Saturday, December 31, 2011

A New Year

I didn't write much all year.  It was a hard, sweet year saying goodbye to two elders in my life, and quite consuming.  In March, to my papa, who helped me so much on this little farm.  83 is a good, long life, so we can't say we were cheated out of time with him--but I miss him terribly.  My dad really liked driving out the 40 miles from his Minneapolis home to work around the farm, building chicken feeders and nest boxes, indoor pens and outdoor chicken yard;  later, sheep feeders and salt boxes-- then rebuilding the old sheep lean-to.  He grew up on a farm, and after raising us in the city, liked experiencing the animals and farm decisions all over again.  From his ancient vocabulary came words like "Clucks"-- the name for a broody hen, and "the dead furrow"-- the furrow at the edge of a field where rain water pools, having nothing planted in it.  He enthusiastically showed us how to butcher chickens and ducks-- and how to use his shotgun for unwelcome animals. 
A picture from Dad's last visit to the farm.  My mom, their  slightly younger friend, and my dad  on the right, talking to Howard, obscured, next to him.

From my garden, I made him pickled beets; liver pate and whole roasting birds from our chicken flock; and he was delighted when we brought orphan lambs to his house, one Easter Sunday.
He wired the chicken house, the pig barn and the granary for me, being a retired electrician.  He taught me how to use power tools when he was in his 60s and I in my 40s-- and how to tie bundles of brush when you cut a tree down.  He left me his miter saw, which we used to cut up cords of small firewood together.

I couldn't use tools all of 2011 because it made me too sad.  Finally, in December, firewood needed cutting and I got out the miter saw... and it was fun to remember him while working.

The other elder I lost was my old friend, Paul, who left his life in my hands when he had a stroke 2 years ago.  He was my "job" (as his guardian) all of 2010, a sweet obligation.  In May, 2011 he died suddenly,  a blessing, considered so by his many friends.  By then, I was getting pretty good at arranging end-of-life care, and we honored him well.

All of this overshadowed the farm life-- which was full and rich on its own.  We had 36 lambs born-- the most ever.  Our four, mature finnsheep ewes  had their first triplets (3 sets) and quads (one set).  My little family worked so well together, all year.

Emily insisted we have another big vegetable garden, and we all took care of sheep, meeting the buyers, transporting sheep to new homes-- until our little flock was down to 22 again.

Now the sheep are calmly waiting until the excitement of lambs in springtime.  The gardens are all trimmed up, though curiously lacking the snow cover of a normal, January, Minnesota winter!  It's been above freezing many, many days this winter, and snow exists only in shady patches.

I'll put some photos in here soon.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Nearing Turkey time

 The sheepies are getting winter coats on; they still like to sleep outdoors here and there around the barnyard.

This is Candy, a stunner who didn't like us until midwinter her first year. 
Emily fed her and a few other ewe lamb companions their hay in a small barn-- then sat in the middle of the hay until gradually, she touched each one, then stroked, and then mesmerized them. 

Now Candy is our pal.


Here are a few of this year's ewe crop that we are keeping:  the spotty one, far back, is a finnsheep, Nappylainen.  Love those spots and all else about her. 
Bluebell's white, phaeo-spotted daughter, Trillium is next.  Looks just like Bluebell as a lamb.
I love her.
In front is Nina, a sweet little ewe lamb out of Boston Lake Niav and Kimberwood Harrison.
It was hard to let Trillium and Nina's mothers move on to other Minnesota flocks, but we did.
The consolation prize is having girls who look just like their moms, and are just as friendly.
Halloween!  Emily was a "mage"-- she tells me, an enchantress. 
But she had a minute to plink out some piano tunes before her night out.

And another  moment to hug her mama, who wrapped up in the lovely cloak Auntie Iris made.

We have had a very dry autumn in Minnesota.  I got so mad at crows drinking from my ewes' water pail, until I saw bluebirds doing the same, one day.  A flock must've been migrating, as there were about 30 bluebirds all in one group, taking turns at the "fountain".  I sneaked outside with a camera and hid behind the pumphouse to capture this:

I have been extra busy taking care of my elder mom, post-op from a big surgery-- but she's mending now--
and at this late date, I've been selling ewes and rams left and right!  How strange, so late in the season-- but how nice to have my flock the size I want it to be!
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

So it's Autumn now....

DH, Howard, was out taking pictures on the weekend morning, again:

Sheep come running to us now that they get a bale of hay every day.
Farmers took up most of the corn and soybeans all around us, last week:
I love the look of this little Finn ewe lamb, one of quads born on Easter
Fall will soon give way to, well, you know...

Monday, October 3, 2011

Before I give in to Autumn...

My vegetable garden in late August, before September's frost took it. The beach umbrella is a genius device for vegetable picking out of the sun:
We planted a huge area in coreopsis, thinking there were plenty of vegetables. I tried to catch the sheep grazing, beyond:
Frances the kitty had been resting among the swiss chard, until I pulled the camera out:

In the sheep world, I can't believe I did this, but, when Karen Byron needed a moorit ram, I sent LittleRedOak Ash home with her!
Forrest, the musket ram, is every bit as good, just light color, I reasoned. And there's a little guy born in June who may be equal to Ash. The mighty, curently still-tiny, Apollo!
(Pictures soon)

Some of my lambs left in the past month; there are still a half dozen ewe lambs and ram lambs that need homes--more finns than Shetlands.

This has been a hard-working year for me, actually, two-- with elder parents, in-laws and an elder friend all needing lots of time. We may not even breed some sheep this winter-- for an easier springtime at lambing season.
Fewer lambs means more time to enjoy them! We'll see.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tour de Flock

I told you my polled ram, Little Red Oak Ash, came back here after living at Sabrina's a while, and Becky's a shorter while. Here he is, in his bulked-up, bareheaded glory:

And this is his uncle, though a year younger, LRO Forrest. Forrest is out of HHW Bluebell and Kimberwood Leonardo. He produced a pair of beautiful twins this year, but he is for sale. Too many rams live here now! He's musket (oatmeal color), with fleece samples and a photo of his offspring available upon request.

I caught the ewes resting in the shade, all together. Then they saw ME and came running!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Little Rams, Finnsheep, for sale

Of finn ram lambs, I have two black ones. Both have a brown dad, so carry brown. This one is from my white ewe, Mari. His tag is no. 114. Good looking boy. (both finn rams are now SOLD)

Same boy, in between two black Shetland lambs (polled/scurred!):

Looking quite the same, but a few weeks older and several inches bigger, this ram lamb is from my cow-spotted Finn ewe, Kora.

I'm publishing these pics for TaraLyn in WI, who bought Shetlands from me a few years ago.

I'll get photos of some of our ewe lambs next. I have Finns in brown and black; Shetlands in black and gray gulmoget, a gul-kat, a white, brown oh, many more. All colors. We are now getting the number of lambs down so that our pastures are greening up, and happy to have fewer to tend to.
Happy End of Summer, everyone!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Selling sheep before winter

Emily and I made up breeding pens and lists of must-keep and oughta-sell sheep this week.
We very sadly decided to sell Highland Hollows Bluebell, our older, first favorite ewe. It was a few years ago, when Kim of Kimberwood Shetlands noted: "If you want to breed for polled rams, getting rid of your ewes with horned genetics [will be necessary]".
I remember gasping. We love some of our older ewes.
Nevertheless, I have been selling 2 or so each year to other breeders. None have had to go to, well, you know.
Bluebell and Minwawe November may be the last of the older girls (born 2005) who are left. There are a few who may have horned genetics, but I think all remaining ewes have a polled gene.
We also decided that since LittleRedOak Ash (out of Maple, Bluebell's daughter) is coming back to Little Red Oak, we need fewer polled rams.
We will therefore sell LRO Forrest, Bluebell's 2010 son. He is musket, pretty full of himself but also, friendly.

This is a lamb photo of Forrest, taken last summer.
And his fleece:
Newer pictures of him appear in last April or May's post-- of all the rams? But he was a thinner lad then. He has muscled up now.
More pictures, soon.
I can hardly bear to say goodbye to Bluebell...

Saturday, July 30, 2011

West Coast and Back Again

Whew, we left for 10 days, during Minnesots'a second heat wave of 2011. It was 100 here, and around 68 where we were, on the coast of California and Oregon.
We had a fabulous time with friends who are funny and oh so accommodating. They live near San Francisco-- a couple our age with two teens around Emily's age.
They were gracious enough to invite us on a jaunt up to Oregon. We hiked lots, kayaked in a sea slough, played Scrabble on the beach, and laughed a lot.
Emily once stated she really wanted to see Redwood trees.
Here we are, hugging one:
But the most fun site we saw was this one, at Umpqua Hot Springs in Oregon:

And the reason was this: Here are (husband) Howard and friend, Steve, in one of the hot springs, and oops, who is that sprite flitting offscreen on the right?

(Remember, you can double click on the photos to biggify.)
The kids were so embarrassed they headed right downhill to the river below!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Puulo at Gale Woods and... Ash returns!

Chicago relatives were here for the 4th of July and we met them up at Gale Woods Farm park, sister-in-law's idea. Puulo, our bottle baby was there, just 5 days, and we got to visit him. A nice sheep volunteer, Ann, greeted me by name! and later sent me photos she'd taken of him. He's looking like a normal, handsome ram. It always seems a miracle when a tiny 2+lb preemie survives the week and gains ground to catch up with all the others.

Three little Finn lambs went to WI on Saturday. Karen, a fiber person, bought a brown ram and a white ewe lamb; Kara, who owns a CSA farm and sheep dairy, took home my other brown Finn ram lamb. No time for photos that day. The weekend was blasting hot and we worked from Friday to Sunday to get sheep tagged, vaxed, wormed and moved-- boys weaned from moms. Then we mowed, watered, tidied, in preparation to take a little vacation. Our faithful farm-sitters will tend things here while we travel to CA and Oregon. They've done this for us for three years, now-- and taken freezer broilers for their trouble. Lucky us!

Next, I saw that Becky Utecht, River Oak Shetlands, advertised for sale a solid brown polled ram we bred here-- Little Red Oak Ash, and we asked to buy him back.
Ash in July 2009
This years' ram lambs, while wonderfully hornless, are few, all solid black except one scurred brown lamb, and we do need a good brown, solid color sire. Besides, while he lived with Sabrina at Boston Lake farm, she microned his fleece and wrote him up as a stellar Shetland speciman, so, I'm believing her!
When we sold him it was because I HAD another brown, polled ram. I now need another.
Enjoy the week if I don't post here again-- we will be reading your blogs and comments, though!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Gotta picture (or two)

I told you we were worried about Annie and late-arriving twins:
Here they are, going outside for the first time! We put bug spray on their little t-shirts to help them out.

This little gulmoget-katmoget ewe is for sale. She will always throw either gulmoget or katmoget pattern. Maybe you want that! I do not. She will throw brown or black patterned babies. Her mom is Minwawe November, a brown katmoget, and her dad is Kimberwood Harrison, a black gulmoget. November is for sale, also, even though she is an old friend of mine. The two could go together! (Repeat: Must keep sheep numbers manageable!)

Bluebell! My old best sheep friend. Can't sell her, yet. Maybe, soon. She has a beautiful little white lamb who looks JUST like her, and a grey girl.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Last lambs of 2011, really this time

Little Red Oak Annie, my daughter's pet ewe of last years' lamb crop, had tiny twins out in the field-- and no one knew for a long, long time. Boy and girl, moorit and musket, Shetland. About 10" tall, I think.
We are worried-- Annie, first time mama, didn't bring them in to get a drink of water for herself-- and now, does she have milk for them? It was hard to tell in the low light and mosquito infestation of dusk.
We found them near nightfall -- babies' umbilical cords all shriveled dry, Annie's tail dry with lambing blood-- so we think it's been a half day at least. Poor dears. We brought them to a lambing jug, fussed over them, dribbled milk replacer in the babies' mouths, and gave Annie copious amounts of hay and water.

I am sure this happened because we sent our Finn bottle baby off to Gale Woods Farm today. We just needed one or two more to worry over.
I smile, though, remembering, we aren't given more than we can handle.

We'll keep you posted-- keep your fingers crossed and send up a wish for the twinners.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Healthy Bottle Lamb, Hooray!

Betty Ann stopped by on Friday. She was born in this old farmhouse, which we bought from her 8 years ago. I love it that she stops by for rhubarb or mint or curly willow, things that she planted when she lived here. She helps me with jobs sometimes, too; if I am overwhelmed she helps me clean the house, and she's been here when lambs need to be held up to their mothers' teats. She likes telling those stories at card club! She's a great rent-a-mom. This is my Emily, Betty Ann, the bottle lamb, Puulo, and Louie the dog.

Betty left, and Em posed with Puulo. Google Translator tells us that "Puulo" means "Bottle" in Finnish. We just heard he IS going to Gale Woods Farm (a teaching farm park) next week. Now that Puulo's strong, Tim, the farm manager, is excited to get a bottle lamb for kids' day camps, and a new set of genetics for his Finnsheep flock. Not too many people would want a bottlefed ram, so this is a great thing.

Puulo decides maybe what Louie needs is a good butt on the head (though he never did it).

More Spring/summer Farm and Lamb Photos

Sometimes I just marvel at where we live and what a great family I have. Double-click on the photo to see DH, Howard, shooting a video of Emily, feeding the bottle lamb. Her cat climbed on her shoulders.

This pump house has a water hydrant in it. I have to wonder if that was always its job...

A better, color shot of LRO Maple and Kimberwood Harrison's ewe lambs. Cute as bugs' ears.
Happy Fathers' Day, everyone.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Around the farm in Spring

Pictures won't load... test...
Aarggh, really won't let me put photos in, which is ALL I wanted to do...
any suggestions, everyone?

Elise's ewe lamb, Lisbeth (love that name, been reading the Stieg Larsson trilogy).

Maple the musket Shetland ewe had two little gulmoget ewes. Both are black, though one is Ag-gray. Both are for sale. So far they are not friendly lambs, but quite lovely. Out of Kimberwood Harrison and LittleRedOak Maple.

Well, one, now two, pictures loaded out of 5. And the B&W is not Blogger's fault.. it's mine.
Blogger's text alignment button doesn't work, though.

ooh, a little more Blogspot success, here is the newest lamb born here: half-Finn, out of this Shetland mom, Little Red Oak Cinnamon. Cinnamon doesn't like people, but has the most beautiful, caramel colored wool-- and now, her little ewe lamb, Pepper, does too! Black, though.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Little Finn Ram who Could

... get the ewe lambs pregnant when he was only 4-5 months old! So... first he produced the cute spotty ewe lambs from my Shetland ewe, Candy.  The next surprise came on May 21st, 11 pm, when, returning from Dear Daughter's big piano recital in Minneapolis, we found Heidi, a Finn ewe lamb I hadn't bred this year, fussing over a wet, tiny lamb on the floor of the barn, with all the other ewes and rowdy lambs hopping around.  Heidi was attentive to that lamb while continuing to cry with contractions;  after a long while I decided things weren't progressing correctly, and for the first time, I used the long, plastic glove my vet gave me to examine the ewe all the way inside.  I pulled out a dead lamb, tinier than Heidi's first.  Tiny ram lamb was too weak to nurse.  A preemie, I am quite sure-- no teeth erupted from his gums, yet... weighing a few pounds...
His ears started to perk up by his 5th day.

For the second time this year, we brought a tiny lamb into the house, fed it with 2oz pet nurser bottles  and kept in on a heating pad in a laundry basket. 
We always get out Storey's Guide to Raising Sheep and consult the chart that shows how much to feed bottle lambs at what stage.  We were lucky to have on hand a bag of milk replacer that a manufacturer sent me, free.  I'll advertise for them-- it was called Advance, and we liked it a lot.  It mixed easily with cold water.  We started to feed baby Ram lamb every 4 hours.  
He slept a lot.  His ears flopped down, like a puppy dog's. 

On May 22nd, my elder friend, Paul, the guy whose entire life I've taken care of for 18 months, suddenly died.  It was a busy week of funeral preparations and notifications, and throughout the week, I had a lamb who needed a bottle every 4 hours. 

We did restrain Little Guy's mother, daily, to let the baby nurse, but the mother has never allowed him to nurse without restraint.  In time, we let the lamb stay with Heidi all the time, while we brought him milk bottles.  We entertained the idea of selling him to Gale Woods Farm-- but worried when Tim, the manager, said that 50% of his lambs raised on bottles, without first receiving colostrum, die. 
All along, I have figured that we could do better than that, with all the attention we could give him... so we kept him. 

My wonderful nephew took care of the lamb on the day of Paul's funeral, and Little Lamb's only gotten stronger since then.
We've gone on to buy a new, big bag of milk replacer... and... it's time to go feed the lamb right now!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Spotted half-Finn Surprises

If you look at my January 2011 post you see a little Finn spotty ram we got in November.  He had a roommate in a ram-lamb pen, Aspen, who was lost to a gate-jumping accident-- and then the Spotty was put in with the ewes because at 4 months, we figured he couldn't breed any of the unbred ewes.  We also thought, if he did, so what?  Cute babies!

Well, the so-what babies started popping out a week ago.  I showed you Candy, the little HST Shetland ewe who gave us some ewe twins, and here they are:

I KNOW they are half-Finn, partly because their legs are so long-- and their ears are a little pointy--

And because the first mate I'd chosen for Candy was Kimberwood Harrison, whose pedigree show no ancestors or offspring with spots!   And, the timing....
I think these beauties will be a great cross.  As newborns, they were more vigorous than the Finn lambs-- but their Finn genes already put longer legs on them, nice wool-- their prolificacy should be increased to, probably, triplet expectations--and I expect they will be 1-1/2 size of their pretty Shetland mom.  The Finnsheep Breeders Association has a crossbred registry, so ... that may be useful, too.  I'll sell one or both of these lambs, your choice, $250.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Last of the first lambs

The last twin ewe lambs were born last night.  (Not quite accurate:  two more ewes can lamb in another few weeks.
However, the first big wave ends with the new ewe lambs.
Stats:  30 lambs born to 13 ewes;  I think it's about 22 ewes to 8 rams.  Wow.

Anyway, a teaser-- here is the last ewe that lambed, Little Red Oak Candy, a photo taken 3 weeks ago.  She is a surprisingly spotted ewe, friendly, out of LittleRedOak Licorice Snap and White Pines Parker. 
She was bred to Kimberwood Harrison, a black gulmoget ram, but then she went back to the ewe barn, where the little spotted Finn ram lamb was hanging with the older ewes-- drum roll to see her babies' pictures in a day or two... dimly lit, indoor lamb shots are rarely worth the trouble...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Naming the Finn lambs

Meet Nappylainen and Loimu.  Meaning "spot" and "blaze", according to Google translator (in other words, don't blame me if we've got the Finn language all wrong!).

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Really, more lambs?

A few people are interested in Finn Ram purchases this year.  One wants to see the udders on the mama ewes because she has a dairy flock (cool!).
So DH took an udder shot of Mari, who amazed us this year with triplets in three different solid colors:  black, white and brown!
The ewe lamb is white, her brothers are the solids.
(disclaimer: it's a true udder-- though I felt compelled to "touch up" the color on said udder right up under her tail, where evidence of a recent birth experience had not yet washed off in the rain... ) 
I'm no photoshop pro, it's apparent!
But I digresss.  Ta da... Mari and the kids-- er, I mean LAMBS!
Then, we have Mari hangin' with the other moms-- notice how Mari's babes all cluster around the milk bar behind her--
while Mari jaws with Abby (Crabby Abby, we call her)-- and Abby's ridiculously splashed-up baby ewe sleeps on the lamb playground ramp.  Abby's baby will fade to ... musket? and white, and be splashy only on her legs and face.    Oh, and Licorice Snap, black Shetland with white head splashes, looks on from the left, rear-- while her brown ewe and black ram lamb play on the lamb-ramp...  The other black ewe, rear, is a Finn-- Heidi, a yearling who hasn't lambed yet.

Then we have a few lambs you have already seen:  These are 2 of Finnsheep, Lassi's, quads examining the photographer's bootlaces. Lassi had 3 ewes and 1 ram-- and he is on the right, here:

Next, Bluebell's phaeo-spotted ewe lamb (bonus, who is very nice and not afraid of us).  She is pictured with another of Lassi's brown quad ewes.

And have you seen how well my tiniest finn ewe lamb is doing?  This one belongs to Kimi-- and nearly succumbed to hypothermia, born out on the lawn on a cool, breezy day.  She was the tiniest of triplets, weighing half of what the largest one weighed.  We bathed her, blew her dry, fed her bottles and kept her on a heating pad in a laundry basket for 12 hours-- and when she was strong enough to nurse on her feet, we returned her to her mother.  Way to go, Kimi, for taking her back!  This one is still called Tiny-- 2 lbs 12 oz at birth!

More pics to come, of course!  Happy Spring!