Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve Day in West Marin

Christmas Eve morning, and the day dawns with barely pink clouds and crispy, crunchy frost everywhere. 

The thermometer on the porch measures 28 degrees, which means it is probably 22 to 25 degrees out in the open air.  I worried about my pipes, so last night I walked down and shut off the well, drained out all the hose bibs, and left on the taps in the house.  With the well shut down, I didn’t have to worry about the pipes freezing, but it did mean I had no water running in the house.  Better dry overnight than broken pipes and 
service calls in the morning.

When I went out to see the sheep, I was amused to see the tops of the  Shetlands frosted as delicately as if they had been to a fancy salon.  

I turned them out, and they sniffed the frozen grass, and one of them tried munching on a bit.

On the other side of the barn, the Corriedales licked at the frozen water in their tank. 

I had to take an axe to break the 2-inch thick ice.  It is winter.  

The chilling hours are good for the fruit trees, helping to insure a summer crop of apples (good to remember when your fingers are so cold they feel they are falling off.)

No water until I started the well at 10am, but I have a five gallon container I use to fill pots and pans and coffeepots until water runs again.  It is rather like camping indoors.

Wish me a Christmas present of rain, to warm up the air, nourish the grass, and start the creeks running.  I have enough water in my well so I don’t have to worry now, but not come summer.  Think rain to help the farmers, please.

Cherish your friends and family, and celebrate the lengthening days together.  

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Winter on Windrush Farm

Mornings are cold and frosty, with temperatures down in the twenties.  The sheep don't mind, as their coats are now eleven months old, about a staple length of five to six inches.  Early in the morning, as the sun is just rising through the distant eucalyptus grove, their breath come out white and steaming.  They are very hungry, as the grass stays short, what with the cold nights and little rain discouraging the growth of new grass, and so I have to block off their feeding area so I don't get trampled as I pour out their alfalfa pellets into the six different bucket containers.  I am rotating the pastures so the sheep don't eat the heart out of the grass, killing it before it has a chance to grow larger.

Frosty mornings on the farm

You can see how long the wool is on this wonderful Leichester x ewe, and I will be excited to see the whole fleece when we shear in February.  This photo was taken at dusk, and you can see she wishes to know why I am photographing instead of feeding!

Here is  Cookie, who has the wool of a CVM x, a California Variegated Mutant, with finer crimp, quite soft, and a lovely shade of brown.  Her staple length is about 4 inches

These are some of the Shetland sheep flock, and you can see the lovely colors they come in.  They were bred to furnish many tones of color to the spinner, weaver, and knitter.  More about the Shetlands later.  They are smaller than most sheep, and cry out with a very distinctive baa, quite high pitched.