Monday, February 24, 2014

Bottle Time (Video)

A video from my phone - shaky camera and all.  Here's the baby getting her bottle.  She wasn't as jumpy as usual, but it is still cute (in my opinion).  I guess I am still just so happy she's eating! 

Monday, February 17, 2014


I was trying to think of a more flattering title than this one, but the truth is, I'm procrastinating.  I am meant to be working on my National Board entries one and two, and I am, sort of, but I keep bopping up to check on things:  turn over the vinegar lemon peel cleaner that's sitting for the requisite two weeks to get properly lemony (which doesn't need me to check it), wander outside in the rain to check if there are eggs or raspberries, chop up some carrots in case someone wants a snack, check my email for work.  I briefly ponder making a huge batch of waffles for the freezer or putting the ingredients for beef stew in the crock pot for tomorrow's dinner (I promised the son pizza for tonight).  I look over the fence to see how the mamas and lambs are doing out in the rain (they're fine, of course).  

What I should be doing is watching that video of me teaching (yuck - hate myself on any kind of recording device, always have) and analyzing what I could have done better (plenty), writing about that particular process, and moving on to the work selection.  What I want to do is bake, or read, or plant lettuce in the greenhouse (which tells you how desperate I am not to be watching videos of myself teaching - the greenhouse is a mess right now and usually not my favorite chore). 

I am very grateful for the rain, but I think if I could go for a long walk and think about what I want to say, I might get a lot of things sorted out and could sit down to write without the bopping about.  It always worked in college and grad school - walking was an important part of my writing process.  

Besides the slow and frustrating process on my writing, the good news is the bottle lamb has decided whoever is holding the bottle is officially not scary.  We no longer have to run around obstacles and other sheep to catch her to give her the bottle.  She runs right up to us now, chows down with a will, and staggers away with a full belly.  She's nibbling grass, as all are all the lambs, but she isn't nibbling on grain, yet.  None of the lambs are, except the two very oldest who are about 5-7 days older than her (I'll have to look at my records).  I actually enjoyed slogging out in my big rubber boots and my big jacket with the oversized pockets (to hold lamb bottles, dog biscuits, hoof picks, and such) to do the morning chores.  This is a big improvement over our past rather frustrating experiences with orphan lambs. 

I do have to say one of the lambs is about as goofy as can be.  She never fails to miss the gate and run into the fence a few times before she finds the opening.  Her twin is a lot more nimble, so I just don't get it.  She was a tiny thing when she was born - lively and strong, but not the brightest gal in the flock, I suppose. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Finally - bottle success!

Although our sheep are generally very healthy, we've had a couple of bummer lambs here and there.  And it's always been a struggle to get them to take a bottle, and we end up using a dose syringe and trying to feed them little tiny drips at a time for a long time. 

Well, finally, we found a nipple that our most recent orphan will take.  She was fighting it for awhile, and we would hold down this ewe she liked and let her nurse and try to feed her with a dose syringe, too, but she finally takes the bottle.  It's a sad thing it is one of those nipples you have to stretch over the bottle top (I have wimpy fingers), but watching lots of ounces go down her throat and her little tail spinning away in joy makes the frustration of trying to put it on the bottle worth it.  Sometimes I still hold the ewe and I suspect she is nipping in on all the ewes during the day out in the pasture - I've seen her dart in there, get a bit, and get out of the way. 

It's a huge relief. 

We sold all our males and a few of the ewes I wasn't interested in keeping all on one day two weeks ago.  It was a great relief, an answer to prayer.  Now we just have 3 ewes and 7 lambs, since the same night we sold all the others one of our ewes died.  I still don't know why.  She wasn't acting ill, seemed perfectly fine the day before.  6 of the 7 lambs are ewe lambs and I castrated the ram lamb.  I want to bring in a new ram at the end of this year - to let these lambs grow up a bit and give the mamas a break.  Actually, I want to bring in two new rams and rotate them between two groups of ewes. 

In the meantime, we can enjoy these little lambs.  This is the most lambs we've ever had at one time - all born with in a week, for the most part.  They have their own little joyful dynamic going. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

By Request - Hamburger Bun Recipe

This is for a reader who put a request in last week...for some reason, I didn't see it until now!  Sorry about that: 

I am a bake-by-feel kind of person, so measurements are pretty approximate. 

2 cups of milk, heated until it feels warm to your pinky
1 T sugar
1/4 cup butter, cut into pats, and semi-melted in warm milk
1 egg
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
5-6 cups of bread flour 

In mixer bowl, combine milk, butter, sugar and yeast.  Add about 2 cups of flour and stir until all is incorporated.  Add egg.  Stir again.  Add flour 1/4 cup at a time mixing until incoporated.  When you get to the point where flour is difficult to incorporate, start kneading.  You have to knead until it feels like an earlobe.  I know it sounds weird, but pinch your earlobe, that's how the dough should feel - it takes 8-10 minutes, or so.  You can also use a Kitchen Aid appliance with a dough hook. 

Form the dough into a ball and cover the bowl.  Place in a warm place and allow the dough to rise (at least an hour - I usually go for two hours).  Punch the dough down and divide into 12 equal pieces. Take each piece and form a disk, then fold the edges over to make a smooth ball.  Stretch this ball into a hamburger (or hot dog) bun shape and place on a greased baking pan.  Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until the buns sound hollow when taped. 

You can skip the egg, or even use warm water instead of milk, but the resulting buns won't be so soft.  You can substitute up to 1/2 the bread flour with whole wheat flour.  You can also use plain all purpose flour, but the bread flour makes very nice rolls.  If you use water, you can also substitute 2 T of olive oil for the butter. 

Have fun! 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Sheep Happenings

On one night (Tuesday), three ewes delivered a total of 5 lambs.  One set of twins were a bit small, so I went out every few hours during the night to check on them, and every time I went out, there were more new lambs.  I woke up Wednesday morning realizing that I had 22 sheep.  Although I had always thought I wanted 20 sheep, I find that our pastures are better off with about half that number, so I put reran the craigslist ad. 

To my surprise, someone called and wanted everything I had to sell.  He was driving by at lunch, would someone be home.  Yup, I said, and off they went.  I didn't have a chance to say good-bye; but all the males and two ewes I wanted to cull were gone.  All that was left was 4 ewes and 7 lambs. 

When I came home that evening, it seemed so empty.  And night chores were so fast and easy! 

Unfortunately, we lost one ewe, I am not sure why.  We used a sock sweater to graft the ewe lamb on her sister, and we are attempting to supplement with a bottle.  We must be the only people unable to bottle feed lambs.  I think it is because they already had the real thing for several days, so bottle feeding is quite a struggle - not adorable on countless bottle lamb videos. Sigh.  The ewe lamb is doing pretty well between what we can get in her with the bottle and what she can grab from her foster mom.  Everyone went out in the big pasture for the first time today.  I had to carry three lambs out when they took a wrong turn and their mamas kept going, but when I just went out to check everyone was with a mama at lunch time, they all were.  Phew.  The orphan is sticking like glue to her adopted family. 

When 7 of your 10 sheep are lambs, it doesn't feel like 10 sheep at all.  They grow fast, though.