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Farm Update June-December 2010

For a variety of reasons I was unable to complete the Farm Update for the 2010 year, but plan to be back on track with January 2011 in the upcoming week! In the meanwhile I'll do a short summary of the second half of 2010 to at least mention the births, which are usually one of the most interesting items!

May saw the arrival of lambs! Later this year because, as there was so much snow last year, we put the ram in later. Of course this year there was very little snow - so you can't win!

Our first excitement in June was the visit of one of our puppies from the litter of Alfadis and Alfur. This little girl spends quite a lot of her time in Mexico, so is used to a lot of traveling. Also the month when we started bringing in hay for the winter.

Jean Luc and Jean Paul visited in May and had a great time, starting with a visit to the chickens, then Kolla, the horses, sheep and finally a rest on the round bales!

July saw the arrival of Tildra's first foal - a very friendly little colt called Fjari. He was very pleased when one of our Haflinger mares Christa also had a little colt, because foals are really happy when they have a playmate. July also saw a visit from our granddaughters Olivia and Maya, who worked very hard helping us at the farm, and here is a picture of them painting the whelping box for Alfadis and it wouldn't be right not to add a picture of her with her puppies. Alva had her puppies on July 10th.



Of course by now many humming birds have arrived and we have lots of feeders out for them, plus humming bird friendly plants and hanging baskets. You will notice the little upsidedown umbrellas on the feeders' hangers - very useful to catch the earwigs and prevent them getting into the humming birds' food.


A woodpecker enjoying a suet breakfast and a grosbeak enjoying the scenery!


The humming birds came this year in large numbers. It's interesting how this varies and of course we don't know why. What is also interesting is that you can track their flight north on the Internet. The bottle feeder, one of the least colourful, does seem to be one of the favourites for the hummingbirds!


By now we have many really lovely flowers blooming and our bird bath is a big hit.  We really enjoyed our visit with Pat in Pritchard, who had the Haflinger colt that had been sired by their stallion Mandl, who very sadly died of colic some time after Christa was bred. Fortunately she had a little boy and he looked quite like Mandl, so that worked really well.


August saw a cougar coming up the drive! Luckily for us it kept going and wasn't interested in any of the animals, but that wasn't the case for Marjorie who lives a good way up the mountain opposite us. She phoned at six the following morning to say it was at her house and it killed one of her goats before a neighbour took care of it. August 17th also saw the arrival of Christa's little colt.

We also had a visit from our twin grandsons, Jean Luc and Jean Paul. The twins loved all the animals and probably my most favourite set of pictures are the ones where Jean Luc, having watched Kristi feeding grass to Fleygur and Krafla, came and stood by the fence where Sleipnir and Christa were, holding two little piece of yellow grass for them - and he waited - and he waited - and he waited and they didn't come anywhere near him! In the end we had to change the situation a bit with some grass held flat on his hand and called them and they finally arrived!





October saw the arrival of a new little addition to the tree where many of our bird feeders are - a chipmunk! He ran like the wind, which he had to when he was running along the front fence as the cats were interested in him. New toadstools this year. Also the very big Salmon Run at the Adams River. Certainly an amazing and as yet unexplained massive number of returning salmon from the eggs laid there four years ago.


By November this year's lambs were growing well and as our large grey ram was such a friendly chap, we'd left him in with the ewes, so for once we should have some early lambs. The horses had been eating well building up a nice body weight preparing for the winter. We were spoiled last winter with very little snow. Of course that hasn't been the case so far this winter! 


November 8th was a big day! I'd been trying to find a source of Welsummer chickens for ages and could only find them in the UK, Australia and the Netherlands, but one of my daughters phoned "Guess what - Welsummers are in the Buy and Sell in Merritt!" So off to Merritt we went for Welsummers, (large dark brown eggs), Auracanas and Ameraucanas (blue and olive eggs) and a rush had been put on finishing the new chicken house, which was to be built for the meat chickens, but they were in the freezer before it was finished! So they took up residence in our chicken coops but no eggs arrived for ages! Finally they did though, and look really fine!


December saw chickens finally laying; lots of snow and the tractor in the ditch more than once! On one of those occasions I heard a thundering of hoofs and there were all the horses from the top field flying up the drive and I could see that the gate was open!, brought up behind by our two donkeys. Arthur had done it again! He's made a specialty of figuring out how to life the chain link off the hook at his gate and springing everyone free.


I'm ending with a lovely picture of one of Alfadis's puppies. Eyvinn, who lives in Washington State, and was visiting Santa Claus with Cathy's two corgis!



April Farm Update

April 1st Journal started with one word - COLD! Spring flowers and April showers were replaced with wind and snow in April! - not the ideal weather for Easter egg hunts!

Lambs are starting to arrive, the second one, a little jet black ewe lamb, on April 6th on a clear sunny day. We were also busy setting up for the arrival of our meat chickens, with inches of sawdust on the floor and a nice warm heat lamp in our well insulated workshop.

My time on our farm has had a few interruptions as I've been going down to the coast to babysit our twin baby grandsons while Kristi is back at school at the beginning of the week. Consequently when I get back, there are a few things I have to check on, i.e. are all the cats present!

About mid-April on my return, they weren't, one was missing. However, I was pretty sure I could hear it and following some extensive searching, nothing showing up on the ground, I started to look up and there about 40' up a dead pine tree, was the fifth cat! There was a huge amount of trunk with no branches, and the first branch was way above the furthest extension of our longest extension ladder. Even had it not been, I doubt success would have occurred if Norm had tried the rescue as the cats are afraid of him, and it would have just gone higher!


Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings still showed that the cat wasn't hungry enough to climb down the tree. If he had looked at the world from his tail end first, he might have been prepared to give it a go, but he always looked down head first! By now I have already missed the first bus to the coast and Karen's idea of putting a chair on the end of the ladder was a no-go as it was still miles from the first branch, so as the tree was dead, the decision was made to take it down!

The stallion and mare who live at the bottom of the tree were really interested in all that activity, so they had to be moved first in case the tree fell in the wrong direction! We didn't want a premature foal due to shock. As the tree was dead, it wasn't too responsive and despite the large chip cut into it, didn't wish to fall, so had to be encouraged by a rope on the tractor! It was observed that the cat was in full flight before the tree hit the ground and was too upset to eat for several hours!



April 23rd we had great excitement as the first humming bird of the season arrived! We had meant to track their journey on the Internet, because there is a website to do this, but hadn't got to it, so we were thrilled to see the 'scout'! We have some feeders under our clematis arch, which, at this time of year, is still a mass of what look like dead twigs and the fact that the humming birds go straight there, and the feeders are pretty well hidden, makes us think the same humming birds come back.

On April 25th we had our first goldfinch sighting for several years. We saw two that day, but none since so they must have been on their way through! They appreciated our birdbath!

We received lots of pictures of the Eylafallajokull volcano in Iceland and had great concern for the farmers in the area affected by the volcanic ash, which fortunately was blowing south and not affecting as many fields as would have happened had the wind changed direction. Jumping ahead there was a message on our Icehorselist yesterday morning that there had been 62 earthquakes to a magnitude of 3 on the Richter Scale in Iceland in the last 48 hours and this morning on the news it showed that the volcano had erupted again. I understand the fields are ruined for some years where the ash has fallen and it is extremely dangerous for animals to inhale or ingest it.

Maria and her family of her little heifer calf and the two guest bull calfs are doing well. As there's lots of grass around at the moment, they are roaming free and enjoying themselves a lot. Well one wasn't, because my husband saw him busily chewing on a knotted set of two pieces of baling twine that he'd managed to find somewhere. We rushed them in to retrieve the baling twine, which had vanished by this time, The following morning I retrieved it, well chewed up to the centre knot, which fortunately had proved too much for him! Our German Shepherd Heidi and I went on a long trip to round up any other baling twine that might have gone blowing in the wind!


Chicken house construction has come to a halt, due to the breakdown of the skill saw!




March Farm Update


March did not come in like a lamb! It came in like a mud bath, which resulted in my great relief that we still had a mountain of shavings left from our fall delivery, which, on arrival, usually looks a bit larger than our house. Where we keep one of our stallions and his companion mare, the area is divided into two sections, the upper one that we move them to in May when the lower one gets very muddy, as it's higher and on a slope and drains well. They were moved there at the beginning of March!

Tildra started moving a lot better shortly after our farrier trimmed her hoofs and rasped across the front of the front feet, giving room for expansion if needed. We had our vet out to check her, also because this is her first foal, and on palpation he got his hand on one leg, which was quickly withdrawn! So hopefully all will be well with her foal and we're fortunate that she expects her new arrival about the middle of this month, so that we were able to give her some Bute when she was the most uncomfortable about moving. Had there been the risk of it being early in her pregnancy, we wouldn't have wanted to take the risk.

The weather was still wet and miserable and Maria was bagging up, so left her inside to await the birth of her calf. Lo and behold on the morning of March 12th, there was a lovely little heifer calf. When we were looking to build up our herd of Jerseys, we had one bull calf after another, but now we've had three heifer calfs in a row! We called the Jersey farms in the area and neither had a bull calf but both were expecting calfs the following week, hoping for heifer calfs of course, and on the same day they both phoned to announce the arrival of bull calfs.

We set off the following day to pick them up and arrived back only to find that Maria wasn't pleased about tne new arrivals. We'vebeen very fortunate in the past and our Jersey cows have willingly accepted new additions to their family. Initially Maria did her best to shoot these two little boys through the wall, but they were quite quick and she soon gave up. The following morning we tied her up and hobbled one foot - drinking started quickly and with great enthusiasm, and very few problems occurred after that.


One interesting thing had occurred when we picked up one of the bull calfs - we were looking at their heifer calfs when Grendell noticed some scour-like droppings and said he must give the calf some eggs. We hadn't heard of that but he said it coats the stomach and clears things up really quickly. We've used boluses and other medication in the past and even then had more success with plain yogurt. We had one sign of scours, so used the eggs, and I gather since that some people who are bottle feeding calfs mix the eggs in with milk replacer. Anyway two eggs to the one calf certainly did the trick.

March was a disastrous month for our well pump. The day after the arrival of the two bull calfs, no water! The pump had fallen to the bottom of the well, which is well over 200 feet deep. We had to have a new pump installed and lo and behold a couple of days later, it also shot to the bottom of the well! The safety wire had broken and by the time all was in order to use again, the mud accompanied by small pebbles that arrived in the kitchen sink left a bit to be desired. Well a few days later it plummeted again! The only advantage by this time was the increase in skills required to get it up. I don't care to make any further comments in case I jinx it.


It has been an interesting bird winter. With no snow in February, different birds started arriving much sooner than usual. We had hundred of Pine Siskins and this was a worry as they like to feed off the ground, which is extremely interesting to our five outside cats. We rescued one tubby little baby one and put it on the flake of hay in the kitchen windowbox, where the sun shines in the morning. Lo and behold, every morning it was back to sit in the sun and pick at the black oil sunflower seeds in the hay. We hope it survived to live a happy life.



Our twin baby grandsons visited in March and would have happily spent all day unloading and reloading the kitchen cupboards. Toys were completely unnecessary. They also enjoyed giving our donkeys, Arthur and Tosca, carrots, particularly since they didn't have to get too close to their mouths to hand them over!

March ended with cold winds and snow! Also the purchase of a great new cart with many uses for me - picture coming in April.




February Farm Update

-1 for February 1st is almost unbelievable! Based on the fact that it was still snowing in May last year, I put forward by a lot putting the ram in for breeding, so the lambs will be arriving late this year! At least there will be some grass showing for them.

This winter has had the least snow since we moved to Chase in 1994. Aside from about a week when the temperature was -24, and succeeded in killing a number of outdoor plants and bushes even though they were well mulched with fleece and straw, the temperature hovered around zero for quite a lot of February. We have heated water bowls for the dogs outside, also the chickens, but a lot of the time we didn't really need them.

This year we've decided to try and produce an additional item for our own consumption, rather than wonder what growth hormones might have gone into feed, so we are expecting two dozen meat chickens on April 13th. We tried meat chickens our first summer at the farm, but lost quite a number for various reasons and read that genetically the higher you are, the more potential problems they can have. As we are at about 3,000 feet, we decided not to do this again, so it will be interesting if the same problems arise, or if genetic improvements have been made.

We had an experience with one of our mares that we've never had before. We noticed how very slowly she was moving and how stiff her legs seemed. Other than that everything else was normal, eating, drinking and eliminating. We checked with our vet, who couldn't come right away but prescribed a small regimen of bute, which made a very quick improvement. Also our farrier came and thought she might have foundered. We had associated founder with lush grass, which of course since we were under snow, we had ruled out, but both our vet and farrier advised that sudden change of feed, stress, could bring it on.

We had changed from grass hay to hay that had a lot more alfalfa, so have to believe that was the culprit. As soon as our vet saw her, it was what he diagnosed and our farrier came back to trim her hoofs very carefully and rasp off some of the front hoof wall so that if there was swelling going down to the white line, there was some room for expansion. Fortunately no signs of slowness are showing now and we've found some grass hay, so she gets a mixture.

We certainly did enjoy the time we took off during the day to watch the Olympics - one great plus of being self employed, although that does also include working 365 days of the year with no regulated hours!

We have reached the point where our Eurasier Sundog's Hayden, call name Hadley, has had his hips and elbows x-rayed and patella examined, all results being forwarded to the OFA for scoring. Later in the summer our female Eurasier, Braegate's Enya, will have the same checks. Both the Eurasiers and our Icelandic sheepdogs are booked for their annual CERF tests in April. If all health checks are satisfactory for our Eurasiers, we hope to breed them at Enya's next heat.

As we are getting towards the beginning of March, the arrival of Maria's first calf is approaching! It's hard to imagine prettier calfs than Jerseys. Even the little bull calfs look like deer, who, by the way, are still busy in our various fields.

Different species of birds have already started to arrive - way before their usual time. We've heard that the humming birds are also on their way, so must check the website that tracks them.


It's hard to believe some of the spring bulbs are poking through. Our snowdrops usually arrive about the beginning of June! So March is really a month to look forward to this year!


Farm Update January 2010
Happy New Year to Everyone








January 1st arrived with some flurries and -4 - little did we know that flurries were just about all we would see through the entire month of January. We had about three feet of snow at this time last January, with the snowblower hardly having any time to cool down. We haven't needed it this January.

Our bird visitors have kept us busy. The grey jays love the dog crumbles more than peanuts, but there are many peanut visitors and it's hard to keep the black oil sunflower seed feeders full. This year we've had flocks of pine siskins and since they seem to prefer to eat off the ground, a complete cat watch has to happen when the pine siskins are here. We've had all different sizes of woodpeckers at the suet blocks and even the grey jays have enjoyed them.

I can never understand why the Icelandic horses, even though three sided loafing sheds are available for them, prefer to stand out in the wind, the snow and even the rain. 

The temperature did drop turning everything to a sheet of ice and allowing me to make luge runs with hay on the toboggans. As the Coquihalla was frequently bare, most unusual for this time of year, two of our granddaughters were able to visit at a very unusual visiting time for them. They enjoyed the chicken house with the heat lamp and were always ready to collect eggs, feed the cats and the dogs and throw flakes of hay out wherever needed. It's really great to have helpers!

January is a great tennis month! - the Australian Open, and now we're looking forward to the Olympics!






Our first GREAT news is that our Webmaster is now in an area where she will be able to update our website on a regular basis. This is really great for 2010 as it's surprising how many comments we get from people who regularly check and enjoy it!

I'll do a quick roundup of 2009, where the summer was completely overshadowed by the forest fire situation. There was one weekend where we were surrounded by four fires. We had arrangements made about where we could move all the animals, but it isn't a quick job. We took a storage unit in Chase to store our special things because had we needed to evacuate, all our time would be involved with moving animals. It's the one time you wish you didn't live on a road with only one way out, and quite far up it! We also appreciated how carefully the fire crews looked after the fires and protected peoples' property.


As you will know from our sheepdog update, after no litters in 2008, we were delighted to have three litters in 2009 and plan two in 2010. All our puppies are happily settled in their new homes and we kept Meyja, one of the Rof/Kolur puppies, who we plan to breed down the road. We also had two foals, Princessa from Elska and Fleygur and Olina from Stella and Sleipnir. The arrival of Elska's foal was an anxious time. We've been fortunate in that we've only ever lost one foal and it was Elska's, about three years ago. He was born with a congenital problem and didn't live for one day. We left him with Elska until the following morning and as long as he was there, albeit not moving, she was happy. When we moved him out, she was devastated and no plan of adding her best friend, or anything else we could think of, helped her. It was just a matter of time. So huge anxiety with the arrival of Princessa, who luckily was perfect! However, I think Elska believes we stole her last foal and it took her a long time to realize she didn't have to put herself between us and her little filly to keep it safe!






We had a number of lambs born as usual and the most amusing was our moorit ewe, who we put in with our grey ram for company. as he didn't like being alone and had moved in with the mares and foals! One day I saw her protecting something really carefully - twin lambs! I was most anxious to move them out but my husband said the ram wouldn't hurt them! I didn't believe him until I went to check one day and the ram was sitting with both lambs fast asleep on his back! Oh for the camera!


As risk of fires receded, we were busy planning for the winter, getting our hay stored, things off the ground and after last year's three feet of snow, preparing for the worst! - which hasn't happened!


Pineridge Icelandics

1049 Hepburn Rd

Chase, B.C. Canada V0E 1M1