Sunday, July 05, 2015

4th of July Already?!?


 
I can't believe it's already mid-summer. Hope everyone had a good 4th of July. Sid and I went to Wahkon to watch the fireworks on Mille Lacs Lake. Half of the fun is sitting on the lakeshore watching the people. The other half is watching the fireworks going off all around the lake. We've had some beautiful weather so far this year.

The strawberries did especially well, and Sid's homemade cranberry wine turned out excellent. Life is good!
Sid in the new barn weighing one end of the 26' white oak tree trunk.
We got the center pole for the spiral staircase this week. It's a white oak tree trunk. It came from our friends' farm and weighs 890 pounds. According the rings, it's 84 years old. It will be the focal point of the main floor here in Ogilvie, but I'm afraid we need to make a hole in the north wall of the house in order to get it installed.
The new barn in Ogilvie is finished, but we still need to do some dirtwork before we can put up fencing for the sheep. I can't wait to get the flock moved to the new farm and see how fast they clear the brush. I will need to invest in coats for all of them.
Good news! It looks like Mystery is pregnant after all. She's bagging up and her belly is looking pretty big. The bad news is she chose to wait until after Elvis (the Shetland ram) left. So the sire of her lambs is either Mason, my Bluefaced Leicester ram who jumped the fence at the end of January and stayed with the ewes through February -- or Jester the Teeswater ram. I'm keeping a close eye on her because she's 4 years old and this is her fist time lambing. I didn't intend for her to start off with crossbred lambs.
I've decided to sell all my registered Bluefaced Leicester ewes. I have three 4 yr-olds and two yearlings. Ruby, a triplet yearling out of River Oaks Rita, is in the photo above. I love the Bluefaced Leicesters, they are all excellent moms, but they all delivered healthy triplets last March and I really do need to reduce my numbers.
I am really excited about the Teeswater cross lambs' fleeces.
I will keep most of the TeeswaterX ewe lambs and my BFL/Finn and Wensleydale/BFL ewes.  Maybe a couple of my favorite Shetlands too.
Watching the TeeswaterX lambs grow is interesting. Some are growing quite quickly and others are staying small. Of course the triplet factor may be part of that.
Jester has filled out and become a very nice looking ram. He's pictured above grazing with Mystery and below grazing with one of his sons (this is one of the larger lambs).

I have two Jester sons (Teeswater/Bluefaced Leicester) that are looking good as potential wool flock sires. They are triplet brothers out of River Oaks Rita, so they carry color. I will be at the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival this fall and can deliver sheep there.
I found a new little horse trailer so I can haul rams and ewes separately -- plus all the supplies necessary for the Raw Felted Fleece class I will be teaching there on Sunday, Sept. 13th.

I taught a class for the Minnesota Feltmakers Guild in my new outdoor class space last month. It's always a fun class and everyone learns from the fleeces and from each other.
First step -- evaluating the fleece. Photo by Micah Kinder.

Students lay out fleeces as the wood fired pizza oven gets warmed up. Photo by Micah Kinder.
Micah and I working on her fleece layout. Photo by Sid Frantz.

Sid served up some delicious pizzas. Photo by Micah Kinder.
Thankfully everyone was stilling smiling during the rolling portion of the class. 
Unfortunately I didn't get a photo of the finished projects from the class. But two days later I hosted the Artrageous art group here. It was a bit chilly, so we all snuggled up under my raw felted fleeces.

Photo by Thelma Olds




Friday, May 29, 2015

River Oaks is on the Move

The new pole barn is going up in Ogilvie...
the new coop is ready...

and the 5 chickens and duck who survived the fox at my house are getting used to their new home...

We've got 33 two-week-old chicks in the studio at Ogilvie...

and ducklings are hatching in the incubator at my house...

I am going crazy trying to declutter my house so it can go on the market. I have too much stuff! I've gotten a million minor repairs done and still have more to do. If only I would have done all those minor things years ago.
The realtors came to stage the house and take photos yesterday. They did a fantastic job! The place looks good, but it feels so empty now without all the artwork on the walls.
They also took a couple photos of my Teeswater cross ewe lambs...
47% Teeswater, 34% Wensleydale, BFL twin ewe lamb.

Annie, 47% Teeswater, 50% BFL triplet ewe lamb

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Raw Felted Fleeces!

We had a beautiful weather for the raw felted fleece class yesterday at Shepherd's Harvest. I was lucky to get a great group of students who had no qualms about getting in there and helping out when things went a little off (like when my portable water heater sprung leaks because I failed to drain it out before winter and frozen water burst the pipes).  Thankfully Sid ran to get a new one, but in the meantime the ladies helped move our tables outside and hauled buckets of hot water so we could get started.

They all made gorgeous fleeces! Left to right in the photo above, an Ag dual coated Shetland fleece, a white  Corriedale and natural colored Corriedale/Wensleydale X fleece that was pieced together, a white Icelandic fleece, a Gotland fleece, a white Bluefaced Leicester lamb fleece, an English Leicester fleece, and a moorit Shetland.

I wondered how Corriedale would do because it's so fine and the staple length was 4-5". We were worried about it not catching in back, but it did and what a nice dense fleece/rug it turned out to be.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

My Raw Felted Fleece Class at Shepherd's Harvest

It's coming up soon, my Raw Felted Fleece on May 15th at Shepherd's Harvest in Lake Elmo, MN!
There are still three openings at this time. Here's a link to the class description and registration:
http://shepherdsharvestfestival.org/festival-info/friday-classes/

I love teaching this class because it's such an individual project. Each fleece is unique and we all get to learn from each other's fleeces.  And who doesn't love to immerse themselves in all that wonderful, aromatic, sensual wool?

I will also be teaching this class at Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival in September.  I'm really looking forward to going back to WSWF. I will bring my Teeswater cross lambs and Shetlands for the sale area. Maybe I'll even train Roxie's biggest ewe lamb to walk on the lease so I can show her.

The land has been cleared and our new barn goes up in just two weeks.  There's so much happening these days! I'm still trying to declutter my house so I can get it on the market.

The darn fox took out half my flock of chickens and ducks a couple weeks ago. I'm down to one broody duck (14 eggs in the incubator for her) and six hens. Sid and I decided to incubate all the chicken eggs for the week after the attack (it got the rooster) and we now have 72 viable eggs.  That will give us lots of purebred Barred Rocks and Barred Rock cross chicks!

Because of all the housing, moving, and building projects going on this spring, I decided to cancel my booth at Shepherd's Harvest this year.  I will be back next year.  Be sure to mark your calendar to attend the 2015 Shepherd's Harvest, it's always a fun weekend.


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 which I thought were sired by Jester, my 94% Teeswater ram.  I witnessed Jester breeding Luna and marked the calendar. Sure enough, she lambed right on schedule, two ram lambs and a ewe lamb. But as they have grown older, I noticed that their faces are narrower and not as fuzzy as Jester's lambs. Also the natural colored lamb is definitely gulmoget and there were no other colored lambs sired by Jester. Then it dawned on me that a little white BFL/Shetland ram lamb (whose mother is gulmoget) was in the next pen. Then I remembered he managed to get into Jester's breeding pen early on. So now I'm thinking these three are 3/4 BFL and 1/4 Shetland.  Oh well, they have very soft fleeces, the natural colored one is wethered and he'll have the best fleece type for raw felted fleeces.  And the ewe lamb can be bred to Jester this fall since she's unrelated - so it's not all bad news. :-)


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.