Sunday, March 20, 2011

Naked sheep!

  Saturday afternoon was absolutely beautiful. The sun was shinning, there was a warm breeze blowing and the birds were singing- it was a perfect day for shearing sheep!

I went to Farmers' market as usual, but I left a little bit early so that I could get home and prepare for shearing. I got home just as my sister Marie pulled into the driveway - she came to help with shearing, as she does every year. Wayne, my shearer, even arrived ahead of schedule.

 I always worry what condition the sheep will be in under all that fleece after the long, cold winter; a full coat of fleece can make the sheep appear much heavier than they actually are. I have nightmares that they are emaciated under their winter wardrobe. Why are you laughing? Oh, that's right, you've met me. OK, so it isn't very likely....but I still worry.

 We have this whole shearing process down to a fine science. Marie is the official sheep wrangler; she goes into the pen where the ewes are all waiting and basically tries to grab whoever is closest as they all run, and jump, and crash into her trying to avoid being caught...notice I said, "Tries to grab?" While this is all going on I do my part by quietly standing around getting vaccinations is a very fair arrangement. Marie then drags the sheep out of the pen...and sometimes Wayne helps her..or we both just laugh at her antics, then she hands the sheep over to Wayne, he then proceeds to shear. All the while I am dutifully filling syringes and waiting until each sheep is shorn to administer shots and dewormer if needed. It is exhausting for me!
We had an extra helper this year, our friend Mary came down from Cedar Falls to help and learn about sheep. I don't know how, but she got out without me getting any pictures of her.
Ashumet was the first victim. She was very cooperative considering it was her first shearing, and yes, she looked quite healthy under her fleece. I was able to relax a little.
Little Laurel was next..again, no skinny sheepies here!
Oh. My.
As fat as a tick!
 In my defense, she is an 'easy keeper'. I fed NO grain all winter, and only three pounds of hay, per ewe, per day. One flake per ewe-really! She may have been eating someone else's share...or everyone else's share.

OK, here she is in an upright position. She's  not THAT bad.

 Cassie was also NOT the biggest loser.

Here's Cassie standing up...
 Either I am going to have more multiple births than normal, or I will be starting a fat farm next month.
All joking aside, it is difficult to walk the fine line between making sure that the ewes are getting enough nutrition during their pregnancies, and making sure that they don't get overweight. Fat ewes can have a lot of difficulty with lambing so I honestly do try to not let them get fat...sometimes they have their own agenda.

The rams looked like they were in great condition, and much more proportionate......sort of..

 ...rams heads look ginormous once the fleece is away from their face and horns.
Especially with certain camera angles.

 The most exciting part of shearing-besides seeing the ewes' pregnant bellies- is seeing the clean underside of freshly shorn fleece!

It is also nice to see the sheeps' more vibrant colors that were hidden under the sun-bleached tips of fleece all winter. I like a colorful pasture!

I am so glad that the weather was accommodating for the work that we had to do yesterday, because there was a lot of ....
THIS today.
Now I get to fondle all these bags of fleece!
PS-You must have all missed my last post about free roosters, because, curiously, nobody has contacted me to take them....I don't's like you are afraid of being Chicken Mathed or something. Don't you trust me? Hmmmmm...very strange.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Feeling SpRiNgY!!

Today I decided that I would  move the rams from the back pasture, to a small pasture closer to the ewes; that way they will all be in the same general vicinity when we shear theory this should make things go more smoothly theory. This maneuver meant that I had to move the horses from their dry lot, out onto their pasture so that I could usher the rams across the dry lot to their new destination without any 'help', a.k.a. interference, from my equine friends. Now, keep in mind that the horses have been on the small dry lot for the past month. They were allowed out on the pasture most of the winter since the 150 feet of snow (slight exaggeration)  protected the ground underneath from the wear and tear of heavy horse hooves, but since the snow disappeared a month or so ago the horses were banished to the smaller lot until the grass comes in. Let's just say they were getting a little bored in the dry lot.
So, this is what happens when horses have a lot of pent up energy and you release it.

 Even 18-year-old Jake was feeling frisky....Yes, I know they are filthy, they have been mud-bathing to pay me back for keeping them off the pasture.
 Morgan wins the Chorus-line contest!

After I got the rams and horses situated I started taking pictures of some of the roosters. I want to put an ad on Craigslist to find new homes for some of any of YOU, my dear friends, need a rooster? These guys aren't show birds, by any means, but they are nice boys.
I have a gorgeous Golden-Laced Wyandotte.

A nice Black Copper Maran (Marans lay REALLY dark brown eggs).

A handsome Blue Orpington.

A Blue Laced Red Wyandotte (Black variant) with a tail that is waay too long, but, so pretty,

AAAaand this creepy little Rhode Island Red.
His name is Gonzo. And he's a little weird. He follows me around a stalker sort of way. Every time I turn around he is inches from me, expressionlessly staring at me with his battle-scarred little featherless face.
Then he follows me all the way to the house, stopping in his tracks every time I turn to look at him, sizing me up the whole time, and then waits quietly on the porch...seriously, I don't know if he wants to kill me, or date me....
Wouldn't you like your very own stalker? Let me know.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Just stuffs!

OK, I guess it's time for a new post. I received a  message from my friend Angie, in which she was harassing me for slacking on my blog duties....which I find just a liiiiiittle bit humorous, because her blog has not been updated since December....of  2008.
Spring is finally trying to arrive. The mercury climbed to almost SEVENTY degrees today! The grass is beginning to grow, the wild birds are fighting over nesting spots, and there's this------------------------->
Yes, the lamb countdown gadget is down to 22 days, twenty-two! How did that happen?
The ewes are growing larger every day.....some more so than others.

Remember this picture of Willow from the end of January?

This is what she looks like today-with at least three weeks left to go!
I will admit that some of that gargantuan size is due to her fleece; Willow has the longest fleece of all my ewes, but there is still a whole lotta baby belly there too! She has only had twins once, and she typically is a pretty big girl-even when she has single lambs, but, seriously, what has she got in there?
Speaking of fleece, I have an appointment with my shearer on Saturday afternoon....that is...I have an appointment-as long as the weather cooperates and we don't get more rain.

I am so tired of wet weather and mud. I am waiting for the day when I don't have to wear these anymore....not the chickens, the boots..although I usually do end up wearing a few chickens most days...the boots are infinitely more annoying.

Oh, I'm sorry, I digress, we were talking about shearing, weren't we?
I am excited to get shearing done because the naked sheep bellies will give me a better idea of what to expect for lambies next month. Also, some of the sheep have started to roo (shedding off last year's fleece)  and I don't want to lose any more fleece before the shearer gets here, so I hope we can stick to the scheduled date.
Ande is shedding his fiber as well; which is OK because my shearer refuses to shear llamas. I can't blame him...this is the face I see when I try to pull the loose fiber off of Ande. Despite the fact that he appears to be smiling, this is not a happy llama face!

He is harmless though, I still get little bits of fiber off of him until he grows impatient with the process.
The coming weeks will be a flurry of activity: shearing, lambing, gardening....oh, and look! My rhubarb is coming up!
Sorry, I got distracted again.....I was saying that this will be a busy time here in our little corner of Iowa. In addition to the aforementioned activities.......I am thinking about some Chicken Math......just sayin' need to be prepared for that.

I will just leave you with this~
"O.M.G!! I can't believe she still thinks this is funny!"

"She knows we hate her, right?"

"The old woman has finally lost it!"

 "You think this is funny?"
"Go ahead and laugh mom, I'm totally pooping on you next time you walk under my perch!"

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

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