Friday, January 18, 2013

Monday, January 14, 2013

Teenager Sheep's Baby Girl

I'm late in posting this one.

Teenager Sheep had a baby girl on December 30, 2012. I was able to hold the baby for two days but after that, the wild instinct kicked in.

She is healthy and doing well. Already eating on the alfalfa when we feed the flock. She watches me with curiosity...from a distance. Much like her mother. Although I'd say Mom is watching more with wariness.

On a sidenote, Teenager Sheep (aka Triple Nipple) really needs a pedicure. I'll have to break out the lasso soon and get that done. Not looking forward to that. I am thinking of making a sheep chute to help me catch these wild ladies when maintenance is needed.

Branches to Bedding

I broke down and got a chipper shredder from Lowe's the other day. Apparently, these pieces of equipment aren't that popular in Tucson, making them difficult to find. The only place carrying them in stock was Lowe's and they had 2. Both were the same model. It was slightly more than I wanted to spend but since I figured I'll be getting loads of Christmas trees in the years to come, I went ahead and got it. And my pile of branches was growing unmanageable. I wanted a chipper that day.

I don't like working with engines. Chain saws are a little scary. So are chipper/shredders. Maybe it's Texas Chain Saw Massacre or Fargo that made me think that way. Not sure.

I did manage to get my husband to do the chipping. He chopped up a lot of branches and nearly filled the bag that came with the machine. I dumped that nice, fresh, pine-smelling bedding in the duck pen. He has a while to go before he catches up to the goats handiwork. We may enlist our children to cut the branches into straighter pieces before he husbands chips.

In the following picture you can see the ducks' area with its new layer of bedding:

Brr!

The past few days have been very cold, especially at night. The animals are all bedded down with extra straw and everyone has some kind of shelter to go into if they choose. Some animals don't choose to **cough**chickens**cough** and we must put them in their coop for their own good. We checked all our water lines to be sure they were insulated and that the insulation was duct taped on tight.

But yesterday morning, an insulated pipe froze and burst, spraying water into the goat pen. The goats, of course, were terrified. They do not like water. When I arrived, they were all huddled in the far corner of their pen, as distant as they could get from the rising flood. The goat pen is on a slight incline due to clever sweeping and molding of the land in there, so they were safe and could have gone quite a while. They also have large stumps they can stand on and many shelters they already know how to get on top of in case a real flood came. Not to mention all those skeletal Christmas trees they've been eating on. Really. They stand on those. They're agile.

Here is the pipe that burst.
I had already peeled back the foam and duct tape.
Luckily, when my neighbor ran all those lines, he had the foresight to set in several shut-off valves in convenient locations in case something like this happened. Even more fortunate, I knew where these were and was able to shut the line off fast.

I'm hoping the repair will be quick and painless.

This morning, the remaining puddles of water in the pen were frozen solid. Little mini ice skating rinks where the skates are hooves. The goats were not amused.

I was slightly amused as they slipped around on them...

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Changes

Life is change. It happens every day. Sometimes in small increments that move so slowly we don’t realize they’ve occurred, and sometimes they happen right before our eyes in seconds.

We have closed our larger restaurant, Fat Greek 2 – Greek Taverna, which was located on Swan and Camp Lowell here in Tucson. For the past two years the economy has been killing it, and there was nothing we could do to stop the inevitable. That doesn’t mean we didn’t try. We did. Many times and in many ways. But to no avail.

The most difficult aspect of all was having to say goodbye to our employees. They have been with us a long time, were great at problem solving and looking after each other. Customers often told us that they received excellent, friendly service when they came in. These employees were even there for us when it was time to move out. Times are difficult right now, and we are sorry most of all, that they have to go out there and find other places to work.

Our first restaurant has been closed since July 2012 due to flood damage from a waterline in the space above us. We have been waiting for the insurance to decide how much it will pay to cover the damages so we can renovate the place. We had been under the impression that location would be up and running well before now, but have since discovered that insurance companies move as fast as molasses on a winter night.

So I have to decide what my plans are now for the ranch as even though it is a hobby farm, its main purpose was to aid the restaurants. Do I keep going and plan to plant a spring garden with the idea that the first location will be open and in need of farm fresh produce? Or not? If the restaurant isn’t open in time and the garden does produce this year, what will I do with all that food? Roadside stand? Try the CSA farm idea? I just don’t know. There is no way to see what the future holds. There never is.

For now, my goats’ udders are drying up with the next birth expected in a month or so from Tsica, and she is not fun to milk. She’s huge too, by the way. If there is only one kid in there, it’s going to be named Hulk. I have cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli plants growing in the garden and a few seedlings started in the greenhouse. I have many sheep. (I get the occasional calls from folks saying they want to buy sheep, but they either don’t call back to set a time to meet, or they set a time and they don’t show up at all.) I didn’t breed all my goats this past season as demand for goats is low and I would hate to see them sold for slaughter because they are so well socialized and love people. The goats are the most clever and enjoyable animals out there.

I think it’s time to think on this and try to guess which way the road will turn in my future…