Other stuff about the farm and your's truly!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Being brave!

July 22! I am taking a big step right now, putting myself out there and waiting to see what happens. I am not disclosing it yet, but I have to believe it will happen if it's meant to!  Got the hubby's support and encouragement. Life is to be lived and you'll never know if you don't try, right?

I started this a few weeks ago, and obviously dropped the ball, plus someone hacked my e-mail and I lost access to everything for awhile. Grrrr...

But on June 21, I applied for a new job at the OSU Extension Office in our county, as the new Education Program Assistant for 4-H.  I've been volunteering for years.  I almost didn't apply because I didn't want them to A: hire me because they felt they had too, or B: Not hire me (that'd really hurt).

Guess what?  My first official day was July 7, 2014.  Two days later I was headed up with the rest of the staff and counselors for 4-H Camp.  I got paid (with overtime) for something I have always volunteered for.  Five days later, back home, one day off to recover, then helping get ready for fair.  Worked all of fair (overtime again), and it was bittersweet. So wonderful to be paid for something I've always volunteered for, but sad because it was Lyndsey's last year as a 4-H member. 

 
My co-workers and I (note who is old and who isn't?)


Needless to day, as her momma, I gotta brag! She kicked butt! She entered her 4-H project entries on her own, because I was busy working.  She got the Super 4-Her award 4th year running, champion and grand champion on many things, livestock, food preservation, crocheting, etc.  And most awesome, Grand Champion Market Lamb out of 15 lambs (on the replacement she bought after both her market wethers got killed by the cougar.) The lamb who took Grand Champion was out of the first ram lamb ever born on our property, so he was still part of her flock.  Her ewe lamb took Grand Champion overall ewe. That was out of only 8 ewes, but that's not bad.  She got $14 a pound on her market lamb at auction, making $2300.  That is the most we've ever gotten here on a lamb! Wow!  Part of that success was due to her sob story about the cougars and the fact that right before her lamb auctioned, she donated a prize-winning ewe to a fellow club member who'd lost his ewe to a bear.  Her first breeding ewe was donated to her 5 years ago and she wants the tradition to continue.
Her hog got $5.25 a lb, which is a good price here.  The auction was a success. The only mom that wasn't happy with the prices was the one who didn't understand you need more than one bidder on a steer to buy together, and we've explained that too her so many times.

 
 
Lyndsey, Krennan, Bieste (the ewe) and the auctioneer (spotter in the back)
during the presentation of the ewe.




Anyhow, after so much time away from the farm, this weekend will be spent picking, canning and dehydrating to be ready for winter.  We already have leaves falling on the maple and blackberries ready to pick which is early here. Makes me nervous. Time to batten the hatches, I guess.  I will be also keeping an eye on one of the ewes who I have spent the last two days tubing for Bloat.  Another thing to add to my "learned farm skills list".  I really thought we were gonna lose her.  Plus we will be turning the ram in with the ewes tonight. Wow, it's busy!

Lyndsey will be moving to Corvallis in late September.  That's going to be hard, not having her here.  She just started an new job at the circuit court, scanning documents for $1900 a month for two months, which she can't complain about.  Oh, another benefit of the job, besides it being something I love, is that she'll get a 70% tuition discount at OSU because I am now an employee.  We have to pay taxes on that amount, but I can manage that.

Anyway, that's it for now (on my break, but wanted to let you know I'm in the land of the living).  More pictures soon!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

I'm alive! Computer and life once again interferes!

First off, the last baby bird will be jumping out of the nest in September!  Here she is with her proud parents!


And here she is taken from the back of the gym giving her salutatorian speech. Where was I?  I am right in the front row, on the left hand side!


I really have no other excuse other than the computer is starting to fade and it's too hard to blog on my Iphone.  So, once again, a promise to do better and at least post a picture to let you know I'm still here.  Now it's time to get ready for fair! Yikes!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

No spur of the moment decisions, but another loss!

The cougar did come back yesterday morning and was trapped and dispatched. We were allowed to keep the body, so Steve skinned and prepared the pelt and froze it and what meat was on the carcass is hanging to try some cougar jerky.  We found out what caused her to attack our flock. She was missing a large part of her back leg from a previous injury. While not a new injury, it was still not fully healed. The trapper said that it could have been from a trap and she broke free or something as simple as getting her foot caught in a fence as she jumped over it. She was emaciated.  I stroked her gently as she lie there, no longer suffering.  I apologized that we had to take her life in such an unfair manner.  I felt relief that our flock would be safe. I felt pain for taking such a strong spirit!

This morning, Steve went out to feed the calf and sheep (who had all been relocated after the attack to a small field on the other side of the orchard). Soon after he had left, he yelled for me to get grain and move them back to the field with the lean-to.  I though it was because of the rain and wind, but was surprised when the whole flock pretty much bolted past me through the open gate.  Normally, when I have grain, I become the focus of attention.  When Steve told me we needed to call the trapper again, that another lamb was dead, I was pissed off and sick to my stomach at the same time.  Yes, Lyndsey's second choice market wether was dead. The neck was broken, but nothing had been eaten yet.  The body was still warm. I texted my daughter, mom, sister and neighbor to tell them. We both had to go to work, so we left before the trapper arrived.  I called him soon after I got to work to ask him for details.  As he answered the phone, I could tell he was winded.  His hounds had already treed the cat and he was hiking our rather steep hillside to reach him. I didn't stay on the line. Shortly after that my mom called to let me know she'd heard a shot.  It was another young cat, probably the male sibling to the female.  He was also extremely thin.  I wish I knew their stories.  Did their mother die, leaving them not knowing how to hunt, forced to take easy prey (we've had a very mild winter and lots of deer are around)?  Were they forced out of their home territory as they neared adulthood, unable to find food in unfamiliar areas?  How did the female lose so much of her back leg? Did her brother try to help her?  It saddens me!

I am also angry because humans have pushed Mother Nature to the point of breaking, civilizing areas so that her children (the animals) can no longer find the food they need to survive, tipping the already shaky balance that is the wilderness. I treasure the wild animals, they are a needed part of our world, and I live in the woods, where the animals live.  My family has lived on this property for decades, going back to my great-grandparents.  They respected the animals and so do we.  Yes, I am an advocate for all the animals, even the predators.  Am I happy we killed (yes, killed) two beautiful, amazing hunters.  NO!! However, my livestock are under my protection.  They depend on me to keep them fed, sheltered and safe.  Because of changes and laws that have forced predator's to look for easy meals, we had to make a choice.  It was not an easy choice.  However, if one of you went and found one of your pets with it's belly cut open and it's head removed, knowing that the next night another pet could be taken the same way, with no way of escaping or defending itself, what would you do?  You might say "Well, a sheep isn't a pet"! Nope, it's not, however, we love our flock (and our pigs and our steers and our chickens).  The older sheep know their names, come to be petted and scratched and fed treats and love us.  The lambs are raised with love and care and good nutrition, to become either breeding animals or a market animal to feed you and your family healthy, nutritious protein.  Losing two lambs in 3 days has affected us emotionally.  I hear the momma sheep baa'ing for their babies (the weaning process causes baa'ing, but for different reasons). The flock saw these babies killed, smelled the scent of a predator and could not run, because the fences we built for their protection kept them trapped and unprotected.  I see the fear in their eyes, as the dogs they have known for years walk past the fence, unsure what might happen.  I feel the pain in my heart, soul and mind, knowing that I failed them.


This affects our farm financially.  The goal of raising low-cost, but healthy market lambs will not be met this year. In 2 months we've lost 4 of our animals, (the old ewe, the goat, and two lambs).  The farm took a hit this year. The lambs were each worth at least $300 each and Lyndsey would have gotten $800 on one of them as an auction animal.  We still have two lambs left, not as good of quality, but she will auction one anyway.  The 2 lambs would have paid for a large portion of our years hay, and Lyndsey's market hog.  


I'm tired, sad and well, to be frank, worried.  Do I find more ways to tighten the belt and keep the flock going? Do I just give it up?  There isn't much more to cut, we aren't like the government who keeps "finding" money. Out of 15 plus years of livestock, these are the first losses to a predator, but I don't know if I have the heart to wait for the next attack.  Being a farmer isn't easy, and I knew that coming into it, but the last few weeks have really pulled me apart!  

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Predators: them or us!

We have raised market lambs now for 9 years, and bred and our own ewes for market lambs for 5 or 6 years. We've lost a lamb at 2 months old, had one stillborn (out of triplets) and lost a ewe this year a few days after delivery. We live in the country (the woods, really) and have seen bears regularly, coyotes a couple times, and there have been cougar seen every year or so that take cats or dogs.

Steve went out this morning and found Lyndsey's first choice market lamb dead, with it's stomach ripped out.  The 3 ewes and remaining lambs were huddled in the furthest corner of the field possible.  We called ODFW and the trapper and wildlife officer came out.  They determined it was a cougar and set the dogs out, with no success.  So they set two traps by the body. I moved the flock to the pen way across the orchard and moved the ram to the hillside pen beside them.

I respect the predators, and appreciate them for their services. They are a needed aspect of our world. However, we have plenty of deer around right now and it was one of the mildest winters we've had in years.  My flock is not to be considered "available" for dinner at any time.  I am keeping my fingers crossed and saying a prayer that we catch it.  I feel bad for the other sheep who are obviously panicked, and the ewe who lost her baby is crying for him.  Somehow, weaning doesn't seem as bad as having your baby killed in front of your eyes.

I will keep you posted!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Do you have a dream?

I have come to realize how I have had dreams I've never named, never allowed myself to consider. I am 50 years old, my youngest child graduates high school this year and I'm a grandmother! Am I too old to start dreaming?

I heard about this book that tells a story of how a couple started living their dream. They bought 5 acres and started, with hard work and desire, to live their dream. Maybe by reading their story, I can find my dream and follow it.

5 Acres and A Dream

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Pictures and such!

Just some pictures of what's been going on around the farm!

Met Mac (short for Big Mac) He's a pretty cute boy!


And he did figure out the bottle, yay!

 
A Pinterest hint I found.  Now I don't have to worry about setting the salt down and getting the container wet.


I love this saying!


My first attempt at t-shirt crocheting.  It ruffled and looks strange, but it captures the dog dribbles quite nicely.


A "grandma" blanket made by a friend of mine for ME! Austin gets to be wrapped in it when he comes to visit us, it's not gonna go home with him.  I love the print, it's perfect!


The new Suffolk ewe lamb we bought for the Farm Pink Breeding Flock (Lyndsey's flock). I met the lady on Facebook, through the lady in the picture below, who I met via Craigslist when I sold her a Suffolk Ram lamb 3 years ago. 
I

I can truly say that I have made some great friendships through social networks.  And it's extra special when I get to meet them.



My friend, John Silveira (think Backwoods Home) wrote this book and I was lucky enough to get to proofread it before it was published.  It's on Amazon!


And when Lyndsey bought me a copy last week and got John to sign it, I was so excited.  Then I read the "acknowledgements" and I got even more excited... woo I feel famous!

I also saw these on pinterest and am going to to make them tonight:


http://www.tablespoon.com/recipes/mini-peach-cobbler/73c0c873-13a9-4540-84ed-cf333f3f1081


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Another baby at the farm!


Not the best picture, but it was dark and I was tired... 5 day old beef bull calf.  His momma's udder and nipples were so big he never could get attached.  They've been tube-feeding him, so it will be interesting to see how long it takes to get him to take the bottle.  

Raising bottle calves has worked well for us.  We keep them until they are weaned, then send them to a friends property to be grass-fed.  1.5 years later we have healthy meat options in the fridge.  It's getting harder to find cheap beef bottle calves, we got this guy for $100 because we know the family for 4-H. Some dairy farms are getting $150 for day old dairy calves.  Beef is gonna get expensive.  We have this fall's beef almost ready for the freezer, and this guy takes care of 2015.



Sunday, March 2, 2014

Friends I hadn't met yet!

I love blogging and facebook.  I have "met" so many wonderful people through my compute tr.  It is always a wonderful experience when I can meet them in real life.  It's only happened a few times, but I come away feeling great.

3 years ago I sold a ram lamb (through a craigslist ad) to Kat, who lives about 4 hours away.  Through that sale, I friend-ed her on facebook and met another "sheep" person, Sue, who raises and sells Suffolks.

Today, Steve and I drove 4 hours to pick up a new ewe lamb for Lyndsey's breeding flock, Farm Pink.  Along with obtaining a beautiful young lamb, I got to meet Sue (from Peterson Show Lambs) and her daughter.  Kat had also driven a short distance to say hello.


Kat and I

Cupid, myself, Sue and her daughter.

Hugs were exchanged, with Steve even getting one.  (He wasn't quite sure of that).  I think it's wonderful that I can feel so close to other people who love gardening, farming, animals, and are just good people.  Michelle from Boulderneigh is on my list to visit one of these days.  Thanks for being my friends.