Sunday, May 29, 2011

Dedicated to the Boys

We have four adult rams and a wether now.
Yearling Dorset cross ram Pokey, in the left foreground, and our Shetland Mule wether Socks in the back left, next to Socks is Little Red Oak Ash (2 yr old Shetland), on the right in back is Ward Harwell (2 yr old BFL) and Sommarang Hansel (yearling Shetland) in front of Harwell. Yes Hansel was in the rise at shearing and he needs to be cleaned up.  I've got some ewes to clean up too.

This photo was taken in the morning, just hours before Pokey's near death experience with the loose woven wire fencing that separates the grazing areas. Fortunately I was home when it happened. I glanced out the kitchen window through the leaves to make out some white legs hopping around and thought those dang rams must be fighting again. So I grabbed my glasses and went out on the deck and I could see that it was just Pokey with his head stuck in the fence. So I ran out there and could hear him fighting for breath. When I got closer I saw that this head went through one square and then back around and through another square! OMG, there was no way I could pry him out of that. He was foaming at the mouth and frantic.  I had to run back to the house to get wire cutters.  And of course I don't know where my really good ones are right now, so I grabbed two hoping one would work.  Back out to Pokey still frantic and foaming and trying to breathe. When I finally got him cut free he staggered away, head hanging down, making raspy breathing sounds.

By now the rest of the rams were aware of the situation and they all came running. They flanked him on both sides as he staggered into the shade of the trees. Only days before, Pokey and Hansel were duking it out for their place in the group and Harwell was the referee,stepping in between them, knocking one away from the other, until things had settled down.  And now here they were as a group, all standing around Pokey looking concerned.

I called the vet who suggested #1) dexamethisone or #2) banamine (both will reduce inflammation and swelling).  Darn, my Dex is pretty old, so I opted for the banamine.  Pokey was laying down and his breathing had quieted by the time I gave him the injection. The rest of the rams went back to grazing and he laid around most of the day.  I was glad to see him get up when I went out with a little alfalfa pellets and corn later in the afternoon.  And that evening as I headed back into the house, it was sweet to see Pokey and Hansel curled up together with Pokey's head resting on Hansel's back.

He's doing well now, so much so that Little Red Oak Ash was giving him grief again yesterday. It was nice to see them acting concerned for a while there, but in the end, rams will be rams!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Latest Birdhouse...

I am excited about the felted birdhouses, I want to decorate them like eggs!  They are the same shape and I just can't resist.
The influence of the watercolor workshop got me going on a birchtree birdhouse.  I'd also like to do a birch tree wool painting.

Not sure if I'll let the birds have this one or not.  Here's what they did to the last one I put out.
I put rocks in the bottom (for extra weight and to keep the inhabitants dry) then added loose wool.  These birds obviously didn't want the wool, they preferred sticks.

My neighbor was excited about the bridhouses too. She and I did birdhouses together on Sunday.  She had never felted anything before.  The felting goes fast with the Karakul wool, but the houses get very firm and it's a bit hard on one's hands at the end. She came up with the brilliant idea to use a wooden darning egg to help shape it.  You can see my birchtree birdhouse looking like a vessel on the counter. I love taking photos of people with their felting projects and wet shirts. :-)

You may have noticed there is no hanger on this birdhouse.  I like the idea of using wire threaded through a large button inside the top of the house. Squirrels and other critters can't chew through wire like they could a felted cord. I might felt around the wire though...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

There's a New Ram in Town, Felted Birdhouse, and Felted Fleece

Deadlines -- I hate them, but I need them so badly! 
Tomorrow is the first day of the watercolor workshop I've been planning for three years. And I find myself with plants dug up from the neighbors' perennial flower bed, chicks hatching in the incubator, a new ram and a bunch of hungry ewes and lambs but a dead battery for the electric fencing.
Ah yes, spring has finally sprung!

So what did I do?  Felted a birdhouse out of Finn and Karakul wool....

And felted another lamb fleece....
This photo shows both of the felted fleeces I've done so far.  The beautiful solid grey color of Heddy's lamb fleece will never happen again (she's Ag) so this is a great way to keep it forever.  And Ginger's sunbleached tips add interest to her dark moorit fleece.
And I finally got to visit Sabrina up in Puposky, MN!  She's really off the beaten path.  What a wonderful bit of paradise she and Clancy have!  I'm so glad Shachah was able to find a home with them.
Shachah warmed up to Stan, but he was nervous about me. I'm sure he equates me with being moved to a new home. I think he's the coolest dog I've ever met.
Sabrina's flock is beautiful and her lambs this year are all stunning. Some very friendly ones in the group, I think I got some hoof prints on my back.  It was nice to see Hannah and Lana again. I'm glad Sabrina got some ewe lambs and a little bit of bling from them this year.

We went to Sabrina's to pick up Little Red Oak Ash, he's a polled moorit Shetland ram originally out of Gail VonBargen's flock.  He's very solidly built and has a very nice fleece.
It's always a bit challenging to introduce a new ram to the group, but within 24 hours, they had worked it all out with minimal bloodshed.  Little did I know as I was felting that birdhouse that they had broken the chain link fencing and were working things out on their own. :-)

Okay, now I've got to get those perennials planted (the neighbors were planning to plow them all under in a couple days!) and then I'll order that new battery for the fencer and this afternoon I'll get the classroom ready for the long-awaited watercolor workshop with JEANNE CARBONETTI!!!! 

Did I mention that I love this time of year?  There are so many possibilities. Hopefully that chirping chick in the incubator will be freed of its shell soon.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Updated the Sale Page

I've updated the sales page to include photos of the sheep we have for sale. So far it's rams and one ewe, but there will be more to add as time goes by.  I can't keep them all!

I've also added felting sheets to my fiber offerings.  The felting sheets make laying out fiber for felting go so much faster. They are made of Bluefaced Leicester and tencel or a Bluefaced Leicester/Shetland cross.  Very easy to felt and dye.

We're pretty much sold out of washable sheepskins, looks like I'll just have to make more of those felted fleece "sheepskins". :-)

Also, be sure and check out the KCAA blog about the upcoming watercolor workshop with Jeanne Carbonetti. I started working on it three years ago. I'm so excited that it's finally happening!

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Felted Fleece

 
I finally got a chance to try felting a raw fleece last week. It's the perfect way to use up those fleeces that are in the rise at shearing and those that are too short for optimum spinning.
This is Ginger's lamb fleece. She was coated last winter so her fleece was nice and clean, but she was in the rise at shearing. You can see it on the cut end of the fleece.

I added a layer of dark moorit roving, covered it with netting and wetted it down with hot soapy water.  Then the rolling began!  First by hand and then in the rolling machine.  
It was a very dirty job, but the result was well worth it.  My felted fleece is soft and warm, and it smells so good. I love to snuggle up under it!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Last Lamb and Lost Lamb

Wow, so much has happened the past week and I haven't had time to blog about it!

Our lambing season officially ended around midnight on Mother's Day when Ginger delivered this little black gulmoget ewe lamb.
I was falling asleep on the couch and in my pajamas when I remembered I hadn't closed off the ewe's back gate. So I went out with the flashlight to close it and also check on Ginger, our last pregnant ewe.  To be honest, she looked so small Sunday morning before I headed out to Shepherd's Harvest for the day, I was wondering if she was still pregnant. 

Anyway, there she was laying in the lambing corner of the pole barn and I thought I noticed her have a contraction. Nothing was showing and it took quite a while before more contractions came and I knew our last lamb was on its way.  Back into the house to get into my sweats, find the lambing bucket and the camera!

More contractions, no water bag, just some blood.  Oh-oh. I remembered the evening that Ginger was born and her mom was taking a very long time of it.  The vet told me not to worry unless I was seeing blood.  So I sat with Ginger as her labor progressed, worried about the blood and worried that the lamb maybe a premie.  Finally a small water bag emerged and burst and a dark hoof appeared followed by a dark nose.  I tried to find the other leg, but no luck, things were tight. I knew from experience that one leg back is a doable birth so we just went with the flow.  After many contractions and me pulling, a vigorous ewe lamb emerged. I was glad to see that it was a gulmoget as that proves the sire was Hansel, not the BFL or the Dorset cross ram that had joined the ewe flock for a couple weeks last winter. Yeah!

Ginger is an excellent mom, she was tired and didn't get up right away, but she eagerly licked off her good sized lamb and let her nurse. Shetlands are so easy! Finally I was crawling into bed about 12.30 a.m.
I'm not sure why there was so much blood during the birth, but all seems well. And that lamb is adorable.
On a sad note, one of Freya's twins died on Tuesday morning. She was exactly 4 weeks old. She looked just like Ginger's lamb so it is bittersweet to see Ginger's lamb out in the pasture. The photo above was taken on Monday afternoon.  You can see that she became much smaller than her twin sister who is healthy.  I noticed that she wasn't running in the lamb races last week, and she would be off by herself a lot and also lay down a lot.  But she would perk up and run away when I came close to check on her -- I don't know why my black gullies always seem so stand-offish while the other lambs are so tame. 

I was super busy getting ready for Shepherd's Harvest and didn't treat her because she stretched normally when she got up.  But on Saturday night when I got home from a long day at Shepherd's Harvest, she was clearly very sick. She didn' move when I picked her up, her eyes were dull, and she felt warm. I gave her everything in my arsenal of treatments. I wanted to cover all the bases since I would be gone again all day Sunday. She got an antibiotic, a wormer, fortified vitamin B, a CDT shot, and some Nutridrench.  She was up and drinking water within an hour and at her mom's side trying to nurse. 

Sunday she walked around some, but still wasn't running and darting like the other lambs. Monday she was due for a repeat antibiotic so I called the vet and decided to try some BoSe in case we were dealing with a mineral deficiency. She ran pretty good when I tried to catch her to do the shots.  But afterward she looked even worse. The next morning she was dead with her mom at her side. I wondered if it was the BoSe.

I couldn't afford to pay for a necropsy at the vet ($70-$100), so Stan and I did it ourselves. We followed the directions in Ron Parker's The Sheep Book. It appears to me that she had an impacted intestine which was followed by pnuemonia. I don't think there was anything we could have done to save her short of surgery. I feel so much better having gone inside to see what was going on instead of wondering about it forever.

So lambing is over and we still have 14 lambs. Sommarang Hansel's lambs were all gulmogets, isn't that amazing? There were 6 ewe lambs and 1 ram lamb. We have all 7 of the Bluefaced Leicester lambs sired by Ward Harwell, 4 ewes, 3 rams, and one crossbred ram lamb (twin died at birth) sired by him.  Now it's time to clean out the barn!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Shepherd's Harvest Festival is this Weekend!

This is a busy week. I'm making last minute preparations for my booth at Shepherd's Harvest this Saturday and Sunday in Lake Elmo, MN.

I've got to finish getting my booth set up ready.  Along with skirting and washing fleeces like crazy, I'm sewing up a back panel for my booth this year.  Last year I was in the middle aisle of Building D on the north end.  I'm in the same building this year and hopefully I'll be in the same spot. I'll hang a River Oaks Studio banner on the back panel, stop by and introduce yourself if you're at the festival. The weather is supposed to warm up by then.

I'll have a few raw fleeces (BFL/Shetland crosses), Bluefaced Leicester yarn, combed top and roving from my registered Shetlands and Bluefaced Leicester sheep, handcrafted soap, sheepskins, felted items, nunofelt scarf kits, sheep and fiber notecards, and a listing of sheep for sale (oh that's so hard!).  Also, a friend from our local art group is moving and has decided to sell her sheep collection, so I'll have that in my booth too.

The incubator is still going. NONE of the Shetland goose eggs were fertile! I set up a wading pool for the geese to see if that helps them get things right.  If not, I think we will be having some very expensive goose dinners. Nine of the Buff Chantecler eggs are fertile and should hatch around May 16th. 

The lambs are growing and looking good.  Lots of tail variations on Hansel's gulmoget lambs. Click on the photo above to see some of the tails. That's Rhisa's BFL ram lamb on the top right with the really long tail. LOL. Still waiting on Ginger to lamb, her bag is growing and I can see lambs kicking, but it looks like it will still be weeks away.

White Bluefaced Leicester ewes, Beechtree Lanora (center back) and her 2008 daughter Leora (right), with their lambs born on March 21st.  Lanora's ram lambs are on the left and Leora's ewe lambs are in the center. The sheep photos were taken about 10 days ago.