Sunday, April 20, 2014

Lambs & Eggs!

Maude can't help herself. She is who she is. And who THAT is, well, it's no mother. But bless her heart she is trying. This Easter morning I woke up to the baaing of her little girl, who I named Brianna. (Pronounced BREE-uh-na not bree-ANNA). Bree had been hit with that glorious eastern light at around 6AM and so was ready for breakfast. Gibson was curled against me, the little spoon. I told him we had work to do and instead of shooting out of bed like a rocket he lazily stretched his entire body. When Gibson does this little spinal magic trick his front feet reach above my head and his back paws reach below my feet. He's a very large Border Collie. And he's a very active one as well, but on a Sunday morning after a night of taking care of an infant even he has his limits. Eventually he rolls out of bed as the bleats grow louder. Annie growls and turns over in her sleep on the sheepskin at the bed's foot, and I accept with tired dignity that even on days of such import to so many people - I have a goat to milk and a deadbeat mother's child to feed breakfast. And that is something I write with a smile.

When the cats are fed, dogs relieved, and I'm dressed and ready I head outside with Gibson to the barn. We milk, grain goats, feed horses, haul water buckets. Gibson does his "rounds" which is a happy euphemism for herding turkeys and sending broody geese into tantrums of honking. We come inside with a big canister of goats milk and I can't help but feel mighty. Walking away from a barn where animals you love have been milked, watered, fed, bedded, and do so in a safe place makes you proud enough. But to have that 2-liter stainless steel mini-canister in hand makes me giddy. It looks just like a smaller version of the larger milk canonizers large dairies use, but it's sized for a one or two-goat operation like mine. It has a lid (which is a blessing) and is hard to spill over. I stride tall in the sunlight back into the farmhouse, my heart singing "Dairymaid!" in the best ways possible. I wish I owned a big skirt and a corset. I could really ham it up.

Before I headed outside I had started the bread maker with a wheat loaf, and put coffee on the stovetop. So when I come inside I smell the yeasty rise and perking coffee. Bree is scooped up and the warm milk is poured into a bottle for her. I feed her 3oz and send her back outside to spend some time with the flock. She toddles around and Maude comes to her, wary. Maude doesn't hurt her, and even lets her rest or sleep beside her. She just wont let her nurse. Which is why Friday night myself and my two good friends Tyler and Tara had to pin her against a pole barn wall to milk out her colostrum. I got a good dose in the wain, but I'll be damned if I'm doing that four times a day. I said a silent prayer to Brigit that the farm has a working milk faucet in the goat pen and decided bottle feeding wasn't so bad.

So despite Maude's general misery, she is tolerating babysitting while I take care of the actual raising. Later today Bree will get her CDT shot and her tail docked. Shots are fast and I use a rubber band on the tails so there won't be any horror or bloodshed. Just a rubber band. For those wondering why people dock tails on sheep, know it is not an act of vanity. Wooly sheep grow wool just about everywhere, including those long tails. If a lamb or sheep gets a case of the runs, or gets that tail cut open and bleeding, it invites bot flies and other diseases. You want a tail that no poop can build up on, ever. And if you think it still sounds barbaric, google image search for Flystrike on sheep. You will start mailing me more rubber bands!

In other farm news, Jasper is still for sale but no one is interested in buying him at the moment. I am on the lookout for feeder pigs, and have been making contacts as I have shares to provide to co-owners of the future oinkers. I planted a bed of peas in an act of whimsy yesterday and did it without apology. The hens are providing well over a half-dozen eggs a day and neighbors stop by to chat and trade for them. Yesterday my neighbor Sarah stopped by to show me an amazing basket she wove herself and I was stunned she had only been doing the craft since February. I think we may have to work out a small egg-basket for ten-dozen eggs or so! It was gorgeous!

To end this morning update: I am riding Merlin every single day and it is the one place (besides archery practice) that I can not feel anxiety, even if I try. Merlin and I tack up and go on adventures with his saddlebags packed with lunch and water bottles and a first aid kit. Our next big adventure is treking to the old Adirondack Fire Tower on the top of my mountain. I look at it every day from my horse paddock and it feels like the Misty Mountains, something out of a Tolkien book. I see it and look at my horse and think, "We are going on an ADVENTURE!" and secretly plan them right outside my front door. Which, in its essence, is what homesteading is all about. I know there is a wild and wonderful world out there, but my heart is like a Hobbit's. Home is where I thrive. And when you live on a mountain with the animals that ride, hunt, herd, run, and work beside you don't spent your late nights paging through pamphlets for cruises. There's nothing wrong with cruises, but I'd rather let my nightstand pile up with seed catalogs, tack suppliers, and maybe a dream of a mini-cabin in the woods for guests someday. My adventures lie here, and here is where I thrive, and this morning I am tickled to just have another day to enjoy it.

Happy Easter to those who celebrate this fine day. And to those who don't, like myself, Happy Sunday. Tack up those horses and enjoy the ham! I'll be eating some homegrown ham for sure today and spending it with good friends. I'll also be going on an Egg Hunt, but the unofficial kind I go on every day. Still, we celebrate when we can.


Blogger Karen said...

Congrats on the new lamb! Pen Maude with the lamb. Tie her up with access to food and water if she is too mean to the lamb. Tie her up when you go to feed the lamb. Give her a handful of grain to distract her. Pick up and hold a front leg (like you do with a horse)while your shoulder holds her against the wall/fence. Push the lamb under her on the same side you are on. It's almost impossible for her to kick at the lamb when you are holding up the front leg on the same side. The only time I bottle fed was if the ewe had no milk. The lamb will learn really quickly to look for milk when you come. But, they MUST be penned together until the lamb learns Maude is her mother.

April 20, 2014 at 11:24 AM  
Blogger Valerie Willman said...

I love reading your blog, Jenna. I wish I lived close enough to come to some of your Farm Day Workshops. I live in Eugene, OR--just a tad inconvenient.

Before life changed a bit, I used to do some suburban homesteading (front yard as a garden, chickens in the back), and now I'm feeling the urge to move back in that direction.

You continue to inspire me...I even bought a strumstick after reading Made From Scratch.

I'm so glad to see you enjoying your life.

April 25, 2014 at 5:31 PM  

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