Monday, February 29, 2016

F is for Harry

F names?

What was I thinking?

No, I need H names for Pygora kids this year.

And now we need three -- for two bucklings and a doeling.

Amelia had twins last night. A little white mini-me and a beautiful black and silver buckling. Both are doing well.

Fortunately, Amelia was already in labor when I went out to feed the ponies at 10. Otherwise, I probably would have missed it and they might not have made it.

Amelia -- miserable, unhappy, first time mom -- walked away from both the minute they hit the ground. She wouldn't even sniff them. She seemed as much in shock as anything.

I stuck around for hours, slowing cranking the bottle baby machinery into full gear while keeping an eye on Amelia. This morning she seems to be coming back to herself, eating and moving around, but still not interested in the babies.

She's got a serious bag though, so the current plan is to milk milk milk her and keep trying to get her to take the babies. I won't be giving up easily. We'll see which of us is more stubborn.

And that's it for baby goats.

I think.

Pretty sure anyway.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Hello little man

I interrupted foal watch across the street this afternoon (that's another story) to come home and feed the crew. When I walked into the barn I found this little fellow.  He's loud and forward, just like any kid of Marthajones would naturally be.

Welcome little guy.

I think it's an F year for naming Pygora kids.

Fitzhugh? Frederick? Fulbright? If anybody could think of an F-character from Doctor Who, that would be good.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

What a difference a day (or two) makes

Views from the back porch. 
Thursday's shots are not really in black and white. 
That's just what it usually looks like around here in the winter. 

Tuesday afternoon
Thursday afternoon
Tuesday afternoon

Thursday afternoon

Monday, February 22, 2016

Careful what you wish for

Yesterday was a beautiful day. Sunny, warm, light breeze, blue sky. Perfect late winter day. Perfect spring teaser. 

In fact, we've recently had several lovely days of just this sort. Perfect days for working outside in the paddocks, in the barns, with the animals. 

Have I done that? Have I worked outside? Caught up with the barn work? Enjoyed the lovely respite from the brutal storms of January and early February? 

Um, no. 

A big fat shaking my head and stamping my feet no.

No, I was inside, reaping the rewards of my wishing. 

Let me say, before I go any further with this rant, that the tone I'm going for here is one of wonder and excitement, wrapped up in a hefty dose of frustration, even if it comes out sounding like a plain old whine. My writing skills only take me so far.

Why was I inside on such a gorgeous day? 

Because I was packing orders for my new farm shop on Etsy. 

Yay and ugh. 

It's a darn good thing I actually like the fiber I'm selling, 'cause I find myself elbow deep in fiber and locks pretty much every spare moment I have. If I thought I was busy before, oh how wrong I was. 

On the one hand, I am thrilled that an Etsy shop can actually make money. Even a little bit. I have to admit I was skeptical. We are almost, not quite, but almost, to a point where the sheep can pay for themselves. But I am horrified at how much work it takes, above and beyond actually raising and caring for the animals. (Cue the shaking heads and knowing chuckles of everyone who has slogged up this track before me...)

I did some rough counting the other day and realized I'm spending a minimum of 50 hrs a week on the livestock -- caretaking the animals and selling their fiber. That's on top of my regular job, which thankfully is extremely flexible. And this doesn't even come close to accomplishing everything that needs doing, never mind anything else in life. Everything else has had to take a back seat. It would be an understatement to say I'm a little tired. 

This explains why the house hasn't been cleaned in months, why the teenager is eating take out food, and why I wear the same two outfits to work, week after week after week. At least I'm not wearing my barn clothes, right?

But the most ironic unintended consequence of this fledgling success? 

It has sucked up ever spare minute I had for my own fiber work. No weaving, no dying, no felting, not even any spinning to speak of since the shop took off. For the first time in several years, I've had to give up my weekly trip to the arts center downtown to weave and hang out with other fiber folk. 


Clearly, this is not ok. I will be working on how to speed up the washing, packaging and shipping process (um, sheep coats come immediately to mind), how to optimize the return on the investment of my time and effort, and how to get back to my own fiber work. 

It will require some big changes. Eventually, the teenager will finish school and I will no longer be tied to either my day job or my ridiculously expensive property taxes. Then the world is my oyster, or something like that. 

That gives me about three years to figure it out. 

Better get cracking. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Snow foxes

I only wish I had a picture.

There are only two things I like about snow.

1) A snow covered ground makes it easy to see where I'm walking at night and 2) a snow covered ground makes it easy to see where others have been walking as well.

We've had very few days or nights of true snow cover this year. In general I'm happy about that, since with the snow usually comes bitter cold and lots of other unpleasantness.

But I have missed the snowlit nights.

That's why I was pleased when, on my way back to the house from feeding the ponies tonight, I realized I could see all the way back to the sheep barn behind the house. Behind the pony barn I could see all three of the old farmstead barns and all the yards around them. The dark shapes of the barns loomed out against the white snow. The distances were all foreshortened and a low ceiling of clouds made everything glow. It felt like being inside a lightbox.

And that's why I couldn't resist sneaking back to the sheep barn just to peek in the barnyard and see if anybody was still up and about. I could see one dark lump standing in the feeder. It turned out to be Brianna, bless her hungry little half-Lincoln heart. She was out in the yard all by herself cleaning up scraps from dinner. I hovered around for a while trying to get a picture of her in the dark with my phone, but she didn't much appreciate my intrusion and after a few minutes declared she didn't really want an audience and hopped down and away.

I turned to go, not quickly mind you, but fast compared to hovering I guess. My movement startled something out by the old barns. Something that started to run. I caught the movement in the corner of my eye, just in time to look up and catch the sight of not one, but two foxes racing back to the big barn.

Not one, but two foxes.

I'd suspected the fox I'd been hearing had moved into the old barn. I've seen tracks. Lots of tracks. Even tracks into and out of the sheep yard. The other morning, I saw the actual fox, not just her tracks, dart around the corner of the old barn and disappear inside it while I was feeding. And I've seen her trotting across the back field at dusk and dawn. Coming and going from hunts I assume. But, I hadn't realized there were two of them. I suppose there will be even more in a few weeks.

If we are lucky, and very careful and watchful, maybe we will see the kits.

And if we are very lucky, and very careful, and very watchful, maybe they will leave the sheep and the lambs that are coming, very much alone. I pray so.

And I need to get a picture.