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Showing posts from February, 2009

This Chick's Busy

I found this chick at a garage sale and couldn't pass her up, even though I'm not big into "dustables". When I took her home, I found just the place in our kitchen to hang her. And, while I enjoyed having her on the wall, the lack of an apostrophe bothered me. A lot. When I took her home, she proclaimed: "This chicks busy." Ack! 
One time when friends were over, I mentioned it to one of my fellow English language stickler friends. She fixed it with a black sharpie marker, and I have been a happy woman ever since. Silly me--I could have fixed it, t00, but I just let it bother me... (Read the book Eats, Shoots and Leaves if you also are an English language stickler.)
Tomorrow is our Shearing Day, 9-noon. Today is preparing for that. Making food, organizing the workshop, double checking with a few people who will be helping, and praying that the muddy driveways will freeze...

Shearing Day

Last chance to come out to Shady Side Farm to see the sheep shearing. We'll be shearing around 100 Polypay ewes this Saturday, February 28th, from 9-noon. Come anytime during the morning. We'll be shearing in the barn, so wear old clothing and dress warmly! 
We'll also have fiber arts demonstrations going on in our workshop, and wool products for sale. Refreshments will be available.


As, requested, I blogged about the birth of lambs, complete with photos. I back dated it so that it wouldn't appear at the top of the blog (for those who don't want to see). If you'd like to read about lambing and see a few photos, click here.

Family Farm Cow/Calf Operation Wins Environmental Stewardship Award

The Guge family farm in Estherville, Iowa, is one of the seven regional winners in the 18th annual Environmental Stewardship Award. The award recognizes cattle operations that are proven stewards of the land, dedicated to natural resource conservation through the use of innovative, cost effective stewardship practices.

Mark and Norma Guge own and operate a commercial cow/calf, feedlot and farming operation, which runs on owned and long-term lease acreage. With family roots in the area dating back to 1891, the Guge family has developed a love for the land as short-term tenants with aspirations of passing on the traditions that have been passed on.

Read more about this family farm operation here.

Giveaway Time!

As part of the Berries and Cream Blog Launch party, Shady Side Farm is giving away a pair of handcranked socks (of the winner's choice). Now's your chance, people. Don't enter on this blog. You've got to go here.

High Tech Lamb Count

Well, the poll (upper right hand corner of the blog) is closed. Looks like people want to see a lamb count. Last year's ever lengthening list was boring! I've been looking for a ticker or something fun and graphic and I can't find anything. So will the above photo do it for you? It's a snapshot of our actual wall calendar with lamb counts on it! I could just take a picture of the calendar every day...
According to the lamb count calendar, we've had 61 babies born. We've lost a few (too little, born dead, poor care from mom), which always happens and always is sad. Our biggest day (to-date) was February 6th, when we had a set of triplets and 2 sets of twins born. 
(A side note for non-sheep people: Sheep have two teats, so raising triplets requires a mom with a bit more patience--she has to let 2 nurse for a while, and the 3rd one has to wait until they're done. If one of the lambs is small or less aggressive, or if the mom is not terribly bright, the same lam…

Socks and more socks

Sock yarn on bobbins...

A bobbin and its matching sock...

A pile of socks underneath the Master machine. 

The Farmer will be cranking socks this Saturday (February 21) from 11 - 3 at The Shaker Messenger in Holland, Michigan. If you've wanted to see him at work, here's another opportunity. Socks will be for sale, but there's no obligation to buy. Just come on out and visit for a while! A friend of ours will also be spinning at that time, so you'll get to see the process of converting wool into yarn.

How Far Will They Go?

A week ago, in the city newspaper, an article outlined the concerns of a truck driver-stringed instrument maker-former aerospace industry employee. He gave me a visual picture of a trillion dollars. Read about it here.

Sunday Post

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 
--Colossians 3:12-14

(Lovely plant courtesy of my mother, who has the wonderful gift of keeping plants thriving indoors, a gift she did not pass on to me, sadly. Photo courtesy of my daughter, who sees beauty in many things I overlook.)

Blog Design Grand Opening

Once upon a time, a beginning blogger longed for something other than the boring templates provided by She entered a couple of blog makeover giveaways, and actually won one! She worked with Linda from RS Designs, who designed something that reflected her subject and personal taste. (WHY are so many blog designs pink?)  The result is this blog design. 

Now Linda and design partner Revka are giving their blog design company a makeover. New name, new address, new everything. And to celebrate, they're hosting a 2-week launch party. Head on over to Berries and Cream Blog Designto see what all the fuss is about. Prizes (including bloggy makeovers) and fun await...

Catching Wild Pigs

A chemistry professor in a large college had some exchange students in one of his classes. One day while the class was in the lab the Professor noticed one young man who kept rubbing his back, and stretching as if his back hurt.

The professor asked the young man what was the matter. The student told him he had a bullet lodged in his back. He had been shot while fighting communists in his native country who were trying to overthrow the government and install a new communist government.

In the midst of his story he looked at the professor and asked a strange question. He asked, "Do you know how to catch wild pigs?"

The professor thought it was a joke and asked for the punch line. The young man said this was no joke.

"You catch wild pigs by finding a suitable place in the woods and putting corn on the ground. The pigs find it and begin to come every day to eat the free corn. When they are used to coming every day, you put a fence down one side of the place where they are use…

Front Page on Etsy!

It hardly ever happens to anyone I know, since there are 60 kazillion artists on etsy. But today my humble crocheted dishcloths were featured on the front page for about 30 minutes. I have the screenshot to prove it.

The Birth Process in Photos

As requested, the birth story of sheep. Photos are of the birth process, so if you'd rather not see, don't scroll down...
One of the things The Farmer watches for is a ewe standing off alone, away from the rest of the flock. If the ewe is pawing the straw, he knows that birth is close. He will also listen to hear if the ewe is making gentle bleating noises, which we only hear when they have lambs. It's a much different noise from their strident "feed me!" baa. 
When a ewe is actively laboring, she will lay down. She'll point her nose straight up in the air while she's straining. First comes a sac of amniotic fluid, and then two tiny hooves and a nose. Occasionally, the lamb will not present this way, especially when there are twins or triplets. When this happens, The Farmer must go in and readjust things. It is possible for the lamb to be born breech, but things really go much more smoothly when the two front legs come first and then the nose. If several la…

New Twins

We're in the middle of a big warm up right now, and almost all of the January snow is gone. We've had baby lambs born in spurts. They seem to be born right as the weather is changing (this would be a great research project for my homeschooled kids--track the barometric pressure and the lambs born).
One of the births was caught on camera by one of our daughters. Many of the photos are fairly graphic; after all, birth is a messy business. But here's the one I thought was suited for the blog. Mom is checking out baby #1, who is standing, and looking for his first meal. Baby #2 is resting, and hasn't been up yet, but has been licked off a bit by mom. The babies look shiny because they are still wet (in fact, in another photo, baby #2 is steaming from being warm and wet and just out of the womb).

So what do you think? Do you like to see birth photos on the blog, or would you just as soon pass? Maybe I'll do a poll...

Sunday Post

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
--Matthew 7:13-14

Farmer Plans to Protect Fruit from Freezing

Walker Miller, co-owner of The Happy Berry in Six Mile, is trying to install a wind machine that will help protect blueberries, blackberries and other crops from frost damage.

"Anything that is at risk from frost would be helped by a wind machine," he said.

Miller said his farm is already well-situated to withstand a freeze. Located on the eastern shore of Lake Keowee, the farm gets blanketed in warm, moist air from the lake, keeping it up to nine degrees warmer than surrounding areas, Miller said.

But deep freezes, like the one that struck the Southeast in April 2007, still pose a threat to budding fruit.

Read more about his plans here.


At the credit union, with the news blaring on a TV in the corner...

Newscaster: "Apparently the FDA was unable to do its job of inspecting the peanut plant well. Perhaps they need to have additional financial resources..."

Customer: "Oh, great! They screwed it up, and so the answer is to give them more money. Why is it that only our government rewards a job poorly done?"

Teller: "Ah, but that's the way with everything. Schools are failing, so let's give them more money. The auto industry is going under, so let's throw money at it. It's just the way our government works!" (I noticed that she did not mention the banking industry by name.)

Customer: "They must think that money grows on trees!"

Teller: "And y'know, we have all those national forests, so we should be all set!"

A Farmer's Best Friend

The Farmer is also a part-time on-call firefighter and medical first-responder. When the alarm goes off, he drops what he's doing and goes...

The dog's favorite thing in the whole world is riding along in the truck. She doesn't get to do it much, but she's eternally hopeful.
When The Farmer goes on calls, she does not get to go along. She doesn't really get why that is. Sometimes, when she's outside, she runs along behind for a ways, hoping that he'll remember he's forgotten her...
Eventually, she gives up.

And waits.

The First Lamb of the Season

The morning check of the sheep barn showed the first lamb of the season. Assistant shepherdess ran back to the house for a camera and caught her trying to stand up:

There! Now it's time to check the photographer out:

Sunday Post

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Refrain from anger and turn away from wrath;  do not fret--it leads only to evil.
For evil men will be cut off,  but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.
A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found.
But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace.
--Psalm 37:7-11