Thursday, December 2, 2010

Blow That Horn!

I would like to briefly blow my own horn. In the summer of 2009, I contacted Interweave Press, sent off some Polypay fleece samples to Amy Clarke Moore, the editor of Spin-Off magazine and Carol Huebscher Rhoades, the author of their Fiber Basics articles. I talked to Carol at Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival, where she teaches some of the Wonders of Wool classes. We emailed several times, I sent some more fleece, took some sheepy pictures, figured out how to transfer said pictures to a disc, signed the appropriate releases and in the winter issue of 2010, our Polypay sheep and fiber were featured! If you look on the left side of the magazine cover, you will see (under "Try these fibers!), "Polypay (what's that??)"

And inside, they answer that question in the form of a Fiber Basics article,written by Carol Huebscher Rhoades and using several of my sheepy pictures and spinning up our fiber for their samples! That's one of our ewes in the picture below.

The entire Polypay spread is eight pages, including pictures and projects. I have to say, we are just thrilled with the article - my 15 minutes of fame, I guess!

Monday, November 29, 2010

More New Additions!

OK - I think this is it for 2010 - additions to the flock/herd, that is - hopefully not blog posts, although I have been very bad at updating it lately. The flock has changed dramatically in the past few months. We still have the Shetlands and the Coopworths and the Polypays - and one Clun Forest - and two Dorsets - and a handful of crossbred ewes. And you know, if you have been reading along, that we added some Icelandics and a Jacob earlier this fall - and some Angora goats - and some guineas - oh, and we still have some rabbits and some chickens - and one gorgeous, but mean rooster - he might have to go. But anyway, I digress.

We have recently added some more Jacobs - I think this is the wether - hard to tell sometimes, when they no longer have the normal male equipment.

And we have added some Nigerian Dwarf goats. These should be the two wethers, Jack and Dexter, although I'm not sure which is which yet. They love the fallen leaves from our London Planetree - somebody tell me quick if those are poisonous.

And a few more Jacob ewes. Although this is only one of them. Must be Zola? She is supposed to be the friendliest, and as the others were hanging way back, I'm deducing that this is she.

But the cutest ones are the Nigerian Dwarf girls. This little girl is very friendly - her name is Magic, I think. She would stand forever letting you scratch her chin, neck, back if you had the time. (Stasia, if I have all the names wrong, I apologize - let me know!)

Two more of the Nigerian girls. They come in all colors and are just the cutest things. Although what in the heck am I going to do with them? This is a fiber farm, after all. I guess we will have to make some goat cheese or maybe some goat's milk soap.

Or we can breed them to Valentine (aka Bucky), our new Angora buck and maybe get some nice, fibery Nigoras. That's him in the picture below, sort of in the middle, with the orange ear tag. It was very hard to get a good picture of him, as he was very intent on breeding one of the girls and only paused long enough for me to get this shot. He came from Bleating Heart Haven in New Holstein, Wisconsin - and after he jumped a solid wall that must have been close to five feet tall and tried to bash his way out of our truck, he settled down nicely for the trip home and is now behaving himself. Although if he didn't have all those lovely girlfriends, I'm afraid he might jump the fence and head on down the road!

And we also now have a goose. Alexander came from Tuppinz Farm with the sheep, as he thinks he is a sheep - and as Tuppinz Farm no longer has any sheep, we felt he should come along with his "family". So, while the goats and sheep rode in the livestock trailer, Alexander got the back of the truck to himself, where he settled down on the rubber mat for the three hour trip to his new home. Here he is getting to know some of his new sheep family - some of our Coopworths.

So, the breeding groups are now all together. Lambing/kidding will begin mid-April. With all the different breeding groups and the bachelor boys group and the lamb/retiree group, I have 9 different pens/pastures to feed, water and check on every day (well, that's stretching the truth a bit, as a couple of those groups have big bales of hay, so I don't really have to feed everyone every day). But for the next six weeks or so, I basically need a checklist so I don't leave anyone out! So here's hoping the rams/buck do their job and we have lots of bouncing babies in five months!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

New Additions

We have added some new animals to the farm, thanks to our good friends Stasia and Jeff. When we brought home the Angoras in August, we volunteered to help them with their exploding guinea population. We took four keets off their hands. I'm not sure they even noticed, as they have dozens and dozens of the things. So we placed these four guys/gals in a small rabbit carrier and popped them into the back seat of the truck. Covered them up a bit, thinking they would think it was nighttime and settle down for the 3 hour ride home. Well, they weren't fooled one bit and chirped and sang and complained all the way to the first rest stop. Where we took their carrier and removed it to the back of the truck to ride the rest of the way with the goats! My advice to you, is never try to travel with guinea keets in the vehicle with you - VERY NOISY!

But I have always wanted some guineas, and "Mr Opportunity" was knocking! Here they are in our brooder, which was their temporary home until we got something bigger set up for them:

They have since moved into a dog kennel enclosure in our barn, complete with multiple roosts, while they get a bit bigger and become attached to our barn, so that at some point, when they are allowed to free range, they will still come home at night.

On our next trip to Stasia and Jeff's, we picked up a few sheep, including some beautiful Icelandic ewes, two of them pictured below. Thank you so much for allowing us to bring all of these beautiful animals to our farm.

And, because the majority of the animals on this place have to be productive - we are trying to bring in a bit of income, after all - we obtained this Icelandic ram at Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival last month:

This is Oliver, who we purchased from Rick and Laura of Queso Cabeza Farm over in Michigan. He was the champion Icelandic ram at WSWF. I'm not sure yet whether or not I like the fact that he is polled, but he has a beautiful moorit fleece, which I promptly sheared off just after this picture was taken:

He's a lamb, so I'm hoping he is assertive enough to stand up to our Icelandic girls who are a few years older. We're hoping to have nice lambs out of them in April. I can't wait, as Icelandics are like Shetlands - it will be like Christmas, waiting to see what colors/patterns will be on the lambs when they are born! Already getting impatient and the breeding groups don't go together until mid-November!
Well, must get going - according to the Weather Channel, it looks like the rain is gone, at least for the time being. But the sun was shining half an hour ago, and now it appears to be gone. Hope I didn't miss the nice weather for the day, blogging. Cheer for the Packers tonight! We're playing that Brett someone and the Vikings!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Good Horns

There seems to be a lot of dissent within the North American Shetland Sheepbreeders' Association lately. Some of the folks like the short, crimpy fleeces, some like the long, wavy fleeces. I must say, I have a little bit of both in our flock. In fact, our first sheep were of both varieties, and we purchased them from several "reputable flocks".

There is also a bit of a gap between the breeders breeding for bigger sheep and those of us who like the smaller sheep. We got a lot of comments this past weekend at the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival, where we were exhibiting some of our Shetlands, about how cute and small our sheep were. Well, our Shetlands are the same size today as they were almost ten years ago when we bought our first Shetlands. And we still have one of those original sheep, and she is about the same size as all of our other adult ewes. Shetlands are not "miniature" sheep, but they are small - they are supposed to be small. If you want a nice leg of lamb, get a Polypay or a Coopworth (we have those, too).

When visiting the Shetland barn at the Festival, we noticed some Shetlands that were quite large. In fact, they compared in size to the Icelandics that were being exhibited in another barn. I will have to do some research - I'm not really an expert on the "perfect" Shetland. But I seem to recall that Shetlands were supposed to be finer boned, agile - more "deer-like" to successfully navigate the rocky shorelines of the Shetland Islands. Ewes were to be feminine and the rams should be "manly", but still agile, not heavy, ponderous things.

And the one thing that really gets me is when supposedly reputable breeders sell adult rams with crappy horns. Sometimes a ram lamb will be sold who eventually has fatal horns - I had an absolutely gorgeous ram lamb, with wonderful wide horns, one of our first years with Shetlands. But those gorgeous, wide horns grew right back around, heading for the underside of his jaw. He ended up in little white packages and was very tasty. But year after year, we see adult rams, with terrible horns, being sold to other breeders.

We all have an opinion on what is a good fleece, or whether we like solids or patterns, or whether "bigger is better". But there is really no excuse to keep a ram after his horns take that deadly turn back toward his head. Wether him if you must, take him to market, but don't sell him to another breeder. And if you don't know what good horns look like, see below. While the photo may not be the greatest, the horns are pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Well, as you can see, I may have squeaked in a blog post before July ended, but I totally missed August. It was hot, we were busy, I was lazy - take whichever excuse you want to use. They were all true at some time or another last month.

To bring you up to date, school has started for another year, Nicholas is now in high school. He seems to be liking it more (at least, so far) than he did junior high.

The heat has subsided - the last few days have even seemed a bit "fall-like" - been tempted to turn the heat back on in the mornings, but I know that it is to be back up in the 80's in a day or two, so am enjoying being able to put on slippers, an extra blanket on the bed, cuddling in the afghan while watching TV in the evenings. The good thing about a hot, wet summer, is the pastures have lasted much longer this year. Last year we fenced part of the hay land for temporary pasture. We haven't had to do that this year. In fact, we have been able to let some of our pastures rest a bit this summer, instead of overgrazing them as in some summers past.

The bad thing about all this rain - well, the mosquitoes, of course. I planted a few flowers and veggies early this summer and that was about the end of the gardening for me. Not being a great gardener anyway, when the mosquitoes are as abundant as they have been this year, I don't like to linger any longer outside than I have to. If I had known that it was going to be so buggy, I might have looked into a CSA and let someone else grow my produce.

We have made some additions to our farm. Thanks to the very generous nature of our friends Stasia and Jeff we have adopted some more sheep, some guinea keets and some goats. We now have 5 beautiful Angora does.

I know that I could probably get better pictures outside, rather than in the darkish barn, but as the girls don't know us very well yet, this is the sort of picture that I get when I step outside with them:

That's them, that little blob in the center of the picture. They trust us being on the outside of the pen while we are in the barn, but if we are outside, they seem to feel the need to remove themselves from our direct area to the far side of the pasture. But they are getting better, they crowd around Nicholas when he feeds them their pellets and they don't immediately rush out of the barn when we go in. For the first couple of days, I wondered if they ever relaxed, but in a few days time, I actually managed to get into the barn without all of them bolting to their feet. I've even managed to get one or two of them to sniff my hand!
Next post, maybe I will have pictures of the new sheep. And, this week we are getting ready to go to Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival which is this next weekend. We will again be in the Hall of Breeds, so please stop by and say hi if you are there.
Being very lazy today. My excuse is it's a holiday weekend (I can always find some excuse if I need to), but I have a dozen little Shetland rams that are locked in the barn until I can get the thistles cleaned out of their barnyard, so at some point I have to brave the BIG, BLACK AND YELLOW SPIDERS and venture out into the jungle, clean up the picky, fleece devouring intruders and let our little guys back out to clean up the "good" plants.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Quick, Before it's August!

I tried posting earlier this month, but the pictures weren't posting to the blog properly, so I gave up. But in case you were wondering, the hay was finally delivered, a day or two after I posted. So now we have 60 plus ton of hay lined up in various places for winter feeding. (Big sigh of relief).

I did participate in the Tour de Fleece this year. That was part of what I tried to post earlier this month when Blogger was giving me fits. I do have fibery pictures, but they are slightly out of date, so I think I will take new pictures and post those next month. I did not spin as much as I would have liked, but I did spin a bit. I was very pleased with having spun any amount, as it has been so freaking hot and humid here. Of course, much of the country is actually hotter than we are, but there are reasons I live in Wisconsin - one of those being family, of course, but one of the other reasons is it is cooler here than in regions to the south of us. And Milwaukee (about 30 miles east of us) received about 11 inches of rain in July - I think they said we normally get about 3 and 1/2 inches. June was also wet. The pastures look very nice, due to all the heat and rain - so do the mosquitoes.

In pictures today, I give you Chickie. She is the sole survivor of our previous batch of chicks - from several years ago. She and her flockmates would roost in the barn, usually above the lambing jugs, which tends to get messy, if you know what I mean. But over time, coons or something got to the rest of the flock, so now she is alone. Which makes her very friendly, so here she is on our deck. Soon, though, she will have help in keeping the bug population down, as our spring chicks our getting very big and some of them will move here to our part of the farm (they are currently residing in the coop across the road at Mom and Dad's). I hope they adjust to their new home and I hope Chickie adjusts to them (not very original with the names, am I?)

Before the mosquitoes moved in this summer, I managed to get a few hanging planters planted. Petunias grow pretty well for me (as does the Queen Anne's Lace, which you might notice encroaching on the pots) - I don't seem to have much luck with pansies or violas, though.

But what I always seem to have a bumper crop of is thistles. I probably shouldn't show this picture to my fleece customers - but they are awfully pretty and I love the birds and the butterflies that feed off of the nectar and the seeds. We do try to get rid of as many as we can, but they seem to get away from us every year.

And for the obligatory sheep picture, here are the ewes and lambs out on pasture.

We tried something different this year, in that we put the Shetland ewes and lambs in with the big whites. The Shetland pastures get a bit sparse as the lambs grow, so, since the other girls have a large pasture, we thought they might like to share. The pastures are adjacent, so all it took was opening a gate. It makes it easier for the shepherd (me), as I only have one ewe/lamb group to rotate every day or so and one group of rams to feed (the rams are a bit hard on fences, so they are more confined and are fed hay most of the year - but there are only five of them, so it's not too bad - and, Larry and Nicholas feed them more often than not, so it's really not too bad for me!) The funny thing is - sheep are such creatures of habit - even though the ewe flocks have been merged, the Shetlands usually go to their original area at night and the big, white girls stay in the area that they were used to.

Well, if I don't get this posted soon, it will be August. Forecasts for the coming week are for temperatures still up in the 80's - I would kill for some highs in the 70's - and there is more rain in the forecast. At this rate, school will be starting and I will have accomplished much of nothing this summer (did I already say that I don't do well in hot, humid weather - no ambition, no desire to do anything but sit in front of the fan, maybe knitting a dishcloth. Watching TV is about as active as I get in this weather). But soon, regardless of the temperature, we will have to take the culls to market, lambs will have to be weaned, decisions will have to be made as to which lambs to keep and which to sell, sheep will have to be moved to new pastures. Maybe August will be cooler - one can always hope!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Hurry Up and Wait

Today I am waiting for our hay to be stacked. We grow our own hay but have one of our neighbors cut and bale it for us. He has the equipment to make the big, wrapped bales, which we need, since our storage facilities are smaller than our needs. And we now have over 50 ton of new hay for this coming winter, which translates into over 2600 small bales and I'm too old to help stack that many little bales, even if we did have the space for it. With the wrapped bales, we stack it where we need it, so that it can be fed to the sheep with very little hauling effort on our part.

But in order to get these bales where we want them, we have to be here when the neighbor and his crew bring the bales in from the field. They brought the first load over around 9:00 last night - then they had to get some fuel - so they didn't finish yesterday - and today it is currently sunny (which is an uncommon occurrence this June), so I am thinking they are doing something that is more dependent on sunshine than hauling wrapped bales in from the fields. But, I have to stay put until either they deliver the bales, or Larry relieves me to take his turn at "hurry up and wait". We have decided that Shearing Day is less stressful than Hay Delivery Day, because our shearer has an appointment, which he keeps very efficiently, whereas the Hay Guy is more vague. But, like the shearer, custom hay guys are few and far between, and we bow to their needs. And, he's a neighbor, so we try to be "neighborly".

I haven't blogged in awhile, so since I am waiting today, I thought I would take the opportunity to sit near the fan and try not to move too much (it's hot and humid here, but a cold front is coming through later, although I think that means it will no longer be 90 and humid - maybe low 80's and less humid).

June, so far, has been a bit of both good and not so good. Nicholas finished Junior High and will be going to High School in the fall - of course, in Creek, that means that he goes to the other wing of the Jr/Sr High building. Not a big adjustment. That was a "good". "Not so good" was the day the washer decided to quit just as a load was spinning out. And, on the same day, the faucet on the bathroom sink decided it didn't want to turn off. I'm not good with plumbing, so being alone in the house at the time, I turned it off as best I could and made sure the drain was running clearly and abandoned ship (meaning I went to my parents' for a cup of coffee!) On the "good" side, I found out that my family is actually descended from John Alden, who is rumored to have been the first person to step off of the Mayflower. Apparently, that also means that I am related (a long ways back) to both President Adamses (is that a word?). And, I guess, to Dick Van Dyke, Marilyn Monroe and Dan Quayle, among others, who can claim to be related to John Alden. To heck with the DAR (which I am also eligible to join, I believe) - I can join the Mayflower Society. Yes, I am a genealogy snob.

We finished up lambing with about 100 lambs. We lost one ewe to pregnancy issues and two lambs very early on - one had physical issues and I don't think she was meant to live. Now I am watching all very nervously as it has been so wet and rainy that I'm sure the worm load on the pastures is unreal. The majority of the BWS have been wormed - the Shetlands are next on my list.

I have been doing some knitting. I have started the Lutea Lace-Shoulder Shell from the Interweave Knits Summer 2007 issue. I am using Plymouth Yarns Llama Cotton Worsted in color 1249, which is a nice "peachy" color. I don't have automatic links to anything, as I am working offline at the moment (in case the hay guy calls to say they will be moving hay soon - or won't be moving hay soon - but chances are, he won't call at all, he'll just show up). The yarn is wonderfully soft, some VM, we'll see how it wears after I finish the top. This is an adventure for me, since I have never knit a garment before, only socks, scarves and dishcloths. But my gauge appeared to be on. I'll let you know. I'm almost done with the body of the top and will soon separate the front and back (currently knitting in the round) to begin shaping up towards the shoulders and the lace portion (which will take me a lot longer than the stockinette portion).

And these are the socks that I actually started when we were in San Francisco in March. I got about an inch knit on the first sock while we were gone (why do I even bother? We are so busy when we go on vacation, that there really isn't time to knit - but, as a Knitter, I feel the need to travel with a project, I guess). After we got home, I was just flying through the first sock - at the rate I was going, I felt I could knit both socks before April ended. Of course, I forgot to figure in the time that lambing takes. So when that first lamb was born, knitting came to an abrupt halt. But the second sock is on the needles and I am working on the foot, so maybe if I go back and forth between the socks and the shell, I could get them both done this summer. Yes, yes, I am a slow knitter - and I want to get my spinning wheel back out and spin the rest of the Coopworth so I can start knitting a cardi for cold weather.

And, as you can see, I have a few hanging baskets planted this year. That's about it - I planted some spinach and mesclun, but the weather turned hot and they haven't grown well. We have some tomatoes, squash and peppers in containers, the perennial herbs are growing nicely, but need weeding and I still have a few pots of flowers and herbs to get into the dirt. Maybe after the cold front goes through - there is no way I am gardening in 90 degrees and humid!
Still no hay, but I feel I have bored you few readers enough. Maybe some knitting time coming up here while I wait some more - I guess I shouldn't be complaining - I'm just not a good Waiter.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Enough Already!

Rain, that is. We have had two inches in the last two days and, while I understand that it is needed to keep the pastures green, enough is enough! There is a lake in front of the barn, everything is muck and I slip and slide on any surface that is not entirely flat. I haven't been down to the low spot in the Shetland grove yet today, so don't know how bad that is. But all of the babies are wet and, although they are still cute, they are kind of gross when they try to snuggle up to you. And it is very hard to take lamb pictures in the dark, dreary, rainy weather. I did manage to get a couple before the floods - this is one of the two ewes I have to shear yet - yep, she is IN the feeder:

As for lambing, we have two Coopworth ewes that haven't lambed yet - one looks like she will go any minute - hopefully she comes into the barn and does not lamb in the lake - the other is not terribly big and may wait until the last minute. The Shetlands are done - although I did put Gallifrey in with the ewes again this spring, as I didn't have him shorn by the shearer and needed a place to put him while the rest of the rams were being shorn. So there is a slim chance that we will have a few August lambs - although I'm not going to hold my breath, as Shetlands don't lamb well out of season.

And for the obligatory lamb picture, this is one of Sparx's ram lambs - he is a gorgeous grey, not black and white - those light spots on his body are grey - I hope he grows up with good conformation and nice horns (he is standing kind of strangely in this shot - he looks better when his legs aren't all bunched together - his head isn't really as big as it looks!)

We've got three jugs full in the barn again, so chores today will include tagging, docking, castrating and lamb shots - also worming of the moms. I hate to do all that in miserable weather, but it has to be done. Morning bottles have been fed - soon they will be reduced to two bottles a day. Baby chicks in the brooder. And I have to be down at school at lunchtime, as it is an early release day, so I guess I better get moving. Or maybe just one more cup of coffee?!?!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Still Trying to Catch Up

Well, the major portion of this year's lambing is complete. We bred about 65 ewes - Polypays, Coopworths, and Shetlands with a few terminals and one Clun Forest thrown in for good measure. We have over 90 lambs on the ground, about a 50 - 50 split between rams and ewes, five ewes yet to lamb, about five who look as though they were not bred. Of course, they have until early June (technically) to lamb, so maybe those five who have not bagged up will lamb very late. We put all five breeding groups together at the same time last fall and all five rams settled the majority of their ewes within their first cycle - meaning 85 percent of the girls lambed within the first 17 days of lambing season. A very hectic 17 days, but it got it over with.

Lambing went fairly smoothly - I assisted with a few deliveries - one girl wasn't lambing fast enough the day of the FFA banquet, so I nudged her along a bit with a gentle tug on her big single.

One of my best moms (Cappuccino - Shetland ewe), decided this year, that since she was about to go into labor, she would try to steal someone else's lambs. She has never been a problem for me, but this year she chased one poor lamb all over creation until I corralled her in a private pen where she delivered the first of twins just before I wanted to call it a night. Then she presented the head of the second and continued cleaning off the first. Apparently one was enough for her this year, as she ceased trying to deliver the second. Thinking that maybe the second delivery was too hard for her, as the front legs appeared to be back, I gave a gentle tug on him. Well, he "splooshed" right out - I guess Cappuccino only wanted a single this year - maybe she thought if she didn't deliver the second, he would just go away. Actually, she is normally the most laid back mom I have ever seen in the pasture. She has delivered a lamb backwards, no problems. She always twins and, although her lambs are always the "rebellious" ones, she usually has her head in the feeder until you ask "where are your lambs?" and she looks around like she's just remembered she's a mom. But her lambs thrive. Probably because her milk is good since she has no nervous issues.

I do have five bottle lambs this year - five too many. I have two sets of twins whose moms just do not have enough (or any) milk. Both moms are already on the "cull" list. And I have a triplet - born in the wee hours of the morning, Larry discovered them when he went out to the barn very early about a week into lambing. I was still in bed, as it was a Saturday and my intent was to sleep in a bit. He woke me to let me know I had a lamb to tube. So he brought her into the kitchen, near death, very dirty. This is what she looked like after I fed her:

That is our Lab mix, Kipper, being the good mom and cleaning her off (she was the cleanest lamb you have ever seen when he was done). Well, I got a few ounces into her, popped her into the playpen and went back to bed. Unfortunately, since Kipper claimed her and I fed her, Mom would not take her back. But "Spot" is our pet now and follows Kipper all over the yard. She tries to nurse off of him, tries to jump up on his back if he sits down. He hangs his head and gives me this look as if to say, "Mom, do I have to put up with my little sister? She's so annoying!" But he did a good job - I think she looks a lot perkier now:

Yes, she has a black eye patch and, no, we weren't very original in naming her "Spot"!
So, now I am attempting to get back to the rest of life as we wait for the stragglers to lamb. I am still trying to catch up on dishes - although I have actually done a little bit of cooking again (during the first 17 days, we ate fast food and sandwiches mostly) - laundry doesn't suffer too much during lambing, as Nicholas has to have clean clothes to wear to school, so I'm sort of forced to take care of that. The playpen is still up in the kitchen, just in case we have any more lambs that need to come in for 24 hours. That will stay up until the last ewe lambs. I did vacuum the living room last weekend, as Nicholas was having a friend over. But the rest of the house looks like a tornado has gone through. That's why I'm blogging - so I don't have to look at the mess and contemplate cleaning it up! I think I'll go out and admire the lambs now!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Finally, Another Shetland

This is the little girl that greeted me just before I went to bed last night:

The best shot I could get this morning, as Abra (her mom) was being the typical Shetland and not letting me get near her. Of course, that's what I like about the Shetlands - their primitive responses to things like lambing. Don't let anyone with a camera get close to your lambs! The lamb looks to be grey yuglet katmoget - sired by Psalm 23 Edinburagh, now gone from the farm, as he tried to kill one of his ewes last fall.

Now to finish my cup of coffee and back outside. We had a set of Coopworth twins early this morning and I want to check on them. One of our Polypays is soon to lamb. And Nutmeg, another of our Shetlands, had a difficult lambing this morning - I ended up having to corral her and pull the lamb. Lamb is a ewe (I think) and appears to be nursing, but Nutmeg is very skittish and I wanted to back off and let them do their thing without me hovering. I thought that was a good excuse to come in for a few minutes and have my first cup of the morning.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy

We are just over a week into lambing and we have 35 lambs on the ground. 21 ewes have lambed, with 44 (I think - I have a tendency to lose track at this point and the farm records are on another part of the computer, so I'm winging it here) yet to go. The majority of these lambs are Polypay, Coopworth and crosses. Here's one little guy - or gal - I can't tell from this angle:

This little one was either just getting up from a nap on Mom's back or is using her as a springboard in a game of lamb tag. It's very hard to get action shots, in the barn, at dusk. This was the best I could do.

Nap time in the nursery - our only colored Coopworth lamb so far this year - I can tell you that this one is a little ewe:

And another nap group, this time being watched over by Mom.

So far, only one Shetland lamb. This is Maia's little moorit ewe:

So far, it has all gone fairly smoothly. I do have one set of twins with a good mom, but she doesn't seem to have enough milk, so I have been supplementing them. And on Saturday, when I thought I was going to sleep in a bit, Larry woke me at about 5:30 to let me know that one of the ewes had triplets - two were with her in the barn, one was out in the barnyard. She lost count, apparently, and one was in need of tubing. So I threw my coveralls on over my pajamas and tube fed a lamb on the kitchen floor. She revived, but Mom would not take her back, so she is a full-time bottle lamb. Cute little thing, with a black eye patch. She lived in the "playpen" in the kitchen for about 24 hours - now she is in the nursery with the other moms and babies. I'll try to get a picture of her on here the next time.
Back out to check on sheep again now and do mid-morning chores. Or maybe one more cup of coffee!?!?

Sunday, April 11, 2010


First lambs, born last night between 7:30 (when we noticed she was in labor) and 10:30 (when I decided she was only having twins and they were both nursing). Purebred Polypays. You can see one nicely - only the nose of the other one.

Second lambs, born this morning - around 10:30. Clun Forest x Polypay. I think she was only having twins - once I got her in the jug, she refused to turn around for me so I could check to see if more were on the way. She is very skittish and I don't like stressing her too much when she is in that tiny space with new lambs - so I try to stay out of her way. Fortunately, she is one of the best moms in the pasture, so I don't worry about her too much.
So, two jugs full - many more to go!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

No Pictures of Spring Break

Spring break was last week. We took five days and went to San Francisco. We took some really nice pictures and I wanted to show you some of them. However, they were taken with our new camera, which has a much higher resolution than the one I use to take pictures for the blog and the web site. And, since we have dial-up, it was taking forever trying to get them loaded. So I'll just hit on the high points -

We stayed right in the Fisherman's Wharf district - very nice. We rode cable cars and trolleys. One cable car we took to the cable car museum, where we saw the continuously running cables that make the cable cars move. When we attempted to get back on a cable car to continue on our way, they were very crowded, so we decided to walk for awhile. We ended up in Chinatown. I'm glad the cable car was crowded. Chinatown was fascinating - all the shop signs were in Chinese with no English translations. We turned down a little alley and found a little "factory" making fortune cookies (it's actually written up in all the guide books, but I had sort of forgotten about it until we came upon it). I had a nice picture of Chinatown to insert here, but too many pixels.

We took a ferry to Alcatraz - the night tour (meaning we took the ferry over about 6:30 and returned to Fisherman's Wharf around 9:00 for a late supper - I think Nicholas really wanted to take the NIGHT tour, so he could look for the ghosts he had seen on "Ghost Hunters"). Very interesting place, kind of depressing, though - although I guess that was the whole point in putting the prison there. I had pictures of that too.

In Golden Gate Park, we stopped by the Academy of Sciences, where we took in the Planetarium show. We had tea at the Japanese Tea Garden (Nicholas took a perfect picture of the tea garden framed by gorgeous flowers - rhododendrons, maybe - too many pixels).

One morning we took a cab out to the San Francisco end of the famous bridge (picture of that too that you are not seeing). I took pictures at Fort Point, pictures of Sausalito and Alcatraz Island across the Bay, pictures of the Pacific on the other side of the bridge. Lots of pictures, as we walked all the way back to the hotel - must have been 10 miles or so - just kidding - it was probably only 3 or 4 miles. We visited the USS Hornet, had ice cream at Ghirardelli's, saw the port of Oakland - one of the coolest things was just before we landed back in Milwaukee - our flight followed I-94 and I got a picture of Johnson Creek and even saw our farm from the plane (although, in all honesty, the picture of the farm didn't turn out, so you aren't missing a picture of that).

We ate lots of good food, although I didn't take pictures of that, so nothing missing there - salmon, clams, calamari, dungeness crab - we had an absolutely fantastic lunch at a little hole-in-the-wall Japanese restaurant - Kitchen Kura, I think it was called - probably a few health code violations there - but I actually ate my whole meal with chopsticks - they didn't offer stainless (although we did get Nicholas a fork so, as Larry put it, he wouldn't starve to death). We actually do have a picture of the outside of the restaurant, but - oh, you know by now. And I made it to one yarn store - no pictures, but I do have a picture of the yarn I bought - I took that after we got home with my very old, 1.3 mega pixel camera!

Lambing should start any day now. Hopefully not tonight, as we are getting rain at the moment, which sounds like it is turning to sleet and is predicted to turn to snow before morning. I'll try to blog once in awhile after the lambs start arriving.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

I Guess I am "Blogger Challenged"

I would just like to say that the weird double spacing I sometimes get in my posts (see the post below) are not of my doing. I don't know why it appears that way and, although it bothers the perfectionist side of me, it does not bother it enough that I want to figure out how to fix it. It just bothers me enough that I need to point out to you that I did not pick that particular layout on purpose. Thank you for listening.

What Happened to February???

Here it is, the middle of March, and I haven't posted since January! What in the world happened to February? I know I was here - I watched the Olympics. And I did knit during the Olympics, although I never really got myself signed up for any of the Knitting Olympic events that were going on. I signed up for Ravelympics, but after popping over to their website, was a bit confused and never made it back to figure out how to really participate. But I did finish this scarf, which I had put aside before the holidays to work on holiday knitting -

I thought it fit right in with the Olympics, as it was knit up in the colors that were on all the bibs that the athletes wore and adorned the banners along the sidelines of the events. I'm not sure what they called their colors, but mine are Toe Jamz "Lavender & Sage" and Dream in Color Smooshy "Some Summer Sky". Pattern, "Chevron Scarf" from the book "Last Minute Knitted Gifts" by Joelle Hoverson. I made my scarf much shorter than the pattern, as I just wanted to hang it over my neck, not loop it all around - an advantage of being short, less yarn used on a scarf! And I have enough of both yarns left that I could do socks to match.

Although the Olympics are no longer a timely subject, I just wanted to say that I thought Vancouver did a lovely job - I would very much like to visit someday, so their tourism board was successful in this household. And I noticed that Canadians all seem to know the words to their national anthem. And they sing it out proudly. Why don't we do that in this country? I suspect that most of us don't really know the words to our national anthem - my excuse is the wide range of notes and my really lousy singing voice. It's quite embarrassing to try to hit those high notes of "the rockets' red glare" when no one else in your part of the stadium is doing more than, maybe, moving their lips. If you need to refresh your memory, or if you want to read the history of our national anthem, see here.

In other news: Well, there really isn't much "other news". February was a quiet month. My excuse for being lazy - resting up for shearing in March and lambing starting in April. We shear next week - lots of rain lately, but fortunately most of the sheep are smart enough to go into their barns/shelters when it is pouring. I was out yesterday feeling of fleeces and they were fairly dry. We now have forecast several dry sunny days before the shearer arrives. If that changes, I will be locking them into their shelters.

Here are some pics of the Shetland girls still in full fleece - can't wait to get those fleeces on the skirting table!

Gaia is the grey ewe with the dark stripe down her back - her fleece is always lovely.

The big news yesterday - I am now officially a "Loopy Groupie"! I not only scored a skein of the Sanguine Gryphon's Bugga Sock yarn (that was what I ordered, it's the dark yarn on the right - the rest is Loopy loot), but I received my Loopy Groupie welcome pack, full of lots of nice gifts. Thank you, Sheri!

Well, Nicholas has a cold and he has just informed me, that in spite of the fact that doing chores would allow him to drive the riding lawn mower around the property, he does not feel up to doing them. So I guess I better have another cup of coffee and maybe a long john and get my own self out there to feed the sheep. At least the hoses are again connected and I don't have to haul endless buckets of water out to them.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Quick - Let's Post Something Before the End of January!!!

I'm sure that any "regular" readers of my blog have all but given up on me. No posts for a month and a half! It's not that I haven't been doing anything or thinking anything. Just really nothing that has been "blogworthy". I could have posted Xmas pictures - I did take some of the tree, but wasn't all that impressed with them. And I took some more outdoorsy photos. Nothing good there either. But here is a picture of the scarf I knit for my father for Xmas. I'm a bit late to the party, but I finally got around to knitting one of those Noro scarves that everyone was doing a while back - this is Silk Garden in colorways 269 and 279. I did mine in a broken rib pattern, as I'm not a huge fan of standard 2 x 2 ribbing. And I must say that I now understand why everyone was going nuts knitting these scarves - they are very addictive. I didn't want to stop knitting this one, but it seemed a good length for my dad and Xmas was upon us, so I had to cast off and wrap it.

So I cast on another one, although, since I'm not made of money, I am doing this one out of Lion Brand's new wool/acrylic blend "Amazing" in the colorways Aurora and Mesa. It is a pinkish/purplish thing with some blues, golds and autumn tones mixed in. Not quite as bright pink as it shows up in the picture. I'm not a "pink" person and I have absolutely nothing to wear with it - of course, I guess it would go with my barn jacket, which is black - but the sheep might revolt if they saw me wearing a scarf that was partially acrylic!

Which brings me to my other excuse for not blogging in awhile. Last summer we got a new computer. But the old computer was still working fine (although since it was about 10 years old, it couldn't handle some of the newer things we wanted to do with it - thus the computer purchase) Well, we had been gradually transferring stuff from the old to the new, using the new for current things. But since we have dial-up internet, the old computer was still our internet computer. We aren't "networked" or anything - no wireless access, so we couldn't use both. Well, I finally caved and Larry unplugged the phone line from the huge, bulky dinosaur and plugged it into the new, sleek, slim CPU. I got all the correct codes and phone numbers and all programmed into the new machine. But - speaking of dinosaurs - my digital camera is ancient - 1.3 mega pixels - can you even buy something with that few mega pixels anymore? And I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to view/edit/post pictures from it. Well, as you can see above, I can, sort of, although I am using different software and I'm not as "fluent" in the editing process as I was with the old software - therefore, a picture of a really PINK scarf, when I wouldn't be caught dead in something that was really this PINK. I wonder if I can find the old software and load it on this computer. Probably too old for this new technology!

So, January is almost over - a quiet time here, really. The rams went back together after breeding season fairly uneventfully, earlier this month. The ewes are getting fat, hopefully the adults are all bred - lambing is scheduled to begin mid-April. We've got a month and a half before shearing. So I think I will enjoy this relative lull and do some spinning and knitting and look forward to warmer weather and lots of woolly twins!