We have chickens

A friendly acquaintance needed to find their chickens a more rustic home, so we offered to take them since we were wanting to try chickens over ducks this year.  Pictures hopefully this weekend, my husband is working out the final roaming/run area for them.  Right now they are parked in our front yard and getting stirred up by a very silly little big girl.

Speaking of, I might call her Ram Tamer, since that is what she’s done.  Our rams now will stand still for petting due to her valiant and persistent efforts at feeding them by hand.  They are “right” kind of tame, not the kind of tame where you can get head butted (which usually is from roughhousing with lambs too often).

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Secret raspberry garden

I am not a fan of the landscaping that came with this place, but some of it has unexpected summer joys attached.  Like this ever-bearing raspberry sport that survived and thrived in the shadow of the Himalayan menace that stalks our acreage.

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Ever-bearing means it was domesticated.  It survived unlike the secret rhubarb from a couple years ago, which sadly got shaded out.  We failed it for the last time.  😦  But hey, RASPBERRIES THE BIRDS CAN’T FIND WOOOOOOOO.

First lambs of the season today

Two little white lambs out of the grey ewe I am always fretting about.  She only has one working udder (shearing accident took out the other one), but she’s previously nursed twins with no issues.

The lambs look pretty fresh, both are standing up and didn’t look weak or wobbly and seemed to know where the milky udder was, so I am going to give them a little time right now while I take some time to wake up myself.  She ignored all the fresh dry straw we put out in favor of the soggy grass (it was pouring rain all night long), which is just so typical for sheep.

Still waiting on the other three ewes, though.  Bucky, Shaft and the other ewes are being very protective.  Not so I couldn’t get to the new mother and lambs, but definitely not their usual (lack of) flocking behavior.  Icelandics tend to have poor flocking, but our experience has been they remember how when they think the flock needs protection.

It’s a pretty special day, hopefully the lambs continue to have a good start.

No lambs yet, the rain is terrible.

But on a brighter note, the grass is green enough that the sheep are eating less hay, so we probably are done with hay buying until the fall, unless we have a dry summer (not likely in our little microclimate).

Despite all their wool, the sheep are getting tired of the rain and are hiding out in the barn.

The ewes are also starting to roo, we may end up “shearing” them ourselves right after lambing instead of waiting on a shearer.  I put it in quotes because we’d be scraping the shedding top layer off the fresh new wool rather than taking both sets of fleece and leaving bare skin.  We weren’t expecting that we’d have to consider the skinning-knife approach to get their wool off, but it may be where we end up, at least for the spring fleeces.

Anyway I have to wash wool this weekend.  Then when it dries, I get to start the learning curve to combing fleece into roving.  Soaking in cold water first helps the fleece separate into locks, which is good to know.

I like wool, but I never really thought about how it gets off the sheep and into mittens and sweaters and wool diapers.  It’s interesting.

Post a Pic Tuesday: Random stuff

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Collecting the metal in the barn. Funny what turns up.

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Yeah, we need some grazing animals stat. That grass is too darn high.

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The rhododendron, Washington’s state flower. So beautiful and so toxic…to sheep. So it’s all coming down this summer.

 

Just some random stuff from around the old place.  We have a busy summer ahead, from the looks.

Duck Tales: Day Two

Well, our five ducklings made it through one night successfully.  They are a in bigger 4×4 brooding pen and there’s no straggler getting denied food or water.  They’ve all got good energy and nice down.  They are only a couple days old, though.  Most of the big changes start to happen around the one week mark.

We are initiating what I have to term the New Agrarian protocol with watering, as I’ve not seen anyone else on the internet follow such a process with new ducklings.  Other folks make their own waterers to prevent frequent fouling or swear up and down that their ducklings never hop in the water to play and poop in it.  Right now, for us, it’s easier to follow this system of 4x a day waterings with storebought waterer than to make something special to reduce watering frequency.  Thanks, random fellow agrarian on the internet!

Here’s their current brooding pen, it’s made from what used to be raised beds when we lived in suburbia and what will return to being raised beds when these little (mostly) gals grow out of it.

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Brooding pen. Feeder on the left, obscured, and waterer on the right, also obscured. Such are the perils of cameraphoning your setup after the nighttime watering.

And here’s another blurry picture of the little flock.  Still learning how to use my fancy smrtfone.

WP_20130512_002And now it’s time to try to get myself to bed.  My own little girls are very circadian and keep long hours as the days lengthen and spring becomes summer.