Thursday, September 25, 2008

He's Here! Ile de France ram lamb

Our new Ile de France ram lamb arrived right on schedule Tuesday. I still need to think up a name for him. I've been so busy this week I haven't gotten any good daylight photos of him, these were taken at dusk. He's bunking with Socks, our Shetland Mule wether for the time being. They are pretty close in size. He was born in June, so he's got a lot of growing to do this fall. I traded Lena, my best Shetland Mule ewe lamb (Socks' twin) for him.

My house has been a mess with wool all over the place. Last week I shipped out two batches of fiber for combed top. Tuesday I got the email confirmation that my package was delivered and this morning (Thursday) I got a call from Zeilinger's saying musket batch is already done! That is amazingly fast. Hopefully the white batch will be completed soon. I've got lots more fiber ready to send in for comforter batts and roving (dark moorit, mioget, white Shetland Mule lamb fleeces). It will be so nice having space in my spare bedroom again!

I brought our rooster to the auction yesterday. He was so pretty, but he started coming at me whenever I turned my back, so he had to go. I think his hens are kind of lost without him.

And here's a shot of River Oaks Lana. She's getting to be a chunk. Her mother Lucy is leaving for a new home on Monday along with Eliza if all goes according to plan.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The End of Summer and a fenceline hay feeder

The weather here in east central Minnesota has been fantastic lately. I love the glorious last days of summer where mosquitoes aren't an issue, the garden is producing like crazy, the lambs are almost grown and weaning is forgotten in the past. Fall breeding plans are on everyone's mind and the leaves are starting to turn colors. It's such a great time of year!

The apple tree is loaded with apples.

The flowers have filled in their pots...

Last year's poinsettia is looking fantastic...I hope I can get it to bloom again this year.
And look at Dougal's fleece! Yes, life is good this time of year...

BUT.....In the past few weeks, all of our vehicles decided to have issues. The old Pontiac 6000 was deemed too old to fix again so we junked it out. Our oldest son bought this car with financing from his grandpa. When he upgraded to a newer car, we bought it from him so his younger brother could learn to drive with it. When the youngest got a newer car, Stan decided to drive it to work instead of the truck in order to save on gas. Our driveway looked like a used car lot with all the vehicles! So one less is a welcome relief, but it was kind of sad seeing it hoisted up on that truck.

Soon there will be even fewer cars in the driveway. Our youngest will be moving to the cities as soon as he can find a job down there. He starts the Digital Video Editing program at Minnesota School of Business in Richfield at the end of the month. His friends are renting a house very close to the school, so there's a room waiting for him as soon as he finds work and can afford to pay rent. Until then, he will live here and commute two days a week. We're keeping our fingers crossed for him!

We set up this new feeding system inside the pole building yesterday. Yes, my plan was to keep the sheep out of the pole building this winter, but with the recent heavy rains, I broke down and let them back in again. It's so nice to feed them inside on rainy days.
It's just a half sheet of leftover metal siding from the pole building, cut to length of the hog panel fence (10 ft), with holes drilled in along the bottom for lacing to the hog panel and three holes along the top edge to hold it up at an angle. I may add a rain gutter as a trough along the bottom edge of the metal siding, but inside the fenceline. That would catch the little tidbits that fall through and also serve as a grain feeder around lambing time. The older ewes avoided the new contraption, but the ewe lambs went right up to it and started chowing down. We covered all the edges with Duct tape so they shouldn't be dangerous. We put two of these up inside the pole barn and we could certainly put some outside too if we have enough leftover siding.

My new Ile de France ram lamb is coming on Tuesday, I can hardly wait to see him! I plan to use him on the mature Shetland Mules and I might use him on a Shetland ewe (Mabeline - my best Mule lamb producer). His father jumped the fence at his farm and bred several Shetland ewes last spring. They delivered crossbred lambs this summer with no problems. So I may skip the Mule stage of the three tier system this year and compare the difference between a direct cross versus the three way cross (BFL/Shetland/Ile de France).

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Escapee


Well here she is, the old ewe that escaped the slaughter truck. She was seen with another sheep on the highway, but so far I haven't heard anything more about the other one. Who knows how long this poor old girl was on her own. You can see in the photo she's got some swelling on her jaw. Maybe a bad tooth? But she's safe now and eating normally.

For me, this story started on Tuesday night when the sheriff's office called asking if I still had sheep. Right away the hair stands up on your neck when you get a call like that. Was I missing a sheep? Well, not that I knew of...I ran out and counted everyone as soon as I got off the phone.

The sheriff's office told me there was a sheep with a rope around its belly camped out on someone's deck about 1 mile away from me. She had climbed two flights of stairs and wouldn't leave. She had tags in her ears, so the first person they called thought she could be one of mine.

I know a gal with sheep who lives over that way. So I called her and she ran over and caught the ewe that night. My friend thought the ewe looked like a Shetland, being small with a curly fleece. I got a look at her the following night and realized right away she was NOT a Shetland. I thought she may be a Finn cross. She is not a tame ewe, especially after all she's been through. I got the numbers off her scrapie tag and made a few calls to the APHIS offices.

For as much as people complain about the horrors of the Animal ID's, those numbers led me right to the Wisconsin breeder who produced this sheep. I thought that was very handy. The breeder told me that she had shipped several sheep for slaughter weeks ago. She had been paid for all of them, so this old girl must have escaped from her new owner.

Well, she has a new home now in a small flock of two Dorset/Ile de France ewes and a Dorset ram. If she doesn't respond to an easier lifestyle, she'll have to go back to the sales barn. Kind of sad, though. I hope she responds to a life of leisure and I hope that jaw isn't something serious.

On another bittersweet note, we got Pugsley's hide back. Pugsley was the Ile de France ram we got in trade for a Shetland ram lamb. He weighed 154 lbs. and we got 80 lbs. of packaged meat from him. The best lamb I've ever had too. His hide came back from Bucks Co. Furs this week. It's really nice, no holes. It's a very dense, shearling hide, and very large at 38 x 30".

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Home from Jefferson !

Well, I had a great time at Jefferson! I rode over with Kim Nikolai and Terri Drimel. First stop was Terri's place where I got to see her flock of sheep and llamas. Then it was on to Kim's after dropping off my son at his friend's place. We got a good look Kim's cute little puppies and her flock. We arrived in Jefferson around 8 p.m. and stopped in the Shetland barn. It was nice to see all the Shetland folks that night. I finally got to met Shelley Gooch. Above you see a photo of her Jacob ram Mederic. Look at those horns! I'm glad I don't have to deal with anything like that!

I didn't bring my sheep after all. There were several runny noses in my flock last week. I didn't want to be "the one" to spread any sickness to the other sheep at the show. I brought my Shetland Mules to the vet on Thursday night and he said it was just a mild seasonal upper respiratory thing (the temps went from VERY hot and humid to VERY cool and crisp), but the stress of a 6-hour ride and being away from home probably would not be in their best interest. Knowing that Laura Matthews had agreed to bring her Shetland Mules for the display, I was relieved. Hopefully next year I will remember this and I won't even ENTER any sheep in the shows.

It's always a hard choice though, because they look so good and I'd really like other Shetland people to see them. But then I get paranoid about any little cough, crusty eyes or anything like that. In looking at the sheep that people did bring to Jefferson, there were plenty with crusty eyes and coughing, so other people must not be as concerned about it as I am.

We have been feeding dusty hay, long story, but our good stuff is in the back of the barn where we can't get at it. I have to talk to our hay guy about putting our good stuff in the front and his dusty stuff in the back because sheep just can't eat that dusty hay. Before I left I told Stan not to feed the dusty stuff and sure enough, I came home to no runny noses and no coughing. :-)

Anyway, when I saw how they judged the Mule Show without the aid of halters, I was VERY glad I didn't bring my ewes! My yearling mule is a good size and she's pretty strong. I don't know if I could have held on to her for the line up.
Below, Judge David Cruikshank of the UK looks over the BFL rams and their Mule offspring.
Below, he feels the shoulders of a Scotch Mule ewe lamb.
It was such a blast getting together with all the Shetland people again. If only we had a good place to meet on Saturday night and tip a few, we could catch up better. There were so many things to do, I was on the go the whole time! I only briefly stopped in on one producer's seminar, usually I attend several and am never disappointed. But this year I attended the used equipment auction with Terri Drimel. She's one shrewd bidder! I was beginning to wonder if we would have room in the truck on the way home for all our purchases! She bought Laura's two beautiful Shetland Mules. They were very low priced. She got a great deal!

I picked up my BFL roving from Carol Wagner at Hidden Valley Woolen Mill and she did a great job on it. I only had to ship one box, so I saved there. The fiber is so soft, I spun up a sample skein of the natural colored roving and decided I need to make myself a BFL sweater.

I traded some of the white to Kim for gas $$ and she wants to make a sweater too. So it looks like I will only keep about 4 ounces of the white for myself. I have lots of other BFL fiber to hand-process here at home.

On the way home from Jefferson, we stopped at Cynthia's place in Wisconsin. The countryside was so beautiful there. And she lives on a hill top with a fabulous view. Below is a photo of her rams, two Shetlands and a Wensleydale/Lincoln cross (I think that's what it was), and their guard llama. The young black ram LOVES that llama. It was so cute to see him snuggling up to it.
Cynthia has a solid sided gulmoget ram, he's in the foreground. She says the solid sided gulmogets are not easy to come by only about one in 20 lambs... So it's a good thing I decided to keep my little solid sided Lana here and see what she can produce.
Last night I got a call from the sheriff's office wondering if I was missing a sheep. Apparently a sheep had camped out on someone's deck fairly close by and they wondered if it was mine. I wasn't missing any sheep, so I called a friend who lives closer to place where they found the sheep and she ran over and caught it in the dark last night. She thinks it's a Shetland, I'm going to take a look at it shortly. It's a ewe and she may have fallen off a truck because her face is bruised and she's covered with burrs. She and another sheep were seen on the highway a few days ago. My old neighbor is willing to take her in if we can't find her owners. I only hope the other sheep surfaces soon...will post photos later.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Last Minute Jitters & Tips for a Better life

I am a nervous wreck about showing/bringing sheep to Jefferson! I noticed Nancy K's blog shows the same kind of nervous thinking and she's an old pro at showing sheep. This must be a common feeling. I've only shown a sheep once before. It was a purchased ram and at least HE was experienced. ;-)

My yearling Shetland Mule is dirty and she's not halter trained. Like most of my sheep, she loves when I trim her up with the hand shears. So that's what I've done so far. I don't know if I should hose her down and wash her up or not.

McIntire and Julius have been true sweethearts with their halter training. They just stand around looking guilty when I put the halter on them. Julius is a natural and will walk with me pretty well. But he has developed a cold and I can't bring him along. I'm not sure I should bring McIntire either now.

And Lena, the Shetland Mule lamb I planned to bring had a bit of runny nose last night. Maybe I'm being paranoid. I have an appointment for health papers this afternoon, we'll see what the vet thinks.

In the meantime, my good friend Sue, who knows me very well and accepts me anyway, sent me these tips for a better life. I thought some of them were very good, and they help me realize getting all wound up about this show thing is really kind of silly. So I will post them here for you to read.

25 TIPS FOR A BETTER LIFE

1. Take a 10-30 minute walk every day. And while you walk, smile. It is the ultimate anti-depressant.

2. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day. Buy a lock if you have to.

3. When you wake up in the morning complete the following statement,
'My purpose is to__________ today.'

4. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.

5. Drink green tea and plenty of water. Eat blueberries, wild Alaskan salmon, broccoli, almonds & walnuts.

6. Try to make at least three people smile each day.

7. Don't waste your precious energy on gossip, energy vampires, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.

8. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a
college kid with a maxed out charge card.

9. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

10. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

11. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

12. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

13. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.

14. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

15. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

16. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: 'In five years, will this matter?'

17. Forgive everyone for everything.

18. What other people think of you is none of your business.

19. God heals almost everything.

20. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

21. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends
will. Stay in touch.

22. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

23. Each night before you go to bed complete the following statements: I
am thankful for__________. Today I accomplished _________.

24. Remember that you are too blessed to be stressed.

(Note: It really was only 24, #25 said to forward it to all your friends)

Okay, I've got so much to do today. See you guys at Jefferson!