Spring in High Gear

In the most recent post, I cautioned that blogging would be slow for a bit because everything else was promising to be so busy. That sure turned out to be an understatement. I can’t believe a full week has gone by since them. But that’s life on a farm in the spring. It can be a blur. Especially when my professional work (you know, the stuff that actually pays the bills) gets very busy at the same time — which it did.

Soon after putting up the last post, we had the year’s first (and so far only) set of triplet lambs born. It’s hard to get a good picture of newborn triplets, because they all tend to be in motion in different directions. It’s a bit hard to seen, but the third lamb is solid black and underneath the mother. All three are males. Here’s one of the best picture I could get:

Triplets 2016b

All three are doing quite well a week later, and their mother has been providing plenty of milk. We’ve had a few more lambs born since, and I believe we’re now in the neighborhood of two dozen. I say “I believe,” because it got so chaotic out there it’s hard to know for certain.

The runty lamb has now moved back to the barn full time. I’d been bringing her into my office overnight, but that’s no longer necessary. She’s definitely still an outcast in the barn, and doesn’t fit in with the rest of the lambs. She doesn’t run with them or play with them. Part of it is her malformed leg; she can walk around alright, but she doesn’t have as much mobility as a typical lamb. Our goal is to get her to a reasonable butchering size as soon as possible. She is taking milk replacer from a large bottle really well, so I have no doubt we’ll be able to get her there.

We’re bottle-feeding one more lamb. Sunday morning, I noticed he was crying and sitting by himself in the corner a lot — and no mother sheep was coming to check on him. Since I was out there feeding Runty, and had some milk left in the bottle, I offered him some. He hungrily sucked down everything I had. His weight felt good, and he was able to stand and walk just fine, so I think we caught him in time. The 13 year old isn’t crazy about having a second lamb to feed, and is especially frustrated that the new little bummer is still so clumsy with the bottle. But at least Runty is taking milk like a pro. Hopefully the second one will get it figured out, too.

Soon after I put up the most recent post, we got a call from the local feed store. The chicks, which were supposed to come in the next day, had arrived a day early. We were now scrambling to get the brooder cleaned and set up; I’d thought I was going to have more time. Homeschooled Farm Girl was a big help in getting things started, and then I put the finishing touches on it. The six year old drove with me to the feed store to get the chicks, and for him it seemed like the exciting adventure of a lifetime. I let him hold the box of chicks on the way home, and then he got to “help” hand the chicks to me for placement into the brooder.

Brooder1

The brooder is about 4ft by 4ft, and 2 feet tall. For litter, we use scrap hay. It has a large waterer, and feeder. I won’t have to refill either of them the whole time the chicks are in the brooder. We got 30 cornish cross meat chicks, and 15 Buff Orpington pullets to keep as replacement egg layers. The local feed store does a bulk order from a hatchery that’s a couple of hours away, which brings the prices down quite a bit. The birds cost us just $2 each, and there’s no shipping. Pretty good deal.

Brooder2

This weekend, I got the lawn tractor out of mothballs and fired up. It’s running well. The grass is definitely growing, but not quite ready to be cut. A local repair shop is servicing out push mower, and should have it back tomorrow. I’m planning to use it, as much as possible, to “harvest” grass trimmings for the sheep and goats. They’re getting tired of hay, and our hay supply is dwindling anyway — but the pasture isn’t yet ready for them to be turned loose. The push mower, with its bag, is a good interim solution. I can go out and collect all the fresh stuff they can eat.

And then there’s the garden. That’s not my department, but there’s a lot that’s been going on out there. Homeschooled Farm Girl has been spreading all the stuff that came out of the barn last fall, working up the soil, and getting things ready for planting. Mrs. Yeoman Farmer has been starting seeds, and spent a lot of time outside on Saturday.

Best of all, we finally got nice weather this weekend. Temps have been in the 70s, with plenty of sunshine. After the nasty, cold, rainy weather we’d been having for so long … this is absolutely wonderful. In between all our other responsibilities, Homeschooled Farm Girl and I managed to log many miles on our bikes the last several days. I think we might just be able to get in shape for our big event at the end of the month.

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