily named “Toupee”

Our pair of Shetland sheep, Bolverk and Inga, had twin lambs late Thursday evening. It was around 8:00 at night and we were just arriving home after a long Girl Scout meeting. Everything was dark except for our sad little porch light which barely illuminates the few steps up to the door.

I am used to hearing Bolverk bleat greetings when someone comes home, but tonight sounded a little different. I stopped midway up the porch steps and told Trevor to listen for a second. It would have been useless to look into the sheep pen around the corner because of the darkness. At first Trevor suggested the voice was Inga, who seldom makes any noise. We still don’t know her little sheep voice well because she doesn’t ever have much to say. No, this was definitely a higher-pitched voice.

I’m sure it would have been more obvious to someone who has had big births on the farm before. But this was our first time with pregnant large livestock so it took that extra minute for it all to dawn on us. ‘Oh! It might be babies!’

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I ran through the house grabbing by muck boots along the way to the back door. The deck leads a few steps back down from the house to solid ground inside the sheep pen (refered to in the past as Hänsel’s fenced-in side yard). Trevor followed behind me and tossed the flashlight I completely forgot, and definitely needed, to look for potential lamb-shaped lumps.

It only took a second to find the first lamb, he was in the “alley” between our house and the Sheep Shack. He was the one making all the noise. I am positive that the confirmation of new lambs registered on my face as pure excitement because Trevor, through the window, gave me an exasperated “well, check on it and see if there are more”.

Oh, yeah. Sheep usually have twins. All I had to do was peek into the Sheep Shack to find lambikins number two. Let me tell you, sheep breeds that are smaller than the typical commercial breeds, have the cutest babies. These Shetland lambs are like miniature baby sheep. It’s too much.

So here I am, in a dark yard, holding two of the tiniest lambs in existence, trying to remember what I’m supposed to do.

Step 1: The lambs are wet– okay, dry them off so they don’t chill. Got it. In the house they went to be dried by the heater with a towel.
Step 2: Check on Mama Inga– Trev had the lamb-drying-experiment going (it was like trying to dry a soaking wet wool coat or a baby with body dreadlocks), so I went back out to check on Inga. Not much blood; good sign. Up and walking around; good, check. Crying for babies; promising sign and noted.

Once the lambs were dry, I took the twins back outside to Inga. She was very comfortable with me around to I kept the lantern feature of the flashlight on low to make sure they were nursing. The lambs made it through their first night, but I did realize that one of the lambs was not interested in nursing. We –begrudgingly– bought a $40 bucket of lamb milk replacer and the lamb has been doing well since. I reminded myself that these were free sheep, so now we have invested a whole $40 bucks into four sheep… A mere $10 per sheep, really not so bad if you think about it like that.

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The End of Winter in Photos

Life has held me captive for the last month. It hasn’t been easy, but I think we are getting back on track to normalcy. In that spirit, I walked around the farm with my big, happy camera, snapping photos here and there of what March has brought us. Spring will soon be here… phew!

Our garden idea has changed somewhat as well. Since we cannot easily fence in the back acre-ish for animals because of the shallow, solid bedrock, we are going to add a large pen out front where we originally planned to put the garden. There is only one hügelkultur in the front, so I won’t have to cry too much. We will make more hügelkultur mounds in the back as our garden and then start some fruit trees in massive pots (wine barrels?) until we can figure out how well that works out.

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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.