Monday, April 27, 2015

Lambs, lambs and more lambs!!!

Things are happening fast here at River Oaks Farm & Studio -- so fast that I don't have time to post!
In this post we'll start off with photos of all the beautiful lambs that were born in March.
Luna started our lambing off on March 13th with a set of triplets sired by Jester, my 94% Teeswater ram.  Two ram lambs and a ewe lamb.
The natural colored ram lamb turned out to be the ONLY colored lamb sired by Jester. He's beautiful and he's going to a special home with Linda Brion in Wisconsin.
That night, Godiva contributed a nice black ewe lamb sired by OK Acres Elvis.

The next day was my birthday and also a very special Pi day, 3-14-15. That afternoon Camille delivered twin moorit gulmoget lambs sired by Elvis. The ram lamb has tiny horns developing, and his name is Pi. The ewe lamb is named Emma, after my grandmother who also shares the 3-14 birthday.

Roxie, my 2 year-old BFL/Finn ewe had triplet ewe lambs sired by Jester on 3-19. They have the most beautiful faces!

Left to right: Roxie, Leta, Rita, and Luna in back
It seemed like forever before the rest of the ewes lambed, they were SO big, I was watching them like a hawk.
On 3-26 I had three ewes in labor all at the same time. Rita, my BFL ewe had triplet lambs sired by Jester, all were white, two rams and a ewe. She's never had white lambs before, but she has had triplets for the past two years. This year I really thought she'd have quads.

Eva, a 6 year-old 3/4 BFL ewe lost a set of moorit twins sired by Elvis, due to the placenta coming before the lamb. I had never seen this before and didn't know what to do (I have since learned that one has to go right in and pull the lamb in this case - but Eva had never lambed before and she was definitely not dilated). I had a call in to the vet, but by the time she was on her way several hours later, Eva had delivered the first of the twins and the second came shortly afterward without problems.
By then my BFL ewe, Leta was laying down pushing. I thought she would have triplets, so I immediately decided to foster one of them to Eva. I was hoping Leta would have a natural colored one, but she had all white ewe lambs (sired by Jester).  I took the last one over to Eva as soon as it was born. I rubbed Eva's placenta all over it as well as Eva's milk on its head and butt.

Unfortunately Eva didn't fall for it so I put the lamb back in with her real mom, Leta. She accepted it back for a few hours and then rejected it later that night. Darn!

So Little Orphan Annie spent the night in the house.

Gracie, a Shetland Mule, delivered an Ag grey ewe lamb that night. I was running out of jug space!

Audrey, a Finn/Shetland ewe delivered twin ewe lambs sired by Elvis in the wee hours of 3-28.

She was followed by my Wensleydale ewe, Wanda a few hours later. Another set of ewe lambs sired by the Teeswater! These two are So cute.

Minnie finished up lambing on 3-31 with a nice set of purebred Shetlands sired by Elvis. A moorit smirslet sokket ram and a moorit gulmoget ewe lamb.

So 24 lambs born, four sets of triplets, five sets of twins, and two singles. Twenty-two live lambs.
It was a ewe lamb year with 16 ewes and 6 rams. I have been supplementing the triplets who seem hungry. All the lambs are doing well and growing like weeds. They are now 4-6 weeks old and I'm about done supplementing them.

I will have several ewe lambs for sale and a few ram lambs. The 47% Teeswater lambs are all white with various amounts of brown markings on their faces, legs and hooves. Their fleeces are going to be fantastic!

The Shetland lambs were all twins and singles, and they are well-fed fat little buggers. I will posting the lambs for sale soon.  I need to cut back on my flock (now at 43 sheep) because I am selling my farm and MOVING!  Yes, the sheep and poultry are coming with me; we're building a beautiful new barn for them. ;-)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Another chapter closes. RIP Ozzie


In the midst of all the joyous spring happenings (birthdays, lambing and shearing) my loyal 11 year-old Australian Shepherd, Ozzie became terribly ill. He began consistently vomiting and eventually he refused to eat. I took him to the vet on St. Patrick's Day. The diagnosis was pancreatitis. He was on sub-q fluids and penicillin for a week. There were points when he looked like he was going to make it. He would bark at visitors and come with me for chores, but he never regained his appetite. Yesterday he took a turn for the worse and he passed away during the night.

I'm sure going miss him, he was a big presence in this house since 2003. He was a great watch dog and very smart. You'll notice him somewhere in many of my sheep photos. He was a link to the life I used to have. Things change, life goes on and now there's one less link to that old life. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Raw Felted Fleece Classes

The weather here in Minnesota is unseasonably warm, the ewes are about ready to lamb, shearing is scheduled in two days, and I'm home washing and felting fleeces. It sure feels like heaven to me. :-)

I will be teaching some raw felted fleece classes this spring and summer.

The first class will be at Shepherd's Harvest in Lake Elmo May 15th. I will also have a booth there May 16-17, 2015.  Class registration begins March 15th, here's a link to the class description, there are lots of good classes lined up this year.

I will also be teaching it in Ogilvie, MN by appointment. The class is about 6 hours long. The cost  is $125, which  includes materials, handouts, a lunch of wood-fired pizza and refreshments. Bring your own 1 to 5 pound raw fleece. Come and see the sheep grazing and felt a fleece! Contact me to sign up or for more information. This is a messy project, so we will need to work outdoors.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Focaccia - yummm!

This past summer, my friend Sid and I sold focaccia, eggs, and goat milk soap at the Farmer's market in Isle, MN. It's a really great little farmer's market with a friendly atmosphere. I would bring my wheel and spin between customers. Spinning always garners interest from the crowd. We were usually sold out of focaccia way before the end of market hours. Sid is a great cook and comes up with some great combos for toppings (wild rice & cheddar, red onion & rosemary, garlic & mozzerella, to name a few). The best part is, focaccia goes with just about anything.

We will be selling handmade artisan focaccia again tomorrow, Nov. 22nd, at Barb Dreyer Studio's 15th Annual Open house, from 10 a.m.  to 4 p.m. The address is 6916 Canary RD, Grasston, MN.
Barb will have her award winning pottery for sale along with other locally made beverages and edibles.  Stop by if you get a chance!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Back to Winter Already

We got about a foot of snow the other day, so it's back to plowing and shoveling and all the other jobs that come with winter weather. Blah!
I've got two pens of breeding sheep and a pen of bachelor boys to feed twice a day.  
Part of the Shetland breeding group.

Some of the Bluefaced Leicester/Teeswater breeding group.
Also 27 ducks and 16 chickens...
It's good to get outside and breathe the fresh air, I'm not complaining about animal care. I just really don't look forward to another bout of shoveling and hauling wood, seems like summer and fall went by way too fast.
The good part of this weather change is that now I have some indoor time to update my blog. I'm also changing my old River Oaks Sales blog into Rebecca Utecht Art. I love to share the news about my animals, but I also need a place to focus on my art work. I'm currently in the process of adding photos, etc. So please be patient as I get it all together.
I hope everyone is warm and all my friends' sheep flocks are busy making new little lambs for spring. Which is sure come again someday. :-)

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

WSWF, New Rams & Fabulous Fibre Month at Seasons on St. Croix Gallery

I am so glad I went to the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival this year. I came home with two new rams and breeding plans for this fall.
Thanks to Deb Peterson for lending me the horse trailer I sold her a couple years ago.
I brought three Bluefaced Leicester ram lambs for the Stock Market Exchange. I still have the natural colored ram for sale.

Linda Brion brought me "Boston" this very sweet Teeswater ram lamb. What an interesting face he has!

I also leased a beautiful two year old moorit Shetland ram named "Elvis" from Kelly Bartels, of Okay Acres. Elvis was Reserve Champion ram last year in the MSSBA show at Jefferson. I needed a polled ram to breed the three gulmoget ewes that have returned to my flock this past summer.
Left to right: Minnie, Mystery, Eva
River Oaks Mystery and Minnie have never been bred, so I needed a Shetland ram for their first breeding. I'm sure they will do just fine with their first lambing at age four.
Eva also came back with Minnie & Mystery.  She's a 4 year old 3/4 BFL and 1/4 Shetland with a fabulous fleece. She's never been bred either. I will keep a good eye on her and I'm sure she'll do fine too. She's very friendly.
Earlier in August, Godiva (in the right in the photo above) came home, she was not a good fit in the home I sold her to last summer. She's a bit crafty at getting what she wants and she didn't follow the rotational grazing plan there. She wasn't home long before she figured out how to get loose here. In fact she did it three days in a row. I figured out her exit spot was the chain link fencing right near the windfall apples. It is now staked down good and tight. Godiva is so friendly and she seemed to remember everything here.  I am very happy to have all these Shetland ewes (and their fleeces) back in my flock.

Mystery's raw felted fleece was displayed at the Minnesota State Fair this year and got the attention of a New York Times reporter. A photo of it was included in the September 4th paper edition, here's a link to the online article, the fleece is photo #6 in the slide show:

So now I am busy making lots more raw felted fleeces, teaching and taking classes. Some of my art work will be on display at the Seasons on St. Croix Gallery in Hudson, WI from Oct. 3 through Nov. 2. I am honored to be included in the Fabulous Fibre Month exhibit along with felt artists Pamela MacGregor, Robbin Firth, Dawn Edwards, Jan Waller, and Elena Rosenberg.  Everyone is invited to attend the First Friday Celebration on Friday, Oct. 3 from 5-9 p.m.
In addition to the exhibit, Robbin Firth of Heartfelt Silks is hosting eight felting classes during October, including a raw felt locks pillow that I will be teaching on October 11. You can find all the details for the classes on her website:

Friday, August 29, 2014

Bluefaced Leicester ram and ram lambs for sale

I have two purebred Bluefaced Leicester ram lambs born in April, 2014 (photos coming soon).
White twin ram lamb out of River Oaks Luna, $300
Nautural colored triplet ram lamb out of River Oaks Rita  $350
Both were sired by my beautiful Bluefaced Leicester ram, Red Oak Mason (shown below as a lamb). 
Mason is a triplet with lines going back to Anne Priest's flock. He is available and ready to go. $400

I will be at Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival September 6-7 and at North Country Fiber Fair September 20-21. I can deliver sheep to those venues or anywhere along the way.
Red Oak Mason, fall 2013
Call or email for more information: Phone 320-679-4117 or email