Wednesday, June 07, 2023

From ram famine to feast!

When Spot died, I reached out to his breeder to see if she had any rams available (she doesn't). At the same time, a different breeder reached out to me, asking if polled breeders are ever interested in ram lambs with small scurs as she has several nice prospects this year. I told her that yes, in fact, we polled breeders do use scurred rams, and that I myself might be interested because my flock sire died. That started a flurry of communications back and forth about the ram lambs she has available, as well as some side consultations with another, more experienced breeder. The end result is an agreement to trade lambs around Black Sheep Gathering this year; she is getting flashy little Bailiff in exchange for this handsome fellow:

If he has scurs, I can't see them!

fleece at shoulder

fleece at last rib

fleece at mid-haunch

Sanson (standing) as a wee one with dam and twin
V V F Sanson will bring new genetics to my little flock, but he is also a distant relation to most of my sheep! His maternal great-great-grandsire was my first polled ram, Valiant Braveheart, who is Bridget's grandsire and the great-grandsire of Bree and Bernadette.

My two unsold ram lambs, Bijou and Bench, are just too nice to castrate, so I'm going to overwinter them. Sanson will make three – a merry little band of young gentle(I hope)men. It's been a long time since I've had more than one ram on the place, reluctant as I was to risk putting a ram lamb with a mature ram or a young ram with an aging ram. And it's rather exciting, because I did a bloodline comparison of my ram lambs with my mature ewes, and realized I could breed Bijou to Bridget and Bench to Blaise (if she has a good enough body score to breed again this fall). Not only do the genetics work out, these two pairings are good combinations in regards to structure and fleece. Sanson could be bred to all the rest, but, mindful of space, flock size, and his unproven status, he'll get just one girl as well. Since Sanson is an Ag (fading/greying) gulmoget, he will pass on one of those two patterns to all his lambs, so I'm thinking solid moorit Boop is the best candidate. (It remains to be seen through test-breeding whether Sanson carries one black and one brown gene, or is homozygous for black.) That will mean juggling three breeding pairs this fall – and then waiting five months in eager anticipation to see what I get. Next year, Bijou and Bench will have their fleeces tested and hopefully have lambs on the ground, making them more marketable than they are as unproven lambs. In fact, Spot's breeder and I are already talking about the possibility of swapping young rams next year.

In other reproductive news, the barn swallows are back. At least one pair is nesting in the main barn, and another pair is in the Sheep Sheraton. After a few years of unsuccessful attempts, I'm hoping this year will see a bumper crop of these beautiful bug-eaters.
I think this doe has a fawn or two hidden somewhere on our property. I saw her down in the wooded SE corner Sunday morning while doing chores and Sunday afternoon while riding, then again yesterday afternoon in the upper pasture. I hope the dogs don't bother her – and I hope she doesn't have reason to attack the dogs! Years ago a doe with fawn went after Jackson, teaching him to give deer a wide berth for the rest of his life. Our current, smaller dogs might not survive such an encounter.

Puff, the half-Crévecoeur  I got from the neighbors, has gone broody. Too bad, girl; no chicks without a rooster!

And currently on my (newest) spindle, I'm plying dyed Wensleydale and white suri alpaca:

That's it for now from . . .

Monday, June 05, 2023

Still on my feet!

We're five days in and I'm still running. It may be sorry self-delusion, but it even feels (at the moment) that I've kind of hit my stride in this marathon of a month and may finish in good form!

There's been a flurry of communications about sheep, and I now have a departure date for the three that are leaving to join Berlin and Boomer at their loving fiber pet home. In order to make it easier for their new owners, I decided to wean Blackjack yesterday; hopefully by the time he and his dam Bree (along with Bling) move at the end of this month, he will be a 'big boy' (and her milk supply will have dried up). I did have to close our bedroom window last night.... Here is sweet Blackjack on his way to heartbreak:

The other big event of yesterday was an agility match, Poppy's and my second. The nerves from our first match were gone and I was hopeful that we would qualify in all three runs, but we 'blew the Q' in the first run just like at our inaugural match. And just like at our inaugural match, Poppy decided that the third run was for socializing, and tried to visit the volunteers in the ring along the way. 🙄🤪 But we still had two qualifying runs; I'm really proud of my girl!

l did get some of my starts (the two determinate tomatoes, two Japanese  eggplant, and two basil) planted in my unused sheep-sized stock tank. Since I didn't want to drill drainage holes in it, I put a layer of twigs in the bottom before adding soil. I still need to rig up protective fencing before deer or raccoons discover it, and should probably move it first into a place with more sun. (I know where I want it, but Rick would consider it "in the way.")
Rick spent all day yesterday getting his vet truck put back together, so that's ONE breakdown taken care of. Several more to go, including the little tractor in the driveway. Yesterday one of the firs in our NE corner blew down and took out our lower fence; Rick knew it was precarious but needed the tractor to deal with it. Add a fence to the list of necessary repairs....

I'll share more sheep news next time.

That's it for now from . . .

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

On your mark, get set....

I've been thinking for awhile now that June is shaping up to be a busy month. This week, I realized just how busy – as in, if I don't keep running, I'm likely to get dragged! On the docket in rapid succession (and sometimes overlapping!):
Agility match
Farrier appointment
Wedding anniversary
My mom arrives
Dressage show
Fathers Day
Mom leaves
Black Sheep Gathering
Hay (seven tons are waiting to be moved from the grower's barn to ours)
Sheep leaving
A sheep coming?

Other things (mowing, moving wood, garden prep, dressage lessons and possibly my dressage show) are at a standstill because of the following equipment problems:
Lawn mower (still at a shop)
Tractor (still in pieces on the driveway)
Rick's vet truck (dead in the garage)
'My' pulling truck (pressed into service as temp vet truck)

Wish me luck in being able to post at least once a week. In the meantime, here are the last photos from May.

I moved the three yearlings into Spot's old quarters, the Ram-ada Inn and the wooded lot; they might as well eat the grass, get more exercise, and not add to the mess in the Sheep Sheraton:

Over the holiday weekend, I got the old gals and their lambs out of the barn stall to eat along the driveway, got all the lambs haltered for the first time, and tried to get last rib shots (only managed two; I needed another set of hands):



I admired the last of our iris, and one of our daphne bushes:

Rick borrowed his mother's little electric lawnmower to mow the garden, then tried to burn some of the grass. I'm pretty sure the garden's a bust; I need to get planting medium for my stock tank gardens:

Sure would be nice to make like a dog and relax!

No rest for the weary at . . .