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.

 

 

Productive day = exhaustion, achy bodies and satisfaction.

Unlike real farmers/ranchers we didn’t get up at the crack of dawn and we retired before the sunset (but to be fair, our sunset was at 8:15pm) but we did manage to get so much squeezed in those hours we were out there. Between everyday chores, gardening, too many trips to Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Wilcox stores, it was a very fulfilling day. Thought I would share some of it with you.

We were happy to see the sheep, Lucy and Edmund, were awake and making small talk with our boxer, Remus, as they waited for us to take them to the pasture paddock. We had breakfast and took some of the Grands out to meet the sheep. Lucy and Edmund are a little shy and give us crazy eyes from time to time, but they are not aggressive or sketchy with the kids. Lance had to hold Edmund, the smaller of the two, so the kids could touch them, but the sheep are so foreign to the kids the petting was a fleeting action. After they got out to their paddock, E & L proceeded to do some yard maintenance. and we moved on with our very full day.

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Lance tilled the garden beds. I planted a ‘salad’ bed with tomatoes, three different kinds of lettuces, and radishes. Yellow onions and Walla Walla sweet onions went in next. Cauliflower was next and then cucumbers into little dirt hills. Squashes – zucchini, acorn and delicate were next. One of the beds is now a dedicated strawberry bed, another will be for corn, and then pumpkins for October. One of the smaller bed will be for the herbs. The challenge of all this gardening is to not get down on my arthritic knees and at the same time, not wrench my back. Challenging, yes, but, ta-da, doable.

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Today was also chicken coop cleaning day. Since last I posted we have lost one chick. She never seemed to grow, didn’t get any feathers and one day she was listless, the next day, dead. It was very sad, but it is the way God has made the creature world to work. in the picture below you can see how big her sibling is, the big white one in the forefront. Little one never got half as big.

ImageWhile I want to make a nice soft warm bed of pine shavings for the girls, they continually kick it out until it’s almost just bare board. See the shavings in their water?  This water had just been changed 10 minutes before I took this picture. They’ve also taken to sitting on their feed. Not sure why. There are two who often roost on the stick, but the others? Maybe there is not enough room? Or they’re only brave enough to be as high as the feeder. Maybe there is something to calling someone a ‘chicken’ when they’re fearful?

Setting up Baldwin Acres has been a costly venture. We have spent more money on the animals, their ‘stuff’ and their shelters then we have on previous sun drenched vacations. So far, it has been worth every cent. As I sit here typing (using nine fingers because I got one caught in the door while rushing to the sheep and it’s painfully swollen), my knees ache from kneeling only once, I’m exhausted, and my body protests when I get up off the couch,  I can honestly say, love every aspect of it.

Before we led Lucy and Edmund to their bedroom (a nice roomy fenced dog run with a shelter) for the evening, I got one photo of them which I sign off with for you tonight, too. Peace.

 

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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.