Jen Pietsch
Orcas Island, WA

I love spending time outdoors, gardening, running and raising my fleeced friends!
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Monday, May 13, 2013

postheadericon Lilly

One of these sheep is not like the others!  Meet Lilly.  Verna and Dolly are pretty much like giant dogs.  They are very friendly and enjoy a quick nuzzly pet.  Lilly does not.

Lilly is pretty much scared of everything having to do with people.  This manifests itself by her running like a wild one away from humans.  I know you are thinking she is a sheep not a pet, let her be.  I understand this completely however as she gets closer to lambing it is her best interest to let me make sure that all is well.  

Our friend and sheep mentor Eric came over to help one day with moving the girls.  Eric has all sorts of sheep experience and is pretty much game for any challenge.  In Lilly he met his match.  Here’s how it went.    

We both walk over to get our hands on Lilly and she is having no part of it.  She runs right past me at which point Eric laughs…hard.  Eric  decides he better buckle down and show me how it is done.  Instead of running by Eric she runs OVER Eric.  I had never seen anything like it.  Eric was airborne.  I think there was even a little squeal that came out of his mouth.  I, in retrospect should have run right over make sure he wasn’t killed or injured but for the life of me I couldn’t compose myself.  I was breathless with laughter, knee slapping, choking back tears, can’t catch my breath laughing.
Eric was a bit humbled.  We together struggled to get Lilly moved and the night ended well.

The next day Eric found me at the Farmers’ Market to show me a T-shirt he had made the night before, after his Lilly experience.  His wife Amy told me he spent a considerable amount of time on it.  I wish I had a photo.  It was a drawing of Lilly with a score card Eric 0- Lilly 1—

What a piece of humble pie.  We all had a huge laugh- Amy, Jeff and I a little huger than Eric’s!
Below are a couple of nice pictures of ever so very pregnant Lily!

postheadericon Well Hello Dolly!

Dolly- A Lot to Love- 225 pounds of love!

Dolly lives at our house- I am not sure she will ever live anyplace else.  She belongs to our friend’s daughter Martha.  Dolly moved here because she kept tipping herself over onto her back and couldn’t get herself upright again.  Picture a giant wooly turtle stuck on its back.  What she really needed was a first alert for sheep.  “Help! I have rolled over and can’t get up!"
Dolly is full figured.  She used to be really fat and then she came to my house to be put on the Jenny Craig diet.  She is now just a plus size sheep model.  She doesn’t tip over anymore,  this probably has more to due with my pasture being on a hill but I like to think we have trimmed her down.  Now she is pregnant so I am cutting her some slack.
Martha took Dolly to the fair and won every ribbon imaginable even the best fiber rosette.  The ribbon was truly as big as Martha.  

Dolly is a love and she loves to be loved.
Wednesday, May 8, 2013

postheadericon On Lambing

Lambing is a tricky business.  Unlike alpacas they have no respect for keeping regular birthing hours.  Alpacas are pretty reliable morning birthers.  Sheep are not.
Verna belongs to our friends and just came along to be bred when Joey was here. She was having such a great time she stayed. 
My experience with Verna was exhausting.  I could tell her time was getting close because her belly was huge and her udder was getting there too.  She would groan when she laid down, when she got up, okay pretty much whenever she thought someone would listen. 
I was officially on lamb watch which was find during the day- except when I was at work- but at night I had to set an alarm to make sure that I could be at Verna’s beck and call.  The night she lambed I had gotten up three times- needless to say I had gone to bed very early.  I guess she didn’t need any help because the next time I went down Lollychop and Petunia were right there chasing Verna for milk- That whole Verna milk thing is a different story.

Monday, May 6, 2013

postheadericon Awe Rats!

No really…Rats!  Well a couple of weeks ago I thought I heard scratching around in the barn I wrote it off to the swallows return and their strong desire to re-inhabit their old nests.  I think I was in denial.  Right up until I saw one a rat running by just leaving Pretty Kitty’s food bowl. 
What to do about rats presents a problem.  I can’t use poison on account of Pretty Kitty and Chickens carnivorous tendencies.  Along the same lines I can’t use a trap.  So I went to the internet where one can actually find all sorts of ways to get rid of rats and unwanted rodents. 
One of my new favorite websites is  I was able to find a solution to my problem.  They sell a poison box that only rats/mice can get into.  I know you are thinking that Pretty Kitty and the chickens may still be tempted to eat a tainted rat.  No worries-  also sells traps that can go in the box so you don’t need to use poison.  Problem solved.  Now my only problem is that I have to dump the darn things into the compost pile.  Ackkkk rats!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

postheadericon Like a Bad Dream -- I am Back!!

Look it’s Me!
Well it has been a while.  I am still very much a farmer at heart.  I just haven’t had the itch to write.  Which is funny because there has been much to write about. 
I think I am a little like the swallows that I saw when I looked out on the pasture the other day.  All of a sudden they were back.  I always wonder what makes them all come back at the same time, but sure enough  they have arrived in force.  Well out of the blue here I am too. 

As I look out on the farm there have been a few big changes I will bring you up to date on.  First, we have put in more pasture.  Or shall I say, we have fenced more of our existing pasture.  Some girls like precious metals, I on the other hand really prefer four foot tall wrapped wire no climb fence, not that I am particular at all.  We haven’t added any new alpacas but Brooklyn and Autumn (aka Martian) are each expecting come late summer.  These will be our first in two years!  I am sooo excited.

I have acquired a new skill- sheep shearing!  I went with a couple of girlfriends out to the eastern Washington tourist Mecca of Moses Lake.  Last year we went for a week and learned all of the ins and outs of the classic Australian method.  It is kinda like dancing…with a big wooly sheep…who sometimes doesn’t want to dance.  We began to shear for other farms last spring.  This year we went back to Moses Lake for the one day advanced shearing class.  We all got certified at a higher level.  This year our spring has been filled with more and more shearing jobs.  Talk about a fun workout.  Last week we were lucky enough to have three big jobs in a row! 

One of our first jobs last spring was to shear at Shaw Island’s Our Lady of the Rock Monastery under the able guidance of Mother Hildegard who is the shepherdess .  She has a beautiful flock of colored Cotswold sheep.  It was an adventure for which we received payment of three beautiful purebred white Cotswold ewes.  Dolly, Lilly and Ulla Dula.  When fall rolled around we were lucky enough to head back over to crutch (shear the wool off the back sides of the sheep in preparation for winter lambing) and received a lovely young ram as payment .  Hello Joey!

I know you can see where this is going.  We now have three pregnant ewes!  Two of the ewes live at my house- Lily and Dolly and are beginning to get udders so lambs can’t be far off.  They brought along one of my shearing buddies ewes who lambed two weeks ago – Verna.  She had lovely twins- Petunia and LollyChop.  (They are all kinds of cute!) Ulla lives with her owners flock just the other side of town. 

Oh there is so much more to the Lily and Dolly story.  I’ll try to get to it in a  in a different post- I don’t want to wear myself out.  It’s all about pacing.

Well that is just a little update.  Let’s talk soon!