Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sunnier Days in the Pacific Northwest

While it hasn't become consistently a sunny summer paradise on the island and greater Washington area, the last few weeks have given us quite a few teases of what I hope true summer will have on offer. A few weeks back I saw that the forecast for my day off was supposed to be warm (66 degrees) but cloudy...but not rainy. So I asked W. if she might want to go to a beach and play games and enjoy the warm weather if not the sun. She was amenable, so we loaded up on snacks and activities and headed to South Whidbey State Park. Not only was it warm, it was sunny too! We played many a hand of Rummy 500 (most of which she won, regrettably) and enjoyed the sunshine and view.
A sunrise one morning.
Our ewe lambs (younger but pregnant ewes) were housed separately from our more mature and experienced ewes, but once they had their babies we would take them to the main flock's field. Sometimes we'd do this simply by steering them with our bodies, which generally went okay, though was a bit more laborious. Other times we would maneuver the animal into one of our laps and putt putt putt in the golf cart to the nearest gate. Here is Louise the sheep and me, right before such a trip.
More paintings were made. Likes: records and crystals. Dislikes: mayonnaise.
Another in my love quote series.
Etta - the 'red head' - often rests her head on the shoulders of another ewe whilst being milked.
Rodo asleep at the wheel.
Some of our lambs chasing after H. and a can full of grain.
Chick. Chick. Chickeeeeeeeeeens.
Just me, hanging out somewhere that I guess might seem kind of pretty, talking to some of my sheep friends about the latest episode of Mad Men.
A. and I hitching a ride.
Letter writing is always better with cheese and wine.
I met up with J. to see the tulip festival spectacle. Last year the day I went was brisk and cloudy. This year it was warm as can be and sunny. So sunny, in fact, that I should have worn sunscreen. I was wearing a necklace and had exposed a bit of my chest, the result was a slight burn shaped like a v...with a weird white splotch in the middle where the necklace blocked the sun's rays.
I asked J. to take a few photos of me, all of which I approved of, and here they all are.

It was good to catch up with J. as we strolled amongst the tulips and copious tourists.
Another from the love series. I've noticed my tendency to have figures in the foreground in much the same way in a lot of my paintings. Something to vary and work on.
Cocoa the puppy in the midst of a play session. Rodo in the midst of not giving a fuck.
The ewes going to get their breakfast.
Peony tulips may be the best kind of tulip.
What I look like most of the time...only usually without a puppy. And with dirtier hair.
Another day off and another beautiful day. I hustled to the mainland to do some errands before rushing back to the farm and down to the beach for a nice long session of reading, sipping beer, and generally chilling out. Rodo accompanied me on this journey though I had to put him in my beach bag to get him down the last ladder/stairs that gets you down the cliff to the beach.
H. and I gave a huge bunch of lambs some important shots. This is what it looks like when you entice lambs to get into a smaller space with grain.
Some of the last of our itty bitty baby lambs.

Last year we were a few hands stronger (five folks working instead of three), which generally led to a bit more down time for all. These days it's there, but you gotta grab it and make the most of it. In this instance, I had about 45 minutes before a PM milking, so I decided to just go down early, sit in a chair in the sunshine and read. The sheep were very, very interested in my reading material.
And my shoes and socks and jeans and hair.
We chill our milk in a freezer and work hard to maintain a not too cold not too hot temperature...but sometimes it gets a little too cold and we have to get out the big ice chunks that prevent us from putting the cans into the freezer efficiently. And sometimes that seems like a good photo opportunity.
Or a horror movie featuring double chins. Either or, really.

Ice. Watermelon. Corn on the cob. You decide.

This past week I drove to Sumner, Washington to pick up some packaging materials for our yogurt and fresh sheeps cheese. Industrial parks that used to be farmland are kind of weird, depressing places. I'm really, really glad I don't work in one.
I also dropped off some of our cheese to Bar Sajor and stayed for a snack and a drink. Very beautiful place. Very tasty sancerre and fermented veggies. I know so little about the actual layout or vibe of Seattle, it's always interesting to spend a little time there in a new context/location. More often than not I go there for farmer's markets and basically leave right after them, or visit M&A at their house and just walk around their neighborhood. Fine activities, both, but sitting in an urban restaurant, sipping a glass of wine, is always nice too. I don't feel the need to live in any city ever again, but I do understand some of their perks.
And then just this past Friday it was time to get a little karaoke into our lives. H. and I met up with C. and W. and a big group of farm interns from a farm a bit north of us. We were at least 10-people strong. We went to a local dive-y bar and sang and danced and it was a lot of fun. I sang I'm Looking Through You by the Beatles, and peer pressured H. into singing a Pat Benatar song.
Equally peer pressured was W....into singing Fancy by Iggy Azalea.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Lambapocalypse and Other Farm Scenes

My foot was slow to heal and I was quite a bit of a limpy mc'limperson for a number of weeks after the initial injury...but it seems I didn't break anything, as now my foot is basically as good as new. I did have to miss a milking or two, and certain tasks that I enjoy doing - like hay delivery and sheep wrangling - were a bit more challenging. Lambs continued to be born in February and March. On this night I came down and found all the sheep out in the field instead of in the barn. At first it seemed like it was going to be a quick check with no lambs, but after standing and watching the sheep's eyes glow in the reflection of my head lamp, I heard the faint sound of a lamb making some of its first bleats. And so began a rather epic birthing. I picked up the lamb, which I used to entice the mother to come into the barn for the remainder of her labor.
And soon enough another lamb entered the world.
And then another.

I left to go get some lamb-related thing and when I returned, yet another baby had made its way into the world. Four babies!
We turned out more weaned sheep at some point. Man they look so little and clean! They are now decidedly larger and dirtier.
If you get down at the same level as the lambs, they will clamor to give you a smell and a lick...and a hair tug or back massage.

Pickles, onion soup and wine for my weekly letter writing at a bar night.
Korean banjan on my day off.
Sometimes you get stuck in feeders and look out into the distance.
A view from the ferry.
After a Ballard market a few weeks back I met up with T. and we enjoyed happy hour oysters, which included a heart shaped one.
There has been a fair amount of eagle action on the farm. I've tried and tried to take a semi-decent photograph of the eagles soaring and swooping, but it's not easy with a iphone. Sometimes the most majestic of things are for real time eyes only.
We may or may not have planned to wear matching outfits. (We did plan it).
Moving the oldest lambs to a new pasture is always an event. A fun event that involves vaccinations and wrangling.
They settled in nicely.

I visited M&A and their little one at some point. This is M. doing something with honey and vinegar.

H. with a newbie.
Skye and her baby.
H. milking out colostrum so we could feed the baby.
How to get a ewe to follow you anywhere.
I think Paisley (with the freckles) is one of our prettiest sheep. In this photo she's flanked by her mother and grandmother.
And in this photo Paisley is making it clear that she's still pretty miffed about the whole milking protocol.
W. has been working only a little on the farm this year, and lives elsewhere, but she comes by to socialize from time to time. On this evening I believe there was a bit of singing done and then this glamour shot.
Rainbows are very good.
Rodo enveloped in my sheep skin.
S. and me at a fire party that may have gotten out of hand.
We're selling more of our Tallulah cheese, which is sooooooooo goood.
So many babies.
S. and I put up more fencing and the lambs were only interested in inspecting the tractor.
Susanna was our last older ewe to give birth. She just got bigger and bigger. It was crazy. She chose a wonderfully sunny day to do so. I helped pull one out, which was kind of cool.
Lamb right after birth is in need of a good mother licking.
Susanna got help in the licking department, whether she wanted it or not.
Another likes/dislikes painting. She likes peanutbutter and staying up late, and does not like being woken up in the night.
Epoisses is a lovely cheese indeed.
Never gets old really.

A quick visit after a market.
H. in a giant bucket.
H. trying to persuade the ewes they want to come back to the barn with us...not go in the field behind did not work.
I painted a bowl.