Wednesday, May 14, 2008

You May Be Right, I May Be Crazy....

Okay, I haven't been blogging very much but it isn't because I haven't been on the computer. I have. I have been obsessing about an idea that I got sometime in January or February when I tasted sheep cheese.

I have a great drive for self sufficiency and the things that have happened this year (soaring oil/gas and wheat prices) have only spurred on my self-sufficient dreams. Although we are not big milk drinkers past mother's milk in this family (the children, anyway - Dean and I were both raised on the 'necessity' of cow milk) we do consume cheese and butter. I dislike supporting the industrial dairy industry so I have been leaning towards getting a goat. The thing is, I don't really care for the taste of goat milk - either straight or used in cooking. I like goat cheese with certain things but not for everything that I like cheese for. And there are real downsides to having a goat - like keeping a billy goat which you can smell from 100 yards away... and they get into everything and out of everything....

Then, in Nature's Fare, right beside the goat cheese was a little package of sheep cheese.... and I LOVED it! No tangy goat flavour. And I started investigating milk sheep. Not as rare as I had believed. They are reported to be the first domesticated animal and the first one that was ever milked. And it turns out that my very favourite kind of wool (lopi) is shorn from an excellent milk sheep - Icelandic sheep. Which have been bred to survive in the harsh climate of Iceland with minimal help from humans. They are great foragers and only need grass hay to survive the winter. They need not shelter even in the worst of conditions. Icelandic sheep have many of their more natural instincts intact. One of the shepherds I have spoken to over the last couple of weeks told me that she watched her sheep chase a coyote out of the field.

I have been sheep dreaming. I have been surfing the internet, locating breeders of Icelandic sheep, sending e-mails, staring a pictures of lambs and sheep, sending more e-mails, making phone calls and reading articles.

So, I've done it. I've made a plan to have 5 sheep by the end of the summer - 3 ewes, 1 ram and 1 wether (castrated ram).

If you are interested, here are some BC breeders:

This one is in Grinrod. I'm going to visit on Saturday. I hope to pick out a 1 - 2 year old ewe. Hers are unregistered (and she also grows spelt!)

This one is in Chase. I'm going to see these the week end after and I plan to choose a wether and a ewe lamb. These were bred later so won't be able to come here until August.

This place is in Creston. I had almost settled on one of her ewes. They are very cute! And she is a veritable fount of information.

And the one I have made arrangements with for sure has no website but she has sent me these pictures. I'll be picking these up in July.

The first two I have settled on for sure are these two.














The lamb in the forefront is a ram lamb that will be roaming our fields. And in the picture on the right it is the wee white ewe lamb - one of a triplet who will come with him to our acres.

Rhiannon and I have decided that we are honestly and truly a farm now. We figure we need a farm name. She has settled on Sheep Blossom Farm and has drawn a picture of a sheep inside a blossom with red lips from eating cherries for our sign...

But it just may be a lunatic you're lookin' for... (another Billy Joel reference that only Heather will get)

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Last Days

For our last week end together, we hit some of Vernon's attractions:

Saturday:

Davison Orchards - one of their favourites from when they visited last time. This Saturday just happened to be their opening day with an Apple Blossom Festival. So we got to learn about apple blossoms, taste some apple juice, go on a tour through the orchard in the tractor train and feed grass to the animals.













Then it was out to O'Keefe Ranch where we got to fight over who went on this horse, take the tour of the Mansion (with Norbert's social commentary added in to the usual tour guide fare - very interesting), learn about Victorian life, see the baby lambs and the many kinds of chickens, goats, sheep, geese and turkeys, check out the old school house and the Schubert house and buy 'old fashioned' candy at the post office/general store. Mary loved the animals the most. Here she is feeding hay to a momma sheep with two wee lambs, born only days before.

Saturday ended here:
two little blondies flaked on the couch after all that activity.

And to be honest, this is what my living room looked like by the end off the day and that was after spending the day away from home...

Sunday:
Sunday afternoons were time to spend with Uncle Dean. He and Rhiannon took the older three kids along on one of their favourite warm weather activities - clay play. Vernon is rich in clay spots. Just down the railroad tracks from us is a pool of oozing clay that he and Rhiannon love to go in. The kids just jumped right in. They were very proud of how covered in clay they were.... clean up took hours... and that yellow shirt will never be yellow again... Uncle Dean and Caleb came back early and got Caleb cleaned up so he missed the picture. Auntie and Gabriel went for a walk down the road, instead. It took two baths each to get all that mud truly out of their hair and from behind their ears... They look pretty happy though, don't they?

Gabriel loved my dress up box. Several of these dresses (now too small for Rhiannon) went home with him and Mary.

Yes, that's right. They went home. It is so quiet here right now, it is eerie...

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Future Band of Cousins?

Things cousins do sitting in a hot backseat driving out to Davison Orchard down main street and passing lots of banks.... perfected on the drive out to O'Keefe Ranch
video

Thinking up names for this band of cousins... MRC? Mercy? BMO?

Friday, May 02, 2008

Tales from the Edge

Yesterday:

Taking the bus downtown to get Madelaine's hair cut at Styles On Mane. We left with only 15 minutes to catch the bus. Aleous (the beagle we are babysitting) follows us down the driveway. I run him back to the house with strict instructions to not let him out!!! So now we are running behind so we go down the railroad tracks which is a bit difficult with Gabe in a stroller. He has to get out and walk. He doesn't want to. Mary also wants to go in the stroller which I am carrying. We are hustling. Mary and Gabe need to be hurried up.

A train comes. This is only the second time in 14 years of walking on these tracks that I have met a train. We hurry ahead and get off the tracks at a flat spot. This flat spot, it turns out, has dead thistles that have been cut down from last year. Mary and Gabe get prickles in their feet because they are only wearing clogs. Although we are more than 30 feet from the train, it scares Gabe and Mary so along with the prickles in their feet, they are crying from fear. The train passes and we continue down the tracks, Mary and Gabe still crying about the prickles but we can't stop and continue to hurry. I can't carry anyone because I am carrying the stroller. We make it to the bus stop. I sit on the ground and pull out all prickles. The bus arrives. The children get on. We are so relieved to have made it to the bus (the week before we watched the bus go by).

With my foot raised to get on the bus, out of the corner of my eye, I see Aleous, nose to the ground. He has tracked us.

The children get off the bus. We walk back home and call a cab.

We wait for the cab a the end of the driveway. And we wait for the cab. And we wait. We walk back down the driveway and call the cab company. He will be there shortly. We have now been waiting more than half an hour.

Madelaine is now late for her hair appointment. Luckily it is my friend's shop. She washes and cuts Madelaine's hair between other clients.

Alls well that ends well?