Today was a great day to play in the winter wonderland. It wasn't quite as cold as it has been the past few days, but still cold enough. It looked like we had at least 6 inches of snow on top of the hill. Callie loved it! She happily romped and ran and jumped all around. Jako, on the other hand, was not so impressed. He acted like he could barely walk in the snow and came to me whining to be picked up. His favorite part was snuggling down under my jacket. The little pond by the camp site was completely frozen, enough that we could walk across it. Of course its small and not very deep. After feeding the sheep and breaking the ice, we enjoyed a gater ride through the fields and the woods, scaring up a few deer, and admiring the scenery.
After it was all done, Callie was covered with snow balls and had to get a good home grooming. Jako was just happy to be home in his warm(ish) house for a nap.
A lot happened in 2013, and I have a feeling 2014 is going to be even busier. There are several things on the 'to do' list this year. The list is not necessarily in chronological or priority order.
1) Build a house and move in before Christmas 2014
2) Build a goat barn.
3) Move the chicken coop away from the house building site.
4) New chicks - expected to arrive late February. Join 4 H again and do market chickens
5) Lambing expected in Mid March. Learn from 2013 mistakes and keep as many alive as possible. Learn more about lamb market.
6) Clean up some briars and brush.
7) Add some permanent fencing if possible.
8) Grow a garden
9) Plant more blueberries and a few fruit trees
10) Milk my goat (if she is pregnant this time - still waiting and hoping. Her belly is getting pretty round)
Meet Jako, the Texas Heeler - AKA half Australian Shepherd and half Blue Heeler. He was 5 weeks old when he came to live with us last week. He is so tiny and barely weaned, so we have supplemented him with milk. Its like having a newborn baby in the house again (so much for a full night's sleep). Today, he made his first trip to the farm to meet the animals. It won't be long until he is herding them around the field.
At the end of August, my house in Applewood was sold. Moving from our comfortable home into a small rental that required selling and storing our belongings was one of the more stressful things I have done. But, now that the house was sold I could begin trying to figure out what to do next.
Things are beginning to fall into place on the farm. We adopted 3 cats (see 9/17 post) for mouse patrol. They are growing well and continue to be healthy and are learning to do their job. Yeller caught a small field mouse a few days ago, brought it in to show us and then and ate it. I was so proud! The girls were watching, so now they know what to do, too.
On October 20 the ewes were moved back on the hill with the ram. They all seem happy and it looks like Rambo did his job, because bellies are growing noticeably on several of the yearlings. I don't see evidence in the spring lambs, but they aren't a year old yet so if it doesn't happen for them this year I'm ok with that. By my calculations, we may see lambs after March 14.
In preparation for winter, and for a future house, a lot of dirt work followed by gravel took place. It wasn't cheap, but it was necessary and things are looking better. Now just have to live through the mud this winter until we can get some good grass growing. There will be a lot more mud to come when they start digging for a basement, etc.
We put up the portable garage for hay storage (December post). So far its working out great.
Finally, in December, Carmen moved home and enrolled at MU. I am so proud of her and happy to have her here with me :-). I don't know how much farming she will do, but hopefully she will learn some new things and enjoy it.
Summer 2013 was filled with gardening, acquiring dogs and goats, raising and showing 4 H chickens, and struggling to keep lambs alive.
Baby lamb improved from her injuries, then died unexpectedly from unknown causes. We learned to trim sheep and goat hooves, and were certified in FAMACHA by our favorite vet. We learned the hard way about the barber pole worm and the importance of prevention and pasture rotation. In spite of agressive deworming, we lost Powder, one of the bottle lambs. She aquired bottle jaw from anemia due to resistant parasites.
Connor joined 4 H and raised 10 cornish cross chicks. He was the proud winner of first place in his class, and 4th overall. The remaining chickens from the project were processed and placed in our freezer. In August, our other chickens began gifting us with beautiful brown, blue and pink eggs, some of which are sold at the Wild Ramp.
Ember, the sweet nubian doe also arrived in August, followed by Kobalt the mini nubian buckling.
Our garden produced many tomatos (which were canned) peppers (lots of pepper jelly made), squash, green beans, radishes and onions. The racoons stole all the corn, so we didnt get a single ear.
March ended with the construction of a one acre fenced area on the hill using t posts and goat panel. My neice and Carmen were great little helpers.
Then came April. April was a busy month and full of many hard lessons.
On April 1, the sheep were delivered. We now had 13 in all. There was 1- red yearling ram, 1- 7 year old ewe we named 'old nag'. She was clearly the matriarch of the herd. 5 yearling ewes, and 6 lambs, including the bottle babies. We had to separate the ram from the ewes to prevent unwanted breeding, so poor Primrose became his companion in a separate fenced area. She was not very happy about the situation but tolerated it quietly. The bottle lambs, Powder and Puff, were now weaned, so they joined the rest of the herd. They kept to themselves at first, not realizing they were sheep, but soon integrated themselves into the herd.
Alita soon after came home from the breeder. She was a little thin and disheveled and probably surprised and disappointed to find new inhabitants on her farm. She had been through a lot of change in a short period of time. We didnt know if the breeding took but we were hopeful.
The next order of business was finishing the coop. The chickens were 8-10 weeks old and it was time to get them to the farm. Everything in the garage was coverered from top to bottom with a layer of dust. Not very conducive to selling a house! Connor recruited a few friends and soon the work was done.
On April 13, the first birth of Tangle Ridge Farm took place. To our surprise, one of the yearling ewes was pregnant. Odly when she gave birth, her rear was backed up to the electric fence, and the little lamb popped out on the other side. I saw something weird happening, and went over to see. There was baby, wet and struggling to stand trying to get to her mom. Baby Mama was making motherly sounds anxiously trying to get to her. I quickly picked up the lamb we called 'baby' and put her with her mama. Mama took right to cleaning, and baby started nursing. After the excitement and thinking all was well, we decided to leave for a little while to get some dinner. On our way back, one of the neighbors called on the cell phone. A lady and her son had driven by and saw 2 dogs inside the fence fighting over the lamb. It was my Great pyrenees trying to protect the lamb from a neighbor's Great Pyrenees who had decided he wanted the lamb for himself. The drivers stopped and chased the neighbor's dog away, but the lamb was injured. When we arrived, the little lamb was alive, but its legs were scraped and bleeding. We helped her stand to nurse and cleaned her wounds. For several weeks after, we spent a lot of time medicating and encouraging the lamb to nurse in hope that she would live.
April 14, the chicks left the garage and entered their new chicken coop. Happy Day! No more critters in the garage and I could finally clean it.
April 16 started construction of the pole barn/ garage. First it was framed, then concrete floor poured, and finally the walls were finished on May 6.
Meanwhile, the chicks were adapting to their new home. In the garage, they had been separated into 2 brooders, one with Easter Eggers, 2 weeks younger than the Welsummers in the other brooder. The welsummers decided to peck at the easter eggers, plucking out feathers from their backs. One hen didnt make it. I called on a neighbor for help. She gave us some good advice - increase protein in their feed, treat the pecked chickens with blue kote spray, and give them some more room to roam. We followed her advice and eventually all was well and without losing any more chickens to henhouse bullying. The more I learn, the more I realilze I have a lot to learn!
The major event of March was removal of the old trailer. We were getting to know our neighbors and finding many of them were very resourceful. One hauled trailers, among many other things, and knew a guy who needed an old trailer. Even though we had put some work into it and it had served a purpose for several months, we felt that it was best to have it removed from the property. The best part was, it didnt cost me anything to have it hauled away.
On February 12, the postmaster called at 6:30 am. "You have a peeping box waiting for you over here" he said. My chicks had arrived! Large cardboard boxes were prepared with pine shavings, chick feeders and waterers, a warming light and thermometer. It was an amazing surprise to see all those little chicks packed together in a small box. We had 18 Welsummers, and 16 Easter Eggers. We took them out one by one putting the chick's beak in the water, teaching her to drink. The chicks stayed in the sunroom in their cardboard brooders for about 2 weeks until they were making too much dust. After that, they went to the garage in larger brooders made of OSB with hanging feeders and waterers until mid April when they were about 8 weeks old.
As if that weren't enough, a young farmer "gave" us 2 bottle lambs on February 20. We had started investigating sheep, and decided to purchase a small herd of Katahdins. He happened to have 2 orphans in need of bottle feeding. They also lived in the garage for a few weeks. I'm sure my neighbors thought I had lost my mind (im not sure that I hadn't) especially when the lambs escaped and we chased them through the front yard and into the front door.
It was a busy couple of months. After that, the garage was bleached and scrubbed from top to bottom, and a vow was made to never bring livestock into (this) house again.
By Fall of 2012, the mobile home was vacated. Unsure what to do with it and still needing shelter and storage, we decided to make the best of what we had. We gutted everything out of the trailer including carpet, kitchen cabinets, etc. and put OSB over the holes in the floor. At least there was electric and running water. During these months, I did a lot of research and reading, and started working on a business plan for the farm. With no infrastructure, it made sense to investigate USDA programs and requirements. I discovered that in order to apply for programs such as fencing, water, etc., the farm must have lifestock. All I had were 4 ferrel cats. Goats seemed to be fitting for the farm (hilly and plenty of browse) so I started researching goat breeds and goat care. We began preparing a small goat shed on the back of the trailer, and put up some some cattle panel as temporary fencing. Once that was done, it was time to start searching for a goat. On craig'slist, I found a trio of animals located in Athens, OH that looked promising. There was a miniature-nubian goat doe (half nigerian dwarf and half Nubian) named Alita, a Dorper ewe (we named Julia), and a Jenny Donkey named Primrose. Carmen was in school there, so we went to see the animals during one of our trips. Of course Carmen fell instantly in love, especially with Primrose. Primrose is a sweet gentle donkey who loves to be petted and brushed. She also loves treats and is very fat. If you are standing in her yard, she will get as close as she can to you and lean her body against yours. Alita is the mischevious (and greedy) one. She was almost 2 years old and had never had a successful breeding. I later found a breeder of mini-nubians in Northern OH and took her there for about 2 months hoping to breed her, but this attempt was unsuccessful.
Julia the dorper was the shy one. Having her stimulated research about sheep, and the herd that came later.
Tonight's dinner was lamb chops with a red wine and portabella mushroom sauce. Spices were fresh rosemary and thyme.
My name is Christy Franklin.