Friday, May 25, 2012

Just Lamb Pictures

I know there are a couple of you out there that really only read the blog for the lamb pictures, so here you go.

First, one of our cross bred lambs.  She's 1/4 Coopworth, 1/4 Polypay and 1/2 Icelandic.  And I might just keep this one.  I'm curious to see her fleece in the spring.

Next, our youngest baby, a little Shetland ewe - fawn gulmoget.  She was born to one of the few lambs I exposed to the ram last fall.

Below is the lamb from the first picture, with her twin sister.

Ram lamb, he's 1/2 Coopworth and 1/2 Icelandic.  He was born to a yearling (coming two year old) Coopworth, a first time mom and he was HUGE when he was born.  I don't weigh lambs anymore, now that we don't have a production flock, but I should have weighed him.  He's about a month old (this picture was taken awhile ago) and is almost as big as our Shetland yearlings.

And this little guy was almost a bottle baby.  He is one of Lily's (Shetland) lambs.  He had a twin brother, but Lily had some health issues and lost the one.  I supplemented him with the occasional bottle, but Lily is now back on her feet and he is off the bottle.  But still very friendly.  Which is unfortunate, since a friendly ram cannot stay on this farm.

And, last, but not least, another of the younger Shetland lambs.  A pretty decent sized ram born to a first time mom.  Grey katmoget.

And, I did a count and we ended up with 48 lambs and kids this year.  Mostly twins, except to the first time moms - many of them had singles.  I like crossing the Icelandic ram on the BWS ewes - the lambs end up with shorter tails and I didn't dock any of them.  Just that big ram lamb above has a tail that is a bit long, but as he will go to market, I wasn't too concerned about that.  It just didn't seem to make sense to dock off bits that were no longer than my finger (and I have little hands).  And, since we are primarily a Shetland flock again, I figured all the sheep can now have small tails (we tried to leave longer docks on our BWS anyway).

So, there are some lamb pictures for you.  Enjoy!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

This is a Test, This is Only a Test . . . .

 OK - Blogger has informed me that they no longer support my browser and I have to switch to Google Chrome.  I'm not sure what that means and, as it's 11:00 at night and I am not 100% at this hour, I'm not sure I want to download Google Chrome without researching it a bit.  (Anyone that knows something about this, please feel free to chime in here - I'm open to any and all advice).  But, my blog SEEMS to be working, although it appears a bit funky, so I'll try a short post here and if it works, maybe another post in the next day or two.

Since my last post, I have skirted about 50 fleeces, which have been listed on the web page, if you're interested.  And I've sold a bunch, which is the idea, but it does take up time that I could have been using blogging or researching this Google Chrome thing.

And I have been dyeing yarns and rovings for shows.  In mid-April, we did the Wisconsin Spin In, which looked like this from the balcony at the Waukesha Expo Center - that's our booth down there - the first time we had a double booth and we finally had room for both the staff (me) and the customers.

The week after that we did the Great Midwest Alpaca Festival, which was at the Coliseum at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, WI.  The alpaca shows were going on in the show ring without me while I was manning the vendor booth in the mezzanine around the outside of this picture. 

And meanwhile, back at the ranch, we were lambing and kidding.  I think we have about 45 lambs and kids on the ground.  One of these days I should total up the reports and see how we actually ended up.  There is one lone ewe who still has the opportunity to lamb, but she doesn't look bred, so I'm guessing we are done for the year.  No lamb pictures in this post, since I didn't want to get carried away if Blogger is just going to delete this since I don't have the almighty Google Chrome.  But here are some kid shots to entertain you this go round.  I'm not sure who this is, but he/she is cute regardless.  He/she is a Nigora kid - that's a cross between an Angora and a Nigerian Dwarf.

These three are Hermione's and Sequoia's (there are two black and white ones there and a brown one.  They are often sleeping together is this old feeder.  They are also Nigoras).  And I do mean they belong to both Hermione and Sequoia, as the mother/daughter pair kidded at the same time in the same corner of the barn, without witnesses.  When I went out to the barn that day, there they all were and I didn't have a clue as to who really belonged to whom.  So the two does are sharing the three kids, as best I can tell.  But it's all working out, so, as they say, "all's well that ends well"!

And last, but not least, my bottle baby for the year.  This is one of Manya's - a little black and white Angora doe.  When she was born, she couldn't stand on her front legs, so I tube fed her and put her back in with her mom, thinking she probably wouldn't make it.  Well, Manya fed her for a day or two, she managed to get up on all four feet and then her mother abandoned her.  So she became my bottle baby for the year.  She's still walks a little funky, but she manages just fine.  She plays with the other kids, goes out to pasture with the rest of the herd.  And she is my most colorful Angora kid.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Just Checking In

Just wanted to check in before March ended. And before it gets really busy here, as lambing/kidding should begin any time now.

We sheared the sheep and the few Angora goats about a week and a half ago. We've reduced the flock size quite a bit, so it wasn't as hectic this year and the barn wasn't as crowded. And before we started that morning, I took a few snapshots of the sheep waiting for their turn to get a haircut. That's Pikachu in the middle of the group, a Polypay ewe - she's about four years old and was one of our bottle lambs that year.

Going every which way in the chute. Fortunately, it's not my job to muscle some of those bigger girls around in the chute. How they manage to get themselves turned around in there is beyond me! That pretty brown ewe is Brownie, a Polypay/Coopworth cross ewe.

The Shetland ewes, waiting their turn. They look a bit menacing, with those glowing eyes!

And Zeus did his part to help with the shearing. We actually tried giving him a little pen, so we didn't have to keep such a close eye on him. But he managed to squeeze under the fence and spent most of the morning in with my dad, who was in the pen area the sheep went through after they were shorn. His lead was tied to the fence, so he couldn't chase the sheep, but if the sheep didn't go straight through the "exit" area and tried heading back toward the shearing platform, Zeus would bark at them until they turned around and headed in the right direction!

And now that shearing is over, I have boatloads of fleece to skirt and get up on the web site. And I've got tubs of yarn and roving that I have to dye before Wisconsin Spin In. It's April 21 and 22 at the Waukesha Expo Center in Waukesha, WI - if you're in the area! Please stop by and say hi if you can make it.

Well, must get back to doing something more productive than blogging. I've got some of our Star Dust yarn waiting to be dyed - what colors should I do today? And I have a bunch of worsted weight waiting to be tagged. It's too dark and dreary today to take pictures for our Etsy store. Oh, who am I kidding? You all know that before I get to that, I have to have another cup of coffee!

In closing, a couple more pictures of Zeus - often when I am on the computer, he is under the desk. It's hard to get a picture of him under there, as he is usually up as soon as I push the chair back - he must have been very tired on this occasion.

And a more typical posture. Ready and waiting for his next command.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Anyone Want to Win Some Yarn?

I have a cold, and it's late, so no long blog post tonight, no pretty pictures. But I would like to refer you to another blog - Yarn On The House. Ve has a really nice blog over there and she features indie dyers and knit designers. And the really nice thing about her blog is that she gives stuff away. All you have to do is comment on her blog (and maybe follow her blog - not sure about that, but I follow her). And this time around, the yarn she is giving away is ours! Hearthside Fibers "BaaBoo" yarn (our bamboo blend fingering weight yarn). Three skeins, one to each of three winners. Two in "Purple Haze" and one in "Annie's Snowy Mountain". Please pop over there and have a look. And maybe you'll be lucky enough to win a skein of our yarn!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Meet Zeus!

I would like to introduce you to the newest member of our family. This is Zeus:

He is a Border Collie. A bit over 2 months old, tri-color, very sweet and very smart. I'll probably jinx it, but I have never had a puppy this young with such good toilet habits. He was born in a box stall on a horse farm and confined there, as the breeders were afraid the horses would step on the puppies if they were left to roam. The owners bred their female on purpose, then decided after the puppies were born that maybe that hadn't been the smartest thing they ever did, so the puppies ended up at a nearby rescue. He was at the rescue for less than a week when we picked him up this past Wednesday evening. He sleeps through the night (although those nights are pretty short right now), has yet to have an accident in the house (although we are pretty vigilant about taking him out when he wakes, after he eats, etc), so far has ignored the Xmas tree, which is still up, but is very interested in the cats' litter box. He is not afraid of the goats or the sheep (of course, they are on the other side of the fence at this point in his life). He responds well when we tell him "no" for inappropriate behavior. He does seem to be curious about chicken poop, but it is hard to avoid that on a farm. At the moment, he is curled up behind my chair here at the computer.

It is wonderful to have a puppy in the house again, although I did hope to sleep beyond 6:15 this morning. Oh well, I've lived through sleep deprivation before in my life. But I think I was better able to handle it in college! So if you see me on the street and I don't respond - well, I might be sleep walking!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

And this year, I will try to post here more often. I would say that this is my New Year's resolution, but that would just be asking for trouble, as I don't think I have ever stuck with any of my resolutions. But I did so poorly at posting last year, that it shouldn't be too hard to improve this year!

Looking back on last year, in addition to not posting on the blog, we started our new business venture, which most of you know about, if you still read my meager posts. Hearthside Fibers began in earnest just after the first of the year, we did about half a dozen fiber shows, I finally got the Etsy store launched in the fall, I set up a Facebook page and we placed our product in the local yarn store, Kaleidoscope Fibers, in Lake Mills, WI.

In the coming year, we are already booked into an additional one or two fiber shows and are considering a couple more. I plan to get more product into the Etsy store. We are adding a few new yarns and rovings.

On the sheep and goat end of things, we have downsized the commercial/meat sheep, but have retained most of the goats and fiber sheep. So for our fleece customers, we will have Shetland fleeces in a few months (and some of those fleeces look absolutely gorgeous "on the hoof"), a few Icelandic fleeces, maybe some mohair and a few other assorted fleeces off of the "pets" that we didn't sell. Lambing/kidding begins at the very end of March, and may continue into June, as we still have one ram in with a few of our ewes - he was put in as a clean up ram, just in case the ram lamb we originally had in with that group didn't do his job!

Not much in the way of pictures with this post. We have had very little snow here in SE Wisconsin so far this winter, unlike much of the rest of the country! So no pretty scenery shots. Very odd for us and I am nervously waiting for the other shoe to drop. There is no way that this mild weather and lack of snow can last much longer. Today it is hovering around freezing, though, and the winds are brisk, so I am glad that I will be sitting in the living room, watching the last regular season Packer game (GO PACK!) instead of in Lambeau with my cousin and his girlfriend.

So, since every year I try to get a decent picture of the Xmas tree, I will leave you with best wishes for the New Year and a shot of our tree from early Xmas morning -

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Going Forward Into Fall

If there is anyone out there who is still following this blog - well, thank you for hanging in there. No excuse really, although I like to say that I have been busy.

We have survived the hot summer weather and are now enjoying the cooler, and sometimes rainy, fall days. Today the temperature was fine - almost 60 - but we had some rain. We have three young Nigora goats who sometimes graze our backyard and today, when it rained, they took shelter in the most convenient spot they could find. The picture is a bit blurry, as I have a new camera and forget to adjust the settings, but Billy found shelter in an old rabbit cage that we have under an overhang off the back deck -

I must say, that while I love my sheep, goats certainly are entertaining!

The summer wrapped up for us with a couple of fiber festivals. Yet another picture of one of our booths - this one at Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival in Jefferson, WI - the show was a success and we can't wait until next year!

This is what our barn looked like before the festival began:

And this is what it looked like the rest of the weekend:

My favorite weekend of the year! This was our first year vending - and while it was loads of fun and financially rewarding, I did miss spending the weekend with our sheep in the Hall of Breeds, talking with festival-goers about the pros and cons of the different sheep breeds, seeing old friends and meeting new ones.

And speaking of the sheep, we are downsizing a bit this year, as we switch our focus to the fiber end of the industry. We are already booked into several shows for next year and I am finally getting some work done on getting an Etsy site set up (since I can't seem to master Zen Cart for our web site). Tonight I was finalizing the choreography for getting the sheep/goats all moved around to their respective breeding groups. The plan for this year is three Shetland breeding groups, one non-Shetland group, one goat group, a bachelor boys group and a group of lambs/kids who are not ready yet to be bred. I'm sure the rams are ready - at least it seems that Gallifrey is saying "Let's get this show on the road, already - I could go for a little female companionship!"