Thursday, April 28, 2016

When Rocket Became An Orphan

 I was going to write today about knitting, or bread baking, but something happened at the beginning of the week which has made all my plans go out the window and completely consumed every day.
No doubt you remember me writing about Rocket two weeks ago? He was the first lamb born for the year, and he's become a very special little lamb in the last few days.
His mum Sage died suddenly. I went to let the sheep out in the morning only to find Sage stretched out on her side, her breathing rapid. Within less than a minute she was dead, and Rocket was an orphan. We're not sure what killed Sage, but I think it may have been a snake.
Rocket sniffed his mama and curled up next to her, bleating his little heart out. I started crying when that happened, and my mind was racing with thoughts of how we were going to raise him.
He was 11 days old when he was orphaned, so I was worried that it would be hard to get him to except a bottle. Thankfully with Missy having calved only a week ago, we've got plenty of raw, full cream milk for Rocket to have.
It took him half of the day to get hungry enough to except the taste of Missy's milk. I fed him by sticking my finger in his mouth and dribbling in milk with a syringe. He seemed happy eating like this, and the next day we bought a lamb teat for him and spent the day fighting with him to get him to except it. It was late in the afternoon when he was kicking and jumping and having a full blown temper tantrum about the teat. I was looking at Rocket's hollowed in sides and thinking I was just going to have to syringe feed him when he suddenly lunged forward into the bottle and starting sucking with surprising force. The bottle was empty within a few minutes and due to his hunger strike he quickly downed another one.

The feeling of relief when he started sucking was immense. I just couldn't believe it. With his acceptance of the bottle, most of my worrying about him has disappeared. He has put on weight and grown, which is so important to notice at this age as they grow so very fast.
Rocket has decided that I'm his new mum and is happy to follow me around the yard and comes running up for his bottle. When I'm not supervising him outside, he is asleep in Bambi's old puppy play pen in the living room.
He wears a little dog jacket at night to keep warm, and has discovered that a pot plant is good fun to jump into. He likes the smell of hot cocoa and tries to steal cake crumbs from my plate.
Rilla won't go near him, she knows she is to leave lambs completely alone. And I'm sure Bambi disapproves of my bringing a lamb inside. She doesn't know whether to stare him down or look after him. She's sound asleep next to his pen right now.

Today Rocket has been completely content, his whole little body just looks happy. He seems to have settled into his new life, and was full of cheekiness today. He skipped about the yard this morning, and then this evening he tore around like a crazy animal. He is so happy! His little eyes light up when I walk past his pen, he runs over and bleats, and wags his tail when his bottle is coming.

I've raised motherless chickens before, and bottle fed a total of eight calves over the years (six we brought home from a dairy and the other two were drought orphans). This is my first time bottle feeding a lamb and he is a lot more work than a calf. But he is also a delight, and whilst I wish so very much that he still had his mum, I do enjoy looking after him.

We're in for the long haul with this little lamb. There's a lot of bottles and a lot of intense Rocket-focused days to come. I'm sure I'll be over it at points, but I'm also going to enjoy raising him. He's made his way into our hearts already. He certainly won't be destined for the freezer! Just what he is destined for, is a conversion (or two) for the months to come.

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Monday, April 25, 2016

April on Film & Other Things You Might Like to Know

April is at it's end, and the weather has well and truly turned into Autumn. It's windy, the days are a pleasant temperature and the beginning and end of each day is delightfully chilly.
Those of you who are long time readers may remember that a few years ago, when this space was under a different name, I published a few little films here. I've been wanting to start doing that again, and was inspired to after watching one by A Bookish Baker. Watching Helen's film made me realise how much I've missed doing my own, and so, here is April on Film.

Let me know what you think, and enjoy!

Music // Tootie Flutie by Bert Kaempfert, available on iTunes

In other news, I've given the books page a complete overhaul. It's now much easier to navigate, and if you haven't already had a peek, I'd love you hop through now!

And as of May, my Here & Now posts will become a scheduled link-up. I'll be publishing a Here & Now on the 10th of every month, and will be adding your links to the post for up to a week afterwards, so you've plenty of time to join in. I look forward to seeing your posts.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Marigold & Peggy

Last night was clearly the night for having babies. At least for the animals on our farm, anyway.

Do you remember the ewe I wrote about recently, the one that had finally become pregnant after I'd almost given up hope of her ever having a lamb?
Well, she had her baby last night. I suspected that she was in labour yesterday afternoon, and when evening came and I put them into their sheds for the night, Minty starting pawing at the ground, turning about in circles and periodically lying down. All behaviour that confirmed her labour was progressing. She actually looked quite offended at what was going on, and like she seriously regretted her decision to finally become a mama.
I watched for almost an hour, until the sun disappeared and the light was lost. It was too dark to see, so I reluctantly left, thinking I wouldn't know the result until morning.
At about 9 o'clock last night we heard loud baa-ing coming from the sheep shed. Highly unusual, and also very alarming when I'd left a sheep in labour up there.
We raced up to the shed with torches, only to find one very proud mama sheep cleaning and encouraging her new baby. Minty's lamb is so large in size that I immediately supposed it to be a boy, but quickly found it that she is indeed a ewe lamb! Minty is turning out to be a wonderful mama, albeit a loud one, and her baby is so beautiful and strong.
I named her Marigold, partly due to the fact that I missed the first ten minutes of the last episode of Downton Abbey due to the commotion in the shed. She seems to suit her name and I am just over the moon with this gorgeous little baby.

Our milking cow also gave birth last night too, although we didn't find out until this morning. She's had a gorgeous little heifer calf, just as I asked her to. We've named her Peggy and she is a beautiful cocoa brown, although I know she'll turn black with age. The excitement of calving is increased when it's Missy who has a baby, as not only does it come with the delight of new life but also the joy of being able to have our own homegrown milk again. We'll start milking Missy-Moo on the weekend* and I can't wait. I keep thinking of all the cheesemaking that is to come, and enjoyment of milking Missy every day.

*Cows produce colostrum for the first four to five days after calving, so Missy's actual milk won't come in until about Saturday. Colostrum is high in vitamin A and is vital to the survival of the newborn calf.

Waving Lace Washcloths | New Knitting Pattern

It struck me on the weekend that I had neglected to share my newest knitting pattern with you! So, without further delay, I'd like you to meet the Waving Lace Washcloth.
This is a simple and fun knit to add a bit of prettiness to your every day. Lace is easy to work, and lots of fun too. If you haven't tried lace knitting before, this pattern is very simple and an excellent introduction to the wonderful world of lace knitting.
Knit your washcloth in a soft cotton or bamboo blend. Organic Cotton makes the most delicious washcloths.

The pattern is available to purchase as a PDF download on both Ravelry and in my Etsy shop.

Waving Lace Washcloth Details:
- Worked in DK/8ply yarn
- Easy to follow written instructions, including how to wet block your finished item
- Suggested yarns and quantity

Let me know if you give it a go!
Happy knitting,
Sarah x

Saturday, April 16, 2016

A Newborn Lamb

The first lamb of the year was born on Thursday. Sage went into labour at lunch time, and less than an hour later she had delivered this long legged little ram lamb. I couldn't think of a name for him, so I decided to ask for suggestions on Instagram, and have chosen Rocket. I think it suits him.
The next ewe to lamb will be Minty, although I suspect that the next animal to give birth will be Missy-Moo. We moved her into her calving paddock this morning as her udder has filled and she's got all the other signs of an impending birth. It's exciting.
Sage is the least quiet of my sheep, in fact she has a bit of a wild streak so I'm unable to get too close to her little one for too long. I was thinking of moving Sage on, due to her nervous temperament. She's a challenge to handle, especially around lambing time, but as my sister pointed out it would be hard to find a good home for her. Here Sage is handled with patience, her oversized flight zone is respected, even if it means getting her into the shed can take three quarters of an hour when she's got a newborn lamb in tow. In another place she may be handled in a way that would cause her more anxiety and stress, and so I think she must stay here. So far she's had two beautiful lambs, and she's a challenge I don't mind keeping. I think she'll always be nervous, though, because after almost a year of being here she still isn't relaxed.
The lamb she had last year is now lovely and quiet however, so little Rocket should become friendlier with age too.

I hope you've been having a good weekend.
It's been very cosy and Autumnal here, and a little damp too.
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