Thursday, March 28, 2013

Out of Lockup

We let the sheep out of the barn today. I can't remember the last time we had them all in the barn, I don't think they do either.

Hey...is that one of those  annoying dogs staring at me?

Tunis eating hay....The BL's looking for anything "green"


They couldn't wait to get out. We have been listening to their protest over the last couple of days.
Today was sunny and 40's. They have had a little while to get used to not having the wool coats on. I am still going to keep them in the barnyard for a little while so I can see if they get too chilled, especially some of the older ladies.

One things for sure, without the fleece we can see how they fared over winter. You can tell which ones are pushy when it come to food and which ones hang back until everyone else is done. Thankfully everyone seemed to be in good shape. I was concerned this year more than others due to the dry summer and lack of quality hay over the winter.

Now we just have to wait.... Wait for the lambs and kids to make their appearance.  Some of ewes look SO big. Poor things....

Any day now!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Spring Shearing....DONE!

We were hoping it wouldn't snow last night. We woke up to this:



When you are working with the weather and animals you learn to adapt. The original plan for shearing was no longer an option. We had to shear in the other barn and unfortunately some of the really pregnant ewes couldn't get in that barn. Mike put up a ramp but they were not interested in using that. So we had to bring them into the pen where we feed them grain every day and walk drag them over to the barn.
 
 
The goats always think they are invited..to everything...I don't think it ever occurs to them that they could be unwanted guest!
 
 

Thankfully we had everything ready when the shearer arrived.

He said he didn't mind being recorded- The tunis ewe was a little feisty being young and this being her first shearing. Most of the ewes didn't give him as much trouble as she did.

 

 

 

 
This barn is dark and pictures never turn out that great...






It went quickly! 16 ewes and a ram later we are finished!



Because of the cold weather we will leave them in the barn for a day or two to let them get use to the temperature change.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Children Love Lambs

My sister just posted some pictures on my Facebook page.  Dated 2007, it has been a while.




Children love feeding bottle lambs! This is a picture of my nephews and daughters enjoying some lamb time. There isn't a whole lot of things that can beat the cuteness of a baby lamb!



With lambing season coming very soon the girls are getting excited. I get excited too  but I have to admit I always get a little nervous. I am always hopeful that the lambs are healthy and the ewes will be good mommies, and the weather cooperates. As with everything in life it can be unpredictable.

So far the weather is NOT cooperating.  It doesn't want to stop snowing. We are expecting some tonight which may keep us from shearing tomorrow. The cold weather can also  make lambing time more stressful. We have lambs in the Spring because I do not enjoy having lambs in the cold! Winter needs to get a move on!

The ewes look pretty good. First time moms can drive you a little nuts but we only have one that has not lambed before. We are just hoping to get them sheared this week. Less wool makes things a little easier for the lambs trying to nurse. It also helps if it is cold, without the wool coat the ewe is more likely to be or go somewhere more sheltered instead of choosing to have a lamb in a snow bank or in the middle of an open field (usually).

As far as bottle (bummer) lambs we always hope for ZERO! Healthy lambs who get to stay with their moms are best.

I know they are adorable- We have had a few over the years and children love to come and feed them-but they do tend to grow up - and in my opinion growing up with other lambs and frolicking around the pasture is the better life. Nothing more difficult than a lamb with an identity crisis, waiting at the back door for the girls to come out and play!


And in case you are wondering the lamb is in the house! I know- something else I never imagined before I moved to the farm.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Happy Friday!




 
Sheep Shearing had to be rescheduled for Monday.

I hope everyone enjoys the weekend. I think I am going to plan a Long Lazy one!
 
 
Happy Friday
 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Whats a Liebster?


Magnolia Holler(Missy), thank you for making such a nice gesture and nominating my blog for the Liebster Award.
I am not quite sure what it is ;) but did read through the links that had been posted explaining more about it.

In a nut shell it is a "recognition" that was started by no one quite knows- but has been passed around since 2010 if I read correctly. I did notice on some blogs the magic number was 11 instead of  5
I am glad that I got the "5" version!

I have to admit I am the kind of person that gets a chain letter and breaks the chain and wreaks bad luck on myself and others who sent it my way (ha ha)  You know the warnings, bad luck for 7 years, you'll never find true love, etc...

I  was very glad there were not any such statements attached to this award and that it is done with the spirit of encouraging and recognizing  bloggers. I wasn't sure if I was going to join in but decided what the heck..might as well not be a party pooper.

So to begin I am suppose to do a few things:

Nominate 5 blogs with less than 300 followers
Share 5 random facts
Answer 5 questions
Think of 5 new questions for those you nominate


If you get nominated by me and have no interest in passing it along I am fine with that. It is done in fun and if it is not your cup of tea, I totally understand :)

Kris @ http://kris-outbackfarm.blogspot.com/
Bo Peep@ http://willowhomestead.blogspot.com/
Kristi @ http://www.thismindbeinyou.com/p/my-home.html
Heidi @ http://mysimplecountryliving.blogspot.com/
Laura@ http://tenthingsfarm.blogspot.com/

5 Random Facts
1-My favorite candy is Allsorts (licorice candy)
2-When I was young I wanted to live in the Big City
3-I don't like getting up early in the morning
4-I love Jane Austen type Romance Books
5-I love word games like Scrabble


(questions by Missy) (http://magnoliaholler.blogspot.com/)
5 Questions For Nominees
1. What is your favorite family tradition?
Summer Camping Trips in the Upper Peninsula (Michigan)
2. What is your fondest childhood memory?
Camping trips with my family. Aunt, Uncles, Grandparents and cousins all being there. Great time!

3. If you could travel in time, would you go into the future or back in time?
I would go back in time to visit family that has passed on.  I wouldn't want to know my future.

4. What do you do to relax?
Read

5. What is your favorite fruit or vegetable, and why?
I like berries..raspberries, blueberries, strawberriesYou can add them to muffins, eat them frozen, make shakes, ice cream toppers or plain.

My five questions:

What are you reading right now?
What is your Favorite thing to do on weekends?
If you could travel to any place you wanted to go where would it be?
What is your favorite Season and why?
Do you have a hobby?

Thanks again Magnolia!  It kept my mind off the cold weather  and gave me chance to pass some cheer along.

Less Than 15 Hours Away

A bit of Spring for my Birthday

Spring is less than 15 hours away but it looks like Winter did not get the memo!

It is COLD, the wind has been howling for two days and we are suppose to get snow.
It is not the greatest weather for shearing. I  hope the weather forecast is accurate and it will at least be dry.

I need to get out and medicate the goats today. We usually wait until after they kid before we give them dewormer but when I was feeding them Sunday and looked them over it looked like they need it now.  Not something I feel like doing, but since when did that ever work into the equation?
I need to give the Tunis their second dose so it isn't really a big deal.  It is just that the goats are big babies and act like they are dying when they are being medicated!

The Border Leicesters will be left alone until Saturday. They are waddling around the pasture looking very pregnant right now. It takes them a bit of time to lie down or get back up. Poor girls...it won't be too much longer now.

We did manage to get some Spring in the house. The herbs we planted are coming up and will need to be put in bigger pots. My step mom  bought me flowers for  my birthday last week and they look lovely on the table. Now if I could just pack aways those winter coats....


The Lemon Balm is just starting to come up but the Cilantro needs put in a larger pot
Regan made me the markers

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Up Close and Personal


I got a chance to feed the sheep today. Usually Delaney and Regan beat me to it but they are on a day trip with their dad.

I had to go in the barnyard to get the feeders and was surprised when all of the Tunis came walking right up to me. Most of our sheep do not do that, especially our younger ewes. They are so different than our Border Leicesters not just in looks but personality as well.
I was able to get some up close and personal shots.



This ewe kept crowding the camera. She looks so funny!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Huddle



I didn't expect the weather we are having today. I guess I had convinced myself we would not be getting any more snow. So you can imagine my disappointment when I look outside and see flurries.
I noticed the animals huddled up which usually means wind. Sure enough flurries and wind! Looked at our forecast -Snow Showers/Wind/28 degrees with a "feels like 16 degrees"

Usually when I go out they jump up but today they just glanced my way and stayed put. They had already been fed and were busy chewing their cud. They were not going to leave their comfy spots just for the likes of me.

I guess Winter is going to fight til the bitter end!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Sheep Shearing


Sheep Shearing scheduled!

After much consideration we have decided to shear the Border Leicesters twice a year.
We also want to get them shorn before they lamb (it will be close). Saturday ,March 23, is the day.

One of the great things about raising sheep is their yearly wool contribution to the farm. One of the biggest challenges of raising sheep is getting that wool clip shorn.

Finding a sheep shearer is not always an easy thing to do. We have had several through the years. We started out with an Amish gentleman who would come with one of his sons. He sheared our sheep many years. We liked him and he did a good job. Then he decided he needed to move to a new state because the Amish around  here were becoming "too English". We were sad to seem him go.

The following year  we found another Amish gentleman to shear our sheep. One and only year shearing my ladies. We had to medicate and almost had to call a vet due to deep cuts.
Minor cuts are too be expected but you shouldn't have to wonder if a ewe needs stitches.

We then found a teenage boy who lived on a sheep farm to come and shear. He came for a couple of years. Very nice guy who used hand shearers instead of electric clippers. (that was interesting)
Then he decided to go to college (darn).

The shearer we have now, we have used for a couple of  years. He is a very nice young man as well. He assures me that he will be around for a while, I can only hope. He doesn't seem to  mind all of my reminders that we don't want second cuts in the wool (that is where the shearer goes over an area twice to get some wool he missed which leaves short fibers in with the fleece and that is undesirable)  or that I step in to make sure the shearing platform is swept off between each ewe so we don't get any black and white wool mixed up. 

It  is great to have a shearer that understands shearing a fiber flock, we worry about things most sheep farms don't worry about. Mike has a friend who raises club lambs and he dumps his wool in his field when he is done!
As with Mike's friend, some sheep farms find  shearing  a nuisance! If you raise fiber sheep, shearing is a good thing!

I have heard  of others who would like to raise sheep but can't find a shearer.  I have to admit it can be challenging. Most people don't have a sheep shearer that lives next door. It is also hard to find someone to come in if you have a small flock.

Needless to say, that when you find a good shearer you make sure he does not mind visiting your farm. It is not an easy job even though they make it look easy. We have tried it, it is the farthest thing from being easy. It is one of the few things on the farm that we hire done and we are happy to pay someone else to do it!

Now, lets just hope for some nice weather next week....





Monday, March 11, 2013

Regan's Kidding Contest



We wouldn't want the goats to feel they are not as important as the sheep so Regan is going to do a kidding contest. Regan and Delaney are twins and they are all about Fair...we can't do for one and not the other. There is equal treatment among the sheep and goats as well.

The gestation of a doe is about the same as a ewe. 150 day average. They were in with the Buck November 1.

Their is one doe who managed to get in with the buck earlier than that so it does throw a possibility of an earlier kidding date. Goats can never keep it simple. They are all about a little bit of trouble!

So with that said leave a comment below with

Kidding Date
Single/Twins/Triplets
boy/girl combination

We will start with the kidding date, if more than one person chooses the same date the other information will be used to determine the contest winner.

I have two bars of goats milk soap I picked up at the Fiber Expo that we will be the prize.
Happy Guessing!



Saturday, March 9, 2013

Fiber Expo and Delaney's Lambing Contest


Mike and I went to a Fiber Expo today in Ann Arbor. It was their first Spring Expo.
There were many fiber enthusiast displaying their talents but it was a little smaller than I expected. I have only attended Fiber Festivals where it takes hours to look through the booths and displays.
It still was a fun time and a nice winter getaway!

I wanted to find something "sheepy" for Delaney's contest. I didn't find exactly what I was looking for but did pick up a few things.

I asked Delaney what she wanted to pick out for the giveaway and she decided to let the contest winner choose.
3 choices
Felting kit (only could find one with alpaca fibers)















7-8 oz of Romney Roving (natural colored)














3 handmade sheep buttons













If you haven't made a guess and would like to join the fun here is the link to the contest

http://www.mittenstatesheepandwool.com/2013/03/delaneys-lamb-contest.html

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Sheep, Shots and the Not So Charming Aspects of Raising Sheep




If you told me 15 years ago that I would be spending the evening giving shots to some sheep I would have probably laughed.
But that is exactly what I was doing this evening. The Tunis have been separated from the other ewes since we bought them onto the farm. Tonight we gave them some meds. (dewormer) in ten days we will do it again and after that we will let them move in with the Border Leicesters.

When I decided to buy my first four sheep it was quite an adventure. I have to admit I never thought too much about medications, shots etc. I was too busy thinking about lambs, wool and green pastures.
It didn't take long before I had to roll up my sleeves and dig into the less "charming" aspects of being a shepherdess.

Over the years I have had to do a lot of things I never imagined myself  doing. Assisting with a birth that was not going the way it should, giving shots, tube feeding lambs with hypothermia. It has definitely challenged me and  pushed me to do things that I never imagined myself doing.

The girls have grown up with taking care of sheep and lambs. It is a part of who they are. They don't even think twice about it.

I still remember my first lamb birth that was not going well. I knew something was wrong. I kept referring to my " How To Raise Sheep Book", watching the ewe and trying to talk myself into assisting. My 11 year old daughter (23 now)  looked at me exasperated and said "Mom, if you don't do something I will"  and  she would have too!

I have learned a LOT over the last 15 years. I  have come to appreciate the experiences I have had and the opportunity to "grow up" and become a shepherdess.




A Machine, Usually With a Domestic Purpose

Picture taken from Nesco Website


I have a new kitchen appliance (a machine, usually with a domestic purpose)

I finally got an Electric Pressure Cooker. It had been on my wish list for a while. I have been using it regularly since I opened it on Christmas morning.

Who says kitchen appliances can't be fun?  I know I have been enjoying mine. 

I have a couple of pressure canners but have never used one to cook. I seen the electric pressure cooker on my favorite cooking show (the only cooking show) that I watch. Convenience, faster cooking times, great tasting  food, how could I resist? 

Cooking from scratch is something that I have always done, but there is always room for improvement. I have been wanting to use more dry beans, rice and whole grains in my cooking and this makes that goal a lot easier.

So far so good, haven't been disappointed yet. We have tried several new recipes and the family already has their new favorites, Porcupine Meatballs being one of them.
Did I mention that this new kitchen appliance is also a slow cooker, and steamer too?
I love that once the lid is locked in place I can walk away and not worry about it. Once the food is done it turns off and switches to "warm" mode.

I am no expert in pressure cooking, but I can tell you it is easy. I love adding convenience to my life.
I added some links to some of my favorite websites that help some recipes and additional helps with Pressure Cooking.

This first website is on of my favorite cooking/food storage sites: She has tons of recipes, how to videos, printouts etc.. It is on her Pressure Cooker handout that I found the porcupine recipe that my girls love.
www.everdayfoodstorage.net

My favorite cooking show that I mentioned earlier is Chef Brad. Not your everyday type of cooking show. His cooking show is called Fusion Grain Cooking. How to use use and cook with grains, everyday.  He also has a website with recipes.
www.chefbrad.com

I have also been collecting recipes on my Pinterest. I have a board with Pressure Cooker Recipes, if you would like to check it out.
http://pinterest.com/clearwaterfarm/pressure-cooker-recipes/


Happy Cooking!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tunis Sheep Lesson

Picture Taken By Delaney


The Tunis seem to be fitting in really well. So far so good. They have calmed down a lot and the girls love that they follow them around. Something the Border Leicesters have no interest in doing.

So, why did we add the Tunis to the farm? Well, it is not because they are so darn cute...(they are adorable), but along with that cuteness they have a lot of the attributes that we look for in sheep.
A lot of people raise sheep, but not all sheep farms are alike.

We have friends and acquaintances that raise sheep as pets, some for club lambs (4-H),others for meat, and a few for wool.
We fall into the category of meat and wool. That is why we look for dual purpose breeds.

There are also different ways to raise sheep. Not any of them right or wrong, just different.
We have chosen the pasture based or grass-fed system.
Not all sheep like that system or do well with it so we have to fit the sheep to the farm.
We bought the Tunis from a neighboring farm that raise their sheep a lot like we do.
That makes for a good fit!

Some of the interesting facts about Tunis (well, I think they are interesting) is that they are one of the oldest breed of sheep, they originated from Tunisia in North Africa. They were imported into the United States in 1799.  They are growing in numbers but are still listed on the "watch" list at the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.

The reasons we feel they are a good fit for us:
They are a medium sized sheep, hardy, excellent mothers, medium(54-58 spinning count) wool, cream in color. They are a sweet tempered sheep with good mothering instincts. They are known to be good grazers and easy keepers which allows them to thrive in forage based systems.

I am excited to have them on the farm. I have high hopes that they are going to fit right in.

I hope I didn't bore you with my "sheep lesson". I just love spreading the word about them.
I feel that sheep get a bad rap sometimes. I know there are all kinds of sayings about sheep waiting around for a reason to die...blah, blah, blah ...but that has not been our experience raising sheep.
They have a lot of offer a homestead/farm.

And just in case you didn't get your fill of information, you could always visit these sites to learn more about the Tunis breed.
http://www.countrylovin.com/NTSRI/index.html
http://albc-usa.org/cpl/tunis.html


Oh, and if you haven't yet, visit Delaney's Lambing Contest and join the fun. She is very excited to be hosting it.
http://www.mittenstatesheepandwool.com/2013/03/delaneys-lamb-contest.html



Sunday, March 3, 2013

Delaney's Lamb Contest


Ready or not, lambs and kids should start arriving this month. Delaney ask me every day how many more days???  Last night she was talking about lambs coming next week...I said No, not until April..she was not happy. We pulled out the calendar and counted out 147 days (average gestation period of a ewe) and it looks like it is possible we could have lambs the very end of March. She was happy to hear that it could happen this month.

She has been looking at the blogs I have been following and seeing all of those cute lambs and kids have almost been too much. Every time she sees a new post with some cute babies I hear "Everyone has lambs, but US!"

I love lambs and kids but as long as the weather is cold I am okay with waiting. Right now there is snow on the ground, more snow than we have had all winter, I think.

We are suppose to warm up this week and instead of snow we will have mud. I will take it! The snow is beautiful but I am ready to have it go away for a season. I am ready for
daffodils, tree buds, and yes, farm babies.

Delaney asked if we could have a contest. A contest  where you guess the date of our first lambs, the color of the lambs and if it will be a single, twin or triplet (we hardly ever have triplets) and gender.
We are still working on a prize. Trying to come up with something sheepy :)
I am going to a fiber event this weekend so I am pretty sure I will be able to find something fun for a giveaway.

If you would like to guess please leave a comment with
Date
whether you think it will be a single, twin or triplet
color (white, natural colored or both (possible if you have twins)
ewe or ram lamb (or combination if guessing twins)

We will go by date first...if more than one person chooses the same date we will factor in the other  (twin/single, color, ewe/ram lamb)

We put the Ram in with the ewes on November 4. 147 days later ...March 31st. Gestation  usually varies between 144-151 days...Happy Guessing :)

You can check back in the beginning of April to see if you won!

P.S. We can't leave the goats out of the fun so we will be posting a kidding contest too. It all has to be fair you know.






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