Archive for the ‘Happenings’ Category


…and they’re awful cute!

(I’m having a hard time getting my good camera out to the barn, as I’m usually juggling 8 or 9 bottles, so if you want to see some sweet lamb pics, you’ll have to check out Instagram @ironwoodfleece. But I’ll be back here soon – what else is March Break for, if not catching up on the blog?…oh, and feeding bottle lambs.)


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traffic jam

There is always a fair amount of traffic around the barnyard,

even if we don’t always see the passers-by…

The pheasants are often hard to miss as they make their way across the white blankets…and they have more than enough cover in which to nest and hide.

Sometimes the critters travel in tandem…

cat and dog together

… sometimes their paths overlap.

kitty print in boot

The commuters range in size …

mouse on the grain bin

…and in shape

starling beside the sheep pen

hazel’s nemesis, the pigeon

Some make it obvious where the travellers are headed…

coyote tracks

coyote crossing the field

sheep crossing the driveway

hazel on her rounds

…and some are a mystery, like this trail that just came to an abrupt stop.

disappearing track

cat takes flight?

Wherever you’re headed in 2016, may you have safe travels. ~hj

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BeBe stretching

When Rupert moved to Ironwood over ten years ago, there were a number of cats occupying the farm house with the elderly farmer who was still alive. BeBe, however, was kept out of the house by Willy, the cat who ruled the roost. So, Rupert made friends with her first in the greenhouse, and then slowly introduced her to the house when the other cats were redistributed around Summerville. She had already seen a lot of years by that point, and was very striking, with her serious expression, notched ear, and peculiar eyes – a “handsome” cat, as Rupert would say. She, and her son Pedro, had a lot of love to give, and certainly brought a lot of character to the farm house and nearby gardens.

BeBe close up

A few years ago, BeBe spent a few months recovering from a stoke (and/or possibly a broken tail?) that threw her off balance, but didn’t dampen her spirit. The summer that Pedro died, BeBe lost her hearing, but not her interest in wandering the driveway, investigating the stream and culvert, and sleeping under my car (she delayed my departure for school many mornings). She survived countless crossings of the highway to visit the fields, tussles with some of the neighbourhood strays, and several disruptions to her home and routine through our various renovations over the years.

BeBe sign

BeBe was a creature of habit, spending winter nights upstairs in my fleece stores or perched on Rupert’s shoulder, and summer nights on the bathroom windowsill. She drank out of our glasses and insisted on being served a certain food and the occasional “tuna water”. She loved napping with Rupert and dozing on his papers in front of the computer screen (or on the keyboard, if possible). She had a curious habit of twitching in her deep sleep, sometimes to the point that we would hear the crash of her falling to the floor from her dozing spot – often still asleep when she hit the ground (she could make quite a noise for a cat that only weighed a few pounds). She snored loudly and exhaled through the side of her mouth. The past few weeks she spent most of her time sleeping under the magnolia tree, and taking short walks around the farm yard, being more sociable than usual with strangers. She was even quite tolerant of Hazel, with not enough energy to make a fuss or an exit.

BeBe and Hazel

Rupert buried BeBe under the oak tree in the side yard on Sunday. I expect we will be listening for her snoring and her thuds, clearing off the printer for her naps, and checking our water glasses for some time to come. She was greatly loved and will be greatly missed.

bebe indoors

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spring snow collage


Well, it’s the second full day of Spring.

Although the signs of the season may not be immediately obvious, a trip to the barn reminds us that Easter weekend is around the corner.

ella's lamb collage

It is hard to see the scale in the photos, but Ella’s new little girl (just 12 hours old) is pretty wee – particularly compared to the porkers (lambs, not pigs) we’re still bottle feeding 3 times a day. Those 5 will knock you over if you aren’t careful! I haven’t been able to get a good shot of them, as they are always throwing themselves at you – full force – to see if you might, by chance, have a bottle in your hand, or pocket, or sleeve.

sun catchers collage

 Everybody takes advantage of any sun beams that make their way through the windows (which isn’t all that often, lately, given the amount of snow piled up. Millie’s twins (on the left) seem to be the only ones that don’t come over to investigate at bottle time. We’re feeding 5, but there are often at least 7 poking their nose in and making things difficult.

panda collage

Lastly, my apologies…I thought I had introduced you all to this little sweetie, but as I looked back through the (very infrequent) posts, I see that I’ve just thought about it.

Sylvia (who is a good mom, but has been battling pneumonia this winter) had two little ewe lambs – one white and one black/spotty, as is usual for her. This little girl is definitely not as precocious as her slightly older sister, but she’s starting to get the hang of things, and pushes her way through the crowd to take her place at the bottle line-up.

Lambing 2015, Round 2, has begun.

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wintery days

I hope, wherever you are, that the wind is not howling too loudly, and the drifts have not piled too high.

After lots of rain and soggy pastures keeping the sheep out of the fields for much of the first part of winter, we’ve been hit by a crazy amount of snow in recent weeks. Something else to keep the sheep in the barns.

snowy days

The sheep are tolerating it, and, so far, are not trying to venture out across the drifts.

The lambs have been behaving themselves, too – and Gertrude’s triplets managed to keep their sweaters on.

Most of the time.

Rupert thought they instantly looked better once they put their sweaters on – “much more mature”. I pointed out that the turtlenecks have that effect (and also served to cover their wrinkly backs).

Sweater collage

They are still being bottle fed…the “green girl” and little boy are getting something from mom, but they need a little supplement, too. The “red girl” (named for the colour of crayon I marked her with, for Rupert’s sake) is getting all of her milk from us. And she is very vocal about it every time we come into the barn.

hungry girl

We have to be careful about not being fooled into feeding her too much. But it can be hard to resist that persistent cry…and that face.

They are doing quite well, though. Down to just four feedings a day (no more 2 a.m. bottles!), and they have outgrown their sweaters.

Which is a good thing, since Millie had twins this afternoon, and the sweaters are needed elsewhere.

millie with new girl

Stay warm.

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…brings the first lambs of 2015.

first ram lamb 2015


I guess Paprika didn’t want us to get bored.

paprika with twins

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So, I had every intention of sharing with you the contrast between the many signs of spring and the seemingly-unending battle with winter. That will have to wait for another day, however.

Stomper with babes

You might remember Stomper. She was the mature ewe that came to our farm with our first flock or ewe lambs; grouchy, bossy, and the perfect leader to show the young ones how the out-to-the-pasture and back-to-the-barn thing is supposed to work. She was quickly demoted from leader (Ophelia, Juliet and Gertrude took turns in that role until some of these other young know-it-alls moved up the ranks), but she has always been a good mom, and a favourite with the lambs trying out their acrobatics (with her as trampoline).

number three

I’m sure the triplets that were born yesterday morning will enjoy bouncing off her as they race around the pen, too.

number one

Two years ago, she had a set of triplets, as well. This time, she is a little older, and just as diligent, but perhaps a little slower to come to her milk. We helped supplement with cow colostrum for the first 24 hours, but everyone seems to be settling in to the routine now. The lambs certainly know what they are supposed to be doing – even if they don’t always know where they are supposed to be doing it…


giving whole new meaning to the term "sucking face"

giving whole new meaning to the term “sucking face”

Maisie, our final hold-out from the “winter lambing” delivered a ewe lamb on her own this afternoon. She’s not quite sure she wants to claim it, but we’re keeping an eye on her…as well as Gertrude and Alyson, both of whom seem to be giving the signal that we should set our alarms for the middle of the night.

So, I thought you’d appreciate the news of the lambs. The (other) signs of spring will have to wait.

Millie's girl

One last pic of my favourite little girl – Miss Millie’s little ewe lamb, now 6 weeks old. Her dirty face is a result of the waxy gland her mother has next to her udder (it’s how the little ones know where to direct themselves).

And, yes, I’m allowed to have favourites!



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