Friday, December 11, 2009

Four Seasons in Wisconsin

Some people claim that we only have two seasons here in Wisconsin - winter and road construction. I disagree. We do have four seasons - we begin with one or two months of mud season - you know, that time that comes after the snow melts - mud all over everything - that's usually when we lamb (see my post of April 12, 2009 for a mud story). Don't get me wrong, just because there is mud everywhere, that doesn't mean some days aren't nice, tulips blooming and all that springy stuff. I actually enjoy most of mud season - the lambs, the promise of new growth, fresh pasture, thawed hoses. Then comes the three to four months of mosquito season - can't go outside without bathing in some sort of insect repellent that probably will make me die young of some sort of cancer. Then we have a couple of weeks of real fall weather - cooler temperatures, changing leaves, the last of the garden harvest before the first hard frost, sheep eating the last of the pasture, rams behaving like gentlemen, not like the fools they become during breeding season. And then, finally, we have six months of winter. Endless cold, frozen water buckets, gates that are frozen shut, thigh high drifts (OK, I'm short, but thigh high is still too high in my opinion!).

Wednesday we had a foot of snow and blizzard conditions, now we have temperatures that drop below zero over night and we're lucky to get into double digits during the day. To top it all off, yesterday when I woke up about 7:00 am (I slept in because there was a two hour delay for school due to bone numbing wind chills), the power was out. So, no heat, no water (we have a 125 gallon fish tank that comes in very handy at times like these so we can actually use the toilet), no first cup of coffee - and, OMG, Nicholas couldn't play his Playstation! Fortunately, WE Energies (if you look at that really fast, it looks like weenergies - play along with me - think hot dogs, frankfurters) was very efficient and fixed the problem in about an hour and a half.

But, with all the complaining I do during our six months of winter, we do see lovely scenes like this:

And, because it is almost impossible to blog without including some sheep pictures, these are the two Dorset ewe lambs that we got from Don and Carol Battenburg this year:

And one of our lambs, a Polypay/Coopworth cross - I can't wait to see her fleece on the skirting table - she appears to have the finer wool of the Polypay, with the brown coloring of her Coopworth dam:

Hope your weather is warmer than ours - at least at the moment - it is supposed to get up near freezing this weekend. Hooray!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Blizzard of 2009

And I certainly hope it is the only blizzard of 2009! In fact, if we're lucky, it will be the biggest snow event of the winter! The weather guys started predicting this one several days ago - yesterday around 2:30 pm they switched us from "winter storm warning" to "blizzard warning". That means blowing snow, winds sustained or gusting at or above 35 MPH. The local school was shut down for today by 7:45 last night. The governor declared a state of emergency for the entire state (I'm not really sure what that means, but the National Guard was put on alert). UW-Eau Claire was closed today - no classes! (I think the entire UW system may have been shut down). That NEVER happened while I was there!

Larry started plowing paths to all the sheep around 7:00 am - Nicholas and I slept in a bit, enjoying the snow day. Then we all hauled hay to those groups of sheep who do not have access to big bales, like Edsel and his four girls:

Some blizzard shots:

Nature's Christmas tree:

And I had more written, but Blogger deleted part of my post, so I leave you with a parting shot of Bubba, our colored Coopworth ram lamb and, hopefully, future flock sire:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

This and That

First off, my first archaeological find! While walking through one of the pastures a few weeks ago, I found this interesting rock. I put it in my jacket pocket, where it sat for a few days. Then I remembered it and placed it on the toilet tank lid (the bathroom is right across from where I hang my jacket), where it sat for another week or so. Finally, the other night after dinner, Larry and I were discussing something which brought us to the subject of rocks - probably the fact that there are so many of them in some of the pastures - and I thought of my toilet-sitting rock. We washed it off (it was in the pasture, after all, and the "dirt" on it might have been more than dirt - remember, we were at the dinner table) and began studying it and imagining what it might be. Well, low and behold, turns out it is something called a "nutting" stone or "cupping" stone. No one knows for sure, but they are found throughout the country and the "experts" seem to think they might have been used for cracking open nuts or grinding bits of grain or dye ingredients or as a base for fire starting implements. In any case, I was excited, since when I was about 10 or 12, I wanted to be an archaeologist when I grew up.

In sheepy news, we sorted out the breeding groups last weekend. We started at 9:00 am on Sunday. First we caught up all the BWS ewes. Nicholas and Larry grabbed each ewe while I consulted my clipboard, instructing them to push the ewe into Val's (Coopworth) breeding group or Heinz's (Polypay) group. We then loaded up Heinz's girls into the trailer and carted them across the road to their new pen to await their "man". Val's girls were turned back out into their pasture to await Val. Larry and Nicholas loaded the two rams into the trailer (back on this side of the road), while I caught up the Shetland girls to await their sorting. Then we took Heinz over to join his harem, loaded up the two Shetland rams we are using this fall (Eddie and Edsel - at the time, being housed across the road) and headed back to this side of the road. Then we pulled the four Shetland ewes out that were going to the far part of the pasture and moved them. Next, the ewe lambs were pulled out to stay in their little pen. Finally the remaining Shetland ewes were taken to their part of the pasture. Fortunately, all the Shetland pastures/pens are adjacent and the girls just had to be led into their areas using the ever effective corn bucket and locked behind the appropriate gates. Then Eddie was taken out of the trailer and put in with his girls, then Edsel was removed from the trailer and temporarily restrained with a halter while Val was let in with his girls. Then Edsel was led to his part of the pasture.

Next, back across the road, this time with a smaller "cart", to grab a couple of ewes that had remained in with the last of the lambs this fall, to bring back to our side of the road and be put in with Sammy, our other Polypay ram, so he would not be lonely. Then, Larry called it a day (by now it was around noon), as he had to go into work that night. But Nicholas and I went back across the road, as Bubba (our Coopworth ram lamb and future flock sire) was now alone (he had been keeping company with the Shetland rams) and was baaing very pitifully from his pen. So we moved the Shetland ram lambs over with him, where they are now residing happily in their bachelor pad. And the remaining market lambs still needed to be fed and watered.

At this point, it was about 1:00 pm and Nicholas was given the rest of the day off. I took a 10 minute break to have a dish of ice cream (AKA "lunch"). Then I was back out moving water buckets around into the new areas, feeding those groups who don't have the big bales, and just doing a general check on everyone. All the rams were doing their thing, neck outstretched, lips curled, sniffing out the ewes who might be in heat. And the ewes were doing their level best not to be caught. But I did notice a couple of ewes being mounted, so Larry tells me April 9 we should begin lambing!

At this point, I called it a day - fortunately the Packers had a late start (3:15), but I had already missed the opening kick off - long day for me - 6-1/2 hours straight, most of it on my feet. My muscles are still sore! But the Packers won and the breeding groups are sorted, so it was a very productive day!

Some sheep pics for you - Eddie, who is in with a dozen Shetland ewes. He must have spent all of Sunday chasing the girls, as he looked like he had collapsed on Monday morning - I even threw my jacket on over my pajamas to go out to make sure he was still alive. But he is alive and well - although I swear he looks like he has already lost some weight!

Lily, one of the girls in with Eddie -

This is part of Val's mostly Coopworth group (there are a few Polypays and crossbred ewes in there). Some of the girls are so fat this year - I hope not too fat. And I'm not sure why - they were on less than optimal pasture right before being put on hay.

And this is the view from the lamb pasture, looking back out over the hay fields. The sun was shining through the clouds so nicely - can you see the rays shining down behind the flag?
Hope everyone is having a good "midweek"! The weekend is coming!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Post Before a Short Hiatus

Well, since my mother is going to be borrowing my camera for a couple of weeks, I thought I would blog while I still had the option of posting pictures. She and Dad are actually going away for about a week and since she hasn't gone digital yet, I offered her mine. And, since she needs a few days to practice, she is getting my camera a few days before they go (for those of you worrying that I just told the entire internet that my parents were going on vacation, keep in mind that I didn't give exact dates, my brother and his wife still live with them and I am over there daily as I do chores around the farm - so, no, the place will be nowhere near deserted!)

So, depending on weather conditions, this may be the last picture of fall color that you get from here. If it gets terribly windy or rainy, all will be gone by the time I get my camera back.

We have had rain quite often since those 22 days of drought in September. And last night, the first frost here on this side of the road (my dad's pumpkins got it a couple of weeks ago - he must be in a lower lying area than we are). Just a few minutes ago, as I was setting up a dye pot, I looked out of the window and noticed snow flurries. Tonight they are predicting hard frost. I hope we get some warmer weather toward the end of the month, as Larry and Nicholas are headed to Lambeau Field for a Packer game and the 8th grade is going on a three day trip to Upham Woods - a 4-H camp near the Wisconsin Dells. The cabins, I'm told, are heated, but they do go canoeing on the Wisconsin River and they spend the majority of their time there outside.

In fibery news, I have been doing a little bit of spinning and am still working on the lace scarf shown in an earlier post.

In sheepy news, the first group of lambs was taken to market a couple of weeks ago. Tiny bits of hay are starting to be fed. The sheep are slowly being sorted into "sub" breeding groups. They will be divided further in the next month, as we plan to lamb later next spring, so no groups will be put together until mid-November. And the boys better be organized, as I am hoping to limit breeding season and, therefore, lambing season, to about six or seven weeks this year. (They actually get most of the girls bred in the first three weeks they are together - in fact, some of our groups will only be together for about 3 weeks, but taking into consideration first breeding date through last - it will encompass about 6 weeks).

This is one of the lambs I think I will keep. She is a purebred Coopworth. Long bodied and very pretty. Very feminine. But you can see how brown the pasture got during the drought. Fortunately, most of the sheep have been moved to greener pastures.

Soon we will be feeding hay to all. While I don't like the heat and humidity of summer, I do like the fact that feeding the sheep requires only green pasture and there is no ice on the water troughs (as there was this morning!) Here's to Indian Summer and a long, mild fall!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Summer Into Fall

I am not a good summer person. I like the idea of summer - blue skies, green grass, long, sunny days - iced tea, lemonade, baseball games - but the reality includes heat, humidity and bugs, which I don't do well. I like fall - cooler, less humid weather, the bugs start disappearing. But fall always seems like the end of something to me, in spite of the fact that football season has begun again, breeding groups will go together soon and with that, looking forward to new lambs in the spring. So there is always that touch of melancholy that comes with the last home Brewer game (last night), the first cold, windy day (today), the change of the woods from shades of green to autumn tones -

I think the late A. Bartlett Giamatti, former commissioner of baseball, summed it up pretty well, when he wrote this about baseball:

"It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops."

Monday, September 21, 2009

Random Monday

Yes, I am still here - if there is anyone left who is still reading my blog, I apologize for my lack of posts lately. I have taken pictures and have had many things to post about over the last few days, weeks, months, but just haven't gotten around to it.

We did go to the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival again - exhibiting Shetlands, Polypays and Coopworths in the Hall of Breeds. We talked to lots of people, sold some sheep (thank you to Kathryn Hammond, Lori Behnke, the Randy Taylor family and the Fulks), caught up with old friends, made some new friends, saw many different breeds of sheep and made a few purchases in the vendor barns - on the left, from River's Edge Weaving Studio, Bluefaced Leicester roving, and on the right, Calypso yarn from Creatively Dyed. I also got my annual t-shirt and some really cute sheep napkins from Ewesful Gifts.

In talking to the many people at the Festival, we found out that the Grand Champion Shetland Ram was the son of one of our rams! You can see him on his farm's blog,

In other news, it finally rained last night, after 22 days without rain. The pastures were all brown and stubbly and we are nowhere near the date when we should start feeding hay. But maybe the pastures will green up a bit now and the hay fields can put on a little new growth before the snow flies. I don't know how people live in dry climates - it has been driving me nuts, watching everything green shrivel up before my eyes. But before this drought hit, we had pastures that looked like this:

This is the ewe flock after we turned them out into new pasture awhile ago. Our plan was to flush them on this, but with the lack of rain, this field is now mostly brown. In their attempt at greener pastures, a few of the sheep have braved the electric fence and gone through to the hay field adjacent. The other morning, one of the ewes was on the wrong side of the fence, so I set up some temporary fencing to block her from my parents' backyard, closed off the catch pen so it was empty, propped open the gate back into the pasture and herded her back in. Throughout all this time, the rest of the flock was very interested in what I was doing and being quite vocal about it. As I was closing the gate behind me, having successfully reunited her with her flock, I saw one of our adult Shetland rams come flying across the lane. He went through the electric fence (I don't think he ever saw it!) and began courting the Big Whites! I then had to round up most of the ewe flock into the catch pen, grab Eddie (the ram) and drag him back to his pen (now on the opposite side of the barn, so he can't see the girls!) I don't know if he bred anyone, but he had about 15 minutes while I was grabbing the bucket of corn and the halter. If he did breed anyone, I hope it was one of the few Rambouillets we have left, as I have been curious about the fleece from that cross!

One thing I meant to put in the blog earlier this summer, were the before and after pictures of our barn deck. The barn has been there for a few years - this is the end that faces the house and our back yard:

Larry decided, sometime during lambing this spring, that he would build a deck there. It came out very nicely and is a nice shady spot to sit in the afternoon, when the sun is on the other side of the barn.

The trellis planter had both sweet peas and morning glories, but the morning glories won out. Next year, though, I have to remember to plant a darker color, as the white with faint blue stripes blends into the barn too much:

Well, Blogger has been giving me headaches this morning, so I think I will wrap this up. My parting shot today is of a nest I found out in the Shetland pasture a few weeks ago. If you look closely, you will see that much of it is wool - you know how most nests are really quite heavy for their size, packed densely often with mud? This nest is as light as a feather :) - being about half wool! I'm sure those baby birds were quite toasty in their wool house!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Ride Down the Lane

I know, I know - I haven't blogged lately. I did spin some more for the Tour de Fleece, but it was all the same fiber, so nothing really exciting to show. And I didn't get as much done as I would have liked. This summer has been relatively cool - in fact, the coolest July on record in Madison, which is just about 30 minutes from here. But the cooler weather has meant drier weather - no big thunderstorms brewing without all that heat and humidity. We did get some hot and humid weather about a week ago - and 2 very welcome inches of rain. The pastures were starting to turn brown, but now things are growing again.

No pictures of the garden for you this year, as it has sort of become overgrown. We do have zucchini and summer squash - some herbs - a few beans and cucumbers. The tomatoes have not done well, due to the cool weather in July, I understand.

My experiment with rooing some of my Shetlands did not go well, either. Maybe that is due to the weird weather we have been having, too. So most of the sheep that the shearer didn't shear, I have been shearing gradually over the summer months - on the fitting stand with a hand shears. I have learned that it isn't as hard as I thought it would be. The hand shears works remarkably well. The hard part is catching the sheep. My sheep are a bit fuzzy looking when I get done with them (thus no pictures) - I have a tendency to leave a bit of belly wool on them, due to the fact that I can't see as well underneath them and don't want to cut them. And they usually have a little wool left on their necks, just where the fitting stand restraints go. My sheep are not tame and, therefore, sometimes get a bit impatient with me as I am trimming away. So far, no blood has been drawn - from either me or them - but I don't want to push it. I get most of the fleece off and the rest can wait until the professionals get involved in the spring.

I do have some pictures for you though - just not of sheep or yarn or gardens. These are pictures from the farm. Behind my parent's house there is a lane. It goes down past the sheep pasture and then turns and goes up towards the woods. My father had the brilliant idea of clipping the lane quite a few years ago and I think it is one of the prettiest spots on the planet. Parts of it are shady,

some is bordered by Queen Anne's Lace.

There is a marshy section off to one side where the cattails grow.

This is the view looking up toward the woods - the woods is situated on a drumlin, a unique geological feature resulting from the last ice age.

This little path was Larry's idea. It's not easy getting up to the woods, due to all the overgrown vegetation, so he cut a path partway through. The base of the drumlin is down this fork in the trail. This is the "road less travelled".

Normally, I am riding down this lane - it's really quite a distance to walk. We cut the grass and feed it to our rams. And while the lawn mower is annoyingly noisy, it is still a pretty drive. But once in awhile, I turn off the lawn mower and just admire the view and listen to the birds. I am so glad I live in the country.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Tour de Fleece

Yes, I am once again participating in the Tour de Fleece - you can read about it here. Basically, it gives me an excuse (or maybe incentive) to spin for most of the month of July. I really don't pay close attention to the Tour de France - mostly I spin while I watch the Brewers play baseball - unfortunately, today they lost to the Dodgers - they need to stop doing that as they are in second place behind the Cardinals and they need to get back into first place.

Anyway - I am spinning about two and a half pounds of Coopworth roving that I hope to, someday, knit into a sweater or a vest (depending on how much actual yardage I end up with when I am done - I have never taken on such an ambitious spinning project before and am kind of winging it). So far, I have made it through about a pound - although technically, not all of it during Tour de Fleece. The two bobbins on the left are a three-ply yarn, the two bobbins on the right, the spun singles. A bit of the roving sits there in the picture as well. It's reddish, with small bits of yellow and bigger bits of blue. It spins up into a reddish yarn - a dark reddish, not a bright orangey reddish. I tweaked the color in the picture, but I'm not sure I quite ended up with the actual look, so you'll just have to take my word for it. But I think, in the end, if I manage to actually knit up a garment, it will go very nicely with jeans, which is primarily what I wear these days, being a full-time shepherd and all.

The roving, by the way, is Tapestry from Carol and Paul Wagner at Hidden Valley Farm and Woolen Mill. It spins like a dream and the plying issues are all mine (first time I have ever done a three-ply - maybe I should have experimented with that on a smaller project first!) I think I have a rhythm down now, but I am still afraid I may be overplying a bit - well, we'll see in the end, I guess!

Well, I just wanted to post something about Tour de Fleece, so anyone that was actually paying attention could see that I was participating. I think I still have one Shetland yet to lamb - or maybe she is just fat - hysterical pregnancy? I still have a sheep or two to roo - although that experiment went nowhere this year. I only managed to roo two sheep totally so far - even one of the ewes that rooed like a dream last year is not rooing at all well this year - I will probably harvest what I can and then take the hand shears to the rest of her - hopefully not totally destroying the remaining fleece in the process. Maybe I can get that done in the next few days, as the temperatures are supposed to be warm, but not hot and the humidity is supposed to be low. But we really do need rain - I am starting to worry that the pastures will stop growing - they should have a good root system, but I need something to worry about.

Hope the weather is good wherever you are!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

And Now a Fibery Post

First, for those of you who might be wondering, the ewe with the prolapse seems to be doing fine. I kept her in the barn in her own pen for about a week, removing the retainer after about 5 days. Another big dose of LA-200 and I sent her back out with the rest of her flock. And, although the weather has been very hot and humid, she seems OK.

Now, on to other, more fibery news. I knit a 12 inch square that I mailed off to another Ravelry member to be added to a blanket that he is putting together for one of the Paul Newman camps for kids. I forgot to take a picture of it, but it was a nice waffle weave done in Caron Simply Soft in a nice dark jade color. Very soft, but I'm afraid I'm a wool snob. It is just so much nicer to knit with wool.

I have also been working on a lace scarf - my first real lace project. I did do a dishcloth with a lace pattern and have done a few swatches, but this feels like my first lace. It is a great "first lace" project. The design comes from the book Luxury Yarn One Skein Wonders - the Nancy Pygora-Merino Lace Scarf - a Myrna Stahman design, no wonder it is so pretty (I just read the fine print to see the designer's name) - well, the design is pretty, I'm not trying to brag about my first lace! It knits up very quickly - although since I don't spend huge blocks of time on it, it will take me awhile. But I'm not getting bogged down in endless rows and when I do work on it for a bit, the length actually seems to change - the nice thing about scarves, I guess. But for those of you who hate to purl, all wrong side rows are purled. But I don't mind purling, it's just the switching back and forth, like when knitting ribbing, that I'm not fond of.

I am using a Fleece Artist yarn - their basic merino sock yarn in a colorway I can't remember the name of, but it is various shades of brown, with a few reddish highlights in spots. Obviously not blocked, so it looks kind of rumply - and I always seem to be trying to take pictures in the dark - some of the other blogs I read - well, you take such pretty pictures, in natural light, draping your knitting decoratively over a bush or a fence or some such. I grab a white mattress pad to stick under it, to highlight the holes! Anyway, here it is in all it's rumpled, artificially lighted glory . . . . .

And I got the rest of my birthday present from my folks today. A nice package from The Loopy Ewe, one of my favorite online yarn shops. (I must say, they have VERY fast service - I ordered some knitting accessories from two other online stores at the same time that I ordered the yarn from The Loopy Ewe - this past Thursday, yes two days ago - and I got the yarn today. The other two vendors - well, I'm still waiting on them!) I give you Creatively Dyed's Calypso yarn in the Coconut colorway and Dream in Color Smooshy in Some Summer Sky. The Calypso colors seem to be showing up quite well - mostly natural shades - beiges, browns with some dark purples, dark greens and bits of rosy colors. The Smooshy is showing up as mostly blue, but there is quite a bit of purple highlighting. Both yarns are superwash merino - see, I'm a wool snob - of course, seeing as we have about 200 sheep on the farm at the moment, maybe rightfully so!

The Calypso will probably become a garter stitch stole, the Smooshy is going into the stash for the time being.

Well, the weather forecast shows slightly lower temperatures for the next few days, so maybe I can start getting a few things done again. These last few days we have spent a lot of time in front of the fan and the TV. And speaking of the TV, a "new to me" Doctor Who is on in half an hour and I intend to be firmly situated on the couch by then. Not to be insensitive, but the news that David Tennant was being replaced as the Doctor was more shocking to me than the news of the death of Michael Jackson. I guess we all have our priorities!

Friday, June 12, 2009

It's Always Something!

Today our first cutting hay was being baled and wrapped and it will be stacked in various places around the farm tomorrow. We try to plan ahead and put the hay in the most convenient spots relative to where the sheep will be this coming winter. Lazy farmers (which I most certainly am one of!) are also usually quite efficient! Let's try to do things in the easiest way possible - that's my motto!

Yesterday I worked a little harder. If you're squeamish, skip down past this part.

OK, let's back up one day before yesterday. We had a Shetland ewe who delivered a stillborn lamb - just as well, as a portion of the lamb's intestines were outside of the body. The birth was assisted, but when I went to bed, the ewe seemed tired but fine. Not true, though, as when I got up yesterday morning, I discovered she had prolapsed (uterine prolapse - meaning she kept on pushing and having contractions, until her uterus was turned inside out and was now outside of her insides - no pictures for this part of the blog!). So I went back inside and had my breakfast and coffee and contemplated my next move.

I got together some supplies - antiseptic lube, prolapse retainer, gambrel restrainer, deer sled (boy, that sled comes in handy for hauling sheep around!). The gambrel restrainer is a nifty little device that sort of traps their front feet up near their head so they can't get away from you - which came in handy, so I could contain her (she was still up and fairly mobile) in the pasture while I went to the barn to get the sled. I then dragged her (in the sled) up through her pasture into our backyard - I thought it might be cleaner working there than in the barn or barnyard. That and I had been dragging her uphill and I was tired at that point and found it a convenient place to rest.

Then came the fun part - washing off the uterus and stuffing it back inside of her. Fortunately a Shetland uterus is only about the size of two of my fists and Shetland ewes don't weigh much. Keep in mind that while you are trying to replace her uterus, she thinks she is still in labor and continues to push against you. So you hoist up her back end a bit, with the idea that gravity will aid you in your efforts - then you have to get this organ (is a uterus an organ?) back inside of her and turned right side in (a prolapsed uterus is inside out in more ways than one, so you really are up to your elbows in it, so to speak, when you replace it and turn it back the right way) Then, the grateful ewe urinates all over your arm, because you have just freed up her urethra, which had been blocked by the offending organ. So while you hold everything back in place, you grab for the retainer (which is almost out of reach, but not quite), get that inserted and, in this instance, tied to the wool to hold it in place.

I thought of having a beer at this point, but didn't think it would be kind of me to leave her trussed up and lying in the backyard. So I put her back in the deer sled and dragged her the rest of the way to the barn (still slightly uphill). I got her settled into her private quarters in the barn, gave her a big shot of antibiotics, some hay and water and then I went in for my beer. Well, not really - as it was still morning, I had another cup of coffee.

Tonight she is eating hay and seems to be doing OK. My biggest concern now is infection. While I try to be clean and use antibacterial stuff, I don't have a sterile operating theatre. So now we wait. But, as we used to say in college (hi, Lynn!), it was a "learning experience". I learned that I can put a uterus back into a ewe (whether or not successfully, we have yet to see). I learned how to use the gambrel restrainer (never used that before). I also learned that if this had been one of our Polypays, who are quite a bit heavier than Shetlands and have larger internal organs, I probably would have needed help.

Not all has been so gruesome here. I moved the Shetlands into fresh pasture the other day and the lambs, being the children that they are - and you parents out there know how kids sometimes don't pay attention - weren't listening, and they didn't go through the gate that their moms went through. They ended up on the wrong side of the fence. You can see they are all looking to the left wondering why they are all alone:

Well, there their moms are, on the far side of the fence, grazing on lush, new pasture while they are not:

And the newest lamb - Athena and her ram lamb, who looks a lot like her - his markings have just not faded with age yet:
I do have knitting on the needles, for those of you who are more interested in the "fiber" part of "Farm and Fiber", just no pictures at the moment. Maybe next post. I am knitting a lace scarf and am doing some charity knitting - a blanket square. And I only have to bind off "loosely" the stole that I have been working on for a couple of years. It's that "loosely" part that worries me. Oh, and I am spinning some Coopworth roving in the hopes of someday having enough yarn to knit a sweater or a vest (depending on how much yarn I actually get in the end!). I'll try to get some pictures of all of that for the next post!
And now, after reliving my exploits as a sheep vet pretender, I am exhausted. I think I will call it a day!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Latest Lambs

Sparx finally had her lambs! But being the good mom that she is, she was making it very difficult for me to get a good picture, even though by this point they were already a couple of days old! She kept herself between her lambs and me the entire time. But I thought this pic kind of cute - looks like the lambs are kissing, while Sparx keeps her focus on me. The lamb to the left is the ewe and the spotted katmoget on the right, the ram. Total lamb count is now 117 - 15 of them being Shetlands, the others, BWS. I believe the breakdown is 60 ewe lambs and 57 ram lambs, including 6 sets of triplets, which we don't really breed for, as I prefer twins. With triplets, I always worry, often supplementing one or more of them. Too costly. Twins are normally no problem, moms provide all their nutrition - after all, the ewe only has two faucets - why in the world would anyone want triplets?
Not a lot going on here - well, not a lot to blog about anyway - always way too much work to do. We are down to the last two weeks of school for Nicholas. The Science Fair is over, the last band concert has been presented. Lambing is over for all intents and purposes, although I do have a Shetland or two with a bit of an udder, so should have a couple of summer lambs. I must get back to skirting the rest of the fleeces, maybe try my hand at a little dying. I did finish a pair of socks for Mother's Day, but forgot to take a picture of them before giving them to my mom! I am about to finish a stole that I started a couple of years ago and am working on a lace scarf, but no pictures of those to show you - maybe next time. So, in lieu of fiber pictures, I leave you with a picture of Fuzzball, sleeping, for a change, on a couch pillow, instead of on whatever I happen to be knitting at the moment!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Lamb photos

I know I haven't posted in awhile. We've been busy. The lambing is just about done - still a few that may lamb between today and "lamb freedom" day, which I believe is June 4 (it's on the calendar, but that's a whole room away and walking that far is a lot of unnecessary work!). The Shetlands actually have until August 1 to prove their worth, as we left Eddie in with the girls until shearing - Larry is actually hoping for some very late lambs, so maybe we would have a lamb to take to the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival for the Hall of Breeds. If not, this is what a young Shetland lamb looks like - this is one of Cappuccino's ewe lambs (she had two) -

Cappuccino is the perfect ewe in my book. Most of the Shetland flocks that you might know through your browsing of the internet would not want her. She is not pretty to look at, cow hocks, kind of saggy (well, how would you look after having a set of twins every year of your life, including your lamb year? Cappuccino's seven years old) - she would never win in the show ring. But, as already stated, she always twins, is friendly, lets you manhandle her lambs without getting upset (unlike Saffron, who tried to knee cap me when I attempted to place her lamb back in the shed with her this spring), her fleece always sells - to quote this year's buyer, "oh my GOSH is it gorgeous!!!" She will have a home here until she peacefully dies in her sleep.

The lamb count, by the way, is 114 lambs, 12 of which are Shetlands, the others are purebred Polypays, Coopworths and assorted crossbreeds. Here are some of the white ones:

And another Shetland - this is Saffron's lamb, the one I risked my knee cap for. As you can see, he is practicing his lip curl, hoping that he gets to be one of the flock sires of the future!

This lamb might become one of our flock sires. He is our spotted Coopworth - his fleece is a nice silvery color and his face is kind of "yuglety". I'm hoping he grows up nicely.

Some of the lambs resting in the sun. They are actually now out beyond the wooden gates in the pasture with their moms. The weather has been just perfect for them - sunny, but cool. They are so pretty, lying out there. When the weather gets hotter, they won't lie out in the pasture, but will come back up into the tree line, to lie in the shade. Where it is not only shady, but gets wet when it rains, muddy and mucky, if you know what I mean.

And now the parting shot:

The Nanking cherry in bloom. The flowers are gone now - I took this a few weeks ago. But spring has been quite wet and cold here this year, so any promise of warmer weather has been enjoyed. The lilacs are actually blooming now, some of the tulips are done - in fact they have all seen better days, as we have had some gusty winds. But the pastures look good and the hay fields are coming along. I just hope in wishing for some warmer weather, I am not soon regretting it and complaining about the heat, humidity and mosquitoes!