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12/10/08

Permalink 01:27:30 am, by Karen Email , 765 words   English (US)
Categories: Journal

More Catching Up

I really need to keep up with this blog better. It's been another month plus since my last entry. So here's the news from Birchtree Farm...

The Monday of Thanksgiving week was the last day before the snow came. The rams were still over on the borrowed pasture and we needed to get them home so they could perform their required duties for the month of December. However, that required finishing the breeding pens and coming up with some way to keep the rams from playing head-bashing games with each other.

That Monday I went out and pounded all the t-posts needed to divide the paddock in half north-south and then take the one half and divide it in half east-west, creating two smaller areas approximately 30-32 feet on a side. Monday night I watched the news and they were calling for a "coating to 2 inches" of snow for our area. Well, we woke up the next morning to 6 inches and more still coming. By the time it was done snowing there was about 10 inches of snow... and then it started raining. We had to shovel the driveway as neither the snowblower nor the tractor wanted anything to do with the snow. The snow was already wet, and once it started raining, it just got wetter, and heavier. Ken ended up not going to work at all that day because by the time we got everything shoveled, including Ken going up and shoveling off the roof of the shed (which has a very shallow slope), it was 2pm and we were both about dead. But then there were still chores to do, including taking hay and water over to the rams. The hoophouses for the sheep had partially collapsed under the weight of the wet snow so those had to be shoveled off and then reinforced.

Wednesday Ken was back to work, and I went out and wrestled some fencing into place on one section of the new pens, and went over and delivered hay to the rams again. Thursday (Thanksgiving) we both were out doing the rest of the fencing, all except for the dividing line between the pens. We were going to use cattle panels for those, as they are taller than the regular fencing (to prevent amorous sheep from jumping over), and can be easily put up and taken down. We were so tired that we did not have our Thanksgiving dinner that day. I managed some toasted cheese sandwiches. Friday we drove to the farm store and picked up the cattle panels. I made Thanksgiving dinner that day.

Saturday was the big day. We got the panels in place, and covered them with tarps to provide a visual barrier between the two pens. Then we took the trailer over to pick up the rams. With a couple ropes and a bucket of grain for a bribe, we backed the trailer into the lane leading to the pasture, then walked down to the gate. They were waiting for us, probably expecting more hay. While they were focused on the grain bucket, we took the ropes which had a loop on one end like a lasso, and looped each ram around the base of their horns. Then picking up the grain bucket, we started back toward the trailer with the rams on their "leashes". Umbri did a lot of head tossing, and jumping around, but he kept following Falkur, whose only concern was that he not let the grain bucket get too far ahead of him. Up into the trailer they went, and we headed for home.

Once we got there, we led Umbri out of the trailer and down the lane. It took a bit of convincing until he realized there were ewes waiting. We finally got him into his pen, and turned around to see Falkur waiting for us at the gate. He'd jumped over the dividing panel in the trailer and come up the lane all by himself. So into his pen he went, and then the entertainment began.

Rams chasing ewes around can be quite hilarious. The rams chase each ewe in turn trying to see if she's receptive. They weren't. Well, one of Falkur's was, sort of, but she made him work for it. After a few minutes of running around in circles, the rams' tongues were literally hanging out, and they would call the ewes while their tongues flapped up and down. This is a family-friendly blog, so I will end the description there. They did finally calm down by nightfall, much to the ewes' relief I think.

11/07/08

Permalink 03:00:32 pm, by Karen Email , 241 words   English (US)
Categories: Journal

Keeping Warm

We now have our new Resolute Acclaim stove installed, as of yesterday. Here are some photos of the final stages of preparing the hearth area.

The hearth floor - my first time laying tile. Not too bad, eh?

The hardibacker cement board mounted to the wall on one-inch spacers (to provide airflow behind the wall shields):

The hearth complete with the wall shields tiled and grouted. The grouting was done on Wednesday, and I came down with a bad stomach bug that day. I got the one side nearly complete before I gave up and called Ken and asked him to come home. I spent the rest of the day lying on the couch, moaning and watching him work. He finished wiping down the side I had grouted, and then grouted the other side.

And here it is, all installed and ready for action. To cover the ugly thimble, we mounted hardibacker board, and will tile it at some future date. For now, it looks fine! When the installers came, the one guy walked into the living room and said "Whoa - that's great!" He had seen how that corner looked originally, when he came for the site check, and I think he had doubts about how we were going to make it better, but he was impressed.

We started the break-in fires yesterday, so we should be ready soon for regular use. It's just so nice to have this project done! Ahhhh.....

11/04/08

Permalink 02:42:42 pm, by Karen Email , 126 words   English (US)
Categories: Journal

Words of wisdom

Found this, called "The Ten Cannots" the other day:

* You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
* You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
* You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
* You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
* You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
* You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
* You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
* You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
* You cannot build character and courage by destroying men's initiative and independence.
* And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.

--William J. H. Boetcker, 1916 (often attributed to Lincoln)

11/02/08

Permalink 01:12:44 am, by Karen Email , 267 words   English (US)
Categories: Journal

Catching up

It's been a busy month since my last entry. We've had folks visiting, helping with getting various things done like stacking wood, picking up apples, and painting the K-1 tank. We've sheared sheep, worked on the hearth, and of course, brought home a new puppy!

Ken's dad and Aunt Betty visited for a couple days and helped with getting two cords of wood stacked, and more trees cut in the woods. My parents visited for a week and couldn't sit still either :-) so windows were washed, apples were picked up and applesauce made, and the outside K-1 tank was painted. (Really, we are extremely grateful for everyone's help.) During that week, I went to NY and picked up Jake, our new puppy, and a snowblower from Ken's dad. After I got back we got the sheep sheared. In between I started more work on the hearth, getting the walls spackled and primed and painted, and then we put down the cement board in preparation for tiling. The stove is due to be delivered next week. We actually have the tile base done now, and just have to create the heat shields for the wall and tile around the thimble to pretty it up.

More photos forthcoming, but here are some pictures from the last month.

Jake on his first day home, 9 weeks old:

Tired pup:

Jake on Oct 26th, 11 weeks old:

Chocorua Lake and Mt. Chocorua:

Mt. Chocorua:

Hearth area with walls spackled and primed, ready to paint:

Hearth area painted (wall color is greener than this photo indicates), and cement board hearth base installed:

Naked sheep:

09/30/08

Permalink 03:02:12 am, by Karen Galle Email , 316 words   English (US)
Categories: Journal

Very soon now we will have a new addition to the farm. We are getting an English Shepherd puppy from the Blacksheep Homestead Farm in Rock Stream, NY and are *very* excited. The English Shepherd (ES) is a type of old-time farm collie. More about farm collies can be seen at the American Working Farmcollie Association website. If you look under the link for Registered Dogs, you will see Blacksheep Kermit's Flame (known as "Piggy") listed. This is the mother to the litter that our pup is coming from. The PRGN registration is a working registration, not based on a standard of looks, like the AKC would use, but based on a dog's abilities in three areas: herding, guarding, and hunting.

From the AWFA website: "The American Working Farmcollie, also known as the Old Farm Shepherd, (Old Shep) was once the most popular dog in the country. As descendants of the Old Scotch Collie, the farmcollies were versatile dogs, indispensable to farmers in the 19th and early twentieth centuries. During that period, it was this dog that most Americans thought of as a “collie”, although they were quite different from the AKC collies of today. The Farmcollie in this country quite likely also carried the blood of other types of herding and shepherd dogs that were brought here from Europe, but he remained a dog that clearly showed his Scotch Collie heritage."

Tish Toren of the Blacksheep Homestead Farm has selected her dogs to be good all-around farm dogs, which is exactly what we need. Piggy's description on the AWFA website says it all. Tish has selected a pup for us that she believes will work well with our Icelandic sheep, which as a breed is more independent-minded and not strongly flocking. He will also be able to keep the poultry from roaming where they shouldn't, guard against predators, and of course, be a wonderful companion.

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Sharing ideas from our small farm in NH, where we raise Icelandic sheep and assorted poultry. We are members of ISBONA (Icelandic Sheep Breeders of North America) and the CLRC (Canadian Livestock Records Corporation). We also participate in the Voluntary Scrapie Flock Certification Program (NH54). Contact us at karen [at] birchtreefarm [dot] com. Please also visit the farm website at Birchtree Farm.
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