Describe normal…?

What is NORMAL anyway? Does ‘normal’ change with time? How do we define, categorize, and treat that which is NOT normal? Normal can be a highly personal concept—and almost everyone, from certain perspectives, can be seen as normal . . . or abnormal. Right?

I suppose I had a very NORMAL Easter Sunday… or, perhaps it was very ABNORMAL?!?? I worked all week preparing [cooking and baking] for a very traditional Polish Easter ‘feast’… as a back-up ‘plan’. Planning(?) an Easter family dinner w/my sister (who’s been staying w/my mom), who also had her son’s graduation to attend – and the uncertainty if she’d be back in town, well, you know.

Nevermind. My other sister (and husband) were in the midst of moving into their new home and would NOT be ‘home’ visiting. Toss into the equation a few pregnant ewes, bottle babies, chores (yes, even on Sunday) and milking twice a day doesn’t allow much time for off-site ‘visits’.

So how did my Easter Sunday go??? My kids, Matt and Katie, were home for the weekend (YAY)! When we got home from church on Easter Sunday morning, we were greeted by Bella’s triplet ram lambs!!!! I ‘skipped’ breakfast due to all the shepherding obligations (stripping teats, dipping navels, making sure babies latch-on and get a drink, provide mama with molasses water, take care of afterbirth, clean stall/replace bedding, etc.).

Hank, my brother, came over and we (Katie, Hank and I) made our Polish soup. My sister/mom never did come to dinner. My brother John had dinner at my mom’s house instead. Afterwards, Dennis, The Hubs, and Matt visited his mom [my mother-in-law] and Katie and her girlfriend Megan (who had dinner at our house) visited my mom et al [and brought them pierogis].

…and I stayed home, did chores and ate a ham sandwich!

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Bella and her triplets, less than 24-hours old. The large lamb (in front) weighed about 7-1/2 pounds while the two ‘smaller’ ram lambs weighed about 4-1/2 pounds each. Boys, boys, boys!

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Shetlands come in a variety of natural ‘colors’ and patterns!

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This little guy has two brown dots/eyedrops at each eye… otherwise, he’s all white!

So, I ask you, what is NORMAL?

First 2014 Spring lamb has arrived!

As of late, every morning – before chores – I check my prego Shetland ewes. I play a bit of a lambing game, not knowing for sure and for certain WHEN breeding occurred. [They make ram breeding harnesses that colors/marks the ewe’s back-side when the ram mounts her, but, I don’t use one.]

Normally, I set-up my breeding pens in the Fall and unless I’m lucky/actually observe the ram breeding the ewe,  I guesstimate lambing dates for Spring. The normal gestation period of a female sheep/ewe is approximately 147 days, ranging from 144 to 152 days. With a small flock, I know my sheep well. As the approximate lambing date approaches, I look for typical ‘signs‘ and behavior of ewes soon-to-go-into-labor. The ewe is then moved into individual jugs or small pens in the barn to lamb. BTW, I’ve also experienced lambing in the back forty… surprise!!

Yesterday morning [at 4 a.m.], I was greeted by our first 2014 Spring lamb, a single white ewe lamb [Dove X Ceylon] weighing in at 7-pounds. When I invaded her privacy, mama was doing a fine job drying her off! I suspect she lambed about an hour earlier since the afterbirth had already passed. I dipped the lamb’s umbilical in iodine and stripped the mama’s waxy plug from her teats, expressed a few squirts of colostrum-rich milk and pointed the newborn lamb in the right ‘direction’.  A slight distraction from my routine morning chores. I TOTALLY love an unassisted natural birth! WOOT!

Dove

 

Ramble N White Dove (Dam)

 

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Romyldale Ceylon (Sire)

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Dove and her ewe lamb – three days old.

Happy Easter!

wooly wednesday [my boyz]

bella_twins

Bella’s twin ram lambs… black noses and ‘toes.’ D.O.B. May 13, 2013

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Reese’s twin ram lambs… pink noses and white ‘toes’! Six weeks old already!! D.O.B. May 1, 2013

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fiber_twins

Brothers…different fleece/yummy fleece!

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Just chill’n at pond’s edge!

Bella’s ‘baa-lated’ gift

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Bella, my Shetland ewe, held out until Mother’s Day, albeit 15-hours late, to gift me with twin ram lambs! The boyz were more interested in eating [as most boys are] than taking photos! nom nom nom…

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Hello baby lambies, born Monday, May 13, 2013 at 3 o’clock in the afternoon!

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So much cuteness makes my heart sing!

And the winner is…

…da da dam…Reese’s Pieces [aka ‘Reese’] is my first Shetland to lamb this Spring! Reese’s twin ram lambs arrived Wednesday, May 1st [in the wake of all the chaos with my milking doe, Cassie]. He giveth and He taketh.

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That’s Reese in the middle with her new twin white ram lambs; prego Serendipity [aka ‘Sara’] on the left, and a very rotund prego Belladonna [aka ‘Bella’] on the right!

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I just love those babies!!

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

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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!

Mini FAUX Lambskin Rug

Not to worry… no harm was done to any sheep or lambs during the writing of this post!!

Say ‘hello’ to my mini lambskin sheepy ‘rug’.

I’ve wet felted several of these little splayed sheepies over time… and have one in my farm shop (my prototype) that I use to display small hand-made ceramic sheep figures. In fact, I have made them so small that they can easily fit into a Christmas greeting card  ~ world’s smallest sheepskin rug ~ that I’ve gifted to fiber friends.

THIS little sheepy rug measures approx 8 1/2 X 11 – inches.

A few weeks ago, a lady requested if I’d make her one of these little sheepskin ‘rugs’ for her 90-ish year old mother who is suffering from a rare blood cancer. Naturally, I said “yes”!

Well, Carolina dropped by the shop rather unexpectedly just this past Tuesday! YIKES!! I hadn’t even begun to THINK about making the little sheepy rug with all the holiday happenings! Thank God, she didn’t come to tell me that her mom passed-away!!!

How-To:

I used my North Country Cheviot wool batt and began with several alternating layers (north/south)… leaving the edges a bit ‘rough’ and in the shape (legs, front & rear/tail end) as if it were a sheepskin pelt. Sorry folk, that’s farm life!

Once I was satisfied with my ‘layout’,  I began the initial felting process. I used a kitty litter (clean) pan to contain the water, alternating hot & cold water w/a wee squirt of Dawn dish soap added to the hot water. I like to use a bamboo place mat to help with the agitation, remember to alternate directions – shrinkage occurs in the direction you’re working the piece.

Towel blot and allow to air-dry. Then came all the tedious work of needle felting all those little ‘tufts’ of fleece… remember, I LIKE lots of texture! My bumpy sheep is kind-of my trademark. Last, I added a few details to the face!

…and there you have it!

I was told by Carolina, that she actually wants to frame the sheepie and add a Bible Scripture verse around the perimeter of the sheep.

Very nice.

Lambs ‘play’ too!

I managed to snap a few pics of my Shetland lambs playing ‘King of the Mountain’.

Three’s a crowd!

Aston defending his position.

Everyone wants a turn.

‘Electra’ is sold.

‘Zephyr’ is a handsome fawn katmoget ram lamb…looking for a good home!

‘Chevelle’ is sold (to a family with her sister, Electra).

‘Aston Martin’ will remain on the farm. 

Zephyr has nice conformation and a beautiful fine single coat – out of Sheltering Pines Athos X Sheltering Pines Serendipity.

Uh oh, I’m missing ‘Mercedes’!? She’s a very nice black ewe lamb (with white marking on her head/kronet), twin to Aston — also looking for a good home. She escaped my photo shoot!

Here she is…ta da – ‘Mercedes’. She’s ready for ‘adoption’!

It’s difficult to get any work done around the barnyard. Seems I’m always ‘playing’ with the lambs and kids.

Honestly, who could resist?

Take time to play and have a nice day!