Are you getting tired of seeing pictures of wooly sheep in the snow? I’d planned to start shearing beginning of March but I’m going to put it off until the snow is melted and temps come up above freezing. Since we aren’t expecting lambs this year there is no huge rush to get them sheared early. I’m tired of cold weather, but at least the snow is pretty.
Cinderella’s fair godmother finally swooped in to whisk her off to her new life. Cindy and Grace were both neglected and ended up in the foster care system (S.E.L.R) which is how we found them. We formally adopted Grace and didn’t really mean to get two llamas, but when we got Grace they asked if we had space for a second llama as a foster. Cindy needed somewhere safe to go to get healthy and start becoming more comfortable around people. We were happy to take her in. We ended up keeping her for a couple of years, but we decided not to adopt her because, well, Grace wasn’t very nice to her. Grace always acted like she would rather be left alone, but Cindy followed her everywhere. Grace wouldn’t share her food and often spat at Cindy if she got too close. We decided that Cindy would be happier if she could eventually move to a farm where she had a larger flock of friendlier llamas to hang out with.
It took a while, but finally someone decided to adopt Cindy and earlier this month a SELR volunteer came to the farm to pick Cindy up and take her to her new home (in TN, I think). As we were walking her to the trailer we realized how far she has come from when she first arrived. When we first met Cindy she was very timid and skittish and if you touched her anywhere behind her shoulder she immediately kicked out, making her hard to handle! This time, she was calm and relaxed and didn’t kick any, no matter where she was touched. We were so proud of her! Hopefully her new owners will be able to continue to work with her to make her more comfortable around people and better behaved.
We weren’t sure how Grace would react to Cindy leaving. Would she be happy to have her annoying shadow gone? Would she miss her? The afternoon after Cindy left, Grace acted confused and kept looking around for her. You can tell she is distressed by the humming noise she is making.
After the first day, though, Grace decided that she didn’t mind being an only-llama.
A Warm Day in Winter
After weeks of freezing weather, we have had a beautiful weekend! The water troughs have all thawed out and we’ve been able to spend time in the barn and pasture without wanting to rush back inside to get warm.
Weekend Farm Report
Chris built, and re-built several times, a chicken run so that the chicks can safely spend time outside of their enclosure in the barn. It had to be re-done several times because the goats kept destroying it. As of this evening I’ve discovered a new hole in the chicken wire at pig-level. I wish we could just let the chickens roam free but we have foxes in the area.
Ivy’s milk production decreased from and easy five cups or more a day to not even four cups. I take this to mean that the babies are now completely weaned and so her milk production has decreased to compensate for the lesser demand. Since I want her milk production to keep going I’ve switched her from once a day milking to twice a day milking. On dairy farms they generally milk twice a day from the get go but that is because they remove the babies and bottle feed them. I was more or less letting the kids take over one of my milking shifts. After two days of 2x daily milking I’m still only getting 4-5 cups total per day but am hopeful that after a few more days her milk production will ramp back up.
Most of the milk is going straight into the freezer to be saved for future cheese making. One batch of cheese takes 1-3 gallons of milk which takes over a week to accumulate, so I freeze it in the meantime to keep it fresh. I keep a pint jar in the fridge for drinking and putting in my coffee. Its particularly nice with a bit of coffee liqueur.
I’ve made three batches of chevre so far. I’ve tried different herbs, and plain, and so far my favorite flavoring is salt, garlic powder and fresh dill.
After making cheese there is a bunch of whey left over which you can use for baking and other things but I’ve been giving it to Schnitzel. Right now she is completely on pasture with the rest of the flock and we are worried that she isn’t getting enough protein. The whey is packed with protein so it should make up for any deficiency in her vegetarian diet.
I used some of the fresh milk to make fudge last night. The flavor was great but it didn’t set up properly. I don’t think I got it hot enough. I blame my dad because he called me while I was in the middle of heating it and distracted me.
I also experimented with blending plain chevre with melted chocolate chips (50/50 ratio) to make truffle filling. Again, its a little softer than I’d prefer. Maybe because my chevre tends to be on the soft side? I’m not sure if it’ll work for truffles because it gets very soft at room temperature.
The garden has just started producing edibles. We picked our first cucumbers and had them on bread with chevre and dill. It looks like we should have green beans within a week.
The chamomile has been in bloom since spring and every several days I harvest it, dry the flowers and save them for tea.
Its been hot and muggy. The animals deal with the heat by napping in the shade as much as possible. Grace likes to stand in her pool. She makes Cinderella watch.
Our one remaining bee hive finally died. It had been weak all spring and so we were not surprised when eventually we stopped seeing activity and opened it up to find it empty. Right now a wild bee colony is cleaning it out and stealing all the honey. There wasn’t enough honey to make it worth the effort of collecting for us so we are happy that it isn’t going to waste. We don’t know why the hive died. Perhaps it was the unusually cold, harsh winter.
I sent about 20lbs of wool off to a mill today to be processed into roving. I sent a bag each of Francine, Jeb and Kaylee/Kelly so I’ll get back roving in oatmeal, brown and black. Once its been processed it can be spun as is or dyed. I’ve been processing it into roving by hand at home but have more fleeces than I have free time. Having it commercially processed also gives a better quality roving than I can produce by hand and will be ideal for selling. Its about time for these critters to start earning their keep!
p.s. most, if not all, of these photos were originally shared on my Facebook page along with many others. If you like getting daily updates on farm life, please follow me here. I post much more regularly on Facebook than I do here.
The kids meet the llamas
Cindy the llama meets the kids for the first time.
Its too rainy to take the llamas out into the pasture today but we did let them meet their new farm mates inside the barn. We are going to let them gradually get to know each other through the bars of the pen at first to make sure that things go smoothly. We were anticipating some aggression from Ivy the goat (the current flock protector) or Jeb (the wanna be ram) and weren’t sure what to expect from the llamas but everyone was very friendly.Of course it probably helps that all of our animals are greedy little pigs and we were being generous with the treats. Though it looks like Ivy and Grace are rubbing noses they are actually both sticking their noses into Chris’s hand looking for grain! The other sheep were saying hello as well, they just wouldn’t stand still for a photo.
Our farm is now home to two beautiful llamas! Grace and Cinderella are foster llamas through Southeast Llama Rescue. We don’t know much about their history or why they entered the rescue program, but they are beautiful girls and so far are sweet, curious and calm. John and Cordelia, the adoption coordinators for Kentucky, delivered the girls today and gave me a basic lesson on llama care. They will be staying in the barn for a few days while we get to know them before being released into the pasture with the sheep.
Currently we are only fostering Grace and Cindy and they are still available for adoption. We may decide to adopt one or both of them but by starting out as foster parents we’ll have the opportunity to get to know them and see how they interact with the flock before committing to keeping them forever.
Dark brown, aprox 250 lb- Born May 2006, 6 years old
Previous foster owner described her as “trained to word commands- Foot, Halter On, Halter Off, Walk, Step, Back, Whoa. Doesn’t like chutes. Leads well”
So far Cindy seems very shy. Our goal with her will be to get her to trust people more. She is a kicker and very sensitive to being touched on her back half – even lightly touching her back leg or hip causes her to kick out fiercely. Once she is more comfortable with us we will work on desensitizing her to being touched by handling and grooming her frequently.
Suri fiber type, Fawn, aprox 225lb but she should be about 300lb, born 2004 (we think), 8 years old
Previous foster owner described her as ” very smart! (too smart?) To halter/catch: corner her, go slow and talk quiet. she is very curious and loves her food! Is often the lead llama. Knows she can kush (lay down) to end her walk and will be difficult to get up, again- she is very smart!”
Grace is confident for a llama and very food oriented which makes her easier to handle than Cindy. Our primary goal with Grace is to put some weight on her– she is way too skinny right now! We’ve been warned that she has a bit of an attitude so we’ll be keeping an eye on that and making sure she doesn’t develop any bad behavior.
The girls had a busy day today and were understandably a bit wary when we first got them unloaded. They are starting to settle in, though, and are already nibbling treats out of our hands. Grace clearly prefers to eat out of a feed scoop or bucket but you can trick her into eating from your hand be quickly putting your hand in front of the scoop while she is focused on inhaling her food. Its hard to tell if Cindy is too scared to come up to us for long enough to eat much or simply isn’t as food motivated as Grace. Cindy has nibbled a few treats out of my hand but is easily startled away. Tomorrow if it isn’t raining we are going to put their halters back on and take them for a walk around the pasture to let them begin to get acquainted with their new home and meet the flock. We will probably keep them locked in the barn for a few days, though, until we have their trust enough to be able to catch them again once we release them!