Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Nothing Happening -vs- Something Happening

Wild Rose Farm Back 40 Ewes - Nothing Happening Here!
There's been mention in this blog when we've found "nothing happening" during our pasture and barn checks.  For the Wild Rose Farm followers who aren't sheep people or farmers, the picture above is what "nothing" looks like.  The wide angle shows no one separated off, laying down straining, or circling and pawing the ground.  Just normal sheepy curiousity/fear at the approach of friend or foe at 8PM last night.  Meanwhile, when we got back to the barn ...
Wild Rose Farm Barn & WRF Rambouillet #406 - Something Happening Here!
Rambouillet ewe #406 had started into labor at 6:30PM, so we penned her up.  Notice how she's holding her tail head up, the sunken area in front of her hips, and her expression.   She's pawed all of the bedding over into one corner.  When we checked again at 11PM, she hadn't delivered, so we assisted and pulled a set of twins.  Turns out that they were fine and in perfect position, but I didn't want to come back in a couple of hours and discover a breech.  In hindsight, she probably would have delivered on her own, but there's always the "but what if" to consider. 

WRF #50 & The Triplets - WRF #406 & Twins In Background
So now this morning at 5AM we see the #50 triplets and, in the next pen, Rambouillet #406 content with her twins.
Hey!  We Need Another Spigot Here!
And for fans of WRF Dorset "U", here is a family photo!  She's a foot stomping good mother.
WRF "U" & Twins

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Triplets At Wild Rose Farm!

WRF #50 With Newborn Triplets
Our crossbred ewe, WRF #50 was looking like she was "close to thinking about lambing" at the 11PM barn check.  At the 2AM barn check, she was pensive ... standing and staring while the others milled about and chewed their cuds.  Hmmm.  Water had not broken yet, so nothing happening. 
At 5AM, we were greeted with #50 happily cleaning off her 3rd lamb!   All three - one ram (the largest front & center in picture) and two ewes are vigorous and nursing.   She seems to have a good milk supply, so after the iodine navel dip and a couple of squirts of the lamb & sheep energy/vitamins liquid drench, we've left them with the ewe to rest & nurse at 8AM.  We'll check back in around 11 to noon. 
Nothing else happening in the pasture ...

Monday, April 28, 2014

Wild Rose Farm Barn Scenes

Wild Rose Farm - #116 Twin Dorset Ram Lambs
Yesterday we had 3 sets of twins arrive.  We just came in from the barn after moving a young Rambouillet ewe #418 into a pen with her large single ewe lamb.  That lamb was "snow white" - no pun intended - and she had really cleaned it off. 
We put up some livestock panels in the barn to allow the llama a section of the shed roof overhang for shade and rain protection.  For now, she is penned next to, but separate from, the expectant ewes and the lambing pens.  She was just as curious as can be today ...
Snow White Says Hmmm, What's This?
Llama And Lamb Check Each Other Out!
Wild Rose Farm - It's Llama, Mama, & Lamb
OK .... now it's time for the 11PM check ... signing out! 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Radar's Snow White Arrives At Wild Rose Farm!

Radar Llamas At Wild Rose Farm
Look who arrived at Wild Rose Farm today!  Our new llama from Darlene & Ray Sutton of Radar Llamas.  Ray led her off of the trailer and right back behind the barn to the ram pen.
Radar's Snow White At Wild Rose Farm
Darlene had freshened up her barrel clip and I have a bag of the wool.  She is quite curious about those small white creatures in the barn next to her, but no humming and no ears pinned back.  You can tell that she's been handled and has traveled before today!  This should be a good time to get her into the swing of things here ... lots of barn trips by us because of lambing, lambs and ewes next to her, and a nice view of the pasture field where the ewes will be grazing for the next several weeks. 
Post Script for those who didn't know - Llama Lisa died suddenly last fall - it seemed peaceful - no problems leading up to it - old age?  We knew that she was a much older llama.  When we saw the classified ad in the Farm And Dairy 2 weeks ago - "Need a llama for any reason, give me a call" we made a trip out to look at llamas!     

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Official Start Of Lambing ...

Wild Rose Farm Rambouillet #420 & Ewe Lamb
We can consider this the "official start" of the 2014 lambing season at Wild Rose Farm.  I found this first time mother with a lamb at 5AM this morning in the pasture.  The lamb was dry and had a healthy set of lungs once we started to move her.  She ended up walking the whole way to the barn with the ewe as the sun came up.   Love the cell phone ... called Mr WRF to come out and assist since we had to go through a gate, etc.  We also heard a turkey gobbling over in the field where I had spooked the hen turkeys a week ago.  Everytime the lamb let out with a loud "Baaaaaa", the turkey gobbled! 
Tulips In The Yard
 I pass these tulips going back & forth to the barn.  Surprisingly, they've lasted 4 years now.  I've snipped a few for the old "lady head" vase ... they make a great bonnet for her head!

Friday, April 25, 2014

So What's On The Radar Screen?

More Fiber Pics Coming ...
Teaser ... stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Reality Check ...

Coyote In Pasture Field
What started as a barn & pasture check at 8PM turned into a reality check.  Still in the house, I saw movement in the main pasture field below the barn - no sheep are in this field today - and spotted this coyote.  Glenda was on the other side of the fence, but was on alert and fixated on the same area. 
From the kitchen window, Mr. WRF used the "varmit gun" (previously only used on ground hogs).
Then we did the pasture check ...

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Grazing Started ... Lambs Coming?

Wild Rose Farm Ewes - Back 40
We moved the ewes to the "Back 40" today to start grazing.  The grass seems to be about a week or so behind this year & I'm hearing that local rainfall is an inch below normal so far this spring.  Part of the section that the sheep are on today is a little thin.  This was cleared in late 2011/early 2012.  Looking back,  just above the top-most sheep in the center is where the brushy tangle & tree used to be.  We didn't frost seed this area in February, but I may run some seed back now and let the ewes tramp it in.  It takes a little while to get a cleared, formerly wooded (and wet) area to develop a good turf.
Think They'll Be Lambing Soon?
We separated off the first 7 ewes that were marked as bred by the rams last fall.   They are in the barn.  The ewes in this group were marked later, but that doesn't always mean that some of them won't go first.  Late night & 4AM pasture & barn checks have started! 
We have determined that #422 was an accidental breeding when we had a group of sheep gathered in the barn paddock for customers last fall ...  their loss as she is a first time lamber with a set of twins!   Ha!  ;)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Lambs Outside

Wild Rose Farm Rambouillet #422 Coming In With Lambs
The ewe and her twins were out in the warm sunshine yesterday.  Here they are coming back in when we got home with a load of hay.  They still stick close by her side right now.
We picked up some small square bales of second cutting hay to feed the ewes in the barn once lambing starts.  It's so much nicer tossing hay around now than in the heat of the summer!  :)

Stacking Hay On The Trailer - Barn Built In 1952

Friday, April 18, 2014

Winter Work To Be Finished

Wild Rose Farm - Squaring Up A Pasture Field
I know, it's a little boring, but here's our next chore to be completed.  We keep pecking away at adding more pasture area for grazing.  The trees were cut in the winter and now the wood has to be split.  There are a couple of butt logs in there to be sawn into boards.  One is locust wood & the plan is to use that to frame a raised bed garden box.   We'd like to get these split and up off of the field edge once it dries up a little and we can get both tractors and the wagon over there.  The stumps will have to be pulled and then we'll seed in the areas with grasses and clover.  We'll probably spread some quick growing rye seed as a cover crop once we get the wood picked up.
When I walked back to this area, I sent 4 browsing hen turkeys running to the treeline and awkwardly flapping up into the trees ... too quick to get a picture!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Sunrise Pasture Check

Wild Rose Farm Morning Check ...
After the first set of twins were born, we start routine checking of the ewes several times a day.  Here they are in the morning as I approach to look everyone over ...  just standing around.  As I slowly edged closer, the cellar door slammed.  Look at the heads swiveled to watch the door!  It's about 600' away, but they have that eager, hopeful look that says "Is grain coming our way?".
Whoa!  We See The Shepherd Coming! 
Nope, no feed until the afternoon.  Sorry.  As it turns out, nothing is happening right now, so back to milling around. 

Wild Rose Farm - Nothing Happening Here!
WRF ewe #37 is a friendly one, so she followed me back to the gate.  It almost looks like she's checking things out herself.   Hmmm - nothing yet!   :) 
WRF Ewe #37

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Tree Down On Perimeter Fence - Yikes!

Wild Cherry Tree Smashes Corner Brace & Fence
We had very high winds Monday night as a front moved through - we now assume that's when this happened.  We were busy with shearing at that time.  Mr. WRF spotted it in the afternoon yesterday when he was feeding the ewes over at the Loafing Shed.  Something looked amiss and he walked back to find this big tree down on the fence.
The second thicker upright post from the left is a true corner post.  Luckily, the wires loop around it from both directions and terminate back around on themselves with wire clamps.  Also, luckily, nothing is in our main pasture field right now. 
Cross Brace Knocked Out, But Electric Wires & Knife Switch OK!
You can see that the 2nd corner brace post in the line is pushed out and broken below ground level. 
That post will have to be pulled, dug out, and replaced.  This is a 10 strand High Tensile (HT) fence, so it requires double corner braces. 
Brace Pin Bent & Fence Wire Staples Popped Out
The beauty of an HT wire fence is that it takes this kind of abuse and the wire generally doesn't break.  The force popped the fence wire staples out of the post on the top 4 or 5 strands and stretched the wire to the ground.  The problem comes with clearing the tree (or car, truck, etc.) from the fence --- and that is a SAFETY issue.  The tensile strength of the wire can cause the tree to suddenly spring in an unexpected direction once some of the weight is released as the forces shift.  You also have to take into account the possibility of the wire snapping or springing back to position.  This is not a job for one person alone. 
Tree Cut Off - HT Wires Back In Position, Almost!
The cross brace will have to be replaced along with the broken post on the left.  This is the oldest fence on the property & was installed in 1995.  At that time we cleared this fenceline THROUGH a thicket of hawthorn, crabapple, & multi-flora rose just like you see on the backside of the fence in the 2nd picture above!  I'd forgotten how much fun that winter was --- yes, winter because there are no leaves, you can see, and the ground is frozen, not muddy.  Cut and drag, cut and drag, cut and drag ...    
We've had no problems with the "10 strand" other than a couple of trees falling on it.  The picture below shows the remains of the last tree to fall back in this corner.  We were lucky that time.  It just missed the cross brace! 
Mossy Remains of Fallen Tree Outside Pasture
 When we installed this fence, we didn't own the acreage on the other side.  Now we do & you can see through to a clearing across the creek.
So what surprise awaited you today?   :)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Lambing Starts At Wild Rose Farm ...

Taking Second Group Of Sheared Ewes Back To The Loafing Shed 
So ... on Tuesday afternoon, the second group of sheared ewes were walked back to the Loafing Shed where they met up with their waiting flockmates.   All was quiet & uneventful on Wednesday.
This morning around 10AM, my cell phone rang.  The tractor was parked just on the other side of the pine trees and I heard, "you'd better get over here, we have lambs!".  I could hear them bleating up a storm. 
When I got there, Mr. WRF had determined that the little twins obviously belonged to Rambouillet #422, a first time mother.  Unfortunately, ewe #407 and ewe #408 had decided that they wanted lambs too!  The ram lamb, who appeared to be 2nd born, was following them around as they pushed Mom & the twin ewe lamb around. 
While we caught up Mom, I held the twins and had two very angry ewes stamping their feet at me.  For those of you who don't know, you have to be careful around ewes with lambs.  Some of them will butt you and/or bowl you over to protect "their" lambs.
Long story short, we milked the ewe & added some colostrum from our frozen supply to ensure that the lambs were both fed.  Then we put the truck racks on our WRF wagon, loaded up #422, and I sat near her holding her lambs.  Ewe #407 followed us to the gate bleating the whole time.  Sheesh.
She needs some babies to mother!  :)
Here's the happy little group settled in the barn ... both lambs are nursing now and #422 is standing quietly.
Ewe Lamb Stands Up & Stretches

Wild Rose Farm Rambouillet Ewe #422 With Twins - Tails Wiggling!

Everyone is settled in at the barn, so now it's off for the evening pasture check to see if anyone else is ready to lamb!

Passed These Old Fashioned Daffodils In The Pasture Tonight ... Wonder Who Planted Them?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wild Rose Farm Shearing Done!

Wild Rose Farm - 2014 Shearing Finished
It's always a good thing when the sheep shearing is done for the year.  Now we're ready for lambing!  We're not a big farm, but we are careful with sorting & caring for our fleeces.  They're all stored in bags now waiting to be skirted.  Some of them are already marked to be sent to the wool pool & some are noted to be made into yarn. 
But ... here are two more really nice Rambouillet fleeces that will be available as hand spinning fleeces:
Wild Rose Farm Rambouillet #416 Being Sheared

Wild Rose Farm Rambouillet #416 - Fleece Close-up!
Below is the fleece that I think Paula may want - (!) - another wonderful fleece from #329 - look at the crimp!  :)  Click on pics for a closer look.
Wild Rose Farm Rambouillet #329 - As Sheared Close-up!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

25 Done, 17 Still To Shear ...

Wild Rose Farm Rambouillet #412 Being Sheared
We got a little over half of the ewes sheared yesterday.  Our shearer, Don, had some ewes lambing right now, so he finishes with morning chores before coming here to work on our sheep.  He left the shearing machine hanging here overnight and he'll pick up with the last 17.  We left the ram for today & usually all three of us participate in that since they're usually a little to large to just flip around like the ewes.  It's the "hold, shear, & roll" method!  :)
Wild Rose Farm Rambouillet #332 - Another Nice Fleece!
I try to jump in and take a few pictures.  We bag each fleece individually with the ewe's ear tag number and I also pull off a 2" square side sample of the yearling fleeces.  Those samples are sent to Yocom-McColl Testing Laboratory for micron testing.  We micron test all of the sheep. 
So here we are ... part way through shearing!
Wild Rose Farm "U" Sheared With Friends!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Between The Storms

Wild Rose Farm Ewes Grazing - We Need To Be Sheared!
Between the blowing rain storms today, we're working the ewes over towards the barn.  The plan is to shear about half of them on Monday.  Ideally, we'll get some strong winds & some sun tomorrow.  Then we can pen part of the group in the barn to dry off for shearing on Monday.  These girls probably can't wait to get all of that wool off! 
One Paddock Away From The Barn ....
The picture below has not been retouched or squished!  We shouldn't have lambs before April 26th or so, but ol' WRF #37 looks like she's ready to go with twins for sure ... we'll have to wait & see.
Wild Rose Farm #37 - Lambs In There?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Another Sign of Spring .....

Turkey Vulture Warming To Fly .....
Yes, another sign of spring is the return of the turkey vultures to the area skies.  We know all about the important role that they play in the the clean up of carcasses & roadkill, but I'd rather not see them anywhere near the sheep.  This one was in the very front paddock along US Route 30 and it flew up to the guard rail to hop on something along the road .....  
The more aggressive black vultures are known to attack sheep & cattle while they're "down" and in labor.  We lost a ewe several years ago who was laying in the warm sun near a post like this.  We didn't see the actual bird closely, but I had the "impression" of a black shape taking off from the post ..... We had come home down the driveway & I saw "red" on a ewe standing behind the barn.  Since it was a week or two before the sheep were due, I thought I saw a dreaded prolapse and hurried out.  Not so.  She had been attacked as she was stretched out enjoying the sun and I suppose she couldn't get up on her feet quickly enough.  We had to put her down and we lost the twins that she was carrying.  It was too early to get their lungs to fill with air.  That was a very unpleasant experience.  In the blogs, I notice that farmers generally try to accent the positives, but sometimes you'll hear "the rest of the story".