Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Catch Me Now .....

Didn't we say that the 1st lamb born would be impossible to catch in the field soon? This little gal has never been in the barn and now at 5 days old she really moves out with the rest of the flock!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Second Set of Twins

Let's just say that it's not easy getting a good picture of wobbly half day old lambs. Trying to get 2 in the picture adds to the fun. In the first picture, you can see why shearing ewes before lambing helps out the lambs. Whoops! Not to worry, this lamb has been nursing very well, but you can see that a newborn can go a little astray looking for the right place to latch on! She did nose around to the other side, but imagine what this would look like if the ewe wasn't sheared.
Hey! We have numbers now JUST LIKE MOM ......

Yes, the lambs are marked with the same number as the ewe's ear tag. Since this set of twins are both ewe lambs, one is "39" and one is "39 dot". That way, when the lambs are in a group or at a distance, we can tell who they are and to which ewe they belong. Even a sick sheep can blend in and move with the flock when you're tryng to approach and get a better look at them. At Wild Rose Farm we find it easier to spray mark the lambs so that we can pick out and evaluate them without having to get right on top of them. Shortly, they will sport small numbered ear tags of their own --- right ears for ram lambs and left ears for ewe lambs. It's just another way to sort them out without having to check for plumbing! When a ewe lamb graduates and is added to our flock, we place her permanent ear tag in the right ear.

And finally, to those who worry about the self-esteem of sheep who are "just numbers", here's a quote from a wise old extension agent ..... "IF A SHEEP HAS A NAME, IT'S TOO FAT!". In other words, it's a pet and is likely to be overfed and give you trouble giving birth at lambing time. Who am I to argue with an extension agent?

Friday, April 24, 2009

The First Lamb is Here!

The first lamb of the year was born today in unseasonably warm weather here at Wild Rose Farm. Highs in the low 80's. One of our Dorset ewes had a healthy single ewe lamb during the day today. The lamb was completely dried off and it's belly was full of milk when we found her late this afternoon. It was probably a little warm for a ewe in labor, but rather nice if you're a lamb being dropped out into the world. #112 and lamb are doing just fine. Note how this first time mother is standing over her lamb .... that's what we want to see. We don't bring them in to the barn if they're bonded and doing ok. It's actually much cleaner out on fresh pasture. In a day or two, you won't be able to catch this lamb in the field!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Really Quick Update!

1) NO WILD ROSE FARM LAMBS YET AS OF 11:00 PM THURSDAY ........ but any minute now ...........

2) Things are starting to gel for the Waynesburg Sheep & Fiber Festival. Quick vendor acceptance e-mails (& phone calls for those without e-mail) were sent out on the 22nd & 23rd. Formal letters to follow next week ..... a few applications are still trickling in. This is going to be the best WS&FF ever! Tidbit of the day - we have several alpaca vendors coming this year. Everyone LOVES alpacas, hmmmmm? <-- inside joke for friends of alpacas!

See you there!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Out to Pasture .....

This evening we took the bred ewes and ewe lambs out to pasture. This area is partially wooded and is the site of old barn and house foundations ..... hence the daffodils. I keep planning to dig up and move a clump of this old double variety, but I always forget to mark where they are. Anyway, that's my excuse ..... I just put a stick in the clump today, so let's see if it gets done this year!

It's pretty obvious that the ewes are due soon. They should start lambing around the 22nd or 23rd. At Wild Rose Farm, we have Rambouillets, Dorsets, and Dorset x Rambouillet crossbred ewes. Fine wool sheep like the Rambouillets have a slightly longer gestation period than the medium wooled Dorsets. The ewe in the right foreground is one of two Rambouillet ewes that are now 11 years old. Both had lambs last year, and both appear to be carrying lambs this year, althought this will be the last year that we keep them. Sorry to say, but their teeth wear out and they lose condition when that happens. This old girl, #806, has a 19 micron fleece and is a very good mother, although she was never a "stylish" sheep! Zoom in and look closely at the picture ........ "guess who" lost their ear tag? Yes, Rambouillet ewe #317. We ran all of the ewes through the chute and by process of elimination, determined that we were missing #317. We used a "scourable" green spray marker to identify her while I make up another ear tag.
Now it's time to stay tuned for the first lambs of the year and the weather is warming up just the way we like it!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Wild Rose Farm Peeps!

Do you think he knows that we're having turkey for dinner tomorrow???

Friday, April 10, 2009

Waynesburg Sheep & Fiber Festival Site Committee at Work!

Five more weeks to go 'til the fiber festival. Get ready all of you knitters, spinners, felters, and fiber artists! We'll have juried fiber and handmade craft vendors, plus fiber animals for you.
Here we are today going over the plans for set up at the 6th Annual Waynesburg Sheep & Fiber Festival. Darlene, Phil, Mary Lou, and Carol are shown in one of the buildings that will house fiber vendors upstairs and lamb cooking demos + food vendors downstairs. The festival will be centered in Buildings 8, 9, & 10 at the Greene County Fairground. We walked around and laid out areas for the Sheep to Shawl Contest, Sheep Shearing Demonstrations, the Sheepdog Herding Demo, and the PA WAgN Sheep Production & Marketing Workshop.
The stage & tents will be set up near the buildings and we'll have a track roped off for the Pedal Tractor Pull for the kids. Here are a couple of shots of the building interiors if you're interested as a vendor. Of course there won't be a flea-market or quads & cars in the building! This year is shaping up to be a great one with new and returning vendors ..... I'll list some vendors and their websites on this blog later after we send out acceptance letters. Remember, April 21st is the deadline for juried craft & fiber vendors!

Monday, April 6, 2009

We've Got a Fleeceful, Easy Feeling !!!!

A fleeceful easy feeling ...... yep - that's what comes over the shepherd once the annual shearing routine is done! I'm sure that's the reason many people are choosing to go with hair sheep. It's one more expense and activity that you can eliminate. But not for those of us who have a fiber interest/addiction. I know of a couple of handspinners with 2 or 3 sheep who shear the sheep with scissors while they're standing up.
Our shearer Don got started at 11am and he had 32 wooly sheep to shear. We have fine wool Rambouillet ewes, medium wool Polled Dorset ewes, and crossbred ewes that are various percentages of both breeds. Red ear tags are Rambouillets, white tags are Dorsets, and the x-breds have yellow tags. There is a noticable difference when shearing the denser fine wool sheep -vs- the coarser wooled ewes. Don switches from a flexible shaft motor driven shearing machine to an electric hand shear from time to time. The hand shear is used to take off the chest & leg wool on some of the dirtier sheep so as not to dull the shearing machine blades. The sheep are controlled in various positions and essentially rolled around so that the fleece comes off in one piece. The shearing area is a 4x8 sheet of plywood covered with a carpet remnant that is constantly swept clean of hay & wool tags. All of our fleeces at Wild Rose Farm are individually bagged and identified with the ewe's ear tag number. We also get a wool sample from each yearling and send it to Yocum-McColl in Denver, CO to be micron tested. We are constantly selecting for finer fleeces and longer staple length on the Rambouillets. We have micron tests on all our sheep and can help spinners select a fleece based on that characteristic. There's quite a bit to learn about wool and fleeces if you're interested! The Rambouillet ewe lamb below was the last one to be sheared. She's standing behind a crossbred ewe lamb. Finally, at 6pm all of the sheep were sheared, the fleeces were bagged, and we said goodbye to Don for another year! Misty - if you're reading this, I think I found a fleece that's yours to try! I'll be sending a sample from #29!And yes, the bags are stored with the tops open so that the fleeces have room to breathe until we process them for sale or yarn or show ........... a couple of the fleeces will make it to the Waynesburg Sheep & Fiber Festival in one way or another!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Shearing Soon!

The all important phone call was made now that I'm home from a trip to Jekyll Island ...... yes, our sheep shearer Don is coming to Wild Rose Farm on Saturday. The preparation started this evening. The barn was rearranged to accomodate all of the ewes until Saturday. We are expecting thunderstorms overnight and during the day on Friday. The ewes have to be dry when they are sheared, so they are brought in under cover the night before shearing. They're in a day early this time because of the heavy rain coming. On Friday night before shearing, hay and water will be withheld so that the sheep aren't being rolled around on full stomachs during the shearing process. They are already carrying lambs, so we don't want to put extra stress on them and risk a prolapse. There are several advantages to shearing before lambing. It's easier to see the stages of labor without the wool cover. The ewes are cleaner and the lambs can get in to the udders to nurse more readily ..... no hanging dung tags or locks of wool to confuse them when they get up to nurse for the first time. Finally, the ewes take up less room in the barn once 3 inches of wool are removed from each side!
Check back for pictures!