Monday, November 12, 2012

A quick post about fleece

Frannie the cat, fleeces from our sheep
From my little flock of little sheep:

April's shearing of raw finn or shetland fleece in two colors:

I have a cream shetland and a white and black spotted Finn, both ewes' fleece. Each is about 5-6 lbs.

These fibers are well known to handspinners and felters for their soft beauty and color.

Raw fleece: Shetland $10/lb, Finn $14/lb.

Kora, piebald black and white finnsheep whole fleece for sale.-- 5-1/2 lbs @ $14/lb + shipping.

Maple, cream color Shetland, 6 lb whole fleece @$10/lb + shipping.
I also have roving, ready to spin or felt: charcoal/espresso color blended Finn/Shet $2.25/oz.
Many colors of Shetland $2/oz. -- brown, brown/black blend, cream and fawn, cream and brown.

I've just sent 36 lbs. of raw wool to Hidden Valley to be made into roving-- most blended Finn and Shetland, some pure Shetland.  Lovely wool and colors!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Relaxing a bit

A pudgy, orange-bellied fox squirrel is racing around my big lawns today, burying-- so quickly!-- half-cobs of field corn that the pickers missed.  Will he return for them?  Our three outdoor cats usually discourage any squirrels from staying here.  Will corn sprout in my lawn next summer?

The super-abundant garden and apple tree produce is nearly gone, with only a half-dozen beets, kohlrabi and red cabbages remaining, along with 100 lbs of butternut squash. A few pounds of tomatoes will still turn red.   We roasted all of these vegetables and the last summer squash for dinner last night. 

I took nearly 100 lbs. of summer squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, and butternut squash to the food shelf in nearby Norwood Young America this summer.  My friend Trisha, City Mouse, took another 10-15 lbs. of tomatoes and eggplant to the St. Paul food shelf, and the same to other St. Paul friends.  I've never donated it all, like that, before-- though I did give some summer squash to the lady at the McDonald's drive-through, once-- and always to the local librarians.

Much of the U.S. was bone-dry this summer, but Minnesota had regular rains through August.  It's been dry since then, but today, it's finally really raining, turning to wet snow.

I am finishing up college financial aid applications for my daughter while it sleets outside.  My biggest worry of the year, my unwell husband, leaves his cane at home now when he goes to work, still limping somewhat from his cancer surgery.  He's doing great!

I spun wool at the Minnesota Zoo over the last two weekends. My spinning guild, the Northern Lights Handspinners, was asked to provide volunteers. It was a lot of fun to explain, even if 50 times over, how a spinning wheel works, what kind of fiber I'm spinning (wool! of course!) and what kind of animal it came from.  The children were adorable, the adults very interesting and appreciative.

Two on the left and one on the furthest right need homes.  I'll use the scurred guy quickly -- this week only!
One of my 5 little Shetland rams otherwise destined for the freezer on the 21st went to a good home-- I am so happy!  That's Apollo, the registered, 2-yr. old, polled moorit.  We do get attached to them if they are sweet-tempered and have been here awhile.  Another black fine wooled shetland, upper right here, also has a home.  The two in the center are Finnsheep, who will stay here.

Mapleton:  mioget polled-- large mom, abundant fleece, sweet.

Three more 2012 ram lambs remain-- two brown and one black.  One brown is scurred, meaning he possesses genes to produce both horned and polled lambs.  His wool looks the BEST-- purly, crimpy and fine.  He is almost TOO friendly.  The other 3 are pretty good lambs, too-- but we only need one this year.

One of LRO Candy, the HST ewe's, twins.  Shy, super black (no sunbleaching),
tail could be tinier.

Ok, back to that pesky application.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Grace and Beauty

The Grace is in so much that I see, but mostly in learning that my husband's sarcoma seems, for now at least, to be conquered!  And it may be, forever!  After 5 months under siege of that nasty disease, we are all beginning to breathe freely again.  Howard had surgery to remove the (chemo-killed) tumor in his leg on August 9th.  A month later, he's limping around with a cane, which he should be rid of in future months.  Hooray.
Howard's hair is growing back nicely-- it's longer now.

Friends have blessed us all summer with visits to the farm-- sometimes just to cheer Howard in his recovery, often to do farm chores that he couldn't.  Two or three old friends got to get on a tractor to mow our pastures for us-- thrilling, they say! Tom came early in the summer, while Paul took a turn this month.

Friend Paul hadn't been on a tractor for a long time.
Howard's brother, Mark, cut thistles one 90 degree afternoon, with their childhood friend, Mike B.  Friend, Trisha,  helped plant our vegetable garden, which is now filling my kitchen with  tomatoes, peppers, onions.  Betti, Trisha, Paul and Ann helped prune and clear small trees and vines out of our windbreak in a few work sessions.  Nicole came out and cleaned a barn or two with me, bless her for asking for the worst farm chores and then doing them!  Howard's son helped unload hay last weekend, bringing along his wife and darling baby boy.

My sister, Iris,  and my sister-in-law, Stacey, accompanied my daughter to Hawaii in June, when she attended Ag Discovery, a USDA-sponsored educational "camp" for teens.  My gosh, that's going the extra mile --or 3000!  (Now I know, it was probably more fun to do that than if the camp was in, say, North Dakota).   In August, Iris picked Em up from band camp in Duluth, days after Howard's surgery.

If I forgot to mention anyone here, please let me know-- I am spinning out memories here, as they come-- I want to thank you all.

The Beauty is in all of nature around me-- fall is really coming, now. The maples outside my window are beginning to turn colors, and the fields of corn and soybeans, all around, have gone yellow. We have two apple trees-- Honeycrisp and Freedom-- that produced bumper crops of apples this year. Before the birds could get them all, we picked and brought the apples inside.
Daily, I put apple slices in the dehydrator (did you know that one teen can eat 5 dried apples in a half hour while reading a book?).

Apple butter, apple sauce-- mmm-- these apples don't keep well, or bake well-- the Freedoms turn to mush when baked, or soften while stored. So-- many quarts of applesauce we'll have. I also have the BEST apple butter recipe around.

LOVE my apple peeler/slicer.
Some unemployed ram lambs, next to Little Red Oak Apollo, a polled Shetland Ram.  All are for sale.
Sheep sold really well here, this summer. Good thing, as I never updated my blog sale page. I do have ram lambs left-- a brown Finn ram and black and brown Shetland. But there's always a place for ram lambs.

A Quad brown ram lamb, still available.
I also have about 8 raw fleeces -- Finn and Shetland-- and a fair amount of blended roving for spinning or felting. I will market that now that I have time. 

Mari and Lassi, the sweet Finnsheep ewes.
And I will have time, again.

Things are looking better every day.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

August 2012

This summer's been built around chemotherapy sessions for my husband-- whose surgery to remove the much-diminished cancer in his thigh occurs tomorrow-- the end, we hope, of a long, stressful ordeal.  Each month, Howard had two weeks of chemo. He lost his hair and sunburned easily, but it was nice that after the first round, he was able to take the chemo at home.
The ordinary life that occurred around that challenge was mostly vegetable gardening with my daughter, lamb and sheep-tending and selling, and a few trips to and from the airport.

In June, Em went to Hawaii-- the neatest program a country kid could win, if they truly have an interest in sciences related to agriculture. 
She plans to major in biology in college, and the (free) Ag Discovery program for high school students, put on by the USDA's APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) at universities around the country, was right up her alley.  She got accepted to the 3  programs she applied to-- and her mom convinced her to pick the Hawaii trip.  Why not?

When she returned, she had two school friends out to see the farm.  They live in a suburb 25 miles away, where Em attends school. 
I don't think they'd ever fed corn to sheep so that they could pet them, before this.

Emily insisted on vegetable gardening this summer, though I'd have skipped that work for a year.

Emily loves gardening-- weeding!  Because it's so satisfying, she says.
We sold sheep left and right this summer, easily.  Who knows why? The economy picked up and people felt freer to start new flocks on new family farms? 

Some were for hobby flocks, some were pets, some were fiber animals, and I was unable to fill a commercial breeder's order for 10-12 Finnsheep ewes. 

The buyers are always nice people, and I was happy to send some of my mature animals to good homes.  It was our fear that cancer might make us disperse the flock in a hurry, and that often works out badly for the animals. 

My favorite sweet Finn ram, Osmo, went to live with a spinner/shepherd who appreciated his potential. 
Barb took Paavo along with Osmo, and a little Minnesota hay to boot.   

We are delighted to have a much smaller flock now, knowing that two mature rams are happy in Iowa, and that my old best friend ewes, Candy and Maple, are clearing a forested homesite up near Canada. 

Everyone keep their fingers crossed for Howard's recovery, as we hope for an easier year to come at Little Red Oak Farm!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mid June, lambs are growing, pastures flowing!

This post is part experiment:  my cousin Jean just notified me that the blog was missing.  Blogger agreed, and with a few button pushes, it was back up.  A mystery.

I haven't written much lately.  What's been happening?

I got all the outbuildings painted by an old friend who is, incidentally, a painter, and coincidentally, I  ran into in the vet's office mid-May.  So... one barn (lambing barn) was entirely re-painted, while 8-9 other small-to-huge, smokehouse-to-machine-shed barns got doors and windows and roof trim painted.  All fresh!

A friend, Trish, my daughter, Emily, and my mom all helped me to plant the vegetable garden and flowerpots around the house. 

The farmer who plants and harvests my tiny, tillable acreage remarked that he loved having another local guy mow his farmstead lawns, and I said, "give that guy my phone number".  For $55 I get 5 hours back each week of my precious time, not spent on a mower.  The guy with the zero-turn radius, 51" cutting deck machine does it all, well, in 90 minutes.

Love that.  The theme here is, "getting help" on this farm, since my husband was diagnosed in March with a scary form of cancer-- malignant fibrous histiocytoma-- I'll say its name.
Howard has to take chemo monthly for 4 months, then surgery, then radiation for 2 more months.  You can see how just running to doctors and clinics would take up all available extra time, hence, the need for extra help.
Most all is planted and mowed and taken care of right now, so I should get out and take some sheep photos before the lambs are all grown.  But we had a 6" rainfall overnight last night.  For the first time ever, the lambs' and ewes' current shelters were in water up to the sheepies' knees last night, and it was raining, lightning, thundering so constantly that they wouldn't follow us to a dry shelter. 
Water ran like a wide creek through their pasture, between trees in the pine windbreak, and into the rams' pasture. 
I found the (4) rams in their plastic port-a-hut, similarly up to their knees in water, and when I called, they popped out of it.
I could only hope that all sheepies found higher, dryer ground at the end of the pasture.

This morning, the sun was shining brightly, with lakes in fields and yards all around.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Finn and Shetland lambs-- take one, or two!

I think the Finn ewe lambs have homes-- I still need to match up two that are left.  I'll post them here, so their buyers can see them:
Sukka is the brown yearling ewe who had these two black HST lambs.  I will keep the boy, on the right.  His sister, left-- not a terribly flattering pose, we've called Flower, for the skunk in Bambi-- if you see the resemblance.  She's bigger and sturdier now.  Sukka's been an excellent mom.
Maple is a lovely musket Shetland ewe who is a dear pet of mine.  Her mom was a largish, white ewe with superabundant fleece, Highland Hollows Bluebell;   her dad was a beautiful mioget ram named FirthofFifth don Telmo Bourbon.  She got his reddish brown color, which faded to cream.  Maple has a modified brown ram lamb this year.  Oh, Emily has Mikie the cat in her lap, as well as Maple.

Next, Emily wins the heart-- for the first time! Of a little black Finn ewe lamb.  Her mom, Kimi, is the gray/black ewe in the middle, while Maple still hopes to hold onto her position with Emily...

This other little Finn ewe lamb will go with a badgerface lamb (seen in the last post) to live in Missouri, with Jennifer.  I just had to show you how danged sweet she is.  Emily is petting her brown Shetland favorite, Annie, and the little ewe.
... but apparently, not enough!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Last of the Spring lambs, Finn and Shetland

Will caption these soon, but here's a start:  Finnsheep, black/grey ewe is Kimi.  Her three lambs rest here.  4th sibling, Tiny Girl, went to live with a family to be raised on a bottle.   All are strong, now. 
Next photo shows the three-- all black ewe lamb, HST (head socks tails) ewe, and ram.
Kimi, finnsheep mom had quads.  One bottle baby went to live with another family.

These are Kimi's remaining lambs:  black ewe, black ewe with HST white markings, and black ram with white wisps on his crown. 

This is the sweetest little people-loving Finn ewe lamb ever.  She is out of Kora, our elder piebald ewe, and Osmo, our elder brown ram. I can't bear to sell her to a commercial flock-- she's too sweet! She has a twin ram brother, looks quite the same.
This is an amazing ram lamb out of my Stillmeadow badgerface ram (who is QR genotype for scrapie resistance) and my white ewe, Mari.  The crimpy wool outlines his body as though he's wearing a lycra suit.  Just amazing.  Nice big boy, may carry brown.

Mari's boy again, with his twin badgerface, HST sister.  This girl is spoken for.
Mari's ram lying down, Annie the Shetland's ewe lamb looks at us.  She is musket, likely, and is spoken for by a family.
Lassi the brown Finn fusses over her young rams.  She had quads;  lost a ewe lamb before I got there, and lost a ram lamb a few days later.  I regret that we missed noticing that the cute brown boy wasn't nursing well.

Lassi guarding her two brown ram lambs.  Both are big and sturdy, with lovely color.

 Nappylainen and the funniest little ram lamb (hers) ever.  He has HST spotting from his dad, and body spots from his mom, so there's a little white everywhere, but... the funniest is on his rear.  It's a big white circle, with a black dot in the middle.

Trillium, Shetland ewe, nurses her phaeomelanin-dusted boy.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Lambs, lambs, lambs

First, I love this-- it looks like Holstein cows grazing on our flat Minnesota pastures-- only it's two spotted Finnsheep.  Mom, Kora, is on the right and daughter Nappylainen is on the left.  Both produced lambs this past week.  Kora had mostly-black twins, a boy and girl, big and healthy-- and Nappy produced a big healthy ram lamb.  Hers has more spottedness-- but nothing like the moms' spots.   First year Finns often have singles, but after that, it's twins, triplets, quads, and sometimes, more.
Remember to double click on photos to show those lambs' amazing cuteness up close...

A few photos of Mari, the white Finnsheep, and her badgerfaced ewe lamb and black HST ram lamb:  The badgerface girl is going to Missouri, but the boy hasn't been promised anywhere, yet.  Both appear to have wonderful wool coming.  Both are big, healthy twins.  Last year Mari had triplets.  One each brown, black and white lambs.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Forrest's been lucky---here are some of his lambs.

Dear Husband (DH) Howard's first hospital day for chemo coincided with Forrest's butcher date, so Forrest got lucky and missed his butcher appointment.
Then, I got lambing updates from the two farms I leant Forrest to last fall.  Now I don't know:  if I really want a spotted, polled ram, is this what Forrest carries?  Or should I keep looking?  It seems that what Forrest throws are bersugget or headsplashed spotted lambs, but not the spottedness I am after, which is harder to get.  Here's a photo of what HALF of his 10 or so lambs looked like:
Friend Lori, holding one twin he produced out of her ewe, LittleRedOak Mallow, a moorit who has thrown HST lambs (white Head, Socks, Tail).  Forrest, remember is musket-- and had white tracery on his face as a lamb.

This bersugget patterned lamb is also from Mallow.

Next, triplets he fathered from LRO Catnip, a wildly spotted moorit ewe (Mallow's twin! The wool looks tightly crimped.

And finally, a black lamb with white splashes out of LRO SunBear, a black ewe whose mom had even more white head splashes. 

So, what do you all think of Forrest's potential?  Piebald spotting is hard to find;  polled rams are hard to find, and the two together are very few!  I need one!

Two new lambs, DH returns to work

Blogger changes still confound, but I'll get the hang of it, I am sure.

Yesterday the skies cleared, leaves progressed their slow-motion greening on ash and maple trees around the farm, and Mari the Finn ewe gave birth on the green grass of the barnyard . 
Howard had gone back to work after 2 weeks of chemo (1 in hospital) and chemo recovery (at home).
Em had gone back to school, and I had the farmstead all to myself. A welcome change on a beautiful, sunny day.

 I thought you might like to see some of the steps involved.  First, the bubble of placental stuff emerges.

I sat on a haywagon a respectful distance away, and took pictures as Mari bravely pushed those lambs out by herself.  Stupid, intrusive chickens hung around, though, waiting to peck at any interesting birthing matter... eeeuuuu.

Seems that most other ewes will vanish from the site when one decides to give birth.  I think they are respecting an intensely private moment between mom and babies, but they might think "get me the hell out of here, that looks painful!"

Nice job, Mari.  The little  badgerface ewe lamb is already spoken for.  Her mostly-black ram lamb is not, yet.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Lambs arriving

This is really a test to see if the new Blogger format works.  I'll be back to edit.  (Days later, still don't understand the changed format or how to access)

But it's true-- Shetland ewe lamb, Little Red Oak Trillium, had a white ram lamb on Tuesday.  Uneventful delivery, for us anyway.  We were gone.  She did it all by herself.
On Thursday, Finn ewe, Kora the spotty cow-sheep delivered just two lambs.  She had triplets last year, so, oh well.  And nearly solid black, no wild carnival-splashed up lambs.

Little Annie, the Shetland pet, had moorit twins by Friday a.m.-- boy and girl--
and now it's quiet in the lamb barn.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Last Chance for Forrest

Little Red Oak Forrest has a date with the butcher on Monday, unless you want him, and speak up quickly!
After Shearing Day on Saturday (a great, fun time, by the way, and just look at all of those shiny, cleaned- up sheep) he acted as rams do, and I decided I'd had it with him.  He's just a ram, not particularly aggressive, nor at all wild-- but when the sheep don't recognize each other after getting haircuts, they often butt heads to re-establish the pecking order, and Forrest wants to be No. 1! 
Besides, I have 3 rams for both breeds I own, Finns and Shetlands.  Forrest is so related to most of my ewes--he's a Highland Hollows Bluebell son.  I am pretty proud of everything about him-- his hornless little head, his nice square build.  His fleece is super-abundant, crimpy, and I had him micron'ed.  His AFD was 27 at 2 yrs old, probably "good 'nuff" for many folks.  I just want to keep moving on and keep my numbers down. I will look for an unrelated ram this summer.

Here are all 3 Shetland rams.  The little brown guy is only 9 months old-- a Forrest son-- he got about 4 ewes PG in a few days-- when I didn't think he could.  His fleece is baby-fine yet, at 20 AFD, so I will keep him to see how he works out.
My husband, Howard, holding the little ram, Apollo, waiting for shearing! 
There are so many big issues happening in my life right now it's hard to believe that a month ago I was relaxing, tying this quilt with Betty Ann-- the lady who was born in this farm house many years ago!
Now my, my, what lovely wool.  Just wish I could remember whose it was!  Emily will remember.