Sunday, April 30, 2006

Sheep, chicks, minnows, kids

Late on this last day of April we are all exhausted. We got 55 chicks in the mail last Thursday: Blue Andalusians, Gold Laced Wyandottes, Buff Laced Polish, Cuckoo Marans, La Fleches, Ameracaunas, Buff Orpingtons, and Partridge Chanteclers. They are all doing well except for one small black breed (we can't tell which one it is yet) which have suffered some deaths. The brooder is indoors and due to Chris' ingenious design is only using a single 40 watt bulb to maintain a temperature of around 92F. The only problem is that it is taxing our small off-grid solar array such that we have not fully recharged the batteries for a few days. Early Saturday morning we got RAIN for the first time since Fall. Seriously. It was so wonderful to wake during the pre-dawn hours to the sound of steady rain on our metal roof. Although it amounted to no more than .1 inch, the morning felt clean and crisp, a very welcome relief after all the wind and dust of the last few months. But due to the clouds, the batteries didn't get to charge up and haven't recovered since.

Our three Navajo-Churro sheep are slowly adjusting to pasture life. Their former home was a large corral where they were fed hay year round, so learning electric fences and open spaces is a slow process. In a way they seem absolutely thrilled with their newfound freedom, but the slightest wierdness (dog barking, tractor passing) sends them running back to their pen. I have been working a bit with the dominant female trying to halter train her so that I can lead them to various spots but finding time to work with her is tough. Still, we are thrilled to have them here and all of us are enjoying them immensely. I took some pictures of them but they are on film so until they are developed and scanned I can't post them here.

With the rain and the season comes Minnow Season. Chris is basically on call 24/7 and goes nowhere without his two cell phones. There were a few eggs in the river this weekend so he was on the phone and/or in the field for a good part of it. At least we're not trying to build a house this time! Last year was definitely harder.

And the kids--Scotty is pretty much obsessed with the chicks. He really loves them. He kisses them, wants to give them toys, wants to hold them constantly. He's generally quite gentle with them although he likes to put them in certain precarious situations on occasion so I have to keep an eye on him. The big problem is Eliza. She doesn't really think about them much unless Scotty happens to be looking at them, at which point she HAS to hold one NOW! She is not so gentle with them and she also is not at all receptive to instruction as to how to hold them. It has been pretty taxing for me to monitor the chick visiting over the last few days. I will be glad when they are bigger and less vulnerable.

The other thing I fantasize about is the day when we no longer have MUD around the house. There's just no way to stop it coming into the house, especially with Eliza our little Wild Child running naked in and out of the house all day. Someday everything will be either growing something or covered with some kind of surface material, but until then it's a daily battle against the mud and sand indoors.

Last evening we planted our herb garden, which is officially the first garden planted at our new house. Other than one little oregano plant stepped on by Eli, it's looking good. We also have sunflowers planted on the west side to help shade us from the afternoon sun. With no mechanical cooling system, we'll need shade to get through the summer. Trees are the ultimate goal here, but until then we're hoping some 10 foot sunflowers will help.

For now we're enjoying the last of the cool spring days before summer hits........

3 comments:

Sylvia said...

so, how much longer will you have chicks in the house, and will putting them outside make it easier to keep Eliza away?

Hey, if you'd like pictures you can post sooner than you get film developed, I can drop by sometime this week with my digital camera and its cord to download to your laptop. Or if that would sap too much power from the house to your laptop, I could download them at home, burn them to CD for you and you could have them for your laptop.

Let me know!

Syl

marge said...

Hi Jenny,

Happy to get your news. Baby chicks, sheep, herb garden---all sounds super to me. What fun for the kids. Having grown up on the farm I remember the arrival of the baby chicks in the mail - peep, peep, peep. I also raised twin lambs whose Mother disowned them. They followed me everywhere!

So keep us on your blog list. Marge

marge said...

Hi Jenny,

Happy to get your news. Baby chicks, sheep, herb garden---all sounds super to me. What fun for the kids. Having grown up on the farm I remember the arrival of the baby chicks in the mail - peep, peep, peep. I also raised twin lambs whose Mother disowned them. They followed me everywhere!

So keep us on your blog list. Marge