Saturday, May 2, 2009

Time Lapse Photography

Some time lapsed today and here's what we have to show for it! Curious about what goes on during lambing season at Wild Rose Farm? Well, today we had 2 sets of twins born between 4 a.m. and noon. The 1st lambs were born overnight in the barn. We had a Rambouillet ewe going into labor on Friday evening. We were having a heavy downpour, so she was brought into the barn. She delivered her twin ram lambs overnight and all was well when we went out in the morning to check on them.
Meanwhile, out in the field with our curious friend #330 above, another ewe was showing signs of being ready to go into labor. Our crossbred ewe #29 can be seen in the middle of the 2nd picture ..... notice how her udder looks very full, her flank is sunken in, and her belly has dropped. This was at 8 a.m. She then proceeded to drift off away from the rest of the flock .... another sign that she was going to lamb soon.

Nothing to do at this point but wait and come back later. Meanwhile, back at the barn, we noticed that those lambs had nursed unevenly on the ewe's udder, so we milked out one side of the udder. We save this colostrum from the ewe and freeze it. It is full of antibodies and can be used to feed a lamb that may be orphaned or whose dam doesn't have enough milk.
Notice how rich the milk is. These containers are perfect to milk into because of their wide mouth and the indentations on the sides so you can keep your grip on them. Let's just say that the ewes don't exactly enjoy the process of being milked since they're not handled on a daily basis like dairy cows!
But that's not all for the morning. On the way back into the house, I stopped to cut back the flowers bolting from the rhubarb plants. Most people have rhubarb to make pies and cobblers, but that's a sideline here at Wild Rose Farm. The stalks are used for pies and jellies, but the leaves are considered to be poisonous. They contain oxalic acid and are used here as a natural dye for our yarn. The link above mentions both uses.
Soak the leaves overnight and boil for about 1 hour to create a dyebath. The yarn comes out as a yellow with green undertones if an alum pre-mordant is used. The leaves soaked all day and they're simmering as we speak. It's a busy time of year with the lambing and the natural dyeing preparations for the Waynesburg Sheep & Fiber Festival and our annual spring open house. After shredding the leaves (wearing rubber gloves) and covering them with water to soak, we left to run errands and go to the farmers' market.

When we returned just before noon, we immediately went out to the pasture to check on #29. Look what we found .... Two newborn ram lambs that were nicely cleaned off and who had already been nursing. Note how white they are after being born in the dewy clean grass.

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