2017 has been crazy busy. First my son and I both came down with the flu (son thinks it was the Norovirus). Whatever it was, it was vicious! Somehow, Boone did not catch it so he got the unfortunate task of taking care of us.
We have had much more rain than snow this year so have been battling yucky, mucky yard and pastures. Boone rescued a baby calf from the mud. Luckily, our greenhouse makes a great animal nursery so the calf lived there and out in our old dog pen during the day. Just as soon as he was strong enough we moved him to a small lot and shed over on the sheep farm.
It is a good thing we got him moved as lambing season kicked off early this year and has not stopped yet. One of the yearling ewes did not produce enough milk so we have bottle twins.
They are spending their nights in the greenhouse and their days lazing around in the sun in the dog pen. Such spoiled lambs! We have been letting them graze in the backyard and have already cut their bottles from four down to two per day. In a couple of weeks, they will get to go live with the flock over on the sheep farm.
I am only 5 days into my holiday break and hooweeee, has it been busy! Saturday night, while we were in Gatlinburg, the first lambing of the season occurred. On Monday night, Miss Piggy decided to get in on the action and went into labor. This was a first for us so there was a lot of hand wringing and whispering about what we should do but she paid us no mind and farrowed 11 piglets all on her own.
Tuesday, the kitchen sink clogged and we spent most of the day snaking the lines to no avail. There was a lot of grumbling and throwing of the snake around but the clog didn’t budge. The snake broke so a run to the hardware store 15 miles away was in order. That night another set of twin lambs appeared. Wednesday, after more snaking with the new snake and gallons of hot water later finally the clog left the premises.
We are installing a new chimney pipe for the woodstove so about the time the clog cleared the bucket truck showed up. Friends came over to assist so there was lots of yelling back and forth from our living room to the roof. The pipe was installed and yay (!), no one fell off the roof.
Friday morning when we went to let the sheep out into the big field we found that 2 more sets of twins had been born during the night. That’s eight lambs so far!
The end of the year is always a busy time on the farm. There’s usually lambing going on, bottle calves to feed and all the festivities of the holiday season. Miss Piggy is expecting to give birth at any moment! The university I work for closes for almost 2 weeks at the end of the year but this year I decided to end one year and start the next by spending more time with my family, friends and animals so I took some vacation time to extend my holiday break.
To kick off our holiday season, the husband and I decided to get away for the weekend. We decided on Gatlinburg, Tn. It’s far enough away that we feel we are on vacation but still close enough that if anything happened on the farm we could get back home in 3 or 4 hours. Our oldest son farm-sat for us and was gifted with the first set of lambs of the season while we were away. It was an easy birth, mom and lambs are in great shape, he moved them into their jug (pen in sheep farming) easily, took pictures and sent us a text letting us know.
We haven’t been to Gatlinburg in years and were surprised by how much it had grown. It’s mostly wall to wall shops now. It was very pretty at night as the town was decked out in holiday lights. We walked the main strip once but mostly just enjoyed the surrounding area as we are not shoppers. Happily our motel, Zoder’s Inn & Suites, was located in a quiet area at the beginning of the strip.
I know you are thinking, yuck it’s a motel, but motels are very common in Gatlinburg and are usually well kept due to the high demand of tourists. Zoder’s offers a little bit of everything, rooms, suites, cabins and townhouses. When looking for a place to stay, they offered a creekside room with complimentary breakfast, milk and cookies at night and wine and cheese in the evening. Complimentary wine! All for a decent $98/per night – sounds like my kind of place.
The creek runs through the property and all the rooms along it have a balcony. The room we stayed in looked to be one of the originals as it could have used some updating but it was very clean albeit a bit musty. A couple shots of air freshener to work it’s magic while we went out to dinner took care of that. The grounds were very pretty with their holiday decorations. There is also an indoor pool/hot tub, racquet ball courts, exercise area and an outside pool which we did not take advantage of. There is a grill area with a fire pit that I would have liked to enjoy but was a popular spot with lots of folks settled in around it both evenings we were there.
All in all we had a very relaxing and thoroughly enjoyable weekend. We are back on the farm and ready to meet lambing and the holiday season!
My job is in the city so I commute about an hour in the morning and afternoon. Because of this, I miss a lot of the farm happenings. This past Saturday morning found my husband out hunting so it was left to me to let out the chickens out from the Chicken Wagon and to let the sheep out into the big field. I was up and out the door just as the sun was topping the trees to take care of them. On the way out, I grabbed some bread that was on the south end of fresh and the cattle stick in case our ram, Rambo, decided to have a go at me and walked down to the farm. It was a beautiful morning.
Waking up in the Chicken Wagon
Having a whole flock of sheep that are happy to see you is a great way to start the day. We all made our way out to the big field where the Chicken Wagon is parked. I could see the chickens at the windows and were anxious to start their day. After scattering the bread around for them and the sheep, I opened the door and scooted around to the back of the chicken wagon so I would not get rooster attacked. Between the rooster and the ram, you really have to stay on your toes.
I love to hear happy chickens singing and clucking.
If you want to grow your own food but don’t have a lot of acreage you might be able to do more than you think. Our sheep, cattle, and chickens live over on Maplewood Hill Farm, our 15 acre farm down the street from the house. The lot that the house and yard sit on is less than an acre. There is a large garden, blackberries, blueberries, grapes, raspberries, sour cherry tree, sweet cherry tree, peach trees, plum trees, garden shed, kennel and a chicken house that doubles as an animal nursery. You can pack quite a bit into a yard! Currently residing in the chicken house is Miss Piggy.
Miss Piggy came to us as a little runt piglet that was getting too roughed up by her siblings so she needed a friendlier place to call home. She came to us in January and lived the winter in the chicken house buried under piles of hay. She came out long enough to eat, get back scratches from us and stroll outside for a few minutes if it was warm enough. Her company was an orphaned calf who she loved but the feeling was not mutual.
The intent was for her to go into the freezer but with the price of pork so high these days, quite a few of our friends let us know that they would buy the piglets if we had her bred. It took a village, but she was finally loaded and sent off to visit the boar of our dreams. She rendezvoused with him for few days and came back obviously traumatized from being with her own kind.
Loading her back up for the ride home went much smoother than the initial load. The farmer that owned the boar that she visited said the other pigs were pretty rough with her and he had to feed her off by herself because they wouldn’t let her eat. Poor girl, she’s been handled gently here and has only seen cows and Keb, the Border Collie. When we got her back home, she got a nice cool shower and a clean house to go to. It was just like when we got her; she stayed in the house and only came out to eat. It took a couple of weeks but she is back to her own sweet self and hopefully she’ll produce lots of piglets around Thanksgiving.