Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Dark Side

Warning, this is not a happy blog, but one that I need to write, a sort of therapy I guess.  I look back at all the times I would drive by a farm in Lancaster county or elsewhere, and see the animals in the field or barn and I think of what I wasn't seeing.  The death that happens so often on a farm.  Not the butchering of animals for purpose, that I am well aware of.  Not the culling of animals for breed integrity or general health concerns, that I was aware of as well.  No this is the death that comes for no reason, without warning and is the most sad.  I was aware of it on some level, but I guess I chose to ignore it's existence. I have faced it on more occasions than I care to since moving to our farm, yesterday was the hardest I think I have had. 
The day started out quite good, Psyche was due anytime and safe and snug in her pen.  Mom and I were headed off to Steam Valley Fiber Farm to get a tiny little bottle lamb named Peanut.  Peanut was a triplet lamb and not getting enough to eat, so Phylleri was bottle feeding him,  not most peoples favorite task.  I am looking to increase my sheep and he was a cutie.  So what we thought would be a quick 1 hour trip, was more like 3 hours.  We returned to the farm with Peanut, who was renamed several times on the trip home.
This is Peanut, who is now know as cupcake.
We settled on Cupcake as a name because he looks like a hostess cupcake with the creme. 
We got home and headed to the barn to check on Psyche, who we found standing over her buckling. 
This was the buckling.  Almost identical to the lamb we brought home.
The little guy was having trouble from the beginning and was quickly getting cold.  Cold will kill quicker than you think.  We got him in the house and under a heating pad, but after a lot work, we lost him.  He was a big and beautiful boy and the futility was hard to deal with.  As I said before, we have lost little ones and big ones before, but it all piled up at once.  Was there something else we could have done, was there something we shouldn't have done?  Doubt and guilt are a terrible mix.
This was after all, the second buckling that we lost from Psyche.  Last year she miscarried a month before she was due.  I had hopes this buckling would grow and be my herd sire. 
Death on a farm is always lurking around the corner, sometimes it makes sense, sometimes it doesn't.  Either way, it's never easy.
As with most things on the farm, after the dark side, the light begins to show through.  When we first arrived home, we had rubbed Psyches scent on Cupcake, in the hopes that we could let him nurse off of Psyche when she was on the stand.  Between that and her milk we had been feeding him, Psyche bonded with Cupcake with very little trouble.  At first she was confused, we had taken her kid and when we brought 'him' back something was different, lucky for us and Cupcake, she gave up trying to figure it out and on last visit to the barn, we were greeted by a protective mother and a fat and happy baby.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Spring? Is that you?

Today is Psyche's due date.  She is holding firm, no babies for her yet. 
Psyche is checking Calliope out.

Athena surprised us with a Ewe lamb last Sunday.  She had her without any assistance and by the time we discovered her, she was up, dry and had a full belly.  Athena is overdue for shearing, so we weren't sure how big she was getting.  She is still small car size.
Cuter than cute!

Athena is anxiously waiting for the day the shearer comes again. 
Oscar thinks he got a box full of snacks in the mail today.
'Iowa? What could be coming from Iowa?  It sure sounds like it's mine!'
'OOOOH it is full of goodies!'
Murray McMurray delivers.  We decided to get our chicks a little early this year so they will be laying mid summer.

It's a tea cup Light Brahma!

'Looks, I got fuzzy legs'

Cup o' chicken

'I will love her and squeeze her and call her my own'

Pickles and Petunia, still turning over the field.  They are great rock finders!

Despite the chilly weather, the goats are happy there hasn't been much snow.  They just don't understand why there isn't any good green stuff to eat.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Above 40 degrees.

To say we have enjoyed a mild winter this year is to  put it lightly.  The farm critters are certainly enjoying the mild winter as well.  40 degrees seems almost tropical and everyone is eager to get out and get some fresh air.
Pippy aka Quack Quack had a near death experience at the beak and claws of one of our turkeys.  Several months in the ICU (laundry room) and he is ready to rejoin duck society.  

When Nano talks, everyone listens. 

Everyone leaves the barn today.

Psyche is less than a month away from delivery.  I am thinking a single again.

She hides it very well.

Pearl is a little reluctant to leave the barn.

The pigs are very happy to be outside.  Thank goodness for electric fencing!

It amazes me that the goats can find anything to graze on, but there must be something there.

Time to walk the plank and head for higher ground. 

One chickens scrap bucket is.......

another Turkey's object of affection.

Hercules does a dance....

A little wing flapping....

and a little foot stomping, but to no avail.  No romance today.

Cricket blends well with her surroundings.  Once a house cat, now a porch cat.