Monday, June 30, 2014

South to Kentucky!

This past weekend I had the big fun of taking another group of lambs to Equinox Farm in Kentucky to be friends for Baaxter.  Julie went with me and we transported four - three to be Baaxter's adopted brothers and one to be a future breeding ram for another farm.

We stopped five times in total between needing gas, having lunch, bathroom and stretching breaks.  The trip took almost twelve hours due to construction, detours and congestion in Columbus and Cincinnati.  Even though I was clipping along above 70 mph in most places I've become convinced that the state of Ohio becomes freakishly big when driven diagonally and actually expands as you're driving.  The lambs rode really well though, seeming competely unconcerned about the change of surroundings.

"Hey, is that a '57 Chevy??"

"Lemme get this gate open so I can go get a better look"
We finally arrived and we were all greeted by Auntie Reg with bandanas including the lambs.  It was like going to Hawaii and having leis put on you when you stepped off the plane.  :-)
The lambs were fine with it and settled down in front of the fan pretty quickly.
The New York band of desperados.
It was hot.  So hot that Blossom sort of melted.

The smallest boy is a triplet and I think he started to realize none of his family was there so he buddied up to the gray lamb even though it was so hot they were puffing a little. 

Burrnie has gotten big! 
And friendly!  :-)
"Have you any Nillas?  I would dearly love a Nilla!"
Baaxter was more interested in being with mom and maybe begging a bottle than joining in with the lambs.  After all, they are just farm critters whereas he is a house sheep.  But he didn't know he had gotten too big to live in the kitchen any longer and Things Were About to Change.
He spent a little time thinking about the new turn of events in his "fort".
But it's hard to sulk when your new brother comes and wants to play in your fort too.
"All right, you can play under here too but the big Lego is MINE!"
Boys.  They'll be punching each other on the arm and giving noogies in no time.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Start and Stop

We've finally made a start on our hay crop for the year.  The big rams are fenced out of the largest part of their pasture during spring and we let it grow so as to take it off for hay.  The weather has been so cool and wet that we couldn't even think about it until now.  

Andy got it all on five wagons so we don't have to rush to take one off to finish - about 545 bales.... less than a tenth of what we'll need.  It's always good to see large quantities of hay ready to bale but having to stop and unload one or two in order to finish is taxing.

This field will regrow pretty quickly with the rain that we've just had and by the time the ram lambs move up here there will be lots of nice fresh forage for them.

The day after this was baled we went back into a wet pattern although it was still warm.  I locked the sheep out so they'd get the barn grime off and also not track wet and mud into the bedding more than necessary.  When Andy did let them it they made a soggy parade coming up from the pasture.

Here's hoping the weather changes back again soon.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Festival Time

But not a fiber festival.  This time it's the Strawberry Festival - the 135th - at the Canadice United Methodist Church.  This is the church I grew up attending.

This is the view from the family plot in the cemetary.  You can just barely see a glimpse of Honeoye Lake over the trees.  You used to be able to see it a lot better but they've grown.  I like that there are cows right next to the cemetary lawn.  Mom and dad were ahead of their time in that they chose to buy a headstone way before they thought they'd need it and have it set on their plot so it would be done.  People weren't exactly scandalized but they were a bit bewildered.  Then in a couple of years someone else followed suit and now there are several headstones already in place, waiting for the day they're needed.  Dad said mom mostly wanted an excuse to go shopping ;-)

My dad used to take great satisfaction (and wry amusement) from standing in the middle of the church and looking out a west window and seeing the house he was born in and then, without moving, looking out an east window and seeing his headstone in the cemetary.  Quite the allegory there. 

The Strawberry Festival is the one church event I always work at.  It doesn't feel like work to feed happy people and see friends you don't see very often. The church used to put on more dinners as fund raisers but they have been dropped as the years went by largely because putting these events on is awfully taxing especially to older members.  There was the roast beef dinner, the pancake supper, spaghetti supper, oyster supper, chicken barbeque and more.  The Strawberry Festival is "family style" meaning you sit and people bring you bowls of food until you're full.  We don't bill it as 'all you can eat' but that's basically what it is.  The menu is sliced ham, potato salad (made from scratch), copper penny carrots (scratch), baked beans (scratch), pickles, rolls, chili sauce (scratch) and coffee or lemonade.  The dessert is strawberry shortcake.  The biscuit is made from scratch and the berries are hulled, chopped and sugared at the church in the morning.  Much of the prep work is done in the church's kitchen in the days prior to the festival, such as baking all the shortcake biscuits.  Potatos are cooked and chopped along with onions and celery in members' homes and brought to the church for assembly into salad.  Other items like the baked beans are done in peoples' homes and brought in the afternoon.

The basement did not exist originally. Dinners used to be served on the third floor and the food was sent up on a dumbwaiter from the kitchen at the back of the church.  The building was hoisted in the early 1950s and a basement dug, foundation laid and then interior finished.  The kitchen was laid out following the recommendations from Cornell Cooperative Extension for ease and efficiency of use.  Ten banquet tables can be set for attendees while the sinks, stoves, cupboards, serving island, etc are off to the side.  A few years ago an anonymous donor paid for the installation of a small elevator so that people in wheelchairs or other mobility problems could get up and down without problems.

The younger folks set and bus the tables, the more seasoned members run the kitchen and handle the food and sit-down jobs are saved for those who most need to be sitting while working.  There is a large bake sale upstairs manned by people who work best off their feet.  When I was a girl I served coffee and lemonade to the tables, mom worked the serving island and dad washed dishes.  His hands were never so clean all year as the evening of the festival after having been in soapy water for six hours.  Besides all the prep work and actual serving of the meals, the whole endeavor has to be cleaned up and put away at the end of the day.   It used to be quite a mark of fortitude to work the festival and then show up at church the next morning.

We served just over 300 people plus packed up about 50 take out meals plus all the workers ate when the serving hours were over.  Ten years ago on the occasion of the 125th festival we had quite a write-up in the newspaper the day before and served over 600 that day!  We've had a lot of 'loaves and fishes' moments but have only really run out of a particular menu item once or twice.

There were some leftovers this year, so I don't have to wonder what I'm making for lunch
tomorrow ;-)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Pretty Posies

June is a great month.  Everything that's supposed to be green has become so.  It's finally warm, at least in the middle of the day with the sun shining.  Birds are calling - all kinds of birds, all day long.  Fireflies glitter in the tall grass at dark.  The days are long and the light that lingers well after evening chores makes me sure that tomorrow I can Get Things Done.  I think one of the best parts is the flowers.  Real flowers, that bloom naturally and would bloom whether we all lived or died.  Spring bulbs massed in beds and such are wonderful for showing us that color does still exist even after a horrible long winter, but they tend to fade quickly on a warm day.  I like the tough country flowers that can stand up to getting trod upon, driven through, maybe mowed over or grazed on and keep blooming.

Big drifts of buttercups.....

Cheerful daisies..........

Complicated birdsfoot trefoil..........

Delicate little I-don't-know-what that grows in patches in the pastures.........

We've had some pretty good rains this spring but we were happy to have this miss us the other night.  I heard there was a lot of hail just five miles away.

I have a group of yearling Cotswold ewes who are making use of greenery growing in some hard to mow waste places around the upper barn.

Tomorrow is the longest day of the year and I plan to enjoy every (hopefully sunny) minute of it.  I don't even want to contemplate that the celestial pendulum will now swing us back toward cold and dark.  I'm going to bloom while the bloomin's good!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Ivan Takes A Beating

Poor old Ivan.  He's pushing 18 with a short stick but has been still perky and active.  I've noticed a bit more unsteadiness when he walks the edges of the sheep pens, a bit less ability to jump up from floor to the pen rails but he's always ready for a meal and has been going into the pasture behind the barn on sunny days to stalk around and do cat things.  Yesterday morning he wasn't on hand at chore time.  Very odd.  I did a quick look around in case he was sleeping and didn't hear us come in.  He's getting kind of deaf, too.  Holly located him under the sheep feeder.  There's a gap on the outside of the feeder where a cat can creep through and be safe and hidden.  Uh-oh.  Something's definately wrong. 

A gentle exam at the vet's office confirmed what I had found - he was very very sore along the backbone and ribs.  There was no hindquarter involvement and he could walk and switch his tail OK but soooo sore.  Our guess is that he lost his footing and fell into the sheep pens - maybe on top of a resting sheep - and got trampled.  I'm sure the sheep wouldn't try to butt him or step on him on purpose, but leaping up startled.....  Or, it's possible he simply fell badly and broke a rib by himself.  Either way, he was in a lot of pain and could barely creep around.  Considering his age and heart murmur and thyroid issues we decided to do the most helpful and least invasive treatment so they gave him a hefty dose of dexamethazone (steroid for inflammation) and he's on strict cage rest in the wool shop.  If an animal hasn't given up on themselves we try not to give up on them either.

"I'm in a cage, but I'm sitting on carpet with a food bowl in paw's reach.  Meh.  It could be worse."
His appetite is good and he's using the litter pan so I'm taking it as a good sign.
"This must be that magical tasty canned food I've heard of."
"Could you warm it up a little or something?"
"Old age ain't no place for sissies". - Bette Davis
Or old cats.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Night Visitor

Last night at the bedtime barn check everyone was quiet and bedded down in the barn, lambs sitting with moms or friends - all peaceful.  Then I saw something flitting around one of the lights and thought it was a big bat which would be fine by me but it wasn't flying properly..... it was a moth!  We always leave one light on in the barn as a nightlight and I knew he'd be bumbling around it after I left - not a good scenario with six cats in the barn.  Sure enough, Clem jumped up on a partition to get a closer look and startled some of the sheep into leaping up.  We sure didn't need that going on besides the fact that the moth would probably be caught and destroyed.  Thankfully, he lit on a post where I could catch him and take him outside where the barn light wasn't in view.  Here it is on my hand in the light of my flashlight.

I looked it up and she's a Promethea Silkmoth.  After taking the picture I picked up the flashlight and she fluttered up into the darkness.  Turns out she didn't go far. 

Here she sat on the peak of the porch gable all night and all today.  I was afraid some bird would come and pick her off but she was still there when we came in from evening chores.  I hope tonight she goes on about her mothy life and is able to start another generation.  Seeing these big lovelies is a real treat for me and certainly embodies a warm June night.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Sunday Stills Challenge: In the Air

For this week we are looking for things...... in the air. If its not connected to earth it will work..:-)

This helicopter was very busy over our farm in June of 2007 when the gas company was using seismic surveys to determine the best places to drill for natural gas.  This 'copter flew all over ferrying bundles of cables and dropping them into inaccessible places for the ground crews to use.  I don't know what this kind of helicoper is called but notice that there is no tail rotor but there are two sets of overhead rotors which spun counter to each other (and timed so they didn't hit each other!) which stabilized the machine and kept it from spinning in flight.  The machine is also very narrow - just wide enough for the pilot and some instruments.

Here's a better picture of it grounded showing off the twin upper rotors.

We really enjoyed watching him buzz around!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Morning Commute

Heading off to "work" after the kids have breakfast.  Constant narration provided by a few grade schoolers who missed the bus!

Not so bad when the weather is good and the traffic thins out quickly ;-)