Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hay is cut! Lamb updates

Our hay is cut and drying. We've had hot humid weather, but now when our hay is supposed to be drying out, the weather has turned unseasonably cool and the clouds won't leave. Oh well, at least the sheep are more comfortable.

Don't these two look sweet? It's Dot and Derra, they are two-year-old Shetland Mules. I didn't get much interest in my Shetland mule sale package, so I've decided to keep the adult mules and Peppy the Ile de France ram. I'll go with the market lamb plan for 2010. I'll just have to cut back the flock somewhere else...
Speaking of Peppy, there he is in the photo above. He's such a cutie with that big fuzzie head, and he's very good natured. But he's raring to go for breeding season already.
The other day while I was at work, my wether and my new BFL ram lamb (Ward Harwell in the photo above), broke out of their pen and got in with the rams. The ram collection includes 2 year old BFL (Granite), yearling horned Shetland ram (Bo), and Peppy the yearling Ile de France. Fortunately, when I found them there wasn't much blood (the little there was came from Peppy's head) and they all seem to be getting along fine. That's a relief because it's one less pen to feed and water - at least until I wean the lambs.

Our two Shetland ram lambs are showing some growth of their "chocolate chip" horns. I'm see it more in Leonie and Bo's black lamb. He's only 3.5 weeks old and his chips are starting to fatten and get a little taller, he may be modified...I'll keep watching to see how he develops.

This is a photo of Cordelia and her Ag grey ram lamb. He's nine weeks old now and his chips are smaller than Leonie's ram lamb. I love his great little tail and nice straight back end. I know those horns could take off at any time, so I'm watching and keeping my fingers crossed on this guy. Here's another shot of his head - not sure when I took it though.I really wanted some grey in my flock again and this guy could be used on my F2 & F3 Holly ewes.

That said, I love Cordelia's Ag gulmoget girl too, She's definitely staying. Her name is Camille and she's so friendly. I love her intermediate fleece. Her tail is looking very nice now, it's smaller than in this photo taken a while back. It's developed that distinctive Shetland kink where the wool ends and the hair begins.
And Hanah's gulmoget ewe lamb Cleo is also staying...She's super friendly. Don't know why she's got her back feet so close together in this photo, but at least you can see her coloring. Below is a shot of her fleece under the light area on her side - she doesn't have the characteristic side dusting, hers is more like shaela underneath.
And probably both of Hattie's twins, Freya and Frieda will be staying. Above is a photo of Freya, taken with a flash the other night. I'm feeding Timothy hay from last year, so she's wearing some. She's a solid sided black gulmoget at this time. And Frieda is solid black.

Oh heck, I think all the the Shetland ewe lambs are staying this year! Above is a shot of Cleo and Freya's tails. It was taken a couple weeks ago, Freya (right) is smaller than Cleo (left).

And here is a shot of the Shetland goslings from the other evening. They are growing in their feathers now. Oh yes and they get the run of our fenced in backyard. I've fenced off my garden and we keep the garage door closed so they don't hang out too much in there.

Okay, now I have to buckle down and get a newsletter and grant proposal written for the art group and get my booth inventory made. I need to mulch the garden too and of course the hay crop will need to be brought home and stacked n the barn...Arghhh, there's just not enough time in the day!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Just What I DON'T Need!

Summer has finally arrived here in east central Minnesota. The temperature was 94 yesterday with high humidity. This weather is hard on the sheep, the Shetlands pant, but the BFL's really seem to suffer. I put up a fan in the pole building and later found Rhyn and Devlyn laying directly in front of it.

Anyway, it was hot and humid. The sheep were not happy. I opened the paddock nearest the pond for them to graze. A couple times in the afternoon I noticed the whole flock making a mad dash for the pole barn. It seemed odd that they would run like that in this hot weather. But I didn't think too much about it.

Around 7:30 I went out to make sure they had water and give them a little supplemental hay. As I brought hay out to the hoop house I saw not one, not two, but THREE fox (foxes?) IN and around my fence. No wonder the sheep were getting spooked all day! The mother fox was outside the fenceline heading into the woods when I saw her. The two kits were inside the fencing. One was only about 75 feet from me as I yelled and swung my arms at him to get him out of there. He was small enough to slip right through three fences to get back to the pond.

I had suspected there was a mother fox on the edge of the pond. She has been rather bold around the chicken pen, but I've only lost one hen so far. I'll need to keep my Shetland goslings under lock and key from now on.

Ozzie does a good job of chasing them off. But the mother will lead him one way while the kits go another way. We watched as she did that last night. We could hear the kits calling out in the woods but they didn't come out in the open again.

So I decided to put up electronet around the sacrifice paddock near the pole barn. I just can't have my sheep being chased by fox kits in this kind of weather and I worry about the Shetland lambs, they aren't that big, especially the three-week-old ewe lamb. It was so hot and sticky and the mosquitoes were out as I tried to set electronet up under all the trees, etc. - what a pain that was! I'm afraid it's going to be a long HOT summer if we don't get the fox family under control... I may need a llama.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Shetland Goslings and Lamb Update

The Shetland goslings are excellent foragers already. I took a video of them, but I have to edit it down before I can upload it. So for now, here's the latest photo of them...When I let them out of their pen they follow me all around. Last night they hissed at our dog Ozzie when he came too close. They are growing up so fast. The little guy I had to hobble is on the right in the photo above. He's still pretty small compared to the others, but perfectly healthy. They are starting to get feathers in their tails.

And here's Mabeline with her mule lambs. They aren't our largest crossbred lambs, but they are a nice pair. Mabeline is going to have next year off from lambing.All our crossbred lambs are for sale. We have four ewes and four ram lambs. We have plenty of lamb customers for the ram lambs. I plan to wean them and get them on good quality hay so they will be plenty big by October or November. I'd say the two oldest, Derra's ram lambs, are around 50 pounds already.

Here's Lanora and her ram lamb, Doulan. He has a strange top line and will not be registered. He's such a sweet ram lamb though. And his fleece is so soft.

And we finally defrosted the freezer last week. This prompted us to make 25 pounds of bratwurst from our frozen lamb trimmings.
I know they look gross here, but I just twisted them into links and cut them apart. We've been grilling them. I forgot that the casings give me indigestion.

Happy Father's Day everyone. Oh, that's right, this is our 34th wedding anniversary too. Wow, that really makes me feel old. We had a little wedding in our own living room with a justice of the peace, (located from the phone book) on this day back in 1975...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Honest Scrap

Well, Sabrina bestowed the Honest Scrap award to this blog, so I guess I can play along with 10 honest statements since some people actually enjoy reading that kind of stuff.

I will skip the part that requires naming seven other award recipient blogs.

Okay, here goes:

#1 - I was born the fifth of eight children. Being in the middle like that, I always have been able to fly under the radar and pretty much make my way quietly through life without being too noticeable.

#2 - I have never really cared for the warm colors like yellow, orange, and red. I'm more of a blue, green, purple fan.

#3 - I have been eating lots of spinach lately. And I found a volunteer spinach plant in the garden! :-)

#4 - I got the test results back from my recent surgery and they are NORMAL. Yeah!

#5 - I've made friends with two of my three gulmoget ewe lambs so far. Camille (the Ag gullie) has the nicest fleece! It's going to be the longer and wavy type like her mom's, and it's oh so soft! I am definitely keeping her. Her 10 year old mother, Bramble Cordelia, will be retired or culled this summer.

#6. River Oaks Hattie will be culled this summer too. She has given me some of the best lambs ever born here. But she has a bum foot that isn't going to get better. I plan to keep at least one of her daughters, Leonie (a modified moorit from 2008), Freya (black gulmoget from 2009) or Freida (black from 2009).

#7. The Shetland goslings are the greatest little troopers! They quickly caught on how to go up and down the two steps to the garage to get outside. They stay VERY close to me whenever I let them out of their pen. I hear the pitter-patter of their webbed feet and watch them tumble over each other to stay close to me. They have such tiny little wings! They are good foragers and have pretty strong beaks already. I'll try to post a video in a later entry.

#8. I remembered why I shouldn't hold the goslings on my lap and let them snuggle into the folds of my shirt. It was something warm and wet and very gross that reminded me.

#9. I have to limit my time on the computer so I can get more things done around here.

#10. I am having a great time at this stage of my life!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

I made lotion today!

I noticed how often I use hand lotion since I've been working at the deli and washing my hands all the time. Rather than buy the stuff, I decided I wanted try making some for myself. Sure it would be simpler to buy a base lotion and just add scent to it. But making the lotion was a lot of fun! It was so cool to watch the clear yellow oils turn milky white when I added the distilled water. The best part is, no need to wear protective clothing, lotion's not caustic like raw soap. I scented it with Yuzu fragrance oil. So now I have lots of lotion to match my Yuzu soap!

Since this was my very first batch, I reused empty containers - it made about 24 ounces of lotion, so I was scrounging for a while! If I decide to sell lotions, I'll need to order bottles. Anyway, I can't wait to bring these in to the art group on Monday and see how people like them.

The past few weeks I've been making soap like a crazy woman.

I need to get a good supply on hand for the booths I'll be doing this summer and fall. I ordered shea butter, coconut, olive and palm oils in bulk back in April.

It was great fun to make several double batches of soap each night. The kitchen smells so good with the soap in the oven overnight and the loaves are ready to unmold and cut in the morning.

I love seeing the slabs of soap after they come out of the molds. I try to cut them all so they will weigh about 3.5 ozs.
Once they are cut, I put set them aside to cure for several weeks and then I will weigh and label them for sale. It's important to note the date they were made and the exact ingredients in each.

Well, I had to inlcude this shot of Lanora's face, you can sure see where the Bluefaced Leicester name comes from on her! I used to wonder if people shaved the necks on their BFLs before they go in the show ring, but here you can see that wool sheds away during the summer, same thing is true of the wool on their bellies. Nature's way of keeping them cool. :-)

This afternoon I had the sheep out in the yard next to the house using electronet. That stuff is SO handy! As I was taking photos of the sheep, I noticed the sky was getting darker.

I quickly gathered up the Shetland goslings and got them inside. Then the winds started up and the rain rolled in! We got a good 1/4 inch. I'm hoping another round or two comes through tonight.

On another note, my surgery went well last week. I was so happy to find that anesthesia practices have changed quite a bit since I was last put under. Thanks to everyone for sending the good wishes. :-)

Monday, June 08, 2009

Lamb & Wool Starter Flock for Sale

Okay, I've made up my mind, I'm selling the Mule Flock! Much as a I love the Mules and their fleece, I just don't have the space to deal with two breeds of registered sheep and a market lamb operation. I've started a sales blog and will be adding a link and more sheep to it as time permits.

Six Bluefaced Leicester-cross ewes, ages 1-2 years, and a yearling Ile de France/Dorset ram. All are white, but the ewes carry color recessively.
This is a great opportunity for anyone wishing to produce market lambs on grass and at the same time harvest some great handspinning wool.
Three ewes are two-year-olds with good lambing histories, three are yearlings; two yearlings were not bred and one has a ewe lamb at side (will negotiate separately on the ewe lamb).

If sold separately, the ewes are priced at $150 each and the ram is $200. If sold as a package of all seven, they are priced at $950.

Can negotiate a smaller package deal if desired.

Also available:
* Two-year-old registered natural colored Bluefaced Leicester ram, twin, proven sire. Excellence quality fleece on this ram. Good natured, gentle ram. $250

* Yearling registered Shetland ram, moorit with head spotting, single, proven sire, nice wide horns and short fluked tail. Good natured, easy to handle. Nice fleece too. $200

Our flock is a Scrapie Certified flock since 2008. All our sheep are up to date on worming, vaccinations, and hoof trimming. We are located in East Central Minnesota and can help with transportation if needed.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Ozzie/Shetland Goslings

Well, the $500 for my insurance deductible didn't last long. Poor Ozzie was in a LOT of pain yesterday morning, limping on his right front foot. He was actually yelping out in pain.

On Thursday I noticed he was playing with a chipmunk that the cats had gotten but not killed. Usually Ozzie will quickly put the victim out of its misery or I will make them all leave it alone. But Thursday was that busy day with the new lamb and the Shetland goslings and I let nature take it's course. I heard Ozzie yelp a couple times and I figured the chipmunk must have bit him back. The next day I noticed he was slightly limping as we did chores. Then Saturday morning he wouldn't even get up to go out for chores...not like Ozzie at all! So I decided to bring him in to the vet.

I was nervous about bringing him there all by myself -- being an Aussie he gets very nervous over new things. But he must have known what I was doing when I called the vet and decided to bring him right in for an appointment. When I dug out his collar and lead (something he NEVER wears), he actually got up and met me by the door. He seemed excited about going in the van (something he used to dread). I told him we were going to "the land" which he loves to do, but I think he would have gladly gone with me anywhere at that point.

I was very glad that he actually walked into the vet's office with me. I had to pick him up and put him on the scale as that was just too scary for him, but otherwise he did really well.

The vet didn't find any puncture wounds and suspected Lyme disease. His blood test came back positive for exposure to Lyme and anoplasmosis, but his temp was normal.

I got some pain pills for him and an antibiotic which would treat Lyme as well as an infection from a chipmunk bite if that was the case. We also got him up to date on his vaccinations and $200 later, I brought him home. After he settled down, I was amazed at how easily he took the antibiotic pills wrapped in bread. He needs to take six of them per day for three weeks. The pain killer is a chewable treat which he also readily took.

By the time I got home from work in the evening, he was acting as if nothing was ever wrong with his foot. Just amazing! :-)

The goslings are quickly outgrowing their pen in the kitchen -- this was fresh bedding yesterday. I've got to get them out in the garage, but it's too cold out, so here they are in their new digs in the basement. I put them on wood chips now that the Shetlands are old enough to know better than eat them.Friday I took them out in the sunshine and took a few photos...
Above is a male in the back and two females in the front. Below is a pair.
I removed the yarn hobble from the one little male's legs and he's walking around just fine now. They are doing so well. I've decided to sell the two Brown Chinese now that the Shetlands are settled in.

Last week we got the pole barn cleaned and I locked the sheep out for the summer... ha, ha!
Last night when I saw Elsie's little ewe lamb all wet from the drizzle, I broke down and let them in the pole barn again. There are several shelters out in the paddocks, but Elsie wasn't taking advantage of them. And it was just too cold and wet for a two day old. I know, I'm a pushover.
Little Eva is so sweet, I can already give her chin scratches. I'm seeing brown hairs in her legs and little wispy white hairs near her tail head. I think I should dock her tail, it's just a bit too long.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

New Arrivals!

What a morning it turned out to be! I had to be to work by 9:00 a.m. and I knew the Shetland goslings would be arriving by Priority Mail from Holderread's in Oregon. The post office was to call us around 7 a.m. when the truck came in. Above is a photo of the four Shetland goslings right after we picked them up - they looked great! I gave them cut up spinach for their first meal...the two smaller males are on the outside and the two larger females are in the middle. One male had mildly splayed legs which I quickly hobbled with some handspun yarn. He's doing fine now.

Shetland goslings are autosexing, which means you can tell the males from the females at the hatch. I was expecting the male goslings to be all yellow, but they have some grey areas as well. Just not as dark and defined as the females. Their bills are lighter colored too.

Here they are again after I put them in with our week old Brown Chinese goslings. Can you tell which one is the Brown Chinese in the photo below? LOL.
They all seem to be getting along fine and they are less anxious with a bigger crowd of their own kind. Of course the Brown Chinese are very imprinted on humans, and they want me to stay with them constantly. I would have killed for a broody hen to raise them up for me.

I didn't get much sleep last night, anxious about the Shetlands coming and the fact that I left the Brown Chinese goslings out in the kitchen overnight rather than lock them up safe from our killer cats. The past few days I'd been leaving them out with the cats while I've been outdoors or away from home. I've told the cats "no" whenever they check out the goslings and I wanted to see how they would be in my absence. Thankfully the cats are pretty smart and they seem to know that these are MY birds. Now that I think of it, they didn't eat any of our 30 hatchery chicks last year...

Not to be outdone, we woke up to find that our Shetland Mule, Elsie, delivered her lamb this morning too. I was hoping that she wouldn't choose this morning to be in labor because I knew things would be busy with the goslings. But this worked out okay. By the time I found her the placenta had been delivered, the lamb was already jumping and hopping around. All I had to do was jug her, clip and dip, and give her some water and good hay.

I had hoped for a moorit ewe lamb, but she's got the English blue pattern (teardrops and ear markings) and is black. Her eye rims seem rather brown toned to me though. She is 3/4 Shetland, sired by Bo (a moorit smirslet) and 1/4 BFL. Her dam Elsie carries moorit and black. So she's BB/Bb.

Elsie really wanted out of the jug this afternoon and her lamb is vigorous and following closely, so off they went after I wormed Elsie.So hopefully this time it's true -- this is our last lamb of 2009! We end the year with 8 ram lambs and 8 ewe lambs. I'm NOT complaining.

Yes, all was going pretty good today. But the best thing was when I got the mail, there were two letters from the unemployment office. One of them said I had been underpaid by $503 back in December (after I took the deli job) and they had deposited that amount in our checking account yesterday! I couldn't believe it. I am scheduled for outpatient surgery next week and our deductible is $500 for hospitalization. Can you believe it? :-))