Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sheep Shearing Fun

Last Saturday we threw a big graduation celebration for Journee, but before the party we had to shear the sheep.
This event is something we do twice a year since I have long wool sheep, and we had postponed the shearing for a few weeks because it kept raining on weekends. Saturday was the only day my shearer could do it, so shear sheep we did.

I was fortunate to have some friends bring their strong 19 year old son to help. He is working towards being a shearer himself and is always loaning himself to help. I was glad to have the extra muscle.

My shearer is a petite woman from the Atlanta area. She's good...really good, but she requires a helper to hold the animals down.

These are not small sheep. My Cotswold sheep weigh in about 150 lbs for ewes and my ram is about 200 lbs.

I brought him down the night before and kept him locked up in the dog kennel. I always bribe him out with a little bucket of grain and then fasten a lead rope around him. He can be a mean boy sometimes so you cannot turn your back on him.

Flipping him down is when you really need some muscle.

It was a smooth day of shearing and I have a ton of fleece ready for processing. I am also positive my sheep feel much better with these upper 80 degree days.

I lead the sheep back out to a front paddock for grazing and will bring them back up close in the fall for shearing and breeding. I am also considering investing in another breed of sheep, something with a smaller micron count and can be spun into a softer yarn. There are a couple different breeds I am looking into for that and we will see what is actually available.  In the meantime I will keep spinning my Cotswold, it does dye beautifully and spin nicely.

Of course house lamb was outside observing all of the shearing. It was not her time yet, but she will be getting sheared this fall. Poor lamb, she really does think she is a dog and not one of those farm animals called sheep.

Special thanks to Willow for all of the great pictures! I was not able to take photos due to helping round up sheep so she volunteered and did a fabulous job!


Now that sheep chores are done I am busy loading the cave up with cheeses. Yesterday I made 3 cheeses! Today I might spin some wool and chill out on the front porch.

Happy Wednesday Ya'll!

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Happy Birthday Graduation

Saturday Journee officially graduated from high school. Translation: we threw a big party.

Sure there were some local home school groups who held official graduation ceremonies complete with cap and gown but a party is sufficient. We are laid back in this family.

It was nice to visit with friends and family and we had a nice spread of food and drink. Journee was showered with gifts and cards too. Everyone came out to celebrate her hard work and bright future.

One close friend had a blanket made with a collage of family pictures printed on it. How cool is that?

The siblings used their creative minds to craft a special "Congratulation" sign in her honor as well.

Journee requested an ice cream cake for the party so last week I ordered a cake online. It was a simple request. A big cake with "Happy Graduation Journee" printed on it.

OOPS! By the time we got it home and saw that it read "Happy Birthday" we were not about to drive back into Chattanooga for a replacement or a fix. Happy birthday it was.

We laughed when we saw the mistake because there was really no need to get upset. This was a party, afterall. Mistakes happen sometimes, and the in the big picture we knew this cake was still delicious.

So, we had a graduation party complete with a happy birthday cake. We ate food all afternoon and enjoyed the nice weather outside. We enjoyed friends and family and celebrated the accomplishments of Journee.

Now I just have to convince Zeb that it was NOT her birthday. The little boys are a little confused:-)

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Little Things

Sometimes it's the little things.

This week we have been busy cleaning up the yard and house in preparation of a graduation party for Journee. I always say folks need to host parties a couple times a year so that the yard and house can get a good cleaning.
We actually mowed the yard with a mower and not with cows and the girls planted some flowers for me as well. It has been crazy busy here, but not so busy that we can't stop and enjoy the beauty of spring.

After milking chores yesterday I noticed a bird nest had blown out of the trees.

Now my family thinks I obsess a little too much over these little works of art, but when you look closely you can see the farm in this nest. The perfectly smooth bottom is lined with goat and cow hair...from my cows and goats.

The side of the nest has strands of wool from the sheep. Curly little sheep locks. So cool.

So I grabbed this little beauty and brought it inside to add to my ever growing collection of nests. I find one every year and every year they contain more and more of this little farm.

Speaking of spring, one cannot live down south and not smell the honeysuckle and privet blooming at the same time.

It is a smell that is simply intoxicating. The warm breezes blows the sweet smell all around. It can even drown out the smelliest of farm messes.

This brings me to one last sweet little thing.

Pigs! I bet you didn't expect that:-)
The pigs are now in the forest, held in with electric wire fencing. I must say they love it. They have lots of room to root around and lots of trees to keep them cool in these 88 degree days.
It is nice to be able to raise food in it's more natural environment and as humanely as possible.

With that, I must go  and get busy.

The vet will come out today as I have several animals needing some attention. Nothing serious, but enough so that it warranted a vet call from my real life James Herriot.

Don't forget to stop and enjoy the little things!

Happy Friday Ya'll!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Cows on a Monday

Well we had a very rainy weekend, so rainy the sheep could be sheared. Next weekend we will try again. In the meantime, the sheep are all up close to the house enjoying the grass.

I lost many meat birds to the cold weather and rain. I figured they were old enough to handle some inclement weather, however I was wrong. Poor birds. I am left with only half and last night those survivors were kept under tarps with brood lamps. Today the weather is making a turn around. It is sunny and in the 70's.  This week will be hot and humid and I expect my mucky animals lots will dry out.

We are wrapping up the school year and prepping for a little graduation party for Journee. The bees are really starting to populate and I plan to inspect hives tomorrow. Wednesday Devin will drive to Knoxville and pick up for me 2 more Russian hives.

This morning I made a wheel of cheese and then headed outside to snap a shot or two of my ladies.

  Lucy is always the easiest to photograph as she is so super friendly.

Penny is still shy but the look of my shoe had her very curious.

Now all I have to do is make a party store list, clean my house and cook some meals. If I can only drag myself from the animals, the sewing machine, and my spinning wheel.....well, I guess I can't play everyday.

Here's hoping the dreary weather is gone for a while! It's been a hectic Monday here but that's OK.
Hope you have a great day!
Happy Monday!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

I Blame My Mom

I have been called eccentric. I have been called super lady. I have been called crazy.
I suppose all of these names are fitting to an extent, what with all of the kids and animals and hobbies.
I do tend to find what I like or want to do and run with it, exert all of my energy into that task.



What many might not realize is that I have my mom to blame.
Let me explain:

Dear Mom,

So you drove up to the house today and noticed a couple more baby cows and a few new pigs in the yard. You also noticed fleece and yarn hanging to dry after my morning of spinning yarn, of course that was all done after the children and I milked the cows, fed the chickens, and moved the egg mobile. Isn't my farm growing?
Yes, I realize there are some feathers still blowing across the back yard from our chicken processing event a few days ago. I promise those will all be gone before we process the next batch of pastured chickens.

I also have not forgotten that we are taking a quilt class this week and will make sure I get my fabrics cut before the day, but first I have to sew together the blocks from my current quilt project.
Excuse the mess of books on the kitchen table too, as the summer books just arrived. Homeschooling has been such a wonderful experience, even if books are always piled up.
That book? Well, that is my new cheese making book. Since I have a cheese cave now I plan to craft a cheese a week (at least) so I can fill the cave up quickly.
Would you like to sit and have some cake and tea? Yes, the children and I have been baking today and we made your famous oatmeal cake.
Speaking of children, we might adopt a child or two. What do you think? Really? Cool, I knew that you of all people would understand that  children are blessings!
In the meantime, I might buy another calf or two. Did you see my new goslings? Aren't they cute?
Tomorrow I am going to get more soil so I can plant the tomatoes and peppers in the garden. Will you help me can salsa this summer? Perhaps we can buy local strawberries and make some jam too.

Oh, Happy Mother's Day. You are awesome. You are why I do so many things. Seriously. I feel like I can do anything I put my mind to and that is all your fault.
Some kids grew up thinking maybe they just weren't good enough or smart enough. Not me. Not once were you not supportive. Not once did you make me think I couldn't accomplish my goals. Because of the incredible amount of self esteem I have, I literally think I can do anything. Most days I attempt tasks that most folks wouldn't attempt. I am ambitious to the point of no return. I am not shy. I am not an introvert. I am never bored. I do not see myself slowing down. Ever. The sky is truly my limit. Thanks.
I know it wasn't always easy raising three kids, and for a good while you raised us on your own. Single mom. Yet, you still were able to instill self worth and self esteem into an impressionable child. People think I am ambitious, yet I am only following your lead. You were ambitious in your child rearing and look what you got? Yeah, I say you were quite successful. Thanks. I love you.

(the favorite daughter)

Monday, May 5, 2014

My Senior Girl

My big girl is finished with high school. Home school high school. Actually, she has finished her last two years in dual enrollment at Chattanooga State. Her last two years were in college. BUT she is now finished with high school and starts college this summer. Confused?
This is home educating in a nut shell. No one program or plan fits every kid, so we adjust as needed and the kids are happier and better educated because we can make such changes.

Anyway, no big graduation ceremonies. No big diploma. No cap and gown. However, we WILL be throwing her a party the end of this month. We love a party around here. Party, cookout, back yard fire. We are all about having fun.

I decided to make up some announcements/invitations but needed a photo or two of my girl to put on them. We went outside and snapped some pictures of my girl...and her dog.
Here are the senior pictures of Journee (and Zelda).

Oh, and we had to take a photo or two with Yoda. He is, after all, in all of our photos. We are nerds and can't help it. Now, this looks to be more of an engagement photo with the Jedi Master....just laugh along. We all know Yoda is way too old for my girl:-)

So what's next for this girl? She will take Anatomy and Physiology II and Nutrition this summer. She plans to transfer to Dalton State College in the fall and start her way into the Bachelor Nursing Program. Yeah, I think this kid is awesome and she will go far!

Happy Monday Ya'll!
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