Monday, April 27, 2009

Baby Boy Arrives in Freetown

Hi All

This would be my first official post on this blog and a pretty special one.
Early on Monday morning Sally gave birth to a Baby Boy. I should use the term baby loosely as he weighed in at 10.5 lbs and 23 inches long.
Both Mom and baby are doing great and will post more when Sally returns home (hopefully if she has time).


Friday, April 24, 2009

Nothing new.....literally

Just a quick update for anyone using this as their forum for baby updates; nothing.

Been having some conflicts with my doctor as of late, but my next appointment is not until Monday afternoon, at which time he will likely want to schedule an induction, so if nothing happens by then, surely there will be something to report by Tuesday night.

I'm not really keen on induction, since I already know that Mother Nature is a much better nurse than anyone else (see previous entries about sheep and deliveries-yes, I know I'm not a sheep), but since the baby is gaining about a pound per week at this point, I'm not going to fight it all that much. The doc had wanted to induce me the past Monday, but I declined. May not have the same sense of 'nature-based loyalty' come next Monday.

Lucy and I celebrated Earth Day with our annual garbage ditch pick. Got one pretty big bag of garbage and then my partner decided she'd had enough, so while it was a pretty quick Earth Day project for us, we DID manage to do SOMEthing. Also spotted some pussy willows while picking, which was a nice sign of spring.

So, that's all from the farm. It has been sort of hard to take on any major projects around here since we don't know when we'll have to drop them in favour of a trip to the hospital. Mark has been building gates and filling in gaps in my sheep pasture this week, which is really great. We're expanding it a bit at the entrance and also looking at our options for fencing the rams being fattened (since once again I didn't get around to castrating and they'll need to be separated before they're ready to ship). We're looking at using the back part of the main barn for a lambing/winter barn and pasturing out behind it as well. This would give me the option of lambing at two different times of the year, which I currently don't have the space for. So lots of big plans at this point. We'll see how they all play out.

The weather has been windy and wet, but I think it's looking up. Lucy has been having her twice daily swings on the swingset, rain or shine, so summer MUST be on its way. Here she is in her Carhartt overalls (compliments of Joey Cook) ready for action.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Happy Spring?!

As I'm sure almost all of you are more than aware, the Easter bunny brought more than just chocolate with him to the Maritimes this year. We woke up to as much snow as we could believe. Check out our big snowman we made to 'celebrate' what we are sure must be the end of winter. Just the weekend before, I was out in flip flops and short pants, enjoying the sun like a cat on our asphalt driveway while Lucy batted a ball around, without the cumbersome snow pants she's become so used to.

While most of the snow has managed to melt away, there is still lots around the hedgerows and where there were large drifts, and much to Lucy's delight, Mr. Snowman is still hanging tough (down to his ball..., but still there).

Just to add to your confusion as to just what season it is, it happened by chance, that Mark's sister, Martha dropped off her still very green Christmas tree at the farm on the Saturday before Easter, as a place to get rid of it. My parents always fed their tree to our sheep, so I continued the 'tradition' here on the island and this year at Christmas, Mark noticed something peculiar. Prior to feeding it, we had a couple ewes showing 'daggy' bums (sign of the runs) and figured it meant a potential parasite problem (it's one of the common indicators). About a week after the tree had been in the pen and was getting pretty well cleaned up, the ewes 'dried up' as well. We don't know if it was a coincidence or a medical marvel, but we know the sheep really love the trees and it's nice to be able to give them some green matter this time of year. I question the nutrient value, but it certainly can't hurt. Maybe I should pass this on to some master's student desperate for a topic and let them figure out if there's any actual value or not. The lambs certainly loved picking away at it.

Speaking of the lambs, they are really growing and eating more and more everyday. Feeding grain in an organic system is always a discussion, and creep feed (feed especially for lambs) is no exception. It is generally accepted in the organic industry that sheep and cattle are not really originally designed to eat grains, that they are really strictly grass/forage eaters. It is also generally accepted in most other circles that producing livestock profitably (up to a saleable weight in a reasonable amount of time) involves some amount of grain. Anyone who is in a sheep barn at feeding time would question the person who says they are only grass eaters- the racket is unbelievable while they 'wait' for the grain bucket to rattle down the feed alley.
We quickly discovered that given a mix of whole oats and roasted soybean meal (like their mothers are given), the lambs were very adept at picking through the oats to clean up only the sweet soybeans, leaving piles of oats on the floor, in the corners, in the dishes, etc. So I got my personal miller (Mark) to grind up my oats to the same consistency as my soybean meal and I've successfully tricked the lambs into eating it all! As you can see in the picture above with the little guy on the right licking his lips, it's darn good stuff. We've also added some probiotic (a real buzz word for all you yogurt eaters!) to the feed once in a while to promote good 'bacterial flora' in thier systems.
The racket while waiting for their grain. Can you spot the pseudo-sheep?

I'm spending this week at a course to learn how to become an organic inspector (the third party person who goes to farms to verify the certification process), and while it is very long days for this 9 month preggeroo, it's interesting and nice to stretch my brain muscles. I'm due on Saturday, but have this course until Sunday, after which I think I will take some time to unwind and play with Lucy (given the opportunity by Baby Bernard #2). So don't rush to conclusions if I don't write for a while! I will announce any new and exciting additions to the brood as soon as I can.
I've also got some updating about what we're actually doing on the farm (the whole point of this blog!) at some point (grain cleaning, new chicks, etc.), so keep eyes peeled for that as well. Enjoy spring, in whatever form it arrives!

Lucy is hopeful for finer weather, tuning up her new trike.


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Didn't I say, "Ahh...sleep"...not that long ago????

It all started with the smell.

I'm too tired now to give the gory details, but I'll leave you with this;

At 2:30 on Friday night my nose alerted me, which caused me to alert Mark, which found us shortly thereafter spending a few hours devising and organizing ways to get extra water from our basement shower, from our septic AWAY from our house and AWAY from the basement shower. This involved some ditching with one of our tractors (open cab of course on one of the windiest, wettest and coldest nights yet), running various hoses from two sump pumps and spending some time staring down a dark stinky hole with a flashlight hoping what we were seeing was water receding, not increasing...

Fortunately, the septic situation was short lived and easily taken care of. However, the clear water coming in around the floor in the bathroom (not the shower), soon led to inches of water throughout the subfloor of our entire basement. Thankfully whoever built this place, put all the closets, the bedroom and the bathroom about two inches lower than the main living area downstairs, so as long as we maintained a certain level of vigilance, we were able to keep the wet somewhat contained.

Basically it seems that all the snow that has been hanging around our house all winter suddenly decided that with all the rain and warm temperatures, it was time to come inside. Evidently our foundation is not exactly the seamless, water-tight example we might have hoped and before we knew it, we had water coming in all the closets and rooms at a rate we calculated according to how fast we could suck it out with a shop-vac. At one point, when Mark and I were teaming up with me doing all the vacuum work and him on dump patrol, he was dumping the vacuum buckets every 1.5 minutes. Those are 10 gallon shop-vacs if you care to do the math on how quickly the water was coming in. In one corner of the bathroom, it was rolling in, like a little stream, with rapids and everything. Really encouraging when you're man-handling two industrial vacuums without making a dent. (Not really.)

ANYway, tonite, Sunday, the rate has slowed considerably and Mark and I are feeling revived after a day of help from his great parents in which we both got to have some solid naps and are ready to tackle the challenge again. While we were staring down the septic hole Friday night, dripping and freezing, we were also laughing at the circumstance and I for one, was glad to have married a guy who doesn't mind getting his hands a whole new level of dirty, can find the humour in needing one tractor to pull another tractor out of four feet of slush in our front yard at 4am and keeps his cool under pressure. Last night when I was at my most exhausted, having stupidly worked myself to a state of nausea, I thought of the shiniest silver lining in it all; which is that if this had to happen, at least it happened now and not a week or two from now when I would be a new mom again, with a little baby to try to figure out on top of everything else. So there are blessings to be found in every curse.

I'm secretly blaming this blog, as I recall only a couple entries ago I referenced finally getting some good nights' sleep, with lambing being done. These last two nights have made the lambing sleep look like a coma, so no more pre-mature rejoicing for me on this thing.

The following pictures are from a dam just down the road from us (Scales' Pond) which blew wide open early this morning. The first shot is of a walk way we have used to go see the actual dam (which is just beyond where this picture is taken). It was all grassed and looked like what you can see on the far side. Mark and I have gone geocaching at the dam, and crossed this walkway so it was something else to see it like this. The second picture is just downstream from the first, showing the damage done to the trees that got trampled in the waters wake. When we drove by later today the whole area is just covered in mud and branches.

Hope everyone reading this has dry feet and it stays that way!!!