Whispering Pond Farm

Whispering Pond Farm

Friday, February 24, 2012

New Lambs

New lambs arrived Wednesday afternoon. The first of our younger ewes, Pinky, lambed at 2:30 pm on Wednesday. The birth went without a hitch. I dried them off, milked her, and gave it to the babies. As a first time mom however, she didn't understand the babies wanting to nurse. I placed them on her several times but she would brush them away. I called my neighbor, Angie, for help. She arrived with daughter Carmen and held Pinky for me while I helped the babies nurse. She seemed less reluctant allowing one lamb to nurse. Feeling okay about the process I left them alone, returning about an hour later. At that point she was allowing the second born lamb to nurse but was shoving the first born away despite his valiant and continued efforts. I held her again and helped the smaller lamb eat. This pattern continued, me checking on them every two hours and holding her to let the lambs nurse, until Bob got home around 3:30am. Yes, he was on call. We decided to build a smaller pen called a jug. This would keep Pinky from being able to move away from the babies, allowing them hopefully, to both nurse. We placed a divider panel in the existing stall decreasing the original stall by half. This has helped. As of today, Pinky is allowing both lambs to nurse with minimal hostility toward the older lamb. We'll keep her in this confined area for at least another day, moving her to a slightly bigger jug tomorrow. Why the name Pinky? Bob can never remember the younger ewes names, probably because it is very difficult to tell them apart. Sooo... Pinky has a pink breeder identification tag in her ear. Lulu, the other young ewe, lost her tag somewhere along the way. She, therefore, has no ear tag. He is able to handle this arrangement well. Kelvin came yesterday and cleaned the barn for me. I wanted to get this done before the snow storm came through. We received about four inches of new snow last night, much more than my four wheeler can get through with a loaded manure wagon. Thanks Kelvin! We are waiting for the last two ewes to lamb. The goats are possibly due in two weeks. I've increased my barn check time to every three hours. This gives me a chance to other things, like take a nap. Live well, Carmen

Monday, February 20, 2012

First Lambs

The first of the lambs arrived today at 4:45am. Lucy, one of the older ewes, did a fine job. She is a good mother. It was cold this morning, in the 20's. Bob and I rubbed them off and used a hair dryer to get them warm. Paul Shetterly told us about using the hair dryer. It worked really well after it popped a circuit in the barn and we switched the dryer to a different outlet. Lucy has plenty of milk and the babies nursed right away. I did milk her a little and gave it to the lambs. I called friends Jane and Jim Bosserd because I had a supplement from last year and wondered if I could give the new lambs the old supplement. Jane and Jim raised sheep for many years and have been a great source of information and support. Their answer to my question was to call Pipestone Vet in Minnesota. I did and I can give the supplement, just increase the dose slightly. So back to the barn with some great smelling Lamb Strength. The lambs did't mind it at all. Lucy has been very patient with me allowing me to place the babies on her udder. The other ewes got to go outside under the overhang on the barn. The sun is shining today so it may even be warmer outside than in the barn. I tested a rabbit recipe last night and it worked well. Rabbit is very versatile and can be used instead of chicken or fish in almost any recipe. I braised the rabbit and then placed it in a cast iron skillet along with canned tomato, garlic, onion, and basil from the garden. Before placing the rabbit in the skillet you sauté fresh onion and garlic in olive oil, then add 1/3 cup white wine. Let in simmer for several minutes. Complete the dish by adding capers and kalamata olives. Combine everything in the skillet and simmer until the rabbit is cooked, about 20 to 30 minutes. I used what was left from last night to make soup today, in-between trips to the barn. The menu for the wedding continues to evolve. Thus far we've talked about cherry tomato, basil, and mozzarella skewers; ginger sesame lamb skewers; butternut squash shooters; and for appetizers. Beet, goat cheese, nut, and mixed greens as the salad. Dinner would include roasted rosemary chicken, rabbit or lamb tomato liver noise (from last night); roasted leg of lamb; and goat cheese ravioli with a tomato chutney. Dessert involves cake, blueberry and cherry pies, pumpkin bars, and goats milk ice cream. Lettuce wraps and quesadillas will be served at the after party in the barn. Well, time to go back to the barn. Live well, Carmen

Friday, February 17, 2012

Rabbits and Menu

I think I have completed the menu for the reception dinner. Items may change according to what produce really is available in September. Variables always include the weather, bugs, fungus, and critters (moles, deer, and the dreaded raccoon). Bob has a pretty good handle on the squash bugs and I am the tomato worm crushing expert. Tomato worms are disgusting. They do however, produce a satisfying squishing noise when you step on them. Bob and I have raised rabbits for several years. The meat has a mild flavor, very different from wild rabbit, making it very versatile. I'm always looking for new recipes for rabbit. I think my favorites have been rabbit pot pie and braised and then grilled rabbit with a herb marinade. I'll include the recipes tomorrow. Bob started leaving the light on in the rabbit area during the day. We discovered that they breed more successfully earlier if they have at least 12 to 14 hours a day for a month or two before you attempt to breed them. We have one buck and two does. Wanda is a New Zeeland White, and Kid and Reba Louise are Californians. These three produce approximately 15 rabbits a season. Live well, Carmen

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Carrots and Onions

I was having a little garden withdrawal today so, after closing the sheep stall doors, no lambs yet, decided to visit the garden. I found pottery herb markers yesterday so placed the garlic marker today. The garlic is poking through the hay mulch. The sprouts aren't too tall. I think they will be fine even though we all know it will frost again. Bob and I planted a winter garden in August as an experiment. We wanted to see if a second planting of lettuce, carrots, and onions would be ready in time for the wedding. Also, how long would produce be available throughout the winter. The first part of the experiment worked. The lettuce mix and carrots were great. The onion was small but tasty. To check on the second half of the experiment I dug up an onion and several carrots today. They are perfect. They onion is still smaller than a spring planting but the carrots are huge. They are still sweet and not fibrous. Great fun, like finding hidden treasure. I marked my cutting garden with tall stakes today as well. The cutting garden is in the large vegetable garden. I've added perennial plants every year and plant annual seeds to fill in the holes. The garden is in full sun three quarters of the day so sunflowers, cosmos, lilies, and daisies do exceptionally well. All of these will be available, except the lilies in September. The large vegetable garden, as opposed to the herb garden, got away from me last fall . The weeds were out of control. Much to much even for Big Mama, my large rototiller. I decided to call my friend Ken. He has a new John Deere tractor complete with a monster, rear mounted rototiller. He came when he had a minute and graciously tilled under all the left over vegetation. Unfortunately, that included half of the cutting garden. That gave me a chance to rethink some of things I wanted to include in the garden. I started replacing some of the perennials last fall. We'll see what comes up in the spring! Thanks Ken! Live well, Carmen

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Still Waiting

The lambs still have not arrived. Today marks 140 possible gestational days. Gestation for sheep is 145 days, plus or minus 5 days. Sheep cycle twice a month, with the peak, or more fertile cycles, being in the fall. We took the ewes to Paul Shetterly's early in October for breeding. They came home early in November. Leaving them for the month in order to cover at least two cycles. It worked. Everyone returned pregnant. So the wait continues. Live well. Carmen

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Bob and I hung hay racks, water buckets, and feeders on Thursday. We then moved the ewes inside the barn. We divided two horse stalls and cleaned the third. The goats have the third stall to themselves while the four ewes share the other two. The ewes are due any time and with the weather taking this cold turn it was time to move them in. They seem very content. With them inside it does mean stalls will have to be cleaned more often. Unfortunately, with the new snow fall, the four wheeler is unable to get through it with the manure spreader. This means that a manure pile will be created outside in the barnyard, removed when the snow melts. Double cleaning duty. Live well. Carmen

History of the Church and the Barn

My uncles, Alec and Mac, sent some great information about the church, where Katelyn's wedding will take place, and the barn, where the reception will be held. The Vergennes United Methodist Church is on the corner of Bailey and Parnell Avenues in Vergennes township. The church was formed in 1843 by several local families including Katelyn's ancestors Jeanette and William McPherson. Many members of our family have attended and been married at Vergennes, including Katelyn's great grandparents and grandparents. Jeanette McPherson and her four children, including son William, migrated to Michigan in a covered wagon from New York in 1840. Peter McPherson, William's son, purchased the property the barn stands on today from Hector McClean in the early 1870's and built the existing house. My uncle Alec and Aunt Karen have been stabilizing, restoring, remodling, rebuilding the house and the barn since 1989. The house renovation was completed in 2011. The barn, the granary, and the ice house renovations continue with the majority of the work being completed in the fall of 2011. The barn was built to house the horses used to work the farm. The sheep were kept in an open area on the south side, potatoes in the cellar, and loose beans in the lofts. All the buildings on my uncle's property have been painstakingly reconstructed. The reception will be held on his property with appetizers and the after party in the barn and dinner in a large tent off to one side. Katelyn is the eighth generation of our family to live on this property in Vergennes township. I am pleased Katelyn is getting married here, a place rich in family history, her home. Live well. Carmen