To be honest, I’m thankful that we actually finally got some snow! It make it feel like winter and the holidays… and it covers up all the dingy brown muddy sort of yucky mess that is the end of fall on a small homestead farm!
It makes it seem like winter… and it neat to see all the animals growing their thick fuzzy coats and just playing in the snow. They do…. the ponies love to run and kick and buck and play in it, even the sheep frolick and buck, but the goats are less than impressed. They are waiting for the hog to go to market so that they get the big barn all to themselves! Silly goats.
Our mama Ebony and her four remaining piglets do not like the snow. In fact, if you were to look at their yard, there is not a single hog trail in it. Jessy had to lure them out with a bit of a snack and they took it and went right back into their cozy little shack with it’s big hog nest in it. No thank you. They are not snow pigs.
The chickens are all comfortable in the big barn except for a few roosters that will venture out for a stroll and usually end up in the little sheep shack in the paddock. Bucka Roo is doing pretty well so far. Last winter was especially tough on him, but he bounced back and now, he’s doing just fine. He’s still a very handsome rooster, even his golden years!
The goats and Angus have been hanging out in the sheep barn most of the time, staying warm and eating hay! Maggie fills up the hay bin in there daily, twice on cold days and everyone pretty much just stays put. Buttercup and Daisy get right in the dang thing… silly does!
It’s remarkable how much warmer it is in the barns. When you take the wind out of the equation and then add deep bedding which is slowly composting, it makes the buildings a good 20 degrees warmer than outside temperatures. We just keep laying fresh bedding in there for them and they are quite content to stay inside. We give everyone the option to get out for a little fresh air if they want, but generally, you will find most inside at any given moment. They aren’t foolish! It feels a lot nicer in the safe, comfy buildings.
We have come to an end of the second annual Windhaven breeding season! Harley and Otis are now done with their 2 month stints as love rams and I hope that they were successful. Only the end of April till tell! If we were really worried, I could have the ewes tested, but it’s not that big of a deal to me. I would be thrilled if we have a crop of lambs and most likely, we will. But if for some reason, we didn’t, well, that’s okay too. I’m pretty sure we will have goat kids because, well, goats are much more easy going about their love affairs than sheep. Dreamy was quite the busy little fellow with at least Buttercup and Daisy. Not sure if Rana also enjoyed his attention because of a slight, ah, size difference…. she’s a bit taller than he is…. but we are hopeful that he was determined!
Harley and Otis are now back in the front ram pasture and happy boys. Dreamy will stay with the goats because he’s shown himself to be quite the gentleman and is not head butty at all. And since he’s not really that big or hefty, he can remain with the goats until he proves himself unworthy. If he behaves, he can stay with them all indefinitely. Which is good, because he really likes hanging out with the goatie girls…. And the nice thing, is if he missed the mark with one heat cycle, he’ll have another couple to make the magic happen! He is a sweet little buck for sure.
Harley, on the other hand, really got into his job as the top ram of Windhaven, and he was a little too, shall we say, excited about his job as such. He was quick to slam into a post or act a little too protective when his ladies were involved. Having him loose in the middle yard would prove dangerous at some point and we have already learned our lesson about too friendly and human comfortable rams. Otis seems a little more laid back, but still, he enjoyed his first year of breeding very much and he’s just a few pounds behind Harley and packs a serious punch.
It’s a great setup we have and I hope it means we can keep our ram boys for years to come. They have a nice big pasture, nearly a third of an acre to themselves. And their super cool man shack complete with flags. And they are out of the way, yet, oddly, up front and can get some interaction from us every time we go to the mailbox or get in the car. It’s just perfect. They have each other to keep each other company. It’s a perfect setup, if you ask me! When we put them back together, there was a few hours of pushing and shoving, a bit of head cracking and dominance shows, but then they decided it was all for nothing, since the ewes were all hanging out with Angus, our whether, in the back and not interested. So they settled down to relax, put a little weight back on and just eat their way through the winter. They are happy boys. And hopefully, in the spring, will be new daddies!
Cody looks so small in that picture! He’s doing quite fine. His eye seems to be doing fine, healed up but a little runny at times. Teary, and he just might have a sort of chronic wet eye because of it. But it doesn’t seem to be slowing him down and he’s just as happy and crazy a little guy as always. Having Shadow has been a huge part of his recovery. They play like colts in the morning sunshine, ripping around and rearing up, kicking and bucking and just having a riot of a time. And once they are done, they let out big sighs, find a sunny spot and groom each other for awhile and take a nap. They really do have a pretty good gig here!
It’s so cold and such, that we’re not doing a whole lot of training or anything, just giving the boys a nice rest and a break. Maggie has been working with Shadow on a lot of just politeness and space issues. He’s really catching on fast. She has worked a bit with just walking him around on a lead and he’s getting much better at it. About 50% of the time, he actually stops when you ask him and you stop! That’s much better than before when he would just wander about and ignore you, dancing about on the lead. Cody is a prince at behaving on lead, so she will often hook them both up and just walk around the yard, stopping and starting and letting Shadow learn from Cody. But that’s really about the extent of it right now and that’s fine.
In the spring, we hope to evaluate Shadow’s training under harness and saddle and see where he stands. We were told that at one point he was broke for both, but it’s been years since he was asked to do anything. We’ll take it slowly! I know Maggie would like to train him to be a pack pony, so she can take him on hikes in the woods way out back. And bring her lunch and such! I believe he would like that a lot.
The piglet girls say NO WAY…. they took a few steps out and then turned right around and went back to bed! Silly hoggies…
We got our beautiful little boar pig last week… drove all the way down past Dayton to pick him up! His name is Onyx and he’s in a bit of quarantine right now just to be safe and will soon be introduced to Ebony and her children. I’ll write more about our trip and his addition to the farm, but we are so excited! He’s registered and pedigreed and is a perfect husband for our beloved Miss Ebony! I suspect we will have piglets in the spring as well as lambs and kids! It will be a fun summer for sure!
We sold two of our piglets already, and will be putting the other three up for sale in a week or so. We just got so busy with our holiday orders and such, and then another breeder in the area had her litter up for sale, so we thought it best to wait a bit. If we sell them, great! If we don’t, that’s fine too, we will raise them up as feeders. It’s a win win situation actually! We love the little hoggies! Right now they are about the size of a large cat! Or maybe a miniature Schnauzer! Easy to keep for sure. If you’re in the area and are interested in some lovely American Guinea Hog gilts… we have some beautiful ones! Just give me a shout… firstname.lastname@example.org
Love the doggies in the snow! They play and play and rip around the yard and just have a jolly good time! It’s fun to watch them. It’s funny how a little snow makes everyone young for awhile!
My garden lays quietly sleeping. The seed catalogs are starting to come in and I am thinking about my garden plans… it’s a lovely way to waste a little time in the afternoon…. plotting and planning…
Our wood furnace is doing well for us! We haven’t even used our propane furnace at all. We found a great pair of young men that deliver us a big load of wood for $75 bucks and it’s lasting us about 3 to 4 weeks. Considering that we would go through about $300 or more of propane, I think it’s quite splendid! We were going to get a tarp over it, but this last storm caught us off guard. A lot of it blew off and is gone now, so it’s not too bad. Maggie has been stacking it on the little porch there, and she gives it a good tap before she does. We keep about three or four days of wood on the porch there, easy to access it for the furnace just on the other side of the door.
Running a wood furnace does take a lot more work than just turning the dial up and down. But it’s a huge savings for us each month and if we can get through the heating seasons under $500? Oh, yes, it’s worth it! It works for us because we are usually home all the time. Occasionally, if we must be gone for the afternoon or evening, it can run down, but we are getting pretty good at getting it nice and loaded before we leave and we usually still have a warm house and coals in the pan, ready to get her going again strong.
Well, not a whole lot happening here… just winter! It’s a little bleak and overcast most days, and we’ve had a good deal of very cold nights and snowy afternoons. I hear we are in for another bit of weather this weekend… though they are saying rain and 40 degrees!!!! I don’t mind the 40 degree part, it really helps us to not burn so much wood! But the rain part? Rain? Ugh. We’ll probably keep everyone paddocked up and hopefully they will have the sense to stay in the barns and keep the mud down to a low level. I guess I better get a few bales of hay and some shavings to freshen up the barns! Hope everyone is having a nice little winter season opener in your part of the world!!!