Since we began raising our sheep, most of our lambs have been born in January. Such was the case in 2018 as well and some of them came during a horribly cold period for our area. We were seeing temperatures in the teens and keeping those babies warm was a challenge. So much so that we decided to delay our breeding season this year to allow the lambs to be born in February or March.
Wanda had other plans! I went out to the barn for our morning routine to let the sheep out to pasture and just beyond the sound of the excited sheep baaas came a tiny, precious sound. The ewes all moved toward the gate as I approached except for Wanda. And there, hiding behind her was a brand new baby boy we have named Ansel. Despit having delayed the breeding in 2018, Wanda had her baby on essentially the same exact day as last year, during a cold front. Thankfully this cold front isn’t nearly as bad as it was this time last year.
So, please join us in welcoming baby Ansel to the Whirldworks Farm family!
The cold and rainy weather of late gave way this weekend and we were blessed with three days of beautiful, warm sunshine. We spent Saturday catching up on many of the chores that needed done, but today we spent some time in the woods.
One of my favorite things to do while on our walks is to look for new and interesting fungi. I would have never thought this to be a “thing” for me, but in our woods we have found fungi to be a vastly interesting subject. Our search was rewarded today as we discovered some typical growths on a tree, but also something we have never seen before. We discovered a variety of fungus that has the appearance of a flower and it was so fun to just sit and look at it for a little while.
The winter rains have certainly left behind a wet and muddy floor upon which to venture, but our treks have been enjoyable with the sun shining through leafless trees and the creek has been running full much longer than we are used to seeing.
We also need to briefly catch you up on the many ado’s about our homestead over the last year. It was a very busy and challenging year for us and I made the decision not to work on our blog as it was an expense in both time and resources which were woefully short in number during 2018.
The two most challenging aspects of our year included a job change for me as well as a very unhelpful weather pattern that persisted all year.
The job change was due to my desire to work closer to home rather than the 1 1/2 hour commute (each way) I had been doing since moving to our farm. Unfortunately that new job which was 3 miles down the road didn’t work out and I ultimately ended up at another employer 6 months later. I’m very thankful for my new position, but the hours are quite long leaving very little time for family/farm life balance. We’re getting into a routine now, but it has certainly taken some getting used to.
As for the weather we’ve experienced in the past year, I can surely say that trying to make a living off the land is no small feat when nature throws curve ball after curve ball. Our 2018 started much colder than usual and that cold “spell” lasted longer than usual. It ended with a torrential rain system and then a sudden and quick warming trend.
The rain stopped and the temperature was so high for so long that our hay fields never really grew to their full potential. The result was that our first and second cuttings were half the size we have become accustomed to. Then came the end of summer and it hasn’t really stopped raining long enough to dry our fields so that equipment can get the remaining hay. So now what is in our fields is quite unusable. I did what I could to cut some of it by hand and store it, but one man cutting hay with a scythe when he has but an hour or two per day just doesn’t produce enough to keep our flock fed.
The unrelenting weather also made it quite difficult for us and many others from having productive food gardens this year. Those that eeked out better harvests typically spent much more time on their plots than the rest of us could.
But enough about the doom and gloom. There have been some wonderful happenings on our farm as well. In the midst of the early year cold our ewes gave us several more lambs. We’ve been happy to welcome them to our little farm and look forward to what increase we receive in 2019.
The sheep weren’t our only growth sector this year though. In September we welcomed a new baby boy into our family and he has been a true blessed addition to our hearts and home.
This is just a short welcome to 2019 and recap, as promised. I hope to be much more active on our blog this year so please stick around and see the exciting things happening at Whirldworks Farm this year.
OH! Please note that our new blog address is now: http://whirldworks.farm
For all of our friends and family (and especially or blog followers who have felt abandoned by our absence), we want to wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas!
We do apologize for the rather extended disappearing act, but it is our great hope and pleasure to be returning to the blogosphere in full force in 2019!
We are proud and excited to announce that we have opened our Etsy shop and are stocking the “shelves” with wonderful, hand-crafted items for your enjoyment. Please visit our shop and while we GREATLY appreciate your patronage, we would also appreciate you adding our shop to your favorites.
WhirldWorks Etsy Shop
Much love, creativity and enjoyment go into creating these items as well as into our marketing efforts. We appreciate anything you can do to help us succeed.
It is certainly true that operating a farm, even a small hobby farm like ours is a full-time occupation. Thete isn’t a single day that we could just lay around the house and ignore the things that need done.
It feels pretty hectic at times during the week when we have so many other things vying for our time. There aren’t many big projects scheduled between Monday and Friday.
When the rooster crows on Saturday mornings, it usually marks the beginning of two very busy days.
For example, this past Saturday we began the monumental task of clearing trees and brush away from the fence line running along the back of the pastures. Falling trees and heavy vines play havoc on the existing fence. The thick overgrowth also provides an ample hiding place for predators. There is about 800 feet of this overgrowth and the first half of Saturday we progressed only about 30 feet. We knew this was going to be a long, challenging project, but it needs doing.
During the second half of Saturday we continued the task of reclaiming our garden from the jungle of grass that overtook it while I recovered from my toe injury. That too was no small feat. The Bahia grass that comingles with our Coastal Bermuda is a worthy opponent. It grows deep and has a huge rhyzome that is very difficult to dig up. This rhyzome is so stout that it will sustain itself very well through drought and neglect. Completely removing it from the garden will take years of constant battle. But for now we have prevailed and were even able to get it to the point where we can start planting our winter crops.
These and other projects take considerable planning, time, and hours of hard work. The thing is, being outside, on our own land, is a wonderful thing. Hearing the birds and squirrels playing in the trees that sway in the breeze is so much more rewarding than the hours we used to waste watching television in the city.
I can’t tell you how excited I am that I finally got a harness on Ruth!
When we received her as a free gift over a year ago and she was w-i-l-d… but she has also amazed us constantly!
I have been working with her every morning for a few months; brushing her and talking to her.
After a few weeks I started to hold the harness in my hand while I brushed her.
At first I held it just in my hand…, then on her back…, then near her face.
One day she was curious about it and smelled it.
So the next day I put it on her. She was a little annoyed.
I quickly took it off of her…, which was much more difficult than getting it on…
because she was annoyed ;p
Today I put it on her again and she handled it very well.
She even let me lead her a bit with it!
I am sooo excited!
Today I left it on her….so I could get pictures;P
I figure I can take it off of her later, when she goes in the barn for the night.
Next I will get her feet trimmed!
And then I will be working to get her to let me ride her 🙂
It is difficult to write a post about our success in the face of such a daunting challenge as Hurricane Harvey, especially when so many are still facing the storm and it’s aftermath. I wish I could say that we all overcame the storm and dodged disaster, but that unfortunately is not the case for so many.
Here at the Whirldworks Farm, as Harvey approached there was some measure of anxiety and we just weren’t sure how to handle all of our responsibilities before, during, and after. Due to a number of heavy storms that we experienced over the past year-and-a-half there was a real possibility of the barn flooding. As I posted earlier, I built up a berm in front of the barn and I’m happy to report that it was very effective. There were a couple of times over the weekend when the water level nearly over-topped the new dam, but it held. We did experience some water intrusion into the barn, but it was restricted to the center walkway and never entered the pens. With our measurement of 12+ inches of rain in two days I call that a victory.
The rainfall accumulation began to fall of mid-day on Sunday. I ventured out to check the creek level around our property and found that I couldn’t even get near the creek bed. The creek itself had flown over its banks and was very near the back fence of our pastures. A venture down the road where the creek crosses it made it clear that we wouldn’t be able to leave if we wanted to. There are two ways out of our area and both exits are intersected by this same creek.
By Sunday afternoon, although the rain was still falling and the wind was still blowing, the water began to recede. The worst was over for us. It was interesting to see about a half-dozen “ant islands” floating in our new pond as the water level went down. We kept the animals in the barn an extra day because we simply didn’t know what to expect the weather to do. By evening the sun was out and we let them out for a little fresh grass and exercise. I think they greatly appreciated it. While they were out enjoying fresh air for the first time in 3 days, I went into their dirty, smelly barn and cleaned it up.
We are very thankful for everyone’s prayers, but please continue praying for our neighbors to the South who haven’t yet escaped the storm.
We’re not ready…not for this kind of storm. Since moving to the farm we’ve identified several areas on our property prone to flooding. Thankfully our house isn’t in one of these areas.
Unfortunately though, our animal barn is. Our property has a gentle slope that runs right to and past the barn. We’ve made improvements that have helped quite a bit, but I don’t think we’re quite ready for 10-20 inches in 2 days.
Thankfully our neighbor let us borrow their rear bucket for the tractor. I’ve been using it to pile dirt into a burm that will hopefully slow down and divert the water around the barn.
Our tractor shed isn’t finished yet, but I’ve reinforced it the best I can. Now it’s time to check the barn for any last minute tweeks and bring the generator up to the house.
Please keep us and everone in the path of this storm in your prayers.
My decision to leave the workplace and stay home…
…was a hard one! But it was the plan all along. Ever since we decided we wanted another child, and God answered with our little Liam, we had planned for me to leave the workplace and home school him…as soon as the debts were paid off.
Every single day, from the time he was born…until my final day in the workplace, almost 5 years later, was very difficult!
I missed him. I worried that the other children would pick on him and teach him bad habits. I worried that he would be unkind to other children. I was tired and short tempered and SO excited to see him every day after work. But we only had about 4 or 5 waking hours together on week days…
And for a while 3 of those hours were in the car, because we moved over an hour outside of the city when Liam was 3-1/2.
I was conflicted and unsure if I was making the “right” decision. Even though I am old enough to know that some things are neither right nor wrong in the broadest sense.
I was not sure if I would be a “good enough” mother, if I would have enough patience or if I would get bored being at home. If my child would be better off with less of me, or more of me. If our family would be better off with more money, or more of me. Would we ever…get…all…the…debt…paid…off?!
And then we did, it was all paid off and it was time to go for it, or be at peace with working.
I was not at peace with working.
I felt that I was stretched too thin to give my family my best, as long as I was working- even part time ( I did that for the last few months just to see if that would be a good fit).
So I left the work place, the 9 to 5… and stayed home… full time.
I still loose my temper from time to time. I still get overwhelmed with all of my responsibilities and I still doubt myself. But I don’t regret the time that I have had with this precious little boy.
I love the extra time that I get to ..just..think, to crochet, to clean..my..house…!
I have time to meal plan and scrimp and save,.. and..frett;P
I have time to get all the laundry clean and put away before my husband gets home from his looong commute. And time enough to cook nice meals.
I was just getting used to it.
…and then my husband was given a job offer only 3 miles from our very rural home.
A job that would mean being way beyond frugal…It will mean that we will have to sell things that we make and maybe pick up odd jobs here and there to make ends meet.
And I am scared!
But …I am also excited to spend more time with my husband. This new job will mean 3 hours more time at home for him …per…day!
So ..it’s okay. And I can be excited and scared all at the same time.
All great adventures start that way I suppose!
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