Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Hello, Mr. Sun

Thank-you for the unexpected photo opportunity!

Today we got an unannounced break from the Oregon-winter-like weather we're forecast to have through next weekend. So while the rest of the flock was out on pasture, I took the opportunity to lead Brava and her son out for Blake's first gentle exposure to the wide, wide world:He stuck close to mom at first, and Brava kept a sharp eye on him, too.

A stiff shot of milk helped bolster his courage to venture from mom's side:Outstanding in his field. I know; groan. But I really do think this little guy shows great potential. Nice hindquarters, and such incredibly consistent fleece from end to end and top to bottom!

Finally brave enough to confront a stick!

Will this cutie have playmates soon?

From the size of Dinah's udder, I think so!

That's it for now from . . .

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Contest, cuteness and concern

With lambing on the brain yesterday, I completely forgot about the contest until Jenny mentioned it. And indeed, Jenny guessed correctly that Brava would lamb first, and her guess of moorit twins, a ewe and a polled ramling, was definitely the closest! So Jenny, let me know which of the prizes mentioned here or here you would like me to send - to Scotland!

And now, I'd like to formally introduce you to Boulderneigh Blake:Blake means "dark" and since I see no telltale signs of Ag (the fading or greying pattern that both his parents carry), I'm hopeful he will remain a beautiful moorit color.Mother and son were resting comfortably when I went out to do chores this morning, to my great relief; I must admit I was braced for the worst after last night's unexpected outcome. Blake looked tiny to me then but weighed in at over six pounds this morning, so obviously its just my tired brain that has forgotten what a newborn Shetland looks like! I love how consistent his birth fleece is, and his conformation looks nice as well.

And look Ma; no horns! I can't feel any horn bumps, either; there are bare patches hidden in there. I suspect he's a half-poll; Brava's ramling Beau last year took quite awhile to start growing scurs. But if he has an even nicer fleece than Braveheart and is indeed Aa/Aa, he's definitely a possibility for a future flock sire!

As for the concern, I am taking the stillborns to the Oregon State University vet school's diagnostic lab this afternoon. Rick says chlamydia is an ugly possibility, and we're hoping that can be determined at the lab. If it is chlamydia, we face an uphill battle to eradicate it from the premises, and lambing season could bring more disappointments.

That's it for now from . . .

Monday, March 29, 2010


First, the good news. Brava has a brown, bouncing baby boy, born back feet first. He was up fast and nursing, has crimpy, consistent fleece and no discernible horn buds.

Now the bad news. She delivered two more brown babies, a ewe and ram, both stillborn and not as developed. Rick is baffled, and plans to do some investigating into possible causes.

I've done what I can and am ready to drop. Hope to find everyone doing well in the morning.

One down and two more to go soon at . . .

Rainy Monday

That pretty much sums up my day. Between the waiting and the disrupted sleep schedule, I find myself seriously out of sorts. I was telling myself, "I refuse to post until I have lambs to report," but I guess I need the distraction. Last night I ran out of yarn within three rows of finishing my Talia vest, and can't get more until Wednesday. I tried cheering myself up with some online retail therapy and bought three pounds of superwash mill ends in various pretty colors (one is a 60% bamboo/40% superwash merino combo), but that only made me feel guilty. I'm offsetting any extra exercise I'm getting from frequent barn checks with stress eating, popping chocolate chips like an addict.

In spite of frequent heavy showers, I finally led the sheep out to pasture this afternoon, thinking that maybe Brava would rather drop her lambs on cold, wet grass than on dry, clean straw. Right now they are all out of sight in the patch of fir trees trying to stay dry. It is supposed to be cold and wet like this all week, more like winter than spring. If all three ewes decide to lamb this week, the fold is going to be full! After doing an early morning barn check and then crawling back in bed, I dreamed that one of the other ewes lambed first, surprising me with twins. I suppose that could happen. All three ewes' udders have gotten much tighter in the last couple days, and I've felt movement in all three bellies, so there will be lambs - eventually!

That's it for now at . . .

Sunday, March 28, 2010

This pot isn't boiling...

...whether I watch it or not!

Our washing machine is on the fritz and some friends wanted to meet us at the Evergreen Air and Space Museum for the IMAX Hubble 3D production (very good), so we all headed into town. My old washer and dryer (that wouldn't fit into the laundry room of our current house thanks to the contractor's screw-up) reside at Rick's clinic, so I did four loads of wash there in between the IMAX movie, stopping by the show my local dressage chapter is running this weekend to say "hi," and eating a late lunch. I fully expected to come home six hours later to lambs out of at least ONE ewe, if not more, but noooooo. Someone restrain me; I think I'm going to start squeezing sheep!

Wishing I had more news from . . .

Saturday, March 27, 2010

148 days and counting

Today is 148 days from when I saw Braveheart breed you, Brava. Just sayin'.

Last night Brava acted like she might be having mild contractions so I put her in the corner pen. She seemed to enjoy the clean sheets and room service, but didn't utilize it as a maternity ward.

It will be interesting to compare her lambs this year - if she decides to have them - to last year's. Neither Beau nor Boo had erupted teeth at birth and Boo was quite small (though vigorous), making me think they might have been a wee bit early. This year's lambs should be thoroughly incubated, unless she didn't take on Oct. 30. In that case, I guess I'll be waiting on her another two weeks -ARG!

Come to think of it, last year she lambed on a Sunday afternoon. Maybe Sunday is "her" day?

That's it for now at . . .

Friday, March 26, 2010

No lambs, but LOTS of photos!

When all I want to see are the surprise packages my ewes are carrying (delivered safely, with no problems), it's hard to look around me for other blog material. Not that you will believe that statement with all the photos I've stuffed into this post!

Yesterday was cold, windy and rainy and I was gone for a good chunk of it, so the sheep had to stay in the fold. Were they happy when the weatherman missed today's forecast for more of the same!
There's Brava with her bulging baby-belly, along with svelte yearling Bronwen wearing the same size sheep suit.

Inky's belly is somewhat camouflaged by fleece and straw, but her udder and "pink parts" give away her "delicate condition."

Dinah's belly is wider than it is deep. I sure hope a Blackberry baby is in there!

This is what Dinah did to me earlier this week. All the sheep were at the gate ready to follow me back to the fold, but she wasn't budging from under the trees. My head told me she couldn't be thinking of lambing since she hadn't dropped yet and her udder was still flabby, but my heart leaped for a few moments....

Katie is sporting a bit of belly there herself. She's not due until May 31, so what gives? Twins? Triplets? That would be lovely, but I think that dimple on her plump rump is pointing to more than baby weight.

Isn't that the saddest sight you have ever seen? Yes, our first daffodils are a melted mess, but late varieties are still beautifying our flowerbeds:
Other blooms around Boulderneigh:
Pieris shows off its demure flowers and its fiery new growth at the same time.

Flowers on the fruit trees give promise of sweet treats to come.

I am still working away on Talia. I'm almost ready to sew the shoulder seams; then all I have to do is the armhole and neckline edging.I've got my eye on yet another vest or two after this one, believe it or not!

That's it for today at . . .

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My trio of torturers

There they were in the fold this morning, eating like little piggies, looking like they don't have a care in the world - or any buns in the oven!

"Uh-oh, she's starting to hover again."

"Put your heads back in the hay, quick! Ignore her and maybe she'll go away!"

Brava is a member of the itty-bitty-titty committee; she stayed high and tight last year, her first lambing, and it looks like that continues to be her style. Hard to believe that she is due - with twins - this weekend, isn't it?

Dinah has an udder, but is by no means "bagged up" yet. From my notes on last fall's calendar, I suspected Dinah was in heat the day Brava was bred (Oct. 30) and I held her for Blackberry to cover on Nov. 2. Then Braveheart broke out on Nov. 6, so if she doesn't lamb soon, there may be questions of paternity. :-(

Inky is bagged up the most, but I noted that she was in heat on Nov. 5, which could make her due last.

Brian has a friend over for a playdate today. I thought the boys might have lambs to see, but they have plenty of other things to keep them busy. I'm off to bake peanut butter cookies for their afternoon treat.

That's it for now at . . .

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Traffic jam

Fickle girls; the day before, all the eggs were laid in the left-hand box! But hey, at least they are producing - unlike three very pregnant sheep that I'd like to squeeze!

That's it for today at . . .

Monday, March 22, 2010

Little girls

The gully girls got sheared today. They were still awfully close to the rise; Bronwen got a better "haircut" than Bramble because the shearer changed his technique and "peeled" her fleece back. He said that's the wrong way to shear, but I like the results better - both on the sheep and off! Bramble's fleece had more second cuts, and she has lumps and bumps of fleece left on her. They are both lighter in color than I expected; I wonder if they'll keep this much color or get even lighter (they are both fawn, not Ag). Their beautiful variegated fleeces are both available!

I plan to show Bronwen (second photo) as a yearling at Black Sheep Gathering. I think she's looking good; I hope the judge can tell how nicely she's built under three months' fleece growth!

Yesterday we did indeed get the sheepfold stripped and rebedded (thanks to Rick's and Brian's help), and a lambing suite set up in the corner (where I put the girls without food this morning before shearing). Rick surprised me by purchasing two pony-sized feeders when he went to town; one for the lambing suite (which he modified some) and one for Braveheart (I've been using a hay bag for him). So the fold is ready for lambs - if the ewes would just cooperate! I think Inky is going to lamb first, and given her age, stiffness and high likelihood of having a single (based on ultrasound), I'm keeping a close eye on her. (Oh, who am I kidding? I keep a close eye on ALL of them!) If she does single, I might just have to try milking her. I know Susan, her former owner did, and made cheese. I don't know how to make cheese, though. Hmm, what would I do with sheep's milk?

The rosemary I planted around the ugly green electrical box in the island bed is blooming, and does a good job of hiding the box now.

This is another shot from the same tree featured in Saturday's "Happy first day of spring" post. It is a "feral" cherry of Royal Ann type, for those who were curious.

That's it for now at . . .