Animals – Sheep

June 16, 2015 – Sheeeeeep!

My desire to stop weed whacking stinging nettle and to continue to have marinated lamb chops on the grill led to this!

Three lambs, named by Martin – Thor, Loki, and Odin. They transitioned wonderfully to their new home – no bleating at all after leaving their ewe-mom. Now get chomping those weeds!

July 7, 2013 – Sheep Update

I have neglected to show off our sheep for this year. After not having any last year, I wanted to get a few to at least keep down the vegetation around the outbuildings.

The two boys are ours and the ewe is on loan. They are all growing nicely. Baaaah!

November 1, 2011 – 4-Leggeds Gone

This weekend marked a different kind of milestone – something significant getting subtracted from the farm. We sold the last of the sheep and goats today. It was a bittersweet time as the four-leggeds had been part of the farm for a long time. But realistically, we have no right trying to squeeze the animals into our schedules.

So, this winter, the barn will be silent. We’ll see next spring if we can stand not having any return, but for this winter, so hay sourcing, no trudging to the barn in the cold and dark hours before dawn to attend to food and water before heading off to work.

We might enjoy the spring and not having to be around most of March or April waiting for the ewes and does to give birth. But, the animals also added life to the farm, and we are firm believers in having a complete system of animals and crops. We’ll still have chickens and turkeys to provide some fertility.

September 5, 2011 – Mulberry Treats

It’s that time of year, the time to start cutting down the weedy mulberry trees along the fences and along the edges of the property.

Fortunately, the animals eagerly strip the leaves off before I cart the branches down to the burn piles.  Mulberry is highly digestible, contains up to 28% protein, and contains high levels of many minerals.  It’s a good supplement to late season pastures as well.  The animals love it.  Each day, I can cut  a cartload and slowly free the fences and edges.

one year ago…”Emma’s Car”

August 20, 2011 – Expanding Claire’s Horizons

Today, Claire and I woke up bright and early to bring most of this year’s lambs to the sale barn. Although, sharp-eyed readers may debate that either “Colfax Lives” or that we should have brought Linda’s latest knit socks along instead of some lambs.

Isn’t it nice to see Claire on a gravel parking lot wearing knee-high rubber chore boots? Better yet, inside, was no one younger than me, nor of the opposite sex, save for the teen running the concession stand. Surely a different world than that of Washington DC or college. We aim to produce well-rounded children with a wide variety of experiences second to none – and surely, few, if any of her classmates at school or co-workers in DC, have had parents to avail their children to such an experience!

one year ago…”Bees Keeping Cool”

June 15, 2011 – Baby!

Two of the four quads have become very friendly as we are supplementing them by bottle feeding.

Their names are very creative – much like the thousands of Golden Retrievers named “Golden”by their child owners.  The lambs are named “baby” as when we go to give a bottle, if they are not in sight, we call out “baaaaaybeeee” and they come running.

one year ago…”In Case of Fire”

June 5, 2011 – Weaning Lambs

It’s time to wean our lambs from their mommies – when the lambs are big enough to lift their mom’s back legs off the ground when they extend their head up to attach, it’s time to separate them and give the moms a break. After about 3-4 weeks the milk production drops as the lambs begin to graze.

It is however, a few loud days as the bleat and beller excessively, day and night. A book I read by Temple Grandin suggested to keep them in view of each other and to be able to sniff through a fence, so we are trying that this year instead of totally separating them. After one day, the ewe we call d$%m ewe has managed to somehow get two of her four babies through the fence, while all the other lambs (12 of them) remain separated.

one year ago…”Frank Lloyd Wright – Taliesin Tour”

May 4, 2011 – Polecat

Not a polecat in the traditional sense of the word (skunk), but instead a our black cat Ora, checking out her domain from above.

black cat on pole

Actually, the cat is also monitoring Linda as she gives a supplemental feeding to a couple of the bottle lambs from the set of quads.

bottle lambs

I wonder if the cat might not be licking up any spilled milk after the feeding is over?

one year ago…”Thought on Youth Coaches”

May 1, 2011 – Family Circus with Apoligies to Billy

It’s Sunday morning and there’s nothing quite like sitting down with the Sunday paper comics and looking upon the map of the circuitous route that Billy in the Family Circus takes from the house to the mailbox.  We had the high hopes version of that with a ewe and four of her lambs this afternoon.

It started innocently enough, Linda was moving the ewe with her quadruplets from her solitary stall in the barn out to some grass, now that all were getting along well.  Unfortunately, this ewe is the most distrustful of humans in the flock – she’s always been that way and we have no idea of the trauma she must have suffered at a younger age before we acquired her, but she is a pain to work with because she doesn’t think like the other sheep.  She doesn’t seem to need to be with the herd, she won’t go in the barn with the other 6 ewes for morning grain snack time until I leave the barn and much of the grain is gobbled up.

So as we were moving her the 30 feet from her stall to the pasture with the flock, she decided it was not time to be with the flock, but to be a wild sheep.  The map above shows our farm and about a half-mile across and up and down.  She bolted out away from the barn (red track) ran off of our land headed east down the fenceline, then headed south down another fenceline until she came to a creek  I thought I’d have her there, since she wouldn’t get across the creek. But she jumped the creek, and her four lambs followed her and she started heading to the blacktop road to the south.  Linda ran back and hopped in the car and positioned the car on the blacktop (290th) to prevent crossing that direction.  She was successful and Martin and I were running in the field, trying to get them back to the farm.

They went to the farm, but ran by and went to the north fenceline and beyond and ran a half mile down the field road.  At this point we took a break and each grabbed our cell phones and Linda drove around the section a mile down and was going to approach the sheep from the opposite direction on the field road.  She caught up with them where the red squiggles are in the NE corner.  By this time a neighbor came by in his tractor and joined the fray.  We got them turned around and heading back to the west.

Where the line turns purple, one lamb dropped off (probably from exhaustion) and while Linda patrolled the dirt road with the car to prevent them going further north, I was trying to get them to move back west.  Martin and the neighbor grabbed the tired lamb.

The ewe and remaining lambs ran back past the farm, but where the purple line turns yellow, Linda was able to grab two more of the tired lambs.  Now we had three lambs in possession, with the ewe and one lamb to go.  We had the momma bait we needed.  From there, it was rather uneventful getting them all back in the fence.  All in all, those week-old lambs probably ran about two miles, as did I through the unplanted cornfields, enough exercise for the day!

one year ago…”High Hopers Featured on Dock Jumping Blog”

April 25, 2011 – Quad Lambs!

Our most skittish ewe surprised us with four lambs today!  Doing the morning chores, we saw her with recently-born twins, so we ushered her and her lambs into the mothering pen.  We checked on her a bit later and she was fine.

I left for errands and when Linda got home, there were four lambs in the pen!  We wish her well and will probably need to help her along with extra milk.

one year ago…”Locavoring at Church Conference”

April 13, 2011 – The Streak Continues – 4 Days in a Row

Our ewe Gabby gave birth today.  We can officially blame Martin for the fact that she only dropped one lamb.  The night before she became a mom, Martin asked if ewes ever only had one baby.  We told him not very often and we’ve never had just one.

boy with lamb

So Gabby made liars out of us.  When she was labor, she REALLY wanted to be a mommy!  I moved one of the ewes out of the mommy-baby pen in anticipation of Gabby and her babies needing the space.  As soon as Gabby saw the other lambs from another ewe, she started licking and nursing them as her own while her own birthing process was beginning.  I separated her quickly as to not get everybody mixed up on who’s who.

one year ago…”New York Farm Workers Bill”

April 11, 2011 – U2 Gives Birth

Our 2nd ewe (also known forever after as U2) dropped her lambs today.  I went back to the back pasture to continue tearing down the old granary.  Smart mommy U2, dropped her lambs out int he pasture in a sunny spot, in the lee of the strong wind near the granary.

It took some convincing to get her into the pen in the barn to bond with her babes and for her owners to insure she’s nursing for a day or two before being allowed back outside again.

one year ago…”New Front Door”

April 10, 2011 – First Ewe Drops Triplets

As is usual with our goats and sheep, Sunday morning is a traditional time to drop babies.  Our first ewe to drop lambs this year followed in that tradition.

No sitting around watching and wondering if everything’s ok – just lambs walking around when we check on them.  We’re generally not fond of triplets, but our Kahtadin ewes have done fine with them so far.

one year ago…”Getting Garden Started”

January 3, 2011 – Winter Reset

A wonderful January 3. Was able to get all the Christmas lights down, clean out the stock tank – all in still 30 degree weather. The snowless ground and a chance to be outside for a while might go a long ways towards making “cabin fever” more bearable this season.

It’s nice not to be slipping on ice, it’s nice not to be shoveling out the path to the chicken coop, it’s nice for the sheep and goats to get out on the pasture and roam around, instead of staying cooped up in the barn. With no terrible weather on the horizon, it will be nice to at least get through the first part of January without any of the typical winter hardships.

one year ago…”Maizie in the Snow”

December 5, 2010 – Lambs off to the Freezer

Today, we brought four lambs on the first step on the way to the freezer.

These guys and more are already have an appointment at the locker.

Emma and sheep loading don’t always get along well. Many years ago, when she was perhaps too small to help, we backed the pickup truck to the barn and posted Linda on one side of the tailgate and Emma on the other side, while I tried to move the sheep into the back of the truck. We told her that her job was to “be the wall” and prevent sheep from jumping off of the edge of the tailgate (the truck had a topper). Well, when one decided to skeedaddle out of the truck, it saw her as the path of least resistance, so as the lamb escaped under her legs, she grabbed on and held on as the sheep ran away, dragging Emma behind until we told her to let go.

During the loading experience today – don’t let the docile little faces of the sheep in the trailer fool you. Emma and I were tag-teaming one into the trailer, she had the front legs, and I on the back legs (the thought was that I would have the heavy end). Well, the sheep butted Em in the head and there’s a sudden rush of tears and vivid red blood on the dusting of white snow on the ground – just a few feet away from where the turkeys were butchered a few weeks ago. It was a bit of an unsettling feeling, to say the least. As Linda rushed over to attend to Emma on the way she said, “There goes the sheep profits” thinking Emma’s nose was all busted up and in need of an ER visit. But the story has a happy ending as no major damage was done, but once again, Emma found a way to get out of loading the rest of the sheep!

one year ago…”Gift Box Assembly”

November 5, 2010 – Nifty Animal Separator

In the fall/winter, we have a special ration we feed the sheep, but have had trouble keeping the horse from taking more than her fair share.

Linda had an idea to put a board across that the sheep could go under, but horse not get through.  So, a couple of 2×4 brackets inside the door, a 2×4, and there you have it – sheep running in for a treat.  It won’t prevent the door from closing and  is easily removed by just sliding it out of the brackets.

The horse can just sit and look – rebuffed from the treat inside!

one year ago…”Thingamajig Thursday #183″

July 19, 2010 – Tank is Gone

The biggest bummer of vacation was finding out our best ewe died while we were gone.

From a photo this winter, Tank is the brown one in the foreground. Evidently, they went into the shed where the 12 foot fishing boat was stored and somehow (I blame the horse) the boat was pushed off the trailer and Tank was found half underneath the boat.

We told the person watching the farm “If you have livestock, you’ve got deadstock.” But still, finding a dead sheep the first time you came over to do chores is no doubt unnerving. We were way out of cell phone range, but between another neighbor and our remote outsourced farm support in India (Claire), the carcass got buried.

We are happy that Tank had triplets this spring, two of them ewes, so her genes run on at high hopes gardens.

one year ago…”Catch-Up Begins”

April 21, 2010 – Who Says Cats Don’t Make Good Shepherds?

Over the ages, many scientists, using keen powers of observation and conjecture, have winnowed many complex animal relationships.  These breakthroughs often times explain how seemingly random events are part of a larger unexplained whole.  I had just one such experience this week.  Many people regard cats as having few skills in  herding cloven-footed herbivores.  Dogs occupy most of the herding space, mainly due to their brash and over-the-top nipping, barking and running after their chosen herd of ungulates.

Cats have a different, heretofore, unrecognized approach to herding.  Cats are waaay more laid back – in fact, they’d rather make you think they weren’t doing anything at all.  Our oldest farm cat, Toby, probably about 13 years old by now demonstrated this technique to me, only after our long relationship.  In this photo he positions himself in what looks like a warm, sunny location, but actually uses the adjoining cavern to amplify his voice when he makes subtle voice commands and head motions to move the sheep.

After an initial calling meow, Toby uses almost imperceptible head motions to visually track to the sheep the direction he wants them to travel.  Here the lead ewe begins to follow Toby’s command, alerting the young lambs to come this way.

As his head moves from left to right in this photo sequence, the herd gains speed.

Once the sheep are safely moved closer to the barn, Toby acts as though he had nothing to do with it, even though the sheep look directly at him, awaiting further direction!

one year ago…”Apple Blossoms Soon”

March 12, 2010 – Third Ewe Drops Triplets

Three out of four ewes have dropped their lambs.  This one is our skittish ewe who never really looks pregnant compared to Tank.

Again, a morning trip to the barn found all the lambs out and up – triplets again.  Two of three ewes had triplets so far this year and have not needed any intervention. The ewes have also been very good about spacing their births, about 5-6 days apart.

one year ago…”Thingamajig #157″

March 6, 2010 – Ewe Lamb Births with no Problem

Our second ewe has given birth without any problems.  We checked the barn in the morning and these two boys were just born and still wet.

This was the birth we were most worried about since the ewe was only a year old.  But as you can see, momma did just fine!  She’s a very vocal mother, and makes all kinds of low muttering sounds to her lambs.

one year ago…”Maple Sugaring Part 1″

February 28, 2010 – Tank Delivers!

There indeed was a reason Tank was getting so very large – she was carrying three good-sized lambs!

katahdin ewe with lambs

Here she is with two of them trying to get some milk from momma – two females and one male.

hours old katahdin lamb

Here’s the third triplet, just hours after giving birth – Tank did it all on her 0wn – we went to the barn and the lambs were all delivered, but still wet.  So far, so good on these triplets – they all seem to be nursing and we hope they continue that was so we don’t end up with a bottle lamb.

one year ago…”Sheep Bling”

January 25, 2010 – Blizzard Warning with no Warning?

The weather people missed out on predicting this storm  We went from winter weather advisory to Blizzard warning in a flash.

I’ll only bother you with four seconds of the view while I was waiting for the early out bus near the closest blacktop road.

sheep in barn

We’ve learned it’s just best to take the lead of the animals and hunker down until it passes, like the animals in the barn.

I had to laugh at the poor sap they interviewed on TV who said he shoveled his sidewalk 12 times today – after each shovel it filled in with snow in just 10 minutes. Evidently it took him 12 times to realize it was pointless and it might be better to shovel it just once after the wind stops blowing!

I-35 is closed from Ames to Clear Lake and I-80 is shut from Newton to Grinnell, so we are pretty much getting hammered.

one year ago…”Snowbanks are Back”

November 15, 2009 – Mixing Winter Grain Ration

It’s a big mixing weekend. The bred ewes eat mostly hay over the winter, but we give a little grain supplement for the pregnant and nursing ewes.

First step is to grind up some corn – ground corn is better than shell corn as it is better to digest. Here Martin watches the electric grinder and Ora the black kitten perches on the apple tree high above to watch!

Again, there are many possible combinations of grain mixtures, here’s what we’re trying this winter – steamed rolled barley, steam crimped oats, and linseed meal.

The final bit of the feed mix is a little bit of probiotics.  Probiotics have many good effects on health, but are especially good for good rumen health.

Martin with the buckets ready for the first group to be mixed.  Here’s this winter’s recipe:

2 parts cracked corn
1 part steam-rolled barley
1 part steamed crimped oats
1 part linseed meal
1 oz probiotics per 125 lb mix

one year ago…”Home-Made Cider Press Info”

October 14, 2009 – Pasture Reconfiguration

It is time for a pasture reconfiguration.  The area broadly outlined in white shows where the new temporary fence went up.

This fence allows the animals to get into an area they haven’t yet grazed this season.  It includes the ornamental willow nursery – now that the majority of the growing season is over, they can eat the willows since they will be cut down to the ground next spring to keep ornamental size.  Our fences are mainly cattle panels and metal fenceposts, so it is easy to move things around.

one year ago…”Toothless Martin”

September 15, 2009 – Mulberry Feast

It doesn’t take long for a mulberry tree to get away from you.  This one was growing in the fenceline south of the raspberries.  It was overdue to take out. One of those things that’s on “the list” for a long time.

The tractor sure made the job easy – instead of cutting it up into pieces and hauling it away – I just had to drop it with the chainsaw, wrap a chain around it and drag it into the pasture. I wanted to do it before the leaves dropped.

In the pasture it became well appreciated browse for the goats and sheep.

one year ago…”Carrot Harvest”

August 10, 2009 – Mulberry Forage

Mulberry is excellent forage – comparing favorably to alfalfa in protein content.  There is so shortage of mulberry around here, so the goats and sheep have been getting a small daily ration of trees cut out of fencelines and other places I don’t want them going.

When the pastures start to fade in late summer, it’s a good boost for the animals.

one year ago…”State Fair Day”

March 16, 2009 – New Electric Fence

Although it’s a bit hard to see in this photo, I finally got the electric fence across the cement pad outside the barn.

This will give us much more flexibility to segregate animals as needed.  Because the fence was on cement, I needed to make the fence have alternate hot and ground wires so animals can complete the circuit (the cement acts as an insulator and they don’t create the circuit to ground through the cement.

one year ago…”Happy St. Urho’s Day!”

February 28, 2009 – Sheep Bling

Today the lambs got their bling – new earrings.  Only one stud for both boys and girls.  Ear tagging is a new process for us and it seemed to go well.

Here’s Linda with number 16.

And me with number 17. I went into the local farm store (Theisens) earlier in the week to get the tags and thought they were a bit pricey at $28.00 for 20 sheep/goat tags along with $26 for the applicator tool.  I didn’t get them and checked our favorite fencing supply store, Premiere Fencing and was able to get 40 tags for $8 and the applicator tool for $9.00.  So, what I would have paid $82 at Theisen’s, I got for $17 at Premiere.

one year ago…”Mango Farm”

February 20, 2009 – Hangin’ with the Ewes

All the ewes and lambs are together now that moms and babies know who each other are.  Everybody got their tetanus shots and one boy was banded – the two others will have to wait a few more days as they are not quite old enough yet.

I can’t wait for it to green up and get these folks out on the pasture!  The lambs are frolicking and jumping like good little lambs do!

one year ago…”Attic Progress”

February 16, 2009 – Tank’s a Mommy

Tank finally had her lambs. She had triplets – each of them seems very vigourous. The previous triplet birth last week, we eventually lost the runt of the batch, but we’re hopeful about these three.

These seem to have perhaps a Romanoff or other Daddy ram as they have more curly fur than their barnmates. After a few more days alone, we’ll finally get all the ewes and lambs together in one spot.

one year ago…”Thinking Ahead to Spring”

February 13, 2009 – Katahdin Birth

We’ve never been able to witness the birth on any mammals on our farm until this Katahdin.  I must  admit it seemed much easier and quicker than the three off-farm births I witnessed (Claire, Emma, and Martin).

The head and legs first popped out and hung around for probably a couple of minutes before the whole body plopped out.

Mommy did a good job of  stimulating the lamb and cleaning it up by thorough lickings.  The ewe made the most tender low muttering sounds to the lamb after birth – reminiscent of a soft lullaby.

The lamb wanted to get up and move in the worst way – after about five minutes of false attempts and struggling, it got up on its legs for the first time.  He has a strong instinct to nurse, again, taking about five minutes to find the teat, first sucking on the back legs and many other false starts before finding the food source.

Then, the process was repeated when another lamb came out – only the next one came out tail first.  It was a bit funny to see the body half out of the ewe with the of the lamb wagging away.

one year ago…”Looking for a Wife? (I’m not)”

February 7, 2009 – New Hay Feeder

Another accoutrement that we now need is a hay feeder.  Now that the weather has warmed to the upper 40’s, it’s possible to get outside and do stuff.

I copied this design from a photo in a sheep raising book, except I added the hardware cloth bottom and wheels, and made it a bit taller than designed, hoping goats wouldn’t jump on top of it.  I much prefer rolling heavy items than lifting them.  I made the framing out of AC2 lumber, but used cedar for the slats on the bottom and top, not wanting the hay to have that much contact with the chemically treated boards.

We used a design feature suggested by Martin.  I was trying to figure out a quick and dirty way to keep the hinged lid open when loading hay and Martin suggested a small block that’s attached with a wire that goes in the hinge to keep it open.

one year ago…”Thingamajig #106″

February 5, 2008 – First Lambs Arrive!

The first lambs arrived today! Linda found them probably about a half-hour after they were born – what looks like triplet ewe-lambs!

Two of them are good-sized, but one is small.

“Baby,” the smallest one, took a turn downhill about an hour after birth.  She looked dead. We brought her into the house, put her on a heating pad, tubed her (put a tube down her throat to get some milk in her to get her kick-started).

A short while later, she showed signs of wanting to live again, and once she was strong enough to stand up, she’s better off with Mom, to get the important colostrum, so she headed back out to the barn. Thank goodness the cold weather broke and the night is only supposed to get down into the 20’s and in the 40’s most of the next 5 days.

one year ago…”Ordering Seeds”

February 1, 2009 – Katahdin Sheep at High Hopes!

We’ve had our eyes on Katahdin sheep for some time.  We found out about a fire sale on bred Katahdin ewes just a few days ago and went out and got some after consulting with people who know more about sheep than we do.  These four ladies are bred and should lamb in a couple of weeks or less.  We’ve got room in the barn, have enough hay, and were able to get the ladies for less than the price of two feeder lambs.

We hope we’ll like these because they birth easily, have hair instead of wool, which means they don’t need to be sheared, their tails commonly aren’t docked, and they are a meat breed and do well on pasture (some studies also indicate they are more resistant to parasites as well).  Stay tuned as the ewes give birth in the upcoming days!

one year ago…”Musings from Tomorrow”

May 17, 2008 – First 80 Degree Day in 6 Months

Today it reached 80 degrees for the first time in about six months. The first 80 degree day is usually in mid-April, not mid-May. It was like a blast furnace, along with a 30 mph wind – clothes on the line dried in about 15 minutes, much faster than the dryer.

We got six lambs today – here’s three of them, appreciative of the lush grass, so appreciative that the one on the right is leaving a fertilizer deposit!

The starts look good – they are outside hardening off before getting planted – here is a flat of celosia.

one year ago…”Thingamajig Thursday #72″

November 25, 2007 – Last Lambs of the Season

Today the last of the seasonal livestock left the farm today.

The last four lambs were loaded up into the back of the pickup truck (complete with topper to keep them from experiencing winter wind chill).  Over the years, loading livestock has become much easier.  When we began, it seemed like a long ordeal – we’d try to make all kinds of ramps to the back of the truck from the barn, try to slowly entice them into the truck with food.  Eventually, a few would get in the truck, then they’d bolt out, or jump off the ramp and back into the pasture.  Of course, we’d also neglect to tie up the dogs, and they’d enter the fray.  Eventually, after period of disgust, bad language, and time periods of all-too-long nothingness, we’ve found the best way for us is to lure them in the barn with some corn, get two adults, and grab the lambs by the front and back legs and lift them into the back of the truck.  Everyone seems more relaxed, and it is important that the animals, too, are relaxed as anybody who has read animal expert Temple Grandin knows.

It is a bittersweet time of year for us.  We are very aware that the animals on our farm end up on someone’s table, often our own.  We have no doubts that our method of farming allows animals the fresh air, water, natural grass-based diet and space they are accustomed to as a species of animal on this earth.  Very few animals raised for food in the U.S. still have these rights.  We are grateful to the animals for what they provide to us and recognize the sacrifices made so we can eat.

one year ago…

November 12, 2007 – Lambskin Tannery Burns

There’s been entirely too much news about fires on the blog this month – the fire at the solvent factory, the neighbor’s old house, and we just received a letter from our tannery (Stern Tanning in Sheboygan Falls, WI)  that their workspace burned down and our hides were lost.  We had five hides in process.  It sounds like they might be back by the end of the year.  This got us looking for other places to tan our sheepskins and we really didn’t find too many.  The best link we found was this one that lists 4 tanneries a bit down the page.  So, we’ll try again – we really do like the finished wooly hides.

one year ago…

October 9, 2006 – Lambs Growing Up

Our lambs are a bit behind most others in the area. They were born in June, so won’t be ready until late, late fall. They get a little bit of corn to help them keep warm and get used to coming when we call. That helps when we yell SHEEPY-SHEEPY-SHEEP to lock them up at night to prevent a coyote feast! Otherwise, they graze to their heart’s content all day.

August 13, 2006 – At the Fair

Today was our day at the State Fair. I’ve got more than one day’s pictures, so I’ll spread them out over the next few days.

One of the most startling revelations was that sheep culture so closely mirrors human history. Bear with me, for this quick tour of “sheep through the ages.”

Practicing the orthodoxy of the Spanish Inquisition, these two crusaders scan the sheep barn for heresy.

The grand imperial wizard of the sheep barn, keeps an eye out for Suffolk sheep taking their place in the barn.

These laid-back California sheep have started their own sheep commune where the motto is “Ewe Don’t Give it up to the Man.”

Finally, we reach the modern era, where the pride wing of the sheep barn allows same-sex sheep to live in the same pen.

July 25, 2006 – Not Three Blind Mice but One Blind Lamb

One of the bottle lambs we were given was blind from birth. He seems to be doing very well so far

He’s nice and fat. For a while, one of the other sheep acted as his “seeing eye” sheep, but now every once in awhile this one will start bawling when the others are out of his hearing range, but he comes running to the sound of our voice, so he’s easy to get back with the herd when that happens. He gets along quite well for the most part.

Any day this week the turkeys should arrive. Here are the luxurious accommodations, at least for the first week or two.

At high hopes we like to have multiple uses for whatever we can. This is a used stock tank we picked up at an auction for dirt cheap. It still holds water, so I put it on a small trailer and haul water with it from the tank that collects water from the barn to the raspberries or new trees. Now it is brooder to keep the turkeys separate from the chicken chicks. We also use it below the barge wagon so when we open the rear gate, any grain that spills falls into it instead of on the ground.

June 5, 2006 – Bottle Lambs & Dormer In!

Today, our lamb supplier called to ask if we wanted a couple of bottle lambs. He is off to the World Cup in Germany and couldn’t care for them. It was an easy choice for us – we have the milk (from the goats), the time (plenty of kids) and the price was right (free).

Today was the day the dormer went in along with the re-roof on the southern side of the house. Some people have a reoccurring dream about falling or getting chased. Mine is having a house that leaks (badly) in the rain. I’ve had it about a half dozen times, including last night. I guess I was a bit anxious. So, when the hole is cut in the roof, it gets my attention.

Here the hole is cut and the rough framing is in. The big hole in the side will be all window.

Here’s the view after the shingles are ripped of, but before the old rafters are cut. It will be a nice green light through the window.

October 31, 2005 – Graveside at Halloween

Note: Today’s post deals somewhat graphically with death and burial of animal remains. If that makes you uncomfortable, you may want to skip reading this post.

Today didn’t go as planned. I didn’t envision I’d be outside after dark on a chilly Halloween evening beside a shallow grave, watching the steam rise up from the intestines and assorted other organs of the sheep.

I knew I’d be burying sheep offal, just never thought it would be after the 10 o’clock news. I asked the locker to call call me after the sheep were slaughtered so I could retrieve the lambskins to start the first part of the tanning process. They promised they would. The renderer does not take sheep offal, so the farmer has to take the remains and dispose of them.

So I kept checking the phone every 15 minutes or so. I’m told if a hide isn’t quickly salted down, the hair will fall off later in the tanning process. Nine am passes, 10 am, 11 am, noon. One pm, finally I can’t stand it any longer and decide to drive in before I pick the girls up from school to either pick up the skins because they forgot to call me or see when they would be done.

The “Critter Ridder” does the slaughtering. His truck advertises he will get rid of problem bats, raccoons, skunks, moles, feral cats. etc. His side job is slaughtering the animals for the locker. I wonder if the guidance counselor in high school was disturbed when the results of his career interest survey came back.

Critter Ridder tells me he is way behind as there were a couple of emergency cows that came in and that the lambs should be ready around 6:00-6:30. I return then (missing trick-or-treating) to find nothing at the slaughter house. The lambs are not in the outside pen where I left them, nor are the lambskins and offal outside, nor is anybody there. I wait around for a half hour or so, hoping he had just run to get some smokes or a bite to eat.

I resign myself to thinking I’ve missed the boat on these skins. Around 9:30 he calls and says they are ready to pick up. I run to town to pick them up and when I return home, start rubbing the salt into the hides. There is something satisfying about this step. I don’t know if it is reminiscent of earlier times when hide tanning was an important skill for survival, whether I’m feeling good about using the a part of the animal most people throw away, but at any rate, rubbing the salt into the hides is satisfying.

After the hides are all salted down, it’s time to drag the offal into the pasture to the hole that Martin and I dug earlier in the day. As the darkness and chilly air surround me, I hear more than one strange sound as the offal falls into the shallow grave. In the darkness, I fill the hole with dirt, happy that this part of the day is finally over.

July 1, 2005 – Sheep Finally Arrive

Today, we finally picked up our sheep. We got four from Goat Girls Farm near Runnells. Emma has promptly named all of them in the vacuum left by her sister’s absence. Without further ado, this year’s sheep crop!
They are still a bit shy, only on the ground in their new home a few minutes when this picture was taken.
Did you hear about the two shepherds leaning on their crooks at the end of a long day. The first one says to the second, “So, how’s it going?” The second one sighs and shakes his head, “Not good. I can’t pay my bills, my health isn’t good, and my oldest kid was thrown in jail last night.” The first shepherd replies, “Well, don’t lose any sheep over it.”
sheep We’ll have these until the grass dies in the late fall.
The turkeys are growing fast. Here are what our Bronze-Breasted look like today.