Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Day 1 of vacation!

Monday was officially the first day of my vacation and it was nice. It was about 36 degrees when we got up and I'm glad we haven't put in the garden yet.

I started out in the morning after chores, using Trim to move the ewes and lambs up to the big dog yard by the house.  I decided to use the grass I normally have to mow a lot for food instead.  It isn't the best nutrition but better than the field they have eaten down.   We have two yards with secure fencing so it won't upset the dogs at all and now they have something to watch.

It took me quite a while to get Tuija and her 4 lambs to go.  The rest of the flock has fallen into line with the herding dog, Trim, but she still doesn't get it yet.  Basically, while the flock took off on their own outside the fence, loose in the yard, Trim had to work and work just to get Tuija and those lambs out of the field.  I kept one eye on the flock slowly moving toward the road and munching on grass, while the other eye on Trim and helping her push Tuija.  It took about 10 minutes to get her out of the pasture and the rest of the flock had wandered across the 5 acres stretch to the front yard.  We (Trim and I) finally got her and the rest together and into the dog yard.  It's nice tall grass, clover, and a little alfalfa with some leafy trees for shade.  Plus the weather is cooler so they can eat eat eat!   The plan is to leave them there for a month while we seed their other pasture and add fencing to a couple of the others.

"happy flock"
 I guess I shouldn't be too worried about the nutrition level of our pastures as this is Betty (black) and her 12 week old ewe lamb (brown).  That's the kind of size we want!! When babies outgrow moms, that's exactly what we are trying to produce. "I made that"

After that move, I delivered a ewe lamb to a friend and visited her farm and with her family for most of the afternoon.  She gave me some wonderful tomato plants for our garden and some of her delicious homemade sheep cheese!   mmmm.  Horseradish Monteray Jack, Dill cheddar, and Tomato basil cheddar!   Paul has asked me about making cheese so I thought, who better to ask, than an expert!  So, in the future maybe!  Her milking sheep, by the way!!  Is trained!  Ha, the ewe jumps right up on the milking table by voice command!  Nice, as a dog trainer, I am very impressed.  If you knew how 'touchy' this ewe is about being handled, you would see how really impressive the feat truly is!

When I got back home, Paul was close behind.  We got to mowing the grass.  There is a lot of grass here and even the sheep can't keep up.  We moved Hemi out to a pasture to graze for his last couple weeks.  He has been isolated for so long and we be leaving soon.  I would love to keep him but, just can't take the risk.  So, he is out on grass for his last meal.  :(

On a brighter note, I have almost solidified the travel plans for the two new lambs due to arrive on Saturday coming all the way from Washington state.   Mmmmm, a white ram carrying brown recessive and possibly fading.  A big boy!  Also, a gorgeous dark steely grey ewe lamb.  A big girl! Completely unrelated to my flock and with the characteristics I am so looking for to finish off the flock.  I can't wait!!

On to day 2!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Broken Hearts

So, this morning is time to wean the lambs.  It's sad for a few of them because I am separating into ewes and rams, not just lambs and Moms.  I'm not interested in breeding for Fall lambs as I had originally planned.  Too much work this year.  So, just made a little run-in in the big shelter and electronetted off a small area for the boys.  Looks like we have 6 boys including Walker, our big boy and the father.   I fenced in this beautiful grassy area and they haven't decided it is safe yet.  Walker has been out and in and out and in but the young lambs, just aren't having anything of the new field.  So bold when behind Mom's skirt but now, they are scared and sad.  So sad are the cries of these little least favorite time of year for sheep.

Someday when they go outside, I will get a picture that shows their beautiful grassy pasture but for now, I will have to settle with the dirt floor of the barn.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Flint River Ranch now has Antler Dog Chews!!

Flint River Ranch dog/cat food and treats now carries antler chews for dogs.

Deer Antler Dog Chews

A long lasting chew treat straight from Mother Nature! Deer, elk and caribou naturally shed their antlers every spring. The naturally shed antlers are gathered, power washed with water, cut, and the sharp edges removed to give your dog a healthy, safer chew. So much better than your couch or shoes! Each antler is sold by weight and will vary in length and diameter from piece to piece, just like nature intended!
  • No Odor
  • No Grease or Mess
  • Long Lasting
  • Does not Splinter Like Bone
  • Helps Clean Teeth Naturally
  • Does not Contain Chemicals
  • Contains Calcium, Phosphorous and Potassium
  • No Fat
click on products, then dog treats.

Or follow the link on my website.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Fabulous Fleece!!!

Wow Wow all I can say.

Sunday I finished the shearing.  Back breaking work that I don't know how the pro's do it so fast and soooo many at at time.  I got down to about 20-30 minutes for each sheep.  I began to realize, as this is my first season of shearing myself, that the better quality the wool and the healthier the animal...the better the shearing goes for everyone.  Including the sheep.

I saved the last three kind of on purpose, and kind of not.  Two of them, the fleece was going back the most recent owner as that was part of our deal.  I wanted to practice on all the other ones before doing hers to do a good job.  My last sheep, the one I call 'wild woman' was last because I couldn't catch her.  So, I did the two I wasn't keeping their fleece.  The first was Tuija and she was a pain!   She wouldn't stand still so I flipped her on her butt and she fought and fought and fought.  She needed her hooves trimmed, too, so those kicking feet seemed lethal!  Not really but, it felt that way every time she got a dig in my arm or neck or whatever skin contact she made with me.
 Tuija with Kaarina in background

If you have ever sheared a sheep on it's butt, you know that you hold them leaning against your legs and work quickly.  This means, you really need two hands while they are leaning on your legs.  Most sheep, just relax and "hang-out" in this position.  NOT Tuija....ugh.. so hard and she was kind of dirty.   Her lambs climb on her a lot and I think this is a good reason for the dirt.  Well, that dirt gunked up my shears pretty fast and that didn't help at all.  Finally, after about 45 minutes, I got her done.  After getting the blanket off her on her butt, I flipped her up to her feet to finish and make all look neat and clean.  (she wasn't on her butt for 45 min) She leads great, though!!

Now, I dreaded Kaarina.  She has been a hard one to catch and hold.  She's big and doesn't like us.  She will stand outside during chores until she knows we are leaving the barn, then bring in her lambs, and eat.  Well, I grabbed a bucket of feed and walked in to 'pretend' to feed.  Don't know why, but she fell for it, walked right up to the feed trough and.....I GRABBED HER!   HAHAHAHHAHA...sucker! 

Kaarina post-shearing.  

Well, got her halter on and got set to drag her down the isle to the shearing tarp.  What do you know, she leads....fantastic!  She screamed for her lambs the whole time but that was all.  I tied her to the wall and she stood perfect for me.  I had her done and cleaned up in about 30 minutes.  Beautiful fleece and easy as pie to take off!  Thanks so much to Tiffany at Woodspryte Finns who picked her from Bella Vita farm with her Firefly background.   She is the best mother and now I know about her wool.  It just melted off her, the way it should be.  She's in great weight and all looks good.  So, after some scratching, thanking her and 'leading' her back to the rest, I was confident to tackle the last beast.

 The photo is Kaarina back with two of her three fat little lambs.  
This is a view I'm very familiar with during grazing...butt shots.

So, I'm standing there, looking at her...while she looks back at me.  This ewe isn't very big, but she's a freak.   She has been since I got her as an 8 week old.  Always eyeing us, always hard to catch.  She also had a bad case of the runs so you can imagine what the backside of this fleece looks like.  (we skirt that out anyway) So, got the grain again and knew she wasn't falling for it, so I went to the stall we sometimes run them into and dumped out the grain and walked away like I was checking the water, the fence, etc, the usual morning routine.  After watching me closely, her love of food overcame her and she slid into the stall.  Got her.  Now, in a 12x12 stall a sheep can still be a handful.  She ran and threw herself into the sides, jumping and running and panicking....that's her new name, by the way. "panic"   I finally got a hold of her by the wool.  Something I hate doing but the only thing I could do.  She's little so I was able to hold her down pretty well, get a halter on for extra safety and now make the 50 foot trek to the shearing area.  We alternated going down the isle running forward like a scared rabbit, lying down as dead weight, to turning around and ramming me out of defense.  It seemed to take forever and how was I going to be able to shear after that workout. 

So, it began.  I sat her on her butt as I didn't want to take any chances.  So, we started and she sat very still with complete panic in her eyes but frozen still.  That's ok, I can work fast and get her back where she goes quicker.  This sheep is listed for sale on my site by the way....LOL!  Good luck!
"Panic" in her rare, calm moment.

I started at the top with the neck wool and it started easy.  Hmmmwatch her wool and see the underneath.  This is what it's all about.  It felt like velvet.  So shiny, so gorgeous, so amazing.  I have never seen anything like it.  I'm no fleece expert by any means but have seen and felt lots of breeds through the years.  About 1/2 way through, about 10 min., I decided she wasn't for sale anymore, not with this fleece.  Black as night, so shiny, so crimped, and soft.  It came off in one whole piece, just like the I watched those guys do for so many sheep in the past.  The whole thing, not just the blanket.  Legs, neck, belly, butt...(heavy skirting later)  but easy easy and my shears were still clean as can be afterward.   She's amazing.  Thanks to Eldorado Finns for this one!  Looks like her background is quite a bit Wee Croft and a little Triple L but through Terri, I got her and she will be name, "Panic" because as soon as I stood her up after a little cheek scratching that she seemed to enjoy....she panicked again!  What a ding-a-ling.

 "Panic" after shearing her fabulous wool!

Not the best photo as I won't be getting close to her anytime soon.  I will get a shot of the fleece when I get to working on it soon.  Maybe next week during my vacation!

 Just look at that staple length.  I can't tell you how gorgeous it is!
I will get a weight and a photo of the luster tomorrow.  I can't wait to get working.
It should be beautiful to spin with the jet black color into the 1 inch sun bleached tips.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

First "why do we" question of the Spring

Two nights ago, I was heading home from an orchestra rehearsal about 10pm and got the phone call that I was waiting to get,; or expecting to get now that the grass is out and the weather is warmer.

It was Paul...."why do we even have these horses anyway!". 

He was referring to the Arabians that are now kept in the day pasture to graze with no run-in.  This means, we move then back across to the night paddock at the barn each morning/evening. 

Well, that question was a hard one..he was irritated and I wasn't sure how to proceed.  So, I said..."uh-oh, what happened"   I thought a question answered with a question was best, although I don't think he was asking me.

"Your horse is a crazy nut-job"  was the answer I got.

Thinking to myself, she's really sensible, actually.  And a babysitter for itty bitty little kids. 

"oh, why?"  I replied

"She wouldn't come in, so I tied Nelly (his horse)....."   This is where I got nervous.  Nothing good ever comes of the phrase, 'I tied' when involving a horse at night, at feeding time, with the other horse jumpy and an inexperienced horse person.

"I couldn't catch your horse, so I got a lead rope and tied my horse to the post at the gate, then walked over to your horse to catch her.  I didn't want to walk them both with just halters and be between those crazy things." 

That was a smart move on his part....but just not the tying of Nelly, while Saphra is avoiding him.  She influences Nelly in a positive and negative way.

"I walked up to your horse, and she kept backing away.  Next thing, I hear a ruckus behind me and turned to see Nelly dragging the post and the fence all the way across the pasture.  I caught her and got her in the night paddock and your horse got loose and started running all over that a psycho!" 

Well, long story short.  The horses still live here and no one got hurt, just annoyed and frustrated.  They don't like to be separated when loose and can be a handful if you let them. He did manage to get them back where they go before help good friend up the road was armed and ready as I was still an hour away.  The horses will now stay in the day pasture until I get there and we've decided and agreed they will be fine left without shelter.  They can, at least get up next to another barn and be fine with shade and a wind break. 

This morning we sunk a new post and put up some new boards and the horses are happy to be back in their green yummy pasture.   And, no, they are not psycho and crazy.  They are just horses and anyone who knows any horse can 'freak out' at any time under the right circumstances.  They really are good girls, easy keepers, and very 'broke', but they aren't dead.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


After my morning coffee, I went to the barn to check on the animals and feed.  After answering all the crying for food, the ducks, horses, sheep, and lambs are fed, watered and now out grazing and foraging as they do all day.

For the last couple weeks, we have been getting tons of eggs.  Some of the ladies are laying twice a day which is wonderful...although we have tons and tons of eggs!  So, maybe some egg salad today?  I love egg salad but, that's a lot of egg salad.  HA!

We will sell any eggs for eating or hatching.  Let me know!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sheep Shearing!

Well, I managed to get two more ewes sheared this weekend around all our other plans.  Yesterday, I went to my friend's farm to help with the first group of lambs.  She has Mule and North Country sheep.  We dewormed ewes and castrated and docked lambs.  Aww, kind of sad, but very necessary on the lambs.  After than, I managed to get home and get Betty done.  Basically, I walk into the run-in part of the barn with grain and the first one I catch is the lucky winner.  Betty won.

Betty had wonderful fleece...I was very happy with her.  Dark black, shiny and easy to shear.  Soft as can be with sun bleached tips for a very nice spinning blend.  She was fairly easy to do as she became friendlier after lambing this Spring. 

Today, I taught lots of lessons, sold two ducks and got a deposit on a ram lamb.  Very nice day with sunshine and warmth in the afternoon.  Decided about 5pm that I needed to get out to the barn and pick another winner. So, the lucky Michigan lottery went to Jan.  She was the one lucky enough to come up for grain and got picked for shearing.  Worked out well because she was panting a lot as the heat is setting in for the summer. 

Jan is in front, a tunis texal cross.  Beautiful fleece that I think would be great for a project. Dewey is in the background, she was the first to get sheared a couple months ago.  I'm definately improving on my skills.  I used to hire someone to shear until this year as I decided to take matters into my own hands.  And, it's getting better each time!!   If it wasn't for my back, I would actually like it, I think.

Three more to go...we'll see if we get done this week!