Thursday, May 24, 2012

Rita's twins and LOTS of rain

Quick post to show what I found in the barn this morning. Rita with twin gulmoget BFL/Shetland lambs!

The ram lamb is the lighter one in front and the darker ewe lamb is in the back of the photo above. I'm so excited that they are both gulmogets!  But I'm sure they are also English Blue Pattern, which means they will probably have significant side dusting in adulthood.
Rita is being an even better mom that Rose. Rose was pretty noisy that first day when I jugged her and her lamb. Rita seems content to rest. Of course, she did double the work, having twins as a yearling, so she's probably just too tired to give me much trouble. She's going to need lots of nutrition to raise up twins as a yearling.



Rose's little ram is very dark. He's such a little cutie though. I'm kind of tempted to wether both the crossbred rams to keep as fiber producers.  Of course I want to keep all the lambs, but I can't.

Here's a shot of the two linebred gulmoget ewe lambs I got out of Mia and Maddy last week.  Their colors are very interesting. You can see Rita's twins in the jug too. Gotta love those gullies!
So now there's just one more BFL to lamb, that's Leta. I had ladies over in January and they noted a white BFL getting bred while we took a coffee break (how embarrassing!).  I cussed out Hansel and marked the calendar for June 8th. I'm not sure if that was Leta or Luna.  Leta's got a nice bag going and looks like she'll single. Luna does not appear to be bred.  I hope I don't have to wait until June 8th for Leta's lamb.
Twin sisters Leta on the left and Luna on the right.
We got lots of rain last night,.  Almost 5 inches in the past 24 hours and still drizzly. Good for the pasture and hay fields, but the skylight in my bathroom is leaking. Darn!
The wet weather didn't stop the mama hen from bringing her 9 chicks out this morning. I've locked them back up for now. I'm heading down to the Twin Cities for my Visual Journal class at the Virginia Piper Cancer Institute this afternoon.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Two more lambs

Maddy and her ewe lamb
This weekend both my boys were home to help me put up a fence so I won't have to mow as much lawn. In the midst of all the pounding and running around on Saturday morning, Maddy delivered a little ewe lamb. 

The color on this one is pretty puzzling, she looks decidedly brown on her back half but definitely black on her head. I think maybe she's emsket and Mia's lamb is shaela.
Mia and her ewe lamb

This morning at 4 a.m. I checked the barn cam and saw that Rose had lambed. So I whipped on some sweats and ran out to find she delivered a good sized English Blue Patterned ram lamb.  He's a Shetland/Bluefaced Liecester cross. She had licked him off well and was very attentive to him - great!  I stripped her teats and put a section of hog panel up around them since Maddy was still in the Sydell pen.  Went back in to sleep a little longer. Before going back out, I mixed up some lamb milk replacer with some powdered colostrum.  I've never had a BFL lamb without having to supplement for the first 6-8 hours because the moms are a bit touchy with their bags or the lambs can't find the teat. But this is what I saw when I got out there.

Amazing!  What a good mom she is and to think she's only a yearling.  I wonder if it's the influence of her sire, Ward Harwell and the fact that the hybrid lambs may be a bit more aggressive nursers than purebred BFLs. I hope my other two BFL ewes are as easy as Rose. Her lamb was doing so well, I let them out on grass for a while this morning.

Looks like Rita (in the foreground above) will be next and she's definitely carrying a bigger load than Rose was.

Not to be outdone, the hen hatched out a batch of chicks this weekend too. I haven't let them out of the barn, so no photos yet. The Shetland goose started setting on about a dozen eggs last week.  I hope some of her eggs are fertile this year.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Round two of Lambing Begins

River Oaks Mia surprised me with a little gulmoget ewe lamb late on Monday afternoon. I had the calendar marked for lambs on the 19th, so I wasn't really ready.  Mia's an excellent mom and there were no problems.


This little girl is not Ag grey, she's modified grey like her sire, Somarang Hansel.  Emsket?
It was interesting that Mia was born at 11:50 p.m. on Mother's Day 2011 and she became a mom the day after Mother's Day 2012.  Not really in my plans, but that's the way it is.

So Mia and her Mini-Mia got to christen my new Sydell lambing jug. I just love it! It keeps those pesky older lambs away from the choice hay and corn syrup water that the lambing ewes get right after delivery. I should have bought one way back when I first started off with sheep.

Now I'm waiting on the three Bluefaced Leicesters and Mia's 1/2 sister, Maddie to lamb.  My large natural colored BFL named Rita is marked as due on Saturday, she looks like she could have twins. I've set up the barn cam again and will keep a close watch.  I also bought the ewe headlock that attaches to the lambing jug just in case I need to restrain the BFLs so their lambs can nurse.

Oh, you may have noticed I changed the blog format again.  I didn't like not being able to see the blog list on the right. I really like being able to see all the most recent activity on all my favorite blogs.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Changes are coming

Lots of changes on the horizon here! And the first you may notice is the blog format. I thought it was time for a change from the dark grey background. I like how you can see several posts at a time on this version.
But in order to see the whole post you must click on the header.  Also, you have to move your mouse over  the side bar on the right to get the blog list, followers, etc.  But I like the cleaner, fresher look.
The other big change is going to be to my house  --  I am getting all the windows replaced and new siding!

I am SO blessed to be living here. I have, without a doubt, the very best neighbors in the world. My neighbor's church has volunteered to provide the labor to install the new windows and siding. All I have to do is buy the materials.  :-)))

In the days before Stan died, he told me to talk with my neighbor Tim about getting this done. He said Tim would know the right people to get it done. But Stan and I could never have imagined such a generous offer.  It is so remarkable and inspiring to see how people around here live their beliefs. 

So now I think I should concentrate on organizing, painting, and cleaning up the place this summer.  Then the inside will be as nice as the outside is going to be.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Shepherd's Harvest weekend/lambing, etc.

Spring has definitely sprung, the stone cherry tree is in full bloom and the dandelions are up.
Those Black Locust trees aren't dead, in a month they will be full of fragrant blossoms and lots of bumble bees.
I've got a full weekend planned, starting on Friday with a day of training for work in Bloomington and going to the Friends School Plant Sale with my oldest son Alex. Now that he's a homeowner he's really gotten into landscaping.   And on Saturday, I'll be at Shepherd's Harvest of course. 
Then I'll visit my mom on Sunday.  It will be the first time in years that I've been able to go home on Mother's Day.
I will not have a booth at Shepherd's Harvest this year. I will judge the felting competition Saturday morning and then shop to my heart's content. :-)  My major purchase will be a lambing jug and a ewe headlock from Sydell.  Thankfully I'll get a 10 % discount for being a member of Minnesota Lamb and Wool Producers.
Shearing revealed that 3 of my 4 yearling Bluefaced Leicester ewes are bred (along with two yearling Shetlands). Lambing could start as early as May 19th (after Hansel's break out on Christmas Eve day).  Having the ewe headlock will allow me to handle tasks like milking out a ewe, letting a lamb nursing from a sensitive new mom, hoof trimming, ear tagging all by myself.
I'm also buying an extra panel so I can have a safe heat lamp area for the lambs.  I noticed that the BFL lambs born in March, 2011 grew better than the later born BFL lambs. Once they were dried off and nursing, they were able to take single digit temps without missing a beat or needing a heat lamp.  Plus I got all twins with March lambing of the BFLs. 

I'm seriously considering attending a Spring/Summer Jacket felting workshop in Otsego, Michigan in July.  Anyone want to ride out there with me? Otsego is close to Allegan and Kalamazoo, it's possible to haul a  few sheep one way or the other...just thinking out loud here.  Shoot me an email if you're interested in traveling and/or sheep transport.

Speaking of which, I have two ram lambs for sale, including the polled moorit gulmoget  in the photo below and a horned dark moorit who is not pictured.
Hattie's twin gulmoget lambs, she always produces rich color.

Good news - RAIN has come, yeah! The hayfield we planted in alfalfa and orchard grass last year is looking good but the rain is just what it needed. We've had over 4 inches in the past 5 or 6 days.

If you have time, click on this link to a great article about the Shepherd's Harvest festival director Julie MacKenzie. I loved how the reporter picked up the experience so many of us have with raising our own fiber animals.