Monday, December 27, 2010

Holiday week, the last of 2010

Ahhh, Christmas is done, celebrated, gifts exchanged, goodies made, and we still get to have pumpkin bread for breakfast every morning.  We decrease the sugar in the pumpkin bread recipe and then make up for it by drinking egg nog, mmmm.
I like this story in pictures:   How the finns looked after the first blizzard, holed up out in the pasture shed-- refusing to come out --

until Emily blazed them a trail by walking back and forth to the hay we'd set out:



We love these silly girls. 
Last week's sheep episode was about Aspen, the little polled musket ram whose amorous endeavors got him caught by one foot in a gate-- and it ended badly for him, I'm afraid.  My biggest concern was that the leg would have been frostbitten, with a slow and torturous end.  The vet, by phone, advised sending him to the butcher-- my Shetlands don't make big money, he was a polled ram lamb-- prized by some as rather rare, yet, but not by enough buyers that I would make the mortgage on him-- so diagnosing his injury was not worth paying a vet fee.  So, he will make my daughter's favorite-- lamburger.  His trip to the butcher was very quiet, very easy on him, too-- bedded down in a straw filled dog crate and left that way until the end.
We had his parents in a breeding group again this year, so we hope for another polled brother of Aspen's.  That's the way it goes.
At Christmas, my brother mentioned bad weather coming again next weekend-- so we broke up sheep breeding groups yesterday rather than wait a week.  Our choice is often Christmas weekend, since we have everone home to help herd animals here and there.   This year, more than half the work was shoveling a ton of snow so that 16' gates would  swing open (did you get a visual on that?) when sheep left an area-- and 2' wide paths for them to get from one barn to another as we shuffled them around.  Our barns are about 100 feet apart.   The snow is about 3' deep everywhere-- the sheep were in chasms as high as their backs, trotting down the alleys between our barns as we directed them.  All went well.
Today, frost has covered the trees and it is drifting down, sparkling like glitter in the sunshine.
Happy New Year to everyone.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Snowy sheep

You know we've gotten a few feet of snow in Minnesota, so far this fall/winter-- nearly two feet of it last week. Another six inches yesterday.  I am tired of shoveling now.

We made excellent, two-foot wide paths from building to pump house to hay barn to sheep fence, so that we could pull the beloved black hay sled from one feeding site to the next.  Several five-gallon water pails fit in it;  two bales of hay, stacked, also fit. So I haul the sled out with water in it, and bring it back with a bale or two, every day.
Yesterday I waited until late in the afternoon to do chores, and when I got to the far barns, I noticed a curious absence of a certain young ram lamb, LittleRedOak Aspen. A busy guy, he's usually right at the gate when I come near, looking for hay.  He and a little Finn roommate have been bunking in a small corral next to the old lean-to, which has the "maidens" in it-- ewe lambs we aren't breeding this year.  It frightened me to think that he might've done what we had decided he couldn't-- used a new, 4' snow drift to leap the fence into that pen of attractive maidens... but I found the ewe lambs blinking, alone, unaccosted.
I went around the back side of the ewes' shed and, yee gods!, found Aspen dangling from the gate, one leg hooked in its  metal mesh.  He'd been there awhile, judging by the snow on his coat (the snow had stopped falling hours earlier) and other signs.  Thankfully, his front feet were planted on snow on the this side of the fence.
Am I awful?  I worried a great deal about his pinned leg-- could the circulation have been cut off so long it was frostbitten?  Will I have to put him down?
But what I also thought was, "I'm glad he didn't breed those girls".
I'll head out there now to see how he's getting around.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Into winter

Here's the view looking west, corn still standing, in October:
and, mid-October, after harvesting and plowing, and rainfalls made the moss on the trees stand up, furry:

And this was the scene looking into those driveway trees, from the west, on Saturday.  Kitter the pet barn cat follows the photographer for some outdoor company.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Photographic Saturday

Little Red Oak Miia (oops, I thought she was Matilda, Miia's white twin)  is a Finnsheep ewe who looks surprisingly like her aunt,--Lassi, shown in the next photo with the flock.
Miia's mom is pure white, so under her white coat, we have no idea if mom Mari has any spots goin' on...
and Miia and Matilda's dad is Osmo, who is solidly light brown -- though he had a tiny forehead spot as a baby.

Still, check out auntie Lassi, below.  See the resemblance?:

 Emily wants to show off Shetland lamb, Little Red Oak Annie's nice, crimpy brown wool.  I couldn't help bu notice the wall behind Emily-- our reason for getting rid of horned rams!
 Annie is the biggest, in-your-face pet of 2010 in the lamb pasture.  She's Emily's favorite.
Here, Em shows us the distinct line where this Finn ewe lamb's fleece went from black to steely gray.  I know it looks like a brown sheep, but she's truly a sunbleached black lamb... However, if I may ask the Finn breeders to weigh in-- is she a gray lamb, then?  Looks like.

Here's a Shetland lamb, LittleRedOak Candy, wearing her straw bedding.  She's getting cuter as she gets older.  Her mom is LRO Snap, a mostly black ewe, and WhitePine Parker, a musket, scurred ram.  Candy's wild spottedness surprised us, as neither parent's spot gene is expressed very strongly.

Finally, a flock shot-- we think it is LRO Willow front and center--one of my Maple's twin ewe lambs.  We have to check ear tags-- the lambs have all changed a lot in two months while we've been too busy to stay acquainted.  Behind her is a black Finnsheep ewe lamb, another black going gray.  Sweet girls, all.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A new sheep blog, a long Hello

MN breeder Pam Davis just sent me a link to her new blog.  I'm adding it to my list at the go check it out!
Pam doesn't live too far from me, as country driving goes-- I can't recall-- 25, 50 miles? Near Cokato, MN.   I went there once for a wonderful dyeing class.  See my post lin September 2008.  Pam was a great hostess and has a nice flock of Shetlands and Icelandics.  Last fall she bought one of my ram lambs to get more color or genetic lines in her flock.
I think we'll be seeing how that turned out.
My whole year, it seems, has been taking care of the seniors in my life-- mostly getting them out of places they've lived a long time-- helping downsize all that STUFF--and into new apartments or senior care facilities.  I've really enjoyed that work, but have had little time for my sheep.
Good thing my daughter's here to keep them tame and keep an eye on them.
I'll put some photos in here soon.
We have a half dozen lambs here who need homes this winter-- although I have a lot of hay this year, so if they winter over here (unbred, please! I can't bear to lamb out 40 lambs!) we'll be okay, and I'll get more lovely fleece in springtime.

I'm especially excited about my Finnsheep fleece, which sells very quickly.  I have a few black lambs whose fleece has taken a dramatic turn to dark gray- which is a color I just love.  Ooh, and a new Finn breeder in WI is bringing me a black spottie ram lamb soon, to trade for a nice little brown one I have here.  Can't wait to see him.

More later, really!

Monday, September 6, 2010

End of Summer garden and lambs

Sometimes we think the garden vegetables are so lovely we ask Howard to get the camera out....we are so proud of them.

And other times we are impressed with the volume of garden produce.  I saw a good idea on another blogger's page-- I think it was Antiquity Oaks':  to weigh and keep track of how much this little farm puts out each year.  We think we'll do it next year.
Lexi the ewe lamb coming to see the photographer.  So many colorful ewe lambs still for sale.  Tell your friends!

More ewe lambs feasting on ash tree leaves.  Happy End of Labor Day weekend-- and the beginning of the school year, for some of you!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The summer's flown by

I know, I just haven't written here for a long time!  I've been meaning to catch up, but so much Life has been happening.  We had a big wedding weekend in July (my stepson, Jeremy's) .

and a little camping trip to the Black Hills right afterward (with CA friends, the Scharf family).

Then it was time for the Carver County (MN) fair, where we all enter dozens of exhibits.  Here's Em with her little cousins for a general visit to the fair:
and now Emily's school sports and marching band have begun. Oh, and did I mention that the garden is overflowing with produce demanding attention? Not to whine...

But I have a lot of little lambs to sell before winter-- so I had better get on it.

Here's how my ram lambs are this summer, only eight! born out of 28 lambs; since I bred again for no-horns, thank you,  two Shetlands are scurred, two fully polled , two with strong horns.   I was happy with the outcome.  Most are shown here.  One brown Finn ram lamb (on the far right) is still available, most Shetland lambs are, too.

Ah, my ewe lambs.  If I just keep them all this winter, I simply won't breed for a year.  I can't sell that much fleece to pay for their feed, and I don't want to work that hard to keep them all well-tended.  Lambing more than 15 ewes about kills me in April.  I don't have many photos of the ewes yet.

Here is my model daughter surrounded by friendly Finns.  The black lamb could live somewhere else.  In fact, we have two.

 Mari the white Finn ewe with her twin girls, a brown and a white. Both need new homes.

And here is  last year's bottle baby, Poppy, with HER baby, Pansy-- who both can only go to the best of homes:

I will post more pictures soon, thanks for checking!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Blog surfing, Summer lamb tending

Up late again-- having blog fun, other people's links-- I found this one:

which delighted me with old favorite music, and lots of creativity--so-- I added it to the list at right.

We finished ear tagging and vaccinating lambs yesterday, a marathon with 26  remaining lambs and 16 ewes.   We also hoof trimmed and wormed all the ewes, and called out ear tags to Kelly, the State Scrapie Vet tech who inspects the sheep every year.   I need to remember days like this when I want to keep "just one" lamb from every ewe I have. 
Sheep hoarding.  There's got to be a prescription for that-- or at least, therapy.

Tonight one of my favorite ram lambs ripped off a horn sheath-- I have no idea how, but I suspect it was only a fence accident.  I held him while Emily ran for meds and a snippers to finish the job, and he bled all over me.  Poor boy. 

Rook, after.  Horn stub on right.

Good thing I checked in on the 8 ram lambs who got separated from their moms and sisters yesterday for the first time.  Oh the crying and wailing that went on through the night, Friday night.  The same night that the power went out, so we had to keep windows open for "natural air conditioning". 

All rams, few horns.  LRO Linden's pollie, Aspen, is front and center.  Behind and right is Bluebell's Forrest.  The spotty, behind, is a Finn ram.

Poor Niav, from Sabrina's Boston Lake Farm, only had one boy, her first, her only lamb-- and she grieved all night.  Another yearling ewe, Little Red Oak Linden, was in the same boat, but was not so demonstrative.  Simon is pictured at left, here-- a nice dark brown.  Linden's boy is the pollie musket named Aspen, above.

It's the heart of summer around here.  The mosquitoes are thick and furious, pestering the flock incessantly.  The sheep lay down to keep them from biting their legs-- or is it so that their babies will quit trying to "grab a snack" off the ewes' udders?   The ewes have had about enough of it by now. . . so it's even better that the ram lambs got their own pasture and building. 

Monday, July 5, 2010

Unloading Hay on our Anniversary

We didn't bale it, we bought it.  And unloaded it, 350 bales worth, over a couple of 90+ degree days.
I can see the end of these farm days down the road a few years.  I wanted documentation.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Before and After

On Saturday, we had a shearer come out to finish up a few sheep who didn't get sheared on March 30.  Kora, a pied (spotted) black and white Finn ewe, was still too short-fleeced to shear back then, having been sheared in Fall 2009-- and there are people who really want that Finn fleece for spinning.
So we waited , and now before it gets really hot, we asked Jake Sirek to give her a haircut. Driving 40 miles to shear one ewe seemed ludicrous, so we asked Jake to clean up a few more ewes who couldn't be sheared well earlier, being "in the rise".  You non-Shetland folks, I can't explain that, because I don't get it myself.  I just know the shearer can't get under the lowest inch of wool, then, which turns into big mats of wool, later. 
Here, Kora and her twin lambies wait their turn for lamb vaccinations and Kora's haircut.  They licked clean the bin where alfalfa hay is stored.
After shearing, Kora actually looked a little thin.  But very, very comfortable.

This is a family picture of Finn ewe, Lassi, her ewe lamb Leila, and her ram lamb Lukas.  I still don't know about Finn colors;  whether this is what the Finn breeders would call plain "brown", or "fawn"-- being brown with an Ag "graying" gene, or what I would call a modified brown.  The finn breeders are rather new at colors, and therefore, at describing them.
Here, we see Mari the white Finn ewe and her white ewe lamb;  my old Little Red Oak Yarrow hiding in the corner, freshly shorn;  front and center is Leila again, and front right, Kora's ewe lamb, Heidi, is scooting past-- the lamb who had selenium deficiency last month.  She'd just gotten a pink ear tag and her Cdt shot.

Terri Drimel will take Leila home in a few weeks.  Her experience, this month, with losing another little brown Finn ewe made me want to bump up vaccinating the lambs against "overeating disease"-- clostridium?  So we took advantage of the cool, indoor lambing barn and ear tagged half (ran out of tags) and vaccinated and wormed all the lambs.  It felt good to get ahead of schedule this summer.  Now, we'll only have half as many to tag when our Scrapie Program vet tech comes out on July 9th, when we will give booster shots-- and know the lambies are protected.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I laughed until I cried

Okay, it was late, and the hilarious tremens often set in after midnight, right?

But I caught a link on another's blog and clicked, and read... and laughed until tears rolled down my cheeks.
So give it a try:

I'm going to add the link to my blog roll at right, for future guffaws.  It helps to offset the fierce seriousness with which some sheep breeders are taking our favorite critters, lately.  The arguments are sounding like those fought over religion or politics, here in North American Shetland land.  Not about animals, not sheep.  Maybe about being right.
I hope you find a smile in the Cake Wrecks, instead, as I did.

Soon I will post photos of lambies available for out-placement to good homes.  I took a quick dash through the list of ewes and babes this weekend and managed to, mentally, sell, HALF the sheep.  But that means 24 of 48.  Not enough.  Will keep working on this.
Still, plenty of brown and other lambies for everyone.  Take two!

Two polled ram lambs this year, both musket.  You can have ONE.  I will keep the other.

More to follow.
Laugh yourself silly.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Bluebell and her twinners

My old friend, Highland Hollows Bluebell is what, 6 this year?  We just counted up the 5 sets of twins she's had for us at Little Red Oak Farm, so, yes. . .
and for the first time, she stopped leading her babies away from us.  She came over to my bench in the shade some days ago and asked to be petted.  Her little POLLED musket boy, Forrest, wants the same-- but we don't pet ram lambs, here--
and her little white ewe lamb, Forsythia, hangs back shyly.  They plopped down to rest awhile.

(As always, double click on photos to biggify.)

Next, I pulled together a photo of one of Yarrow's ram twins;  he has good head splashes--and will throw spots, I'm quite certain.  His horns are strong, so I'd rather he move to another farm.  The only picture I had also happened to have Emily with the ever-friendly Kimi and her babies in it.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Kimi's spotted Finn Ewe lamb-- and more Finns.

For Terri to see! I see the photo's a little fuzzy, but so is she!
Here is proud Mama Lassi's (finn) with her brown ewe and ram lambs.  The first of 3 lambs didn't make it.  The little spotty ram may go to live in New York.

And another of Kimi's two ewe lambs:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Spring lambs, of course!

We'll back up to Mother's Day;  a cold day when we took our roving and fleeces to Shepherd's Harvest in Lake Elmo and offered roving at prices to sell-- and it surely did.  15 or so pounds of it, gone from my house. Yay!  Dear Daughter (DD) and Dear Husband (DH) knew exactly how to celebrate Mother's Day:  they volunteered to come with me to set up and sell wool.  For the first time, I had a Shetland/Finn blend that was especially popular, although all colors sold well.
It rained so much that week that Mari the Finn Ewe's lambie was soaked through and very dirty:

Later, Mari cried and cried to find her babies, and suddenly stopped when she peeked inside the portable calf hut.  I figured there was a special sight inside, and I was right.  Look at that little brown ewe's pink triangle of a nose!  Poor wet babies.
Little brown shetland ram lamb, still tiny:

It's 2 weeks later and things have warmed up considerably.  The lambs are loving the compost pile of last years' bedding. It's made for playing King of the Mountain!  Here, Em has the formerly stiff-necked lamb sucking a finger.  She's all better-- BoSe did the trick within hours.  Selenium deficiency !  Amazing.
Also pestering Emily are a very, very friendly Shetland ewe lamb, lower right, and a naughty little brown Finn ram;  behind her is a black Finn ewe lamb who's also fond of suckling fingers.  Further up, a little brown and white Shetland who will be musket (oatmeal colored). I am so behind on naming and learning the lambs this year that I don't recall if it's a ram or ewe lamb! 

Finally a good shot of DD visiting with Kimi, her solid black lamb under Em's arm, and in front, the little formerly sickly lamb belonging to Kora.  We just had to show you that she made such a nice recovery.  Pack of racing lambs seen behind-- 
Enjoy this nice, new, warm weather.  We're finally getting the garden in.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Stiff necked lamb-- help!

The little stiff necked girl is in front;  her brother, behind.  He's not as bad, and is likely just grazing.  She could/did lift her head level, often, but this posture was easiest:
Any ideas?  A finn twin (the other is smaller but seemed fine) cried, hunched, didn't lift her head, within the first 24 hours.  I started supplementing with milk replacer, reading "hypothermia due to malnutrition".  I figured she or Mom didn't "get" nursing well,  yet.  She got much stronger and started nursing.  She's 5 days old, but still runs around rather stiffly, with her head straight out, doesn't lift it often.  But can.

White muscle disease?  Any ideas?  I do believe she may do just fine, after a bad start, but if anyone has any ideas, I'd love to hear 'em.

We went to Shepherd's Harvest Sheep and Wool festival in Lake Elmo, MN today.  Lovely event with all the usual wooly fun--
we were lucky and sold about 15 lbs of roving-- the best part of that is, do you know how much space 15 pounds of roving takes up in my basement?  Plus, we sent almost all fleeces off to Carol Wagner's Hidden Valley Woolen Mill for processing.  Nice to get the room back downstairs.

Friday, May 7, 2010

End of Lambing, Photos follow

In another rush to the finish, lambing season has, I think, wrapped up for 2010.  30 lambs out of 18 ewes, 21 ewe lambs, 9 ram lambs.  We like odds like that.  Many ewes were yearling, first time moms this year, and as many of you know, first-timers frequently have single babies.  But they knew just what to do!

Nine Finn lambs (2 boys), 21 Shetland lambs (you do the math)!  We lost one Finn lamb--darn, a brown spotted girl--but we have lambs aplenty. 
I have not had time to enjoy them as they came, though I see that the lamb races have begun-- and this year, we have a new lamb playground attraction--the enormous compost heap of bedding dug out of their barn last fall.  So many paths and peaks, so much fun!

Photos later, and I will start to decide who will stay, and who will be sold.
I think next year I would like to have only 10 ewes over winter, which means I have to sell about 30 ewes and lambs!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Some MORE lamb photos. ..

For economy of time and writing-- I am adding more of yesterday's photos here. 
The first babies born are now 11 days old.  Bluebell's white ewe and musket ram. . . might he be polled?  Drumroll...
Pal, my old friend, with the first ewe lamb she's had at Little Red Oak Farm!
Pal had a little ram, too.  Both sweet babies, easygoing, like their mom.
This little ram is Little Red Oak Belle's.  She's mioget, I think.  He looks fawn-- his little nose surely isn't the standard moorit...

And again, this funny picture of Lassi the Finn ewe checking me out-- while her little one-day-old boy lays next to her.  Her solid brown daughter is a blur behind her.