Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bouncy lambs.

If you are ever having a bad day, you just need to get yourself some lambs. There is absolutely no way that you can sit and watch the antics of these little spring loaded packages of joyfulness and not have a smile on your face.
I put most of the lambs and ewes (except Trillium and her new babes) out in the pasture for the first time today. After the initial minutes of utter confusion, babies following the wrong sets of legs and getting a stern correction in the form of a head butt from a mom trying to find her own babies, followed by a noisy chorus of moms and babies calling back and forth to each other, everyone finally found the right family groups and settled in to enjoy the beautiful sunshine and green grass.

I am finally getting to see some of the personalities coming out in these little fuzz balls.
These are Lovey's girls.

The moorit lamb is very sweet and likes to stay close to Lovey.

Little black ewe lamb is a real clown.
"Look at me aren't I cute?"

Apparently she has restless leg syndrome.

"Seriously, Sis, you are making a fool of yourself!"

This is Willow's ram lamb #1...oh, I need some names!!
He looks as though he will be sugar lips as of yet. He does have a spotted tongue, so there are spots there too.
Willow's ram lamb #2.
REALLY nice fleece and conformation.
Okay, he was peeing when I took this picture, it's hard to get these guys to stay still!
And he is an excellent retriever. The boys will both be for sale as well as Trilliums ram lamb. I haven't decided on the girls yet....

Except this one, she will be staying. Her fleece is insanely soft and crimpy :).

Maybe I will have more pictures is an addiction you know, I have a camera and I have lambs, I can't help it.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Here a lamb, there a lamb, everywhere a brown lamb.

I woke up early (earlier than usual) this morning to spray the frost off of my fruit trees. The temps didn't dip quite as low as expected, but there was still a frosty coating on most everything. The only hope to save my potential fruit crop was to spray cold water over the trees in the morning before the sun hit the frozen leaves and blossoms. I know, it sounds a bit counter intuitive, but it actually works.
Before trying to get my garden hose thawed out enough to get water to run through it, and for it to stop sputtering out snow cone looking sludge so that I could spray the trees, I went to the ewe barn to check on Trillium to see if she had decided to go into labor. She looked remarkably the same as she had the night before...and the same as at 1 am when I put on 5 layers of clothes to go out and make sure that I didn't have any frozen lambies. All was well in lambie land, so I finished with the trees and went in to take a shower at about 7 am. I went back out to check at 8 am and found these little cuties all wet, but on their feet and nursing.

A ram and a ewe, both VERY dark brown...again.

Little brown ram (perhaps you have noticed that I still have no names for any of the lambs).

Little brown ewe.

Maybe you see a theme developing with all of these lambs (except Edrea's katmoget ewe). Yes, they do look strikingly similar. Yes, I have noticed that too. I intended on adding some moorit (brown) to my flock since that seems to be a desirable color of fleece for my knitters and spinners, hence the dark brown rent-a-ram with very nice fleece. I fully expected Lovey (black krunet) and Willow (ag/grey) to have solid color or grey/musket lambs, but I was hoping to get at least one spotty out of Trillium...nope. Daisy is my last hope for spots. Sage is Musket, so she will have to have some form of brown/musket lambs.

There was a discussion on one of the Yahoo groups a while back as to whether krunet (head spot) genes were at the same locus as body spotting or a different locus all together.........looking at my lambies, I am going to say not so much with the same locus. It's not like rent-a-ram was wildly spotted by any stretch of the imagination, but he had quite a large krunet, so I was hopeful that there were some spotting genes lurking about in there that would be coaxed out when combined with Trillium's very flecket (spotted) markings. I am not going to pretend that I am not a teensy bit disappointed that I don't have any spotties thus far, but I have some really nice, healthy, beautiful lambs (and no overabundance of rams this year) and there is not a thing wrong with that.

Monday, April 28, 2008

I'm just it April?

I have been so busy with lambs and chicken moving that I hadn't had much of a chance to watch the weather reports, so it was a rude awakening this morning when I went out to do chores and discovered that I needed to drag out my winter gear again. The temperatures are predicted to fall into the mid 20's - low 30's over night, so I spent most of the day trying to prepare the animals for the cold. Since we moved the little chickens to their 'new' barn on Sunday, I was a little worried about them getting chilled tonight. There is so much more space for them to spread their body heat around and they are not completely feathered yet, so I made the second trip to Farm & Fleet in as many days to purchase another heat lamp to place in with the chicklets. It's a bit embarrassing when I go into Farm & Fleet and EVERYONE that works there knows name........I guess I shop there too much? I digress.
The chicks are 3 weeks old now.
Barred Rock

Blue Laced Red Wyandotte
Speckled Sussex

Blue Laced Red.....again...I kinda like these guys.

The chicks seem like they will be toasty warm. Besides the heat lamp, they also have about 4 bags of pine shavings in their coop, which, if you have ever opened a compressed bag of pine shavings you know that there is the equivalent of about two trees in there that comes bursting out of the bag.

I added a heat lamp in with the ewes too. Trillium is showing some signs that I might be in for another long night, so I put her in a jug, just to be on the safe side, and strung a heat lamp up above in case the temps get really low and I have wet lambs to deal with.

I am worried about my apple trees too. They have not quite flowered yet, but they are really close and if we get much below 30 degrees I may end up losing some or most of my crop this year. Last year after the trees had blossomed we had a very hard freeze, it was about 19 degrees for a day or two and I lost my entire apple and pear crop for the year.

It is supposed to warm up later this week....I can't wait. We still have the barn doors on the roof of the barn , it has been too rainy for anyone to get equipment out there to make the necessary repairs.

Hopefully next week things will be back on track and the lambs will be out on nice pasture in the bright sunshine.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

It's raining lambs.

Gary and I were working on the chicken barn most of the day today. Around 3:30 I felt like I needed to go and check on Lovey, I was pretty sure that she was going to lamb today. I walked in the barn to find her just starting into labor with her water bag exposed. She got right down to business and did an awesome job delivering healthy twins. The first born was a black lamb with a very small krunet (white head spot) marking. As the second lamb emerged, it looked as though it was also black. fancy spots, but I am expecting my flecket ewes to give me some spotty lambs.

Then as the second lamb started to dry off, I looked at the eye rims and tongue. Really dark moorit (brown)!
Here are the new girls......YES I SAID GIRLS! I know this because I felt them up about 5 times just to be sure I hadn't missed something. So, the tally is 3 girls, 2 boys, boo-yah!

"Watching all these babies get born makes me really tired".

Needless to say, I will have more pictures later. This shepherd is really tired too.

Friday, April 25, 2008


Wednesday night, Edrea, my fawn katmoget ewe, started showing a little mucus and was looking a little uncomfortable. She was not in active labor yet, but I decided to put her in a jug since she would be a first time mom and I didn't want to take a chance on leaving her out with the "general population" if she were to decide to go into labor over night. I did a late night check and everything was fine, still some mucus, but nothing more. Nothing had changed by Thursday morning, so I kept checking every couple of hours to see if there were any new developments. "Eddie" would look at me as if to say, "what?", and go back to munching on her hay. By last barn check Thursday night Eddie was looking a lot more hollow on her sides, but still not in active labor. Willow, on the other hand,was standing alone in the corner of the barn, away from the other girls, not eating and looking very suspect. I opened the gate and Willow very happily took her place in the lambing jug next to Edrea's.
Oh boy, I thought, what do you girls have planned for me?

I went to bed wondering what the night would bring and found myself wide awake at 12:30 am, thinking that I better go check on the girls. I grabbed the flashlight and headed out to the barn. When I opened the barn door Eddie had JUST delivered this beautiful fawn katmoget EWE lamb! She was still covered with birth fluids, but thankfully everything looked good. I stripped Eddie's teats and dipped the umbilicus. Baby got a good drink of colostrum in pretty short order. The only problem was that, Willow, still in the next jug, wanted that baby in the worst way. She somehow got her head through the bars and was trying to clean off the lamb and was "talking" to her. I was afraid that she might disrupt the bonding process between Eddie and baby, especially since Eddie was a first time mom. I promptly moved Willow to the other side of the barn ...she was NOT happy!

"Who's my mommy anyway ?"

After I was sure that mom and baby were well bonded and baby was getting plenty to drink, I returned Willow to her jug next to the new family. I gathered up my supplies and climbed out of the pen. By now it was 2:30 am and I was exhausted. I turned to look one more time only to see Willow glare at me and then heave herself onto the hay with a heavy harrumph and begin to grunt and push!

NO, Willow! I was going to bed....seriously, do we have to do this now???

I guess we did. Willow is an experienced mom so things went very well. She delivered this little grey ram lamb by 3:30 am.

And by 3:40 she gave birth to this gorgeous black ram lamb. Awesome fleece already.
So finally at 4:30 am, I decided that everyone had been attended to, fed, dried and snuggled with their respective moms. I asked the rest of the ladies in waiting if anyone else would like to start in labor since it was clear that I was not going to get any sleep anyway, but there were no takers.

Lovey, my black krunet ewe, and Trillium, one of my spotties, are looking very close too. This is day 147 since rent-a-ram was introduced to the girls (usual gestation period for Shetlands). Which tells me that apparently my girls are, well, how can I put this and maintain my "G" rating? They are..friendly...VERY friendly, and they didn't waste ANY time getting acquainted with Mr. ram.

Those of you who are regular readers of this blog, I know what you are thinking... last year we started out with a ewe lamb and ended with a procession of ram lambs with a final tally of 6 rams and only 2 ewes. I know, things are looking a bit deja vu.....we still have 4 ewes left to lamb though, it will even out....right?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Other stuff

Since it is raining..again...still, I thought that I should spend some time today trying out some new recipes for Farmers' Market. Last year I had several varieties of cookies that I baked every Friday for the Saturday market. I decided that I would try some new things this year (calm down, my market friends, I will still have the regular cookies for you too). When I mentioned to my friend Jean that I might make some pecan logs, she begged me not to. Our booths are next to each other at market and she is already fighting a serious cookie addiction that I perpetuated by sending her home with my leftover cookies last year. I showed no mercy for my dear friend and made these pecan logs anyway that, Sadly for Jean, turned out really well.....except for the fact that this one has an uneven appearance (it's a little smaller at one end). Yes, that seriously bothers me. These are only samples though, so imperfections are somewhat tolerable (we must eat them all to make sure that the flavor is acceptable...and hide evidence of less aesthetically pleasing baked goods...quality control don't cha know). But they are nutty and caramely and nougaty, what could be better? Okay, maybe some chocolate, but that is for another day.
That was about as far as I got with the recipes. I have a couple of ewes that started looking a little "funny" this evening, so I will be spending a lot of time keeping watch tonight...we shall see.

Monday, April 21, 2008

That was easy.

The last issue of Hobby Farms magazine contained an article about building lambing jugs that looked pretty straight forward and simple so I convinced my DH that this would be a great weekend project for us. Now, don't get me wrong, I am a big fan of cattle panels and baling twine and have used said items for many an impromptu pen, cage, enclosure...whatever, but there comes a time when you think..maybe I should just build something that is specifically designed for the intended purpose. So that we did. We improvised the plans a bit, Gary was sure that the size specifications of the plan were just going to be too small for the girls, so we made one side of each jug longer by 2 feet (expanded it to 6 ft.), and kept the other sides 4 ft. as recommended. By golly they turned out pretty darn great! And as a bonus, in spite of changing plans around and differences of opinion on some minor details, no spouses were injured in the making of these lambing jugs. The larger size will also accommodate a certain shepherd who likes to sit in the jugs with the girls and their lambs.

The great thing about these panels is that they are held together with a rod running through eye hooks on the corners, so when we are done for the season they can be taken apart easily and stacked for storage.

Now all we have to do is wait for little lambies to make their much anticipated arrival. Today is day 142 so we could see some babies later this week.

"We're gonna keep you guessing, mom"!

Okay Lovey, I will pretend I don't see that giant udder.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Chick update and other stuff that's growing!

We are finally beginning to see some signs of life springing from the ground. My rhubarb has taken off in the last couple of days. My variegated Jacobs Ladder that has been trying to poke it's head out from under it's blanket of mulch for the last couple of weeks, only to get nipped by the frost over night, is gingerly extending it's tender foliage out to the sun.
Okay, I realise that they are not exactly the beautiful Daffodils that Tina T-P from Washington had pictured on her blog, or the lovely Cherry blossoms at Michelle's Boulderneigh Farm in Oregon, but it's Iowa, I have rhubarb, and right now it's gonna have to do until it gets warmer!

I promised some chick updates. This was the little Blue Laced Red Wyandotte hatched on April 5th.

Here she is today at 1 1/2 weeks old. I think she is going to have a very nice lacing pattern to her feathers.
This is one of my Araucana/Americana/Easter eggers...which ever name you prefer. Murray Mcmurray advertises them as Araucanas, but they are not a true Araucana, so probably Easter Egger would be more accurate (they lay the blue/green eggs).

Here she is at 1 1/2 weeks old. Her plumage is really starting to pop.
This was one of the Rhode Island Reds.

This one has grown considerably as well.......unfortunately it is looking like "she" is a cockerel (male).

In other gender confusion, my pretty, dark moorit yearling ewe has decided to sprout little horn buds...not that there's anything wrong with that.. I am just not a huge fan of horned ewes. I guess I will have to get over it because I love this ewe. Love her.

"Sorry mom, but they go with my personality".

Monday, April 14, 2008

What is that glowing orb in the sky?

Finally, sunshine and "warm" temperatures today! There really was nothing too exciting going on today, but that was a good thing. After spending part of last weekend in Iowa City for my last (and very non-productive) craft show before I start Farmer's Market in May, it was wonderful to just spend the entire day today outside with my critters, trying to clean away reminders of the long winter.

The barn cats all came out to bask in the sun and help (watch) me work.

Cinnamon is an especially good you can see.

"Here mom, let me give you a".

Junior was just content to sit atop the hay bales and snooze.

Brown Kitty took her spot just inside the barn. She is not fond of the dogs and doesn't like to come out where they are. She is much too sophisticated for those horse-apple-eatin' canines.

I have been commenting on how enormous everyone else's ewes are getting...I guess I needed to take a look in my own pasture! I think I owe an apology to Dream and Nancy : ).
This is Willow "Thistle Keep Teleus Longtail". It is looking likely that she will be one of the first to lamb. She had a single (polled) ram lamb last year. She is much larger this year, I am certain that she will have twins (ewes please).
Edrea, my fawn katmoget, will be a first time mom. She is not huge, and for her sake I am hoping that she only has a single....Katmoget ewe would be nice...whatever..cute fuzzy lamb..I'm not picky.

Lovey is also looking very "ripe", but she was a bit camera shy today.

Day 147 (possible due date) will be April 26th

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