Mayday Mayday Mayday

May 1st, often called ‘May Day’, may have more holidays than any other day of the year. It’s a celebration of Spring, a day of political protests, a saint’s feast day, a neopagan festival and a day for organized labor. In many countries, it is a national holiday!

photo courtesy University of Missouri


photo courtesy apartment therapy

Mayday is ALSO an emergency procedure word used internationally as a distress signal in voice procedure radio communications. It is derived from the French venez m’aider, meaning “come help me”.

photo courtesy Millers Field

It is used to signal a life-threatening emergency primarily by mariners and aviators, but in some countries local organizations such as police forces, firefighters and transportation organizations also use the term. The call is always given three times in a row (“Mayday Mayday Mayday”) to prevent mistaking it for some similar-sounding phrase under noisy conditions, and to distinguish an actual Mayday call from a message about a Mayday call.

A mayday situation is one in which a vessel, aircraft, vehicle, or person is in grave and imminent danger and requires immediate assistance. Examples of “grave and imminent danger” in which a mayday call would be appropriate include fire, explosion or sinking.

My MAY DAY was a little of all of the above! Let me begin with a lambing update: three of my prego Shetland ewes have lambed (from a week ago Tuesday, last Friday and most recently, this past Tuesday). First and foremost, all mom’s and lambs are doing well!

First to lamb, Bella and her triplets!

Next, Dove and her twin ram lambs!

This past Monday, my prego ewe Serendipity, showed the familiar tell-tale ‘signs’ of impending birth… ALL.DAY.LONG. Before nightfall, I decided to put her in the barn (in a small make-do stall called a lambing ‘jug’). I believed she would be ‘safe’ without being disturbed by the other girls and I could more easily monitor her progress. By 10 p.m. and still anxious that she had not yet lambed, I decided to sleep/spend the night in the barn with her – just in case she required any assistance (pleeeeeze don’t require any assistance!!)!

My woman’s intuition did not disappoint. At approx 11:20 p.m. and 11:45 p.m., Sara gave birth to twin ewe lambs (a totally textbook perfect lambing!). YAY! Just short of MAYDAY arrivals! HAHAHA

Serendipity (Sara) and her day-old lambs!

As I own a very small spinner’s flock of Shetlands, I have one more ewe, Reese, yet to lamb. So, stay tuned… for further updates.

In the meantime, the milking ‘girls’ are doing well and their bucklings are growing by leaps and bounds. The boyz are as sweet and mischievous as little boys tend to be!! Anyone looking for a loving buckling/pet wether?

Oberhasli buckling at two weeks.

HEY! This stuff isn’t as good as mama’s milk!

Goats on parade…

Between playing (ahem) and checking-up on new mamas and babies, I’ve been cleaning more stalls than I care to…AND milking goats, making cheese again, working in the garden – STILL planting – and stealing a few minutes here and there to work on a growing backlog of fiber projects!

Happy goat family!

Hope you have a great weekend and enjoy family! BTW, Saturday I’ll be dyeing in the kitchen at Metroparks Wolcott Farm’s Sheep Shearing Saturday! Come and have some farm fun!

Butter Molds

I recently purchased a 19th Century plunger-and-cup-type butter mold. It’s rather unique; a hand-carved primitive ram and bird motif! I simply couldn’t resist purchasing this butter mold thru my blogging friend, Carole. You can peruse her awesome store (and visit Carole’s blog) at Carole’s Country Store. I just fell in love with it the minute it was listed in her shop…ya know I love all things sheepy…or perhaps it could be a goat?! Either way, I’m so happy to add this to my kitchen collectables. I hope to use it soon!

 A bit of butter mold history… 

Butter molds were first used centuries ago in northern Europe. Today, most of the oldest molds found in museums date to the mid-18th century Europe and North America. In the 19th century, dairies became commercial and butter – as well as the wooden butter mold – was widely mass-produced. Antique molds of the late 19th and early 20th century are often found in personal collections. Antique American butter molds have become popular  collectibles and have increased in value. Due to their condition, many of these butter molds are best used as decorative accent pieces.

photos by Alice Ross

Butter molds had fancy designs carved into the press so that the impression was left on top of the butter. Common designs were a sheaf of wheat, pineapple, thistle, cow, rooster and geometric designs. Butter would have been filled into the mold and then the plunger pressed to form a tight shape of butter. The handle screwed into the print so it could be removed from the case. These came in a one pound size, a half pound size mold and pat sizes. Sears, Roebuck & Company also listed a two-pound size in their 1987 catalog as well as square molds. The price of molds varied depending on the complexity of the carving.

Butter molds are rarely used today.  Instructions for use of a modern butter mold: 1) Soak the mold in ice water for 30 minutes and – if convenient – refrigerate the mold for 30 minutes more.  This helps to keep the butter from sticking in the mold.  2) Rinse the mold with cold water and fill it with softened butter.  3) Smooth the surface with a spatula and cover with plastic wrap.  4) Chill for 2 hours or more.  5) To unmold the butter, run the tip of a knife around the outside edge to loosen it.

Cleaning wooden molds: Use hot water, mild soap, and a brush to loosen residue, but do not soak the mold in water.  Reconditioning wooden molds: Mineral oil may be used to recondition a mold and prevent drying and cracking. Vegetable oil should not be used. 

Alice Ross, food professional teacher and historian, writes of butter making and molding: “If you want to try it yourself, the trick in a successful casting is to first soak and chill the mold. Then, after packing the butter in, refrigerate until firm, and then pop out into a plate. If you want to make your own butter to match the handsome form, all you need is fresh whipping cream. Whisk or beat past the whipped cream stage until the butterfat forms firm yellow lumps and separates from the remaining buttermilk.  (Save the buttermilk; let it sit out at room temperature overnight to culture and either drink it or use it in cooking.) Paddle and press the butter in several washes of cold water until there are no traces of buttermilk left. Salt if desired. Pack into soaked and chilled wooden molds, refrigerate to harden and then un-mold.”

Another historic method for molding butter uses a completely dry mold dusted with flour and slightly chilled butter. The butter comes out nicely 90% of the time. It’s worth a try!

Lastly, I want to mention that my moorit Shetland ewe, Sara (aka Serendipity) had a single ram lamb last Thursday morning! He’s very handsome (bersugget markings); mom and baby are doing well! It’s been so rainy and dark, I haven’t taken a decent pic of him yet! All the goat kids and lambs are growing by leaps and bounds too!

Sara’s little bundle of joy! I reeee-ally can’t get much work done!

Warm wishes!

Lamb Tyme…

 Life buds forth!

I roll (well, maybe more of a crawl) out of bed at 4 a.m. for chores – to capitalize on hubby’s ‘help’ before he leaves for work. I anxiously inspect the sheep and count noses…all present and accounted for…with no ‘extras’.

After 6 a.m.milking, another ‘bed-check’. Dove has gone missing! Apparently, she wandered out back to the shed for a little privacy while lambing. Twins: one HST ram lamb and one black ewe lamb waiting to greet me!

Handsome little guy…love that one black eye/one white eye!

Little sis…

…just hours old. Love her face with ‘freckles’!

Is this leftover molasses water for ME?

Hey…save some for me too! (BTW, Corey is ALL better!)

Another blessed day!

Goat Spa?

It was a glorious spring-like weekend…a perfect Mother’s Day! The weeping cherry and serviceberry are beginning to bloom, finally! It’s been a cold,  wet/rainy spring ~ so far ~ here, in southeast Michigan. I’m thinking we’ll skip ‘spring’ and fast forward to summer! We cut the grass for the first time this past weekend too and hubby & son worked on installing additional lighting in the barn. Yeah! The north facing stalls have no windows and is incredibly dark…

Aside from ‘MOM’ visits, cooking, baking… I believe we had our first encounter with a case of bloat in one of our goats! Read more about bloat here.

The goat is a member of a class of animals called ruminants.  These animals ruminate (chew their cud).  Unlike us, they have special four-compartment stomachs especially designed to digest roughage (food high in fiber) such as grass, hay and silage.  The goat’s stomach has four chambers: 1) the rumen, 2) the honey-combed reticulum, 3) the omasum, and 4) the abomasum or true stomach.

A goat’s rumen is a big fermentation vat which produces carbon dioxide and methane gas.  These gasses are eliminated by the goat burping and pooping.  A goat needs to expel their gas, no matter how rude or funny you may think it may be.  If they cannot expel the gas, the pressure builds up and the goat ‘bloats’.  When this happens, the left side of the goat will become distended which might even cause difficulty in breathing. Bloat, in extreme cases, can result in death! Naturally, I was concerned ~ and wise enough to recognize something was ‘off’?

When you spend as much time as I do with each of my critters, you just know when something is amiss…call it woman’s intuition? Corey, a first freshener, looked like she swallowed a small ‘football’ on her left side (where the rumen is located). Noticeably different from what’s considered normal! She didn’t get into the grain bin, nor do I believe she ate too much green pasture/grass. Rather, I think we were ramping her up her grain – too much too soon – for her to handle since freshening/kidding three weeks ago. And, perhaps another contributing factor to the gas build-up(?) is the fact that Corey doesn’t seem to be eating as much hay/roughage as she should be or has been eating.

Fast forward…while Corey didn’t exhibit any signs of pain, discomfort, abnormal behavior, pawing, etc. none of the ‘usual’ accompanying signs of bloat. I just knew something was simply not ‘normal’. Still concerned (not waiting for her condition to worsen???), a bit of research on the web and goat books, we decided to administer a dose of milk of magnesia, walked her up and down a small hillside, massaged her left side, all hopefully helping her to belch and pass ‘wind’…to relieve the gas build-up. It seemed to be working and provided some relief. She was pooping lots and belching. But, by evening, the bulge seemed to reappear. So, we decided to take another path and administered/drench about 6 oz. of corn oil and withhold all grain! We also gave her some probiotics…and access to good quality hay. 

This morning, Corey ‘appears’ better, but I’m still watching her closely. I’m giving her a full body massage (with a palm massage thingy) ~ hoping to move the contents of the rumen along/breaking up gas ~ OR simply adding to the daily routine  of lots of TLC, brushing, grooming, udder massage w/peppermint eo… my goats are well-loved! And, Corey l-o-v-e-s the attention!

Any advice/experience with ‘bloat’ is appreciated!

Oh ya, last evening, Reese, first time ‘mom’, gave me twin ewe lambs…just to complete my Mother’s Day excitement!  Lambing without incident!! woohoo!


 Hours old…they’re so difficult to photograph!!!

Sweet Shetland ewe lambs!

Congrats Reese! Great job!

Meet and Greet!

Introducing…the newest (and final) addition to the Sheepy Hollow Farm family this lambing/kidding season…

Snowy’s twin ewe lambs were ready and waiting to greet me at the wee hours of the morning ~ lambing sometime before my 4 A.M. morning chores! I arrived in time to dip navels in iodine, administer BoSe, give ‘mom’ some molasses water and make sure she expelled the afterbirth!

May I present Lamby #1

And…Lamby #2 (or visa versa?)

They are soooooo sweet! It will be very difficult to put them all up for ‘adoption’! Way to go Snowy!!!!

Whew! I don’t know about ‘my girls’…but I’m pooped!!

Drama Drama Drama

Lots of DRAMA going on at the farm the past few days! I’ll start with the newest barnyard additions.

Welcome to Nelly’s (my dairy Oberhasli goat) twin doelings (Oberhasli X Alpine) who were born Wednesday around 6 p.m. They weighed in at 7 and 8 pounds. I’ve decided to pull the kids from mom and bottle feed/raise the doelings. They’re given a bottle every 4-hours to start for a few days…so everything’s gone a bit fuzzy.


The doelings have ‘typical’ Oberhasli markings…but the doeling on the right has more black and a splash of white on the forehead and abdomen. The doeling on the left has a very light tan/saffron abdomen extending to her rear flank – definite Alpine (their sire’s) markings. 

Normally, after kidding you watch for the baby goat to nurse the dam’s colostrum and to pass the meconium, baby’s first black tarry sticky poop. Baby goats need to poop within hours or less after birth. When, if for what ever reason they are not being stimulated by their mom’s licking baby’s butt to stimulate it, passing the meconium and then the normal yellow poop they poop for the first few days thereafter, the kid’s belly can get too full of milk and make the baby sick enough to die.

One doeling was pooping fine…but, I began to worry about the other doeling after no sign of pooping 24-hours later. So, I ‘googled’ baby kid goats pooping and found that it wouldn’t hurt to give my baby goat an enema? In fact, may even help to save her life?!!!! Yikes! To give a baby goat enema, use whatever you have (I used a hair color bottle dispenser) that has a tip on it and hold some warm soapy water. Insert the tip gently and only just into the rectum (with Vasoline on it for easy insertion) and hold baby across your lap (I was sitting on an over-turned bucket) and baby feet hanging in a large tub (for mucking out stalls). Squirt a small amount of the warm soapy water into the rectum – wait. Water will shoot out followed by poop. If no poop do it again. It may take 5-10-15 times.. allowing the water to shoot out and hopefully poop too before adding more warm soapy water. This may take 30 minutes to an hour or more. I did it in the tub so I can see the amount of poop and what it looks like… tubs clean out easily.

Well, it only took a few squirts of warm soapy water before everything came squirting out…meconium, yellow baby poop. On-lookers should keep out of firing range! This experience gave a whole new meaning to ‘FULL OF CRAP’!

As you know, my goaties enjoy competing with my sheepies. Dahlia also HAD to lamb the same time as Nelly, just in opposite barns. Welcome Dahlia’s ewe lamb and ram lamb weighing in at 6-pounds. Ya did real good Dahlia – lambing completely unassisted.

This is Dahlia’s little ewe (girl) Shetland lamb… 

…and Dahlia’s ram (boy) lamb. Very cool markings; they’ll be up for adoption soon!

One last bit of drama to share with you regarding my 6-week old Shetland HST ram lamb, Porthos. He got into a bit of trouble (???) and injured – basically tore off his right horn at the base. His blood-covered face almost gave me a heart attack when I discovered him last night. Hubby stayed home from work and we took him to the vet. Doc snipped the horn off (kind of like a fingernail – but it was hollow inside). The horn bud is still in tact; hopefully it will heal nicely and grow back. Don’t worry Porthos, girls love scars!


Well, that’s enough DRAMA for me for a while, ‘ya think? I gotta feed the kids a bottle. One more ewe to lamb in June…if she settled…and we’re done with the babies.

Have a great weekend!

Congrats Tinkerbell!

Boom bam slam thank ye ma’am! While I was spinning away with my friend yesterday morning…

Tinkerbell, my ‘maiden’ Shetland ewe, gave birth to twin ewe lambs…way back in the rear field…completely unassisted and I, dazed and unaware! Dah!!! The turkey buzzards circling overhead gave her away. The lambs weighed in at 6 pounds each. Their little fleece is wonderfully crimpy. I wish I could get better definition with my camera – ugh!

We moved mom and babies safely into the barn. They have their daddy’s (my ram, Athos) markings – what’s referred to as KATMOGET – the nose, lower jaw, and eye markings should be dark, as should the belly and the inside of the hind legs. Some animals have a dark chest stripe; the contrast should be clear with dark markings on all four legs. Katmogets embrace a wide spectrum of colorings: with body colors from almost white to a blue-grey, and markings ranging from a delicate moorit to intense black…but it is the ‘quality’ of the markings that is of first importance…per the Shetland folk go.

Whatever color suits your fancy, what’s not to love???

Shetland lambs: Porthos and Bella update

Porthos, a ram lamb.


Hildy presented us with twin lambs on Easter Monday. They each weighed about 8 pounds. At one week old, they’re both about 10 pounds…perhaps the ram lamb, whom we named ‘Porthos’ is a bit heavier…and fears no one! Bella, his sister, is a bit more timid, but she usually comes around for her share of attention and snuggles. I could spend hours just watching them at play with all of their crazy antics!  

The Shetland sheep breed is both varied in their ‘markings’ and color —– and all in Shetland dialect!   

Bella - a ewe lamb.


When I’m not moving sheep and goats around…I managed to make a few sheepy make-do pinkeeps. 

A flock of make-do pinkeeps.


Now I really have to get after my gardens and yard work!!!!

{a warm welcome…}

Hildy, our Shetland ewe, presented us with twin lambs on Easter Monday (April 5 is hubby’s bday too!)…one ram lamb (a boy) and one ewe lamb (a girl). I’ve been monitoring Hildy closely for the past several days, mindful of the slightest changes in her condition, to detect when she might lamb. Monday morning I moved her into a lambing pen…talk about close calls? Thank you Jesus… Hildy didn’t lamb during the middle of the night.

Now I’m checking her ‘progress’ hourly. Nothing ‘visible’ at 10 a.m. ~~~~~~ but, wait at 11 a.m. there was a lamb on the ground and Hildy was attentively cleaning HIM off ( AND I MISSED IT!!! URG!!!). No. 2 lamb’s head was already exposed… up to the neck (head first) and NO FEET were presented! I immediately put on a glove and with Katie’s help holding Hildy, I squeezed in a finger just enough to hook onto a leg, then the other, and she literally SLID out! Again, praise the Lord for giving me the wisdom to help deliver this precious gift of new life!  YIPPI…a little girl!  

Hildy and newborn lambs (hours old in the pic) are doing well…congrats my sweet Hildy!

Praise the Lord!