Friday, March 21, 2014

The Simple Life

The weather has been teasing lately. A couple of beautiful sunny days, then more snow, but I feel blessed for the nice days when they are here, as there is never any expectation of them in March.

Mr Potamus and Bruno are adjusting to life in smaller spaces and I am yet determined to find a way to fence something safely so the sheep can still graze this year without the dogs going out to patrol on the ranch. Meanwhile, I had Rosemary confined to the lambing shed as she is huge, her udder (notice the ‘d’s...utter is something else entirely, people! )  is also huge and I was expecting her to be the next ewe to lamb as the only other one left is Thyme and she is not very big, with very little bag at all so I assumed she had another month or so to go. I walked out one afternoon between storms and saw Bruno sitting in the near corner of the pasture, but not Mr Potamus. Curious, I headed thru the back yard, past the chicken pen and the cow corral to enter the little field the sheep are in, when I saw Potamus come around a corner back by the orchard, looking at me with his big plume tail waving and when I spoke to him, he returned in the direction he came from. I headed that way and he was happily parked on his belly admiring Thyme’s new twin lambs. It was her first lambing and I had only expected a singlet, but she went ahead and had twins anyway and turned out to be a very attentive mother. 

Salty's "Sage" (Captain Marbles twin sister) is twice the size of Thyme's twin lambs in just one week. It's amazing how fast they grow! Thyme did an outstanding job, having her babies with no help at all and being very motherly to them.
I couldn’t be more tickled with her. 

Meantime...Rosemary remained pregnant. I kicked her out with the others as the weather has improved a bit and she is obviously in no big hurry...nor is EmmaLouMoo who I thought was due this month but isn’t even bagging up yet. I'm very concerned about her staphA infection she came down with but I am praying hard that she will culture negative and I will not lose her.

Salty’s little lamb she rejected, who we alternately call “Creep” or “Captain Marbles” is doing very well and has finally moved out to the pasture with the others. I feed him 3x a day by bottle and he follows the Maremmas everywhere. He is slowly bonding with Madge’s twin boys, since Salty won’t let him near her or his sister. It’s been fun watching him follow the dogs as he seems to be learning THEIR job instead of his own, which is eating grass.

Annie the goat was being mean, mean, mean to the Captain, so she and her cohorts were removed to a different pen. The next day, I found her in the chicken pen, stealing their food. I hobbled out as quickly as I was able and grabbed her up. She had effectively climbed up her cattle panel shelter and used it as a springboard to launch herself into the next corral, where she was free to go where she pleased. Randyman and I moved the fence to prevent any further escape. Two days later, I found her and her friends this time, BACK in the chicken pen once again. I grabbed her up and noticed the gate to their pen was wide open. I shoved them in and made sure it was latched properly. The following morning..they were out once again. Annie had figured out how to open the latch by herself. The gate is now CHAINED securely. If that doesn’t work, my only other option is an armed security guard.


Annie completely redecorated their corral, re-engineering their shelter. After quite a bit of work she seemed satisfied with the results and went to dinner. Good thing she doesn't have am HOA They'd be all over her!

Rosemary finally went and did it. She had TRIPLETS! Two girls and a boy. I’m so pleased because even with the loses we incurred earlier this year, I had the 9 lambs I’d been counting on. It's been fun to watch all the little lambs get together and boing-boing around the pasture. The Maremmas are pleased as punch to have all these babies to watch over and have been seen snuggling with as many as 3 at a timeand of course the Captain always has to sleep with one of them.

We had another freezer failure so I am desperately canning again trying to get as much out of the freezers as possible as the boss is giving us a ½ beef and I need to get everything that was crammed in to 3 freezers, to fit into just 2 and still have room for the meat that is coming. I'm sure we could have worse problems. I made broccoli cheese soup with the frozen broccoli, have 3 big meatie chickens thawing out to can (except for the wings and breasts, which will be repackaged) and most of what would have been roasts that is coming I asked to have cut into stew meat so I will be able to rapidly can that as well. We use a lot of canned beef in sandwiches, and things like burritos. Stock will have to be made as well, and more tallow rendered. Hopefully I can pare things down to 2 shelves in the freezer and not have to buy another one, allowing us the time to have one repaired instead.
Foremost on my mind still, is containing the dogs. I need to have a system in place whereby the sheep can still graze but the Maremmas cannot leave to go patrol anymore. It's a puzzling problem, which I hope to overcome. That and a rototiller are my two biggest obstacles at the moment. Here's hoping. It's going to be a frantic spring but I am hoping it all pays off. Meantime, we will have a visit soon from my niece and her son and I'm excited about that. It'll definitely take my mind off things and a little fun is definitely in order!!

In addition to all the regular stuff, I've been stocking my little  webstore, with candles, and wax tarts in new fragrances, as well as soaps and body butter. Stop by the store at

Bread making is next on this weeks list.
Living the simple life can sure be complicated.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Goodbye February!

I haven’t blogged in awhile. That is because life sort of got in the way and there are times it takes a certain amount of restraint not to let life’s disappointments leak onto the page. So in this case, I felt time was the best balm to ease over some of those difficulties and it took a bit more time than I had expected.

I’m back now, at least for today. Storms have been making doing ‘normal’ things difficult so I am behind on pretty much everything. A lamb was born, then subsequently died, so that was a heartbreak. Each animal in our care means a lot to us. Don’t think for a moment that just because people raise livestock that they have any less feeling for them, whether they be for pets or consumption.

I have had some real anxiety about the polarbears as wolves are reported to be getting closer and closer to the ranch all the time and my two dogs won’t likely stand a chance against them.  I’m not willing to risk them, so from now on they are confined 24/7, which is depressing, not only for them, but for me. They did such a good job of keep predators pushed back when they were allowed to and it was easy to see how that all falls apart, when they were locked up the two months that trappers were here. A cougar strolled past the houses with regularity, even eating dog and catfood out of the boss' shed and coyotes were boldly entering the pastures and standing on the lawns of the houses. I imagine that will be a more and more frequent occurrence now and any extra funds that come my way, will have to be spent on beefing up fencing to make sure these guys can never, ever get out to patrol again, because there is no way of knowing when it will no longer be safe. 

 Frankly, hearing coyotes close to the house has always given me chills and keeps me awake at nite and that will be another downside of this, since the dogs can no longer displace them.

I invested in a couple of GPS trackers for them, so I will be notified when and if they get out, as well as where they are at. It was pretty interesting to see where they were going BEFORE I pulled the plug on them. Bruno wasn’t leaving the pasture out back much, except to run off intruders. One night, he ran something to the fence 2x but the third time he apparently pursued it all the way to the bench, about a mile from here, before trotting back home. The following night, he was checking the lower pasture when suddenly he took off after something in the other direction. He ran a long distance very quickly, then remained in nearly one place for 30 minutes. He was too far away for me to hear him. Meanwhile Potamus was barking furiously in that direction, so I worried Bruno might be dealing with something he could not safely handle alone. I let Potamus out, risking re-injury to his foot, but couldn’t think of what else to do. He took off like a bullet in the direction the GPS said Bruno was located. Almost immediately whatever the situation was, got resolved  and the GPS showed both dogs taking a round about way, patrolling fences in the area in their journey back home, checking the big pond near the houses on the way in. They were, in my opinion, pretty effective.

Meanwhile Salty the hair sheep had twin lambs. She was partial to her ewe lamb and totally rejected her ram lamb so he is now inside with us, being bottle fed. I am finding it exponentially harder to feed ONE lamb than two, as he has no company and is constantly underfoot. He is known by several names, but doesn’t answer to any of them. No matter, he is always in my shadow. He naps at my feet and is awake instantly if I move...particularly if any noises that sound remotely like a bottle being warmed up are involved. At least he is someone who desires my company...not that the dogs aren’t always happy to see me, but, like TheMan, they have a job to do. He's pretty comfortable around all the dogs and they, naturally, have accepted him as one of the gang.

Rosemary is in the lambing shed now, waiting her turn. She and Thyme are the last ones left to lamb this year and I am praying all goes smoothly. Salty’s rejection of the twin was a complete surprise to me, but she had no trouble delivering at least. Hoping for clean births and happy, nurturing mamas shouldn’t be too much to ask.

On one of my better days I raked up some more tumbleweeds in the dry lot next to the big horse corrals so TheMan could burn them for me. We wanted to give EmmaLou and SushiMoo a little more room so their small corral wasn't so squishy and gross with cow flop. Bruno was determined to put himself protectively between me and the cows,. He was alarmed when miss Sushimoo peeked thru the gate behind my back, and gave a little snap at her. I tried to reassure him that I was all right, which sent him pouting by the rock wall, but he jumped up when the cows ventured close again, insisting on standing between us, just in case. He's such a great guy.

Patch is slowly working himself up to being a manly buck, as Shugar shamelessly flirts with him. I’m not sure he has had much success, which concerns me, as I will have to find an alternate source for goatsmilk this year should he not get the hang of things. 

Mr Potamus has his own Facebook page now, as a couple of people on the  various forums I am a member of, suggested it. His popularity has been eclipsing mine at a rapid pace.

The rest of my ‘free’ time has been spent soaping, making wax tarts and candles and rendering tallow for body butter for the store. I’m trying out some new fragrances in wax. 
I’ve added chocolate lip balm to the roster, as it has gotten great reviews.

Next on the list will be starting seedlings for this  years garden. I hope we have better weather this spring and summer than we did in 2013!