Monday, November 22, 2010

Roosters in the wind

This afternoon it was sunny and warm with temperatures right around 70 degrees- absolutely lovely for late November-until a strong cold front decided to come through. Now the weather-guessers are predicting that by tomorrow morning reality will set in and daytime highs will only be in the mid 30's. The drastic change in temps ushered in a stiff wind late in the day which seemed to cause a bit of trouble for the marauding roosters. I should have video taped them as they tried to brace themselves against the wind, walking like drunken sailors.
I like to call these pictures, "Roosters in the Wind."

 "Anyone else feel a draft?"

 "Dude, seriously, I think your junk is showing."
OK, so maybe my "Roosters in the Wind" pictures are not nearly as beautiful....or classy.. as my friend Nancy's "Ewes in the Mist" photo that she has entered in a photo contest, so maybe you should skip on over to her blog and help her win the photo contest.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The boys are back in town.

Once again I am behind on my postings, but you are probably getting used to that by now. We have had quite a bit going on and I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed. I won't bore you with the details, but I am going to use it as justification for my lack of blogginess : ).

As you may have gathered from the "Lamb Watch" gadget on the right side of the blog, breeding groups were put together last weekend. I started out this fall with only one ram available for breeding- Sommarang Gilroy, who I used for breeding last year. He is an awesome ram. Great conformation, good horns, fabulous fleece that microned last fall at 20.7, AND he is spotted. I am repeating some of those same breedings, but I have several ewes that are related to Gilroy, so I needed at least one other ram to diversify my flock genetics. After searching much of the fall for new rams with no luck, I ended up with FOUR boys here for breeding quite unexpectedly. So, here is the fall line-up and introductions. I am still waiting on some micron reports and will probably post them on a separate page on this blog in the interest of sparing my non-sheepy readers the monotony of having to read a bunch of seemingly nonsensical numbers.
Gilroy and his lovely ladies.
Daisy. Although Daisy is single-coated, her fleece microned very high (30) but when paired with Gilroy last year she produced two nicely fleeced ram lambs.
Willow. Willow is my only Ag (grey) ewe. I generally don't keep any Ag in my flock, but she has awesome conformation and she is one of my favorite ewes. Willow carries spots and solid as well.
Gilroy's last mystery date is Mira. I love, love, love this ewe. She is dainty, feminine and super friendly. I was not planning on breeding her last year, but she took matters into her own hands and jumped two fences...twice, to get to Gilroy...little hussy! That breeding resulted in a beautiful gulmoget ewe with delicious fleece, so I am hoping for more of the same in the spring.
Much to his dismay, my old wether (castrated ram), Rocky, has also become the object of Gilroy's affection....poor Rocky...I think he needs to change his perfume.
Below we have Hero. I got Hero from a fellow Shetland breeder that was dispersing her flock. I love his smaller size, wide horns, square conformation....and his spots. Hero has nice, soft fleece but he is dual-coated which is not what I breed for....not that there's anything wrong with that, I just prefer the single-coated fleece, he does have a lot of really nice qualities, so  I decided to give him two ewes with very fine, single-coated fleece to see if I can get some lambs with great conformation and fleece.

Hero's two lady-loves~
Holly is a very fine-fleece katmoget ewe with beautiful conformation. Holly carries polled genetics, so I am pairing her with Hero since he carries no polled lines and has nice, wide horns.

 Menemsha is bachelorette #2. She is a lovely mioget girl and I hope that I get some nice modified lambs from her. 

Next we have Avyt and his harem. Mr. "A", as we call him...mainly because I have no idea how to pronounce his name, is a bit camera shy so he is standing in the background in most of the pictures. Poor guy lost a horn before he got here in a ram scuffle through a fence. I was very lucky to be able to lease this boy for breeding. Here is his fleece. Yup, you might want to biggify this picture!
He has a high percentage of UK genetics and also has outstanding conformation and he is spotted. This guy is yummy!
Here are his 7 luscious ladies. Luna decided to bedazzle herself with pieces of straw...I told her it wasn't the best look for her.
 All of these ewes are spotted or carry spots.
 So there will be lots of nicely-fleeced spotted lambs in the spring.
 I am especially excited to see what Luna (below) has in the spring. This will be her first lambing and I love the look of this girl. She is standing funny in this picture, but her conformation is very nice.
 I would love to get a spotted moorit gulmoget out of Halley (below). She had a solid ewe lamb last spring, but she does carry spots, so hopefully I will get something more flashy this time around.

Lastly we have...ummmm, 'new guy'. He doesn't have a name yet. I kind of fell in love with this guy because of his nice wide horns. Although I do like fully polled ( hornless) Shetlands, that is not what I am breeding for and I have a couple of ewes that carry polled genetics, so I am pairing him with one of those girls hoping that the lamb(s) might inherit his lovely full-horn genetics. He is a very masculine looking ram and is quite a contrast to Hero's smaller size and....well, cuteness ( technical sheepy terminology). He also has a decent percentage of UK genetics.

New guy's fleece.

He will be paired with Edrea.

" Mmmmmmm, she's pretty!"
I am breeding waaay more ewes this year than I normally do, but I already have a waiting list, so if you are interested in any spring lambs please contact me so that you can get on the list. Also, Hero will be for sale after breeding, only because I don't normally keep a bunch of rams.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Thanks, Jim.

Several weeks ago I got a call from my brother, his next door neighbor, Jim, had passed away and since Jim's family lived out of town they asked my brother if they could hire him to clean out the house. They wanted him to throw everything into dumpsters and have it hauled away. Why would they do that, you may ask? Well, as it turns out, Jim was a bit of a hoarder ( a man after my own heart) and never threw anything away. As I have mentioned before in this blog, I come from a long line of dumpster-diving, junk-loving scavengers, so when my brother asked if I wanted to see if there was anything I could use before he threw it all out, of course I jumped on the opportunity. I searched through boxes, bags, stacks of items and found a few things that I could use around the house, then I came across a set of shelves that served as Jim's pantry. Being that Jim was a hoarder, some of the items that I found in the pantry had gone beyond their 'use by' dates, and even if they weren't I would not really be comfortable using any of it, but then something caught my eye-cans of pumpkin!
Those of you who have followed my blog for a long time may be amused by this, remembering my own pumpkin hoarding incident in 2008. But Jim had many more cans than the mere 60-something that I had purchased back then. Anyway, this stuff was still good and had an expiration date of 2012. I loaded cases and cases of pumpkin into the truck, knowing that this would be a wonderful treat for my chicken friends in the colder months. As an added bonus pumpkin is loaded with vitamins and Beta Carotene which helps the chickens make beautiful, bright egg yolks. 
This morning I decided to start adding some of the pumpkin to their regular fare. Many of the girls are molting right now and I think the boost in vitamins will help them regrow feathers a bit faster in this cold weather.
  Molting chickens = not so pretty.

Everyone eagerly snacked into the delectable dessert.
Even some of my girls that are usually more refined and dignified made pigs of themselves.

"Well, maybe just a little taste."
 As did Gonzo the rooster.

"I think I am over capacity, can someone help me out?"
"Whew, thanks!"
In case you are wondering, my brother didn't throw everything away.....except for the thousands of cottage cheese containers that were literally stacked to the ceiling, most of the usable stuff was given away or donated to Good Will.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Guess who's coming to dinner.

Last Saturday morning when I went out to do chores, I followed my normal routine-I walked out to the horse barn, fed the barn cats, threw a handful of cat food to the marauding rooster trio (yes, they love cat food), and then started toward the big barn to get hay for the horses and sheep. Just as I was leaving the barn I heard an unusual, "Meow, mouw, mouuuuuuw!" It sounded strange and I wondered if one of my barn cats was injured, so I did  a head count, nope, all three cats were sitting around the food dish happily munching on breakfast. Still the meowing persisted...but where was it? I looked around the bales of hay, behind the saddle rack, under the wheelbarrow......finally I looked up and saw a kitty perched in the rafters of the barn. He kept calling to me, and as I walked back and forth on the barn floor, he followed along, trotting across the beams above. As friendly as he was, I knew right away that he probably had been someone's house cat, and for whatever reason was dumped. You may remember from earlier posts that when people dump animals here it normally sends me into a rant, but there was something comical about this little guy-with his silly meow and desperate attempts to befriend me that made me forget how angry I was that someone had dumped yet another animal at our farm.
After coaxing him down from his "Flying Wallenda" act, I gave him food and water which he gobbled without even the thought of chewing. I reminded myself not to get too attached, knowing that he would likely wander off over night, but at least I felt better that he had some food in his belly.
Well, here it is nearly a week later, he still has food in his belly, he hasn't left the all, and he hasn't stopped MEOWWWWWWing. I won't take him to the Humane Society because the animal shelters are beyond capacity, and although he is a young cat, he is not a cute little kitten so his chances of being adopted are next to none. He is getting along well with the other cats, so it looks like we have another resident at the farm. He is going to be in for a rude awakening though, there is a trade-off for free room and board.....he has some parts that are in need of removal. Yes, he still has THOSE. So in the next couple of weeks he will be taking a trip to the vet (ugh, more vet bills).
Also, it would be much appreciated if he stopped meowing continually-it's a bit much at 6am.

The other cats are most certainly NOT amused by the new guest.

 "Not amused."
 "We are not amused at all."
"Hey you guys, I like it here, this is going to be great!"

what parts did you say need to be removed?"

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