Thursday, February 17, 2011

Holding Pattern

Northwest weather is notoriously unpredictable and for the last week it's been continuing to prove it. Is it cold, raining, warmer, sunny...??? It's actually been a good week to be sick, if there is such a thing. Maybe I can get all the sickness over with before the real work begins in mere weeks.

Right now, I'm working on getting our lambing kit together. There are recommended lists all over the place, so I'm trying to put a kit together that is easily portable and contains anything a sheep health situation may require. Suggestions welcome...

We've also been looking for signs that breeding was a success. So far only one of our girls, Thistle, a Black Welsh Mountain ewe lamb, has a little round belly. She visited an Icelandic ram at a farm near the Cascade foothills but was only there for a short time, as the weather was getting bad and we didn't want to be separated from her for too long or have a road wash out and be unable to bring her home. If she lambs in April, we know the breeding worked and if her lamb doesn't come until May, well, then we know who the daddy is. Yes, I have first season lambing excitement/apprehension.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Today the sun is shining in it's full glory. It almost feels like Spring has arrived- the Magnolia tree is full of buds, robins are all over the yard, our first hen is broody- sort of, and the grass is growing. I spent the morning just sitting with the sheep in their respective pastures, watching them run and play as I soaked up some much needed sunshine. Drivers were honking and waving at me as I sat on my little stool in the middle of the pasture. A mother  slowed down in her car to point the sheep out to her child. I love how excited people are about urban livestock and lambs aren't even here yet.

My second post on the Urban Farm Hub blog is here! There has been a lot of positive feedback, people love reading about sheep in the city. Other blogs are even linking my post. The question I've heard most after yesterday's post was about city ordinances that allow or disallow sheep in the city. The best information I'm able to provide is to go to your city or county's official website and do a search for livestock ordinances. The City of Seattle changed many of their ordinances around urban farming in 2010, so head to their website for more details.

I'm hoping to get one step closer to seed starting this afternoon by compiling a list of seeds we'd like to order from each seed catalogue -to make sure there are no duplicates- then double checking with the family to see about any last minute additions before orders are placed. I need to track down a nice sized seed heating mat that isn't so expensive. I understand they're a must but sometimes the prices feel a little over the top. I just want to be growing food already. I know... patience.

Here's to more sun!


Friday, February 4, 2011

Latest from the farm...

I guess it's been almost a month since I last posted. January was a busy month- my mom came from Wisconsin to visit us for two weeks and we had a blast. She got a crash course in sheep and chicken care for sure. Mostly we did a lot of eating, talking, and laughing. Other than her visit, I've been spending a lot of time working on getting some business basics down for our farm. Designing a new business card, defining our core farm values, considering an actual website, and continuing to look for grazing pasture near our home for the sheep. We formally ended our Urban Sheep Project partnership with Alex and Charmaine, so we're off and running on our own- it feels pretty freeing!

We have all the registered Icelandics on a beautiful pasture near Renton and it's working out well. The space is about an acre in size so we are able to implement rotational grazing very easily with portable electric fencing and a solar charger. I recently found another pasture that is a total of three acres and we've moved the sheep that were in our yard onto it. The arrangement feels rather temporary, however, and as such my neverending search for land continues.

We are also in the process of planning our gardens. Seed catalogues have begun to arrive in the mail and we've all been madly highlighting which type of peppers, lettuce, peas etc. we'd like to grow. I'll order seeds in the next week or so and start them on the porch with the help of some nice big trays and heating mats. Jared is going to build three more raised beds, once the seeds are ready for the outdoors, then it's off to Hy-Grass Dairy for some super rich compost in which to fill those beds.

In the meantime, the weather is changing a little. For the time being there's a little more sun and a little less rain. The days are getting slightly longer- the chickens are now waiting to head for the coop until after 5:30. We've even turned off the light in the coop and they are still laying a fair amount of eggs each day.

Lastly, my Urban Farm Hub blog post about our Urban Sheep Project was so popular that I've been asked to contribute ongoing posts about what's up with keeping sheep in the city and all it entails... no pun intended. So look for twice monthly postings about sheep in the city from me!