Sunday, September 23, 2007

I've got sheep for sale too

It's that time of year when shepherds get cold feet about the impending winter. I've seen several fellow breeders trying to lighten their load by offering ewes for sale in the past week or so. Well, I'm going to join them!

I've got 30 sheep and not enough pasture or hay, so I've decided not to be a sheep hoarder anymore. I guess I can let go of some ewe lambs, Abby, Amber, Darcy and Brita -- if I have to. I also have an unrelated musket ram lamb for sale at only $125. Very nice conformation, horns and fleece on this guy.

In fact, this group would make a great starter flock with a fawn katmoget, black, white and two muskets. I could even throw in a free wether to keep the ram company after breeding season.

And I could also let go of my mioget ram, Windswept Boggart after Dec. 1st for a reduced price of $200. He's a very nice proven yearling ram.

I hope to get down to around 20 sheep for the winter...still too many, but I can only go so far.

Check out my website. www.riveroakssheep.com, for more details and photos. The ewe lambs are priced at $200 with a discount for two or more to the same home.

Our flock is only six months away from becoming certified in the SCFP (voluntary Scrapie Flock Certification Program). The sheep are up to date on vaccinations, hoof trimming and worming.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Bearded Blue Silkies/BFL's





I'm like a kid in a candy store now that I can upload my photos again! Here's a shot of the four Bearded Blue Silkies I got at an auction in early July (yes, one is actually black). I don't know what sex they are yet, it looks like one rooster for sure. I haven't heard any crowing yet. They are very tame little birds, probably because they can't see very well with all that fuzz on their heads. I kept them separate from the laying flock and they are trained to follow me to a separate pen every morning. That has got to stop pretty soon.

I put Rhyn in with the ewe flock yesterday. She is almost as big as our yearling BFL ewe, Lanora. She promptly managed to get stung by a bee, right on the nose. It swelled up quite a bit, but she was fine otherwise. I felt bad for the poor girl, she already was distraught over being separated from Granite and having to deal with some of the older ewes who aren't real friendly to newcomers in the flock. Granite is shown below next to our yearling BFL ram, Dougal. I didn't realize there was such a size difference until I saw them side by side. There was some head butting while these two worked out their pecking order, but it wasn't bad at all. Rhyn kept calling to Granite, I think she was the most upset of the two. The natural colored BFL's are so beautiful and graceful out on the pasture. And that fleece!

Recently I've seen some tests on people's blogs. Bill Stearman had, "What Dog Breed are You?" on his. I'm a Golden Retriever, I guess. And Nancy Krohn had, "What Tarot Card are You?" on hers. I'm Strength, whatever that means. I noticed the word "obstinancy" in the description along with something about a maiden opening (and closing) a lion's mouth....hmmmm.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Jefferson weekend/Frosty morning

We had a lot of fun at the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival last weekend. I decided not to bring my sheep because one of my ewes came down with pink eye and the vet said stress could bring it out in my show string since the ewe lambs would have been exposed. So I volunteered to bring 4 women in my little red van instead. It would have been quieter with the sheep in the van! The conversation never seemed to lull. Sheep and knitting topics all weekend long. It was great!

I got brave and entered a skein of Mabeline's hand-rooed, hand-combed, hand-spun 2 ply yarn in the skein competition. I was honored to get a 3rd place ribbon. The first and second place entries were really nice. Maybe next year I'll try it again...


Even though I left my sheep at home, I was thrilled to see two of my lambs in the show ring doing well for their new owner, Bill Gillette and his daughter Caitlyn. I felt like a proud grandma as they collected ribbons and the judge talked about their fleece and conformation. Caitlyn and Bill did a great job showing them. They told me the ewe lambs got Champion and Reserve Champion in 4-H at the county fair and the Reserve Champion went on to win 1st place in 4-H at the State Fair (the Champion ewe couldn't go due to age of the exhibitor).
They are both sired by Sheltering Pines Bombarde. He's an Ag Fawn Katmoget. I really want to thank my friend Stephen Rouse for sharing Bombarde with me. His lambs were awesome and he's RR AA to boot. He'll be getting most of my black shetlands this year -- I want more grey katmogets and some grey sheep in my flock again. Of course, I'm also hoping for some miogets out of Boggart.


I finally got the new part and fixed my computer! I took some photos this morning and here they are. Amber is pictured above, and Brita is below. Geronimo is at the very bottom. They are all fresh from the feeder in these shots - I hate that Timothy hay! The Geronimo photo shows his weird "knife blade" horns.

We had our first freeze last night, there was ice in waterers this morning. It was so cold outside and in the house too. I finally broke down and turned on the heat just now. All the guys went fishing up north this weekend, so turning on the heat is easier than starting a fire... Thankfully our 12 little chicks are doing fine with their adoptive mama to keep them warm. Looks like some of my Black Australorps are really Barred Rocks. I like Barred Rocks too. The poor little Turkens with their naked necks! It seems like they would really be stressed by the cold weather, but I guess they do fine. We'll see...

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Fun at the State Fair

We had a great time during our two days at the Minnesota State Fair. I wasn't really prepared for the intensity of people crowding around our little sheep. They were on display in the Baa Booth, which is sponsored by the Minnesota Lamb and Wool producers. I had a display board with yarn samples, the NASSA color chart, the Shetland markings chart, a few of Nancy Krohn's calendar photos and a few of my own photos showing the capabilities of Shetlands as crossing dams with a Bluefaced Leicester ram. I brought my wheel and did spinning demos and talked, talked, talked. I passed out lots of MSSBA handouts, Shepherd's Harvest bookmarks and a few of my own business cards to potential shepherds and spinners. People asked all kinds of questions about sheep, lamb prices, lamb cuts, wool prices, just about everything under the sun!

I brought three purebred Shetlands, Jake, Amber and Brita, and a Shetland Mule lamb, Derra. Derra and Amber were such good little girls wagging their tails almost constantly. But Brita was skiddish the whole time. She's so friendly at home and her fleece is exceptional, I thought she'd be a great addition to the fair display, but that wasn't the case.

And Jake, our little musket ram lamb-- well, he started off just fine, but he got rammy after people tried to grab his horns. I should have had the NO TOUCHING HORNS sign up first thing in the morning. Anyway, we brought him home after just one day. As a young lamb he was rammy, but he had been so much better lately that I thought he'd do well there. Oh well!
We also got to bring home 12 baby chicks that night for our broody hen. We don't keep a rooster here and the timing worked out great again this year for her to adopt some chicks from the Miracle of Birth Center. We got 5 leghorns, 4 australorps, and 3 turken chicks. It's surprising how well they adapt to a real mother, even at 5 days old. The photo above shows just a few of them poking their heads out on the first morning. They were quiet and stayed under her for two days before she took them out of the nest area. They are now busily following her around the pasture and running whenever she calls to them for some kind of chicken treat in the dirt.

The most excitement of the fair came when we went to load up the sheep on Tuesday night. With a handful of spectators in attendance, we lured Derra into the big kennel and then tried to get Brita in there too. Well, she managed to wriggle out of a small opening near the gate and took off like a shot into the adjacent poultry barn. Thank heavens the spectators immediately ran after her! Stan & I didn't think we'd ever catch her, it was a very sinking feeling. The helpers managed to head her off at the poultry barn exit and she turned to run right toward Stan who was crouching down to catch her. But then she jumped and he caught her right in mid-air! I was SO relieved to see him come carrying her back to the waiting kennel. Then after we loaded up Derra and Amber there was a big round of applause. I guess we really put on a show! When I think of what could have happened, I am SO thankful Brita wasn't on the run long.
Now it's time to halter train the lambs I've entered in the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival next weekend. I'm bringing Lucy and Darcy and Eli. I'd love to bring my yearling ram Boggart, but I'm not sure how if he'd like riding six hours in an extra large dog kennel. I think I
need a trailer or even a popper like Kim's got.