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Permalink 12:45:10 pm, by Karen Email , 192 words   English (US)
Categories: Journal

More bear adventures

This morning, at 9:15, Jake and I went out the back door on the way to feed the sheep and the poultry. Jake immediately WUFF-ed and went to the edge of the slope behind the house, then started barking and growling loudly and charged down into the trees. I got to the edge in time to spy the backend of a bear hightailing it in the opposite direction. Then I saw a movement up higher and looked and there was a bear cub hanging on about 20 feet up a tree. So, this was mama bear and at least one cub making the attempt to come up behind our house. I don't think mama bear went too far, as Jake kept running down and barking, and then coming back to my call, and then heading back down again. I ran and grabbed the camera and managed a couple pictures of the baby. Not the best, as I had to zoom in as much as I could. Baby bear apparently decided that he'd best rejoin mama so he waited until Jake was back with me and then scooted down the tree and scampered off lickety-split.


Permalink 07:33:19 pm, by Karen Email , 31 words   English (US)
Categories: Journal

Garden before and after

Here is the garden before I got started on it this year. The photo was taken April 12.

And here is the garden as of today. It definitely needs to be bigger.


Permalink 12:32:34 am, by Karen Email , 459 words   English (US)
Categories: Journal


I've been lax at updating so here is some of what has been going on, in random order:

Yesterday we scored a huge pile of used metal roofing from Freecycle. Woohoo! We are going to be building a woodshed, and used metal roofing is just fine. Plus, any leftovers can be used for roofs on hayfeeders. Hurray for Freecycle!

All the ewes were sheared and then moved over to the summer pasture with their lambs. We kept the ram here and also the bottle lamb, Oliver. We only have the one ram here (Umbri) along with Oliver. They are doing OK with each other for company. Oliver is getting big and spunky! Here is Umbri pre- and post-shearing, and Oliver learning how to graze.

The oldest of our two rams sadly had to be put down. He had gotten an infection in his front teeth, and we didn't notice it for quite some time as he wasn't acting any differently. Not until a couple of his teeth fell out was it apparent. He ate fine but I think the infection got into his circulation and he couldn't shake it, even with antibiotics. We were going to butcher him this summer, but the way he went, we didn't feel comfortable even using him for dog food, so we had to dig a very large hole.

On a happier note, recently I have updated our farm website with pictures of lambs for sale so venture on over to Birchtree Farm if you'd like to take a look!

Of course, I have also been working on getting a garden in. I started tomatoes (three heirloom varieties: Black Krim, Cherokee Purple, and Giant Pink Belgium), peppers, eggplant, broccoli, and cabbage indoors in early April. The cabbage and broccoli went out into the garden a few weeks ago. I also planted peas a few weeks ago and they are now up at least a foot high and are climbing the trellis. I got the tomatoes in the ground in mid-May, and the peppers and eggplants in on Memorial Day, and now have to cover them tonight due to a frost advisory. I've also planted pole beans and two kinds of bush beans, two kinds of beets, and some swiss chard. That filled up the garden, so my lettuces and spinach will have to go into big pots.

On the perennial side of things, I put in two heartnut trees, two beach plum, two aronia (black chokeberry), two different table grape varieties, three lowbush blueberries, two cranberry bushes, and twenty-five Ozark everbearing strawberry plants. Then I whacked the raspberry patch back into it's original boundaries and perhaps later I'll clear out the center and turn it into two rows to make them easier to pick.


Permalink 12:25:49 pm, by Karen Email , 15 words   English (US)
Categories: Pasture

Mixie's ewe lamb

Here are the photos of Mixie and her ewe lamb, twin to our bottle lamb.


Permalink 11:40:40 pm, by Karen Email , 899 words   English (US)
Categories: Pasture

Final lamb rush

The remaining lambs came in a final rush on Friday. First, I went out in the morning to check on them, and found most everyone up in the hoophouse as it had been raining. I looked at Mixie as I thought she would be the next one to lamb. But then I notice Anya, with some afterbirth hanging, and she moved a bit and there was a new lamb. This one was a ram, and he was smaller, at 6lbs. Anya is Stefi's sister and also a first time mother, and was doing the same thing as Stefi had done - trying to keep track of the lamb so well that every time he tried to find the udder, she would turn around. So went and got Ken and we held Anya still so the lamb could nurse. I also pulled out about an ounce of colostrum that I had collected from Stefi, and gave that to him in a bottle. So that got him started, and then he and Anya figured things out.

Then, Friday afternoon I went out to feed at about 4:30, and Mixie was just starting hard labor. I watched and a nose and two hooves appeared so I left her to it. She pushed for several minutes and I was wondering if I was going to have to help like I had with Stefi, especially as the toes appeared rather large. But I decided to just let her get on with it and not worry unless she hadn't made any progress after half an hour or so. So I went back to the house and came back down no more than 10 minutes later, and there was the lamb, just delivered! Mixie got up, turned around and started talking to her and cleaning her off. It was a big ewe lamb. She was on her feet within 5 minutes and headed towards her mom with one purpose - get to the udder!

Then I got a bit of a surprise. Mixie was freaking out at this *thing* coming at her, and kept backing up, and when the lamb kept coming, she knocked her down, and then proceeded to start licking and cleaning her again. Of course the lamb got back up and headed towards mom, and mom backed up and backed up, and then knocked her sideways and recommenced talking to her and cleaning her.

It seemed as if Mixie was very happy to have her lamb, as long as the lamb remained on the ground and didn't try to touch her!

So, I moved the lamb into the pen, and got Mixie in as well, and tied Mixie up and got the lamb onto a teat, which was not difficult as the lamb was raring to go. Then I let Mixie go again and watched. Lamb was bleating, Mixie would respond and lick her. Lamb would head for a teat, and Mixie would push her over. Oh boy.

I dashed off a quick email to my Icelandic shepherds email list, and back outside to make sure things were OK. It looked like Mixie was done lambing, and Ken got home and so with both of us it was a bit easier to hold Mixie so the lamb could nurse.

Mixie had delivered the ewe lamb at about 5pm. Between 6:30 and 7pm, suddenly another water bag appeared, and seconds later, another lamb just slid out and hit the ground! It happened so fast that Mixie didn't realize she'd had another lamb! We had to clean off the sac so it could breathe and Mixie sniffed it but as her first lamb was up and active and calling, she kept going back to that one, and totally ignored the second. We were able to get about 3 oz of colostrum from Mixie using the EZ milker, and put it in a bottle and gave it to the new lamb. He drank all 3 oz, and we started drying him off with a towel.

Long story short, we ended up bringing him inside and let Jake finish getting him clean and dry. Dog tongues work as well for that as ewe tongues. :-) We tried getting more colostrum from Mixie, but she would not let down any more milk for us. As the ewe lamb was so big and stocky, and had nursed several times when we held Mixie, we decided to just leave them alone for the night. Darkness and quiet apparently did the trick, because by morning they had things worked out.

So now we have a bottle lamb named Oliver. He weighed almost 7lbs at birth, which is a normal size, and would probably have done fine if Mixie had accepted him. By later that night he was following me around the kitchen like a little wind-up toy. The ewe lamb by the way was 9lbs and both of them have very thick fleece. The ewe lamb is black with some fancy white flashing on her head. It looks like someone dripped white paint on top of her head and some of it ran down behind her ears on both sides. The ram is a black mouflon with a lot of golden "frosting". Eventually we will wether him and keep him as a fiber animal.

I don't have any pictures yet of Mixie and the ewe lamb, but here are a couple of Oliver, living the high life.

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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.
Farm Bill
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