Our last sheep baby having his last nursing on his mommie. Frodo got the rude wake up call this afternoon when we had to catch him and put him out with the other big boys in the ram field. He was not very happy but I’m pretty certain his mom was relieved. Poor Bridget! He was getting so big he would literally lift her up off the ground to nurse! She just can’t tell her babies no. So we helped out a bit. He cried for a few hours until the other boys started to play head butt with him and he forgot about mom and went to playing. By dinner time, he was right in the thick of the gang, eating and having a good ol’ time with Harley and his gang of ramlings.
Everyone out enjoying the middle yard for a little autumn grazing. The grass is just not growing a lot so we can’t let them out all the time. They would destroy it and that would look unpleasant. Besides, there isn’t much to eat, so we just limit their access to the middle yard towards the end of the year. It is nice to let them have a little room to run and frolic though. I think it’s so peaceful to watch sheep graze. I love to watch how they move around and the patterns they make as they do. I love sheep.
And of course, I love my Buttercup. She has enlightened me into the love of goats. I still think they can be a pain in the patootie at times, but this lady has changed my mind on goats as a whole. I still don’t really want a bunch of them, however. And it’s a good thing that she adores her bestie, Daisy, because Daisy is a real pain in the patootie! But since she is her Highness Princess Buttercup’s best friend, I have to tolerate her.
Jessy is giving them a back scratch with the evil nut ball picker-upper thingy. We got that handy helper at a garage sale and we love playing with it in the fall, picking up black walnut balls. And then throwing them in a bucket or the firepit. I know that some people love these evil things, but we just don’t. If you’d like to come and rid our yard of several thousand of these things… by all means, just come on by!
Luna is extra cuddly in the fall…. here she is selecting her next cuddle victim! Maggie needs to run! Run!!!!
All day long, Cody Pony and the two angora goats were hanging out together. It was weird. Like they were in cahoots. Maybe they were. I don’t know. Usually, Cody hangs out with his bestie Shadow and the goats kind of flip flop between the sheep and the milk goats. But for some reason, they were all in this tight little group all day! I never did figure out why.
More sheep grazing! I just love how fuzzy and wooly they are getting already. Come spring, they are going to have some amazing fleeces! I can’t wait to spin them… They will be beautiful!
I am also a little worried at how much hair and fleece everyone is putting on. The ponies are starting to look like little wooly bears. The short hair milk goats are starting to get hairy! The sheep are definitely getting a good grow on. It’s only just the first of October. We have five more months of cold coming. I think they know something we don’t know. Or they are remembering last year and are getting prepared early.
Just a little personal victory to report. We have finally got to a point that both Ratchet and Evee can be out in the middle with the hoof stock and not chase them! This is HUGE! Mostly Evee, she has been so terrified of the sheep that she would rush and attack them, causing panic and chaos. We have been working ALL summer to acclimate them both to each other. The sheep to the dogs and the dogs to the sheep. Unfortunately, not all sheep herding breeds instinctually understand complex commands and have herding ability. She was really fearful of them, just panicked when she was close and would act so unpredictably. Ratchet would get upset when he saw his beloved lady dog all upset and he would start barking and chasing. It was not a good thing.
We started with just a few sheep in the middle and just kept bringing the dogs out and distracting them with catch games and walks on the long leash. It just took a LOT of time together, in frequent visits, but with distractions. Finally, it got to a point that Evee would just ignore the sheep and goats and was calm in the middle. The best part was when we had Harley, our big mature ram, get out of his pasture and both dogs helped to keep us safe and Harley safe as we got him back in his pasture. I can not say that they were “herding”… however, they were keeping him occupied as we calmly led him back to his bachelor pad. It was the first major step to having them help us with livestock in a time of need.
Since then, Jessy has been working on Evee, teaching her to herd chickens! It’s very funny to watch, but Jessy can call her when the free range chickens get too close and swarm her. Evee will run right over, circle around Jessy and drive them a few feet away on command! It’s small steps that help her to learn to help us! And let me tell you, there is nothing better to a herd dog then to be of some sort of assistance. When Jessy rewards Evee with pats and good girl, you think that dog is going to drop over dead from pure happiness. She’s also learning what “Bad Goat” means… and that means to go and check and see what the bad goat in question is doing. She hasn’t quite figured out HOW to stop the bad goat, but she will go and run a circle around the said culprit and that usually makes the goat stop and contemplate the dog for a few moments. Especially Daisy. She hates dogs. It’s all very fascinating to watch evolve. I know with the right training and exposure, Evee would make a good herd dog. Ratchet? Well, he just likes to follow along with what his lady is doing. He’s all backup!
This is the last picture of Ebony and her two yearling gilt daughters, Cheyenne and Shawnee. We sold Shawnee to a lovely family a few towns over and she will begin to help raise new litters of American Black Guinea hogs! We are going to keep Cheyenne and Ebony as our pair of breeding sows. Now that Cheyenne is old enough to be a mom in the spring, we will be bringing Onyx, our boar, back to be their litter daddy. Both girls are unrelated to him, so it works out nice… we will have a lovely little breeding trio of our hogs, and hopefully four litters a year or so.
We feel comfortable with that arrangement. It will produce enough nice piglets for the breed, some to sell as breeding stock and some as feeders. We will begin to raise a few feeders for ourselves this coming year, hopefully! We can’t seem to keep any piglets, they are in good demand! Hopefully, if our spring litters are bountiful, we will be able to sell a few piglets and keep a few, too! That would be lovely. Guinea hog meat is super good and considered gourmet in flavor!
My little flock of French Copper Marans are doing wonderfully. I have a nice collection of gray and splash hens. And this beautiful blue rooster… Cunalt! His brother Renault is a lovely Black Copper Marans boy and just as pretty, but I am very partial to the blues. One of the splash hens is sitting on a nest of eggs! We hope that maybe she can hatch them, but we are not holding our breath. Young hens going broody is not always a good thing and it’s fairly late in the season. If she does manage to hatch a few, we may have to take them away from her for their own protection. However, we are going to wait and see… and Maggie is working on a few ideas to rig up a sort of little coop for her inside the coop where we can hang a heat lamp and give them a chance to grow up with momma hen! We think that is best, if we can manage it. It just might be one of those wait and see, day at a time situations.
We have a lot of good friends here on the homestead, but the very best match up has to be Blackjack and Dreamy. At the very beginning, Dreamy was not thrilled at the little brat kid he was pared up with, but over the last couple weeks, they have become best friends. Dreamy has always kind of been alone…. when he was roping horse bait, he was alone. Here, we tried to pair him up with Harley the ram and that worked when Harley was a yearling, but as soon as he started to really bulk up as a mature ram, he was just head and shoulders bigger than little Dreamy. Blackjack might mature a wee bit bigger than Dreamy, but he will always be respectful of his uncle Dreamy.
They are just getting along so well! Dreamy takes good care of him, teaching him how to be a goat. So often, bottle baby goats can end up, well, a little too un-goatlike. They think they are humans and just don’t always get how to be a goat. It’s been delightful to watch Dreamy bond with the little nipper, teaching him where to graze and what leaves to eat and where to take good naps in the afternoon sun. He’s taught him how to head butt and when to mind your elders when they don’t want to play 24 hours long. Blackjack follows him around like a baby and they are always together. It’s so sweet to see them cuddled up together for protection and warmth. It’s just brought Dreamy alive with a purpose and that purpose is to be a little orphan kid’s best buddy.
I even think that Buttercup is a little jealous. Of course, she won’t admit it. But I’ve seen her sidelong glances of the green meanies when she watches the two boys play on the wire spools and run around their little private pasture. Oh well, she had her chance. Actually many, many chances! Now, Dreamy has his own little nephew to spoil and fawn over and I think he’s finally one happy little goat. Can’t you see it on his face? He loves the little wort.
Well, that’s about it for what’s going on here at the homestead. I’m feeling better and getting lots of rest and all, trying to heal up for the end of the month and the adventures that will ensue with surgery. Not exactly what I wanted to be doing, but hey, lots of folks have had it done and say it was just the best thing ever. I am looking forward to feeling a bit better, that is for sure. And I’m happy to be getting it done now, in the late Fall, when things are winding down and it will be a lot easier to sit in my comfy chair, heal and craft, watch movies and such.
We are trying to get things ready for the winter as best as we can. We have some sheep for sale, as well as some winterization plans that we are trying to implement soon, before the icy cold winds blow hard. Trying to wrap up a lot of client work and other things on the to do list before the end of the month. We also have to get the various animal shelters wrapped up and ready for the cold. Heated water buckets have to be brought out, heat lamps for here and there. The heavy plastic stapled up and making the barns cozy and warm. We need to get a few loads of straw into each barn to make it nice and deep for everyone to cuddle up in when the nights get really cold. And we want to try and get a good load of hay and feed in store to make it much easier to stay homebound for times when no one really wants to venture out! But that’s another post… right now, we just want to enjoy the fall and not worry TOO much about the winter….