Independence Day Chicks!

We were gifted this Silky/ Cochin hen, as a six week old chick in 2017 (I think) by Rachel and James Cubas from the Cochin hen at their school; Marimont Montessori in Pflugerville TX. Liam went to school there, for about two years, before mamma retired to stay home and become fully dedicated to farming and being mamma.

For various shall we say “predatory reasons” she is the only one left out of 9 that we originally had received. At the time we recieved the Silky/Cochin chicks we were having problems with an aggressive rooster (named Mr. Rogers,- oh the irony) so we gave several of the chicks to our neighbors. This was their first attempt at any kind of farm animals at their homestead (A Shaffer Homestead) and they built an incredible chicken coop and took great care of them.

After about 8 months one of them, that they had named, Bell became broody (when a hen won’t leave the nesting box to eat, or poo, or scratch, she wants to hatch chicks and she is called broody) and she raised up a brood of 10 chicks, hatched with minimal human assistance at my neighbors homestead.

That fall for “predatory reasons” they were down to a handful of chicks and grown Silky/Cochin hens and roos and then found that they need to be away for an extended period of time. So,.. they returned the rest of them back to our farm.

Right now we only have two left; Bell and Galadriel. Galadriel is one of the chicks that Bell raised two years ago.

So this spring Bell started getting Broody again and after a few weeks of forcibly removing eggs from under her and taking time to (hopefully) fill in all of the gaps in our brooder coop, we were convinced that she was serious about hatching some more eggs and we put her in the nesting box, with hay.

We started giving her all of the eggs we collected each day for almost a week…

…and then they all fell down and broke:(

So we added a little lip to the nesting box

,…and started once again to give her all of the eggs we collected each day for one week

and then let her be…

The way that she spreads her wings out over all of the eggs to keep them warm reminds me of Psalm 91:4 “And under His wings you may seek refuge;”  and of how God cares for those who seek refuge in Him.Gods love and care for us is reflected in every aspect of nature and the life that He has created ans we miss so much of that in our “civilized” and “technologically advanced” society, sighs…

but back to Bell;)

Over the nest almost three weeks we brought her bits of fruit and and vegetables, since she didn’t seem to be getting up to feed herself as far as we could tell,

and we began counting the days!! 🙂

We expected to start seeing chicks hatch by the 24th

but the 24th came and went, and no chicks

and the 25th, no chicks,

the 26,… still no chicks, maybe it was too cool, or maybe the eggs weren’t fertilized…

the 27th we – didn’t – even – check-

But on Sunday hurray our first chick hatched. It is sooo cute.The little peeps and so tiny and fluffy!

We did a little research and apparently it is important to get the chicks drinking water so we are working out how exactly to do that, in this little nesting box. Maybe next time we will be more prepared. For now we are just refilling a tiny cup of water, as needed.

There are TEN more eggs in there and we could hear more than one little chick peeping this morning when we did our “well check”.

Also a few of the eggs we bobbing around a bit, so we expect to see more tiny babies very soon!

It is so exciting to have baby animals around at different seasons of the year.

We may have to figure out a way to have some fall babies of some kind this year, lol!!!

Historic SpaceX Launch Brings America Back to Space

SpaceX Dragon Capsule

This has little to do with homesteading or husbandry, but I am very excited about this launch today. Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s there was a lot to be excited about space. The possibilities and adventure didn’t escape me at my young age. I still remember sitting in the crowded library at Norman Rockwell Elementary in 1981 with all eyes focused on the television waiting for that gleaming white space shuttle to launch into space for the very first time.

When those powerful engines ignited and it lifted off, my dreams went soaring with it. The videos of astronauts in space, doing work inside and outside the shuttle amazed me. I loved the shuttle program and wrote letters to NASA regularly. In response they often sent inspiration letters back to me and each return letter included pictures of space shuttles, rockets and astronauts. I dedicated an entire wall of my bedroom to NASA, including a scale replica model of the Challenger that I painstakingly put together and hung from the ceiling.

Over the years there was a dream in my mind of reaching the stars. Obviously I never made it there though. I slowly came to the realization as I advanced through school that science and math were not my gift. The dream was never crushed by that as I accepted that some are meant to reach the stars while others can be inspired and be an inspiration to others to keep dreaming big.

Like many Americans I was shocked and dismayed when the shuttle program was shut down only to discover that after decades of investment and research, the United States had no other viable means of getting humans into space.

Then, several years ago, a private company named SpaceX appeared from the shadows with an incredible mission. They not only dreamed of returning Americans to space from American soil, but their end goal is to take humans to Mars. I can’t say that I have followed every step of SpaceX, but I have payed quite a bit of attention to what they have been doing over the years. The very first time they successfully launched a rocket and then returned the booster to land on a ship floating in the ocean was an absolutely amazing feat.

There have been many other incredible firsts for SpaceX, but today’s launch is something I and millions of other Americans have been waiting for. The return of Americans to space, from American soil, on American rockets is very exciting in itself, but if you spend a little time on the SpaceX website you will realize that the technology these people have developed (and are developing) is light years beyond what we are used to seeing from our traditional space programs.

If you’ve ever watched a space flight in the pat, you may remember seeing a crew cabin stuffed with knobs, dials and switches with just a little bit of room left for the astronauts. The SpaceX Dragon Crew Capsule looks like nothing we’ve ever seen before. There are no visible wires, switched or any other ugly control boxes or surfaces. The capsule can be configured to carry between 4 to 7 astronauts and the only control surface in the craft is a touch-screen panel. I’m still not sold on the idea of replacing all controls with a touch-screen only approach, but if anyone can sell the advancement of technology it is SpaceX. I imagine in 10-15 years I won’t even remember thinking this approach was questionable.

At any rate, I am hoping to be able to watch the launch live today and I hope, if you are able, to watch it too. The time to tune in is 4:33pm Eastern Time (3:33pm Central Time). There are many places online to watch it, but I plan to watch it on YouTube:

Even though I never made it to space, the wonderful view of the stars we have in the country still reminds me that God is an awesome creator and His heavens are both an inspiration and that He is vastly more than we often give Him credit.

WhirldWorks LIVE! Virtual Vending Event TODAY

We were scheduled to be vendors at the Texas Yarn Lovers event this weekend, but alas, as with all else, the event was cancelled. However, you can still have the opportunity to view all of the vendors who had planned to participate through Texas Yarn Lovers Virtual Vendors online event.

Tune in to our live fiber show on Instagram @whirldworksfarm today from 2-3pm. We are located in a rural area so connectivity can sometimes be an issue. If our live feed bugs out, click to our YouTube channel on our bio page for the recorded version of the live show (as soon as we can upload it) and other videos of the goings on at our farm. You can place orders live during the show by sending messages or by sending us an email: whirldworks@gmail.com

Here is a schedule for the other vendors:

Texas Yarn Lovers Virtual Event

Fitted Face Mask with Wool Filter

The mask thing wasn’t something I was eager to participate in. We are, after all quite isolated as it is. What use would we have for such a thing? But my grandparents asked if we could find them a few on Amazon and order them as they aren’t all that savvy when it comes to internet shopping. I looked on Amazon to see what they had…and wasn’t impressed. So I looked for an easy pattern to follow to make them some masks myself. We have a pretty slow internet connection, and not very much data, so we subscribe to YouTube to download videos in the early morning hours when we have a more generous streaming allowance. I found a pretty simple instructional that got me a basic mask but then I decided to add a pleat at the nose and the chin for more protection and better fit and I thought , why not use some wool? So I did! The result is a pretty stout little mask with a measure of air filtration sewn in. It is NOT hot by the way. One common misconception about wool is that it is hot, but truly some of the virtues of wool are that it is a great insulator to keep you warm when it is cold and it breathes very well to also keep you cool, other wise our sheep would die of heat stroke in the hot Texas sun.and the generation of mankind that only had clothes made from wool and had NO air conditioner would not have been able to wear it. It is also antimicrobial, antibacterial and naturally flame and moisture resistant. <https://skeinyarn.com/blogs/blog/34415044-10-wondrous-properties-of-wool&gt; So if you haven’t explored wool, there is no better time than now. And of course if you need some wool send me a message and I’ll let you know what I have in stock. Also if you’d like to order a mask from me, made as shown in the tutorial, I’ll try to make you one. I’m charging $12 for these but I have limited materials, thread and fabric choices and fabric stores are a bit slower and lower in inventory than normal. Send me a message and I’ll make as many as I can! Here is a link to my tutorial. This is my first attempt at making an instructional video with text and music. There is a little bit at the end where you can heal my 7yo doing school work 😉 <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXaCHi38FZQ&gt;

Our First Calf

In these crazy times of ours there are still moments of beauty and amazement. I will try to catch up on all the fun and wonderful times we’ve been having on the farm even in the midst of this terrible pandemic. For now though, I wanted to make a special post announcing the arrival of our first calf this morning.

We now have a few years of lambing under our belt, but the prospect of bringing a new calf into our lives has been something that has brought us some uncertainty. The sheep have been so easy and we’ve never had to intervene. We have heard many stories of difficulties cows can have during birth.

Due to this we have been keeping a very close watch on Ada, the cow. We were pretty sure yesterday that calf day was very close. I checked on her several times and tried, without success, to keep the guardian dogs out of her pasture.

This morning we checked on her first thing, but no calf. We got the boys up, dressed, and began making breakfast. Before we ate I ran out for one more check. There, standing next to Ada, was her brand new baby boy! It was such an exciting moment we left the start of breakfast on the counter and everyone rushed out to see the new addituon to our farm.

He’s a big, strong British White calf whi, for now, is just as frindly and sweet as his momma.

 

Sybil delivered her first lamb!

Thursday morning when we got to the barn to let the sheep out for the day, to our delight we found that Sybil was beginning to deliver her first lamb. *graphic alert* Read More

2020 Lambing season is here

2020 First lamb
We’ve been watching the ewes carefully for the past two weeks as it became apparent the ladies were getting close to having their babies.
This morning we went to the barn to let them out to pasture. Hiding behind one of the ewes was a brand new baby lamb.
Momma and lamb
Upon closer inspection we discovered it was a girl and is Sparkle’s very first baby.
Sparkle is the oldest girl born on our farm, born on Christmas day, 2017. She is a very pretty lady with a beautiful long fleece.
This is also the first baby for the daddy, Ansel.
Now that lambing has officially begun, we’re expecting an exciting week to come.
If you’d like to help us name this little darling, please comment below (This year’s names will start with the letter “B”.
2020 First Lamb

Busted! I know what you were doing last night

Guardian Dogs

As we approached you two this morning we knew something was up. You both sat quietly at the gate with those “I’m sorry mommy” eyes. It didn’t take too much longer before we realized how you spent your evening.

Aside from your super innocent stares, everything looked normal around the barn. But as we got closer our noses betrayed you. I almost feel sorry for the skunk that you decided to play with last night, but these are not tears of sorrow. You STINK!!

If ever there was a case of chemical warfare on the farm it had to involve the pungent spray from a skunk. It’s not even possible to try to give you a dousing to remove the smell because our lungs try to shut down the closer we get to you.

It may take a day or two before we can even think of getting close to you, much less try to bathe that smell out of your thick fur. Until then, you can eat your dinner around the side of the barn.

 

Are We About to Add a Calf to the Farm?

When we first purchased our beautiful British White heifer we have been wondering if she was going to have a calf. The rancher we bought her from said that she had been exposed to a bull, but did not do any tests for pregnancy. He did say if she was indeed pregnant that she would probably give birth close to March.

We are almost to march and we’ve been watching her close. She has been an energetic lady since coming to the farm but for the last couple of weeks she has been a little less active and prone to finding a quite place to lay down. But even though she’s laid down, she has always jumped up when we approached looking for a treat.

Today we saw her lying down, but when we approached she didn’t get up. She just kind of looked at us with that look of determination that something is going on and she’s ready to take it on. She was so docile that she ven let our new little puppy play around and jump on her.

We’ve had plenty of lambs drop on the farm, but this will be a first calving experience. We hope she’s as good a momma as our ewes have been, but we’ll be here for her if she needs us. So the next two questions are:

  1. When will it be delivered
  2. Will it be a boy or a girl

January 2020 Update

I was going to title this entry “Winter Update” but as winter has yet to visit us for more than a day or two this past season, I simply decided to call it the January update.

There hasn’t been a lot of farm action going on the last couple of months outside of the normal, daily chores. Our big projects so far this Winter have been mostly home-front related. Our son loves the tree-house we built him, even though it still lacks a roof.

Our current farm project involves getting the barn ready for Spring lambs. It’s hard to say exactly how many of the ewes are pregnant this year because due to the mild weather there has been a pretty steady supply of grass. A few of them look exceptionally round though so we do expect a certain number of lambs. The wood floor has worked so well for our sheep that we’ve decided to finish the other side of the barn the same way except for the addition of separate lambing pens.

I was somewhat concerned that we would not have enough time to get the floor and pens in while also designing a way to keep the pens warm, but so far this winter that doesn’t seem to be a problem we need to solve right away.

Our British White cow may be expecting, but again, this is a first experience for us. We were told when we purchased her that she had been exposed to a bull and that it was likely she was pregnant. She does seem a bit rounder in the belly than when we bought her, but again, there has been plenty to eat and we have nothing in our experience to tell us what a pregnant cow should look like at this stage. We’re not all that concerned, but we are making sure she gets plenty of food, water and minerals just in case.

In fact, the other day I was walking around the farm and for a split second I thought there was a calf standing next to her. In reality, what was standing next to her was our #2 livestock guarding dog. He is getting incredibly huge and his feet still seem bigger than his body so I have a feeling he is not yet done growing!

Other than that, right now there isn’t a lot to report on the farm. We do have some seedlings growing in the garage for our Spring garden, so look for our garden updates pretty soon!

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