Tuesday, October 22, 2013


One thing I never thought I'd be doing at this point in my life it teaching! I've been doing quite a bit of it with my Artist In Residency at Longfellow School is Bozeman, the classes through tart in the Emerson and a few personal classes here and there. I got a call from a home-schooling mom who asked if I would do a pumpkin class! Of course I would! What fun! So she put it out on the "wires" and we had a great turn out. We used the Dry Creek School house. It's always fun for me to see that place filled with kids. That's what it was built for, after all. Built in 1901. It's the same place we have our annual Christmas in the Country show. Here are some pics of the kids and moms making their pumpkins. Some made Pumpkin Moonshines, some just made pumpkins. I had my Tasha Tudor book along to share too, "Pumpkin Moonshine".

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Need a hot shower?

I guess I am blogging with the seasons here. Ha! My last post was spring and now summer is about to sneak in on us. I always dread June 21 because from here on out the daylight gets shorter. I love the change of seasons though. We a fortunate that way! So my real reason for logging on here was to tell you about our new shower in the shower house! It's propane-fired, so it's a heat-on-demand shower! It's really quite lovely. I've showered out there twice now and it's very refreshing. The only thing wrong with it is that you don't want to get out of it!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Spring has Sprung!

It's funny how the calendar can change and all of a sudden things start happening! The man who had about 25 of our acres leased for the past few year moved to Idaho to take a new job. They are great people and great neighbors and land tenants and will be missed. This marks the first time in the history of this generation of Stuckys that our land is actually OUR LAND! It's very exciting, actually. We've always had part of it leased out during the 28 + years that we've owned the place. Chris's parents leased it out as well. Chris and his dad have been busy fencing. His dad is 91 and you can't keep him from it! Most days he's just itching to do something, so we just let him. As I type this, there is a very big tractor in the field plowing and getting the land ready to seed. We have decided to plant sainfoin. If you aren't familiar with it, google it or Montana Seed, Inc. They have some gorgeous pictures on their website. The biggest reason we decided to go with it is because there are no worries about bloat. You can graze your animals directly on it. I also started lambing today. I have not sheared yet, however. This is not really the way I like things to go, but you don't mess with Mother Nature. When lambs are ready, they come, shearing or not. I did have to assist in this birthing. The first lamb had one front foot back and then right beside its little white nose were 2 black feet! Huh? Oops, both were trying to come out at once, so nothing was happening. I pulled the white lamb first. It was a boy. Then came the black girl, backwards. I called Chris's dad to see if he would come out and hold the ewe while I trimmed the wool on her belly and around her teats. The lambs are both doing fine this evening. I had to be in Bozeman today for a needle felting project at Hawthorne School. It was an early release day and I was called to do a project with the kids. We made owls. Fun! There were others there who wanted to make them, but with limited supplies and time, I will go back in May. While in Bozeman I got a text message from the company I use to host the sheep wagons, . As it turns out, I got my first double booking for the wagons, yes BOTH AT ONCE for 8 nights! I am over the moon! It's been a long haul here on the farm. Chris was out of work for so long which really forced us to recreate ourselves. It's been at least 4 years since we redid the first wagon. I guess it's time for a change! I am feeling very blessed and very thankful. My best bud, Champ, with the new lamb.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Almost Shearing Time

Mid March brings many things. St. Patrick's Day and then my birthday and not too farm after that the first day of Spring! Along with that is shearing time here. I put my ram in with my ewes on Halloween, trick-or-treat, and should start lambing in April. I had one little brown Shetland Ewe who was getting quite large. She was to the point of waddling. I was nervous and excited to see how many she would have, but I will never know. I came home last night after dinner out for my birthday and she was dead. I don't know why, but I suspect it's because of something called "cast". Here's what Sheep 101 says about it: Cast sheep. A sheep that has rolled over onto its back is called a "cast" sheep. It may not be able to get up without assistance. This happens most commonly with short, stocky sheep with full fleeces on flat terrain. Heavily pregnant ewes are most prone. Cast sheep can become distressed and die within a short period of time if they are not rolled back into a normal position. When back on their feet, they may need supported for a few minutes to ensure they are steady. Heavily laden with lambs! That she was. So sad. I decided to shear her this morning with a pair of scissors and try to salvage her wool. I can tell you that shearing a dead ewe with lambs in her belly is not a pleasant experience. I don't write this for pity or sympathy, I write this to let you know what we go through sometimes with these living, breathing things. Soon the lambs will be popping and bring joy and new life once again to the farm. The circle of life.

Monday, February 4, 2013


'Tis owl season here on the farm. A blessing and a curse. If any of you know me, you know I have a love/hate relationship with them. We have had a pair nest here for at least the last 3 winters. They are Great Horned Owls and I have dubbed them Harold and Maude. The first year they had one baby and I named him Fuzzybutt. Last year I think there was only one as well, but I didn't get to see it much, just the day it flew away. They are really pretty fascinating creatures. They breed in late January or early February and are often heard calling to each other regularly as early in the fall as October. They choose a mate by December and are often heard duetting before this time. The male attracts the attention of his mate by hooting emphatically while leaning over (with the tail folded back) and puffing up his white throat to look like a ball. The female hoots back when the pair meet but is more subdued in both her hoot and display. Pairs typically breed together year after year and may mate for life, although they associate with each other more loosely when their young become mostly independent. Like all owls, Great Horned Owls do not build their own nest. They often take over a nest used by some other large bird, sometimes adding feathers to line the nest but usually not much more. This year I was fortunate enough to see them mate. It was interesting to hear their chatter during their interlude. Their eggs are shaped almost like a ping pong ball. Not quite perfectly round and there are typically 2 eggs in the clutch, sometimes more. The incubation period ranges from 28 to 37 days, averaging 33 days. The female alone does all the incubation and rarely moves from the nest, while the male owl captures food to bring to her. Brooding is almost continuous until the offspring are about 2 weeks old, after which it decreases. The male feeds both the female and the young for around 2 weeks after hatching. Young owls move onto nearby branches at 6 weeks and start to fly about a week later. However, the young are usually not competent fliers until they are about 10 to 12 weeks old. The offspring have still been seen begging for food in late October (5 months after leaving the nest) and most do not separate from their parents until right before they start to reproduce for the next clutch (usually December). Birds may not breed for another year or two, and are often vagrants ("floaters") until they establish their own territories. This is Fuzzybutt in the tree at about 6 weeks old, I presume. I was able to get within touching distance of him, but he hissed at me. The next day he was gone. He had been hopping from branch to branch up until this point and then he took his maiden voyage to the trees back in our slough. He sat there all day that day and then went further West the next day. After that I never saw him.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Zen of Goat Milking

There are days, which I wish I had more of, when I am out milking my goats in the morning and nothing else seems to matter. I get lost in thought, lost in time, lost in the rhythm of milking the goat. My mind wanders away and sometimes I get my best ideas out there. It really is a lovely feeling. I am sure you've experienced it too, maybe just during another time. Crafting comes to mind. I call it a craft coma. When you're working away at something and time just gets lost. Eerily, it happens to me in the car too. Sometimes I can be so deep in thought I arrive at my destination with no real recollection of the trip and I have just driven the car!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Morning Chores

Today was a beautiful day here in SW Montana. It was a bit on the chilly side, but very invigorating. I was having a face book discussion with some friends about milking goats and I said, "Call me crazy, but my favorite time to milk my goats is when it's cold out." Yes, one did call me crazy, but I will tell you why. Having my goats forces me to get up in the morning and go outside. For me it would be very easy to "hermit" myself away in this house all winter and not go out much. My animals and especially the goats force me out to get started with my day, every day, cold or hot, wind or rain, sun or snow....it matters not to the animals. Just imagine a frosty cold morning. Let's say it's Christmas Day and all of the world is quiet and still, with a coating of fresh snow covering the ground. My animals all look at me and watch me approach the barn, the goats vying for attention first. They want to be fed and let you know it. The sheep lay quietly waiting. One goat in the stanchion, I pull off my gloves and expose my hands to the frosty air. I plunge them into the bucket of hot water and wash the goat's udder. Then I begin milking, her body giving warmth to mine as I sit beside her. From her udder flows fresh, warm milk and on this morning it will be shared with the chickens. The ones that sleep in the rafters of the barn already have this figured out and soon they will show up for a tasty treat, walking around me and the goat with one eye cocked up. On this particular morning I decide to talk to them. Not in my language, but in theirs. I find myself sitting on my milk stool, milking my goat and clucking like a hen. If anyone were to walk into my barn just then, they'd surely suggest I be committed, but for me to talk to the animals is a life-long dream and I am living the dream. Every day is Christmas.