Monday, December 3, 2007
Boy, I'm not much of a blogger when the lambs are not growing anymore-- well, they are growing, but slowly now, and most of them went to live somewhere else. And I wonder. . . how they are doing. . . and how their new people are talking to them, enjoying them. . . as we are now in breeding season and there is a lot of activity out in the yard.
I have 5 different sheep "pens" set up-- meaning fields, usually, as small as 20x80', and as big as an acre and a half. Whatever I could do to provide shelter, separation from each other, and electricity for a heated water pail. Four breeding groups, meaning 4 rams got about 4 ewes apiece, and one pen of 3 little rams.
One is actually a wether-- does anyone need a fiber pet? He is coal black with a white star on his head, nice soft wool and very sweet. He's friendly, like a golden retriever, really! I don't know if I can justify keeping him forever, but he's made the cut so far.
Three of the breeding groups are getting along swimmingly, and one has in it Firth of Fifth Bourbon, who is BASHING woven wire fences and steel walls whenever the notion takes him! He is lucky he has this beautiful caramel colored fleece, or it would be off to Taylor Meats with him!
There are two weeks to go in breeding pens, and then I'll split them up. I won't use a cleanup ram this year, and if some ewes are open, c'est la vie! It hasn't happened to me yet.
Our household is the normal flurry of holiday preparations,and that reminds me, I should do some right now!
Thursday, November 8, 2007
The next year's offspring were twin boys-- both with nice, thick, crimpy gray fleece. One had a too long tail and is history; the other wins a little harem for this fall's breeding program.
Interesting, here are the two Little Red Oak rams being used this year: Bluebell's son, Mullein, and my Amy's son Alex. Mullein is all about fleece, Alex is all about horns and spots. Can you see the big difference in these guys' fleece?
I'm sure they will each have wonderful babies, just very different.(Remember, you can click on photos to see them up close).
Have a great Thursday.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
My ewes are butting heads in the pasture, presumably fighting over men-- I mean-- rams. Not that they get to be near any for 3 more weeks, I am seeing to that. But I think they are talking about it a lot-- making plans. One day I saw a gaggle of girls all facing north, looking through a gate-- I could only imagine-- to a gate on the north side of the windbreak, where two studly rams reside.
I think sometimes they get to talking about the fellas and some of them just get mad and fight.
This afternoon I got out the long extension cords and the electric buckets for all the sheepies' drinking water, because it's getting well below freezing tonight. I was so proud, I found them all! And added Christmas lights out by the ram pen, too. Those little white lights really brighten up the area when it's pitch dark and you have to haul water and hay to the animals.
I bought another rigid heddle loom from a Craigslist gal last night-- I wanted the floor stand she had with it, and the ball winder and warping board. Now I'm re-reading my weaving books and thinking of what I can do on a loom in these dark evenings since day light savings time is past. Whose wool to use? I have fallen in love with a plaid I saw out of the totally natural colors of our sheep, in white, gray, brown and black. Seems to me I have a lot of that wool around here.
I just don't have a lot to say. It's a quiet time of year. All I think about is getting the gardens tucked in, the lawn completely mowed for the last time, the leaves blown into the windbreak-- and might it still be possible to move some little trees out into the landscape from my vegetable garden?
Soon enough we'll be crazy with holiday preparations. It's a good life. Take care.
Monday, October 15, 2007
We were so lucky! The family who wanted to trade horses rode little KC over on Thursday, and rode Bell back to their stable. So smoothly transacted-- and with unregistered horses, you don't even need to sign any papers. Now we are happy to have this little, friendly horse. He is half POA (Pony of America)and half Morgan. We tried riding him on Saturday, and we could cinch the saddle up enough, but Bell's bridle could not be made small enough! So we just led little KC around the farmyard with Em on his back, and fed him treats for being a nice boy.
Monday, October 8, 2007
Well, here is the best thing that's happened in awhile; We found a little horse whose owner wanted to trade us for our bigger, younger, too-spirited horse. So KC will be the ride of choice at Little Red Oak Farm soon. Is that neat. I found him on Craigslist, and the owners board the little guy a mile away from me, so they rode him over to check out our mare, Bell. The young lady owner even knew my child and our horse's name! What a surprise and coincidence!
Another great first today was washing a fleece at home, with a wash machine. I've been meaning to get around to it. . .
But here it is, in its fluffy white spotted glory. It's Minwawe Chicklet's fleece-- a mostly white ewe with black eye spots (yuglet eyes) and gray flecket spots all over. I set up a washing machine on my driveway, piped hot water out to the washer, used Tide and pumped the exhaust water onto the crushed rock driveway! Worked pretty well.
Still so much to do! See you later in the Fall colors!
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Friday, September 21, 2007
Camera in hand, I crept out through the horse's pasture and looked through the fence for the pack of ramlings who live the furthest away from the house. They came running! I studied tails and horns and looked for straight backs and legs; they're all still developing, getting big, and breeding season isn't too far away, now!
The twins of Bluebell's, Mullein and Cohosh, two shades of gray ram, two types of horn, were acting far less timid than they'd been as youngsters.
Everyone's grown a lot; two who have damaged horns are growing new bits, though one is for naught, he's a cull animal due to a fuzzy tail. The other is Mullein, one of the Bluebell twins; his broken horn tip has made the horn curl in a way that looks dangerous to him in future months. That will be a wait-and-see situation; I still wonder if his horns are "aberrant", as the polled shetland breeders call it; light and weak horns--these sure break easily,
However, I want one of these gray twins for breeding, and he's winning, because his tail is better than brother's.
His gray is so much lighter than his twin's that he has a a faint (sunbleached) brown glow on his superthick wool.
The other guy of the hour is Alex, with his Court Jester horns-- man, are they HUGE. And he seems to be a little guy compared to the others. I had to wonder just how many calories went into producing those mastodon-tusk horns! He's a musket spottie, pretty good tail, and he may be all I have left in the flock of Minwawe Silver's blood (his dad), so he gets some girls this year.
Peeps says the ewes like big horns, so they should go for this guy!
I got my first two tanned sheepskins back from Bucks Co. Fur Products this week. That was a pretty expensive endeavor (about $55 each including shipping both ways), so it remains to be seen whether it's worth doing to future hides. They are very pretty, though--- I left 'em with my sister to hawk at her crafters' retreat this weekend, so I can't post any photos. One is moorit, the other is black iset, noticeably coarser-- but so many people just ooh and ahh over that silvering on the black, my daughter thinks people will favor that one anyway!
Also this week, I sold 15 young chickens, which is great, since that is exactly how many new chicks my broody hens surprised me with this summer. The people buying them were hobby farmers -- two different farmers-- who were just so nice it made the work of selling/meeting/rounding up critters fun.
Now I need to sell my horse. I decided I have to find a quieter, more experienced horse, since her rider is not. And I thought I'd be happy to skip feeding one all winter, and will wait till next spring to shop for one. That could change, though, if someone came along with the right beginner's horse at a good price (A SHORT horse, please!) We've liked Bell and she is gorgeous, but she needs a better rider than my 12-year-old, and what the heck! I'd like a quieter ride myself.
Fall is here officially on Sunday. The passing of summer usually makes me very sad, but I must say that since I started fooling around with fiber arts in the cold months, I look forward to that kind of recreation ALMOST as much as the outdoor activiities of summer.
Let the spinning begin!
Monday, September 10, 2007
Later on. . .
Here's a picture of Peeps in the ring, showing a ram. It's hard to shoot in that darker arena with backlighting, but there it is. It was great to see her, as well as Jane Eager of Highland Hollows and other breeders who live far from me. Kate Goebel is also showing, and I'm afraid I don't know the young girls on the left. We didn't stay too long to watch the judging, but I really enjoyed the judge's remarks. He also judged the fleeces, a learning experience for me to watch.
Also seen were some adorable lambs, with long tails still on 'em, sleeping by their mom.
Further appreciated, this dad and son combo in one of the many sale booths I browsed. Aren't they so cute?
I loved talking to the vendors the most, today. I bought a crook from Nancy Barnard, greeted Letty Klein and Ann Brown,The Shepherd's Rug authors, Julie G. of Bramble Wool Shetlands, and finally, talked Finnsheep with the Wee Croft shepherd. Angie, our spinner friend, says they're verrry nice to spin.
Finally, three Monarchs hatched out of their cocoons and took flight this week.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
this is weather for the ducks! We got 200 bales of hay off the wagon, into the barn, Friday night right before the big rains hit on Saturday. Now I hear the hay is going for $3.75/bale at auction; that's 150% over last year's price-- and makes our effort on Friday worth a good deal.
We are getting a little old to be humping that many bales into place in a short hurry.
We relaxed all the wet weekend after that.
Here I am, tending Monarch caterpillars in jars. You can see the milkweed leaves in each jar. A little diversion turned into a big production this year. DD (dear daughter) and I were taught to spot monarch eggs on milkweed leaves; a milkweed established itself in my perennial garden; now we can't leave the little fellas out there to be parasitized by wasps! (we've seen the sad results)
I told Emily she could sell Monarch cocoons at the Farmers' Market next week, for $5 each, and she's all over that idea. So let's see, 15 cocoons at $5 each. . .
I hope you are all well, and I look forward to hearing stories from the Fiber Fest in MI over the wet weekend. Then, up to Garrett's next Saturday!
See you all soon.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Some cocci meds this afternoon, and then wool cleanup tonight, revealed . . . Fly Strike! A classic case, just like they tell you about in the books! Started in clumps of manure tags in the wool-- and I really don't know if it got beyond that, but we'll check him again tomorrow. It's a friendly little guy named Milkweed who got wethered really young for a variety of reasons-- longish tail, TOO FRIENDLY! (Pet me, pet me, butt-butt-butt-MEEE!) He's a nicer PET now.
His picture was in an early post, a lovely white headed yuglet spotted musket. This fellow (below) is his uncle, though they are just weeks apart in age. His name is Little Red Oak Mullein.
Jane Eager's asked to see pictures of her beautiful Highland Hollows Bluebell and her young sons. . . and I'm afraid I don't have good recent pics of the big girl. She's so friendly that if I approach her with a camera, she walks right up to me and I can't get a shot! But here is one of Mullein hiding at her side. He's very shy. Cohosh is Bluebell's other twin son. The poor, flystrike-afflicted Milkweed is Bluebell's grandson! Maybe that F (friendliness) gene came through him. Not in her rams, though. Their dad was not a friendly guy.
These things are important to breeders, so if the lambs avoid me, I shoot their backsides! Look how square this family is! And tonight, as we looked at 3 ram lambs in the next pasture, I said to DH, "look at the fleece difference on those two"--- one was Mullein, who looked like a plush toy next to the other guy, whose nice fleece was nonetheless. . . different. It separated into locks, while Mullein's was velour.I can't wait to feel those guys' fleece again. One of Bluebell's rams will be a flock sire this year, depending on who is softer. She is a beautiful ewe whose beautiful babies have the famous Bluebell doublethick pelt. I think it's worth breeding for.
Thursday, August 9, 2007
some of you whom I bought my sheep from! How did you do it? Sell those sweet girls and boys away?
A beginning shepherd is buying some of my sheep this week, so I find myself out in the pasture, taking "last" pictures of a sweet ewe, Twin Brooks Nugget, and cute ones of some lambs about to go.
Nugget is a great old girl, I simply have too much musket in my flock. So she goes to enrich a spinner's fleece basket.
Jellybean, Juicyfruit (I mean Serendipity)'s twin, is going with Nugget, as well as 2 other lambs and a lucky wether or two. Those boys are so soft, they deserve to go to a spinner's flock.
Here, Jellybean is carefully watching THE CAT! That cat knows enough to stay on the other side of the gate or be chased all over by curious sheep.
I'm finding sheep, gardens and child management to be a full time job.
This week, my daughter entered about 10 items in the Carver County Fair. She has worked half the summer on these projects.
She knows she got 5 blue ribbons in 4H, but what of the general exhibits? (Drum roll...)
We'll go on Friday to find out! (And Saturday to staff the 4H building, and Sunday to pick up exhibits. Pshew!)
We entered no livestock at all, not even chickens-- which is a first for us since we moved to Carver County 4 years ago.
Emily did some halter training on a wether (it had to be a lamb she wouldn't miss if it got sick at the fair) but let it go weeks ago. . .
I am still not wild to show sheep, though I knew I would love talking up the breed to folks, just visiting with sheep people in general. My sheep are all so darned healthy this year, I'm treasuring the ease of care. I didn't want to lose any I loved, either.
Maybe I'd show next year.
Enjoy August, as the garden's fruits and vegetables ripen up! Today we gave summer squash to the town librarian, the McDonald's window clerk who cashiers, and the one who gives you your order!
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Anyway, best wishes in your lush, green pasture in the Bluff Country, little girl!
And now, the pressure is less on my dry pastures, and greater on Garrett's and Nancy's-- but we'll miss these sweet lambs.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Sunday, July 1, 2007
I can't seem to get my 3rd picture of 2 favorite girls in here. I'll do a second entry so you can see Mallow-- though she appears as one more little brown ewe. Darling. You wait.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Friday, June 22, 2007
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Mama Hen hatching out a few more (seven!) chicks.
I told you that horses and poultry would appear here at times!
I was off at 4H kids' camp being a chaperone (Wheeee! 140 kids!) and now I'm back (Wheee!) to my farm and animals. Some of you wrote while I was gone, admiring Starbright's Funny Baby--thank you! I'll find her (and her moorit brother) constellation names soon, promise.
This week, we have new chicks, hatched by Mama Hen, fifty big, fat 7-week-old chicks we bought to raise for dinner and 10 golden chicks we also bought, for egg layers. All of these need me right now more than even the sheep and horses do. But EVERYONE and the little red oak trees need a lot of water in this heat, so that's what I took care of when I came home. And now it's raining! (Yay!)
Now, you sheep detectives, tell me about these ram-boys. They are gray boys, out of my favorite, adorable, big white ewe with the (I swear) double-thick coat of wool, Highland Hollows Bluebell. She is QQ (not scrapie resistant) so I crossed her with my black blettet (bleset?) RR (resistant) ram, Little Red Oak Frazier. So, I want to keep one of these QR boys as a flock sire-- I want that double thick gene in more of my sheep. And I have a favorite, the cutie with a whiter nose and "points"-- but are his horns scurs? I'm putting pictures here. YOU be the judge-- though I think you may tell me it's just too soon to know. Oh, and if both sets of horns turn out fine, you, too, may own a Bluebell son, if you want one. Dibs on little horn guy. . .
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
Sunday, June 3, 2007
I sold my first sheep! A yearling ewe (Lyra, the first lamb born here) with her ewe and ram lamb at her side! From 48 sheep down to 45!
I have another smaller, more delicate black, yearling ewe with a black ewe lamb at her side I'd like to sell, too. It is Tansy, daughter of Minwawe Panda Bear and Bluff Country Bravo. Tansy's shy, but curious about me at times. Her little daughter is out of a spotted moorit ram, Minwawe Equator, and both girls look great. I think I'd sell this pair for $250.
Saturday, June 2, 2007
Pshew! Spotties, spotties everywhere! It's been an exciting year of lambing 27 babies, and the pasture is so colorful with all the little sprites bouncing around. Still, most babies and some of my young ewes will have to find new homes. Email me for a list of colors, genders and (great) prices. I've decided to keep about 1/3 of the sheep I have over winter!