Thursday, April 23, 2015

Brrr


Below freezing. Two inches of fresh snow on the ground. Howling north winds. Now I remember why I gave up April lambing years ago.

This ewe is a great mother. She had the sense to head for the barn and when I came upon her just before lunch she was cleaning up her single lamb. I put her in a pen to let her mother up uninterrupted and went in for my own lunch.

I went back to the barn right after lunch and there she was with three lambs. All cleaned. Full bellies. Ready to meet the world!

Monday, April 20, 2015

First Lambs


The first lambs of the year have arrived on the farm. This healthy set of twins were already mothered up, cleaned and of full bellies when I went out this morning. That's how I like it done!

Lambing wasn't due to begin until Wednesday, but with lousy weather on tap I was pretty sure it would start early. Given the opportunity, a lamb will always choose the worst weather conditions for it.

I was happy to be mucking about in the barn today.

It's over 20 years since I've scheduled lambing for April. With snow forecast for mid-week I'm certainly having some second thoughts about the change. However, two things prompted me to make the switch from mid-May on pasture to mid-April in the yards:

1. Predator pressure has steadily increased. Even with an attentive guardian dog I lost 4 ewe lambs last fall. There are now wolves in the area in addition to coyotes, so for this year at least I want lambing closer to the barn in a confined yard that is easier for Bonnie to supervise.

2. Shearing was late due to scheduling difficulty last year - result was shearing took place after lambing and after the flock had been on pasture for some time. To my pleasant surprise, no lambs had trouble finding moms' spigots in full fleece, and more - the fleece was much cleaner coming off pasture instead of off hay. My fleece yield was almost double because of lower contamination.  Shetland fleeces are tiny compared to my Columbias, so the increased net yield was very nice indeed.

April lambing can be a risk because of nasty weather, but my sheep are proven good mothers - they get their lambs cleaned up and fed lickety split, and they find the most protective spot if there is cold wind blowing.

I hope this still seems a good idea if the forecast snow arrives later this week!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Spring Thaw

Spring has properly arrived at the farm. The ice on the pond is breaking up and collapsing. The snow drifts are shrinking. And my snowshoe trail is rapidly fading.






Jonah is standing on the part of the snowshoe trail that crosses the pond dike; now reduce to mud and last year's sheep droppings (or as Jonah calls them, treats). Fortunately there are large snow drifts to the right of the dike and I can pass by that way into the farm lane which still has lots of snow.

The deck of hay wagon, parked behind the pond, has reappeared.

This is exciting times for Jonah, who was born into snow season - grass, mud, poop, all new wonders to be explored.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Outback




I know spring is upon us when the tops of the fence posts appear through the snow in the outback.

The snowshoeing has been fabulous this year and it is with sadness that I await the impending muddy season.





This photo is from the far back corner of the farm, below the knoll. You can see (through the trees) the steep slope of the knoll.

I love hiking back here, looking for the tracks of the other critters that share this beautiful land as their home.




Thursday, March 5, 2015

Double Shetland Sock Yarn II


I've been knitting more double strand socks with my Shetland 70/30 Wool/Nylon 1 ply lace weight.

To feed my yarn I drilled a few holes in one of the wood boxes I use at my market stall, so I could place one cone under another, and feed the yarn from the lower cone up and through the center of the upper cone. In the photo you can see I've got two cones of fawn on the left that I use of the topper, heels, and toes, and on the right a cone of moorit feeding up through a cone of fawn for a blended colour on the body of the leg and foot.

The set up shown is with my Legare 400, 54 cylinder, knitting size Small. The yellow yarn on the knitter (and in the garbage) is my scrap yarn.

To begin I've done a reverse e-wrap selvedge, and have just begun lowering the needles into work position to knit the selvedge round.


Then I put on the ribber and swap every other stitch from a cylinder needle to a ribber needle to knit the 1 x 1 cuff.


With the ribbed cuff complete I knit some more rows in the double stranded fawn before switching over to the fawn-moorit combination. Below I have just made the join in the yarn change and am just beginning to knit the first row.



WIth the two tone leg completed I break the yarn to splice on the double-fawn for the heel.
 


With the heel complete I go back to the two tone for the foot, then back to the double fawn for the toe.






Toes closed, scrap removed, socks washed and blocked:



Saturday, February 28, 2015

Snowshoe Hare



The trouble with going for a hike in the snow, without glasses, and with only my phone for a camera - I can barely tell if I've turned the camera on, let alone see what's in the frame. Best I can do is point in the general direction and hope for the best.

I was quite excited to see these tracks yesterday when Jonah I hiked into the bush at the back of the farm. These tracks belong to a Snowshoe Hare. They are easy to distinguish from other rabbits because hind feet (which are at the front of the tracks) are very wide. Their feet are also very long but they tend to walk on the tips of the hind feet unless walking slowly.

The reason this was exciting it that its the first time in quite a few years that I've seen sign of these hares. The traditional habitation on this farm was cottontail bunnies around the homestead, jack rabbits in the fields and laneways, and snowshoe hare hares deep in the back woods.

With the waxing of coyote population I stopped seeing hare tracks altogether, and last winter there were rarely rabbit tracks of any kind to be found.

This winter the cottontail tracks have returned to the homestead, the jacks to the back lanes, and now the hares in the bush. Horrah! This means coyote population is waning.

For a sheep farmer....that's a good thing!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Yes we have no bananas

I like bananas, but they generally don't like me so I don't eat them often.

But I stumbled on this idea in Pinterest and coudn't resist.






Saute sliced (not overly ripe) bananas in butter until they're browned.

Put in a bowl. Wisk a tablespoonish of honey with a tsp of water and put into the emptied pan, but off the heat. Mix in the dregs that remain in the pan and pour over the warm bananas.

OMG this is good!

The potential for booze with the honey is unlimited.

OK, maybe some fresh whipped cream on top.