Like a walk through the country side living on a small farm is full of daily surprises, sometimes wonderful and amazing, and other times puzzling and sad. I hope you will walk with me as I live out my dream of living on this tiny farm. You will come to know the dogs, cats, Shetland sheep and chickens that make up this farm and what goes into keeping them happy and healthy. Come and join the journey with me.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Thursday Friday

Suzy's Ewe Lamb--April 2007
(1/2 Shetland x Merino)

We get off an extra day this week since its Good Friday. Am looking forward to that. Shearing is scheduled for Saturday---again. Praying that this time it happens. The weather has been gorgeous for awhile now. In the high 70s and 80s, with the grass growing like crazy and the lilacs and fruit trees in full bloom. That all changed Tuesday night when a cold front came through. The temps are now highs in the 40s during the day and its suppose to dip into the 20s at night through out the weekend. I'm glad now I didn't buy any of those tomato plants the other day!

There is a slight chance of snow tomorrow. I'm hoping that it doesn't as any moisture can cause problems with the shearing. The cold will actually be nicer for us as we shear. The sheep won't get as hot standing around waiting and the shear-people-helpers won't get too sunburned and wilted. It will be rather cold to start off, but hopefully be decent by late morning. I'll have to deep bed the barns for the newly nekkid sheep and make sure they get plenty of good food to eat.

The lambs will go crazy running and wailing about as they search for mum. They won't recognize their moms for awhile, even though the ewes will be running after the frantic babies to try and claim them. There will be fights among the ewes as they won't recognize each other either. Soon though they will all settle down and shearing will be finished. Hopefully I'll have some pictures to post on Monday.

Then it will be time to re-skirt and pick the by one. I hope to have some helpers who will do the initial picking and skirting to remove the nastiest bits before sacking it up. Since I had to reschedule the help situation is a bit iffy. But it will be okay. I know my Mom and Dad will be there and they are good help. They usually help me with some of the setting up of the catch pens and moving of the sheep the night before as well.

I'm working on a couple of posts of two of my Shetlands that I hope to post at a later date. One is a (possibly) Mioget and the other is a Musket. I have pictures uploaded of them from birth through their first year, and hopefully some after shearing and of their fleeces. There is so much confusion surrounding these colors that I hope to have some input from other folks to help clarify.

After shearing I will start working on getting panels set up and getting all the sheep onto new grass. There is still alot of clean up to do from the ice storm, but that is going to be happening for a long time.

Last night I put in some temp. electric fence posts that we can string a haphazard fence from to help funnel the sheep back to pasture. Then I picked a bouquet of lovely lilacs since they are all going to freeze anyway. I always looked for more morels (mushrooms)harvest since I'm sure they will all freeze too. My Mom and Dad really like them and every year there is a small 'crop' of them on my front pasture. This year though there has been a bumper crop! I had read in an outdoorsy column that there would be alot this year because of all the downed trees and limbs from the ice storm, but I'm not sure what the correlation is.

As you can tell, this is a 'random-thoughts' blog. Usually I have the sheep sheared during the first of March--pre-lambing. This year though I scheduled a week and half later (which has turned into 4 weeks!) and about half of the lambs were born before the first shear date. The rest of course are already here as well. While there was no major problems with lambing 'in fleece', I certainly plan to have it done before lambing next year. It is so much easier to tell what condition the ewe is in, and when she starts showing eminent signs of labor. The babies have it much easier too, not wading through all that wool to find the milk bar. Lastly the fleeces have really suffered, as its very hard not to add more VM contamination to their fleeces when you are putting hay in the jugs for them. The space is cramped, so your options are limited--momma is dancing around trying to place herself right under where the hay is going and the outside ewes are trying to push and shove to get it before it goes over the fence. Its a bit distressing! We will see how the fleeces are once shorn. One amusing incident happened when I went to the barn to check ewes and lambs. Blackberry saw me coming and got to her feet---not paying any attention to the small black thing that clung to her back. As she stood up, her baby slowly started sliding off the side and landed with a thump and surprised look on the ground. Fortunately the stall was deep in straw so nobody was hurt in the process.

That's it for now!

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