Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Last Tuesday was a big day for the flock and not before time as it was getting hot and it was time for a hair cut. Phil our shearer came on time for an 8.30am start and the ewes were all nice and dry as we had sheded them over night. The wool must be dry when it is packed or else it will go mouldy and rot. Also shearers are fussy and don't like getting wet either. As the sheep had their lambs with them we sorted them out so as not to get in the way of the job and they waited for their mums to be sheared outside the barn though the noise they made it seemed as though they were right next to us.Phil is an experienced Australian shearer and though he is not as quick as in his younger days he does a nice tidy job. It made for a pleasant day with time to visit and tell tall tales over tea.
Once the fleece is off it is cast on a skirting table where it is cleaned up, any muck and plant material is removed and then the fleece is rolled up and put into a large jute wool sack which I hung from the front end loader. The wife had me save a couple of good fleeces for her hand spinning projects and the rest will be shipped to the wool growers co-op, where it will be graded and sold on to woolen mills.The wool has very little value depending on its grade from 20cents/lb to $1/lb and is usually a cost to the farmer rather than an income source. This of course is tough to believe when you go and buy a wool sweater, but as with all farm and ranch products all the money ends up in the middle mans and retailers pockets. I will save the economic rant for my other blog, when I calm down enough to write it!

High Water

We have had a lot of snow this past winter and with a cool spring it has been slow to melt. Over the last week we have had some mid 20c to 30c temps and this has caused a rush of snow melt and a rapidly rising river. The locals tell me it is the highest it has been since the big flood of '96, and has risen since I took these photos. It is just starting to flood the lower parts of the fields which is not a problem as these areas are so small. It has cooled off now and is raining, hopefully not too much. The cooler weather though stops the snow melt higher up so this should calm the river some what. Hot weather is again predicted for the coming week end so we may yet be able to paddle in the fields.

Horticultural Bent, or just desperate for fruit.

In our farm yard we have a strip of grass that serves no purpose except as a make work project for me and the lawn mower. Its too small to graze and we like to keep it looking nice as its next to the house. One of the main reasons for selling our ranch in Manitoba and moving to BC was to gain better weather and as I love fruit it meant we could grow more than just rhubarb. So what better place to start a new orchard as our only three apple trees are very old and on their last legs. After several trips to our local supplier with the trusty volvo station wagon I set to planting 16 trees, plums, cherries, apples, pear, apricot, nectarines and peaches. I figure between myself,wife ,kids and future grandchildren we should have enough for canning, pies and fruit leather. Then with all the wind falls and spoilt fruit we can sweeten up a couple of pigs for the freezer.

Quiz Answer

Well, seems there were no takers on the yellow faced ewes perhaps a look at these photos may help. Note the abundance of dandelions, for several days they were all full of pollen hence the yellow faces and my yellow shoes and pant legs. Luckily none of the ewes suffer hay fever!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Whats this?

Our sheep have been coming in with this lovely yellow mark and I was guessing their best before date is coming due!! Any guesses, answer in a few days.

Friday, May 9, 2008

New Kittens

Our faithful mum cat "Nappy" had kittens again the other week but not in the normal fashion of a barn cat. All the cats I have ever known always go and hide in a dark corner or the hay stack to have their kittens, and Nappy always has hers on the stable roof within the barn, safe and secure. Now in all my years I have seen many different animals give birth but never a cat. Now we knew Nappy would have a big litter as not only was she big and round but in the last few days she had kept her feet firmly on the ground, climbing had just become too difficult. So it really should not have come as a surprise when I went in the barn one afternoon and heard high pitched meowing of new born kittens. There was Nappy in the middle of the barn floor having her kittens in full view without a care in the world. I ran to get my wife and camera to witness the event. Nappy was quite happy about the whole thing and didn't seem to mind the camera flash . The neatest thing for me was watching her pull her own kittens out when they were stuck, I just wish sheep, cattle and goats were as smart and flexible and I would have a lot less stress in the Spring. She had six kittens in all and kept them on the floor for a day getting her strength back and then she packed them one by one up the wall to her spot on the stable roof. We have not heard or seen them since but it usually takes twenty or so days and then she will bring them down to play so we will have to be patient and hope all is well in the mean time.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Can we come up?

With the warmer weather we can have afternoon tea on our deck, as you can see these two want to join us, more for biscuits than tea I am guessing!

Spring is here

It has finally warmed up the last few days and with warmer nights the grass is starting to grow and as you can see the leaves are breaking bud on the trees. Even the dandelion's are looking pretty,these ones are in a sheltered spot but soon all the fields in the valley will be yellow with this pesky weed. If you are grazing or making silage they are not too much of a problem but they can be a pain when making hay as they slow down the drying time due to their high moisture content.
The grass is now moving so we should be able to stay ahead of the flock. This is good as we would have to run on the other side of the river if grazing got tight. We have yet to find a Mareema puppy to raise with the flock for a guardian dog and would need one on the other side of the river as the coyotes are much braver there than close to the road and house on this side. If any one knows of a bitch pup up to 4 months old that is with sheep please drop me a line as we really need to get one started for next year.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Turn Out

Turn out finally, I got fed up of feeding them and they were sick of eating silage. So on 25th April we let them loose for their first grass of the year. They rushed out leaving the lambs behind so we had to walk them out to their mums, and they soon caught on to the tasty green stuff. To top it all the sun came out and made for a perfect afternoon snooze in the grass after a belly full of mums milk and a side salad of fresh greens !
Its been a week now and we have had a pasture shift which went well, and some rain and warmer weather so we think the grass should stay ahead of the sheep. If not I can turn them into the garden to graze the lawn as it always seems to need mowing !

Quiz Answer

Yes I know the comments box is gone and I apologise to those trying to answer the quiz. Unfortunately an unsavoury character left me an ugly virus for a comment and gave my computer a hissy fit. Thankfully my anti virus stopped and contained it so no major harm done except to my nerves and my opinion of my fellow human beings, hence a closing of the comment box until I pluck up the courage to open it. I wouldn't mind if I wrote a hard assed opinion blog or something distasteful, but cute lambs and farm scenes are hardly offencive.
Well back to the quiz, I left the lawn irrigation on over night by mistake and it dropped to -6c and every blade of grass had a large finger sized ball of ice on the tip , so with the early morning sun I lay down on the lawn and took a photo of the field of ice balls. If you look closely you will see the blade of grass in one of the bubbles.