Monday, April 28, 2008

Lamb races and another ram lamb

These photos were taken last week before the snow returned over the weekend - it's gone again now. You can see the grass is starting to grow again. Just in the nick of time, we're down to our last two big squares!


Around noon today, Dot delivered this cute little white 3/4 Shetland ram lamb. He is sired by Kimberwood Harrison, a black gulmoget Shetland. So I wonder what genetics are hidden under the white? Being a crossbreed, we'll probably never know. It was nice to see small ears again.
He's got a very curly soft fleece and a cute shetland face. A little mioget (phaeo?) patch over one eye and on one shoulder.

Dot didn't lick him off much, so I toweled him off and left them alone while I watched on the barn cam. I could see him up looking for the teat, but I wasn't sure if he actually did nurse. I tried giving him a supplement because he was shivering and he looks so skinny compared the big lambs we've had here this year. He didn't want the bottle and he started bouncing/jumping around, so he must have nursed. I'm keeping an eye on him.

Last night we banded tails on the seven BFL sired lambs. Our three Shetland mule ram lambs were castrated by banding too. We left the two 3/4 BFL ram lambs intact in case a spinner flock wants to use them for breeding.

We always wait until dusk to do banding. That way the lambs can lay down with mom and rest. In the morning they are good as new. For a short while, we had seven lambs moaning and groaning and flopping around! And their moms were wondering what was the matter. I especially noticed Lanora, our BFL ewe, was very concerned with Cocoa's ram lamb. It's so cool to watch the other breeds and their mothering styles.

I'm afraid my video clip may have given people the idea that our gulmoget ewe lamb is being harrassed by the big boys. She gets along just fine, running in the lamb races and playing with the big fellas. Her mother is very protective and she has grown a lot in this first week. I was surprised at how tall she is already. Doesn't she look like a graceful little deer?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

By Request...

Okay, this video starring our little gulmoget ewe lamb is for Kim. All the sheep are staying in the pole building today because i's so dreary here with the snow and wind. The gulomget ewe lamb is only 3 days younger than the other lambs you see jumping on her and chasing her. She weighed 6.5 lbs. at birth, so she's not abnormally small. But she sure is cute. The other lambs are BFL/Shetland crosses and pretty big.
Please ignore my talking to the lambs hanging around my feet. I thought we had edited that out. ;-)

video

How about a video...

I can take movies with my new digital camera! I'm just testing this clip to see if I can get it to work on the blog. I've got some footage of the lamb races to share, but my son has to edit it for me. In the meantime here's an unedited short practice video showing a 2007 Shetland Mule on the left and a sweet little 2008 Shetland mule lamb on the right. The brown and black ewes in the barn (River Oaks Hannah and Hattie) are NOT pregnant, but they are nursing twins. Disregard the big tummies on them. ;-)

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Spring Interrupted

We woke this morning to a blanket of snow. The tulips are up, the grass was starting to take off after the recent rain, and now we're back to a snow-covered landscape. Thankfully we're not going to get a lot of accumulation like I think Garrett and Sabrina are in for.


Anyway, Cocoa was the only who came out to call for food this morning. I swear they watch for the blinds to open on the patio door and then start in bellowing.

My girls are keeping me waiting, no new lambs here since the gulmoget was born on Tuesday.
I'm thinking that Rhyn, our yearling BFL and Jemma, a 6 year old Shetland hopefully bred to Harrison (above photo taken last week), will go next. But who knows.

Our yearling fawn katmoget, Abby, is just starting to look pregnant so I'm afraid she's carrying a BFL cross rather than a Harrison baby. Darn! And Cora, a 2 year old musket Shetland is suddenly looking pretty pregnant. I hope she delivers soon as I may have found a new home for her and I'd like to see what she's carrying before letting her go.


I managed to make a batch of goat milk soap last night. If only you could smell this through the computer! Two pounds of Oatmeal Milk and Honey, and a pound of Baby Rose, and two pounds of Woodland Pear. I added Shea Butter to the recipe in hopes of a harder bar. It's so much fun to experiment with the different oils and scents. I recently made a few batches of soap without milk, but I really prefer the creamier milk soaps. I may have to try and harvest some sheep milk at weaning this year for sheep milk soap!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tuesday's addition - a gulmoget ewe lamb!


Well, this week Tuesday brought us another exciting event. We got our first ever black gulmoget Shetland ewe, she's out of River Oaks Lucy and Kimberwood Harrison. I've been hoping for a gulmoget or a gul-kat out of Lucy. I had a 25% chance of getting a solid, a katmoget, a gulmoget, or a gul-kat. I am so happy to get a gulmoget! AND a ewe lamb too. I tripled checked and it's still a girl!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Spots anyone?

Well, I think it's safe to say that BFL's can sire spots! Check out our spotted BFL/Shetland cross babies for 2008...

Mabeline's ram lamb front and back view... also above. He's very friendly like his mom.


Black head markings, socks and tail. ;-) What a cutie and his fleece is going to be crimpy!

And here's his sister, with black head markings, socks, and tail too. I think she'll have longer fleece.


And here's Cocoa's ram lamb, front and back...




And Jasmine's krunet ram lamb...he's really very black with little white eye spots and one under his chin too.

And we can't have a post without including a shot of Lanora's ewe lamb, I'm thinking of calling her Leora, and there's Cocoa's ram lamb in the background. The BFL lamb seems like a little pony among the other lambs. What long legs she has!


And this is a photo from last week showing how big our yearling Shetland Mule's 3/4 BFL ram lamb was at birth. Now that's a big lamb! I didn't weigh him until the next evening and he was 13 lbs. then.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Spotted Twins

Well Mabeline came through with some nicely spotted twins this afternoon! She had no problems, just an easy delivery of some very good sized BFL/Shetland crosses. A ram and a ewe.
The ewe lamb is darker with longer fleece and the ram lamb is lighter. Both look like they are yuglet fleckets to me. They have black socks and tails too. I'll have to get better photos of them after they dry off. I'll be keeping the ewe lamb for sure.

Jasmine's black krunet crossbred ram lamb weighed in at 10 lbs. tonight. Mabeline's twins are 8.5 pounds for the ewe and and 9 pounds for the ram lamb. There are no more BFL sired crosses to come. Just one more purebred BFL and a Shetland sired crossbred out of Dot.

We still have 3, maybe 4, purebred Shetlands to go too. It looks like all will be singles from here on out. Three of the remaining ewes were bred to a gulmoget ram. So it will be exciting to see if we get our first gulmoget too.

Lanora's ewe lamb is looking good, but still has meconium staining in her fleece. She slept a lot today and Lanora was very responsive to the cries of Mabeline's twins.

Our First Purebred BFL lamb and more crosses


We've been busy around here yesterday and today! Lanora delivered our first BFL ewe lamb yesterday. It was a tough delivery with one leg back, but we all made it through in the end. Lots of panic ensued(for me) in the meantime and I even had an emergency vet on the way. I've never had to assist like that before. Fortunately we got the baby out and cancelled the vet. Mother and baby are doing fine this morning.

While talking on the phone this morning, I noticed on the barn cam what looked like Jasmine nursing a little black lamb just outside the barn door. Sure enough, when I got out there I found this nice black krunet BFL/Shetland cross ram lamb following his mom like an old pro. I jugged them and clipped and dipped. That's the way I like lambing!


And it looks like Mabeline, the widest ewe of them all, starting to labor in the corner of the barn across from the barn cam. I hope all goes well. I'm still hoping to get a colored mule lamb to retain for breeding and Mabeline is my last hope. We've gotten two white mules and two colored crossbred ram lambs. I love the coloring on the crossbred ram lambs and sure hope to see it on a ewe lamb this year. Fingers are crossed! ;-) Photo above is Mabeline 5 days ago, and the one below was taken this morning. I think she's finally ready to go!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

More Ram lambs

Well Tuesday must be the day around here. Last Tuesday we were blessed with Hattie's twins (above) and Elsa's twin ewe Shetland Mule lambs (below) ...


and this Tuesday Delia gave us this 3/4 BFL ram lamb (man, is he BIG! 13 lbs at a day and a half old- poor Delia! She's just a yearling).....



then an hour later, Cocoa presented us with this BFL/Shetland cross ram lamb (he's another big boy, 11.5 lbs at a day and a half. He's the same size as Elsa's twins already. Cocoa always gives me blettets, smirslets or yuglets - this guy is a smirslet, not quite a yuglet on the one side. His fleece is so striking - it reminds me of Gotland fleece. He's very friendly already too)....


And this morning around 10 a.m., Derra had this beautiful 3/4 BFL white ram lamb (born with one leg back - pretty tough on a yearling ewe, good thing he wasn't overly large -- oops, we weighed him tonight, he's 10.5 pounds! She did great!).

All the new boys found the teat right away and everyone is doing fine so far. I hope Derra will be okay, I had to go in looking for the other leg. Couldn't find it. I ran to the house for the sheep manual and a phone to call for help. But when I got back, he was out! Thank heavens. ;-)

Only 9 more ewes to go. Two might not be pregnant or they could be stragglers. Time will tell.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Lull in Lambing...



I took some photos of the lambs this morning, Elsa's white ewe lambs are so photogenic.
Gosh, they are all SO cute and SO friendly! What fun to see them run and bounce as only lambs can do. They love being petted and having chin scratches. Oh the fleeces feel soft too. Below is a photo of Hannah's mioget ram lamb. He's built like a brick house. You can see his horns are coming in now.


We suffered through a nasty snowstorm here this week. I had to lock the girls inside the barn for two days. The wind was coming from the east and blowing right into the ewe and lamb area. We only got about 6 inches of heavy wet snow, but the winds were awful and the temps plummeted. It was like being in February again - very depressing. School was closed too. Things are really starting to melt today and the wind has died down. The girls were glad to be able to go outside again yesterday, even if there is just snow and no grass. The forecast is for 60 degree temps this week. I hope that comes true!

I had to supplement one of Elsa's twins who had a difficult time locating the teat. She's the one in the sunbeam photos above - so cute, but blonde I'm afraid. She finally managed to nurse on her own at the ripe old age of a day and a half. Being part BFL, she was looking way up high for the teat. And Elsa, being a Shetland, has a huge bag so the teats were very low.

Here is a shot of her twin sister taken this afternoon...these girls so much fun to photograph.


Thank goodness all ended well with that lamb figuring out how to nurse. But it wasn't until after I ordered myself an Udderly EZ Milker. I have wanted one since they first came out, but they are quite expensive. I think it will help in emergency situations. I still plan to improve my hand-milking technique since long-term use of the EZ Milker isn't supposed to be all that good for udder health. It's a good thing I didn't need it right away, because I still haven't gotten it. Maybe the snowstorm slowed down UPS a bit. It should be here tomorrow for sure. Anyway, I will be ready if I need it for the BFLs or the mules. They are all first timers, and I just don't know how good they will be as mothers. Fingers are crossed here!

We've had a lull in lambing activity for four and a half days now. I'm getting the urge for a lamb fix again. I've pulled myself back together and cleaned the house, washed clothes and fleece and have been cooking nutritious meals for the family. Being unemployed has allowed me to totally immerse myself in all things sheep. At least when I had a job I would get away and concentrate on other things for a while.

In an effort to widen my scope, I will let you know about some other exciting things that have been developing around here.

I am all signed up to go to the Midwest Felting Symposium this July in Madison, WI. I am really excited about it. There will be felters from all over the world in attendance. I'll be taking a hat class from a Scottish felter, Ewa Kuniczak and taking "Botanical Felt" class with Leslie Samson. I'm SO grateful to Nancy Hoerner for inviting me to go along with her and encouraging me to enter something in the art show too. Now I just have to get going on creating another piece!

Last week I ordered "Uniquely Felt" by Christine White. It's a great book on felting which includes lots of the newer techniques such as nuno felting and cobweb felting. There are so many things to be done with felt. I just happen to have come into the possession of some BFL cross fiber that is super soft and felts almost immediately. I plan to use that for cobweb felt scarves. I'm drumcarding it into batts now. I wish I knew what the cross was. I washed my own crosses' fleece this week and can't wait to try felting that too.

I also ordered my aunt Kathy's latest murder mystery, "The Kingdom Where Nobody Dies". From reading the jacket cover, this looks like a good one. It is her fourth in a series of murder mysteries featuring her main character, John McIntire, a town constable in Michigan's upper peninsula. I'm not a fast reader, so I'm letting Stan be the first to read this while I get through lambing and the felting book.

Nancy Hoerner has a new book, "Felt Inlays", coming out in July. I want to get that too.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Finally some ewe lambs!

Cordelia had a single fawn katmoget ram lamb (above and below) yesterday which brought the purebred Shetland lamb count up to FOUR ram lambs and ZERO ewe lambs. She's 10 years old so a single is probably good for her. Isn't he a cutie?

Thankfully Hattie broke the ram streak by delivering a little moorit ewe lamb about 5:00 a.m. today. I went out to check on them about 5:30 because I couldn't get back to sleep after checking the barn cam and seeing nothing happening. Well Hattie was delivering outside. The ewe lamb was very cold. I fixed up another jug and brought them inside. Then Hattie delivered a BIG black ram. No more, just the two. They are both doing fine. I'm hoping the black one will turn out to be a dark brown eventually.

Sorry I don't have a better photo of them to share...but this ewe lamb is in front and her brother is in back here.


After clipping, dipping and stripping Hattie's lambs, I went in to make some coffee and noticed that Elsa was in labor right in view of the barn cam. I watched her on the barn cam and then headed out to start fixing up yet another jug. I was able to witness the birth of her two Shetland Mule lambs (both white EWE lambs!).

They were so vigorous and noisy compared to all the purebred Shetlands. Talk about hybrid vigor! Mabeline has huge bag so I'm sure these girls will fill in quickly. They look so tall and thin don't they? Oh, the fleece on these two! It's going to be NICE.


Now I need a nap. My only other possible triplet candidate is Mabeline. I will be so relieved when she delivers. Then I'll start worrying about the BFL ewes. ;-)

Sunday, April 06, 2008

One more ram lamb...and waiting for the ewes

We got another moorit ram lamb yesterday. He's out of River Oaks Eliza and Windswept Boggart. He's pretty big, a single with big horn buds. He and his mom, Eliza, are for sale as a package this spring. He carries modified and UK genetics.


Eliza has one of the best fleeces in our Shetland flock, she's got a beautiful face and very pleasant personality. In fact, her fleece is the one Shetland fleece I saved for competitions this year. Last year she had a white ram lamb with the same sire. He had really nice fleece but his right horn was close. We can wether this little guy if the pair goes to a fiber home.


Hanah's two boys are smaller in comparison with Eliza's boy. The smirslet twin the smallest of all the lambs. He's such a cutie! Notice the little moon spot on the lighter twin's rump. He's also got lighter areas on the top of his head and ears. Hannah has moon spots too.



Today I'm hoping that Hattie will drop whatever it is she's carrying in there. She and Mabeline are huge as you can see in photo above. The poor girls can hardly breath when they lay down! Hattie appears to have dropped today but her due date is April 9. Mabeline is on the calendar for today along with Jemma. But I don't think they've consulted it.

So I'm carding up Lucy's (our grey katmoget) fleece this rainy afternoon. I handcomb it after drumcarding. And in this photo you can see the washed fleece on the left, the carded batts on the top right and a skein of handspun yarn just above the lazy kitty, Damian. I loved the variegation in Lucy's yarn, and it's so soft! The fleece was only about a pound and a quarter after skirting and washing, so it doesn't take much to process it all myself.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Yes! We Have Lambs!

Hannah delivered a set of ram lambs this afternoon with very little fanfare and on her due date no less. A moorit smirslet and a lighter moorit, possibly mioget (fingers crossed!).

It was beautiful warm day. I fed the ewes about 2:00 p.m. and strolled the pasture, thinking of my rotational grazing plans for summer.

While feeding, I noticed that Elsa had lost her mucous plug and looked very dropped. She's not due until Monday, but it wouldn't be uncommon for her to go 3 days early (144 days). So when I came in the house, I turned on the barn cam. I had the sound on, but didn't hear any sounds of labor. After a while I noticed a bunch of ewes all very interested in something in the corner of the barn. And one dark ewe's tail was elevated for the whole time - Elsa is white. I listened for baby sounds, nothing. Finally the ewes stepped back and I saw a tiny little white spotted head bobbing around! I put on my boots and flew out to the barn with Ozzie.

All was quiet and peaceful in the barn, on a warm sunny afternoon. It's just so very calm and beautiful seeing the little newborn get on his feet and search for his first drink. And mom busily licking him off, talking to him quietly. The other ewes sauntered over to get acquainted with the new little guy. I felt so privileged to be there, accepted by the flock and witnessing it all up close.
A second water bag appeared and I waited for a while in hopes that baby number two would arrive shortly.

Then I remembered I had the camera in my pocket! I took it out and sure enough, it never fails, there was a card error. If it's not dead batteries or lack of the photo card, it's the sudden unexplained demise of the photo card!

So I went back in the house for the iodine, a scissors and a different camera card. I still had the barn cam going and after about 10 minutes the second lamb had dropped and was being licked off. Again, no sounds of labor, no prolonged birth, just plopping out a lamb! Hannah must take after her mother Bramble Hetty who delivered her and her twin with very little effort. My worries about overfeeding the alfalfa rations seem to be unfounded at this point. These lambs are not large at all, the look to be about 5 pounds. And they are just so cute!

Here's lamb #1, the darker one...


And below is the lighter ram lamb. I'm not sure how to tell mioget at birth. River Oaks Hannah is an F2 Holly, she's dark moorit and she was bred to Windswept Boggart, a rose mioget ram with facial spots. Maybe #1 is a dark moorit and #2 is a regular moorit. Any suggestions are welcome!


Now I suddenly realize I haven't made my usual list of names. Gosh, I'd better get going on that!

Next up on the calendar is Delia tomorrow, she's a Shetland Mule bred to a BFL. Then on Sunday we have Jemma and Mabline marked down and two more on Monday. Mabeline is pictured below. She's a very sweet ewe who is roo-able. That's a trait I'd like to line breed. She's a very wide load!