Monday, April 21, 2014

A Little Girl and Some Pretty Flowers

Little Miss Hazel-Beans is a beauty with these early spring crocuses in our cousin's yard!  I love how red her hair looks in the sun!  These were also her first piggy-tails. 

Easter Weekend

The Easter weekend weather was beautiful here in SE Minnesota, so we took full advantage!  It was great to be outside!

Saturday morning, Hazel, Clara, and I headed to the Easter for Kids event at our church.  This included some fun songs and devotion and also an Easter egg hunt at the park next door.  Clara loved finding the eggs and discovering what was inside.  Lots of Oooos and Ahhhhs ensued.  It was a little windy, but definitely comfortable enough to be outside. 

From there we headed to my parents house for lunch and grandparent snuggles.  Dad, Clara, and I headed out on the 4-wheelers for a ride around the fields and through the woods.  Hazel hung back with grandma. 

On Easter morning, Clara FINALLY got to wear her new dress and shoes that she has been bugging me about since we bought them a few weeks ago!  She was so excited about her new dress, and her new “church sandals”.  It doesn’t take much to get her excited these days – just tell her something is “new” and she’s all over it.

Following a beautiful Easter service at our church, we headed to relatives for dinner.  Again, the weather was gorgeous, so Clara was outside playing with the other kids, basically the entire time we were there.  She even ate part of her lunch outside, then came in to tell us the dog had eaten her cookie… 

Soaking Clara's dress... Too much fun to be had to stay clean!

After some quick naps late in the afternoon, we were all outside again, cleaning up the yard and doing chores.  The baby chicks and ducks are getting so big already – it’s crazy how fast they grow.  Overall it was a great weekend – somewhat relaxing and the weather was more than we could ask for.  Yea for Spring! 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Baby Lambs

Most people associate baby farm animals with spring, but in all actuality, babies are born on the farm all year long.  For us, that means baby lambs arrive in January and February.  These tend to be the coldest months of the year here in SE Minnesota, but it is the optimal time of year to have lambs ready to market as feeder lambs or as show prospects.  A feeder lamb is a young lamb sold at around 30lbs that another farmer will buy to feed until it is grown and can be marketed as a finished lamb.  A finished lamb  usually weighs between 120-140lbs will be butchered for meat.  It takes 5-6 months for a lamb to go from birth to finished weight.

Since we have to buy all the feed we give to our livestock, it makes sense to us to sell the lambs at a younger age.  At this point, the feed costs more than what we make by selling a finished lamb.

We allow our ewes to lamb in an open barn.  Once the lambs hit the ground, we move mom and babies to small pens we call “jugs”.  These small pens allow mom and babies to bond, keep mom from getting distracted by the other sheep, and helps keep babies warmer.  It also helps us keep a closer eye on the ewe and lambs to ensure they are eating well and see if the ewe is having any issues.  We use heat lamps in the jugs to keep everyone warmer.  After a few days, the ewe and lambs are let back into the big pen.

Before we release the sheep back into the bigger pen, we “process” the baby lambs.  “Processing” in this case means eartagging, giving shots, and banding the lamb’s tail. 

Eartagging:  This is a process by which we place a small plastic tag in the lamb’s ear to help us identify it.  The process is much like having a human ear piercing – the tag has a sharp metal post that goes through the skin of the ear and is attached to a “back”.  It’s not a pain-free process, but much like when you got your ears pierced, the skin soon heals and the eartag is not a bother to the animal.  We tag our lambs with 2 tags, 1 being our farm tag, and the other being a Scrapie tag.  By law, all sheep and goats in Minnesota must have a Scrapie tag.  This tag not only has the animal’s individual number, but also has a number assigned to our farm on it.  This forever links that lamb to us, no matter who we sell it to in the future.

Vaccinations:  We vaccinate our lambs against Clostridium Perfringens Type C& D Tetanus, or CDT for short.  This shot goes just under the skin and protects our sheep from tetanus. 

Tail Docking:  We dock our lambs’ tails using a rubber band that is placed high on the tail.  In time, the tail loses circulation and falls off.  Many people don’t realize that sheep are born with long tails.  We remove them because as they get older, the tails grow wool, which catches urine and feces.  This can lead to flies laying eggs around the back of the sheep and other infections.  In lambing ewes, it helps to maintain a clean area around the vulva and also the udder.  Docking the tails when the lambs are young is much less uncomfortable for them then if it is done when the lamb is older and the tails are larger.

Paul and I have quite the system down and can complete this process in a short amount of time.  These practices help us maintain a healthy flock!  Clara and Hazel joined us in the barn for these chores.  As they get older, they will help with this process as they are able.  It was a great day in the barn as a whole family! 

Fashion Friday - The Blues

 I’ve added to my wardrobe this last week because, well, I’ve had to.  Nothing fits – in a good way.  I’ve lost a little over 40 pounds in the last month, and more than 80 since December 2012 when I became pregnant with Hazel.  I wouldn’t say I look all that different, but my clothes definitely fit differently. 

The recent loss was due to all the medical things going on with me.  Want to lose 40 pounds in a month?  Acquire a thyroid and heart condition and there you go!  I’m about half way to what I really need to lose, so I’ve got a ways to go yet.  I think any loss though that makes your clothes feel different or puts you in a different size gives you confidence.  At least that’s how I feel these days!

I’ll be honest though – me being able to walk into any store and buy clothes is DANGEROUS for our budget… Have a mentioned I LOVE clothes?!?  I'm kinda excited that blue is such a big color this year - navy is my new obsession! 

Here’s the outfit I put together for today:


Shirt:  Old Navy  similar
Jeans:  Maurices  similar

Scarf:  Target
Boots:  Payless
Watch:  Lane Bryant similar

Earrings:  Forever21


**I have not been paid or received any gifts from the companies listed above. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Life That's Good

So…yep…failed again in keeping this thing updated.  I think you’ll all give me a free pass though. I’ve had some major health issues the last 3 months – from what they tell me, I’m blessed to still be here.  It’s been rough, I’ve felt very icky, and I’ve spent some time in the ER and in the hospital.  I’ve had my heart restarted… twice.  I’ve seen some of the best cardiologists the Mayo Clinic has.  And thankfully, I’ve come through it all without any lasting problems.

That’s right.  All recent tests results have been positive, I’m starting to feel more like “me”, and it’s time to move on with life!  Yea!

I’ve learned a lot in the last 7 months since our beautiful Hazel joined our family.  I’ve learned that no matter how healthy you are, or think you are, stuff happens.  And it can happen quickly.  And it can be serious.  And it can happen when you least expect it.

The mom of a good friend told me that our good health is easy to take for granted, until it’s called into question.  That is so true.  I know I took for granted being able to go to work and take care of my family until I couldn’t do those things anymore. 

I’ve also learned how important it is to listen to your body.  If something feels off, get it checked out.  If you think you need a second opinion, get one.  You only get one body – don’t risk it because you’re too busy.

Thank you to everyone for the thoughts, prayers, messages, cards, offers to help, and words of encouragement.  They have meant the world to me. 

Thanks to my mom, for all her help – making supper, coming with me to appointments, and saying, “I think you need to go to the ER…” when I told her it was fine.  I guess a mother’s instinct is still intact when the child is 32 years old.

Thank you to Paul for stepping up when needed.

Thank you to Robin, Erica, and all my volunteers for filling in when I couldn’t be there.

This song came on my ipod tonight and I think it says volumes about how I’m feeling these days.  I’ve been blessed beyond measure.  I have a life that’s good!

 I have so much to catch up on!  Lambs are on the ground, baby chicks are here!  Come back soon for more posts about what's happening on the farm!