Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Shearing in action

video

Shearing Day!

Getting a pedicure! It's a spa day for the sheep!
All newly shorn (expect UFO to the left)
My mother, brother and daughter Stella all wearing something hand knit!
Pre-shearing....
Shearing day went well, thankfully not as hot as last year! Our woolly beasts are now tucked in the barn until they grow a bit of it back or until the sun warms us up for good! The wool is beautiful, I have been itching to get skirting it so I can really look through it. Willa's fleece got many ooo's and aaa's from everyone watching, it is pitch black on the inside and chocolate brown on the outside. The 2 new cormo fleeces also look delicious. Although one of the Cormos we found out is not actually female.... we all had a good laugh, but now i have the unpleasant business of correspondence with the woman who sold them as good "breeding" stock. Oh well, it made our shearer's day to see something out of the ordinary.

I will post more pictures of the fleeces soon! Thank you Sara G and Sara W from the CSA who helped us that day, and to the Schneider family, we could not have run this day as smoothly without them!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

New carding mill

This is very exciting to me and should be exciting to you as well. There is a NEW fiber mill in Readstown (a small town very close by). After shearing on Monday we will be skirting and bringing fleeces to Heavenly Fibers Mill for washing and some spinning! We will still send some fiber out (after they wash it) to be spun at a different mill with equipment for very fine fibers. We may have our first shipments back before July at this point!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Lambing is finished for now...


The lambing is finished until May. Although this was accidental, I do rather prefer spacing the lambing out in 2 different times. It gives us a bit of time to breath before the next wave of emotional roller coasters that are always present around lambing. We decided this year that tagging was indeed necessary to tell who is who later on in life once nursing is over! Two of our lambs from last year - Cynthia and Willow - look exactly the same and we have to muse for minutes who is who! Although tagging was a must, tail docking we are still unconvinced is a truly needed procedure. Tail docking is performed to keep flies from laying their eggs in the manure around the sheep's hindquarters, and to make work easier for the butcher and shearer. Although the fear of "flystrike" is very real we have decided that dedicated "crutching" (shearing) of the sheep's hindquarters a few times per summer will keep those nasty little flies away, plus good rotational grazing management limits flies as well.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sorrow and Joy


video

Bernice finally went into labor after many of her companions had surprised us with lambs. Bernice did not surprise us, but although we could tell it was going to happen anytime the hours kept ticking away. She did not seem to be struggling or in much discomfort, thus we and our vet on the phone assumed she must not be quite ready yet. Finally late afternoon we had had enough worrying and called the vet out. We quickly realized that a lamb was breach (my nightmare!) and was holding up the others! After some manipulation we were able to birth the first lamb. Then came the 2nd.... and 3rd. Sadly lamb one and three were dead, but lamb 2 who we have now named Bess survived and is healthy and active. I blame myself for this outcome. I should have been more proactive about checking her internally before it was too late. Next time I will put my "willies" aside and go digging - as our vet has referred to it as.

We are glad to have at least one darling little lamb for are heroic mamma.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Any day now...


Bernice is looking fairly large these days... I'm sure hoping there's more than one lamb in there and that's not all fat! ....We have been surprised before....

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Melting Snow!

Finally the snow is beginning to melt, it makes us realize how much snow we actually had! Unfortunately with melting snow comes muddy ground. This weekend we will need to section off the ewes from the big pasture and keep them close to the barn until the grass is ready. If we put them out too soon their tiny hooves will tear up the sod and the pasture will be ruined for the summer!

Exciting news: Bernice, the mother of our beloved flock leader Junior, is beginning to "bag up", once a sheep's udder begins to bag up it's only a matter time before lambs are here! We hope and think she'll be the only mom to lamb this early, the rest are due for early May. Tomorrow we are off to pick up lambing pens from a very generous friend who does not do any lambing anymore.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Leapers!


Here is a picture of #186 (Anna) one of our new cormo/Blue Faced Leicester crosses. Although cute and fiberlicious, she and her partner Sue are now known as the leapers. We have never had problems until now with our sheep escaping, we are worried that they may teach others in their flock... Ah well.

Shearing is approaching, we are hoping the last week of March will be "David Time", the shearer, David, gives us about a day's (or less) notice of when he'll be arriving. Last year my mom and I juggled catching sheep and holding a 2 month old baby while the shearing was in progress! I hope this year Keith is able to make it! I have been loitering around the coffee roaster in town (the wonderful Kickapoo Coffee) picking up the burlap coffee sacks that they leave out for takers. Mostly people use them for mulch or weed control. We are using them for storing the raw fleeces just after shearing and skirting (picking through the fleeces). I have also recently come across a blog where they are using large pieces of Kraft paper to roll the fleeces up in. I may need to experiment with that method as well! In years past we have always used plastic bags, but they tear easily, they are not at all breathable and if stored for a long time and destroy the fleece! Not good! Coffee and paper it is for 2010! We'll see which one works better.