Sunday, April 27, 2014

2014 Weather

The first third of the year has turned out to be a real challenge weather-wise. A relatively normal January was followed by highly changeable weather in February - featuring a heavy snowfall in the middle of the month. In March, we experienced a late winter ice storm that left much of Orange county an official federal disaster area; I had not seen so many downed trees and debris since the aftermath of hurricane Fran in 1996. We'll be cleaning up from that one for the next year. April's weather event was a hail storm like I had never seen before - large hail stones and lasting about 30 minutes. I wonder what May will bring ...

Monday, February 17, 2014

Sheep That Need No Improvement

Different breeds of sheep are sometimes referred to as "improved" or "unimproved". The term "unimproved" usually refers to sheep that are also called "heritage breeds" or "primitive breeds". Jacob sheep are one such breed and I prefer the term heritage. Basically this means that the breed retains and has been bred to retain its early characteristics, rather than being bred towards one specific purpose and a narrower range of genetic traits. The practical reality is a sheep that is hardy and thrifty with good mothering ability. In the pictures at left
and right, respectively are two ewes aged 2 years and 11 years
. The two-year-old is a first time lambing ewe that lambed on Feb 2 and the 11-year old lambed Feb 12 (during a particularly nasty winter storm). Both of these ewes lambed easily on pasture and did not need to be put in a mothering pen (meaning much less work for me). This is my kind of sheep and clearly needs no improvement.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sheep in Winter

Sheep seem to just take things in stride. Today (my birthday) we are having an unusual winter storm. It isn't usual to get much snow in the piedmont of North Carolina, and even more unusual to get snow in February. As the weather moved in we were busily putting out extra hay, more bedding in the shelters, and seeing that plenty of unfrozen water is available.
All the while, the sheep were busily snacking at their supplement tub (extra energy and minerals because they are within a month of lambing) and eating their hay. They also don't mind the snow nearly as much as I do (note snow on their backs) and will often sleep outside of their shelters during a snow storm.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Coping with the Cold

I really am a warm weather person. Now in the depths of January with our second cold snap upon us, spring feels like but a distant hope - a tiny light far off at the end of a tunnel. The sheep, goats and rabbits are all snug in their warm coats, like my buddy Lancaster pictured here.
They enjoy the cold weather as evidenced by their spunky energetic behavior. Meanwhile, we are lugging water and my thoughts often stray to the lambs and kids we are expecting in February and hoping for moderate weather when birthing starts. Then there are the other winter events to cope with, like a burst hydrant. The old one cracked in a really weird place during a brief warm spell.
The other casualty was the shovel Gary had to use to dig out the clay and gravel to replace the old hydrant with a new one.
Luckily this at least happened when we both had the day off and the broken shovel can join the other tool heads on which we will someday replace the handles. The new hydrant is installed and we'll be able to use it again once the weather warms up a bit.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Angora Goats Ring in 2014!

The angora goats rang in the new year munching on this year's Christmas tree (after we'd finished with it).
Because the goats are so efficient, they transformed the Christmas tree into a Christmas twig very quickly (in about 3 days).