Time to get back down to the barn....in the sunshine under a beautiful blue sky. Take care, keep safe ( and stay downwind of smelly rams) M
It REALLY shouldn't happen to a ram !!! Barney the bovine had a BAD hygiene problem. Clearly, "taking care" of his harem has resulted in him not taking care of his butt and not taking care of his big woolley butt resulted in a big mucky mess. Even Bran the over enthusiastic Border Collie hesitated to get too close to Barney's butt, the "ladies" already heavily pregnant were no longer considering the Barney aroma hypnotic and we (wisely) ensured that there was always a healthy air space between us and Barney's butt. Barney, to put it simply.....STANK !! Historically.....Greg has the ideas.....and somehow makes it all work. Not considered to be his best idea...(in fact, bearing in mind Barney's putrid stench, it was widely considered to be bordering on insanity) Greg elected to "trim" and "wash up" Barney's odorous, black tar covered butt and associated dangly "bits". I guess it goes without saying and, if I was a gambling woman I possibly would have bet on Barney's response but....Greg had spoken and once Greg has made up his mind, it WILL happen, come Hell or high water.....Barney was unsurprisingly, less than impressed and initially not unprepared to challenge Greg's executive decision. After foolishly accepting a proffered peanut bribe, he even more foolishly followed the peanut trail into the noose of Greg's lasso and belatedly, recognizing the error of his ways threw a Barney sized tantrum. Rearing when a majority of your weight is in the procreating zone which is, incidentally under the smelly tail zone isn't too smart...but no one ever said Barney was that smart...right ? Barney the smelly ram toppled over backwards and after three dizzy circuits of Greg, surrendered to whatever was his fate. Enter stage left, Erin and son James as the support crew.....though no one really knew what or even how they were going to render support, even more critical, no one really wanted to get too close to Barney's butt. Greg apparently had the better end, (literally) of the deal, being on the far end of a long rope... not so for our hapless volunteers who were assigned the task of pushing (using whatever means worked) the phooey, gooey, nasty end in the direction of the waiting sheep squeeze. Fortunately for all (Barney included) the beleaguered ram apparently had a sudden change of attitude, the brakes were off and obstinacy was replaced by compliance as the 200lb poop ball trotted into the squeeze and calmly chomped down a bucket of peanuts professionally popped into his waiting mouth by James whilst Greg scalped his butt with an alarmingly evil looking set of sheep shears. It wasn't until Barney's" butt cut" resembled a bad buzz cut and the offending mountain of yucky wool piled up under his tail that Greg turned his attention to the waiting pressure washer and the hapless ram was forced to endure a quick butt wash before he was released with his newly hygienic nether regions bare to the elements. Poor Barney, it REALLY shouldn't happen to a ram. Our thanks (as always) to the intrepid twosome, Erin and James who, in the short time they have been with us have been party to many of our ranch shenanigans.
Time to get back down to the barn....in the sunshine under a beautiful blue sky. Take care, keep safe ( and stay downwind of smelly rams) M
They aren't very big....in fact, they are pretty small, they have tightly curled woolley coats that look for all the world like they spent too long in the hot tumble dryer, big ears and snubby noses, they aren't very big...but boy.....they are noisy !!! Baby Doll was the proud momma of a set of twins, two little cotton wool balls on two sets of unsteady, fuzzy legs. Two little mouths searching for a warm flowing milky bar, two new lives and a successful start to our 2015 breeding program (programme, Brit speak). Chance and Alice the two Katahdin ewes are beginning to look like over inflated balloons....udders stretched to bursting and tummies as broad as battleships, clearly, it wont be long...but we are familiar enough with this waiting game to know that mother nature can't be hurried and we watch and wait....impatiently.
It's a very long way up !!!....as the evening shadows lengthened, Greg dusted off Quest's saddle and bridle. It has been quite some time since our big guy had a saddle on his back and it wasn't without a few misgivings and a fervent prayer that I found myself heading out of the barnyard looking between two very attentive ears and hoping for an uneventful ride. Fortunately Erin, astride the older, "been there, done that" bay was there to share our adventure and as the geese splashed and squabbled, the sky turned red and the sun set behind the cedar trees, Quest and Ky wended their way through the forest. Just the sound of horses calling from the barn, leaves crunching under hooves and the creak of leather broke the silence as the two horses turned for home, two friends, two horses, a beautiful sunset and Nature in all her Winter glory. Thank you Erin, we had fun.
Greg and James have been busy doing "man stuff".....I guess, from a female point of view, that can be easily broken down into making, breaking and burning ! Together they have constructed bonding pens big enough to serve as nurseries for our ample sized ewes and their offspring, they have dismantled anything and everything that no longer served a purpose and wisps of grey smoke have curled over the barns as red and orange flames consumed branches logs and brush on cold Winter afternoons, watched over by an attentive Jim and mentor Greg.
With Spring just around the corner, lambs being born and the trees beginning to leaf and blossom, our thoughts have turned to weeding and planting. Matt, Greg's son and grandsons, Brennon and Cammeron came for the day and the sound of the rototiller and happy children's voices echoed around the farm as the old chicken coop was transformed into the new, deer proof (we hope) garden. The boys are rapidly growing from children into young men. We cherish the time we are able to spend with them before the speed of life take them into adulthood and hope that they will always remember their days down on the farm with us. We have had an exceptionally mild Winter and are anxious that the month of March will bring retribution in the form of snow ice and winds.....the daffodils are flowering, snowdrops line the hill side and purple crocus are scattered amongst the blue bells in the garden...the plum and cherry trees are blossoming but...it is all too early ! I for one have not discarded my Winter woolies and when Jack Frost once again calls on the Pacific North West...I'll be ready.
Time to call it a day. Take care, keep safe, M
I love a challenge !!! I hasten to explain....This Valentine's Day was extra special. No, we didn't make it out to Wendy's for "dinner" and Greg didn't go to "Jared's " to buy me a costly bauble....we travelled back through the mists of time, we listened to the lilting tones of the piano, flute violin and guitar wafting through the air and joined a wonderful group of friends who have so graciously included us in their festivities over the past few years. So...the challenge ? Down in the cedar barns, I scoop poop on a daily basis..copious amounts of freshly deposited mounds of steamy horse, cow sheep and chicken poop finds it way into my wheel barrow. We spend our days wrestling sheep, picking hooves and getting pooped on by irritable chickens, we weed, mow, dig holes and fill them in. Our life isn't glamorous...fashion is dictated by whatever MJ (Fox 13 weather guru) predicts, rain snow wind or sunshine. Rubber boots have replaced fancy shoes in my closet and the curling wand and the magical heated rollers are gathering dust in a forgotten drawer. "How long will it take you to get ready" Greg asked...clearly preparing to duck at the missile he expected to be my quick response! Standing in front of a bundle of fluffy petticoats and my gown draped over a coat hanger the thought crossed my mind....maybe I should have checked that it still fits ? The aroma of cinnamon spiced apple pies filled the kitchen, Greg busied himself preparing the whipped cream according to the detailed instructions I had left him (which, incidentally he didn't follow). I tripped around the house in my linen lace trimmed pantaloons whilst pulling uninvited strands of hay from my hair wondering in what safe place I had put my lace up "dancing boots". A quick check in the bathroom mirror and a prayer went to Heaven for a miracle....clearly Charm the Golden Palomino had planted a muddy kiss on my cheek , Quest our big Shire gelding had bestowed a green grassy stain over the end of my nose and my hair had very unkindly frizzed apparently beyond redemption. In the kitchen, Greg was watching the clock and I still hadn't found my boots...things didn't look good. Thirty minutes later and I was sitting in the truck with a demijohn of Gentle Giant's House home grown...well fertilized Chateau 2014 raspberry wine cradled in my arms and nestled among the yards of lilac and black satin and stiff petticoats. A quick call in to wish a very special lady in my life a happy birthday and my carriage whisked me off to the ball.
It has to be said that Cinderella may have made it to the ball...but it will NEVER be said that I can dance. The members of Fort Nisqually Living History Museum welcomed us as family, "Silkie on the Sound" were wonderful, Karen tried SO hard to call the dances and help me out, the other dancers bobbed and weaved as I turned left instead of right.... up instead of down and singlehandedly created total havoc and confusion on the dance floor. My theory is...I'm so busy working out what the next step is, I forget what I am doing.. but I had so much fun.
The Fort Nisqually family were so kind...I don't think I broke any toes and I think I know that we had a night to remember from the moment we entered the hall. Every era was represented from Regency to the swinging 20's, beautiful gowns, vivid colors, period dances and the magical music of Silkie on the Sound. Yes, it was a challenge....but it WAS SO WORTH IT !! incidentally.....I did make the transformation in 30 minutes (ish).
Take care, keep safe, M
It's READY..... STEADY....NEARLY !!! down on the ranch. In the sheep barn, the heavily expectant ewes jostle and barge their bulky bodies around the feed mangers. Dangling udders are enlarging daily and as the hours tick over, the "ladies" are moving more slowly as Mother Nature puts the finishing touch on their unborn lambs. Mr. Barney the ram doesn't know it yet, but his man cave is ready and he will soon be resuming his celibate existence on the other side of the barnyard, far from his woolly harem and lusty temptation until next Autumn when the leaves are changing from green to red to gold and the cold winds blow through naked branches. I hope we never lose the warm fuzzy emotion that we feel when witnessing the miracle of birth.....I love being a farmer, we struggle on through the wind and rain and snow, we parch under the blazing Summer sun, we paddle through muddy puddles, we drive fence posts into the thirsty earth and we witness the wonders of Nature on a daily basis. Life is good.
What is currently not quite as good is my poor little toe. Currently the color (colour for my British Friends) of an over ripe aubergine, my little toe is red and purple and blue....it's shiny and swollen and broken. I swear the cedar boards jumped out in the dark, there were no cedar boards when I walked into the dark garage..but there sure was when I walked out of it ! For the record...I didn't swear out loud but I plead the Fifth Amendment as to whether every curse word ever uttered didn't go through my head at the moment of impact !
Chickens are in all honesty NOT my favorite (favourite Brit speak) farmyard resident. Twice daily I enter the chicken house with my little wicker basket and twice daily I am berated by possessive incensed hens daring me to steal their eggs. Those little feathered demons are waiting for me as I enter the coop, squawking and clucking in disapproval and warning they fold their wings and roll their eggs under their breast feathers as my hand searches beneath their little bodies. Today, Henrietta the grey Barred Rock hen clearly decided that revenge was called for and after a nasty aggressive peck the irate chicken promptly pooped on my hand. Soup came to mind !
Another day on the ranch draws to a close, the barn lights are closed down, stall doors checked and double checked, the Beautiful Bella and little Sirloin, the cows are bedded down, contentedly chewing their cud and gazing into the darkness. The sheep, have settled for the night and the rowdy chickens are lined up on their roosts in the hen house. Tiger and Shy the barn cats slunk off looking for an unwary mouse or a roaming rat and the horses have their heads buried in their hay mangers. Time to go...take care, keep safe, M
On a perfect day (which incidentally really does happen !! sometimes) beautiful Bella our young Jersey heifer, with little red heifer Sirloin close at heel leads the "orderly" gallop from the pasture starting gate to the finish post, her big rubber grain bucket. The sheep, much shorter, considerably more rotund and not quite as smart as their bovine pasture mates follow closely behind. Little Alice the Katahdin ewe typically leads the ovine team, tummy close to the ground, rapidly swelling udder swinging Alice rounds the home turn with Chance hot on her tail. The Coupeworth contingent of ultra woolly, extra short legged ewes with their new designer "buzz butt" hair cuts jostle and skirmish down the Cow Lane home straight, Barney the ram with his black eyes peering out from his dense Winter wool coat and his ample "appendages" bouncing usually arrives at the finish line with the "also rans" closely monitored by a very focused and intolerant Bran the Border Collie. On a perfect day, Bella and Sirloin trot into the cow barn, the sheep take a sharp left into the sheep pen to bury their heads deep in the mangers.....on a perfect day, gates swing shut closely on the heels of the cows and slam securely behind Barneys impressive bulk. In sharp contrast, on a not quite perfect day, everything goes wrong. The ewes make a home run from between the front legs of a startled Bella the Jersey heifer, Sirloin typically runs in the opposite direction in the confusion, Barney the ram left in the dust by the sheep insurrection trails in behind a bewildered Bran the Border collie who somehow finds himself running in the middle of the stampeding balls of wool on legs. Typically...on a less than perfect day, Bella turns left on the home straight which inevitably finds her heading for an open gate and the barnyard....leaves me with rising blood pressure, Greg uttering expletives (which, should my swear jar still be operative would have left me rich) and poor Bran the border Collie with a considerably lower self esteem. Not quite perfect days always seem to happen on the wildest windiest wettest days....why ? Sorry...no pictures available, Greg is always fully preoccupied waving arms legs and everything else in the air while all the fun stuff goes on !!
Should Barney the ram have been diligent in his duties, our little flock could have doubled or tripled in number by next month. The first residents of the nursery could be arriving in five days. Alice, Chance and Babydoll have become considerably more "matronly" looking over the past several days and bets are on as to which of them produces the first tiny wobbly offspring....we watch and wait.
Time to go, the cuckoo clock has spoken, the kettle is on, eggs are washed and dogs are out to water a tree or three. Take care, keep safe, M
As dawn broke yesterday, river lets of rain water were already cascading down the sodden hillside. The previously gently rippling creek was transformed into a white water torrent and the pastures were transformed into extensions of the ranch pond as the first wave of rain storms hit the Pacific North West. Rain coats, rain pants and rubber boots were our only defense against the deluge as we trudged through muddy puddles. The big horses stood motionless in the pastures, rain dripping from sodden rugs, backs turned into the driving wind. The little band of sheep sheltered under the spreading branches of a big maple tree and Bella, our beautiful Jersey heifer stood expectantly by the gate watching and waiting for activity in the barnyard. Young Sirloin the red steer stood by her side, rain water running down his coat and dripping from the end of his bushy little tail. Bran the Border Collie splashed through murky puddles chasing ghosts and barking at shadows and little Luke buried himself deeper in a warm dry hay pile and waited for the call for lunch. On the ranch pond, the fish jumped, Harry the blue/grey heron lurked in the gnarled tree roots, Mr. and Mrs. Mallard took shelter from the deluge and high above Edgar the eagle soared through the swirling clouds, rising and falling with the prevailing winds.
This morning, the rain clouds had blown far to the North and there was an unseasonal warmth across the State. Winter woollies were ( temporarily, I'm sure) discarded and the sun shone over the ranch. The chickens ventured out from the shelter of their cozy nest boxes to feast on worms and bugs driven to the surface by the relentless rain , the horses tossed their heads and kicked their heels, out in the pasture a large flock of transient Canada Geese settled (hopefully temporarily) to graze and in the garden, the first rose of the year has bloomed. The rhubarb leaves are uncurling from the ground, Buds on the fruit trees are opening, Spring bulbs are flowering and the Jostaberry starts are beginning to show signs of life. It is one short week until the first lambs are due and though he doesn't know it yet, Mr. Barney the ram will once again begin his enforced period of celibacy in the "bachelor suite". As the "ladies" jostle for position at the hay manger, regular butt checks indicate which of them will be the first to occupy the currently vacant bonding pens. Swelling milky bars (and other body parts) indicate Baby Doll and Chance will be our first moms this year....but, we have been known to be wrong in the past. Clearly a "watched udder doesn't necessarily lamb first" .
Finally, Mom Sikora is feeling better and will be starting the next phase in her recovery program tomorrow. Thank you to everyone who included her in your prayers and for all the thoughtful messages we received on her behalf. We are blessed to have her and thankful that she has received such wonderful care. Time to go, Greg has put the kettle on. Take care, keep safe, M
The sun (if we ever saw a hint of it today) has set, somewhere behind the first or second wave of nasty wind and nastier rain predicted by meteorologist MJ of fox 13. I guess there are two or perhaps three more huge white threatening swathes of potential deluge and tempestual ( is that a word ?) winds on the Pacific North West double Doppler weather map before the week is through...but, on a scale of 1 to ten...I'd put up with soggy toes and frizzy hair over the Arctic conditions currently influencing life on the East coast.
On the ranch pond, Mr. and Mrs. Canada goose have returned to check out the nest site on their exclusive island refuge. Mr. and Mrs. Mallard guardedly observe the newly arrived (and larger) ranch pond residents and keep a wary eye open for an Edgar the eagle fly over. Ky and Fiona, equine perpetrators of the "great ranch escape" appear to have resigned themselves to life on the ranch and no longer challenge the fencing that somehow brings to mind Jurassic Park on a bad....or good day !
In the barnyard, Mr. Barney the ram's harem of ewes are preparing for the immanent arrival of this years tiny vociferous brat pack. After the early morning's chores were completed, effervescent Erin, her son James, "the sheep whisperer" and Mr. Greg embarked on a " preparation exercise program". Clearly, the big woolly ewes were not on the same program as Greg and his ranch retinue... Dotty resisted, Momma Bear struggled and Baby Doll, the big white Coopworth ewe resigned herself to a full body makeover. With Erin nursing her head, James restraining her cloven hooves and Greg manning the sheep sheers, the enlarging udder and swelling vulva were exposed to facilitate an easy birth and open access to the frothy milky bar for newly born young. Chance and Alice our veteran Katahdin Ewes gratefully accepted proffered peanuts and wondered what the fuss was all about. Bran the Border Collie went manically "Brantic" and Luke the Australian Shepherd "wanna be" barely survived the frenzied activity. Erin somehow managed to rearrange her pelvic bones in an unrehearsed and not very graceful rendition of the splits, James looked slightly uncomfortable staring down at the exposed and vulnerable vulva and Greg maintained a business like, competent Sweeney Todd Attitude as he chopped away at the dense, lanolin infused, poop impregnated woolly fleeced butts. I guess, on the whole..if you aren't a ewe....it was a good day, If you are a ewe...things have got significantly cooler in the nether regions of late. Hopefully, the new born lambs will appreciate easy access to the previously woolly udder and a little cosmetic trim around the eyes will assist the new moms to identify their tiny offspring. We have approximately ten days until the first lambs arrive..we watch...and wait.
It was been a long, wet day. Here in the barn kitchen, Luke lies prostrate on his fluffy dog bed, Bran whimpers as he dreams of sheep, cows chickens, horses or all of the above. Greg struggles to keep his eyes open and the cuckoo clock advises that at least for Gentle Giant Meadows Ranch.....it is bed time.
Take care, keep safe, M
Its me, Maureen, (the Boss)