Archive for April, 2011


Homestead and Blogging Update…

I know some of you have posted comments, and they haven’t been showing up in a timely fashion.  I’m sorry about that.  We are no longer allowed to access social networking sites at work and that includes my blog unfortunately.  I have to approve comments before they can be posted to my blog, so I can only do that from Mom’s store, a hot spot, or the local library and I just don’t make it there with our laptop very often.  I am reading your comments and promise to post them as soon as I can.  I love the comments and don’t want anyone discouraged and not commenting.

We finally got some much needed rain.  Our pasture was in serious need of rain after being burned off and not a drop had fallen since.  Now with upper 70s in our forecast there is hope our pasture will grow.  The sheep usually get to go out on pasture the first of May, but that will not be the case this year due to lack of rain.  Our hay supply is dwindling with only two weeks’ worth left.  Hay will be in short supply due to a dry spring.  I sure prices will reflect this also.  It may be a long hard year as fuel, hay, and everything else continue to rise. 

Brick patio we built in our backyard.


A planter built from grain elevator buckets and filled with flowers from mom’s store.

I just wanted to give everyone a quick update and let you know the situation with your comments and my infrequent postings.  I will try to post as often as I can, but with no internet service at home it is difficult at times.



Hank’s sick…

A sick llama….

Randy had the day off and called me on my way home, “I think Hank is sick.  He’s lying in the back of the building, moaning, and rolling a lot.  When I got home I could see Hank didn’t feel well.  He wouldn’t take a treat when he nearly crushes baby lambs to get to on a normal day.  His ears were down, his back was hunched, his eyes were glassy, and he was lying in the back of the building rolling from side to side moaning.  My heart sunk…I had no idea what to do.

I called mom to have her bring home de-wormer for him.  It is spring.  We were set to de-worm everyone this weekend, but Hank needed it immediately to eliminate parasites as the problem (and so we felt like we had done something to cure him). 

I ran to mom and dad’s to get the de-wormer.  Mom and Dad suggested getting him up and getting him walking.  We were afraid he had gotten too much corn and alfalfa out of the sheep feeders since we are feeding it to them to keep their milk production up.  So I called Randy to hunt down Hank’s halter and lead so we could walk him as soon as I got home. 

We got him geared up fairly easily, the de-wormer administered, and Hank and I spent the evening walking up and down the road and through the yard.  I just chatted to him while he walked along beside me.  I could not believe how well he walked on a lead.  It has been so long since we have walked him, and yet he did it like we walk him every day.  He nibbled grass here and there, but the minute I clicked my tongue and told him to come on he was right back beside me.  I was just amazed!

He looked 100% better when I finally put him back in the lot with the sheep…I think lambing season has just been too much for him.  This morning I caught a glimpse of him as I was getting in the car and hollered at him.  He looked over at me and looked perfectly healthy.  Not sure what his problem was, but as long as he is better we are happy.




More llamas…

Who doesn’t need more llamas on their farm??


Well, I really don’t think we needed anymore llamas.  We started with Hank, he guards our sheep.



Then we took on Sylvia, Dad’s llama, Dolly’s, baby:


Saturday we went to an auction at a llama farm.  We went to drop off pies for Grandma so she didn’t have to get out.  Our intentions were to drop the pies and go home and get stuff done.  Dad showed up and we started looking around.  Those feeders might be nice, an outbuilding, a box of llama books, some gates….we stayed.  Dad left with orders on what to bid on for him.  By lunchtime he and mom were back so we decided to stay and watch the llamas sell.  We knew there wasn’t a huge market for llamas and with 29 to sell it might be tough.  We had no idea!

Some sold great and for a great price, others didn’t sell so well, and at one point there were two bred females no one would bid on.  I wanted them and didn’t all in the same breath. 

The owner’s of the llama farm have helped us shear and trim Hank’s nails.  They weigh him.  They have given us supplements for him when he had a wool eating issue.  We knew they loved those llamas more than their luggage.

When I overheard him say, “Lexus is our pet, she has the best temperament of any llama we have,” my heart broke.  I looked at Randy who said, “if you want  ‘em, get ‘em.”  Then I looked at Dad and said, “what if they have trouble having their babies?  I don’t know how to deliver a llama.”  He said, “if you can pull a lamb, you can pull a llama.  Dolly didn’t have any trouble.  You’ll be fine.”  I looked at mom and said, “I can’t take one and leave the other.”  She replied, “Gretch, you don’t have to buy them both.”  Then I made the mistake of making eye contact with the auctioneer who said, “will you take both of them for the price of one?”  I took a deep breath and said, “you know what, yes, I’ll take them both.”

They moved on to sell the open females (the females who were not pregnant).  We hung around because there was a male Dad really had his heart set on.  It was us and another lady bidding.  Dad went to $325 before stopping and allowing the other lady to walk away with Crimson for $350.  There were 3 male llamas left, but we packed up and headed to pay.  We could still here the auctioneer struggling to sell the next llama.  Finally, he sold.  There were two left.  No one bid.  Nothing. 

I had made it the whole day.  I had seen the owner’s openly cry, get choked up again, and the tears would come again.  Time after time I had choked back the tears myself.  However, I had refrained from crying for the very last time and as we walked down the driveway I couldn’t help myself.  I just started crying…for the owners who loved these little guys that no one wanted, and for the animals who if they didn’t sell would end up in a yucky sale barn and sent who knows where.  Mom looked at me and said, “oh, did you want one” I managed to mutter, “no, I just feel bad.”  I kept walking to the car with my head down and my sunglasses on, ashamed of the fact that I just couldn’t keep control of my emotions.  If you know my family you will know, I come from a long line of criers.  That is to say I come by it naturally! 

Mom had turned around and by the time I had gotten back from grabbing our checkbook, she and Dad had bought Nicholas, a pretty reddish brown sweet heart of a llama.  Then I cried because they had done such a good thing to buy him.  I was just a mess that day.

We ran home to get the car hauler for our purchases, a llama squeeze chute, a llama feeder, and 2 gates.  Dad brought back the stock trailer to load up all our llamas.  It was amazing how docile and tame the llamas were.  Everyone loaded and unloaded at their new home, no problem.  Lexus leaned over while the owner was taking her lead off in the trailer and gave him a kiss good-bye.

If you aren’t familiar with the personality of a llama….they really don’t fall into the livestock category.  They are like big, giant dogs.  Their personalities are just incredible and this group was no different.

Celia and Lexus came to our house and got to go out to pasture with Sylvia and all the rams.  Nicholas went up to Grandma’s and out to pasture with Dolly.  Dolly, however, falls into the livestock category most days.  She is a sassy thing who doesn’t really like anyone but herself.  Nicholas, try as he may, still hasn’t won her over.  Dad may try to move him down to his house with Sylvester and the Scottish Highland cattle.  Sylvester is way nicer than Dolly!

We bought what was left of their llama food and have been hand feeding Celia, Lexus, and Sylvia in hopes of getting them used to us.  It was definitely a project we were neither prepared for nor needed, but we already love having them.  They are so pretty out in the pasture, they know their names, and have already started to come to us.  Probably because they think we have food, but we’ll take what we can get. 

In October we will likely have baby llamas, crias, on our farm.  We know there is no market for them and are fully prepared to keep them.  If there is a male, he will be gelded, and stay on our farm too.  Llamas live 15-22+ years, so we have definitely made a commitment to them and this lifestyle, but there is nowhere else we would rather be and nothing else we would rather be doing. 



Have a wonderful day!



Egg season…

With 12 Rhode Islands, 25 Buffs, and 14 Banties we have plenty of eggs on our farm.

The eggs are beautiful and so much more nutritious than the “eggs” you get at the grocery store.  Not to mention the quality of life our chickens have compared to the life of a factory laying hen.  Find a source for farm-raised, free-range eggs.  You will be amazed how easy it is to locate eggs near you and how wonderful they taste.


Lambing Update….

Texel lambs are the cutest, stockiest little lambs I think I’ve ever seen.  Growing up on a sheep farm my entire life I’ve seen a lot of cute lambs.


Itchy leg.

Lunch time.

One of the six ewes here to be bred by our rams and lambed out.  Isn’t she pretty!

The newest breed addition to our farm, twin Romanov ewe lambs.  These two are full Romanov and will be kept back for breeding on our farm.  Romanovs are known for their prolifacy, breeding out of season, being good foragers, and excellent parasite resistance (which we have already witnessed on our own farm).

That is it from our farm for the day!  Have a blessed Sunday.


Homemade Disinfectant…

With a little lamb (or two) in the house some disinfecting was in order.  My homemade disinfectant was getting low, so I whipped up another batch while I was home on Friday.

On the left is a 1:1 mix of white vinegar (the cheap stuff) and distilled water in a spray bottle.  I added sweet orange, grapefruit, and tea tree oil for scent and extra germ fighting power.  You can’t see it, but on the hydrogen peroxide bottle I put a spray nozzle. 

I spray either the vinegar mix and then the peroxide or the peroxide and then the vinegar mix.  Let set a few minutes and wipe clean.  I use this on the dog crate (or laundry basket) after we’ve had lambs, cats, chickens, or on rare occasions one of our dogs in them.  I also use this to clean our kitchen and bathroom.  The vinegar smell dissipates once dry.


Bottle Lamb Update…

Get ready for pure cuteness!  We have been lambing nearly 10 days now and have plenty of cuties to show for it.

It started out with bottle lambs acquired from mom and dad’s farm.  They turned out to be a little more work than usual. 

We struggled with eye problems as a result of extremely high winds.

However, we couldn’t doctor their eyes immediately because they were on penicillin and it cancels out the effects of the medication for their eyes. 

These are what was once quadruplets and mama couldn’t handle and supply milk for all four so these guys were pulled.

This is my little buddy.  He likes to be picked up, climbs on you when you are in the pen with him, and likes to nibble on your pant legs or really anything he can get his chops on.  He is adorable, and I just love the little guy.

On the left is Tiny.  He was the smallest of the whole group…hence the name.  Last Friday Tiny got deathly ill.

I collected a stool sample and needed a quick place to put him while I ran to town to the vet.  The test results came back for coccidia.  We had moved all the lambs before a huge thunderstorm rolled through.  We had thunder, lightning, the works.  This stress, we feel, set the coccidia into motion and led to some sick little lambs.

The vet said since the lamb was already “down” he probably wouldn’t make it.  When I got home I really didn’t expect him to be alive.  Instead I found him standing in his “crib.”  I got his medicine to him quickly with a bottle of electrolytes and headed out the door to get the eight other bottle lambs doctored.

Saturday he seemed to be doing better, so I took him back out with the others.  By night he was not looking good again, so I scooped him and another lamb who was lame up and put them inside in a dog crate. 

Sunday Tiny got worse.  His legs started to get stiff, but his appetite never failed.  If he didn’t want milk I fixed him up with water which he chugged down.  The other lamb went back outside, but with cold, damp weather we decided to leave Tiny in.

Luckily I was home Monday because he was still inside in a crate and not in good shape.  Tuesday I was back to work and worried about him all day.  Tuesday evening we made a little racetrack of towels on our hard floors and let the little guy out to stretch his legs. 

With his little legs getting stiffer and stiffer I decided on Wednesday evening to get him back outside where he could stretch his legs and get them worked out.

We are now a week since he went down and the little guy, while still weak and a little stiff, is doing remarkably better.  He doesn’t have to battle for a spot at the bucket like the other kids.  I take him a nice warm bottle every 4-6 hours.

Last night I took a warm rag out to clean up his face.  His eyes were crusty from being sick and there was milk on his face.  The milk was mostly my fault from accidently flipping the nipple and spraying him with milk on several occasions.

He will probably never be part of the elite on our farm, but he is alive, he runs and plays with the other lambs, and eats like he knows he has some catching up to do. 

  The lambs with eye problems have since been doctored and improved dramatically. 

We may take two more lambs on from mom and dad that mom had taken home with her when they were all getting sick, and I was in a panic.  I started with 14, two of which were ill when I got them but was in hopes I could nurse them back to health.  We will see what the weekend brings, but with nicer weather in our future the sunshine will help everyone in their recovery.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Adopting one child won't change the world; but for that child, the world will change.

I am the wife to my wonderful husband and joint care giver to the many animals we have acquired on our small farm here on the prairie. This is a bit about our life on our farm. We are striving for simplicity and self-sufficiency, determined to become debt-free, trying to live in tune with the natural cycles of this earth, and challenging ourselves to transition to a diet based on traditional foods. It isn't always easy, and we don't always succeed, but it is a fun learning process. Join us as we stumble through learning how to provide for ourselves, get off the treadmill, and work toward a simpler way of life.

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April 2011
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