Saturday, August 30, 2008

923 lbs and you're an "also ran" ?!?

Since we're on vacation this week, we took a trip to the Canfield Fair in Mahoning County, OH today. One of the must see items at the fair is the "Largest Squash" competion. The 3rd heaviest Hungarian squash ends up on the porch outside of the building with all of the other "also rans" .......... imagine raising a 923# monster and being relegated to 3rd place. That said, here is a look at the King & Queen squashes for 2008.
Zoom in on the second picture to see the winning weights increasing over the years!
BTW, it takes a while to get any kind of picture, since folks are in a line streaming by constantly. The building is also manned so that they can answer questions and keep watch over the squash royalty.
Interested in trying this at home? for "research-based information" - ho-hum. hey, this is serious stuff!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Finally ...... RAIN!

After a month of virtually no rain, we finally got 8/10th's of an inch in the last 24 hours. No downpours, so that's a good thing!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Horsing Around

Change of subject! Maybe not the greatest photography (no one wanted to stand still!), but check out these pictures. We visited my friend Carol in Greene County today and finally got a chance to see some of their horses --- Greene Meade Belgians of Waynesburg, PA. The show string just returned from Indiana. The mares and foals turned out in the pasture were mildly curious, but you could tell that they knew we weren't the ones who fed them. Just like the sheep here, curiosity turns to boredom once you don't provide food! Look at 2008 foals video on the web-site!
I should have stood near them to show how big they are ..... I'm always impressed by how broad and deep the chests are on draft horses.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Mining manure

Yep - it's another exciting day at Wild Rose Farm! We're on vacation this week and it's one of those "stay-cations"! We're getting caught up on yard work, weeding, pruning, etc. One of the "etc." jobs is digging out & spreading manure from the area where we fed the round bales of hay to the sheep over the winter. Whew --- it smells like a farm around here right now. The manure is being spread on areas where we're going to disk and do some pasture renovation seeding. We bought some hay/pasture seed yesterday and I'd like to get it spread before it rains. It actually looks like there is rain in the forecast!

Here's the "demo" fleece .....

Here is a shot of the fleece that was tied up in the "demo" blog before the fair. This fleece from ewe #103 placed first in it's class of 5 Dorset fleeces. This particular ewe has had the 1st place fleece in her class for several years. It's a classic Dorset fleece. The 2nd place fleece above it comes from our #108 Dorset ewe and is a finer micron fleece ...... also not quite as heavy.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Fleeces & Ribbons

Friday arrived and the 5 fleeces have been judged at the fair .....
Here is a picture of our Reserve Grand Champion fleece from our Dorset x Rambouillet x-bred ewe #29.
The results are:

Rambouillet - 1st place in class.
Dorset - 1st & 2nd places in class.
Commercial - 1st & 2nd places in class and Reserve Grand Champion fleece at the fair!

The Reserve Grand Champion fleece has been judged to be the "second best fleece" in the entire show of approximately 30 fleeces. Yea! I really liked this fleece when I tied it up last Sunday. I guess the judge liked it too.

A couple of things about fleece judging ...... the fleeces of each breed are judged against the breeds' wool standard and against each other. Judges are looking for breed character, staple length, crimp, total fleece weight, freedom from "wool breaks", handle, etc. The judge may actually untie or open the fleece to check it for uniformity and to ensure that a heavy weight fleece is not full of dung tags or scrap wool in the middle. Sad but true ---- "if there's money or a prize involved, someone will cheat"! For the record, 1st place premiums are $8, 2nd place premiums are $7, and the Reserve Grand Champion prize is the Rosette. Heck, it buys a little hay for the flock.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Still no rain here

It continues to be dry here ..... when will one of those tropical storms swing our way and drop some showers? It's time to get the grass growing for the fall.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Getting fleeces ready to show!

Today I got 5 fleeces ready to show at the Hookstown Fair. The selection and preparation of show fleeces actually begins on shearing day. As the sheep are sheared, we take notes on the condition of the fleeces and note which fleeces are suitable to show. Each fleece is stored in a separate bag and tagged with each ewe's ear tag number. Potential show fleeces are set aside and are then heavily "skirted" right before they are taken to the fair. In the bottom picture, we see the fleece from our Dorset ewe #103 as it was dumped put of the bag. The fleece is opened up on the sorting table and areas of heavy vegetable matter, dung tags, and short belly wool are sorted off or "skirted" from the fleece. Note the pile of dirty "scrap" wool in front of the skirted fleece in the picture second from the bottom. The fleece is then rolled up and tied with paper twine for the show. In a well skirted fleece, quite a bit of wool can be skirted off to provide the cleanest possible wool for hand spinning or washing. Finally, we see the same fleece tied inside out for judging in the wool show.

This year Wild Rose Farm is showing 5 fleeces ---- 1 Rambouillet, 2 Dorsets, and 2 Commercial or crossbred fleeces. They were dropped off today at the fairgrounds, but they won't be judged until Friday August 22nd.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

We need rain!

It's not the most exciting picture, but you get the idea. I took the photo of the cracked ground after I had finished spinning on some grass seed on our pasture field. We use the sheep as "pasture management tools" to nub down the areas that we want to reseed. They also trample the seed into the soil as they walk around. It gets harder to get the push in electro-net fence posts into the ground when it's so dry. We'll move the sheep to another area to graze once they've finished the round bale that they're on here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Spinning on the seeds

It's August and there is some rain (supposedly) in the forecast, so we took some time tonight to mow & clip weeds in a pasture field. I also walked over the area where we have our ewes confined right now and spread some seed with a hand spin seeder. The sheep will help to trample the seed into the ground as they walk around. You get a good look at the condition of the field when you walk over it! The ewes are eating a round bale now since we don't want them on fresh grass once we've weaned off the lambs ...... this encourages their milk supply (already low) to stop so that the ewes "dry off". I've noticed that the ground is cracked since any substantial rain in the tri-state area seemed to miss our farm. It's been perfect hay drying weather around here for the last 2 weeks. Lots of folks took advantage of that to make 2nd cutting hay.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Behind the scenes

Part of what we do goes on behind the scenes. Folks may not notice the barn full of hay when they're looking at the sheep, but it's a part of what we do in the summer. We don't make our own hay since we have the sheep on a Managed Intensive Grazing program on all of our open ground. Instead, we buy the hay that we need for winter from other local farmers who have hay to sell. Tomorrow we'll be picking up some square bales to store in the loft, but we feed most of our hay as round bales. Here's a look at some of the hay as it's being put away. The yield on the round bales is much greater if they're stored under cover and off of the ground on pallets. The big round bales are put out in hay feeders and as many as 20 sheep can crowd in around the feeder at times. The small square bales are usually fed to our rams during the year and also to any ewes that are in the barn around lambing season. We try to keep a small quantity of 2nd cutting hay around in case we have a sheep that might be sick or needs encouragement to eat.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Claire & friends

Take a close look over Claire's rump ..... there have been 2 or 3 whitetail does coming out each evening to graze on the clover at the bottom of the pasture field. We haven't seen any fawns yet, but I'm sure they're nearby. Claire watches them, and they are ok as long as she's just grazing a good distance away. As soon s she tries to approach, they flag their tails and bound off. She scampered after three of them today. It's hard to get a decent picture since it's always dusk when they're out ...... Claire is looking sleek and shiny. She's finally shed most of her winter coat except the longer hair along her belly.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

August already?

So, what's happened since the winter?!? Lots of pictures have been taken, but I just haven't found the time to get in here and get them up with a story line. To catch up, we had 58 lambs born in late April/early May. In fact, we weaned the lambs off of the ewes about 3 weeks ago. There are Dorset ram & ewe lambs for sale, Dorset/Rambouillet crossbred ewe lambs for sale, and Rambouillet ram lambs for sale. Here's a look at some of the lambs.