What many people don’t know who do not live on a farm is that there are really 5 seasons of the year winter, spring, summer, fall and mud. We have reached mud season here fall has faded and winter has not yet set in leaving us with mud. The gates have mud surrounding them, the paths have mud on them and most of all the animals seem to be constantly muddy. Ace my horse especially seems to be able to take getting muddy to a whole new level. I love during summertime when he isn’t wearing a blanket but still doesn’t get super dirty. Thank goodness for winter blankets that take the brunt of the dirt and mud for me!
Fall is quickly taking hold with the trees shedding their leaves and frost on the ground when I wake up. We put up more permanent fencing on the hill for the sheep to winter on. The waters in the pastures this morning had a nice layer of ice on top that I broke apart for the animals. I realized that I have been feverishly knitting christmas gifts but don’t have a pair of mittens for myself.
I worked Gus today on the sheep he was good but Purdy wasn’t impressed with either of us. When I was moving the chicken fence down the hill a bit Purdy had this look on her face that clearly said “that’s my hill your giving the chickens you will regret this choice.” Shortly after the Purdy snuck up behind Gus and snorted on him which startled him. I was pretty sure I could hear Purdy laughing at us.
As you all know the first day of fall happened recently. For me this is a not so gentle reminder of the ginormous list of things left to do before winter. My amazing husband Jeff has a full time job outside the farm (required to support my wool habbit) so I try to get as much done alone as possible.
This past week I decided it was time to move the sheep closer to the house up on the hill. I chose to do this for many reason but they all mostly add up to making winter life easier. I am hoping that Purdy and the sheep living closer to the house will make them a bit less skittish. I might be able to make friends with the crazy llama.
Purdy did resist the initial moving plan as Jeff has mostly been the one feeding her in the morning which makes me less familiar face to her. I ultimately chose to leave Purdy behind to move last as she was not on board with my plan (and fight ing with Purdy is not my favorite sport).
Lately Gus hasn’t been super reliable working as he has been getting a lot of ideas of his own how things should be done (we’re working through it). I chose to not take Gus down as I thought my sheep were well enough bucket trained and we would be going through not well fenced pasture … boy did I misjudge that choice!
I had my bucket of grain, my aunt was gracious enough to come and help watch Hen during all this. That turned into why don’t you just wear Henley and you can help (two are better than one right!). So I opened the gait shook my grain bucket and they all stared at me like yeah… we don’t go over there so nope. Purl being the only sheep I can count on to run me over for grain came over and was grateful for the snack until I put a halter and lead on her and handed her to Annie. I told Annie to start walking hoping that the rest would follow purl and my bucket of grain… nope. After 30 minutes in the super hot weather for New York in September I almost had them all to the gate I needed them through (I make a great herding dog when needed I just lack a good bite when it’s really needed) when Ewestace decided she was no longer on board and was going back to her pasture … with her friends in tow. It was at this point after quite a bit of colorful language that I went to get Gus.
I won’t lie to you I saw all the ways this could go wrong in my head. Gus isn’t super strong at his driving and lately he has been very quick with everything. My big willow girls are in heat and have been extra difficult for the dog which just creates more pressure all the way around. I sat Gus down on the front porch where it was just the two of us and had a pep talk. I told him how naughty Ewestace had been and how I really needed his help and shouldn’t have doubted him in the first place. I told Annie to open the gate when the sheep got there and they could come in a bit quick. I should add that all this time Purl was oblivious she was all alone and was happy as a clam to be hand grazing with Henley and Annie.
Gus and I went all the way down to the middle sheep pasture to get be able to come behind the sheep. Gus made a lot of arguments with me about how driving sheep isn’t exciting and his flowing locks won’t be able to blow in the wind he creates on his bueatiful outruns. I won’t repeat what I said back to him. In the end Gus did everything I asked of him he did it immediately and correctly. It might not have been the most beautiful thing we have done but it took him less than 5 minutes to do what I had been working on for almost an hour.
In the end I left Purdy in the middle sheep pasture alone to think about her life choices. She was very dramatic trying to convince me I was making her die a slow painful death. Jeff was able to help me calmly walk her to the hill after he got home with no problems.
Gus got many cookies for being such a good boy and saving the day. Lessons learned … don’t doubt all the hard work you out into your working dogs. You will always have something that you are working on with them but that doesn’t mean that in the end when it comes down to it they won’t step up and get the job done for you.
In dreams and in love there are no impossibilities. -Janos Arnay
I thought it might be time to introduce ourselves since we have acquired so many new followers. If you have been following us from the beginning you might have noticed that Cacia Farms has been many things. We started out when I convinced my husband we would raise meat rabbits on our 1/4 acre lot in our small town. Well 30 some odd rabbits, 3 cats, 3 dogs, and a horse later I convinced my husband to move to a farm. Let me first tell you about my husband Jeff he is the most patient, kind and caring person I know. Jeff puts up with all my dreams which are many and the best part is that he truly believes I am capable of achieving every one of them.
We have been on our 21 acre farm for a year now and we absolutely love it! Our main focus on the farm is the raising of wool sheep. The breed of sheep we raise are called Lincoln Longwools which are a heritage breed. Lincoln’s are a dual purpose breed that produces a fast growing fleeces that has a wide lock and bold crimp. We also have a livestock guardian llama whose job it is to protect the sheep from predators.
Fall is upon us here in upstate NY and with that the rush to get everything prepared for winter. The girls will need to be sheared next month along with trimming their feet. This will also mean I will have five more fleeces to take to the fiber mill to be made into yarn. We have made a nice area on the hill to allow the sheep to winter closer to the house to make chores easier in the winter. The new chickens are integrating nicely with the adult hens and everyone is getting along nicely. I am hoping to get in some nice knitting time on my porch while I watch the leaves change this fall.
When my husband woke up late and asked if the baby and I could do morning chores yesterday I had no idea what I was in for! Usually chores are easy and relaxing as I love going out and talking to my sheep (I call them my girls) all while Purdy dutifully watches over them. Everything was off to a great start the horses were well behave and eating in their stalls while I walked out to do the sheep and llama. I made it halfway to the sheep pasture before I realized something was terribly wrong followed by some pretty colorful language on my part.
In an effort I believe to scratch herself Purdy had become entangled in the cattle panel we use for a gate on the hoop house. She had kushed down and had her neck through one of the holes on the panel. Now if this had been Ewestace, Purl or even the Little Buffalo it would have been no problem. If they do get stuck they patiently wait for me to come and disentangle them, Purdy however had other ideas.
I set about freeing the llama which my daughter thought was highly entertaining as I was wearing her on the front of me. Gently pushing her head and neck through the hole wasn’t going to work since she was trying to spit and eat me all at the same time. I ended up doing a combination of pushing her shoulders and pulling her rump end to free her. She did get one good kick in that nailed me right above the knee.
The whole time I am trying to free Purdy my sheep are being as always every so helpful. Ewestace had come over and was investigating the llama on the other side of the fence from me which only made Purdy angrier. Purl was standing next to me trying to convince me to leave the llama and it was more important to pet her. I explained to Purl that we needed Purdy and her head scratches would have to wait. Luna who I had only just pinned down the day before to medicate and was still extremely wary of me decided the best corse of action was to bounce off the walls of the hoop house in an effort to be uncatchable and very much in my way.
The best reaction out of all the sheep however was the Little Buffalo. If you have not met her imagine a very small little brown sheep who doesn’t usually make any noise or get into trouble. Her survival tactic is to hide herself among the other sheep and stay close to Purdy (this is my llama’s favorite sheep).
The Little Buffalo stood near the gate for a few minutes studying the situation when she suddenly made the tiniest noise. It was almost as if her anxiety had reached a natural level at which point it escaped and she went running off in the other direction. I could just picture one of those cartoon bubble above her head that said “Run they are killing the llama and we are all next!”
Thankfully everyone escaped morning chores unharmed and safe although i did accidentally dump Purdy’s breakfast on my kiddos head. In other news the chicken incubator is on lockdown and we are just waiting for the little peeps arrival. Jeff and I built their very adorable brooder box today and I will keep you updated on their progress! Be sure to go like our Facebook Page as the most current updates will be posted there!