Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Decoration Day

It is a quiet day here, cloudy and occasionally wet. Good thing we got the mowing down yesterday.

I saw the tiny wildflowers above when I was chasing Barry, Bodhran and Banjo back through the woods into their pasture this morning. Previous years' lambs have not ventured into the wooded SE corner where an old panel gate separates their pasture from the wooded corner of our property. But this year's pack of boys often do, easily slipping through and cavorting in the woods while their mothers yell. It is perimeter-fenced but filled with bracken fern, and since youngsters are not known for culinary discretion, we're going to have to block their access with some woven wire.

We wouldn't wanting them leading these tender souls astray!

Remembering those who have served, as well as loved ones laid to rest, at . . .

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Their first visitor

Today Jeannie stopped by to see Katie's lambs since she was in the area. She has been hoping for a little ewe from Katie to take home with Banjo, but as we all know, no such luck. Ah well, it was still fun to share the little boys with their first visitor, and Katie was such a gracious hostess. Jeannie took the photo above while she, Brian and I were all in the bonding suite with the little family.

That's it for now from . . .

Thinking of a word that rhymes with "ram"

And it's not "lamb." I'm kidding. Kind of.

Katie lambed this morning, I think shortly after 7:00 although I'm not sure because I took my watch off and donned rubber gloves to help. When her water broke an hour after I found her in labor, it was heavily stained with meconium, so I ran to the house to clip off my fingernails and grab more supplies (the big, two-legged one was most appreciated), then helped her two - wait for it - RAM LAMBS into the world, the first one with the lamb puller. He is a strapping 7 lb. moorit with some slight head spotting. I thought at first he was musket, but now I'm not so sure. His tongue is as dark his moorit gulmoget brother's, who weighed in at 6 3/4 lbs. and also has slight head spotting.

So without further ado, I introduce to you Byzantine:
and Bardas (one of the Byzantine emperors):SheltrgPines Constantine x McTavish Katie.

The initial disappointment was not only in what is under their tails, but also what is up on their noggins - BIG horn buds! Of course, this doesn't tell me whether either of their parents carries a polled gene or not; we knew they both carry at least one horned-ram gene, and that's what got passed on. But both lambs are vigorous and structurally fantastic; no waiting to see if they "straighten out." And if Byzantine's fleece and horns look good, he may get a job back at Stonehaven Farm with his handsome sire!

So, it is an all-ram year here. Things could be worse. Out of a very small breeding group, I have two good-looking boys who could be full-polls; I feel very fortunate in that. I finally got a good shot of Blake's fleece this morning; it's looking lovely:

That's it for lambing 2010 at . . .

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Inspiration, perhaps, for naming Katie's lambs?

That's it for now at . . .

Friday, May 28, 2010

Romancing the branch; scaring the shepherd

Animals keep life interesting, don't they? For all the heartache we suffer when their too-short lives end, they give us such affection, amusement, a reason to "get up and at 'em" - and occasionally, heart palpatations!

Right now Katie is the itchiest sheep ever. I chalk it up to her advanced state of pregnancy and tightly stretched skin. I daily rub and scritch her all over (even on her head, Lois!) and she just swoons, swaying and wagging her little tail and half-closing her eyes in pleasure. But a girl's gotta scratch when a girl's gotta scratch, so when I'm not available she finds an accommodating branch.

Those who have been following this blog for awhile know that Inky has tried to give me heart attacks before. Still, no matter how many times I have seen her stretched flat out on her side looking dead to the world, it still makes my heart leap in my chest to find her like this, as I did this morning.

It appears that my Batik iris, one of the few I've purchased, is a no-show this year. I'm disappointed, but by no means left bereft:
Yesterday our farrier came out to give the horses their pedicures. One of them needed some special shoes, which the farrier "built" from scratch (yes, he's a real farrier, not just a horseshoer), and as he was working I thought, "Oh, I should grab my camera!" I am rather pleased with the shots SOOC (straight out of camera), although I can't help but think an artist like Country Girl or Pioneer Woman could do something truly special with them. Anyway, if you are interested in such things, I put up a few of the photos on my dressage blog.

That's it for now from . . .

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sweet snoggles

"Rain, rain, when you come to stay,
My little sheep won't eat and play."

Yesterday didn't dawn; it brightened to a lighter shade of grey. The sheep take cover under the trees when it rains steadily, which means growing lambs and pregnant ladies aren't grazing like they need to. So I decided to leave the sheep in the fold with green, third-cutting orchard grass hay to enjoy under shelter yesterday morning. Since Brian made an unexpected departure with his dad, that gave me the opportunity to sit down in the clean straw and snoggle with my lambies (which happened to include a couple yearlings and a two-year-old wether).

Beautiful Barry, looking to be someone's fiber love.

Bodhran, who got his mom's big eyes and broad forehead - which I find very attractive!

Blake is pushing his way in for some loving; these boys are still basically smooth-polled at eight weeks of age - nothing but tiny crumblies.

"Now you're mine; all mine."

Banjo is still a little unsure of me after the "rubber band incident." (I'm working on him, Jeannie!) If you look closely, you can see his tiny scurs just peeking out of his fuzzy head.

Today the sheep are happily back out on pasture. Although this one -
isn't that interested in grazing.

Still hoping for May lambs at . . .

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sheep stuff, but not Katie babies

Tuesday morning I changed Bramble's coat; she's finally in a size D! As always, coat changing time is fleece touchy-feely time, and Bramble's was a delightful experience. It is extremely dense, making it difficult to part for a photo; it has a wonderfully soft handle and is very crimpy, although not an organized, defined crimp. As I was picking off the stray bit of debris, I realized just how long her fiber is!
The coat has compressed it, but there is a lot of fleece there.

Bramble and her half-sister Bronwen are both quite dilute in color. If I didn't know better, I'd say they are both musket gulmogets - but none of their parents carry Ag. So I've had to assume that both are modified, and get those genetics from their sire Everranch Franjean. This makes for an exciting possibility of my first shaela or emsket next year IF I use a new BB/BB ram (as yet to be announced) and IF Bramble is fertile (she is the one who had vaginitis). Bodhran sure thinks she smells fine; he was ready to test her fertility while I was changing her coat!

Speaking of half-sisters, Bronwen's two-year-old half-sister Blanche (Valiant Braveheart x WSR Dinah), who moved to Alaska as a lamb, now has a lamb of her own. And what a lamb!This spotted beauty is NOT Ag, but will keep that variation in her fleece for life. Congratulations to Suzanne, Blanche and Topple!

This morning I got an unexpected "mommy break" when Brian took off with Rick to watch Dad castrate pigs, so I sat in the fold and snoggled sheep. Photos from that tomorrow, if nothing more exciting shows up (I'm not holding my breath).

That's it for now at . . .

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hello, darkness, my old friend

You've come to talk to me again!

And provide a stunning contrast to some of the lighter colors:

That's all for now from . . .

Monday, May 24, 2010

Not much "sun"-day

We didn't have the dry day the weatherman predicted, but there was work to be done and we tackled it.

I got the sheepfold stripped and rebedded, and gave the hens some of the dirty straw and hay to scratch in. When I brought the sheep in last night I gave Katie the lambing suite just so she could eat and sleep in peace. (The yearling ewes and wether are in with everyone now and not exhibiting the best manners, the pushy things.) If sheep got stretch marks, poor Katie would be sporting a road map. She has grown very little fleece since shearing compared to all the other sheep; I think she is putting everything she eats into lambs. Can you believe her due date is still a WEEK away?

Rick spent most of the day on fencing; I took this shot of him from inside the sheep fold. What he actually accomplished doesn't look like much, but I know how hard he worked digging fence post holes by hand and building braces.
The bigger coats I ordered from Rocky Sheep Suits arrived, so the emperor (okay, Prince Blackberry) got new clothes. I admired his consistent, crimpy fleece before covering it up again; I took a close-up but it didn't turn out well. I forgot to pull samples from everyone this spring for micron testing; it would be nice to know where Blackberry is now. But he may not get used for breeding this fall (more on that when plans are finalized), so I'll get him tested next spring before breeding season 2011.

After spending part of the afternoon inside working on our church's newsletter, I headed back out to attack thistles. The Canadian thistles are small enough and the ground is wet enough that I could pull most of them out by hand; I used a shovel on the bull thistles. I cleared most of the lower pasture the sheep are using; I should be able to finish up the slope below the arena tomorrow. If you look closely, you can see the thistle carnage behind the lambs below:
Sunday's big news? My dahlias are finally coming up!

That's it for our mostly sun-less Sunday at . . .

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sabbath afternoon walk

Yesterday afternoon I walked around the house to get a photo of our second Pink Walloper rhody by the deck. I can see it when I use the treadmill in the basement (not often enough!), and it is beautiful:
On my way I saw that the little species geraniums planted between the daphne bushes along the east foundation of the house are blooming. They aren't at all flashy, but have a quiet, simple grace:
Even though our recent wind and rain have wrecked some havoc on our iris bed, I captured a shot of "baby shower colors:"
After my "garden stroll," I took Russell out for a brisk, 15-minute walk (more here). Then he got to hand-graze, which made him very happy:
I was letting him hand-graze in the pasture adjoining the sheep, so I led him over to take some photos of wide-load Katie:We should be in the final week's countdown to lambs. Today I'm stripping and rebedding the sheepfold so everything is ready for the new arrivals - however many there are!

Blake was looking sleepy and mellow, resting in the pasture. But what is that red dot on his nose? (Click to biggify.)Uh oh; someone had an accident. (If you are faint of heart, do not continue. Go look at some other blogs, or scroll back up to the beginning of this post. DO NOT scroll down unless you can handle the sight of blood! It only LOOKS bad; it is not a serious thing. But it DOES look bad; you've been warned!!!)

Poor Barry somehow knocked off his other horn! Maybe he didn't like being the only lambie with horns, and wanted to be like all the other boys?

That's it for now from . . .