Sunday, August 29, 2010

Weekend sheep work

The flock had one last peaceful weekend of grazing before we separated the rams from the ewes.We had a few cooler days. With Fall in the air, the rams were getting rambunctious! I think it was mostly Fable. He decided to pick a fight with Finn. I could hear them from my bedroom window, the sound of horns crashing. Maybe Fable knows that he won't get any ewes this fall. Although he's a beautiful ram, we just have too many ewes that are related to him. I can't bear to send him to the butcher for that reason alone. I would really love to put him to work this fall, selling him to another flock. He is very reasonably priced, and I would consider trades. He's a triplet mouflon ram. I don't have him registered yet, but his pedigree would be the same as his sisters (click). He is very easy to work with, parasite resistant, gorgeous horns. It's funny how our new ram Thunder decided to step in and be the referee. He didn't do much fighting, but did get his ear smashed trying to settle the other rams down. This morning we decided it was time to work the sheep, and try out our new working system that I got on Craigslist called Billy Goat Gruff Complete Worker System. After using it just one time, I would highly recommend it. I don't feel nearly as beaten, battered and bruised as I usually do, working with these feisty Icelandics! Loading them into the chute was the hardest part. Things would have gone quicker if we had 3 people working instead of two. Maybe the sheep will get used to it, and go right in themselves eventually (yeah, right).... Above, I am tattooing, my least favorite job.

The system is nice. Once you have the sheep in the headgate, the sides both swing open so it's "easy" to trim hooves. Trimming sheep hooves is never an easy job though. Most of them kick and fight and would rather strangle themselves than have their hooves trimmed.

Here's Fancy, in the torture chamber.

And my dear Charlotte, getting her hooves trimmed. We did all of the ewes this morning and sent them on their way. It was over 90 degrees by the time we were finished. I think my back is fried. We'll do the rams tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Summer into Fall...

We've all just about about had it with this summer weather! The ewes think that the only solution is to stand in front of the fan in the barn. Delilah and her ewe lamb are fan hogs. Other ewes escape into the weedy fields in search of verdant pastures. Bad girls! I spent 3 solid days combing out fleeces, trimming hooves, deworming and giving shots. Stay away from those weeds going to seeds, girls!
Fern's ram lamb, a handsome boy!
Finn, always my good boy.

Thunder, SRX 917T, our new boy is settling in just fine. Our ram Fable has befriended him, and they are now inseparable!

Our apples are getting ripe, so they sheep are enjoying an evening treat of windfalls every night. The weather is cooling off and fall is in the air! Girls, munching apples!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Thunder is here!

We add a new ram to our flock almost every year. This year we are getting two! My husband picked up our first new ram over the weekend. Thunder SRX 917T, a moorit grey Icelandic ram, bred by the late Susan Briggs of Tongue River farm. She used him on her ewes, so I knew he would be something special. Hedgeapple farm in Iowa bought him in 2008, and Lorraine was kind enough to share him with me. He is in a dark area of the barn with Fennel's ram lamb for company, so the photos aren't the best. He is very calm and easy to work with. Horns are clearing his face at 3 years old. Nice long frame. His fleece isn't as soft as Finn's, which doesn't surprise me. The white sheep tend to have softer fleeces. I can't give him a complete evaluation until he's shorn. Those long fleece can hide many faults, though I don't expect to find any with this handsome ram! He will be a wonderful asset to our flock.

Friday, August 13, 2010

You know you're a shepherd if....

We have subscribed to "The Shepherd" magazine for years, and place an ad in the Breeders Listing every year. I enjoy the magazine and learn something new from each issue. Wish they had a website, though!

This issue had an article called "You Know you're a Shepherd if" with some great anecdotes. Here's a few of them that stand true on our farm:

You Know You're A Shepherd If....

Your backyard privacy fence is electronet.

Your wife shakes a bucket to call the family to dinner.

Dinner leftovers and sheep meds intermingle freely in your refrigerator.

You own every flashlight invented in the last 20 years, but none with a live battery.

When you enter any large open building, your first thought is, how much hay will it hold?

Your baby monitor is hooked up in the barn.

You like the smell of wet wool.

Your favorite sandwich is a Greek gyro, your veggies come on a kabob and you love real Roquefort cheese.

Your favorite Bible verse is the 23rd Psalm and you drift off to sleep peacefully each night in green pastures beside still waters.
It's still hotter than Hades here. Poor Delilah rests her head on a tree and wonders just how much more she can endure....
Finn stretches out on his side to keep cool. It reminds me of the 60's when my mom put those hard curlers in my hair and expected me to be able to sleep. How uncomfortable! How can a ram with wide horns rest on his side? Looking forward to cooler weather next week!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Fun new things coming to our farm...

This has been a very trying summer across the country for livestock owners. The unrelenting heat and high humidity has been, at best, unbearable. The one blessing that we've had is rain, lovely rain. I haven't had to water the garden once. The pastures rebound in no time after the sheep graze them. The downside, is that this is ideal weather for parasites. We have spent a lot more time monitoring the sheep this year. We run them through and check eyelids every 2 weeks, or less. I've put a deposit on a Billy Goat Gruff worker system. It will be a great back saver. Another Icelandic breeder uses one, and highly recommended it. We are adding a new ram to our flock this week,
and I can't wait to see him, I'm just thrilled to be able to add him to our flock. He's a ram that Susan Briggs from Tongue River used as a ram lamb in 2007.
"Thunder" SRX 917T
2007 Photo courtesy of Tongue River Farm

This is Susan's description of him: SRX917T "Thunder" Grey moorit twin horned ram. Fabulous fine silky fleece. Long body. Wide hornset, Quiet disposition. Excellent meat conformation; the best hind quarters of all of the ram lambs this year. Sire: TCE228R Laekur/Hunn) High percentage of Tongue River Farm breeding. Dam: SRX623R a gorgeous Neptune daughter with his silky lustrous fleece. Excellent milk production, easy lamber, excellent mother. (1,2) (Kani/Bambi/Blaevar/Stubbur)"Thunder", photo courtesty of Hedgeapplefarm in Iowa

Thank you, Lorraine, for sharing this wonderful ram with us!

Monday, August 2, 2010

A bad hair day

We finally got Salem's fleece sheared. It doesn't look good,
but she is now cool as a cucumber!
She's such a beautiful girl, and so tolerant of our llama shearing inexperience.
The sheep teased her quite a bit about her new haircut, poor girl!