Thursday, April 26, 2012

Animal Encounters at the Library

What a week.

So far this week I've had 50 third graders, 22 second graders, 21 first graders, and 2 frogs visit the library.

Yes, I am currently "holding" 2 african frogs on my desk as I type.  Usually, if someone comes in to use the computer and they have a drink with them, they can have me hold it at the circulation desk for them so they don't spill it on the computers.  Just now, two teenage girls came in to go on Facebook, one with a 32-oz fountain soda and one with a small aquarium with two frogs in it.  They first girl asked, "can you hold my drink up here?" and the second asked, "can you hold my frogs?"  I guess she is bringing them home from showing them to her class at school and didn't want to leave them outside to heat up in the sun.

So now I've had a loose dog in the library on Halloween, the naturalist that gave a presentation for our summer reading program last year brought in a corn snake and a tarantula, and now we have two frogs to add to our "live animals in the library tally."  What's next?!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Two years into homeownership...

Hi folks, I've taken lots of photos in the last few weeks, hoping to do lots of posts about home remodeling, gardening, and those stinking cute lambies, and then I got caught up in this little thing we call life.  So I'm a little behind.  But here's a little story about how it took us two years of home-ownership to finally get our bed moved upstairs:

When we first bought our house the upstairs looked like this:

Lovely orange and green shag carpet

And the stairway looked like this:

More carpet!

And then this winter, Joey went a little stir-crazy and did this:

A week before having guests over for a Christmas party...

And then my dad came and cleaned it up a bit and now it looks like this:

And this is pretty much where it is today, until my dad comes out to visit again... So why were we sleeping in the first-floor office/den for the last two years?  Because our box spring wouldn't fit up the stairs.  Even after we tore down walls, the level between the doorway (there's a door that closes) at the bottom of the stairs and the pitch of the stairs made it impossible to get the box spring more than a couple feet up without getting wedged in.  The mattress could bend, but the box spring is pretty solid.  So after waffling forever about what we wanted to do with the box spring (build a new one, get two custom-made halves?)  We decided to cut it in half.  

Before it's operation on the front porch

Another reason we may have taken a long time moving upstairs is that after we ripped out all the nasty shag carpet (the day we closed on the house) and ripped out thousands of carpet staples one by miserable one, we didn't know what we wanted to do with the flooring upstairs.  As you can see in the pictures above the wood underneath the carpet was not that great and would take a lot of time and work to refinish.  Also, the back bedroom has tile that can't be removed because it is old and probably contains asbestos, which is better to cover than to break up and release into the air.  So for a while we considered carpeting the entire upstairs shag this time!  But, I'm not a huge fan of carpet (it gets dirty, it's slippery on the stairs, and I don't want to vacuum dog hair out of it!) and we probably couldn't afford it anyway.  And so we took the plunge and painted the wood floor!

As you can see in the photo below, the floor is painted!  We used ACE Hardware's porch and floor paint in Dusty Jeans blue.  Here is the box spring, after a circular saw, hand saw, and a pair of scissors turned it into one piece that could fold in half in the middle, still connected by it's springs.  It took a little muscle and a lot of freaking out (on my part) to finally get it up those stairs!

After removing the old shag-tastic carpet and the staples, we painted the room light green and left the molding with its original stain.  Then, since we couldn't get our bed upstairs, we moved into the office downstairs, threw some twin beds into the mess that we called the upstairs for guests to sleep on and called it a day...or two years.  We pretty much avoided the upstairs and all the stuff we shoved up there when we moved in and pretended we lived in a one-story house until we had overnight guests.  Then we banished them to the black hole of our upper floors.  Sorry everyone. 

After an entire weekend of repainting the walls, molding, windows in Linen White and finally painting the floor blue, we are finally settled into our room.  It is certainly not a "master bedroom."  There's no attached bath or walk-in closet and the room is pretty tiny, but the house was built in 1908!  There is a small closet that Joey will use for his clothes and I will use the closet in the bedroom next door (where we shoved all the stuff that was in this room!)  The windows need a few more coats of paint and the new blinds need to be installed.  The doors still need paint as well.  And I am looking for side tables and a wicker clothes hamper.  Otherwise, it is a very sunny room, and very simple.  We feel like we are on vacation- now if only I could get the rest of my house to feel that way!  I feel a garage sale/Goodwill drop-off coming soon.

So here's the before when we first bought the house and here's the much better in-progress:

Dark before

Sunny in-progress

Thanks for sticking with my rambling of it kept deleting and the pictures were doing very annoying I may have lost my train of thought more than once!  I'll be back soon with lambs and garden projects!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Busy Weeks and Bouncing Lambs

Last week was a busy week, I ran home for the weekend to attend my cousin's bridal shower, and now I'm diving head-first into another week of elementary school field trips and trying to play catch-up from being gone all weekend.

All the lambs are loose in the pasture, running and jumping so fast they are like little woolly blurs.  Last week was so busy I forgot to tell you all that we had one more lamb!  Scarlett was the very last lamb born last year and she gave us our last lamb of this year.  Last Sunday, Joey woke me up and said excitedly, "Scarlett is having her lamb-come quick!"  We rushed outside in our boots and pjs to witness the birth since neither one of us had seen any of the other lambs being born.  Sure enough, a little white nose and a little hoof was sticking out.  Scarlett seemed so uncomfortable, laying down, getting up and walking around, and "baaa"ing like mad, almost screaming.  Our excitement quickly turned into uneasiness.  Joey was nervous because it seemed like she wasn't making any progress and we were worried about the lamb.  Since she was only born a year ago, she is still smaller than the other ewes and we were afraid that she was too small to push the baby out herself.

Worried for both mama and baby, we ran up to the house to get our plastic gloves and see if we could help.  We are able to get her to lay down and I stayed up by her head and made sure she didn't get up and Joey felt around the lamb's nose and tried to help pull the lamb.  He waited until she seemed like she was pushing (she was "baaa"ing pretty loudly when she pushed) and he eased the nose forward a little.  At this point, we were pretty sure the lamb was probably not going to be alive, but we were so worried about Scarlett, we wanted her pain to end.  After a few more pushes, Joey was able to get the head all the way out and the rest of the body quickly slid out on it's own.

The little lamb's body laid still in the dirt and then all of a sudden, it gave a little shudder and opened it's eyes and tried to breathe.  Shocked, Joey wiped the mucus from it's nose and mouth and something told me to rub it's sides.  Within a few seconds, it's head was up and looking around and we were able to see it was a boy.  And then Scarlett, first-time mama, came over and started to clean him up.  We sat and watched and he took his first wobbly step after 15 minutes of being in the world.  We were on top of the world that both lamb and mama were fine and that we were there to help.  It was such a thrill to think that when it came down to it, together we were able to throw on some gloves, and work together to being a new life into the world.  I'm so glad that we did it together, we were so proud, it was a rush of adrenaline and awe.

I called my mom later to tell her about it and how after he was born, I started to rub his little body to get some life into him just like the dad does to the little puppy in 101 Dalmations.  She said, "See, you do learn things from Disney movies afterall!"

Besides being our first assisted delivery, this little lamb is different from all our others because Dodge isn't his father, Patrick is.  Which means, he is half merino (from Scarlett) and half border leicester (from Patrick).  He has huge ears like his father.  It will be interesting to see what he starts to look like as he gets bigger.  And since Scarlett was born last year to Dorothy, that makes Dorothy both a mother and a grandmother this year.  She probably doesn't even know it.

So back to this crazy week...We've got lots of gardening projects going on around the homestead so hopefully I will get caught up soon so I can share!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Library Field Trips


Had two fourth grade and two fifth grade classes in the library today for field trips.  And I was under the impression that I was going to have 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders today...guess the principal switched them up on me.  1st -3rd grade next week, 2 preschool classes and 2 kindergarten classes the week after that. And then I really have to get started on all my summer reading programs....sometimes being a country librarian is a quiet job...until you have kids asking questions a mile a minute about which books we do or do not have.  This may be a small library, but I don't have the entire inventory memorized!

I had a dream this morning about tornadoes and how I was in the library when one came straight for it.  Another librarian and I tried to take shelter in the bathroom (which had an entire wall of floor-to-ceiling windows for some reason) and then an entire wall of the children's section was blown away by the tornado.  Maybe I was having a premonition about all the 4th and 5th graders today?

They actually weren't too bad, I just had to do quite a bit of straightening of the shelves after they left.  I don't know how teachers do it all day.  Props to them.  I mostly enjoy my quiet librarian existence.  Maybe this job really is turning me into Marian the Librarian from the Music better not start dancing and singing on the library tables.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Farmer's Wife

The days are getting longer, the increasing sun is warming our rich Illinois soil and with impending rain this weekend, the planting season is upon us.  And so my life as a farmer's wife begins to feel more pronounced again.  Early to rise and late home from the fields.

Coming home to two hungry dogs in the evening, gathering the eggs, watering the sheep.  Making dinner, eating alone, and calling Joey to see if I should keep his dinner in the warm oven or if I should put it in the fridge for him to heat up later.  Waiting for the rumble of a diesel engine to pull into the driveway.

And then after the busy rush of getting seeds in the ground, waiting for rain, and seedlings to form, the life of a farmer slows down a little.  Not that he's just sitting around watching corn grow.  But he's home before dark again.  And I can spend less time talking to the dogs.

Joey called earlier today to tell me he probably won't be home until after the sun sets tonight; he's delivering seed to the tractors in the fields today.  Now that crop insurance has kicked in, they are on a mad dash to plant before this weekend's rains.  I hope he doesn't have to work Saturday.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


I can't believe it, but we've been homeowners for two years!  This will be our third summer in our house.  It has come a long way, but it still has a long way to go to being finished!

Monday, April 9, 2012

More lambs

I was lost in a mix of lambing, home improvement, and socializing this weekend.

Susan finally had her lamb, a little girl.  She was born by the light of a full moon around 10:30 pm Thursday night.  Her name is Luna.  And she is the fluffiest lamb we have had yet.

I spent Friday morning running errands and then started painting a bedroom upstairs that we are hoping to move into this week (it's only been two years since we bought the house...)  When we first moved in and ripped out all the orange shag carpet, I painted the room a light green.  Then we went to put our new queen mattress and box spring upstairs and it wouldn't fit up the stairs.  So we've been living in the downstairs office for 2 years now.  

Now that the weather is warmer we've gotten some fire under us again to continue working on the house and I decided to repaint that room and figure out how to get our bed up there.  Many coats of linen white paint later, the room is looking bigger and lighter.  And instead of putting carpet upstairs as we originally talked about...we painted the wood floor!  Dusty jeans blue!  And Joey actually picked out the paint color!  And I love it!  Too many exclamations?  I forgot to take a before photo of the empty green room, but I may have one way back when we bought the house.  I can't wait to show some afters later this week.  I'll have to let you know how we actually get the box spring up the may be cut in half.

After spending most of Saturday morning and afternoon painting, we went to the barn to find that Molly had had a boy lamb, a tiny little thing.  

Molly's little lamb, napping this morning
Sunday, we were invited to Easter services and brunch by Joey's friend from work and spent the afternoon watching his nieces and nephews play with bubbles and search for Easter eggs.  For dinner, we had morel mushrooms at a friend's house and sat on their front porch until the sun set.  It was a good end to the weekend, and a perfect day for me because I didn't have to cook or clean up after a single meal.  

Here's some more lamb photos:

Look at those wrinkles!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Lambing Week

I've been caught up in the life of a shepherdess in spring.  Since Monday, we've had one more lamb and we are still awaiting the arrival of at least two more.

Two lambs and their Mamas this morning, exploring life outside the barn

On Tuesday afternoon, Dorothy had a ram lamb (a boy).  Joey found him after work, on his feet and trying to head-butt Molly.  Only an hour into the world and he's already taking after his father, Dodge, the head-butt king.  I call him Dodge Jr., Junior for short.  Joey thought we should name him ToTo, as in Dorothy and Toto from the Wizard of Oz.

Because we don't have a lot of use for boys since Dodge seems to get the job done pretty well, we're not too sure what we are going to do with any boys that we get this year.  Last year, we tried to list our two merino boys on Craigslist in the fall hoping someone would want to add them to their flock or a kid would like to raise one of them for 4-H.  I posted signs around town, but no one was interested and we couldn't have them in the same pasture when we put Dodge in with the girls.  So we had to make the decision to send them to the livestock auction.  Our neighbor took them with some of his sheep.  A few weeks later we got a check in the mail.

The two merino boys last fall, before going to market

I hated doing it.  Not knowing where they'd end up.  Knowing they would probably go to a feed lot to get fattened up to be eaten.  A sad day for a vegetarian shepherdess.

So this year, I am trying not to get too attached.  But it's very hard when they are born looking like this:

Junior, about an hour after birth on Tuesday

And yet, even though we are only on our second year of lambing, I can't imagine a spring without lambs on our farm.  The anticipation of waiting for the arrival of lambs, the miracle of their births, and the joy they bring with their little wooly faces and gangly legs.  I have yet to see more than the last few minutes of a lamb's birth, but the moments after are beautiful.  The instinct between the ewe and her lamb is so powerful.  The fact that the ewe can labor by herself, on the ground, and deliver a lamb without help and then immediately start to clean it off and protect it from danger is absolutely amazing.  Fortunately so far we have been lucky in that none of the ewes have needed help with delivering their lambs.  Ideally, one of us would be home all day so we could watch and make sure, but neither of us can leave our jobs right now to wait on lambs.  And so they bring them into the world on their own.  We trim their umbilical cords and give them a dose of liquid nutrients, and their mothers do the rest. 

April, sticking close to mom, Margaret

Who can resist that wrinkly, pink lambie?  

I'm off work tomorrow for Good Friday, so I will be home with the sheep in case any are born tomorrow.  Although, who knows?  I've thought Susan was going to pop every day for the last week and she's still hanging in there.  Maybe today's her day.  We'll see when I get home.

Monday, April 2, 2012


I'm back from Hawaii and back at work.  My brain is still on vacation.  I have lots of catching up to do, but until then, I just wanted to share this lovely addition to our flock!

I was quite surprised this morning when I took Jip out for a walk around the yard.  He walked near the sheep pasture and startled the ewes and when they started running, I spotted a little lamb running with them!  I didn't even take a second look before I ran with Jip on the leash to put him in the house and grab our lambing kit.  For the last few weeks a canvas bag containing iodine, lamb nutrients, and long plastic gloves (may I never have to use them) has been waiting patiently on our back porch for the arrival of this year's lambs.  I grabbed a pair of dull scissors, the bottle of iodine, a Rt. 66 shot glass, the bottle of nutridrench, and my cell phone.  Once in the barnyard I was able to see that the lamb belonged to Margaret, who protectively stomped her foot when I came near, and that the lamb was a girl!  I picked up the lamb so that her mama would follow and put them into the lambing pen inside the barn.  Despite all of Margaret's feisty stomping, I was able to grab baby and trim her umbilical cord and dip it in iodine and get a shot of nutridrench in her mouth for some energy and nutrients.

Then I had to call Joey and tell him about the new baby in the barnyard.  And text my mom, dad, and sister.  My Dad asked if I had named her yet, and I told him no, so he chose the name April.  Next, I got  fresh water for Margaret and some hay for her to eat and let them be for a while.  When I found the lamb this morning, she was already dried off and on her feet but I wasn't sure if she had drank milk yet.  Usually when lamb's are full, their bellies are round and they look less wrinkly and she didn't look very full.  But when I peeked through the window at them later, the lamb was under her mom, with her little tail wagging.  Usually the lamb's tail wagging is a good indication that they are getting milk.  

When I get home from work today I will have to get in the pen with Margaret and make sure that her udders are clear of wool and actually producing milk.  She's so stompy that I wanted to give her a while before I actually try to get up in her business.  Last year, Margaret lambed twins, a boy and a girl and the girl only survived a few days.  We weren't sure what happened, if she wasn't getting enough milk, or if she was just not healthy when she was born, but she never thrived and wouldn't even take a bottle of milk replacer.  So hopefully we have better luck with this little girl.  It's great to add another ewe to the flock since we lost Phyllis earlier this year.  

I'm so glad the ewes waited until I was back from vacation to start lambing...even if it is really late in the season!  Hopefully Jip will start behaving better now that I am back home...I got some bad behavior reports from Joey while I was gone.