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Monday, March 28, 2011

Barren Ewe.... not so barren


Spring lambing is in full swing now and our cute little black and white Jacob ram has brought amazingly cute little spots into our flock.


This morning I got quite a surprise from my first ewe I ever got, who I thought was barren because I've had her for years with a few different rams and she's never given me a lamb. Well, this morning, she gave me quite a shock as she looked to be giving birth. I thought -no way, she's just faking it- but lo and behold, an hour later I found the most long, lanky, leggy lamb shivering beside her as she cleaned it off and encouraged it to milk. Well I'll be. I just had to threaten her with the potential auction future she had in store unless she began earning her weight in feed.

Lambs are born and immediately after all the labor of, well, labor, the lamb stands up right away and starts looking for it's first meal. Geez, having kids is tough.


Now I've got two sets of twins from my Icelandic crosses (here's a nice family photo) and two single lambs from two other mothers. Four more ewes that haven't had lambs yet to go and one goat left this year. Babies are all cute, happy, healthy and just starting to play and jump around.


Ordering my meat bird chicks today. I've got several orders for heritage breed turkeys in already along with some quail in a brooder and also some slow grown meat birds as well. Should be interesting to see what's in my crock pot this fall.


I'm still having one heck of a time securing a beef cow. They're so expensive! Good for the farmers, bad for the people like me trying to buy them. Oh well, corn prices are on the rise... it's going to be a weird year.


Second greenhouse is almost up. Recycled sliding glass doors form three walls and now I'm just looking for some windows and a door to finish out the front. I'm hunting down some materials to make the tables and after this cold snap of 19 degree nights, I'm ready to move into April. I have hundreds of Ginkgo trees just starting to bud out. The sap has not been running yet for the final maple syrup boil, but I still check the trees quite regularly. My house still reeks of fish emulsion, but at least the little seedlings look happy to get some food... even if it makes me lose my appetite.


In other good news, my most recent foster dog, Ruby, just found a new home. Go Ruby! Wohoo! They really seem to like her and I'm glad, as we struggled through the kennel cough she came here with, and the affinity for playing in the road. I'm both sad to see her go and happy that her new family will give her plenty of love and attention, which is what she really needs. I'm also happy to report that no chickens were harmed in the training of this dog. :)


Let's go spring! I'm ready for April!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sugar vs ????


LAMBS!!!!! LAMBS!


Despite the March mud and snow storms, our little Olive gave birth to twins. Beautiful little lambs that were born from our sweet Olive, who we bottle fed a few years ago to make the sweetest ewe that would just hop into my car, happy to go for rides. The father was one of our lambs from last year, the first lamb that was born here, actually. I like crossing different breeds of sheep and selecting out the ones that don't require chemical wormers and grow big and fat on pasture with low maintenance. I found it by crossing a Jacob with an Icelandic. And then last year I got a Painted Desert ram and crossed that in there and then crossed that with Olive... who I got from a little amish lady with unknown parentage, but she's happy and healthy and has been a great ewe for us.

So I will spare you all the genetics of coloration as I still have no idea how it works, but we got a beautiful little white girl lamb and this amazingly spotted, panda looking girl lamb. So cute! Thanks Marty for the picture.

In other news, I just let out a very happy sigh a few days ago. The pork fiasco has officially ended. Sigh of relief. No more pigs, just a freezer full of chops, hams, and pork steaks. Oh, and plenty of lard because those pigs were HUGE by the time I happily said goodbye to them.
So now we're having roasts from our own cow, bacon from our own pigs, and life is pretty good. I still have a few meat share lose ends to tie up, but overall for the first year I think it turned out alright. Meat share members - any feedback would be helpful, good or bad. I'm still debating on doing it again this year. Eh, we'll see.

Anyway, I've been having a terrible personal struggle as of late. Fact is, I love sweet things. I am quite ashamed at my affection for soda so I've been trying to kick the habit.

I started by just avoiding things with corn syrup. Notably because despite those "sugar is sugar" ads touting "corn sugar" as being the same as regular sugar, it is not. It's high fructose corn syrup where fructose is processed differently than real sugar and interferes with copper metabolism, causing our connective tissues and collagens to not form correctly. This leads to flabby, soft bellies, weak arteries, fragile bones, high cholesterol, fatty liver disease, and heart attacks. Mmm, want a coke?

So Pepsi now makes a product with "real sugar" now. Great, right? Actually, their "real sugar" doesn't actually have to come from a sugar cane, but rather a sugar beet... and more probable than not, a GMO sugar beet.
Sugar is sugar though, right? So I probably shouldn't have looked into what GMOs really are and what they do inside our systems. It's about 80% of the soybeans produced and put in our food supply (not labeled, of course) and all that delicious high fructose corn syrup, yup, that's most likely genetically modified. And here in America, we don't have GMO labeling.... yet.

Here is a good article on GMOs.

So I'm starting to feel a bit paranoid. I have a sweet tooth. Sugar is out. Corn syrup is definitely out. And I'm not about ready to start putting aspartame in everything to trick my brain into thinking something is sweet. AGH!

It's about this time that I'm hanging my head low, sick of reading the packages on the foods I used to eat because they are "generally recognized as safe" (can a company put out a product and be innocent until proven guilty if it doesn't even test to see if it's safe?) and I'm starting to feel like there's nothing good. So I go to work with my mind just reeling about what to do when my boss pulls me aside to show me his maple syrup boiling system.
It's awesome. Right about now, the sap is running and he's got milk jugs on a stand of maple trees next to his field. He collects twice a day when the sap is running and puts it into kegs where he then boils it outside, evaporating the water away to leave only the most delicious, sweet syrup. Not genetically modified! Yes!

I thought it was odd that he put maple syrup in his coffee, but that's what I'm drinking right now and I love it! I've been having maple syrup teas like crazy and I feel a million times better. Who knew a tree could be so sweet and I'm not supporting any corporation, except maybe the small company that made his sap boiler.

I'm happy now. I don't miss soda except for once and awhile at a gas station when the bright colored cans promise happier times, but that thought is fleeting and I'm quite happy with my maple tea because I know exactly what's in it.
I want to take a jar of syrup everywhere with me now. I'm looking forward to maple syrup lemonade in the heat of summer and watermelon maple smoothies (or daiquiris) and maybe some maple ginger rootbeer. Maybe I'll make some maple butter cookies. Mmm, I smell an entire cookbook coming soon. Recipes welcome. :)