Sunday, August 31, 2014

Silly Bird

Yes, this is a Shetland ewe examining a Pearl Leghorn pullet (young female chicken) who just happens to be in my egg bucket & on the way to the house. I came out to do my usual egg collecting when I heard one of the young pullets carrying on outside the back door of the old barn. I opened the door to discover the noisy bird perched on the edge of the water trough. It was squawking at the other bird who was barely keeping her head above water by standing on the small ledge inside the water trough. She was soaked from about the shoulders down. Her wings were spread out on top of the water but were beginning to weigh her down as they were getting wet. I pulled her out of the water, tucked her under my arm & went about my egg gathering. I set her down in the sunlight hoping that would help to dry her. Her friend went on about her business as soon as I pulled her out of the water. I gathered almost a full bucket of eggs & checked on the little one again. Even though it is a warm day, she was shivering. I decided I needed to take her into the house & dry her off well. As I walked across the barn yard, a few of the sheep came up to see what I was carrying. They often glance in my egg bucket but as soon as they realize that the bucket contains only eggs they usually walk away. This time my bucket was a lot more interesting. A few of the sheep stopped to nuzzle the pullet as I walked through their pasture.

Now, those of you who know me probably would guess that I am not a blow dryer type of gal. I wash my hair each morning in the shower & then let nature take its course. But we do keep a blow dryer because you never know when a lamb will be born on a cold night or a silly chicken will decide to fall in a water trough. I plugged it in & began to systematically dry the little bird from head to tail. I lifted her wings & heated her chilly skin. In a matter of minutes she was dry & looking a lot better. She will stay in the bathroom for a little longer until I am ready to gather another bucket of eggs but at this point it looks like all will be good.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

This Is Why

1) I always carry a knife in my pocket when I am at home. I never know who will need rescued. I used to always carry a knife in my pocket, period. But I often go into schools as artist in residence & coming in fitting their definition of armed & dangerous is frowned upon. I also have a good pair of scissors hanging on a nail in just about every building on the farm. You just never know. I even keep a tiny pair of stainless surgical shears for cutting little shreds of baling twine out from between the toes of chickens.

2) I walk the farm frequently throughout the day. This silly girl had only just gotten herself wrapped up in a mess of baling twine while sampling a new round bale that was not supposed to be eaten quite yet. She had not yet realized that she was going to be in trouble so had not started to struggle & pull at the twine that was still attached to a 750+ pound bale of hay.

3) We spend lots of hands-on time with our animals so that they do not panic when we do have to work with them. Many, in fact, will come running to us when they can or at least call out to us when they have a problem. I know it sounds hard to believe but it happens frequently enough that I know it is not just a coincidence.

It took me just a moment to pull my knife out of my pocket, cut a few wraps of baling twine, look the gal over to be sure nothing was still wrapped around a hoof or ear & then let her go on about her day. I also trimmed up the remaining bits of baling twine dangling from where she'd gotten into trouble.

Years ago we sat in on a lecture with a goat expert who started his presentation by stating that a goat gets up every morning & the first thought that goes through its little goat head is, "How can I kill myself today?". I don't think sheep are as intentional as our goats when it comes to getting themselves into trouble but that certainly doesn't mean they don't find plenty of ways to do it. Which is why we take this shepherding business quite seriously!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


We've been occupied with babies lately. We're up to 13 lambs as of just an hour ago. Here is the very latest little one. It is cool & rainy here this morning so she was a colorful little addition to the dreary day.
I actually noticed her because Regina, our oldest Anatolian Shepherd, was down at the edge of the pasture snooping at something. I couldn't see what was going on because of the drop of the hill in the pasture but I knew there was something I needed to investigate as Regina did not come up to the top of the pasture to greet me when I walked through the gate & down the hill. She is a good dog & quite pretty as well.
Once Regina realized that I was coming all the way down to where she was working she came to join me. I did have a chance to watch as she calmly helped the ewe clean her lamb. This old ewe was not at all disturbed by Regina & was licking on one end of the lamb while Regina gently licked at the other end. The lamb was trying to lift its little head but was being held down by all that licking. Once Regina came up & sat with me, the little one lifted its head & worked itself up to standing. It was poking around trying to find mama's udder while mama was still working to free it from the rest of its birthing mess. I decided to give the two of them a little more quality time together before moving them into the stable. I took Regina with me as I figured she'd helped quite enough. I went on to gather eggs while Regina parked herself up on the stable porch to oversee all the lambs in the barnyard. They are just going about their normal business on a cloudy day.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Just Working

The dog in the background is Baloo. He's just having a normal day at work. He is 3/4 Great Pyrenees & 1/4 Kangal & comes from good working stock.

We adopted Baloo from a goat farmer in North Carolina several years ago. He was a young dog & part of a litter that were much more accustomed to living with their goats than engaging with people. In order for us to purchase Baloo, the owner had to put feed out & jump on the dog that we'd pointed out to him. The big white furball did not want to be held but we just knew he would be a special dog. We loaded him into a kennel in the back of the car & headed for home. It was a fairly long drive so we stopped for a quick bite to eat. We got Baloo a plain hamburger & placed it in his kennel. When we got home the food was still on his kennel floor & he was laying silently next to it. He was too anxious even to eat. He needed to learn to trust us.

He spent the first few days with us in the house. He gradually warmed up & now is a friendly & loyal dog who does his job well. Although he can wander most of the farm, this time of year the best place to find him is near a lamb. He has his priorities well in order & we just adore him.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Really? How peculiar.

I was on my way to the back to gather eggs & noticed that another piece of one of the old pines had fallen. That happens regularly with the older trees, especially when the woodpeckers have been working at them. I hear the woodpeckers having a great time out there on a daily basis. Something about this hunk of branch caught my eye.
The first thing that crossed my mind was, "Oops, I think someone had best notify OSHA as it seems we've had a work related mishap." I looked a little closer.
These were not woodpecker colored feathers. I figured I might as well pull out whatever was inside. The hole was a little bigger around than a silver dollar & the bird was carefully wedged in. Here is what I found.
From the looks of it, the bird had been attacked on the neck, killed & shoved into the hole. I am suspecting it is the work of a squirrel. Squirrels are nothing more than fancy rats & we have had rats drag off newly hatched chicks & shove them into their rat holes. I believe a squirrel was probably storing this little catch for later in the same fashion that it would bury acorns. And the secret stash just happened to be in the rotten end of the tree branch. I guess that whole circle of life thing can make for an interesting little blog post.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Dogs In Snow

It is hard to believe that we had a 3 day snow & sleet episode last week as our temperature was 75 yesterday. I went back & pulled out my favorite pictures of the dogs in the snow. Again, no explanation needed - just browse on through.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Some Interesting Weather

We had our second snow episode in the Upstate last week. We were fortunate to only get snow & sleet followed by a small earthquake on Friday night. We never even lost power so I spent most of the down time having fun taking pictures which I will simply share with you. They pretty well speak for themselves.