This Week In Farming

Busy, busy week at Tuppinz Farm. Here are some of the highlights…

The sheep and goats were finally shorn! They are so relieved to be nekkid, as the days are starting to get very warm. That’s “Fontina” (whom we call “Caribou” for obvious reasons) in the foreground. Need fleece? We have LOTS!

This year’s Largest Fleece award goes again to our Jacob ewe Montana. Jeff tells me the Shetland fleeces are again very nice and soft. I’m looking forward to keeping the two badger-faced Icelandics’ fleeces for my own use – they are identical in coloring so it will be nice to combine them and have enough matching wool for a big project.

I would have preferred that shearing not take place on the same day the farrier and vet were scheduled to attend to the donkeys, but on a farm, you have to roll with the punches. Farriers, farm vets, and sheep shearers are not as easy to coordinate as the business projects I was used to in my “former life”. There simply is no option to have a “Type A” personality on a farm.

Poor Michelle had to have her shearing appointment on a day when she couldn’t even be home! I hear her wether’s fleece is really nice…

Potatoes are up and growing nicely. We’re using this method.

My crazy junk garden is also doing well.

I tried to make raised beds using only materials I could scrounge up around here. I decorated with rusty bits of metal that were found on the property.

I’m growing lettuces, hot peppers, tomatoes, scallions, cucumbers, basil, cilantrol, parsley, three pumpkins, and sunflowers. We had lots and lots of rain this past week and the plants loved it.

We moved about 100 iris plants from the area that became the veggie garden, and popped them in the beds in front of the house. Several of them flowered despite this insult. We have planted echinacea I started from seed, as well as rudbeckia, in one bed, and roses in the other; next year it should be very pretty – all purple and yellow.

Little goats are growing like weeds, too. Here are sisters Elfine and Daisy May, almost all grown up (but still very tiny!)

The purchased Golden Laced Wyandotte chicks have their wing feathers now. Soon they will no longer need a heat lamp. They enjoy the thinnings from the veggie garden – feeding them teaches the chicks to eat greens (which they won’t learn without parents to raise them) and it gets some good vitamins into them.

We had a lovely Wyandotte hen go broody. Unfortunately, before we realized she was nesting, we gathered the eggs she was laying each day for the refrigerator. We then noticed that she – and she alone – was hanging around with our single Golden Laced Wyandotte rooster… the two chickens we most hoped would reproduce. Hobby Farm Mistake #1027 – when the chickens you want to breed actually do, let the eggs turn into chicks!

So as not to waste her broodiness, we collected two days’ worth of eggs which will hopefully become mixed-breed chicks, and stuck them under her. She accepted them readily. Hobby Farm Mistake #1028 – when you have a hen that is broody and you want to hatch out chicks, consider the fact that she is nesting in front of hay bales you will need to access in the next month – not the best choice of locations for anyone involved.

Last Saturday, we went to the farmers market in Eau Claire, at Phoenix Park. It was raining and quite cold, but we had a great time. On our walk back, I saw this Labyrinth in the park – what a neat thing!

On the way home, we stopped at a couple of places to fish for a little bit. Did I mention it was rainy and cold? The only trophy was an ugly thing I caught called a river chub, which went gently right back into the water. We gave up on a fish dinner and went to Tep’s Drive-In in Augusta, for their amazing garlic fries. Got to love a place with carhops – especially in an Amish village.

I ended up the week with a meeting of my MaryJane’s Farmgirls group yesterday. We met at Dee Dee’s Diner in Northfield and had a great time chatting and knitting and sharing pictures.


Dianne, Kayley, Dawn, Michelle

We meet on the second Saturday of each month to just hang out and do whatever… we talk about animals, crafts, gardening, and end up laughing. One doesn’t have to be a “real” farmgirl to join; as MaryJane Butters says, “‘Farmgirl’ is a condition of the heart.” We’re just a bunch of gals out to learn new things and meet new friends.

The weather has turned glorious. First hay cutting this week. Crickets, junebugs, and moths abound (one notices this when one takes up fly fishing…) Baby squirrels exploring their world. The glow of light as the sun begins to cross the horizon is more amazing each and every evening. What a wonderful time of year.

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Fishing

Once in a while one needs to take a step back from the busy-ness of life to relax and rejuvenate. This is not so easy to do when one has a farm full of lively animals who seem to need constant attention and tending. But last Sunday, Jeff and I made a break for it and headed over to a county park.

We were amazed to find a beautiful section of the Eau Claire River running between sandstone bluffs and piney woods.

We had glorious weather.


Check out the doggie going for a boat ride!

We caught enough bluegills for a yummy dinner.

Can’t wait to go again – but I still won’t touch a worm… or a fish!

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Out and About

Delilah is doing so well that she has re-joined her herd!


Dexter and the Tulip Family (Samson, Mama Tulip, Delilah)

She’s been out to graze with her family, and now everyone’s back in the loafing area, chewing their cuds and soaking up the sun.


Pippin on platform; Delilah on far lower right.

That one above is worth bigifying to see Pippin’s yawn.

I am amazed at Delilah’s resilience and strength… and tolerance of us sticking her with needles twice a day. She gets a chewable Vitamin C as a reward (and to give her stressed immune system a boost).

Go, Delilah!

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New Beginnings

This year’s batch of baby Golden Laced Wyandotte chicks arrived today!

Of course we play classical music in the chicken coop… doesn’t everyone?


Hope this makes you smile today!

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She’s A Witch!

No, not Ysoldashe is perfectly charming! Although we got to YDK too late to join in the weekly Knit Night, we were able to tag along as Dixie and her gang took Ysolda to The Livery for snacks and drinks afterward. We ordered up a plate of smelt for Ysolda to try, because you can’t come to Wisconsin and not eat smelt, right? She gamely tried them and even took a couple more on her own.

No, I refer instead to our poor dear Delilah, who is recovering well from her surgery yesterday.

You can click the pic below if you have an interest in seeing the actual surgical amputation site (clean, but not for the meek).

Dr. Bender in Whitehall did an excellent job. We are truly grateful that we can always rely on him. Delilah was feeling so much better after the operation that she attempted to gallop out to pasture with her herdmates! No more “dead weight” (ugh) holding her down and making her wobbly.

“Whoa, there, Nellie, you’re supposed to be in recovery in the box stall for three days!” We finally caught our girl (a little loopy on the pain medications she’ll be on for a while) and convinced her that there were fresh dandelions aplenty – along with hay, mineral, kelp, and a cool bucket of water – waiting for her in her private chamber. She’s enjoying her pampering and the hand-picked weeds being delivered to her door. Her appetite is very good, which is a great sign.

Thank goodness Dr. Bourdon had come out as soon as we noticed Delilah limping. He got her on penicillin therapy right away, so that we were able to halt the progression of the disease through the tissue as quickly as possible, saving Delilah’s life! Again, we are so blessed to have yet another good on-farm goat doctor – they are really few and far-between.


Delilah Just After Birth


Baby Samson and Delilah


Delilah and Samson, One Day Old


Mama Tulip, Baby Delilah, Jeff

After consulting three vets and doing research on our own, Jeff and I were still stumped about what caused Delilah’s leg to go bad. There was no sign of injury in a fence or by another animal; the illness didn’t present correctly for “blackleg” (a tetanus-type infection); and everyone was scratching their heads as to what caused the blood clot that destroyed her leg with no warning… until Dr. Bender mentioned something to Jeff.

“I’ve never seen it in practice, but I remember studying it in vet school – ergot.”

“You mean like rye and witches?” asked Jeff.

That’s exactly what he meant (and if you are Dianne RJ, you get bonus points for knowing what I was talking about when I ran into you today!) But for everyone else, I will “‘splain, Lucy”…


Samson and Delilah at Two Months, with Mama Tulip


Baby Samson and Delilah, nibbling on my scarf.

Remember the Salem Witch Trials? And how young girls were murdered for “being witches” – having tremors, being possessed, seeing visions, going spastic? One theory which explains their behavior is that they had ergot poisoning. Though I see on Wiki that that’s disputed, what isn’t is the effects of ergot poisoning on animals.


Delilah at Three Months

We won’t ever know the source (pasture, hay, grain, oat straw used for bedding), but thanks to Dr. Bender’s recollection we were able to look it up in our copy of The Merck Veterinary Manual (thanks forever for that, Pamela! We use it ALL the time!), confirm Delilah’s symptoms and progression, and solve our little mystery.


Samson, Delilah, Mama Tulip

I guess if something completely odd and out of the ordinary will happen, it’s going to happen at Tuppinz Farm.


In other farm news, due to the ground being litterally covered with fledgling birds, barn cat Barley is being held prisoner in the house (confined due to his penchant for beating the crap out of the other cats). He’ll remain indoors until the birdlings can actually fly on their own. The chickens are quite amused by all the little ones and seem to think they are baby chicks that they are supposed to guard.


Baby Blackbird with Sumatran Rooster

Animals are just so… odd.

Have a great day! I get to sit and knit with Ysolda at Michelle’s tonight!!

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Ysolda at YDK Tonight!

The beautiful and talented knitting designer Ysolda Teague will be at Yellow Dog Knitting in Eau Claire, WI, tonight! Hope to see you there – Knit Night at The Dog is already fun, but tonight will be extra special.

Ysolda is on a US book tour for Whimsical Little Knits, which will be available at YDK tonight. It is the neatest little book – I just love it. Ysolda will have her samples along, and Dixie and Cindi have whipped some up in their fantastic Garnstudio Drops yarns for us to fondle.

Ysolda’s being hosted by our good friends at Kellane Farm, which means she gets to play with cute baby lambs during her visit. I’m jealous! Must get over there soon.

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Happy Birthday, Bemma-Boo!

Miss Emma turned three yesterday!

Chef Jeff always wanted to take Miss Fiona to Panera for soup in a bread bowl when she was with us, but he never got the chance. Thinking that life is too short to miss an opportunity, he was determined to treat Emma this year, so we took a little time off from chores and away we went.


Note Chef Jeff’s shirt…


Emma eyeing her soup and bread bowl (Chef Jeff ate most of it.)


Drooling isn’t very ladylike, Emma!

Afterwards, we took Emma to the pet store, where she carefully sniffed everything, finally picked out her own treat, and proudly carried it up to the checkout on her own. Everyone who saw her in the store got a good chuckle.


“Yum!”


“This is the BEST birthday EVER!”

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