Sunday, November 17, 2013

As things continue to go pear shaped...

We currently have no chickens.  This feels odd, since we've had chickens for years and years and years.
Something scared away and/or killed all our chickens.  The Prime Suspect is a large dog that appears in our yard occasionally.  We have no idea what irresponsible jackass owns it and doesn't see fit to keep it safely at home.  We've alerted our local Animal Control Officer (a wonderful woman whom we both dearly love and respect) and she's watching for it. 
But that doesn't get us our chickens back.  Our old Rhode Island Reds.  Our not-Buff Orpingtons.  Our Black Australorps.  Our brand-new Barred Rocks.  All gone.
We won't be able to get new chicks until spring.
And they won't start laying until they mature next fall.
We're going to have to buy eggs for the first time in umpteen years.
I'm so depressed...

Friday, October 4, 2013

All One Big Happy Family Flock

We had A Plan.
(Hey!  Who said "Never learn..."?  Oh.  All of you.  Well.  Okay, then.)
Somewhere in the next month or so, we were going to move the ewes (Goldie, Onyx, Abigail, and Tiny) up to the boys' pen, so we'd have lambs next spring.  And, you know, just for a change, we'd know who the Daddy was.
We forgot to share the details of The Plan with the sheep, however.
Yesterday afternoon, we heard the ewes and lambs start a huge blatting ruckus out front.  It was too early for supper (not that that would make much of a difference, actually.  In their world, it's always time for supper.  Or breakfast.  Or both.), but this didn't sound like the usual feed-me chorus, anyway.  We ran for the windows to see what was up.  Madman saw it first.
"Oh, ****.  They're out."  And he ran for the door.  I didn't even bother to keep looking to see who was out;  I just ran for my boots and followed him outside.
The boys were out.  They were checking out the girls through the fence.  Not good.  We've had a few adventures with the boys being out, over the past summer.  (Once they went half a mile up the road to visit the neighbors.  Took us most of the afternoon to catch them and bring them home...) 
Madman made a grab for them a couple of times, but they weren't going to let him catch them, and took off running.
He headed them off from going down the driveway, and sent them around the girls' pen, following close behind.  I went the other way around to cut them off, so we could herd them back up the hill toward their pen.  But, instead of running away from me, they came right up to me and let me grab them both. 
"Oh, sure."  Madman snorted. 
"Want one?"  I asked.
"I'll take the one with handles," he said, and grabbed Orion.  Merlin then broke away from me and headed on around the pen.  (And what I was thinking when I grabbed them both to begin with, I'll never know.  Either one of them could drag me away, and both of them together could probably launch me...)
The Tug of War of the Century had now commenced.  While Madman and Orion are evenly matched for stubborn, Madman has the weight advantage and can usually carry the day.
However, Orion has a lower center of gravity and four legs to brace with, and he had clearly decided that he was Not. Going. Back. To. My. Pen.
There wasn't much I could do to help.  What with all the flailing elbows and horns, I didn't want to get anywhere near them.
"He's not gonna move. What do you think about just putting them in with the girls?" 
"Well, it's October,"  I said.  I counted off the months on my fingers.  "November, December, January, February, March.  I've got no problem with lambs in March."
Done deal. 
Orion, who was tiring a bit at this point, but not nearly enough to make it possible to drag him all the way back up to his pen, was a little less resistant when he saw me opening the gate to the girls' pen.  The phrase 'rocket-powered' comes to mind.
Once inside, he was the happiest ram on earth.  Girls to the right of him!  Girls to the left of him!  Girls, girls, girls!  Everywhere girls!
It's fall, you see.  Mating season.  Getting into the girls' pen was the whole reason he'd gotten out of his pen.
Merlin still needed to be rounded up, and he led Madman a merry chase.  He couldn't find his bosom buddy Orion, and didn't know what to do or where to run.  (He's easily confused, our Merlin.  Not the sharpest thumbtack on the bulletin board, if you know what I mean.)
Finally, though, we persuaded him to join the rest of the gang, and everyone settled in for supper.  Though Orion kept getting distracted from the food, because Girls!!
Our next step will to be to pull the lambs out and put them in the erstwhile boys' pen (after figuring out how the boys escaped and fixing it, of course.) 

But that's A Plan for another day...

Sunday, September 15, 2013

This is beyond awesome...

If you're not familiar with the movie, go get familiar.  Now.  You can thank me later.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

So, I know the suspense has just been killing you...

The adventure my daughters took me on was a trip to Corning Museum of Glass, in Corning, NY.

(More about Chihuly's Fern Green Tower here and here.)

 We saw fascinating exhibits and dazzling demonstrations.  Stop and think a moment about how much glass there is in your life, from window panes to wineglasses, from prisms to pyrex.  Glass is an amazing medium, spanning the strictly utilitarian to the breathtakingly beautiful.  If you're ever in upstate NY, don't miss an opportunity to visit the museum.

But wait, there's more.  Because they also treated me to classes. 
And that's where the superhero costume comes into the story.  Because glass is HOT...

 Here I'm getting a taste of glassblowing.

The nice young man does all the ya-gotta-know-what-you're-doing work.  My job is just to puff on the blowpipe and make a bubble in the glass.

Reheating to keep the glass soft.

 Hey, look!  I made a bubble!  And don't be fooled by the red and orange - that's just the heat talking.  The actual colors of the glass are blue and purple.  (And clear.  Clear is a color, as I learned that day.)

Now for a little more knowing-what-you're-doing stuff by the nice young man (and I did ask him his name at the time, but I didn't think to write it down, so I've forgotten it.  He told me he'd been working with glass for 6 years, and had been with the museum for about 3 months.)  He's making a flat base on my bubble, and pulling a decorative top.

Tada.  That's a glass ball full of my breath.

Cool, hunh?

And there's more!

While I only needed goggles for the glassblowing, since there wasn't any 'hand-on' stuff, for this part I needed to be all geared up with safety stuff.  Sleeves, gloves, and goggles.  They even had foot protectors available for people who had showed up in sandals or flipflops.

This time I get to do some actual shaping...

 and more pinching...
and pulling...
and twisting...

And when it was all cooled off, it looked like this:

 For the third and final class of the day, we all got to play:  My two daughters, my granddaughter, and I all made glass beads, using a torch.  This was the biggest decision process of the day.  I'd picked a couple of colors each time for the previous projects, but this time, we had to choose 3 colors, a shape, a size, and a pattern for our bead.  The decisions were almost impossible - there were tons of gorgeous colors to choose from, several patterns which were all appealing, and round? Square?  Triangular?  So hard...

In this photo, you can see some of the colors we had available.  That's my oldest girl on the left, being assisted by her designated Redshirt.  And I was very glad that each of us had someone right at hand, as we fiddled with molten glass, playing with a torch that was burning at 1000's of degrees F.  (And all the Redshirts survived the mission!  Must be a first...)

 There's my youngest girl (in orange) and my granddaughter on the extreme right.  I had to stand behind a railing out of the way while I waited for my turn, so couldn't get any pictures of their beadwork in action.

And here's an out-of-focus picture of my bead.  (Sorry, that's the best of a sad lot.)  I chose white for my background, and purple and green for my accents, round, medium, and swirly.

 Here's a photo with my hand for scale.  (And yes, I have a boo-boo on my thumb.  Though it was a kitchen injury, not a glassblowing injury.)

Then, as if the workshops weren't enough, we visited the galleries and saw 3500 years of glass.  From ancient Egyptian glass (where a couple of guys playing with melting sand Changed the World Forever) to Roman glass to Medieval glass to Renaissance glass to Modern glass, and every age in between, with examples from every region of the world.  Glass!  Beautiful glass!  Mindblowing glass!

Makes me want to take up some new hobbies.  I'm sure Madman wouldn't mind if I put a glass furnace in the kitchen, right?


Friday, August 23, 2013


Well, the hinges on the door seem a bit rusty, and there's definitely a lot of dust on the windowsills, but I'll get the blog shipshape in no time...
It's been a busy summer.  After endless soul sucking rain in June and a good bit of July, the sun finally came out.  And then it got too hot and humid to breathe.

So, a summary of summer:
Madman heard a report that we'd had 21 days of rain in June.  I honestly don't recall there being 9 days without rain - I'd put it closer to 3.  Maybe 4, tops.
So the garden is an abject failure this year.  What didn't wash away, rotted in the ground.  The soil was usually too wet to work (and was always too wet to work on my days off), so the only thing growing out there is grass and ragweed.  And 6 corn plants.  And I found a beet the other day.
Not a banner year for gardening.
The goldfinch finally gave up around the end of July.  My guess is he finally suffered a terminal concussion.
Something has been eating our laying hens and got one of our adult turkeys.  We're not sure if it's a skunk, a raccoon, or a fox - all have been seen lurking around here at one time or another.  We've revamped fencing.  Again.
There have been numerous sheep escapes - some more harrowing than others.  (I'll share a few in a later post.)
We lost a mama rabbit, but gained 12 baby rabbits. 
All 12 of our Barred Rocks have survived, and are almost ready to join the remnants of our laying flock, once we're certain that we've thwarted whatever carnivore is out there.  There are several roosters in the crowd, who don't know that they're auditioning for the role of Only Rooster in the Coop.  (The ones who get voted off the island will end up in the freezer.)
All 15 turkeys are also still with us.  They've still got some growing to do.  There's been some gobbling starting to go on out there, so we're hoping there's a male or two for our future breeding flock.
I had a lovely vacation, with family visits, yarn, bubble blowing, and a RenFair.

And I had a major milestone birthday.  One of those that end in zero.  There weren't any party hats or balloons, but my daughters kidnapped me and took me on an adventure.  And, as with all really good adventures, I got to wear a superhero costume.
Anyone care to hazard a guess?

Friday, June 7, 2013

If it wasn't for the wildlife, I'd have no life at all...

Earlier this week, I was getting ready to get ready for work when I heard a tap-tapping noise.  I listened for a bit, then heard it again.  Tap tap tappity tap.  It seemed to be coming from our bedroom.
"Now what?"  I thought.  (I may have also sighed.  It's becoming a habit.)
I went to stand in the bedroom, waiting for a repetition.  Silence.  Then tap tap tap.  I was looking around trying to trace the source when a movement at the window caught my eye.
There was a male goldfinch trying to come in the window.  Through the glass.  The tapping noise was his beak hitting the window pane, as he tried to push his way through whatever strange force field was holding him back.  Tap tap tap.  Tap tappity tap.  He'd drop back and rest for a bit on a branch of the lilac bush just outside the window, then fly up and back at it.
Tap tap.  Tap tappity tap.  Tap tap tap tap tap.
Persistent little devil.
He kept it up for two hours.
He must have had a hellacious headache by that time.  I considered texting Madman, who was already at work, but thought "Oh, no, he'll never believe this one..."   I did tell him about it that night when I got home, and he just grinned and shook his head.  Me and my exotic friends.

This morning, Mr Goldfinch was back.  At 6:15am.  This time Madman saw him, too, so it's not just me and my strange encounters.
Silly bird was still at it when we left for work.

I wonder if the weasel told him what a nice place we have...

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Anatomy of a Tootsie Bucket

Every year I set up a Tootsie Bucket with a cherry or pear tomato, and every year afterward I do a facepalm and remember that I was going to actually document it this time.
Hey, I finally remembered!
For the back story, see that first link where I explain how the bucket got its name.  It's a self-watering container that my dad made me a kit for years ago, and I've been using it ever since.
And now I'm going to show you how to make one, too.

This is last year's bucket, with a Riesentraube cherry tomato planted in it.  I set it handy to the deck, so I could grab a tomato or two on the way by.

So, let's roll up our sleeves and get started!

First you'll need a bucket.  Mine is a five gallon pickle bucket, which you can sometimes get from your favorite restaurant for the asking.  (If they garnish their plates with a pickle, they'll probably have a bunch of leftover buckets kicking around.)  If all else fails, you can buy a bucket at the hardware store.  Four gallon bucket, five gallon bucket, doesn't really matter.  My dad has even used plastic storage tubs that he got a good deal on.
Drill a hole in the side about 5 inches up from the bottom.

Next you'll need some lengths of pvc pipe.  (If you're lucky, you've got some scraps just laying around.  Or one of your friends does.  Ask around.)  The longer piece is for the fill pipe and is the 1" diameter size - you'll need a piece that's a couple of inches longer than the bucket is tall.  The shorter wider piece is 3" diameter and about 6" long.  Dad cut a series of slits in one side of this (probably using the same chop saw that he used to cut the pipe itself.)  Since you've still got the drill handy from drilling the hole in the bucket, you could just drill a bunch of holes in the pipe instead.
(And I'll point out here that I've been using these parts for many years now, so they're stained and grungy looking.)

Next you'll need some rocks.  I use some that I originally picked out of our driveway.   Every year I rinse them off and re-use them.  You'll need enough to fill the bucket to a depth of 4-5 inches.  Small rocks, pea gravel, whatever.

 And since you've got rocks, you'll need paper and scissors as well, of course.  (Sorry, no lizard or Spock.)

Cut the bottom off a brown paper bag, then cut out a circle as big around as your bucket.  Don't sweat this too much - it doesn't have to be exact.  I usually just cut a square roughly the right size, fold it into quarters, then into eighths, and cut off the pointy corners.  Unfold and you've got a circle.  Ish.

 Now fold it up again because you forgot you actually needed a donut.  Cut a hole in the center roughly 3" in diameter.  Ish.

Now, some assembly required.  Set the 3" pipe roughly centered in the bottom of the bucket.  Stand the fill pipe up next to the edge.  (Note:  I discovered that it's a good idea to put the fill pipe somewhere near the hole in the side of the bucket.  I'll explain why later.)
Carefully dump in your rocks around the pipes, leaving the 3" pipe empty.
(And I got to this point with this the other day, then had to bail because a sudden thunderstorm blew in.  I ran into the house just in time for the power to go out.  High winds, rain, crash boom zap.  You know.  Spring.  So the rest of the photos were taken today, as I finally got back to the project.  There's about an inch of water in the bottom of the bucket in the following photo, leftover from the storm.  I decided there was no point in dumping it out, since I'd just be filling the bottom of the bucket with water later anyway.)

Now, take that circle (ish) that you cut out earlier and push it down into the bucket, fitting the center hole around the 3" pipe and tucking the edge around the fill pipe.  (You could cut out an area for the fill pipe, but it's really not worth the trouble.)

At this point, you can dump some time-release fertilizer on top of the paper circle.  I thought I had some, but couldn't find it, so I skipped that step.  It's optional anyway.  It just means that I'll water with a fertilizer solution now and then over the summer, instead.)

Now, mix up a big bowl of dirt.  I used a combination of garden soil and compost, about half and half.  Use what you've got - garden soil with potting mix, compost, whatever.
And this next part is very important.  If you're small like me, set the bucket where you're going to want it to be for the rest of the summer.  It's about to get very heavy, and unless you've got someone strong to move it for you, you're going to be stuck with it In. That. Spot.

Fill up your bucket.  Don't pack it down - just fluff it in.  Stop about an inch or so from the top.

Now we put the cover on.  I use a circle (ish) of black plastic that is on its 4th year or so.  It's enough bigger than the top of the bucket that it hangs down 4 or 5 inches all around.  There's an X cut for the fill pipe to fit through, and an X in the center for the plant to fit through.  Tie it down with a couple of turns of string.  I used jute twine, but anything will work.  Twine, string, rubber bands.  Whatever you've got.  Duct tape would probably work, too.

The view from the top.

Now slap a tomato plant in there and you're good to go.

Now, grab the garden hose, fill with water through the fill pipe until you see water starting to drip out the hole in the side of the bucket.  And that's why I advised you to put the fill pipe near the hole - so you could see what was going on.  (I didn't do that the first year - I had to keep peeking around to the back of the bucket to see if it was full yet.)


This year, I've got a Sweet 100 cherry tomato that I bought at Agway, since we didn't get any heirloom cherry tomatoes started.
But I'm still going to call it a Tootsie Bucket, since Sweet 100 Bucket just doesn't have the same ring to it...

Monday, May 27, 2013

Hey! It finally quit raining!

But the sheep are on the new pasture, with plenty of grass to take their attention, and Abigail wouldn't come over with her lamb.
This was the best picture I could get.
At least you can see the black legs and tail, and the raccoon mask.
I think he looks like he's wearing musketeer boots...

Saturday, May 25, 2013

And that makes five.

I've been taking my camera out each morning when I do chores, hoping that Abigail would finally get on with it and have that lamb.  Day after day, no lamb.  She just kept getting bulgier and bulgier with no end in sight.  Not off her feed.  Not pawing the ground.
This morning, I forgot to grab the camera on the way out the door.
I was pitching hay and talking to the girls when I realized there was a strange lamb walking around in the shelter, and Abigail was standing there with a puzzled look on her face.

I ran back inside, texted Madman (who was at work), grabbed the camera, and ran back out.  By that time, the lamb had lain down, so I couldn't get a good picture, but here's for starters, anyway.
It's still a little gunky and yellow.  Abigail isn't like her sister, Tiny, who licked her lamb spotless.  ("My lamb is gonna be shiny!")  Abigail is more like her mother, Onyx, who gives some token licks and says "Hey, good enough."
I had to go to work, but I figured I'd get some more pictures when I got home.  But by that time, it was pouring rain, I was tired, and just couldn't face going out with the camera in a 40 degree rain.
The lamb is adorable - black tail and legs, black polka dots (including one giant one) on its back, white ears and face with a black raccoon mask.

Unfortunately, it's a boy.

I was really really hoping it would be a girl.  But somebody had to break the string of girl lambs we'd had so far, I guess.  (I'd just been joking with Madman last night that Abigail would screw it up by having twin ram lambs.  I only missed it by one...)

Here's a picture of Goldie's little girl that I took yesterday.  And it looks like Goldie is going to continue in her history of being a helicopter mom.  She follows her lamb around like a shadow, and chases the other lambs away when they come to ask if Sweetikins can come out to play.

I caught this picture when Goldie and the other moms were busy eating, and the lambs were all happily bouncing and dancing and racing each other.  Though Goldie soon put a stop to that when she suddenly realized her lamb was out there having fun.
"You sit your woolly butt right down there while I eat my breakfast.  Don't pay any attention to those hooligans - they'll only get you into trouble."
Did you know that lambs can sigh?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Well, let's add 'midwife' to my resume...

Of the sheepy persuasion, anyway.
I grew up with sheep.  When I was a kid, my folks raised Suffolks, and we had quite a good-sized flock.  Mom was the Chief Midwife during lambing season, heading out every couple of hours to check on ewes and drag them into the barn from whatever snowbank they had decided to lamb in.  I sat more than one vigil with her back in those days, waiting for a lamb, helping the ewe through a rough time.
But that was over 40 years ago.

Goldie had a hard time.

I knew when I went out to feed the sheep this morning that she was very very close to lambing.  Not only did she eat almost nothing (which is totally unlike her), she'd been quiet.  Normally she's leading the chorus of "The sun has been up for a whole 5 minutes, so where's breakfast?" with great enthusiasm and volume.
So a quiet Goldie is a spooky Goldie.
I checked her several times over the course of the morning and early afternoon.  She was doing a lot of pacing and pawing of the straw in their shelter - sure signs of impending lamb.  But there must be something in the air this year, since all the sheep are having their lambs in the daytime, instead of at night like they're supposed to.  Soon she was making a noise that spoke clearly "I'm experiencing some discomfort," and a sac of amniotic fluid had appeared.  That meant the lamb was due any minute..
But "I'm experiencing some discomfort" turned into "Giving birth really sucks" and still there was no lamb.  I was staying just out of sight, peeking at her to gauge how things were progressing without letting my presence upset her.  (Skittish, our Goldie is.  Not a people sheep at all.)  When the sounds turned into "Holy shit, someone help me!"  I went for a closer look.
Now normally, it's best not to intervene.  You can do more harm than good, without meaning to.  It's hard, but sometimes the best thing to do is just stand and watch.  And normally, sheep don't need any help.  But this wasn't one of those occasions.
Goldie, who should have been laying down and getting on with it at this point, was still on her feet and pacing.  And bellowing.  Worse, I could see a lamb head sticking out behind her, but no sign of legs.  Normal presentation is the front hooves first, followed by the nose, then here comes the rest of the lamb.
We've got trouble.
I ran inside to wash up - hands and arms to the elbow (because I might have to stick an arm in and fish for legs) - and ran back out.
Even though I approached her slowly and carefully, and even though she was clearly in huge distress, Goldie wouldn't let me get anywhere near her.  I kept softly crooning her name, trying to get close, but she would move out of reach as quickly as she could.  I didn't want to scare her any worse than she already was, so I finally stopped moving around and just kept quietly talking to her.
I think finally she decided that I wasn't the scariest thing in her life,  and approached me.  I could see at that point that there was one hoof sticking out a couple of inches, but no sign of the other leg, and both legs should have been out further than the lamb's nose.
The lamb looked like it was dead - strangled, probably, or just too crushed by the birth-gone-wrong.  Its eyes were lifeless and glazed.
I could hear my mother's voice in my head - "Okay, you've lost the lamb.  Now save the ewe."
Goldie was still crying and her eyes were wild, but she seemed to accept that I was there to help.  I gently grabbed hold of the head and exposed leg in one hand, and tried to fish around for the other leg, but she was straining too hard for me to do anything.
"Okay, girl," I said as she flopped herself down.  "You push, I'll pull, and we'll get this done."
And we did.
Once the shoulders cleared, the lamb popped right out onto the straw.
And amazingly, it kicked!
It wasn't dead!
I quickly cleared its nose and mouth of mucus, and let Goldie get on with the business of licking her little bundle of joy clean.

 I can't begin to express my relief at the sight of that little one raising its head.

I hung around to see if it would be able to stand.  That's where the non-intervention is advisable.  In assisting, all kinds of damage can be inadvertently done to the lamb - leg or joint damage, spinal damage - or to the ewe.
If a lamb can't stand, it can't nurse.  If it can't nurse, it dies.
It took a while - the poor little thing had a really rough entry - but finally it struggled to its feet.
And bigtime phew again!
Still don't know if it's a boy or girl - it was way too gaumy at first to check, and now I'm staying clear to let Goldie calm back down and bond with her lamb.  Just because I was her BFF when she was in extremis is no reason for her to really trust me now.
I'll get a peek soon, though.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

You knew there'd be more lamb pictures, right?

Here's our newest little one:

 She looks a little better all dried off.

One of Onyx's babies came up to investigate the strange lady squatting amongst the sheep.

And I managed to sneak up behind this little girl and scritch her under the ear.  She enjoyed the scritching right up until the moment that she realized she didn't know what was going on and looked over her shoulder.  Then she bolted to a couple of feet away and gave me such a Look..

We had a great time at NH S&W, looking at all the wonderful fiber.  I kept visualizing the multiple bags of fleece waiting for me at home in order to restrain myself from buying more fiber.

But this was the big find:

I have big plans...

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Make that eleven...

I had a surprise this morning when I went out to feed the sheep.  I thought Goldie would be next, but I was way off.

That's Tiny with her brand new lamb.  And literally brand new - she's about 15 minutes old in this picture, and already on her feet.  (When you're born to be prey, learning to walk as soon as possible is a really big deal.  Learn to run, live to breed.)
I'd really thought Goldie would be next, and that Tiny would be last, judging by their relative tummy and udder bulges.
Tiny looks like she's going to be a good mama.  She was licking and licking and licking this lamb, getting it all cleaned up.  At one point, the lamb got herself dirty, and Tiny sighed and started over...

It was hard to tear myself away, but it was NH Sheep and Wool today, and my daughter and I needed to hit the road.  (This is my Mother's Day treat every year - my girl takes me to NH S&W and we have a wonderful day ogling all the colors and textures and magic.)

So Happy Mother's Day, all, from all of us here including the newest mother, Tiny.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Well, at least it wasn't triplets this time...

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.  Ten sheep. Hahaha...

Onyx finally got tired of carrying all that extra weight and dropped a set of twins - cute little girls.

They're pretty much identical, except one has a couple of tiny white spots on her head

and the other doesn't.

They're still pretty scruffy looking.  Onyx isn't one of those wash-behind-your-ears kind of mothers.

I knew she was getting close.  Yesterday morning, when I fed the sheep, she kept stopping eating and wandering off by herself, staring blankly into space.
Onyx not solely focused on food?  Onyx not pushing and shoving to get at least her fair share and as much more as she could bully the other sheep out of?  I believe that might be one of the signs of the Apocalypse.
Or at least a sign that lambing is imminent.
I kept an eye on her all day, figuring that she would lamb during the night (as sheep always do) and that we'd have some results in the morning.  At 3:30, I left for work.
At 4:30, Madman came home and found Onyx with a very wet lamb.  Apparently she thinks the sheep-only-give-birth-in-the-dark-of-night rule is an old wives' tale.  He had to run a couple of quick errands (made even quicker by the fact that he was dying to get back home and see what was happening) and got back to find a second wet little lamb.  He kept a close watch, but this year she stopped at two.

Here's one of the two checking out Sauron.

 No, sweetie.  Not all black sheep are Mama.  No milk there.  That's your half-brother... um... daddy?.. um.... daddy's half-brother?... um...

There's only two relationships that we can swear to -
1.  Onyx is the mommy.
2.  Orion, since one of his two sons is the daddy, is the grandpa.

That's right, Orion.  Only 2 years old and you're a grandpa.

Say what?

After that, it gets complicated.