Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Trick or Treat.
"I Dream of Jeanie" & "Cinderella"
circa 1980

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

DeeDums and The Grub

We had a bit of excitement here at Boston Lake Farm last night: Greta Grub woke us up with her distinct howl. (She sounds like a cross between baying hounds and a wolf.) Usually Greta spends the night outside, guarding the farm. She had managed to disappear, though, last night when Clancy and I switched off the lights to go to bed. Once in a while she eludes us by sacking out under the dining table, and we forget she's not already outdoors.

Around 4am Grub sounded the alarm, from inside the house. Sufficient to wake the dead, if you ask me. Clancy and I were bolt-upright and coming to as Sally vacated her post on the staircase landing and raced to Greta's defense. Grub continued to howl while Sal added an occasional low-keyed woof of support. Meg bounced off the walls of her dog crate; whining with despair over not being able to lend a paw to this full scale alert.

Clancy looked out the north window by the side of the bed. Groggy as he was, he caught a glimpse of small lumps moving about the yard in the moonlight. Sheep were out. Ugh.

I pulled on some clothes and plodded outside to the grain bag sitting on my front porch. (I redneck is that?) I was a bit apprehensive that the adult rams might be out. They had been pounding on each other the past few days, and I really didn't want to meet one of them in the dark. Thankfully, I could see both of the pale big boys still in their paddock when I stepped out the door.

As soon as the grain bag rustled, two fat little ramlings galloped around the corner of the house like Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Not having any idea how they escaped their electronet, nor willing to investigate at 4am, I decided the dog kennel would be an adequate pen for them. Parker and Arvada followed quite willingly to the kennel. I shut them up with their grain and tied extra twine around the lower part of the door. After a quick trip to the barn, they had hay as well.

By that time, Clancy had joined me outside and he was filling the outdoor wood stove, which is very near the kennel. Once the crisis was over, we stood still for a minute to admire the black sky filled with gorgeous stars and a brilliant quarter moon. The ground was covered in thick frost. Everything was diamond and silver. We would have stayed out longer but it was very chilly. And neither of us was fully awake.

Back in the house, Greta got her pats of reward for being such a great snitch of disorderly lamby conduct. She wanted to go outside to check things out for herself so we locked up after her and went back to bed.

As the household settled back into silence, I was so grateful for my dogs. All three are nothing but mutts. They take their roles very seriously, though. They are valuable members of this family.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Birthday Memory

Judging by the date printed on the edge of this old photo, Mama got my birthday pictures developed just a week or so after my 2nd birthday.

If you click the photo, you'll be able to see how happy I was to be playing Candy Land with my Daddy. I loved that game. It was a great birthday present. I still have the four little gingerbread men game pieces.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Breeding Plans

My breeding plans for the rams and ewes this year are fairly simple:
All ewe lambs and old Rachel will take the year off. Last year I bred a big ewe lamb and she never achieved the height or depth of her half sisters (and her dam was a nice big ewe.) I'm anxious to see what my ewe lambs can give me but I feel it is in their best interest to have a full year and a half to grow first. Rachel is 9? and had mineral deficiency problems with her beautiful ewe lamb last spring. I am doing many different things to bring our minerals into balance. I want Rachel to have a full year and a half to get her system back in shape. Hopefully, with a year off, her next lamb will have fewer mineral problems.
My 2 year old and 6 year old ewes will be put to rams. Three will go to Bombarde and two will go to Unicorn. Five ewes should give me anywhere from 5 to 10 lambs next spring and that is more than enough for me to deal with. I found it physically and mentally exhausting going from 2 lambings to 5 lambings-especially with the mineral deficiency worries. I'm in no hurry to increase lambing.
Dolce (above) and her 2 year old Delyth (Bam's dam) will go to Unicorn this fall. I've bred Dolce to single coated rams before and the lambs' fleeces have good individual qualities, but not nice handle. Dolce raises nice fat babies, and this time around I hope to get a long stapled, nice handle fleece on the lamb. I'm breeding like to like in this case. Concerning Delyth: Bam turned out so nicely that it is worth repeating the breeding.
Anna Belle, Rai Min, and Sian will go to Bombarde. The first two are repeat breedings which gave me great lambs. Since I can't breed Rachel to Bombarde, I will breed her black daughter, Sian, and hope I get the killer fleece/excellent structure I'm expecting from the match. And I'm really hoping for a ewe lamb from that pairing.
The two half-poll White Pine ramlings will wait a full year before I use them. I had them in mind for my ewelings anyway. They have been butting heads a lot lately, so at least I know they are willing. At least they don't know what they are missing. (One of the reasons I knew I better give Unicorn some girls this fall. He is very keen on the business.)
I've had these plans in place for a while. For once I'm not going back and forth. I know what I want for next spring and I know how to get it. Now all I have to do is hope that I get a good crop of ewe lambs and pray that the mineral deficiencies have been largely improved.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


There are a few new places to visit under Shetland Links. I tried to add the farms of people who have recently visited my blog. No doubt, I missed a few, so I will try to add new folks as they continue to leave comments.
I also added two new links under Family and Friends. Reedbird is Alethea's farm in nearby Shevlin. She raises beautiful Icelandic sheep and is very knowledgeable about holistic medicine, for both people and sheep. Buena Vista Ski Area is also listed. I work there every winter and those folks are my family too.


"He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul..." Psalm 23

Friday, October 10, 2008

Random Farm News

I used the zoom lens to take this photo looking South from clear across the yard. In just the past three days those pale green trees have turned a deep gold.

Unicorn looks very self-important, doesn't he? He's such a regal Sir. I get so set on my polled goals and then I pass Uni out in the pasture. Really, nothing is more impressive than a beautiful ram with massive, wide-spread horns. I sincerely wonder how I ever manage to make up my mind about anything.

The past two days have given us rain, and more rain. And more rain. I'm so very glad we are going into late Autumn with lots of moisture, but the driveway is all cavernous potholes filled to the brim.

All the 2008 lambs got their CD&T boosters last Sunday. The rammy lambs loved it...go figure. The ewelings are still resentful. I started giving the ewes just a bit of grain this week too. They are a bit flighty because I mugged them Sunday. They do manage to nearly trip me in their eagerness to mob the grain pans, however. I'm feeding equal parts whole corn, oats, and black sunflower seed. I intend to add more variety as soon as I can get to the good feed store. I know there are a lot of folks out there that don't feed grain. I do at different times of year when I feel it is necessary. I try not to feed that much. Mostly I use it to get the de into the sheep and to make sure they get some protein since our hay has very little.

In other farm news, our 5 hens went to live with my brother and his family at my grammy's old farm a while back. The three chickens that Todd already had apparently stayed politely behind the chicken coop all the time. Our hens have taken to roaming just as far, and just as wide as they did when they lived here. They like the center line of the tar road dividing the farm from a large suburban development across the road. The traffic is fascinating, I guess. Certainly, they never saw much of it here at Boston Lake. My brother reports that they have visited the development homes as well. Those hens are becoming mild celebrities over on the east side of Lake Bemidji. They have a small fan club. We are all happy for them.

The cool weather has also brought out a new wave of ticks. It's frightening how many deer ticks we've found lately. Tick control was one of the many benefits of having those chickens around. Hopefully, next year we can raise some new chicks. Fresh eggs and bug control are worth it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


"And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7

Monday, October 6, 2008

Fleece Samples

This year I plan to send in some fleece samples for micron counts. I haven't collected samples from my sheep yet, but I did clip last rib samples from the new White Pine lambs the other day.

This is a photo of Arvada's fleece. Even though I'm not wild about micron testing, I do realize the importance of being able to speak "scientifically" about my fleeces. I'm sure I will learn a lot from the charts as they relate to each individual sheep. But I'm also pretty sure I will still like Arvada's fleece no matter what the micron results say. It's really nice fleece!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Yellow Maple

This beautiful maple is just north of the house. Among basswoods, birch, and ash, it really stands out. Some years it is more orange or peach colored. This year it is an amazing sun yellow. With the brilliant blue Minnesota sky behind it, it reminds me of my Swedish heritage.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Lovely Day

It's another beautiful day here on Boston Lake. No one can remember extended fall colors quite like this year has offered us. Cool nights...Warm, sunny days...

Tomorrow we become official members of Our Redeemer's Lutheran Parish in Puposky, Minnesota. Pastor Jay visited us last Tuesday. Church ladies have been calling this week to learn what can and cannot go into a gluten-free version of their intended pot-luck dish. (They want to make sure the boys can eat lots of different things at the luncheon held after service.) The care and compassion...I could even call it love...that has poured out of this congregation for our family has really moved me. I feel so fortunate to call that little church home.

Whether the sky is bright or dreary tomorrow, I think it will be a beautiful Sunday. Blessings to All...

Friday, October 3, 2008


Unicorn is magnificent-even as he is waiting for me to bring him his morning hay.

Autumn is late this year. For years, by this time, all the leaves would be gone except for the brilliant gold of the aspens set against the grey wood of the bare forest. This year the basswoods are still greenish gold. The maples are in full red spectrum glory. The oaks are beginning to russet.

Our first frost visited last night, and it was unexpectedly hard. I will have a lot of peppers to gather this afternoon for drying. I think the plants mostly protected the fruit. My potted herbs got nipped pretty badly, but if I clip them short they should regrow indoors just fine. I just don't know where I'm going to put them yet. They will probably end up in the sunny kitchen. In the dark of winter, I love sitting by a sunny window and stroking the lavender or the Thai basil to release a burst of scent. It uplifts my soul to smell something so fresh in the middle of February.

This photo shows a line down the middle with fresh pasture (and sheep) on the left, and used pasture on the right. I am still rotating sheep through fresh pasture. However, while the grass grows slowly, I move them slowly. The sheep get one fresh grass day, then a bit of hay while they nibble the last of the good grass. Then more hay on the days when they pick at the less palatable plants. After most of the green is gone or flattened, they will be moved again. The pastures should be finished by mid November. Then I will move everyone to their winter or breeding pens for the first month of winter.

The sheep are getting restless. The baby rams are starting to push each other around. Unicorn will occasionally butt a tree trunk. Usually on the same day one of the ewes is acting overly silly, which means she is cycling and he can smell her clear across the farm. Bombarde, being the less dominant ram to Unicorn, has to keep a tight reign on his instincts and urges. He doesn't dare express himself too vividly until the Big Guy's presence is removed.

Little White Pine Silverthorne was put into the ewe pen this past week. The first hour was hard for her but then I did a little "round penning" with the ewes and they decided it was less work to leave her alone than suffer the shepherd's continuous direction. (I have found I can work sheep very similar to horses.) Now they flatten their ears if she gets too close. But she is fast becoming part of the flock. After she's been to ewe lamb boot camp with the other babies during breeding season, her place in the flock should be secure. She is such a cute little bug.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008