If Crackerjack could read I know he would be truly flattered by all his fan mail last week. He's such a modest guy who really doesn't seek special attention at all, which makes him all the more deserving of praise and recognition for the important work he does. And, yeah, he's a really neat looking llama (goofy grin aside). Thanks to everyone who commented. I drew a winner yesterday for the Crackerjack Fan Club contest - Tish is the lucky Crackerjack fan!
Another wet week here has created challenges, headaches, work disruptions. The rain causes the fabric of the sheep coats to stretch and sag, which in turn causes the sheep to slip their coats, one leg strap at a time. If they lose both straps, it can be dangerous. The coat gets tangled around their legs and they can't walk. So Holly, Mike and I caught and stripped 70 sheep yesterday, just until things dry out here. You should see the pile on the laundry room floor!
The rain is causing other issues. Hay making has come to halt again - looks like there may be a window late next week.
The only plus - I don't have to worry about watering the garden!
Off to teach handspinning today at Webs. Will post a lamb update tomorrow.
Hanging out with the llama is the "way cool" thing to do these days. Crackerjack has developed quite a following. The lambs toddle along with him in the pasture and gravitate toward him at rest time in the barn. They're fascinated by his fiber, always nibbling at the bits of straw stuck to his fleece. I feel a little sorry about him never getting a break and sneak him handfuls of grain when the ewes aren't looking. He deserves it. In fact, I think Crackerjack deserves his own fan club. He's an amazing guy and we love him.
Would you like to join Crackerjack's fan club? Just post a comment saying why you're a Crackerjack fan or maybe share your favorite Crackerjack story(or encounter if you've ever met him in person). I'll draw a winner for a special prize - 2 skeins of Upland Wool & Mohair - next Friday.
I have my own little following - the bottle lambs who are becoming more insistent now that ewes' milk supply is backing down. I'm cutting back the amount at each feeding as we count down to weaning and they like it not one bit, as you can see from Pumpkin here demanding more! It's getting to be quite a scrum at feeding time. I'm putting fresh sweet hay in the feeder a half hour before bottles and they're really loving it. Then they get a couple ounces of milk to wash it down - kind of like milk & cookies for lambs.
Thanks everyone for your get well wishes. I'm still feeling a little ragged but less sore in the throat and not sneezing every five minutes. Packing for my big weekend in the Big Apple. Really looking forward to meeting the Big Apple Knitters Guild tomorrow.
My apologies for the lapse in posting. As summer kicks in, the workload has doubled. There is now as much to do outdoors as there is indoors, and I'm struggling to find a balance. Holly is keeping pace with barn cleaning and fence rotation and Mike is tending to the "big boys" camped at the top of the farm. We all take turns with bottle feedings and I handle the daily triage of minor issues. A lamb that spent too much time at the grain feeder has a poopy bottom (lucky Holly had the fun task of cleaning him up yesterday). Another ram lamb has a goopy eye that needs attention. One of the ewes has slipped a leg strap and her coat is trailing on the ground. Nothing terrible, nothing earth-shattering, just the usual little random management tasks that add up to a decent chunk of time out of an already busy day.
And then there's the tackling of the "to do" list in the studio. I'm chipping away at the summer Sheep Shares and special orders while fighting a bug I've managed to pick up over the last week. Nothing catastrophic, but enough to make me feel run down, sore and tired. I taught a 2 day spinning class last weekend and I think that really pushed me over the edge. My problem is I don't stop, even when I begin to feel under the weather, because there is simply too much to do and when it comes to caring for 100+ critters, there are no sick days. So I'm doing the best I can for the moment.
On the plus side, we've had a glorious stretch of weather and I have managed to spend a few moments of each day enjoying the pleasant company of pretty lambs. The dry sunny days mean that first cutting is underway and everyone is making hay. Norm managed to round bale our "long lot", a twenty acre piece on the easternmost side of the farm, yesterday just before today's rain. Got it off the field just in time.
"Saffron" photo by Ben Barnhart
I'm also working on my garden installation. Yesterday, with help from Ivy Palmer from neighboring Pitchfork Farm, I got my lettuce, herbs and tomatoes into the ground. This may seem late to flat landers, but up here in the hills, we're right on time. We had frost warnings as late as last week here, believe it or not. Ivy has helped me rethink the layout of my veggie plot this year and I'm feeling energized by the changes. I love trying new ideas, plus it's way more fun to work in the garden with another person.
Ivy and lettuce.
This weekend I'm on the road again, off to the Big Apple to share stories and pictures of my flock with Big Apple Knitters Guild. Hoping to be over my June bug by then.
On Saturday morning as I was sprucing up the barn for visitors (Sheep Shares member Lamb Visit Weekend), the lambs were playing their own version of king of the hill on the straw bale I had left in the pen.
At just 8 weeks & under, the ram lambs are already becoming territorial and a bit adversarial. It's all play for the moment, but that will change as time passes. Thought you'd enjoy watching their goofy battle over the bale! (B.T.W. - you can tells the little ewes from the rams by looking at the ear tags. Girls are tagged in the left ear, boys on the right.).