This is our first lambing season as a family. While we have had sheep in the past this was when we were living in town and my husband and his father were the ones that got to experience the daily tasks that went with it. This year was different. From the frustration and anticipation, sleepless nights and drug out days, to the excitement and devastation the kids and I were along for the ride.
It was a long season for us this year for a multitude of reasons most of which we have to claim as our own. A young ram coupled with a bum does not make for a smooth breeding process and we paid for that in the number of weeks spent anxiously awaiting the arrival of the lambs. Once lambing started it felt like it would never end as the spacing between each lamb could be hours or days apart. We have a small flock and this also did not help matters. There were just enough to keep us up at night but not enough to make all those nights eventful. Many nights were spent shivering in the barn listening to sheep snore with one grunting just enough to keep us from going back to the warmth of the house. It was almost like the sheep had gotten together and decided to take turns taunting us. I can just about imagine the conversation.
Sheep one, “I’ll stay up tonight and paw at the ground and grunt a little, maybe even give a couple of pushes for good measure.” Sheep two, “I’ll take the early morning. I’m thinking that if I pace back and forth and go in and out of the barn a few times that will make them nervous.” Sheep one is obviously the ring leader and continues, “Along with me and number 2, 3-6 will rotate through this week. That will put at least one of us into labor and really keep them on edge. Next week anyone that isn’t ready to give birth just shut things off completely. Then number 10 give them a good scare and writhe around on the ground a few times even though you are nowhere near close. We can start the rotation again with 7-16 and then maybe take off for a few days and see if they let their guard down. Make sure to time your births so that there are either 5 of us at once or we are spaced out one every few days.” This strategy continues for a few weeks and then this conversation occurs. Sheep 25, “We lost our leader today to the lambing pen so I’ll be taking over. Man are those people dumb. The male came out today and had two different boots on, we’re really wearing them down. I gave him a good scare when he fell asleep in the corner and I started grunting real loud. That kept him up way longer than normal. And the female, she looked like the chickens from the last farm when Number 3 started to lamb, arms flapping and clucking until the male came out. At least then her clucking was directed at him instead of us.” Number 26 snorts then says,” That’s nothing, Number 20 needed some assistance and the female actually had to do something for once. It was pretty comical the way she kept apologizing for where her hand was going. Then she looked so proud of herself, like she was the one that did the hard work. Number 34 laid down then and pretended to push for awhile. You should have seen the female, wiped the grin off her face pretty quick.”
I’m fairly certain that this is actually what has been happening and I don’t appreciate being compared, however accurately, to a chicken. The last 4 ewes I’m sure will keep up the charade until the bitter end.
Lambing really has been a great thing for our family. I’ve come a long way from not knowing that cats drank water to pulling lambs. Shawn and I have had to learn to work together more than ever before. The kids have the responsibility of some bottle lambs and all that entails. I’m especially proud of the kids and how they have handled their work load. They are taking the bottle lambs seriously and have made the necessary sacrifices of time and money and have realized that both are requirements of any investment. I’m especially happy that they are learning to work together and rely on one another for help. I’ve gotten to hear them hash out when to up the amount of milk for a certain lamb or when to add hay and grain, and discussing profit and loss. How can these two babies, that were just yesterday on the bottle themselves, be making what equates to business decisions with little outside assistance? These are exactly the types of situations that assure me that we made the right decision with moving out of town.
All and all lambing has been a good thing. Being close to the end is even better and I’m looking forward to a full nights sleep. Writing this has also made me realize that it’s normally my misadventures that spark me to blog and I’m sure the coming year will be full of that as we continue to grow the farm and I move slowly further away from the ignorant town girl that I was towards the competent farm wife that I strive to be.
Next week is a big one for us. It’s the first week of harvest for the CSA. Regular farmer’s market will not start until July 14th but some of my produce is not going to wait that long so I’ll need to set up between now and the 14th with some of my extras. I’m struggling to get as much weeding done before this time because once harvesting starts my weeding falls to the back burner. The plants are looking much better than I could have imagined this year and my biggest fear right now is a hail storm.
With the start of the CSA season fast approaching I’m struggling to get into a routine of updating the CSA Facebook group, post to my business page regularly, and come up with content for a weekly email update. As harvest starts this struggle will continue but also lessen to an extent because the produce will become the focus of all of these. What I’m hoping that our CSA members will get out of this is a better understanding of where there produce is coming from, the process behind getting their veggies, ways to use these veggies once they have them, and if there is an abundance how to store the produce for later use. This group is my main focus this year and I want them to have the best experience possible on top of the best produce that our garden provides.
I’m also looking forward to the start of Mandan Farmer’s Market. There should be an abundance of produce this year allowing for a great market table. This year I’m hoping to provide a wider variety along with a higher quantity of produce for the market. Again the CSA will come first but market should also be strong this year. Another thing new to me this year is being able to take credit and debit cards at market. Hopefully this will make purchasing fresh produce easier for those that, like me, rarely carry cash.
Despite having me as a caregiver, the garden is looking very good this year. While there are a few plants that are behind I’m confident that everything will produce well. Every inch of the garden will be covered in produce by the end of the season. After the disappointment of last years garden, between the lack of rain and my split dedication due to the move, this year is a great boost in confidence. I find myself walking through the garden multiple times a day and always finding something new. Every dark cloud in the sky, and this year there has been a few, sends me running to look at the radar in anticipation of a hailstorm that will wipe it all out. While I’m loving the rain that we are getting this year the stress of a possible major storm is really messing with my nerves. It’s something that I can’t control and I should probably have that tattooed to my hand as a reminder to calm the **** down when it starts to cloud over. Or maybe start to listen to my husband when he says the same thing but sadly I’m more likely to listen to something inked to my hand. (He’s aware of this and loves me anyway)
I can’t say how much I’m loving living out of town. This whole experience has been such a blessing for us and although I’m turning into a hermit I wouldn’t change a thing.
Just this morning I was thinking of how much easier it would be if we hadn’t moved. The wind was blowing like crazy, howling past the house and blowing debris through the yard. There are a million things to do that we can’t because of the weather. Tilling, planting, fixing roofs, moving bales, dirt work and so much more. It was over 70 degrees and nothing could be done outside.
My son grabbed a board game and said it’s a good time to play. We each won a game and then moved on to cards. Laughing and joking our way through to mid afternoon when he decided we needed to read for awhile. This whole time my daughter was getting welding lessons from her dad and helping him fix gates.
Now looking into the darkening yard from my wooded rocker on the front porch, a calm breeze carrying the scent of rain, I am so glad that we are where we are. In town I would have found somewhere to go and missed out on some quality time with an amazing little man. I would have missed the glow on my daughters face when she came in to tell me about what her and her dad had built. I can’t forget that I’d also be inside watching TV insead of sitting here listening to the sounds of day changing to night.
I’m very greatful to be where I am. Deep down I know that everything will get done. Or it won’t and that’s ok too.
We are now under a week away from the meet and greet! I’ve chatted with some amazing people on the phone about this and can’t wait to meet them in person. Yesterday was spent getting all my paper materials printed off and organized and adding a few bonus items to the information packets.
The weather is getting me a bit down. I find myself pacing around the house and yard, constantly checking the weather, as though it will suddenly be 70 degrees if I keep checking. Mud is my new nemesis. Between keeping it out of the house and trying not to rut up the yard and road I’m over it, but I also dont want to complain about it because mud means there is moisture and that was in short supply last year.
We ventured into bottle lambs this year and collected quite the assortment of bums from surrounding farms. They are extremely cute but it’s like having 30 infants that need feeding around the clock. Thankfully these infants don’t use diapers. The end is in sight though and feedings are getting more spread out with 20 that are eating totally on their own. 2 more weeks and they should all be moved over from the garage to the barn and we will have the option for more than 5 hours of sleep in a row.
Peppers, tomatoes, onions, cabbage, and some herbs have been started in the house and are stating to look pretty good. We will see if I can keep them going until it’s time to plant them outside. With all the containers, tables, and lights spread around I think my husband is finally convinced that a greenhouse needs to happen and I only started a small portion of the plants needed for the year.
This is also the time of year when I try to use up the last of the produce from the previous season. My freezer is looking a bit bare and my canning shelves are almost empty. I definitely need to adjust what I put away for the winter now that we have become hermits😆.
Hopefully I’ll be able to post more often now. Rumor has it that our internet hookup is not far away. Have an awesome week!
It’s been really hard to get into the gardening frame of mind but it must be done. With the recent snow my brain is having a hard time comprehending that spring is here and there are things that need my attention so that planting can hopefully start on time. We have been able to start a few things indoors this year and are hoping to have a greenhouse up and running for next season.
Some things in the works for this season:
We have a new partner in crime for the CSA, Laura Wamsley of Made on Bluestem. She makes some incredible homemade treats and is offering add-on shares in conjunction with our CSA shares. Check out our contract for more information.
There is a promotion running until May 11th for 5% off of CSA shares. This comes out to a savings of $17.50 for a small share and $27.50 for a full share. This applies only for the regular share not the add-ons.
We are doing our first ever Meet and Greet on April 22nd at Cappuccino on Collins from 10am until Noon. Just an informal time to come stop by and ask questions if you have any. Made on Bluestem will be providing samples of some of her delicious treats and coffee will be available to purchase. I’m hoping to make this a yearly thing to spread the word on CSA’s. Also CSA’s are not for everyone and getting a chance to meet potential members before signup will hopefully help us hookup with the members who will benefit most from our program.
I’m excited for our farmers market season this year also. There are so many people I haven’t seen since the end of season last year.
Well I’m sorry that this update was a little on the short side. Still waiting for internet at home and hoping to write more frequently once we get it.
It sat crooked on the side of a snow pack dirt road, obviously the target of a recent plow. Miles from any buildings, houses, or well… anything. Passing by we gave it a curious glance and speculated about its purpose. Was it left over from an abandoned place? Did it serve the local Gophers and Antelope?
On the second trip past the sad black box on its diagonals post, I couldn’t help but chuckle. Such an odd place for a mailbox. The previous drifts of snow now slush around its base. A good gust of wind would have put it on its side. As weird as it sounds I felt sorry for the poor thing, out there all by itself, with nothing but fields in any direction.
Some time passed before we saw it again. Now we made repeated trips past it pulling trailers full of boxes and furniture, toys and tools. Each time we went by it made me smile to see the lonely mailbox.
It took two days of unpacking before I thought about it again. That’s when reality sunk in and I realized it was my lonely mailbox.
The move is finally complete! Tilling, planting, fence and building repairs, and unpacking is underway and going well for now. Yesterday was the first day that I really got my hands dirty and was able to plant a few things. We brought the horses home and the kids are loving the space to run.
I’m loving my porch. Even though I’ve only sat down to enjoy it with my morning coffee, I can see it becoming my go to spot once things settle down a bit. It needs a bit of work and the view is currently blocked by trailers containing the few remaining boxes from the move, but it will hopefully all come together soon. The house is old, with lots of character and updates, and we’re slowly making it our own. We got to try out the coal furnace the last few nights, thanks to the cold weather. The heat it throws is amazing once we figured out how to get it going. (Thanks Wako and Mike, we would be using electric heaters without you!)
Picking a spot for the garden was the hardest part so far. Taking into account the water source and buildings we wanted to work on over the summer limited my options for placement but we got it figured out. It’s a bit smaller than I would have liked but will work for this year with some imaginative planting. I cut back on my space between rows and will be going vertical with a few things to save on room allowing me to plant the same number of plants, or more in some cases, in a little less space. I’ll talk Shawn out of some more room next year, or just till it up while he’s in town : )
So far the location has been great. It’s so peaceful out there and having everything right outside my door is a plus. My only complaint at this time is having to drive the kids to and from school, but that ends on Friday and next year they can get on the bus.
Hopefully next time I come in to use the internet I’ll remember my phone cord and can add some pictures.