Saturday, October 16, 2010

Time Flies...

When you're busy!   I can't believe it's the middle of October already.   We sold some fleeces and bought some beautiful yarns at the Fall Fiber Festival in Orange Co.   The festival was held at the home of James Madison, 'Montpelier'    It's a beautiful restoration if you haven't had time to visit.

The chickens have slowed down on their egg laying with the shorter days and cooler (thank goodness!) weather.  Leaves are already changing here.   Time to set in the garlic and onions, lift the dahlias, begin the cool season crops (greens and coles), clean out the ponds and greenhouse and decorate for Halloween!  Unfortunately we lost our pumpkin crop during the drought.  I was really looking forward to the warty Knucklehead, glowing Lumina and eerie green Jarrahdale.  Perhaps next year will be better.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Time to Streamline!

With a season of selling at the farmers market behind us, we have decided to reduce our workload and focus on growing produce.   We are offering our bluefaced leicester sheep for sale.  For anyone looking for a nice breeding trio, or a  small spinners flock this is your chance.   Details, photos and prices will soon be posted on our website sale page.

Don't forget the Powhatan Farms Tour scheduled for September 25th!  We hope to see you then.   

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Anyone have a rain dance they could share?

It's official.  June was the hottest and driest month on record.  Our first year at market has turned out to be a real learning experience.  First, we're going to need a secondary well.   Right now animal stock tanks, gardens and human needs, including the swimming pool are all met by the one household well.   And water pressure is dropping.   We've cut back on irrigation to hand watering but it's too little, too late.   We've had crop failure of lettuce, broccoli, corn, cukes, squash and melons.   The Kiwano (African Horned Melon), tomatoes, perilla and eggplants are holding on, but we don't know for how long.   Hope we get rain soon!

On the critter front, the hens are getting lazy.  We're gathering one or two eggs a day, total, instead of the dozen or so we need.   The grasses are dried up - we're back on hay.  The poor sheep are lazy too, but I can't blame them carrying all that wool around.   Have to schedule shearing soon.   Turns out Darby (the bunny) was not pregnant after all - so no baby bunnies yet.

Went to see Eclipse on Monday.  This one was much better than the others.   Of course, this was my favorite book in the series too.  Today it's off to see THE LAST AIR BENDER.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Latest Addition --- AR's Buttons & Bows

Just brought home THE MOST ADORABLE little bunny from Angela's Rabbitry.   Her name is Buttons & Bows for her bright little button eyes (half blue and half brown) and the smudges of color on the back of her ears that look like a bow tie when viewed from behind with her ears up and forward.

Button is a Vienna Carrier and a broken carrier.  She looks most like a Charlie with pale tan markings (cinnamon?) around her eyes and on her ears. Looks like she tried to apply some eyeshadow.  Cutest of all, she has a little beauty mark below her left eye.   Button is a bit on the tiny side, but she is the friendliest and most curious bunny I've had so far.   Can't wait to see how she matures.

We might have a baby announcement to make on July 4th.   Yes, I was bad - I let the two youngsters (Jazz & Darby) play together in the bunny proofed kitchen a few times last month.  Thought everything was fine as they didn't seem to show much interest in each other and explored in opposite directions.  I didn't witness any illicit activity either or even see them near each other.  However, but bunnies will be bunnies, and I wasn't watching them EVERY second.

Darby has been acting pregnant (grumpy), putting on a little weight, and today started trying to build a nest in her cage (they all have lots of free choice hay.)  I've brought her inside where it's cool and given her a nest box.  We'll see what happens over the next few days.   If she isn't preggers, I'll still be able to breed her to Kinder for September or October kits.  If she is...lesson learned.  Boys and girls do not get to play together!

Thursday, May 27, 2010


As we enjoy our time off work, picnics with friends and family, please remember those who are far from home in service to this country..   Thank you to all of those who make this sacrifice for every one of us.   Miss you Dad.

And here are some pictures from around the farm.  The sweet corn is waist high and potatoes are growing fast.  Buckwheat is in flower and getting ready to set seed.  Tomatoes already have green fruits.  Basil is leafing out fast and garlic is almost ready for harvest.   Ah, I can almost TASTE summer!

This picture doesn't do justice to the vibrant purple stems of the Peacock Broccoli.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

First Day at Goochland Farmers Market

Today was our first day the Goochland Farmers Market.  It was incredibly windy but the tent stayed in place.  Too windy to bring the tri-loom.  My apologies to anyone who was looking forward to learning how it works.  Perhaps the next time!

Sold lots of eggs, some lettuce blend and iris plants.   Lots of nice people, both vendors and customers.  A thank you to all who purchased our products (hope you enjoyed them!) and to those who took the time to answer questions and help.  What a great bunch of people!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Da Hubby Rocks!

This post is dedicated not to all the women who shepherd, but the hubbies who support them!  You guys ROCK!

Everyone knows how hard shepherds work, particularly when they're men.  But what about the ladies and the non-shepherd men who love them?  Like many other farm hubbies, mine does a fair amount of work around the farm, repairing fences, keeping weeds under control, fussing with tools and machinery, but few go beyond that.   Of course he loves to grow veggies, particularly when it comes to corn.  But start talking sheep - his eyes glaze over and he begins to nod off.   

So why does he rock?  Well, not only does he make a mean lamb kebab, but his grilled pork baby back ribs are to DIE for.  And what can you say about a guy who sits patiently in a hot car with an impatient wife, crawling along a one mile stretch of road for an hour, waiting to get into a Sheep and Wool Festival I'm sure he could care less about.  Sure, part of it is that he doesn't want me to overspend (BTW Ladies, this works.  If your guy says he doesn't want to go, it's a free pass to buy all the goodies you want!) but the other part is he knows I value his good eye for conformation and fiber.  And he can sure pick 'em.

However, that isn't what makes him so great; it's the fact that my guy, who laughs at folks who dress their pets in costumes or clothing, just helped me dress our sheep in their Matilda jackets.  And didn't laugh when they were done!

Thanks honey!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Where do I begin?

So much has happened since my last post! 

Rammy lamb is growing like a weed on Momma's good milk, but soon that will come to an end.  Weaning time at the end of the month and banishment to the Ram's Head Inn with his sire.  Poor Rocky!   He is also officially registered now with BLUNA.

Can't wait for the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival on Saturday.   Lots of yummy yarn to buy and weave.   We may also pick up a white Angora wether this year too.  We'll have to see what's available.

Our farm also been inspected for the Powhatan County Fall Farm Tour.  There are seven farms, maybe more, competing for a spot on the tour.  Hopefully we will be one of those chosen.  Keep your fingers crossed for us. 

And we've received notice that our application to sell at the Goochland Farmers Market has been approved.  Orientation tomorrow, first sale day, May 8th. 

I've also been bitten by the Bunny Bug.  Yup...bunnies.  Nope, not Angora bunnies, but Netherland Dwarf bunnies.  The hubby and I attended the Richmond Rabbit Breeders Association show in March and had a great time.  Of course we came home with the cutest pair of buns!  Rabbits that is :)  Darby, a VC Cinnamon (tan w/ white patches) is the little girl, and Jazz, an Opal (silver blue w/ fawn) is the little boy.   I'm going to give rabbit shows a try.  They're so much easier to transport than horses, sheep or dogs.

Aren't they adorable?

With everything busting out in bloom, my allergies are going into overdrive.  It's been the worst pollen season EVER...but it's also been so pretty.

I'm sharing some pictures of all the fabulous flowers.   And yes, you may sense a pattern...I've got a thing for PURPLE.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

...and now it's finally Official!

(this was written on Sunday, March 21, 2010, but I was bad.  It was too hard to sit down and write for long with birdsong and sunshine calling!)

March 21, 2010, the first day of Spring.   Yesterday the sheep were shorn.  Now we have a bunch of naked sheep boinking around.  Poor little Rocky didn't recognize his own mom.  With the weight of all that fleece gone, they seem to be lighter on their feet, when they keep them on the ground that is!    Now the hard work of skirting, sorting and pricing the fleece begins.   Please check our website for pictures and pricing.

After shearing and a 'dip', they were turned out onto new grass pasture.  They were like kids in a candy shop!  On the other hand, Piper wasn't so happy and he didn't hesitate to let us know, complaining well into the night.  Yup, he was banished to the Ram's Head Inn (bachelor digs) until autumn.  Rocky will join him at weaning.

The early daffodils are in full bloom, giving us fragrant. sunny yellow bouquets.   Peach blossoms have started opening in our two year old orchard.   Maybe this will be the first year we get fruit!

With the sheep moved out onto spring pasture, we've proceeded with tilling in the winter cover crops.  Planting of cool season seeds has begun.   Lettuce is already going like gangbusters.  Fragrant Sweet Peas and garden peas will follow over the next few weeks.  Likewise the seed potatoes are going in the ground for staggered harvest.  Soon we should have our first taste of Cranberry Red (red skin, pink flesh), Caribe (purple skin, white flesh) and Russian Banana Fingerlings.   Those last potatos are soooo yummy roasted whole and tossed with a drizzling of extra virgin olive oil, a little melted butter and chopped parsley!

Tomato and eggplant seedlings are progressing nicely.  I find it so hard to wait for that first tomato sandwich!  OMG - I'm getting so hungry!

This week we started the Italian broccoli, amaranth, Asian greens, radishes, beets and carrots.  And at the beginning of April - corn!  I can almost taste summer.   Hard to believe it's only six weeks until the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival and the opening of the Goochland Farmers Market.

Hope we see some of you there!

~ Tru

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Spring has sprung!

One of the first signs of spring have arrived...spring peepers are here.  They began serenading at sunset today.   Daffodils are poking their green stems up through the dead leaves, crocus and chinodoxia are blooming.   The last frost date is officially 6 weeks away and seeds are sprouting.

We saw the first robin two weeks ago and lambs have obviously hit the ground.   Peeps (chicks) will be arriving next week.  Daytime temps have been in the 60s, and best of signs of any more snow!!!

Hope you all are able to enjoy similar pleasures soon!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Hard Lessons

Shepherding is a never ending process of learning.  Some lessons come easy some simply take time, and some are very hard on the emotions.

After six years of pasture kidding and lambing with the usual crises of assisted births or poor mothering we thought we were ready for anything.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  This past weekend I learned a very hard lesson --- never be complacent about anything involving living creatures.

I arrived home from work on Thursday to find Giselle, a 2008 BFL ewe, had given birth to what we thought were twins.  One was alive, one not.  Our young female LGD was in the process of consuming the dead lamb.   I’d heard varying opinions on this, some believe the LGD try to eliminate anything that will draw predators.  

Since this particular female had gone through a previous lambing season with flying colors, my assumption was the lamb had some type of defect or been stillborn.   Shepherds with several lambing seasons under their belts know this is part of nature's plan...such things happen.

Because I had to pick up my human kid from an after school activity, I placed Giselle and baby in a stall and removed the dead lamb from the pasture.  The other LGD, our senior male, went off to pace the fence line, not an unusual activity for him.  As I drove down the drive, all seemed calm.

An hour later I returned to a nightmare.  

The young female was chasing one of the Coopworth ewes.   It was dark now, but I could clearly see which dog it was.  I called her off and she came over wagging her tail.  Annoyed at the chase behavior I thought she had long outgrown, I grabbed her collar and walked her back to put her in “time-out” – a kennel near the shed.  When I took my hand off to close the gate, I found the blood.    Still not suspecting a problem (maybe it was just the blood from the dead lamb) I set about getting feed and hay.

As anyone who has been to a petting zoo or around any goats or sheep know, these animals are food fiends.   The hair on the back of my neck began to rise when no one was waiting at the gate.   

When I finally accounted for all the sheep, three had varying degrees of cuts and gashes on their ears and heads.  The Coopworth who was being chased when I arrived was fine, the other was missing her left ear and her fleece from neck to shoulder was soaked in blood.  The male LGD was still at the fence line, now racing up and down, barking in frenzy.  If I hadn’t caught the female in the act, I would have assumed a predator had struck.    As it was, I considered his activity something I could deal with later, the wounded Coopworth ewe was a priority – I didn’t think she would survive the night.   I rushed inside to call the vet.

It was another two hours before I could deal with the still distraught male LGD.  And that’s when I found the third lamb, a lovely female, frozen, just on the other side of the fence.  I don't think I've cried so much since my mother passed on many years ago.

We are very fortunate to have a practice group of wonderful sheep vets.   The Coopworth ewe, Symphony, is doing remarkably well and should make a full recovery.   We will likely lose her lamb as well, but still having her at all is a miracle.

The second miracle arrived the next evening.  Triska, our first homebred sheep, gave birth to a beautiful blue ram lamb.   He was between one and two weeks premature and his momma didn’t have any milk for him.   So far our little bummer is doing okay.   

Here are our two beautiful 2010 babies – Inish (blue) and Rocky (white)

While I still believe there are many benefits to pasture lambing, all future Laingcroft lambs will be born in secure pens.  And I will always make the time to investigate anything our male LGD is trying to point out to us.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Cue the Music!

"It's the most wonderful time of the year..."  


Okay, so it doesn't take much to excite me :)   This year's selection is fantastic so it's going to take awhile to narrow the choices down.   Once the seeds have come in, I will post the selections on the produce page of our website Laingcroft Farm    If you are located in the metro Richmond area we plan to be a vendor at the Goochland Farmers Market and the Powhatan Farmers Market.   The second is a new market located at the Collier Company's Waterfall and Garden Shop on Route 60 in Powhatan, 2 miles past the Chesterfield County line.  

My other exciting news....I finally have a new laptop so I can go mobile!   Had one years ago, an old Toshiba that I gave to my son when he started high school.   Over the years he modified it and ultimately dismantled it.   Since he is now in his second year of Computer Engineering at VCU, I guess that worked out well, but I'm not letting him play with this one!  It's a lovely green (picture doesn't do it justice) Inspirion.  I also found a Microsoft fan base (and yes, I've added the doodling in silver's always a bad idea to put a pen in my hand!) that helps keep it from overheating.  The wonderful thing about having a laptop is now I can work on my stories, anytime, anyplace.  Even in the barn. 

Yes, that's right, I said in the barn.   I find it very soothing to sit in the barn after the animals have been bedded down for the night with their last hay rations.   There is just something magical about the whisper of hay pulled from the feeder, and the soft sounds of sheep contentedly chewing the dried grass, their misty breath sweet with memories of summer.  Some of my best inspiration strikes in the oddest places (barn, shower, car) and at the oddest times - most often when I'm trying to fall asleep!

So now that I've been a good girl and updated my's back to dreaming over all those seeds....