Saturday, September 20, 2008

Getting Ready ..........

Tomorrow we are hosting the September meeting of the Western Pennsylvania Unit of The Herb Society of America at Wild Rose Farm. The day will feature a natural dyeing demonstration that we call "Seasonal Colors" and a chance to see and learn about the sheep, lambs, wool, & yarn that we produce.

What an accumumulation of pots and gear that I've put together over the last few years! I took a couple of pictures of the preparations that are underway. Check out the second picture .... what is it and why will we be talking about it? Finally, onion skins are one of the dyes that we are using and you can see the color coming out of the skins after only 2 hours of soaking. We'll be using alum & tin mordanted yarn with the onion skins.
For more information on the Western PA Unit of the Herb Society of America:

This should be a fun day!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Rain & Wind!

On Friday the 12th & Saturday the 13th, we got 1& 6/10th's inches of rain. No big downpours, mostly steady, so it was able to soak in. On Sunday we did the lawn mowing under surprisingly windy conditions. Well, the wind was from the remnants of Hurricane Ike and it got really strong after dark. Winds were clocked at 79mph at the Beaver County Airport and we lost our electricity around 8:30pm. After running our generator on Monday, power was restored around 8:00pm Monday evening.
Here on the farm, the animals can get water from our spring developments in the pasture fields, but we did have to move the lambs away from a wooded pasture area because of blown down wild cherry tree limbs. The wilted leaves contain poisonous amounts of hydrocyanic acid (HCN) and can quickly kill livestock if eaten in even the smallest quantities. The clean-up has started with a couple of downed trees being cut off of the high tensile woven wire fenceline.
No pictures at this time since there hasn't been time in daylight to get everything checked out .....

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A little rain falls ......

Update on the rain. Overnight ---- thunder, lightning, & 3/10th's of an inch fell here. Not much else to say, I guess!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Meanwhile, back at the ranch .....

I got a call yesterday from the fellow who sold us our Rambouillet ram at the National Show in 2007. He was calling to check on the progress of the lambs. Andrew breeds horned Rambouillets and sends along his web-site for a quick peek at some of his stock.

Here's a long shot of our ram grazing out in front of the barn. He has a 21.5 micron fleece.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

No rain yet!

Still no rain here ........ we had some mist on Sunday morning, but that's it. We took a round bale out to the "back forty" to the ewes. If you couldn't see the trees behind them, the ewes look like they're trailing along out West! They're getting a little shelled corn & "sheep balancer" each afternoon to supplement the hay. Sometimes it seems that the sheep are worse than hogs trying to get at their feed. As soon as they see the bucket, it's a mad rush to the feed troughs. If you throw out a bale of hay, they all rush to the hay ..... if you walk to another area and move some old hay around, they rush over to see what you're doing.
Note that the darker looking sheep are the Rambouillets ---- the open, chalky white faced ewes are the Dorsets or crossbreds. A red ear tag means Rambouillet, white is Dorset, & yellow indicates a crossbred ewe.

So, even if it does rain, it will be a while before we move them out to graze.

Lambs & Yearlings

The lambs and yearling ewes are separated from the older ewes now & the top picture shows the difference in size between a yearling & this year's lambs. The "TE" lambs are the Dorset x Rambouillet crossbred twin ewe lambs. The 3rd picture is one of our Dorset ewe lambs, #116 in front of a yearling Dorset ewe #113. The young ewe is a full sister to the yearling and will grow to the same size in a year. The last photo of #R838 is a twin Rambouillet ewe lamb.
We also pulled the ram lambs out of this bunch ...... we don't want them to breed the yearlings. The ram lambs are in the barn with the bigger market lambs that we pulled out for our buyers.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Vacation with the lambs

Our "staycation" ends today and we've gotten some work done with the lambs. We've been getting some reservations on freezer lambs for the fall, so we needed to sort the lambs. We have 3 Dorset ram lambs and 2 Rambouillet ram lambs for sale in the barn. Our two Dorset and Rambouillet breeding rams are outside separated in pens away from each other and the ewes. The lambs are about 4 months old and they've been weaned and wormed. Their ear tag numbers have been repainted so that they're easier to sort & identify. The spray paint that we use is "scourable", so it fades in the weather and washes out of the wool when processed. We also have the reserved freezer lambs in the barn now, since the pastures are so poor due to the dry weather. It's important to keep them gaining weight and in good condition.

The morning pictures show the remaining lambs and yearling ewes moving back out to pasture. It was really too bright to take good pictures ..... maybe I'll try to take some pictures late in the afternoon. #193 is a twin x-bred ewe lamb and #832 is a single x-bred ewe lamb --- examples of ewe lambs that we have for sale. Note that I keep the tails a decent length on the lambs, not docked too short. #810 & #813 are future market/freezer lambs.