Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Tending Monarchs

Hey all,
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

Boys night in the ram pen

It was a ram night, tonight. Well, I watched a few rams over the gate-- we were actually managing wethers next door to the ram lambs. I separated out a few little wethers today-- to be considered by a buyer tomorrow-- and then I saw that one wether didn't seem to be his perky self, and further, that he had a messy rear end.

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.

And here we have Bluebell's sons' (and her own) posterior view!

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.
Thanks, Jane!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

More Sheep Leaving Home

Hey, you old timers--
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!