I have a confession to make. I took a nap in the hammock today...and it was absolutely wonderful. I really didn't mean to do it. It just happened.
Everything started out normal. I woke up just before 6:00 and went downstairs to make lunches. Then I remembered the kids were on their first day of summer vacation. Wow - no lunches, no homework battles, it'll be like repeating Saturdays for the next ten weeks or so. I'm not exactly sure when they start back...but hey, it's summer vacation.
I had help this morning with chores, washed some fiber, spun some fiber, and then realized I hadn't put the hammock up from when I thought it was going to rain (but didn't). It seemed like the perfect time to do the task so I did. When lunch rolled around I was standing at the kitchen window and heard this little voice calling to me. "Sharon," it said," bring your lunch and book out here. Enjoy laying down in me for a bit. Just relax." Well, who could resist that!
I carefully balanced my plate and book in one hand and my glass in the other and gave getting inthe hammock a try. No, that wasn't going to work. I put the glass on the ground and the plate on top (don't want any bugs swimming around in there) and maneuvered myself on the hammock. Ahhhhh! Reached over for the plate and, well, let's just say it wasn't a graceful way to get out of a hammock. Then after thinking about the situation I did a re-do and it was successful this time.
I ate my lunch and I drank my drink to the sounds of birds, chickens, and Buddy the turkey who insists on stalking me around the yard. Then I opened my book. Next thing I knew I woke up to a motorcycle driving down the road. I was confused. I didn't know what happened. There was a bug in my glass. Then it dawned on me...I actually took a nap. ME! I haven't done that in ages, let alone in the hammock, and you know what? I feel absolutely refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of the day.
You know what I learned today? Sometimes I need to not only notice the nice things going on around me, but take time out to enjoy them for myself. When the weekend rolls around, take time out to enjoy something you normally wouldn't do. You'll feel better for it. Smiling & Waving, Sharon
Today is a day where I wish I had been in the right place at the right time. I'm sure you know what I mean because you've been there, too. I also mean to warn you this is not the normal lighthearted story you usually get from me. For that I apologize, but as much as I'd like it to be, farm life isn't always rainbows and puppy dogs.
Everything started out normal as usual. Chores were finished so I let the ewes and lambs out in the front to graze that grass for a bit before the storms came. Nothing was amiss. They all went out happy and excited. About an hour later the temperature dropped a good 10 degrees, a big wind came up, and dark clouds were rolling in. I went out to usher the sheep back into the pasture since they weren't going back on their own. There was Dahlia, under a big silver maple, licking lambs. One was trying to get up, the other that she was licking was laying there, unmoving. Hon and I had just talked about Dahlia this weekend, wondering if she had maybe had a lamb early on during a night and a predator made off with it because she hadn't given birth yet. We've had a horrible time with coyote in the area this year and I was fortunate to be with Lucy when she had her lamb since the coyote were on the other side of the pasture fence just waiting. It's gotten to where we leave lights on in the barn all night for the lambs safety.
I ran to the house for a few towels and Eldest's help. We wrapped the lambs up and carried them to the barn while Dahlia followed. The one was clearly dead - so cold and unmoving. Because I wasn't out there at the beginning, I can only make guesses, but all the guessing in the world won't bring him back. I do feel from the looks of things that he was born first. Alive or not, I'll never know, but if he were alive I'd have to say that quick drop in temps along with the cold wind would have made cleaning both up and keeping them warm difficult. Being a new mom, Dahlia was doing a great job, regardless, cleaning up her lambs.
We got Dahlia and the lamb in a stall and she started cleaning him up real good. I was so happy to see this since the start of being a mom was rocky. Dahlia did a great job cleaning up her little one. She's so intent on cleaning him up and talking to him that being a new mom she hasn't quite figured out the ins and outs of him needing to nurse from her. We're working on that and he's doing well. Dahlia's mom is Josie, and from all indications she's going to follow in her foot steps and raise him up wonderfully.
So, it's a sad day here at The Silver Maple with the loss of such an innocent little lamb, but it's also a joyous occasion that Dahila's other ram lamb is healthy and thriving. We'll lay the little lamb to rest next to several other sheep we've lost over the years. I ask that you take a moment out of your day and give thanks for the joys in your life, no matter how small they may be. Smiling & Waving, Sharon
I'm telling you, it really truly was a copperhead. Of course, I have no picture to back up my story because Hon took my camera with him on his visit to see his aunt, but you believe me. Right?
It all started this past Wednesday. I went to let one dog in and two dogs out. Roxie was sitting back a ways from the steps, but clearly wanted in. As I was opening the door Eldest said through a window, "Mom, there's a garter snake out there." I'm thinking yeah, right. Well, when I opened the door I could see it sticking it's head up. I walked down a few steps, thinking it would go away and there was not just the garter snake, there was another snake, too. I went back up to the door quick. I asked Eldest to look out the window and tell me what kind it is and he said it's a milk snake. I figured no big deal. I wasn't happy about it, but it was just a milk snake after all. It didn't want to leave so I got the broom and poked at it with the handle. How can I put it nicely...it wasn't happy at all about me poking it. Then it stuck up this little yellow-ish looking tail and started flicking it back and forth. After that Eldest says through the window, "Hey Mom, I wouldn't poke at it like that. It's not a milk snake, it's a copperhead. He looks angry." Well that just creeped me out - it was bad enough that a snake of any kind was right there where the dogs go in and out, but a copperhead just gave me the willies! I was lucky both it and the garter snake decided to move on after I stopped poking at it. Problem is, they went under the steps. I was wondering if they were just roommates or if it's possible to have garterheads. Hmmm.....
When Hon came home I told him about the snake. I even looked up the difference between copperheads and milk snakes beforehand so he didn't think I was yanking his chain. Of course, being the He-man he is, he tried to lift up the cement steps with a metal bar, but they wouldn't budge, so there was no telling where it was. It did, however, give me a reprieve from taking Toby's food out there for him to eat and mowing the grass in that particular area the rest of the week. Ahhhh, a bonus!
The snake was not seen for days.
Today when Hon left and I hadn't seen scaley hide nor hair of that snickety snake I decided it was time to put my big girl panties on and go out there. Besides, I couldn't keep sending the kids out, could I? I popped my head out, looked to the right, looked to the left - no snake. I took Toby's food bowl out, turned around, and there that sucker was...right next to my Jack in the Pulpit plant. I said to that copperhead, "Hey! That plant came from my mom who got it from my grandma - it's like a family heirloom! Your lucky I won't go in there and get you because of that!" Then I ran in the house and left Toby to finish eating. Yeah, I'm pretty sure I scared it. I'm now letting the dogs out the other door until Hon gets home. Then he's going to have to do something about that creepy snake. I don't know what, but I know it's not going to involve him putting it in a pillow case that has a hole at the bottom to take it far far away. And that, my friend, is a story to tell on a cold winter night when I'm reminiscing about things.
Taking pictures of animals can be, hmmmmm, how should I put it...a challenge. I don't know if you've had the experience before, but if not give it a go. See if it's just me, or if you have the magic touch. My dad was a photographer for the Detroit News for years. He must have had the touch...except for that time the new kangaroo was taken to the zoo and he found himself in the wrong place at picture taking time. Oh the memories of that! Story montage - Dad was to take pictures of a full grown kangaroo being let out at zoo, kangaroo was not happy, Dad was in way...I think he had to get a series of shots afterwards.
Sometimes I think trying to take a picture of our animals here on the farm is harder than when I was trying to catch an toddler hiding in the clothes racks at the department store. It can be a painfully long process to get the picture. I can walk all over with a bright yellow whiffle ball bat in my hand and it doesn't phase them at all, but hold on to a camera and they run like the wind.
The first picture up there was easy to take. No, he's not dead, but he is sleeping like the dead. Had no idea I was there or that I took a picture. Of course, that wasn't really what I was going for. The second picture is a lot of what I get...butt shots. I think I've taken a picture of every animal butt on the farm, multiple pictures in fact. Even yesterday, Pheobe's first day, and she gave me the butt. Now that last picture is one of the ewe lambs. After trying and trying to get a picture of her from the front she finally turned around and yelled at me. Yelled. At. Me. Shesh!
I am so happy to hear back from folks that read my blogs and browse our site that you enjoy the pictures I take. Sometimes I can come by them easily, other days not so much. Either way, I will (hopefully) get what I'm after...or give up and think of something else to do. Smiling & Waving, Sharon
Today I played hookie from the farmer's market. No, I don't feel guilty. It was for a good reason...really! I've been keepng a secret from the family for the past 1 1/2 months (which was amazing I could do). Ok, so I thought I was keeping a secret. Small community...made mention of my plans to a few people...yada yada yada...and Hon went to the feed store this morning... Needless to say, he found out I was not only going to the Great Lakes Fiber Show in Wooster, OH for the fibery goodness, but also to pick up Phoebe. That totally blew my, "Hon, I found this cute rabbit on the side of the road and just couldn't leave her there," story. I still told him that line, but it didn't have the same effect. Phoebe is a 4 year old English Angora rabbit, not to mention totally awsome! That little bunny love sat on the front seat of the van for three hours enjoying the air conditioning to get to her new home - our farm - and was super fantabulous the whole time! She didn't mind my caterwalling to country music, whistling, and stimulating conversation one bit. She came from Colleen at the Dustibunni Rabbitry in Burbank, OH. Colleen has raised her, shown her, bred her, loved on her, and decided after Phoebe's four years of awsomeness with her that it was time for retirement. I am so fortunate to have been able to bring Phoebe to our home and I thank Colleen from the bottom of my heart for trusting us to give Phoebe a good home. She's a dream! This picture is of her in bad lighting and after Young'un had given her a mohawk look and other various hair-dos on her head, so she looks a bit windblown. I'll make sure to take some real good pictures tomorrow.
Oh, back to the fiber show...before picking up Phoebe I was at the Great Lakes Fiber Show. That was also totally awsome! I met so many wonderful people! I re-learned how to use a drop spindle and showed Young'un the basics this evening because he's been bugging me to learn for months. I must honestly say he's done a real good job so far, especially for a 10 year old. I saw everything under the sun that had to do with fiber, be it yarn, fiber, gadgets, and whatnot. I also bought lots of fiber, gadgets, and whatnot. I also didn't want to leave Hon out, so I bought him a pair of those hand scissor type shearing things. I know...I was very thoughtful. I also did it to butter him up about the rabbit I didn't think he knew about, but he knew about, and just didn't say anything until I thought I was getting way with it. I still can't believe it! Oh well, maybe next time I'll get away with just sneaking a new fiber animal in. A girl can dream. Smiling & Waving, Sharon
You know summer vacation is just around the corner when field day rolls around. A whole day of outdoor fun in the sun with friends...while at school. Ahhhhh, the memories!
Every year I make it a point to be there for field day. I'm never just a spectator. I really enjoy helping out. This year I spent most of the day holding a timer for the races. There's nothing like watching the kids burn rubber to get to that finish line! I swear some don't move much all year, saving all their energy up for field day, because when they start running it's like someone lit their shoes on fire.
This year Young'un signed up to run the 50 yard dash and relay race. He and four of his friends really ran an awsome relay race! He also played a game where he threw a ball to see if it went the farthest. They call it a foxtail ball. It's a tennis ball with some of that parachute material attached that really makes it sail in the air.
After all of the events kids sign up for are finished the two big events are ready...tug-o-war and water balloon toss. I am always so glad I'm not the one to fill up all those balloons! I'd probably end up wearing more water than what goes in them. Instead, I head up to the school at the end, after watching one class drag another one to victory in the tug-o-war, to help put together snow cones for everyone. You know, now that I'm thinking on it, maybe those balloons are a better deal. All that snow cone flavoring really can turn a person's hands a rainbow of colors. Trust me, I know. My hands look like I was dying fiber and stuck my hand in the dye pot. The snow cones sure are good, though!
Up top is a picture of Young'un running his 50 yard dash. He really did dash! This other one is of Young'un, three of his friends he ran the relay race with, and another friend along for the picture ride. I told them after I took the picture I'd put it on here for all to see, so here you go boys, you're famous! Smiling & Waving, Sharon
It's been a long day here. Started bright and early with the farmer's market and ended with a baby...lamb that is. It's still Saturday to my body, but actually we're in the wee hours of Sunday now, just after 1:00, so think of this as me telling my story Saturday night.
This evening I had a feeling Lucy would be delivering very soon. Soon as in I sure hope she makes it until morning soon. Sheep are only supposed to deliver during the day...in a perfect world. Hon and Young'un went to the Cub Scout leader's house for a campout so it's me, Eldest and the Kid. About 9:30 I was in the kitchen and heard a faint sheep noise. It's like my mama radar was working overtime to be able to hear it. I went out to the front pasture and there was Lucy, just a laboring away. Problem was, I saw a nose and no feet. Since Hon was only about 15 minutes away I gave him a call and told him since he had two of the three flashlights for camping and I was out in a dark field trying to keep an eye on Lucy while coyotee were howling up a storm right in the farmer's field on the other side of the fence, I truly needed his assistance. I'm so fortunate that he is the type of person that will do everything in his power to help me when I need it. Before I knew it he was tearing down the road...with the flashlights.
He, Eldest, and the Kid came out to help keep an eye on Lucy since the coyotee were out in full force. Lucy was able to deliver that baby unassisted with all the other ewes standing guard around her, but not only was Lucy completely exhausted, the babe wasn't standing up. She (yes, she's a she) had no strength in her back legs. This was more than likely due to the hard birth and the way her legs were tucked up inside Lucy. I wrapped her in a towel and we got Lucy in a stall with the baby. I helped Lucy clean her off and still there was no movement in those back legs. The poor girl was utterly exhausted.
While I assisted Lucy with clean-up, along with giving the lamb some Nursemate ASAP and Nutridrench to help give her some energy to start working those back legs, Hon and Eldest went in the farmer's field to a spot where there's a bunch of dead trees piled up and a stream where the coyotee have their dens. When they got there those coyotee started howling and kicking up a fuss until Hon shot off his gun a few times. Then they kept quiet and stopped their nonsense so Hon could get back to the campout with Young'un.
All the while I was helping clean off the lamb with Lucy and working with it to get up on those back legs. She would try so hard to get up and then roll over. She'd rest a bit, I'd give her a bit to eat from a bottle since she couldn't get to Lucy, and then she'd have a go at it again. At 11:28 she did it! I was so proud of that little lamb!! She stood for a brief second and then went back down. Did it again, stayed up a little bit more and plunked back down. After a while she was able to find the strength she needed to get her legs working and she was doing great! She's a little wobbly, but she's coming along beautifully! Lucy is a great mom, too. She's just not sure what to do with the lamb when it disappears under her, wanting to turn around, so I put a stantion gate up and had her stand there for a bit while the lamb got the nursing down. I let Lucy out afterwards and will go back and check on them again in a few hours, but in the meantime this gal needs to put head to pillow and catch a few Zzzzzzz's. Smiling & Waving, Sharon
This here is Mrs. Lovensheimer. Her first name is Eileen, but I just can't help it, she's Mrs. Lovensheimer to me. Must be because my folks raised me right. Oh come on now...you waved to Tony last week. Give her a big 'ole wave since she's waving to you!
Mrs. Lovensheimer and her daughter, Heidi (who's a fantabulous teacher at Adena Elementary School by the way), have Lovensheimer's People Treats & Dog Treats at the Chillicothe Farmer's Market. Heidi is the gal you see when you first walk into the market at the booth where they sell market tokens. While Heidi mans (er, womans) that tent, Mrs. Lovensheimer sells the most delicious angel food cakes, quick breads, and other delights she has baked up. A feast for my senses! My hips will pay for it by the time October rolls around when the market closes for a while.
Now like the sign says, they also sell dog treats. I haven't personally tried any, but I did a survey where 9 out of 10 dogs found their dog treats to be an uber delicious tail wagging sensation. I think dog #10's tail may have been wagging, too, but he had one of those stubbly little tails and it was hard to tell. I bet you thought I was actually talking to them and understanding what they were saying, huh! Dr. Doolittle I am not.
Here's the thing about Mrs. Lovensheimer...she is one of the sweetest kindest most thoughtful people you will ever meet - really! In fact, so is Heidi (so you know her mama raised her up right)! I truly enjoy seeing Mrs. Lovensheimer and Heidi on Saturday mornings. Some mornings when I go to coffee klatch with the ladies I'll see Mrs. Lovensheimer at McDonald's and that's a real treat for me. She's just the kind of person that lights up a room.
Next time you're at the Chillicothe Farmer's Market make sure to stop by the token booth and say, "Hi," to Heidi. Then head on down to Lovensheimer's People Treats & Dog Treats to visit with Mrs. Lovensheimer and pick yourself up some delicious goodies. Trust me, you'll be glad you did! Smiling & Waving, Sharon
Let me begin this story by saying, "Dad, it's not the John Deere…it's the Cub Cadet." Now that he knows it's not the mower he passed on to us when they moved to Arizona, I'll begin…Two days ago I cut the pond pasture since all animals were moved out of there. Yesterday was to be the yard, but all things must stop when I'm keeping a ewe company while she's in the throws of labor.
Today I was bound and determined to finish. I may have been bound and determined, but that old Cub Cadet had other ideas. When I started the project it seemed like CC (that's the mower) was a bit sluggish. I thought the job was going to take forever. After a while I remembered the lawn tractor fix it man said something about how dirty it was when he gave it an overhaul a few months ago. He also said he was surprised Hon let it get so dirty. I just nodded and kept my mouth shut since I'm the one that takes care of CC, which is oddly enough just putting gas in it. I figured maybe that was it, it was dirty, because the blades were spinning pretty slowly. I got out a stick (after turning off the mower - safety first) and started poking around underneath it. I think I've heard Hon call that the "deck." Well, that deck part was chocked full of grass and all sorts of stuff. I kept poking and swishing all the stuff off I could get to. I will admit it was a lot. Then I turned the mower back on and surprise surprise old CC started going faster like she'd had caffeine put in her tank. I think she started purring. So I continued on…
When I got to the part down by the fire pit I have to get real close to a bunch of bushes and pricker bushes (ouch). Didn't think anything of it. CC was still running real good. Next thing I knew I started smelling some smoke. I ignored it figuring it wasn't important, maybe the neighbor was burning something. Well, then I looked
down. There was some smoking coming from that deck part I had just cleaned off not long before. Of course I turned CC off, got myself another stick, and started poking around. I figured I must have gotten something clogged up in there since there was room again to get stuff up in there. I poked and prodded, not sure if I had come up with whatever was causing the smoke. I hopefully thought maybe I remedied the situation by poking around enough, turned the mower back on, pulled up the blade spinning lever and…nothing. No spinning and thankfully no smoke, so I limped CC over to the house for Hon to take a look at when he gets home. I'm not sure if I should tell him about the smoke part yet. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. Sometimes ignorance really can be bliss.
Oh, I learned another thing today. Poison Ivy vines have little hairs on them. I didn't know that before I started using part of one to poke around at CC's deck to get the stuff out. The things we learn! Smiling & Waving, Sharon
I'm typing this blog from the beaches of Mexico that Kenny Chesney always
sings about...ok, ok, so I'm not...I'm really typing on Hon's laptop while lounging in the hammock as the sun goes down. A girl can dream. It's been a long day.
This moring while doing chores I noticed Daisy hanging back, not wanting to be with the rest of the ewes. I also noticed some back end swelling. As the morning went on she made her way to the barn stall that we use as labor and delivery. By noon she was kind of laying to her side, clearly uncomfortable. Yup...lambs a coming. Question was how long? By 2:00 I could see little feet - front feet thank goodness. Then that's how it was for a while. It got to where I was thinking I'd have to step in with some human intervention because Daisy was clearly getting very tired. I went up to the house for a few minutes, came back, and POOF there was the lamb. Poor little thing and Daisy were so tuckered out! Daisy just laid there exhausted and didn't get up to start the clean-up process and little lamb just laid there so in came the cavalry (that'd be me). I wrapped the babe in a towel and took him over to Daisy so she could help me with cleaning him up (yes, it's a him). After a few licks she decided she was going to continue with the process so I let her have at it. Problem was, she was so into cleaning him up that she wouldn't stand still long enough for him to find the nursing parts so he could eat.
I took out my handy dandy syringe of Nursemate ASAP, a fantastic colostrum product, and gave him some of that after a bit to help him along while he poked and prodded for a teat. Then I noticed he was so tuckered out he was bumping into everything and anything looking for milk, but the side of the barn and Daisy's front leg weren't going to be much help. I got Eldest out there with me and he had Josie stand still so I could lead the lamb to the goodies, but he just wasn't getting the hang of it. Later when the Kid got off the bus I had him go out with me and hold Daisy so I could again try to get the little lambie to the necessary nursing parts. Again, nada. In this case I could lead the lamb to the teats, but I couldn't make him drink. After laying flat out on that stall floor over and over trying to get the little guy to nurse I finally resorted to preparing a bottle. That did it. Mission accomplished. He tried the bottle and then decided he didn't want to go that route...and I tended to agree.
Since Daisy was so intent on continuing to clean him up, I braced her against the barn stall with my hip, put the lamb up to her teat and voila - he got the hang of it. When he finally made contact and his little tail started swishing back and forth like hummingbird wings I knew we had success! In fact, when it finally happened I think the clouds parted, the sun came out, and there was a rainbow. Ok, a little exaggeration...but the sun was shining. The little bugger is doing well, Daisy is doing well, and I've got stuff all over my clothes that I don't want to even think about at the moment. All I kept thinking as I was laying on the floor in what I kept telling myself
was only straw was, "If Mom could only see me now!," and "We're not in the suburbs of Detroit any more."
So there you have it. Daisy gave birth to a sweet little ram lamb this afternoon. We had a few bumps in the
road, but some times that happens. They are both doing well and I'll be checking in on them to make sure the baby is nursing from Daisy and not from the barn wall. In the meantime, it's time to pry myself off this hammock and change into something that's not quite so, uh, never mind...I don't even want to think about it.
Oh, the picture up there is one I took after we had successful nursing contact. It was a proud moment for this gal! Smiling & Waving, Sharon
I'm the queen of our farm, although the animals wouldn't agree. My title is Head Chicken Wrangler, but most days I'm just called Mom. Life on a farm is full of family and hard work and I wouldn't have it any other way.