We are through with lambing season. Our four sheep did very well! Carmela had a boy, and everyone else, Ricotta, Fontina and Guendalina, had a boy and a girl. Ricotta's lambs are very small. She originally had triplets, but one did not make it. Carmela is the fistiest icelnadic sheep you can find. She refused to get into the lambing area; she had her boy outside and refused to come in. Fontina is the sweety of the group. She wants to get on your lap and be scratched. Her lambs are similarly sweet and affectionate. She had one and then took a nap, and after 4 hours she had the second one. I am no expert but this is quite unusual. But she is so easy going that I am not surprised at her behavior. She also let me milk her right away and does not seem to mind that at all. I am sure Fontina will make a great dairy sheep and we are looking forward to all her girls joining the flock.
Also, we are almost done with the construction of our first mobile hen coop. Yuhuu!
We were very excited to attend Rural Vermont's 2013 Celebration this week - as representative of our new business! But... on the way to Vergennes, the truck caught on fire... just a little bit of a problem considering that it is our only functional vehicle at the moment and the farm sits 5 miles from our house. On the upside, I got to meet an interesting woman that spends the rainy evenings in the Vermont spring helping salamanders cross the road. I also got to meet Kate, the only female towtruck driver in VT. So ... to summarize: if you want to farm, do not expect and easy ride, but do expect an interesting one.
The first order of faraona hens went in to the hatchery today. Faraonas are guinea hens. In the US they are rarely used for meat but in Italy they are considered a delicacy. Indeed, their Italian name means pharoah since these birds are originally from Africa and were used for only the most luxurious dinners. They are a very lean alternative to duck meat. Their meat is sweet and tender but not fatty like duck. We have great expectations for these birds both for our foody followers and for the BBQ nights we will have at Isham's Farm (Williston), where we will go all out preparing traditional grilled stuffed faraona. YUM.
But before we get there, we will need to learn to raise these little guys. They have a very sensitive and independent personality and are simply adorable. The independent trait is definitely something that we are getting used to working with given our Icelandic sheep. We have never worked with baby faraona before, but we are sure they are impossibly cute! We will post pictures once they arrive. Another added benefit of this bird: they are amazing tick hunters, so no more tick problems for our sheep and no more need for chemical remedies to their ticks!
Yeah for the faraona hens!
Lots of spring cleaning and chick caring today. Our chickens (25 Buff Orpingtons and 26 Welsummers) are growing up! They have their first feathers out and had to use them last night when the temperature dropped below 30. They have not learned to use the shoot yet and prefer to stay up in the warmth of the coop, but soon Thelma, our seasoned Buff Orpington Hen, will be teaching them the art of foraging and hunting, and at that point we will be thinking back to these first days longingly while we wonder the fields calling "cheep cheep" for that one adventurous chicken that has decided to explore the world, ignoring the electric fences. The spring cleaning consisted of preparing the wood workshop where we will be building a new chicken mobile! This one will have 12 laying boxes, convertible walls to adapt to the heat of the summer, and a newly designed floor that allows easy cleaning. Yep, our chickens will be sprinting down the field of the farm in no time in their shiny new vehicle this summer.
Day 2 has been a mix of happy and sad moments. The sad moment arrived with a still born lamb. His mom was a young ewe, and this was her first pregnancy. It was only one (not twins like most Icelandic sheep have), so it was larger and too difficult for the new mom to push it out. Fortunately the mom is doing fine and already out on the pasture.
The happy moment arrived with a new little lamb - he arrived at around 1:30pm. Mom started licking him right away to dry him out, and he started suckling immediately. Before 3pm the lamb was already making little attempts at jumping and fully enjoying his new-found freedom.
Outside it is snowing and in the 30s, but the new lambs and their moms are in the lambing stall with plenty of hay and heat. However ... as soon as you open the door they jump out excited to run on the grass.
Our piglets are currently 2 weeks old and still with their moms. We are expecting them here on the farm 3 to 4 weeks from now.
We have officially started as Agricola Farm LLC today, April 1st. Our first visit to the farm was welcomed by 3 lambs born the night before. We walked around the land and identified where we want to place the pigs and redefined our rotational plans. We have also prepared the shelters for the piglets. They will have an awesome space in a large barn and access outside for the first week as they are getting trrained in respecting the electric fence. Once they learn, we will move them to the pasture. Their first job will be to till the land by the river so that we can plant sweet potatoes for them - they will then be given the fun job of harvesting the potatoes in the fall.