Thursday, February 25, 2010

Milking Sheep

I love this time of year. Just when I think I can't stand anymore cold or anymore snow, and for the record I can't, just when I feel like the walls are closing in, the babies start coming. In the past few weeks we have had four new kids, two lambs, and two chicks born, or hatched as the case may be. New baby animals do require some time and work, but it is all so exciting, and they are so cute that they just chase the winter blahs away. The last births were just Tuesday morning. Two male lambs:

The one is slightly smaller than the other, but they both seem to be doing very well. Just one problem. One side of the mama's udder was clogged and we didn't realize it at first. Since the lambs weren't getting milk on that side they stopped trying there.

Last night when that side of the udder and teat were noticeable swollen, Tim milked her and eventually cleared the clog. We tried to encourage the lambs to nurse there, but they still fight over the other teat. This afternoon that side was swollen again. We want to keep milk flowing there to help avoid mastitis and to keep both sides producing for when these guys are a little bigger and will need more milk, so Tim milked her again. This time though we kept the milk.

Sheep milk may seem odd to most Americans, but world wide sheep milk is a common thing. See Dairy Sheep for more information. This milk was thick. It looks like eggnog in color and consistency. I wasn't sure what to expect. I kind of expected a mutton-y taste, but I was wrong. It did not have a strong flavor at all. I can't say that I really liked it, but I didn't dislike it either. I am not a big milk drinker anyway, so that may be part of the problem.The kids liked it.

So, I've been toying with the idea of a dairy animal, likely a goat, for some time. The kids are all for it, well all for the drinking of it any way. They aren't too thrilled about the work involved. One of the biggest reasons we do not have a dairy goat is because of the commitment. When you are milking, you are committed to milking once or twice a day for months. The other problem when considering a dairy animal is that we really don't have a good place set up to milk.

So at dinner last night, after tasting the sheep milk, the kids started asking me if we were going to milk all the time. We talked about the problems we would have to solve, and I told them to come up with a plan for where to milk and we would be that much closer to having a dairy animal. They believed me.

Here is Lydia's plan:

Her plan for "daree guote" includes the kids (us) in the barn with the goat (g). Notice the udder and the child on the stool with the bucket full of milk.

Kellen's plan:

Kellen's plan involves building a stall for the animal. It would stand in the center block here. The left panel of the stall would have a door that opens to slide in a bucket of feed. Then you would slide a panel in front of the animal. The panel is adjustable for size as shown by the three small rectangles in the panel. The right panel of the stall has a small door so you can reach in to milk, because you wouldn't want to be in the stall with the animal would you?

Not so sure that either of these plans are exactly what we need, but I certainly do appreciate the effort, thought and creativity put into both of them. For right now though, I think I let the baby animals do the milking.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

And Winter Drags On

More snow. More cancellations. More hours stuck at home, in the house making me feel like the tree above, lifeless.

That picture was taken this morning, almost all of that snow accumulated over night. The tree? That is our Christmas tree, after the goats have eaten all the needles off of it. Why is now in the middle of a snow pile in the front yard? I have no explanation. I guess another member of the family will have to explain that to you.

Though I am thoroughly and completely sick of winter, and all that white stuff that comes with it, there have been a few bright spots in the last week. We have new goat kids. New babies on the farm are always exciting. Will I ever tire of it? But new goat babies? Well that just makes me happy. They are my favorite. In the last week we've had twin doelings, and a single buckling born.

Aren't they just the cutest things? I don't think that we will be keeping any of these, and that is a little sad, but I will enjoy them while I can. They are so playful and fun. They are in the barn now. I can't wait until this never ending winter finally ends and we can watch them playing outside in the woods behind the house.

I'm also getting the gardening itch in a major way. I'm going to have to settle for starting some seeds inside. I think playing in the dirt, and watching something green grow will be very therapeutic for me.

What are you doing as these winter months drag on?

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Farm is on Facebook

We have a Facebook page! Find us at Mil-Ton Farms. Though I've made my blog Adventures in the 100 Acre Woods, the legal name of the farm is Mil-Ton Farms. Mil for Miller (my parents' last name) and Ton for Appleton, our last name. The name is also very fitting since we are near Milton WV. Anyway, we plan to use the Facebook page for updates on farm business. Check us out and become a fan!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Do you think it is Biggest Loser or Wii Fit?

The hundred acre wood is buried in snow, again. This feels to me like the winter that will never end, but the kids seem to be enjoying the frequent snow storms we are having this year.

Today Miles, Ashley, Lydia and Nolan went out sledding for several hours. Lydia came in just a few minutes ago, and I asked her how the sledding was. "Awesome! What a way to burn those calories," was her response.

That wasn't exactly what I was expecting. Perhaps we've been watching too much fitness media?

Friday, February 05, 2010

Today I Rode a Pig

Today the last of this batch of hogs went to the butcher. Only one remained. Loading it should have been an easy job. Papaw designed the hog house for easy loading. Simply back the trailer to the door. Herd the hogs through the pens, into the alley, and up onto the trailer. It really works well, most of the time anyway.

This morning all went as planned. The hog went through the pen and down the alley, but when her nose got to the trailer, she stopped. We pushed and prodded, and that darn hog would not step up onto the trailer. Then she did something that none of the hogs have tried before. She squeezed under the trailer, and out into the open.

While we were trying to regroup, my job was to keep her from getting by me and back behind the building. Usually, we use wooden panels to herd the hogs, but I did not have one when this sly fat hog slipped away from us. It was me versus a 300 lb hog.

She made a move, and I countered, determined to not let her get by me and out into the open woods. This went on for a few minutes, until she tired of the game and decided to try something different.

She put her snout down and came toward me. So quick I couldn't react, she wedged her snout between my knees, raised up her head, and kept going forward. I was riding on her back. Thankfully, she didn't go far, but she was just tall enough (and I am just short enough) that I couldn't get my footing to just let her pass under me. Thankfully the ride didn't last long. Papaw was out with the panels and able to direct her back and out from under me. Just add pig riding to my farming resume.

Monday, February 01, 2010

The Typing Champ!

The challenge was laid down. The keyboard keys were whirring all month. The testing day finally arrived, and the outcome was close, very close. But who won? Check it out here.

Parenting According to Tim

Tim is a wonderful dad. I couldn't ask for a better. He spends a lot of time with the kids both playing and working. The kids adore him, and I think secretly look forward to the weekends when I am at work and they are home with daddy.

Tim and I are both committed to raise these kids to be adults. That may sound a little strange, because all kids are going to become adults right? I just mean that we are purposeful about teaching the kids responsibility and giving them the skills they need for life. From that desire Tim has come up with some words of wisdom that our kids are very familiar with. All parenting comes down to these key phrases.

1) Suck it up.

2) Start saving.

3) I don't care. (directed at excuses and whining)

4) And failure is your best friend.

Words to parent by.