Look Who Dropped By

Virginia and I were just finishing up at the barn one evening, having just put the chickens in the coop, when I heard my husband yelling from up at the house. He seemed to be pointing right at us and I couldn’t understand what he was saying. Then I heard him yell “LOOK, LOOK!” and realized he was pointing just above our heads. I turned around to see a GIANT hot air balloon coming over the chicken coop.

It was so fantastic; I could almost reach up and touch it. All I could think to do was yell “Hello!” and started laughing and screaming with excitement. The chickens were going crazy in the coop and the dogs were losing it up at the house. It was getting lower and heading for the house when I finally realized that the pilot was asking for permission to land. I yelled back “Of course!” and then heard him say something about sheep. I looked into the pasture by the house where the balloon was headed and the sheep were scampering about in one direction then another. I called them to the barn and then realized that I had a camera in my phone and should take some pictures.

Fortunately, Virginia was ahead of me.

The pilot missed the pasture he has headed for because, as he later explained. he was worried about landing on the sheep. The balloon looked like it was headed straight for the house but as it got lower, I saw it go through the ruin onto the back yard.

“You’re landing in the ruin!”

And there it was, towering over the house and cider house. Without any control over this massive blob, the pilot had managed to just barely miss the fence, the stone ruin, the house and the cider house. I just stood there in disbelief.

The Landing

We all introduced ourselves and the pilot asked for our address so he could give it to the driver of the truck that was trying to keep up with the balloon. But now what? There’s no room in the yard to deflate it. They needed to get it back over the fence and into the pasture. While the pilot raised the basket off of the ground, Virginia and one of the passengers tugged the basket toward the fence, which was unfortunately going back against the wind.

Once the balloon is in the pasture, the pilot let the hot air cool and the balloon starts to deflate. The basket is then tipped over and the crew laid it out and folded it up.

In all the excitement, I barely heard my husband looking for one of the dogs. Red didn’t seem to be anywhere. We started to worry that she had gotten out of the yard when we opened the gate for the truck. So we missed the final loading of the balloon while we searched for Red. But we waved goodby and I thanked them for the most exciting day I had had in years. They left us a bottle of champagne.

I went down to the barn to check on the sheep and found them huddled up against the barn. They were very happy to go in. We finally found Red under the porch. She refused to come out until adequately bribed. The next morning, when I let the dogs out, they looked up at the sky to see if the monster was still there.

Spring at Last

After this long, cold, scary winter, it’s wonderful to be able to go outside without a winter coat and boots. Of course there were some bright spots in the fall. breeding season was fairly smooth. But Priss kept coming back into heat so she could spend more time with her handsome ram, Briar.

Priss and Briar

The sunset came earlier and earlier but with the flies gone we could switch to deep bedding so we didn’t mind putting the sheep to bed earlier.

Glorious Sunsets Every Night

Virginia devised a contact-free feeding system using a large funnel and some pipes for Briar and his buddies for when I was feeding on my own. Briar figured it out real fast.

Briar with the new feeding system

With the heavy snowfall all the sheep could do was stand outside their shed in a small cleared patch. It was a great relief when it melted.

Finally the snow melted

When it wasn’t too cold there would be lots of snuggling. Stirling still liked to climb in my lap.

Out of boredom Stirling taught himself a trick.

Stirling’s Trick

Finally April came and the lambs began arriving. Last year we had bred late and got five ram lambs. This year, we decided to test the theory that you get more ewe lambs if you breed early. It worked! All girls. The first to deliver was Ella and this time she decided she would let the lamb nurse so no more headlocks. We named the lamb Billie and she is just as friendly as her brother Stirling.

The next day we stepped out of the shed and the was our first time mother, Little Bit in labor in the yard. She had twins with very straight, black fleeces. They will probably turn grey just like their mother. And like their mother, they are very shy. They are Trixie and Mimi.

The last to arrive was Savannah’s little girl, Taylor. Her chocolate fleece will probably turn light like her mother as well.

As adorable as these little girls are we still had lots of the animals needing some loving. It’s a full time job.

Then there are the worst dogs ever.

Nothing tires them out

Life with Chickens

When we first bought our new place last summer there was no fencing or accommodations for our Dominique and Orpington chickens; just a field, a wood shed and large pole barn.

So among the first ten things we had to do was convert the wood shed into a chicken coop and build a run. For this Virginia had lots of help.

Now this is what I see every morning. Every. Morning.

Then it’s time for watermelon and cucumber.

Of course, once we get those finished it’s time to get more chickens – Americanas this time.

But one chicken is still not happy with the chicken palace. Phyllis prefers the hay bucket.

Smudge prefers my lap.

Then in the heat of the summer they get their shade where they they can

The base of this pine tree has the best soil for dirt baths.

Now we have Cochins, Blue Marins and “olive eggers”, oh my. Virginia never saw a chick she didn’t like.

We have moved the older Cochins from the cages in the garage to their own apartment in the run. The younger ones will join them soon. Ivy is keeping guard.

Fortunately, the egg business is doing well. Almost covers the farm assessment requirement.