Tuesday, March 27, 2012

3 days~3 ewes~6 lambs

Friday night, March 23rd, our first lambs of 2012 made their entrance about 9 pm.  Meadow had a lovely pair of spotted fawn kat ewe lambs.  No surprise there, she's homozygous (sp)  for fawn kat.  The spots were a nice touch and so is the great fleece on these little girls.
Meadow x Thor ewe

Meadow x Thor ewe, this one is a touch lighter than her sister

I actually got a shot of her face, there was no cooperation from these girls for the picture taking session.

Ewe lamb out of my crossbred ewe, Faith.  First time mom, and Garnet decided to steal the ram from her twins and by the time we found them and figure out what was going on, she wouldn't take the ram back and now I have a bottle lamb.  (yuck)

Ram lamb that was stolen from Faith, my crossbred ewe.

A face shot of the already spoiled rotten little ram.  Faith was bred to Camden, she is a  Shetland X Texel -Charollais ewe and a first time mom.  

Temperance X Grand Luxe ram lamb 

Temperance X Grand Luxe ewe lamb

Temperance ewe lamb posing nicely for me.

No such luck with her brother, he won't look at the camera at all.

No babies yesterday or yet today, so I continue to stumble to the shed every 4 hours to feed our little bottle baby and check on ewes.  I'm hoping the other gals get their butts in gear so I'm not up every 4 hrs. for the next 3 weeks.  Maybe I'll have a talk with them later, I'll let you know how that goes.  :)  

********************Back to my coffee*****************

Everyday is a gift from God.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spinning and knitting while I wait

It happens at the same time every year....I struggle to be patient while I'm waiting for those little surprises that my sheep will deliver to me ANY DAY NOW.  If I haven't mentioned this previously, patience is not one of my virtues.  And my lack of patience makes waiting for lambs in the spring very difficult and nerve racking for me.  This year's unseasonably warm weather has helped me be a little less stressed, because I know if I have a lamb born in the grass overnight, it's not likely to freeze to death before I can get to it. 

But still............I wait, and I spin and I knit and last night I talked my friend out of her triangular loom for a little bit, so now I will weave.  

We have a new baby in the family and I knitted this fuzzy little hat on the way to Minnesota last week.  And now it's too warm for her to wear it.  

This is some musket roving from a ram that is no longer with us.  It's spinning up so effortlessly and it's got that brownish/red oatmeal quality to it that I like so much.  I'm thinking this will be a great yarn to use for the shawl that I'm going to be doing on the triangular loom.  Now to get some nice dark moorit spun up to use with it.

And this..........is 8 empty lambing pens.  (sigh)  The next time you see them, they will have lambs IN them.

That's all for now, from sunny Wisconsin where it's in the 80's, my sheep are blimp-like and not at all pleased with the excessive warmth.  

Toodles everyone.Everyday is a gift from God.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Our Trip to Minnesota

Bright and early on Saturday morning...aka 3 a.m., we drug jumped out of bed to get started on our trip to Ramsay Farms to spend a night with Garrett before we headed to Stoneybrook Maremmas to get our new puppy.  We got to Garrett's place about noon, did a little talking, (ok, ok, for those that truly know G and I, yes...it was a lot of talking)  then I changed to barn pants and boots and we spent the rest of the afternoon looking at G's flock.  All his mature girls are VERY pregnant, so we just walked around in the pasture and barn a bit to see them.  I loved seeing all the different "styles" of Shetland sheep he has, and  since he has so many bloodlines represented in his herd, it's a melting pot of Shetland sheep genetics at his place.  One of the things I truly like about doing anything sheep related with Garrett is......he's very honest about his sheep.  In fact, he's his own worst critic when it comes to evaluating his flock, he's simply honest and fair.
He's got some nice ram lambs that he's holding over for evaluation and if anyone is looking for a fine fleece Shetland ram, I think you would be happy with giving Garrett a call to see what he has in his barn.  We spent a nice amount of time catching the young rams and looking them over and I am very pleased to say that there isn't a single one of them that I wouldn't use in my own breeding plan.
Garrett, his sister Linsey, her friend Matt, Mike and I all went out to Zorbaz for supper, it's a really neat place that has a ton of character and great food.
Sunday morning we headed to  Stoneybrook Maremmas to pick up our puppy from Colleen Williams.  Colleen is a very nice lady, has great dog and is a responsible, caring breeder that provides lots of extras with her dogs.  I will be getting my next Maremma from her when the time comes.  After a short visit with Colleen, it was time to hit the road for home.  I feel a bit jet lagged today, but we had a great weekend.
A new arrival (Finn/Shetland cross) Ramsay ewe/lamb

I just like this picture of one of Garrett's ewes in the pasture.  

Garrett's mature rams

"Wide Load"  (one of G's ewes)

Very preggo Ramsay ewes
The reason for our trip to MN......Welcome Bianca. Our new LGD is joining our older male Maremma. 
 (my hubby, Mike, is holding her)
I love her already, she's such a smart little gal and she took the trip to Wisconsin very well.  She comes when I call her and didn't cry too bad when I had to leave her by the sheep when we got home.  She's got her own house and pen right in the sheep lot and fluffy straw, a large stuff lion to sleep with and a few toys to keep her entertained a bit.  Tonight we'll walk the fence and she can visit a bit more than just through the fence.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Rooing.........it's addictive.

I got my first complete sheep rooing under my belt this weekend.  Actually, I got 2 of my rams done and although my fingers are still stiff due to the new job they had to do, I am quite pleased with the results.   I gathered up my plastic bags, halter and camera and headed to the ram pen.  My first victim candidate was Bug and I flipped over a bucket next to him and got started.  The neck went quickly, but then I got to his shoulders and realized that his rooing must have started at the beginning of February, just as I had thought, and the new growth likes to hang onto the old growth, which slowed things down a bit.  It took about an hour of unhurried "plucking", but when I got done, I was very pleased with my efforts.  I was so happy with how Bug turned out that I decided to grab one of the ram lambs from last year that was losing large amounts of wool and roo him too.  That took approximately 15 minutes and he looked to be freshly sheared when I got done with him due to his new growth of wool being fairly recent.
I was able to rid the fleece  of VM and skirt out the dung tags as I went, so everything I put in the bag was ready for washing.  Another advantage was that I was able to put all the belly and britch wool in another bag to be used for the more durable knitted garments, just as the ladies on the Shetland Islands did years ago.
I guess the entire experience really made me appreciate how much work it takes to simply clothe a family from that era.  The rooing was only a small part of that process...there was washing, carding, spinning, weaving or knitting of the wool too.  My quiet day of sitting on a bucket to roo 2 sheep made me realize just how much work those poor women had to do just for clothes....  yikes..I'm spoiled.
Here's a link to a picture of the rooing process from the Shetland Archives:   Shetland Museum Archives.

Here's another link:  Rooing shetland sheep, both links clearly show the Islanders rooing Shetland sheep.
Since it's very obvious that rooing is a Shetland trait that was of great value to the Islanders, it's confirmed for me that this trait was and is a very Shetland Sheep-like trait that should be preserved.  Now I must ask myself if there is cross breeding going on that has masked this trait in some of our little sheep over the years, or if there's always been a few that never roo?  My quest for further education of these little wonders continues, but in the meantime, I'm loving the journey.

Bug right after I started rooing his neck 

Closeup of the neck being roo'd 
 Bug's staple length before stretching this year was 3" and after stretching it was a shade over 4", he has very tiny organized crimp.  His wool that we sheared last year was spectacular when spun up, can't wait to see how much different it will be to spin now that it doesn't have the blunt ends from shearing.  And I had virtually NO VM in this fleece.

Bug just after I finished rooing him.  Notice how long his new growth of wool  is in March!

A fawn Kat ram, Barron.  Notice how clean he looks....due to the fact that he has just begun to go through the "rise".  His fleece practically fell off his body.
He is super crimpy and had a staple length of 4", can't wait to get this wool carded and spun up.
 I know I've said this before, but it bears repeating.......I need to quit my day job.  :)  

Thursday, March 08, 2012

I can barely stand the wait..........

Colleen has sent me another batch of ubber cute puppy pictures, so had to share. 
 (thanks for the nudge John)  
I'm hoping we get to make the trek north on the weekend of the 17th or 24th to get our new girl.  

Fearlessly chasing off predators!!!!

"Is this absolutely necessary for a guardian?"
How can you not smile when you look at that face?

I give them about one more week and they'll be over that wall.

Patience is not one of  my virtues..................just saying.

That which angers us, controls us.

Mike and I

Mike and I
Mike and I at Nick and Emily's wedding

Raised beds & chickens coops

Raised beds & chickens coops
Can't wait for this stuff to actually be food....