Saturday, April 30, 2011

Two Lambs & Two Fleeces

Wild Rose Farm #105 Dorset and Twins
We like to be in the barn a this time of year sorting & skirting fleeces.  You can hear the ewes & lambs "talking" to each other.  Dorset #105 was settled in with her twins sleeping right in front of her.
Here are 2 more fleeces skirted & ready to go to the Waynesburg Sheep & Fiber Fest .....
First up is a nice Rambouillet fleece from one of our 2 year olds, Wild Rose Farm #401.  The cast iron lamb mold in front was an Easter present!  I've always wanted one of these. Special thanks to "S&L" for adding another item to my cast iron collection ......
Wild Rose Farm #401 Rambouillet Fleece
The next fleece is a crossbred fleece from Wild Rose Farm #50 ---- more Rambouillet in her breeding than Dorset, so she also has a fine fleece.  
Wild Rose Farm #50 Crossbred Fleece

Thursday, April 28, 2011

First Set of Twins

Wild Rose Farm Dorset #105 Twins
Here we are bringing the 1st set of twins born this spring up to the barn.  One person has to carry and the other one has to open & close the electric net fence.  The ewe is very attentive & concerned .... you almost trip over her because she stays so close to the lambs.  These are Dorset x Rambouillet crossbreds out of Dorset #105.  One ewe & one ram and both are healthy.
And now a follow-up to the post yesterday about "U", "U2", & the headgate.  U was released from the headgate this morning and is doing fine.  No problems now with allowing the lamb to nurse.  It usually works out without a problem ... yea!
Looking back as I closed the fence, I saw a group of the expectant ewes watching their flockmate go up to the barn with her lambs.

Where Did The Lambs Go?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

First Lamb Jitters

It's U2! 
Well, this morning, Wild Rose Farm U had her first lamb.  A healthy snow white ewe lamb!  U did a great job of cleaning off the lamb, but then kept backing off & wouldn't let the lamb nurse.  This doesn't happen often, most years we have no problems, but we keep a grafting headgate for just such occasions.  The gate allows the ewe to stand up, lie down and get her feed & water, but makes sure that the lamb can get to the udder, nurse, & get enough colostrum to get a good start.  Sometimes the lambs slips through the neck opening & can be found curled up peacefully under the ewe's nose.  Usually, the ewe can be released the next day or so, but sometimes it takes longer for her to accept a lamb, espsecially if it has been grafted on to her.  Gotta have a grafting headgate if you're going to do any lambing ..... then hope that you don't use it often! 
So what to name the ewe lamb?  Aunt Mary Ann agrees with me ..... U2!
U & U2 Grafting Head Gate At Work

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Right On Schedule!

WRF Rambouillet #329 & Ram Lamb
The ram went in on November 28th, 2010 and our first lamb was born today on April 26th.  These were the exact same dates as last year ......... right on schedule!   Wild Rose Farm Rambouillet #329  had a single ram lamb out in the pasture this evening.  She's a very attentive mother & came right up with us as we carried the lamb.  We brought them up to the barn since we've been having intermittent downpours so far this week.
These 2 yearlings were quite attentive & interested in the whole process.  They're in the barn because one of them injured her leg in the pre-shearing breakout a couple of weeks ago.  She's starting to put some weight on it, but we'll need to keep her confined until she's fully recovered.  Sheep just aren't that smart and a quick scamper could ruin the whole thing.  Since we're talking about "sheep psyche", the 2nd yearling is with her strictly for flock companionship.  We don't sell a single lamb to anyone for the same reason.  You need to get 2 or 3 so that they are in a group, or you'll end up with a frantic sheep that will injure itself ......

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Fleece & Farm

WRF X-bred #39

After sorting through 4 more fleeces, we came up with this one to add to our group going to the Waynesburg Sheep & Fiber Festival.  Not every fleece has the quality to be a show or handspinning fleece.  What knocks them out of the running is that they have excessive "vegetable matter", stains, or even that some don't have enough staple length.  Fleeces from the yearling lamb's 1st shearing usually don't hold together well enough to be used as a competition show fleece. 
Which brings us to another point of contention ..... have you ever had a "lambs wool" sweater that was harsh & itchy?  Remember that EVERY SHEEP WAS A LAMB at one point, so lambs wool is not necessarily going to be "soft".  If it comes from a coarser wooled breed, it will have a higher micron count (thickness) and once you get to 30 microns, the "itch factor" comes into play.  Wild Rose Farm Rambouillets have 19 - 23 micron fine wool fleeces & the Dorsets will have 28 - 36 micron medium wool fleeces.  Different wools for different purposes!   

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What's Going On Out There?

 "U" - Something Gets Her Attention!
Even "U" stopped to watch the silly activity going on just outside of the pasture.  Ginny & Frank were fighting over a stick ..... you may remember little Frank from last year.  Well, he may be bigger, but he still plays like a pup.  He found a big stick, but little Ginny just wasn't letting him have it!  They ran all over, pulling, biting, & tumbling after the stick.  :)  You should have heard her growling & barking!  

Whose Stick Now?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

DONE For Another Year!

Shearing Started on Yearling Ewes
After drenching rains all day on Saturday, we had clear skies & high winds today at Wild Rose Farm.  The remaining yearlings & the big ram were in the barn and were nice and dry for shearing.  Shearing a full size ram is almost a wrestling match .... it starts with the controlled take down.  Then the ram has to be held down by one or two helpers as the shearer plows through his dense Rambouillet fleece.  We never get any pictures of that since we're all involved in the process.  Actually, he was pretty good this year ..... he just doesn't like the feel of the clippers when they get next to his horns.  We were pleased after he was sheared since he is in good flesh.  Sometimes the rams lose a lot of weight during the breeding season.
So  ----- the shearing is done for another year and we now start setting up for the start of lambing season in a couple of weeks!
Shearing Done For Another Year!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Lamb Recipe How To ......

The American Lamb Board referred to this article with lamb recipes & cooking techniques in Cooking Light  magazine.  Our lamb check-off dollars fund product promotion/placement and cookoff demos like this.  Did you know that when a farmer takes lambs to the auction for sale, a percentage is deducted off of their proceeds for industry promotions & publicity?   
The American Lamb Board also featured this group of lamb recipes from the Fine Cooking magazine web-site .....
Time to get a leg of lamb out of the freezer!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

More skirted fleeces ....

Natural Color Fleece - "U"
Nothing like working with freshly shorn fleeces!  Tonight I skirted the natural colored fleece from "U".  She looks brown in full fleece because of the weathered tips on her blackish wool, but she is a frosted black/grey at the skin level.  We'll get a micron test on her this year to see how fine or coarse her wool is.

Here's another fleece from our Wild Rose Farm Rambouillet #329 ..... her 2010 Reserve Grand Champion fleece went to the Lancaster Spinners and Weavers Guild  for a fiber study project over the winter.  This 2011 fleece will go along to the Waynesburg Sheep & Fiber Festival for Beth - she gets "first right of refusal" on it!  :)  It looks nice & crimpy like last year. 
#329 Rambouillet Close-up

Monday, April 11, 2011


#328 Rambouillet Fleece - 2011
 The plan was to shear the yearlings on Sunday, but they escaped from the barn!  We had to call our shearer  and move the shearing to next Sunday.  It was very damp & foggy in the morning here and the escapees were just too wet to shear.  Of course, then it got up into the low 80's by the afternoon. 
Sooooo ........ on to Plan B.  We got a couple of fleeces skirted.  Here they are.  Expect to see them for sale at the Waynesburg Sheep and Fiber Fest ..... search out Wild Rose Farm among the vendors on May 21st & 22nd! 
#403 Rambouillet Fleece - 2011

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Shearing Day 1

This year we've ended up with 2 days of shearing at Wild Rose Farm.  Today the bred ewes were sheared and tomorrow the yearlings and the big ram will take their turn.  Tonight the ewes are outside and the yearling ewes and the big ram have been moved into the barn to dry off. 
Speaking of the big ram, that's him on the left watching the action in the barn as the shearing starts.  This year, our shearer Don brought Hannah along to get some experience shearing.  She has some sheep of her own including a Tunis ram.  She did 4 of the Dorset & x-bred ewes and finished with the Rambouillet ram lamb.  It's always good to see someone else get into shearing! 
We definitely got some nice fleeces and several of them will be going with us to the Waynesburg Sheep & Fiber Fest in May .... 
As always, when you have colored sheep, they are the last to be sheared so that none of the dark fibers get mixed in with the white wool.  So .... the last one to be sheared today was Wild Rose Farm "U". 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Sheep Shearing Tomorrow ....

"U" & Rambouillet Ram Lamb
The ewes were moved up into the barn Thursday evening in preparation for shearing on Saturday.  They have to be dry and we knew that we'd be getting a lot of rain today.  We can't wait to see some of the fleeces off of our our 2 year olds.  This year, the fleece from "U" should be a good one.  Last year she had a wool break from being sick and her fleece was trashed.  I didn't even get a micron test on her, so we'll take a sample this year.  I'm already thinking ahead, but wouldn't a 2-ply yarn made from 1-ply of her fleece and 1-ply of a similar white fleece be a nice addition to the Wild Rose Farm yarns? 
OK, let's not count our chickens before they're hatched!  :)

Monday, April 4, 2011


The drive home from work this afternoon was in a drenching downpour.  This was the scene from the driveway.  The sheep had gone out to their feeders for the evening.  They got their grain and also got drenched in the process.  Not that they really mind (or even notice), but Mr. Wild Rose Farm had his jacket & hat in the dryer by the time I came in. 
It will be warm this week and everything is getting that tinge of green.  Lambing season won't be far away for us now!  The ewes are really starting to look ready to get it over with .....