Monday, April 25, 2011

Firing up the Incubator/salvaged corn/bones for art

Tonight I put 6 Shetland goose eggs and 15 Buff Chantecler eggs in the incubator. The geese started laying eggs earlier this month.  Each goose lays an egg every other day. There were 8 eggs in the nest and I took six of them to check for fertility.  I have orders for goslings, so my fingers are crossed and I hope the girls keep laying.

As you can see, I don't use an egg turner.  I prefer to mark them with X's and O's and hand-turn them two to three times a day.  With waterfowl eggs, I make sure to mist them with water once a day.  I have a fan in my little incubator so I can hatch all sizes of eggs at the same time.  I'm hoping to see lots of fertile eggs when I candle them in about 3 days.

This morning the weather was beautiful.  Stan and I went over to pick up corn from the field before it gets tilled under and planted to alfalfa, orchard grass and oats.

It didn't take long for us to fill up a container with corn on the cob. We can always go back for more, but I wanted to check to make sure its safe to feed the sheep and birds. We tossed out the really moldy ears.

As long as we were there, we filled the truck with a load of small squares to feed the rams.
I also brought home a really cool cow spine and skull.  I want to use the spine with felt somehow.  It's so big and strong and very interesting.  

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

It's a beautiful sunny Easter morning. We woke up to some fog with the sun shining through it onto the ewes and their lambs out in the pasture. Very beautiful, but with no batteries in the camera, I couldn't get photos. I was able to get a few indoor shots of the things I've been doing this week.

Last night I showed our oldest son Alex how to get started with Ukrainian egg decorating. It's a time consuming project, so he just did a quick one color egg. Since I was very into wax resist egg decorating before fiber took over my life, I have a nice collection of electric kistky.  They are so nice!
This past Monday, while shopping with friends for art supplies for an upcoming watercolor class with Jeanne Carbonetti, I was able to visit Luba Perchyshyn at the Ukrainian Gift Shop .  I can't believe it's been 10 years since I got a Minnesota State Arts Board grant to mentor with Luba!  At 87, she's still going strong decorating eggs in the shop. I took this opportunity to buy the latest UGS design book. 

I don't know why, but I also made up a batch of flour/salt dough and made some sheep ornaments.  Nancy K. might remember the sheep mold on the right.  We found these molds in a second hand shop in Maple Plain, MN years ago while on a trip to Detta's Spindle. I planned to make some sheep cookies out of the mold for Easter, but after doing five of the ornaments, I took the easy way out and just used my cookie cutters to use up the rest of the salt dough.  I did doves, BFLs, and various lambs.  Not sure what will ever become of them.

And last, but certainly not least, I made pies for Easter last night. Yes, I had to test that one out!  Two Banana Cream and one Chocolate Cream.  I had one graham cracker crust, but used my favorite pie dough recipe for the other two pies.  Here it is:
Mix together in medium bowl, 1 1/2 C flour and 3/4 tsp salt.
Cut in 1/2 C shortening and 1 T butter until crumbly.
Sprinkle 4-5 T milk over this and work into dough.  Divide into two balls and roll out for crusts.
For single crust pies, roll crusts and and place in pans, prick with a fork and bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. (The recipe really says to bake it at 450 degrees, but I find that 425 works better in my oven and makes a more tender crust.)

Happy to say there is NO Easter candy in our house this year.  :-)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Lambing is pretty much done

I am so glad to report that our lambing is pretty much finished here at River Oaks! We've got just one moorit Shetland yearling left to go and I think it will be a month or so before she delivers.

I can finally go to bed at night without a quick run out to the barn and wake up without feeling the need to run out there again. I exposed 12 ewes to rams last fall, including nine first timers: four yearlings, and three 2-year-olds and two 3-year-olds; 11 were bred. We've had 15 lambs born so far. Five sets of twins and five singles. We'll probably will get a single out of ewe #11.
We had a total of 6 rams/9 ewes. I was surprised to get a majority of ewe lambs again this year. I know I'll pay for this later. :-)
Freya and her twin ewe lambs

Heddy's ewe lamb, so cute and pretty friendly.

Heddy's ewe lamb again...

Camille and Darla's ewe lambs, notice the difference in their birth coats.

Darla and her moorit ewe lamb
We lost one Shetland/BFL cross ram lamb to the elements in March - remind me to never lamb in March again!  It's just too cold and fresh green grass is just too far away.

Of the seven BFL lambs, we have 3 rams/4 ewes; three are natural colored and four are white. I really need more white BFLs and more ewes, so I am happy with this ratio.
Yearling Rhisa wrapped up the BFL lambing on April 15th while I was out of town at an arts conference. I raced home as fast as I could when Stan called saying he found a BFL lamb with no mom to claim it. I supplemented the baby and we held Rhisa twice before she got the drift of things during the night. I was so happy to find him nursing like an old pro the next morning. Good going Rhisa!

Our only Shetland ram lamb so far, he's out of Cleo, a shaela gulmoget.
Of the Shetlands, we have six lambs, 1 ram/5 ewes.  All are gulmogets, three black factored and three moorit factored (all out of black factored ewes). The sire is Sommarang Hansel, he's a very interesting silver/pewter grey color, BB/Bb.  It will be interesting to see what the last moorit ewe produces.  Depending on when she lambs, there is a possibility that she could be bred to the BFL or the Dorset cross ram.  Yikes!
I just have to share this photo of Rhyn and her daughters.  Amazingly, they all lined up and looked at the camera for me one day. :-)
Rhyn and her four natural colored daughters: the 2011 twins on the left, Rhisa (2010) behind her and Rhaya (2008) near the pole barn door.  Rhyn also had a natural colored ram lamb in 2009.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Shetland lamb photos ...

Taking a moment to quickly post photos of the three gulmoget lambs that were born here in the past few days...all sired by Sommarang Hansel.
The newest addition is River Oaks Darla's petite little ewe lamb...
She's just what I wanted!

And here's River Oaks Camille's ewe lamb.  Being an F3 Minder, she's got that long birth coat. It doesn't mean her fleece won't be fine though.

Here's another shot of her and mom, she's very independent and causes her poor mom no end of worry.

And this is River Oaks Cleo's ram lamb, he is just the cutest and friendliest little polled guy! And that fleece is going to be NICE.  

Okay back to work finishing up the Shepherd's Harvest Booklet, it will be avialable for download from the website shortly!

Saturday, April 02, 2011

First Shetland Lamb of 2011

It's a boy!  And look Ma, no horns!

He came a day early, but he's a good size lamb.  After three years using a gulmoget sire, I finally got my wish for a brown gulmoget lamb!  But now I'd like to refine my order to a brown gulmoget ewe lamb.  I think he's modified, he's definitely not a dark moorit color.  His sire is Sommarang Hansel, a polled grey gulmoget, and his dam is River Oaks Cleo, a shaela gulmoget with side dusting.

Does that top lip look like sugar lips or just lighter because he's modified?
I will take more photos when he's dried off better. I haven't been weighing the lambs this year, so I can't say exactly what he weighs, but I would guess around 7.5 to 8 lbs. He was kind of laid back about getting up and eating, but he found the faucet right away and has a nice full tummy already. Not sure how long Cleo was in labor, I just happened to find her about to deliver this afternoon.

Here's a shot of him and his mom tonight, he's got more white on his face than I realized this afternoon.


I think Camille, an Ag grey gulmoget, will be next.  According to my notes on the calendar she's due on Monday.