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Photo by E., my 4-H photographer, for next week’s county fair.

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Our American Alpine buck, JellyFish

Competitive Bottle-Feeding

August 20, 2012

Here are Willie and King, two of our bottle babies from last spring. Willie is a Hampshire/Suffolk lamb and King is an Alpine buck (dairy goat). We fed them twice a day for about 12 weeks, 8 ounces each time. Check out their wiggling tails to see how much they enjoy their bottles — and how much they love to race to the finish.

King wins, both on speed and style. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdz9yCj1lkY&feature=youtu.be

Willie & King

How to wash a chicken

July 17, 2012

I was chatting on Facebook about my 4-Hers getting ready for the Sedgwick County Fair, which included E. washing her chickens.

“How do you wash a chicken?” they asked. “Very carefully,” I answered. Sorry…couldn’t resist. Here’s the real scoop on how E. washes her chickens. In this case, Speedy.

1. Catch Speedy by moving very quickly, cornering him in the chicken house and grabbing him.

2. Slowly submerge Speedy — but not his head — into warm soapy water. (We use Dawn dish soap.) Hold tight with one hand. Use other hand to rinse off feathers and scrub feet.

3. Remove Speedy from water. Let him drip just a little. (Don’t know why. That’s just her technique.)

4. Make sure Cesar doesn’t sneak in or a dirty chicken will be the least of our worries.

5. Submerge Speedy again, this time just in warm water. Give him time to enjoy. (He just bobs about in the bucket, like he’s on a floatie on the lake.)

6. Give him to your brother to hold, so Speedy can drip dry. Must ask nicely because brother doesn’t really want to hold a wet chicken. Then, place carefully in pet carrier to transport directly to the fair.

Finally, enjoy spending time with Speedy and his friends in the poultry barn.

Annie and Belle

Willie the orphan lamb

April 22, 2012

Willie the orphan lamb

I’ve been a farm wife for more than 20 years. Not once has a farm animal made its way into the house.  That is, until a couple of weeks ago when a ewe (female sheep) died after giving birth. What to do but start bottle feeding her lamb? Since the little male, who came to be known as Willie, needed to eat about every four hours, he came inside.

My farmer-in-law brought out a baby bottle and diapers from the grocery store and we were set. Since Willie had only sucked on his mother for a short time — and because he was hungry — he quickly took to the bottle. We started him on canned goat milk until we were able to buy powdered milk replacer for sheep.

He was just so darn cute — always eager to eat, snuggle and play. The kids took turns falling asleep with him each night. I would gather him up before I went to bed, so he could have his last bottle of the day and then settled him in to his blanket in our mud room. I didn’t even mind those 2 a.m. feedings.

But, lambs grow up and need to be sheep. So, today Willie is back outside in his pen. We brought home a three-week-old Alpine dairy goat buck yesterday, so he has a pen mate. We just finished feeding both for the night. When we left, they were busy practicing butting heads. Their pen is full of fresh straw, so I’m sure they’ll tuck themselves in soon. Or, not. Who knows what happens in the farmyard when the farmer goes in the house?

Twin lambs born on National Ag Day 2012.

These twin lambs were born this morning, on National Ag Day. One is male and one female and they’re doing great. This is the first lambing for this ewe and she’s keeping them warm and full. See them in action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrHOHVriP9c&feature=g-upl&context=G27b7a95AUAAAAAAAAAA.

Last year, we also had an Ag Day birthday.  My 4Her took “Sparkles” to the Sedgwick County Fair last July and she’s now part of our herd. Here she was a year ago: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbOLxpLdBbU&feature=channel.

Happy Ag Day everyone. Thanks farmers and ranchers for all you do.

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