Winter is here and I haven't felt much like blogging. We were in the throes of get-it-done-before-the-snow-gets-here for most of the fall, especially November. Fortunately the snow held off for the most part until December. We got a little bit early in the month, but the first big snow arrived on the 9th.
Just before it arrived, we finally got the roof part of the solar hot water system done. During Thanksgiving week, when my parents were visiting, my dad and Ken got the collector rack mounted on the porch roof. That left the plumbing part to finish. This was what we completed just before the snow came, and then Ken had to finish the plumbing in the basement. The system is an Apricus-30 which uses vaccuum tubes mounted on the above-mentioned rack to heat glycol which flows down into the basement and through a heat exchanger where it preheats the domestic hot water. Pretty nifty.
Earlier in November we bought two yearling ewes from Dancing Lamb Farm in NY, bringing our adult ewe count up to 6. We made two breeding groups with them and our two rams, each ram having 3 ewes. This year we constructed our breeding pens with a 6-8 foot no sheep zone in between to avoid the kind of problems we had a year ago (see "Merry Christmas, we broke the fence!" from December 2008). So far it is working well. The breeding groups were put together on November 22nd. Lambing should happen starting mid-April and continue through mid-May. I was actually hoping to have most of the lambs come earlier in the year than they did last year, and put the breeding groups together earlier. But I think at least one ewe will be lambing mid-May-ish, where last year we were all done by May 1st. Oh well!
We also have two ewe lambs that I didn't want to breed. They are spending the winter with our wether, Oliver, in a separate pen up behind the house. They are cute, but demanding, and it doesn't help that they can see us through the windows of the house. "Bring us hay now, hay wench!"
Also in mid-November we sent 3 lambs and a 2 year old ewe to the butcher. Two of the lambs were breeding quality, but not many people were in the market for breeding stock this year, so we sold them for meat. We didn't have the space or hay to keep them over the winter. The other lamb and the ewe were necessary culls to keep the quality of our flock up.
So now it's just the usual mid-winter chore routine, pretty much. Fortunately we have not had the amount of snow that fell in the last two winters. Here are a couple of winter scenes.
Yes, it sure is nice not to be buried in snow this year. And the temps have been fairly mild. Let’s hope this continues through Feb. After that the winter is almost over!