Friday, October 30, 2009

River Oaks Greyson

I finally got a photo of the button scurred ram lamb I plan to use on a few Shetlands this fall. I'm only going to breed a 3-4 Shetland ewes this year.  I've still got quite a few sheep here and I'm hesitant to bring more lives into being than we have the resources to care for on our little bit of pasture.

His name WAS going to be Sebastian, but for some reason I kept calling his half brother that name and it was starting to stick.  Then one day I heard about Florida Senator Alan Grayson on the news and I thought, Greyson would be a great name for a grey ram out of Kimberwood Harrison and Bramble Cordelia.  So I registered him as River Oaks Greyson and then I found out that Juliann has a ram named Greyson too.  Oops!

Anyway, there he is above at age 6 months... 

And this is his back view from August... You can see that he's Ag, but so far his fleece is holding that beautiful grey color.  I hope it keeps on holding!

Below is a fleece photo taken the other day with a flash...

And below is his fleece in natural lighting, you can see the blue-grey color in this one, but it's too blurry to see the crimp...  Both photos are rump area fleece.

I love that his fleece is soft and crimpy, but has some length to it also.  His twin sister is an Ag Gulmoget.  Her fleece is much lighter and much longer.

My plan is to put him in with River Oaks Lana, a black gulmoget who may carry moorit.  I also plan to put in River Oaks Hannah and Leonie, both brown factored ewes. I'm still debating on whether to put River Oaks Hattie in there too.  She's got a turned ankle and I always feel bad for her when she's very pregnant, but she always produces such nice lambs!

Well, it's off to bed for me, I'm heading out in the morning for a mini-fiber-retreat-weekend with other Shetland ladies. We plan to make felted slippers, spin, knit, eat, and drink wine. It should be lots of fun!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Flock Changes & 2009 Breeding Plans

Well things have changed a lot in the past 10 days or so!

As I went through my paperwork prior to my annual SFCP inspection last week, I came across photos and information on LOTS of sheep that have come and gone over the years. There were so many special sheep that I had to let go. That got me started thinking I should concentrate more on fiber and a less on lamb production. So I decided to get out of the third tier market lamb portion of my flock and just stick with the purebred Shetlands and BFLs.  Fortunately I found a new home for my Shetland Mules and Ile de France/Dorset ram. They will be close by and I will be able to keep tabs on their production and answer any questions from their new owner.

The mules will be leaving soon and the Ile de France/Dorset left yesterday to breed a few Mules at another farm. You can see he was all ready for that assignment! When he returns in mid-November, he'll go straight to his new owner where the girls will be all settled in and ready for him.

I almost traded away my 2 year old natural colored BFL ram, Beechtree Granite, but at the last minute decided to hang on to him and trade our natural colored ram lamb, Devlyn instead.

I didn't want to let Granite go, his fleece is looking so good this time of year (I think you can click to biggify his fleece photo), and he's so easy to handle-- at least he WAS until today - he got loose twice today in his quest for the ewes.

Devlyn will get two ewes at his new home, I'm sure he can handle that.  And he may even get to serve as clean up ram too.  Lucky Devlyn!
Our new LGD, Shachah, is now in with the ewes.  He has full run of the paddocks and is doing great.  I'm loving having a BIG dog here so far.

Shachah started barking last night about 3:30 a.m.  So do I have to get up and check out what's going on when ever he barks at night?  Of course I did get up, but as soon as I turned on the outside light, he quit barking. Not sure if that was a good thing or not.

So my  2009 breeding plans for the BFLs have changed a bit. Granite will get Lanora and Rhyn again this year.  He was used on them in 2007 and gave us two nice ewe lambs, we'll hope for that again. :-) 

 Ward Harwell will get Granite's two yearling daughters. Leora at left and Rhaya below.
I'll post more about my Shetland breeding group when I have some better photos of Greyson, the button scurred ram lamb I'll be using.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Getting to know you

We've been getting to know Shachah, inlcuding how to spell his name correctly. :-)
He seems to like me, he wags his tail and wants me to pet him. I figured out yesterday that he needs to be let out of the chain link kennel to relieve himself, doesn't want to soil his kennel. So now he gets the run of the backyard a few times a day. This way he's getting to know the smell of our kitties and Ozzie.
He's getting more used to Ozzie too.  No more barking or growling there.  I haven't let them meet without a fence in between them yet, but I think it might be time to try pretty soon. 
Last night I suddenly thought about our neighbor's super cute little King Cavilier cross, Kia.  She comes over fairly often.  She doesn't bother anything so we don't mind her visiting.  Well she came over this afternoon just after I let Shachah out of his kennel. I got to her first and petted her to show Shachah that she was okay.  He didn't even bark, he just sniffed her.  Now that he knows her, I'm pretty sure he won't hurt her. But she does have a tendency to be bossy. She'd better watch her step with the big guy.

He hasn't shown any interest in the chickens so far. But I've kept all our pets on the outside of the fence he's in until I get more comfortable with him.

I am anxious to let him in with the sheep. Maybe I'll walk him through their paddock and see how they react to him.  He walks very well on a leash.

Monday, October 12, 2009

We got ourselves a Guard Dog!

We picked up Shacaw this afternoon.  He's a 5 year old Great Pyr/Akbash guard dog who needed a new home because his owners are moving out of state at the end of month. He's so big and seems so calm, just having him laying near the sheep pen gives me a sense of security.

As soon as we let him out of the dog crate, he focused right in on the sheep and they focused in on him...

Of course they're in separate pens for now. After Shacaw accepts us and Ozzie, we'll see how he does with the sheep.  So far he's very laid back.  Mostly just laying around sniffing the breeze.

And since it's been snowing all day, it's nice that he's decided to use the small calf hut we put in there for him.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Getting ready for the S-Word

I got so much done Friday! The forecast of SNOW for Saturday morning was enough to get me off my butt and outside getting things done for fall.

First thing was to move the Shetland geese out of the backyard.  I just love how they still consider me their leader and they follow me closely wherever I go.  I love the sound of their feet paddling along behind me. After they explored the hostas for a while, I took them out of the gate and down the steep hill to introduce them to the pond...

We haven't gone down to the pond much this year and the path was a bit treacherous, but they seemed very eager to get down there.  Once there, they looked and looked, and nibbled some grasses, but they didn't dare leave my side to go in the water.  So back up we went.

I got them inside the chain link fence with the adult rams.  One of ganders immediately grabbed a hold of Peppy our Ile de France ram, but it didn't phase Peppy a bit.  He just wanted a sniff, as did Granite and Socks.  The poor geese were pretty scared .  But they have to learn to live with other animals, so I left them to work things out on their own.

Next I cleaned out my garden which was hopelessly lost in the freeze the night before. The ewes were happy to get the last of the cucumbers and zucchini. I picked the low hanging apples, they are nice and red and bigger than usual this year. I will be canning applesauce this week.

As I was feeding the ewes later, I heard the low nickering sound of a romantic ram.  Oh my gosh, my ram lambs were still sharing a fenceline with the ewes!  I just hope there hasn't been any "activity" going on between them already.  That would me some early lambs next winter. So my next big job was to move their fence about 50 yards away.

This is Ward Harwell on the left and our sweet little Doulan on the right. Harwell will all four of our BFL ewes. Notice our high class fencing. LOL. Twine connections make rearranging fencelines an easy thing for me to do.  I took the hog panels from around the now defunct garden and tied them up to finish off the ram lamb's new fence.  After all these years of raising sheep, we've figured out lots of ways to create pens and shelters.  It's been a creative endeavor.

Finally after supper I got to knit some more on my Brioche stitch watch cap. I love knitting up that hat from the directions in Elizabeth Zimmermann's "Knitting Without Tears".  It doesn't take long at all.

You can see a grey watch cap in the back right of this photo. It was knitted from Sheepy Hollow Rachel's wool.  The musket cable hat was done with Sheepy Hollow Beau's wool.  I love the natural Shetland colors!

The white one I was working on in the photo is some thick springy yarn, I must remember to ALWAYS label my yarns!  I'm not sure if this is Babydoll Southdown, Ile de France, or a BFL/cormo cross whose fleece I traded for some Shetland. I only had 3 ounce spun up, you can see the little ball on the left, but it was so lightweight and super springy that it was plenty to finish the hat with a 2" brim. If you haven't tried the Brioche stitch (AKA the Prime Rib stitch), it's very easy and a super stretchy rib.  For this hat you want to use a thick yarn and big needles, it's only 36 stitches and one of the few EZ patterns knit flat and then sewn.

In the center of the photo is some luscious white yarn I spun from my Shetland Mule combed top.  I think that will make a great scarf.

Saturday morning we woke to a covering of snow and there is another 6 inches forecast for tonight and tomorrow.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Shetland Mules for Sale or TRADE

I still need to cut back on my sheep numbers here. I'd like to breed for solid-sided polled gulmoget Shetlands, so I will retain all twelve of my Shetlands.  And I can't keep up with the demand for white BFL fleece, so the BFLs will be staying too.
Unfortunately, I just don't have pasture here to keep 30 sheep year round.
That means the Shetland mules will be the ones to go.  As much as I hate to let them go, I certainly don't want to send them the sales barn as culls. 

They are priced at $100 each, after breeding season exposure to an Ile de France/Dorest cross ram, they will be priced at $125 each. There are three two-year-olds and three one-year-olds.

All are white and all are friendly with fabulously crimpy fleece.

Beautiful girls with good lambing histories. Two of the yearlings have not lambed.

I am willing to be creative and would consider giving them to a good home in return for 50% of their 2010 lamb crop (ram lambs only) and 50% of their 2010 fleeces.

Our flock is healthy, and these girls are up to date on hoof trimming, and vaccinations (CDT).  They can be wormed prior to leaving the farm.  Let me know if you're interested.

Also, we have a natural colored BFL ram lamb for sale ($200) and three crossbred BFL/Shetland beautiful friendly ewe lambs ($100).

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Guard Dog Possibility - photos added

Okay, am I crazy or too much of a worry wart?  There is a 1/2 Great Pyrenees, 1/2 Akbash guard dog available near me.

He's 5 years old, has been raised with sheep.  He's good with sheep, children, cats, other farm animals. He's excellent with newborn lambs, and never was aggressive to sheep.

I went to meet him the other day and he's very mellow...

and very BIG.

The only things holding me back from snapping him up are:
1.) his history of arthritis in a back leg (he can't jump fences anymore)
2.) my lack of previous experience with any kind of guard dog.
3.) my husband doesn't think we need a guard dog since we've never had any losses in the 8 years we've had sheep here. 

#1 makes me nervous about possible vet bills in the future.  The previous owners have given him glucosamine pills in the past, but now just an aspirin when he's stiff and sore.  They say it's been a long time since he's needed any aspirin. They say having a shelter for him in the coldest months of the year keeps in better shape. They say he can run, but when I saw him he was very laid back.  I saw him walk and he wasn't limping at all.

#2 is most compelling, I'm not really a dog person. I'm not as stern as I need to be to keep a dog submissive. I've read that these breeds are very smart and need someone who can keep them in line as they can have a mind of their own.

I say #3 is pure luck in combination with the Australian Shepherd marking the area.  We had a coyote within 50 feet of our barn right before lambing in 2008 and a cougar was spotted just north of us (about 3/4 mile) right before lambing this past spring.  There are bears in the woods adjacent to our paddocks. And our neighbors have a penchant for taking in and caring for other people's dogs for months on end. 

What you guys think?  I need to make up my mind or let someone else take him.

Getting ready for Christmas Markets!

  I'll be doing two Christmas markets this year. The first one is at Sapsucker Farms in Brook Park, MN Nov. 18-19th. And the second one ...