Diatomaceous Earth – the wonder dirt – Part 2

This wonder dirt, is indeed – wonderful. I first wrote about it here So much POOP – DE – Part 1. I mentioned fleas in that article and now we address those nasty resourceful pests,  fleas.

Even though our county has suffered a problem with rogue insecticide resistant fleas, we had zero problem for about a year. Then we got some barn kittens. They came covered in the blood sucking critters.

Baby animals have somewhat vulnerable immune systems and cats in general have to be handled carefully because of the way their liver functions. Many of the natural remedies for flea control cannot be used on felines. We couldn’t (and wouldn’t) douse them with chemical laden powders, flea control agents, or powders, but we knew we had to get them clear of fleas because their tiny bodies could only handle so much blood loss.

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blood sucking flea

 

One of the go to things in natural flea control is the use of essential oils, but you have to be careful using this on cats because, again, their livers react differently to processing them and it can become a toxic situation.

We bathed the kittens up to their necks in warm sudsy Dawn dishwater. This moved the fleas to the top of the cats heads, where they were picked off with either the flea comb or our fingers. Then the kittens were thoroughly rinsed and combed through again. We dipped the fleas clinging to the comb in a dish of Dawn soapy water.( Once removed from the host body, the fleas have to be drowned or they can jump onto something else). Then we got to cuddle the furry bodies as we towel dried wet fur.  This process had to be done a few times;  it’s amazing how many fleas their little bodies could host. And, of course, we had to keep on top of the hatching eggs, larva etc.

What does this have to do with the Wonder dirt? Good question! It wouldn’t be wise to plop sparklingly clean kitties back into flea infested places, so while they were being bathed, their bedding and living space was also treated with first a hot wash and dry in the machines and then a sprinkling of FOOD GRADE DIATOMACIOUS EARTH (DE).  Again, this process was repeated each time they had a flea bath.

We had a few flea free weeks, when one of the kittens unexpectedly died. We immediately got two kitties to fill his spot, and they too, came with fleas. So repeat, rinse, repeat. Finally all the felines were flea free. Or so we thought.

I took the oldest kitten to get neutered and discovered he had fleas! To be honest,  I hadn’t kept up with the DE treatments in the cats living space. It wasn’t a bad infestation, but it was fleas. Then we found some on our dog. And, sure enough, the other kitties had them too.

Now this might sound like an unsuccessful attempt at natural flea control, because we started out with fleas and now, we still have them. However, being vigilant in keeping up with the DE dustings is crucial and I had let it lack. But in keeping up with it and treating the animals again, has now, made us flea free.

DE can also be used as a powder on your pets/livestock. You must be careful when dusting it, it makes a very fine powder and if you have asthma, or your animals have respiratory issues, it’s a good idea to pour the dirt in your hands and then rub it on the animal instead of shaking it around like a salt shaker. Also, companies sell dusters that control the powder dispersion. When we dust the chicken coop with it, we remove the chickens first, spread the DE, put some in their food, and let it all settle before letting them back in. We dust the livestock at their neck (keeping it our of eyes and ears) along the spine and under the tail when we trim their hooves. We give a spoonful in our dog and cat food at least once a week. So far, so good.

Diatomaceous-Earth

Food Grade DE.

Baldwin Acres is like a winter flowing stream. We’re always learning, trying new things, failing at things but moving along. Every now and again things get clogged and we have to step back and evaluate. We are determined to keep things natural, non-GMO and organic, including pest control. This includes but not limited to using DE and essential oils.

I always go back to the fact that God created everything and provides for us to manage our lives. DE is a natural ‘dirt’ of microscopic ground up seashells whose sharp shells cut the pests  exoskeleton. Besides among other things,  being  used for killing fleas, worms, and poop control, DE is also used in grain storage as it controls pests and absorbs moisture, keeping the grain free from mildew. Damp barns could benefit from  spreading DE on stored alfalfa, hay, etc. to potentially control any mold/mildew growth.

In researching DE I’ve learned that humans use it for hair and scalp problems, acne, mouth sores, parasite control and bowel troubles. Just remember, it is all natural but you must make sure you are using FOOD GRADE DE.

Do you use DE for something I’ve not mentioned? Let me know! If you’ve read this far you’re interested…..

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Mouser, Maggie and Mic. Three content flea free ‘barn’ cats.

So much POOP. What about Fleas? Diatomaceous earth. Part One.

I started this blog post writing about all the poop on the homestead and how we manage it. But I was life busy long enough to now be able to address another issue that’s come up- fleas. The good news is I have two natural options to help with both. (Introducing fleas into the mix has left me in a quandary. Should I address both issues together or separately? I think to keep my own mind clear  and not confuse you, I will break it down to two posts. Poop first. Fleas second.)

Poop is disgusting. No one wants to mess with poop. But poop can be a great indicator of our and our animals health. So checking poop is a necessary part of animal husbandry. Ick. Initially I was going to post photos of the poop we daily encounter. But, the stark reality of poop pictures might prove to be too much for sensitive types. I’ve been scolded for posting photo’s of what some consider gruesome subjects : like Lance’s finger when he sliced the tip off, and Lance’s finger when he shot a nail into the end, and my nose when I broke it, and my nose after surgery to set it,  so I get that not everyone thinks the raw things of life are interesting. So no glossies of poop. But, if there were photos, they would include: pig poop, goat poop, sheep poop, turkey poop, chicken poop, dog and cat poop.

There’s a book called, “Everybody Poops”.  This book is not a work of fiction.

Poop is a problem because it’s the carrier of things that do not belong inside our bodies. And, sometimes parasites and worms will invade to live in the warmth and ick that is poop.

There are good worms. Helpful worms. In the spring I added Red Wigglers to my raised garden beds to help irrigate and nourish my soil. Night crawlers  lure fish onto hooks so we can eat them. But mostly there are are gross worms.  These are the, ‘why did you create these things, God?’, parasites that live in the guts of living beings. There are heartworm, pole worms, tapeworms, whipworms, and pinworms to name a few, When the animals poop worm pieces or the whole worm, will be in the feces. Then they are on the soil. When the animals graze that area, they ingest more parasites/worms.

Parasites are not the only problem with poop. Poop attracts flies which then breed. This gives us creepy maggots and then more flies. Flies are nothing more than poop transporters. They alight on poop and then alight on garbage and then alight on poop and then alight on your wall, at which time you smack it and splat all the fly’s souvenirs.

Let’s just say it: poop is nasty. Although, if we didn’t poop, well that would be much nastier.

When we developed our homestead or hobby farm plan, we knew right off we would engage in natural and organic practices. One of the reasons we raise chickens is to have eggs that have not been pushed through a hormone antibiotic laden hen. We use no pesticides on our vegetables or fruit trees. So, using chemicals to kill ground pests, no matter how foul they are, would be counter to what we believe. This is where Diatomaceous Earth or DE comes in super handy.

Diatomaceous earth,  is a brand new product to us. DE is a finely ground exoskeleton of a fossil sea creature which when ground up leaves  microscopic jagged pieces. We are too big to be harmed by this, but the little parasites don’t handle it well. They crawl over it and cut their bodies causing them to leak and dry out. To help control parasites and worms, we spread DE

Use caution when  using DE. Use only FOOD grade DE and NOT POOL grade.  DE is similar in consistency to a dusting powder. DE can irritate eyes, noses and lungs. We make sure the animals are not around when we spread it, because any wind or breeze can easily carry it to them. we don’t want to subject them to any discomfort if possible. Chickens have fragile respiratory systems, so if you choose to use it in their coop as I do because it helps keep lice, flea, mosquito fly and mite populations down, use it after you’ve cleaned out the coop, and spread new bedding. Do not use it when the chickens are IN the coop.

DE is also useful for parasites and pests on livestock. When we trim hooves, we liberally apply DE to the sheep and goats hides. Behind the ears, around the rear, and down the backs. It helps get rid of  what might be there, and repel intruders.

We like to use the DE product from Red earth. http://www.redlakeearth.com/red-lake-diatomaceous-earth-us.html  We mix our own feed and use DE as a top dressing for natural deworming. Some folks also leave it as a free choice for their animals. I did read where a woman lost her chickens after spreading DE in their coop, but she spread it when they were in there, and she didn’t indicate whether it was FOOD grade or POOL grade. So be careful when you use it.

Red Earth DE

Red Earth DE

DE can also be used for flea control. We brought three flea infested barn kittens home. Kittens are so delicate and small you can’t really use any typical chemical laden flea control products on them. Initially we bathed them in Dawn dish soap and used flea combs. We spread DE in their litter box, and their bedding and around the pool house where their food and beds are. We add DE to our cats food, too. This site has dosage recommendations and more information about worming our domestic pets with DE.

https://www.vetinfo.com/using-diatomaceous-earth-to-worm-pets.html

I’ve always believed that God put on earth everything we need to live and be healthy. I don’t understand some of the things he created, like fleas and muzzles and flies, but He knows what’s He’s doing. I started researching natural remedies back in the 80s We’ve planted herbs that we can use for cooking, but also we put fresh cut and dried herbs in the coop, where they turkeys are and in the livestock area. This includes mint, thyme, sage, peppermint, and lavender. Smells good and helps repel pests. If you can do a natural God given remedy, why not??

Using this life viewpoint, I’ve extensively researched the use of natural remedies, herbs, essential oils etch,  and the news is good and fascinating. I didn’t mean for this post to turn into a huge endorsement for DE, but it did. The second part will address the use of Essential Oils at Baldwin Acres.

Thanks for reading. Have a beautiful day.

The sun set at 4:48 pm today….but you couldn’t really tell….

Seems like Autumn on Baldwin Acres is going to be wet, dark, damp, wet, dark and also, damp. With daylight savings time now in full swing, we’ve had to make a few adjustments for the lack of sun and the abundance of wet. In the summer the sun sets around 9:30ish, today it set at 4:48.

IMG_9449this photo is not Baldwin Acres, it is the place we go Salmon fishing every summer, Sekui, Washington. But, this picture does show the gray mistiness that is the reality of our Autumn

We’ve learned a few things. Did you know, for instance, chicken egg lay production slows unless they have light.  So we’ve added extra hours via a low watt bulb in the coop. It’s on a timer and adds three hours of ‘sun’ in the am before the real sun rises. We’ve also added more pine chips to the floor, going for the deep litter method of cooping. Which, from what I’m reading, you put six inches of pine chips on the ground then the chickens kick it around and it breaks down along with any organic waste and becomes somewhat like dirt, which you shovel out in the spring and add to the compost.

10687226_10152790939642932_1118277809607356926_nThis is the girl’s place with the new extended chicken run and automatic water feeder. The extended light is where the nesting boxes are in the top enclosed area.  We’d read during the summer we should use sand as flooring. So, we did. Now, I’m not sure if sand is a great idea in such a wet season because the chickens are mighty muddy. Thus the reason for adding six inches of pine shavings.

Another development on the Acres is the discovery that the male goat we were told was a whether (neutered) is actually a buck. Buck goats are an entirely different animal (yeah, I said that). What I thought was just weird behavior is actually male buck goat mating rituals. They include urinating on himself, wagging his tongue, curling his lips, making crazy eyes and then there’s the mounting of the two female livestock we have. It’s not pleasant. But along with the livestock comes added cost in the winter : the pasture has no new growth, so more alfalfa, sheep chow, mineral blocks (which dissolve in the rain). Such is the life of a flerd owner (flerd: noun, combination of a herd and a flock).

The garden beds sparsely dotted with herbs, carrots and radishes show puddles of rain. All the Japanese maples, sugar maples, oaks, willows and orchard trees are just about naked. This starts the dark and dreary seasons, I reckon. Good thing the important stuff in life doesn’t get watered down or puddled up: faith, family,  friends, fireplaces,  cozy sweaters and warm waterproof Bogg boots.

The Chase is On

We’ve been trying to allow the girls (our Chooks) to spend free ranging time outside the coop/run. Unlike our son’s boxer, Max, who appreciates chicken sushi, our boxer, Remus, is (so far) gently curious. The girls fly under him, strut under his nose, peck his paws when they’re getting grub and Remus does nothing but watch. And he sometimes quivers. But, for the most the chickens, have so far, been safe with him. They don’t venture too far from him. Until today.

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Today, three of the girls, Nancy (named by me), Pretty Hawk (grandchild named) and Spot (me again), slipped under the garden fence into the pasture.

We have recently expanded the grazing area for these guys.

IMG_8088and these two :

IMG_8045 IMG_8054because they do a great job of keeping the grass trim and honestly? I love to watch them roam, and romp, and butt heads and really, they do frolic. Who can resist watching great frolicking? So, when the chickens Thelma and Louise’d it to the other side, I was a little worried. Not only were they now in the presence of four livestock creatures who could break out in frolic at any moment, but there was mucky winter ‘pond’ land and on the other side of that mess, the blackberry forest. I have a cool looking pair of slogger shoes to muck around it, but had serious misgivings about that blackberry forest. I opened the half pasture gate behind the chicken coop and ran, (well as much as I can run) after the chickens who raced from me. Either dashing because their first taste of freedom was exhilarating or because I was ‘running’ after them. Scary sight I’m sure.

One grandson arrived on the scene. He chased Spot while I was after Nancy. Pretty Hawk didn’t head for the blackberry forest preferring the grass of the pasture instead. As grandson one and I were each trying to coax our perspective chickens outta the forest because, really, no one wants to venture in. I heard, “The Goats are free!” AH! No! ! I’d left the gate open. I quickly deduced two lost chickens was a sad loss but not as sad as the livestock. Grandson one and I lumbered/ran and in his case sprinted, to the garden.

In the garden were all four of our four-legged animals. At some point I had bellowed into the house and called for my husband who was trying to work, for help. He appeared as did grandson number 2. We developed a plan while we ran, flapped our arms and tried to keep the creatures from eating anything. Just past our vegetable garden are the front gardens full of everything poisonous to them..hydrangeas, rhodies, ivy, peonies, daisies, etc. So at all costs, we didn’t want them to reach that area.

I was close to panic mode, worried about Nancy and Spot and PrettyHawk, fretting about the four in the garden. Suffice to say there was much yelling, and stomping and body gyrations. My brilliant husband got the sheep/goat food and a grand child grabbed the metal bowl. As soon as the four heard the clinking of food in the bowl, they stopped and started for my husband. He began to lead them to the garden pasture gate, while I went to close the  one by the chicken coop. And, then Remus arrived on the scene.

IMG_8042Remus, apparently unhindered with various farm critters, likes to pause, and point, from time to time he’ll give a chase, but he never engages. But, the critters aren’t as sure as Remus. As we coaxed the sheep and goats, the grandkids tried to wrangle the chickens, but one remained elusive. Spot. And, Spot didn’t want to run anywhere Remus was.  With PrettyHawk and Nancy safe in the coop; they’d merely sauntered back the way they’d come, Spot was the only one left. Remus stood in the path of the open coop.

The sheep and goats ran from Remus too, even though he only stood in one spot. While the sheep and goats were led back to the pasture by the clanging of food in a metal bowl, it took throwing chicken food at Spot to direct her home.

After a good 30 minutes of combined solo and tag-team efforts all animals were finally back in their correct homes.

Chasing is good exercise. The panic level of anxiety was good for the heart I’m sure. But, hoof prints in the garden beds..maybe not so

 

 

Kinder Goats, Jacob Sheep, chickens and a farm =

Last week the previous owners of Edmund and Lucy (our Jacob sheep which you can read about in previous posts,) contacted us and asked if we had room for their two Kinder goats. Seems the male goat missed his buddy, Edmund, and was making too much noise for the suburban neighborhood. $125 dollars later and the four, four legged friends are back together.

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The new kids (get it?) on the pasture are named Sandy and Tumnus. Along with Lucy and Edmund we have some of the cast of Narnia. We’re missing Peter, of course, but I reckon that is a great name for a Idaho Pasture Pig. (On our wish list). In the meantime I call Tumnus, Tum-Tum. He likes it.

Last weekend we had some high school girls come and visit. Last time they were here we had only the two sheep. The sheep are shy and sort of sheepish (!). They don’t trust us too much. Never having owned sheep before I do not know if this is natural or learned behavior. When we went to the pasture to introduce the girls to the goats, the girls immediately identified how similar dogs and goats are to one another. An astute observation. Tum-Tum and Sandy have soft bleats and whenever they hear the back door open, or see us in the upper garden, they call out. My grandson Isaiah chuckles when they do because he thinks they’re saying, “Nana”, which of course is my name. If we go into the pasture Tum-Tum and Sandy run over to greet us. Sure, they probably think we have treats, but when they discover we don’t, they still stand there to receive many pats, and rubs and scratches on the top of their heads and under their chins. Pats on the rumps seem to be appreciated too.

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I always thought, probably because of too much cartoon watching, that goats eat everything and are especially fond of tin cans. This is not true. At the feed store last week a customer complained about the last bale of hay she bought because she has picky eater goats and they didn’t like it. Huh? They’re goats. But, come to find out she was probably just slightly obsessive, because goats (and sheep) will pick through bales of hay and alfalfa to get their choicest bits and leave the rest. Also, unknown to me, (which is becoming a statement that does not need to be said because I knew a whole lot of nothing about farm livestock), is that there exist a fair amount of plants that are poisonous to both sheep and goats. There are also some herbs that are very beneficial to them. I printed this list and am trying to identify through pictures the bad stuff.

www.isfaxa.com Herbs a list of poisonous plants, and a few remedies for sheep that have eaten poisonous plants.  

Poisonous Plants
Plants toxic to sheep include:
Acorns, Angel trumpet (all parts), Azalea (all parts), Bittersweet (leaves, fruit), Black Bryony, Bracken, Buckthorn (all parts), Caladium (all parts), Castor Bean (all parts), Chinese Lantern (all parts), Chrysanthemum (all parts), Creeping Charlie (all parts), Daffodil (bulb, Delphinium (all parts), English Ivy (all parts), Foxglove (leaf, seeds), Geranium (all parts), Gladiola (bulb), Hemlock (water dropwort), Holly (all parts), Horse Chestnut (flower, sprout, seeds),Horsetails, Hyacinth (bulb), Iris (all parts),Jerusalem Cherry (leaf, unripe fruit)
Laburnum, Lily of the Valley (all parts), Lupine, Mistletoe (all parts), Monkshood, Mushrooms (all parts), Narcissus (all parts), Nightshade (all parts), Oleander (all parts), Peony (roots), Philodendron, Potato (sprouts, vines, unripe tubers), Ragwort, Rhododendron
Rhubarb (leaf, roots), Green Hellebore, Stinking Hellebore, Sugar beet tops (FRESH), Trumpet Lily (all parts), Vinca Vine (all parts),
Wandering Jew (leaf).Yew (IMMEDIATELY toxic)

What to do if your sheep ingest a poisonous plant:  Consult your vet.
One veterinarian advised the following for sheep who had eaten rhododendrons – 4 tablespoons Milk of Magnesia (laxative plus antacid); 1 teaspoon baking powder; 1 teaspoon powdered ginger. Dosage was 2 ounces given twice, 12 hours apart. Also
advised was to give them aspiring (3 per adult sheep)

Helpful Herbs (from www.lavenderfleece.com )
Alfalfa
– Alfalfa contains large amounts of protein, minerals and vitamins; it is nervine and tonic and is an excellent kidney cleanser. Because alfalfa has roots that can go as deep as 125 ft., it brings up vital minerals not attainable by other vegetation. It is a rich source of vitamins A, C, E and K. It is a blood builder, good for teeth and bones, and excellent for milk producing animals.
Birch
– Birch is useful in treating digestive ailments. The leaves are cleansing and will
expel worms.
Carrots
– Carrots are useful for eye disorders due to the carotene. They are good for all
animals, and help to expel worms.
Comfrey
– Comfrey is a large plant and sheep particularly relish the young shoots.Dandelion – Dandelion is blood-cleansing and tonic and helps cure jaundice. The
leaves strengthen tooth enamel and dandelion is an over-all good health conditioner.
Dill
– Dill increases milk yield and is a good treatment for digestive ailments.Fennel – Fennel increases milk yield and possesses antiseptic and tonic properties.
Garlic
– Garlic is very well known for its medicinal purposes. Highly antiseptic, garlic is rich in sulfur and volatile oils. Garlic is one of the best wormers. Garlic helps immunize against infectious diseases and helps in treating fever, gastric disorders,
rheumatism and is affective against parasites such as ticks, lice and liver fluke. Garlic is also thought to increase the fertility of animals.
Hops
– Hop shoots are beloved of grazing animals and hops are a good conditioner,
being tonic and nervine. Also an antiseptic. Flowers are a milk stimulant.
Horehound
– Horehound is best known as a cough remedy in the treatment of pneumonia, colds, and lung disorders. Lavender – Lavender is highly tonic, antiseptic, antifungal, antibacterial and gives a sweet flavor to milk and cheese. The whole plant is useful.
Lemon
– Lemon is a good blood cleanser. Also good for fevers, diarrhea and worms and may be used externally for skin ailments, ringworm and mange and to cleanse sores. Add honey when using internally.Lemon Balm – Lemon balm is a good pasture plant as it promotes the flow of milk. Its good for retained afterbirth and uterine disorders.Marigold – Marigold is eagerly eaten by sheep and goats. It is a good heart medicine.Mint – Mint will decrease milk flow and would be good for ewes when weaning lambs.
Mulberry
– Mulberry leaves and fruit are a good treatment for worms.Mustard – Mustard is a good natural dewormer
Parsley
– Parsley improves milk yield and sheep love it. Parsley is rich in iron and copper and improves the blood. It contains vitamins A and B and is good in cases of rheumatism, arthritis, emaciation, acidosis and for diseases of the urinary tract.
Pumpkins
– excellent for deworming sheep and a good source of vitamins.
Raspberry
– Raspberry is well liked by sheep. It is especially good for pregnancy and
birthing. Also good for digestive ailments.
Rosemary
– Sheep love rosemary and it gives a fine flavor to the milk. It is both tonic
and antiseptic.
Sunflowers
– Sunflowers are rich in Viamins B (1), A, D and E.Thyme – Thyme is another milk tonic and the oil is a worm expellent. Turnips – Turnips are another good food source that helps in deworming sheep. Violet – Violet leaves are rich in Vitamin C and A. Watercress – Watercress has large quantities of vitamins A, B, C and B (2), as well as
iron, copper, magnesium, and calcium. It promotes strong bones and teeth and is good
for anemia. It increases milk yield.
Yarrow
– Sheep in particular will seek out the beneficial yarrow plant.
Wormwood
– This very powerful herb is especially good as a dewormer, as is  Southernwood.

As you can see that’s a lot of stuff to learn, which is why I printed the list.

Here is a similar list for goats. (There are many online, but this shortened list is of the common plants we might find in our yards. Taken from How To Protect Your Goats from Poisonous Plants for Dummies. Some of the common poisonous plants that might grow in your pasture or backyard include: Bracken fern, Buttercup, Common milkweed, Foxglove, Lantana, Locoweed, Poke weed, Spurge, St. John’s Wort, Water hemlock and poison hemlock, Cyanide-producing trees such as cherry, chokecherry, elderberry, and plum (especially the wilted leaves from these trees), Ponderosa pine, Yew, Azalea, Kale, Lily of the valley, Oleander, Poppy, Potato, Rhododendron. Rhubarb.

 

 

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Becoming sheep and goat people a little earlier than we anticipated has forced our hand, it has also swooped the learning curve. We pray that the animals will be protected through our ignorance and eventually, we’ll all just get along. Maybe Edmund and Lucy will even let us pet them longer than their cursory hand check for treats.

On Baldwin Acres you’ll find life overflows with hard work, chaos, laughter, fatigue and always, always, blessings.

Sheep Shearing

Life on Baldwin Acres has been busy. Two weeks ago we hired a professional sheep shearer to come give Edmund and Lucy their yearly shearing. She also trimmed their hoofs and gave us valuable information about the sheep and their needs. Some folks think it’s cruel to shear the sheep, but from what I’ve read it is to the sheep’s benefit to get sheared. They will be cooler in the hot summer and in the winter, the wool has returned. I should have snapped ‘before pictures’. But here, you can see Lucy getting sheared Imagethere’s a fair amount of lovely dusky white and black wool. (Just like tigers, their markings go all the way to their skin). Elizabeth was a super calm, fast worker so Lucy was up and about in a matter of minutes. Then, she looked like this. ImageHello gorgeous girl! I think they are adorable and resemble, maybe, a sheep bobble head. At the end of each one’s shearing Elizabeth laid out the fleece for me and showed me how to roll it until I am ready to use it. Here’s what the fleece looks like off of Lucy’s lovely lamb body. ImageWhat I am going to do with it is what I’ve read: wash it, and then try to spin it…with a drop spindle. Which arrived in the mail yesterday and looks really simple and complicated at the same time.

Edmund got sheared too. He had a ‘pocket’ on his hoof, which I wouldn’t have noted to possible trouble, but Elizabeth did, and she cleaned it up nicely so he won’t have future hoof troubles. Image Then they were back in the pasture. When they got to the pasture, there was much bleating and banging of heads. Seems the sheep do not recognize each other when they get shorn, so they have to do the whole priority establishment again. It didn’t last long before they were settled down and chomping at the pasture grass.

Edmund and Lucy’s former family came to visit. They said after the shearing the sheep look like the little lambs they first brought home.  I offered them one of the fleeces which they happily accepted.

Sheep. Sometimes I’m just living the life and reflect on what I’ve done during the day. These days it usually involves dirt, sheep ‘berries’, chickens and a visit from a grandchildren or two. I do live a blessed life.

 

 

Farmer? Chickens? Vegetables? Me?

It was only a little while ago Lance and I were living in the warmth of the Australian sun. We dove on the Great Barrier Reef, 4 wheeled on Moreton sand island, dove with sharks, jumped out of airplanes and generally lived an adventurous life. Then God sent us back to America.

Since coming back from Oz, the Lord has blessed us with a beautiful home on five acres in the sometimes sunny, mostly rainy, state of Washington. We have more than we could ask for or thought to ask for. Our children are close to us both geographically and emotionally. We have hosted three sleepovers so far with some of our 13 grandchildren. We’ve gone from sun-soaked adventurers to rain-soaked hobby farmers.

The plan is to achieve some sort of self-sufficiency. There are seven raised garden beds in place and mature fruit trees on the grounds. We have our own well, and are moving slowly to solar powering everything, starting with a solar pool heater for the inground pool. It’s a little more challenging here- solar power, when the sun plays hide and seek most of the day, but the sun does come out and even if it’s not working, it would power solar. In addition to the solar power and the gardens, we’ve acquired chickens and this weekend will bring home two sheep. We are looking at pasture pigs and goats as well.

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In Oz, in the warm sun, we were active and warm. Since coming to Washington, the flux in the weather is playing havoc with our arthritic bodies! But, we’re sure to get used to it, and ‘farming’ is more physical than ‘adventuring’, so we’re sure to lose pounds and gain muscle, which of course will help. But, still, like in Oz, we’re soulfully happy and content. Peace filled.

It’s a bit of a free fall, going from ‘adventurer’ to ‘farmer’, but free-falling is easy when you know it’s where God would have you. So here we are. Hope you’ll join us in the ups and downs of hobby farming/homesteading or whatever it is we’re doing. It’s going to be an interesting journey.