Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thank you 2010!

As the year draws to a close, I want to take a moment to thank some of the people who have supported the farm with purchases in 2010...

  • Susan Flock - Wolverine, Michigan
  • Stacie Brown - Jonesboro, Arkansas
  • Donna Koranek - Lake Zurich, Illinois
  • Jessica Fisher - Milford, Michigan
  • Noah Danberry - Colon, Michigan
  • Karen Kruger - Flushing, Michigan
  • Martin & Marie King - Richmond, Michigan
  • Cindy & Mark Mackenzie - Belleville, Wisconsin
  • Leslie Cieplechowicz-Hofen - Emmett, Michigan
We have been EXTREMELY lucky this year and have met some amazing new friends (and stregthened some old friendships too). So many people have supported us this year in many ways and we wish you all the very best in 2011!

Happy New Year to all of our friends and family!

Another Holiday Gathering...

My brother and his family are in town from Minnesota and spent the afternoon with us at the farm.  My parents joined us as well.  Wayne made his homemade chicken noodle soup (which is so thick with homemade noodles that it is really more of a stew - JUST the way I like it!).  My nieces treated us to a show featuring their ballet skills as well as beautiful duets on the piano.  I can't believe how fast they are growing up - they are beautiful girls.
We walked around and visited with all of the animals.  The temperatures were around 40F today and the ice I was worried about earlier in the week has not been a problem so far.
It was a GREAT afternoon and the donkeys were pretty happy with the carrots the visitors fed them...  It was a banner day to be a donkey!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Dog Days of Winter

We ran the roads for most of the day - went to breakfast, the bank, new tires for the car, and picked up a load of firewood.  After unloading the wood, we let the dogs out to play in the snow while we filled the horses water tank.  Here are some pictures of their doggy antics...
The "Ugly Dog" rolling in the snow...

Eddie coming, Abby and Mikey going...

Marty posing...

Tomas carrying his chunk of ice (a winter delicacy)...

Mikey looking intent...

The "Ugly Dog" batting her eyes at her daddy...

All six of the hooligans playing in the snow...

Tomas is the only boy...  Cycy (the Ugly Dog), Marty, Eddie, Mikey, and Abby are all girls.

Goodbye Girls

This morning the three Suffolk Ewes left for their new home...  I am a bit on the sentimental side and these were our very first sheep so it was kind of strange to see them leave.  They really have been excellent ewes for us - good moms, producing fast growing lambs.  If our farm goals had gone the direction of a commercial meat flock, these ewes would have been the perfect foundation ewes to build a flock with.
I am really thrilled with the folks who purchased them...  They currently have a small flock of Shetlands and wanted to add these ewes to their flock in order to offer customers some larger meat lambs.  They really seem excited about the ewes and about raising sheep in general.  It makes me feel good to know that these girls are going to a great place.
The resources that we had been putting into the Suffolk Ewes can now go to our purebred flocks and I am really happy with the direction we are headed.  The 2010 black Merino Ewe lamb is really starting to come into her own - for the longest time I couldn't get a good picture of her - finally she doesn't look like a baby anymore.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Worrisome Weather Forecast

Michigan winters can be totally unpredicatable...  I can remember in years past horseback riding in light-weight jackets on New Years Day and yet this year we haven't seen above freezing temps since the beginning of December.

The forecast for the end of this week is for warmer temps and the chance of rain.  You might think that a reprieve from the bitter cold temps of winter would be a welcomed thing, but instead I am a little anxious.  It has been so cold for the last month, that the snows of December have been packed down under the horses feet into a very hard layer covering most of the paddocks.  A few days of mild temps accompanied with rain may turn that snow pack into an ice rink.

I am hoping we can keep all of the horses safe and up on their feet if the ice hits like I am worried it will.  Tomorrow we'll get some salt and sand ready - it is all we can do...  I am pretty sure a few bags of each would be like putting a bandaide over a massive flesh wound, but it's still better than nothing.

Tomorrow morning the new owner is coming to pick up the three suffolk ewes...

Monday, December 27, 2010

Post Christmas Recovery

As I begin to emerge from a very deep coma, brought on by overindulgence in holiday fare, I find myself very thankful that Christmas comes but once a year.  One of the hidden pitfalls of hosting a Holiday gathering is the leftovers...  here to tempt for days after the party is done.  Let's face it, we don't make health foods to serve to our holiday guests, and Wayne and I both have no concept of how to cook for 15 people.  We could likely have served 50 and still had leftovers.

We spent ALL of Christmas day recovering from the party...  other than feeding and watering the animals, we did not leave the house.  It was cold and snowing and the dogs claimed the seat closest to the wood stove.
I was pretty excited about a gift I received this year.  Wayne gave me a scarf made from 100% Merino Wool.  The yarn was all handspun on one of his wheels and woven on his Ashford Loom.  I love this scarf - it is nice and long and very comfortable.
For those of you who have never been exposed to spinning or weaving, it is very time consuming. There are many hours of labor put into a gift like this...  My sister suggested that the scarf was so nice that Wayne should consider making them and offering them for sale.  Once you explain waiting a year for a fleece to grow, paying to have it processed into roving, the hours spent spinning it into yarn, and finally weaving that yarn into the scarf...  For what you would have to price it at, you couldn't possibly compete with the ones for sale at the local retail giant.
I am on vacation from work this week and we took advantage of the day to pick up horse grain and poultry feed.  All of the animals are doing great with the cold temperatures (around 20 F at the moment).  I am thankful that the worst of my "holiday indulging" is over and it seems that tonights Zumba class may have pulled me back from the brink.

Thanks to everyone for your wonderful comments and holiday wishes!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas "UGLY DOG" Style...

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the farm,
the family had gathered to eat, laugh, and stay warm.

With brisket, and pork loin, and cabbage rolls too,
Potatos, squash, kapusta, and cheese ball from Sue.

Grandma brought cheesecake and Laura some bread,
Michelle's homemade Pierogi were truly heaven sent.

The presents brought laughter which filled up the room,
and Wayne showed Jen how to string her new loom.

The party is over but the memories will stay,
and leftovers will make it a great Christmas day.

We hope that this season brings you Holiday Charm,
Merry Christmas to ALL from Ugly Dog's Farm!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

One Mighty Fine Ass...

No folks, I have NOT been staring in the mirror again...

...well even if I have been staring in the mirror, I am not the "subject ass". 

I want to tell you about a friend I have had for most of my life - Barney the donkey.  He truly is one mighty fine ass.
Sometime in the late 1970s or very early 1980s, my uncle adopted two wild burros from the US Bureau of Land Management.  My uncle was an amazing guy and one of the most intelligent people I have had the pleasure to know.  He restored antique automobiles, was on a "pit crew" for an Indy Race Car driver, was an avid hunter, the list goes on and on...

These two adopted burros were my first glimpse into the world of livestock.  Uncle John named the boys for two of his favorite television "asses".   "No. 7" was named after the donkey in the show "Grizzly Adams" and "Barney" was named after Barney Fife in "The Andy Griffith Show".  I spent many happy hours in my youth visiting my uncle and feeding "the boys" any weed I could pull and reach over the fence.

Poor old No. 7 died in the mid 1980s.  Rather than calling and telling me about this, my uncle, being a bit eccentric, send an envelope of pictures detailing the sad event and burial.  In retrospect, I chuckle at the thought, but as a child it was the perfect way for me to learn and be a part of this important lesson of having livestock.  Uncle John quickly found a new friend for Barney, an older jack named "Luke".

Many years passed and I continued to be very close with my uncle.  He had a beautiful piece of property in the woodland Upper Pennisula in northern Michigan and I spent time with him every fall hunting deer, learning to cut wood, talking about life, and making memories that will be with me forever.

It has been 6 or 7 years since my uncle was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer.  He asked me if I would take the donkeys for him and if I could give him the slightest peace of mind that "his boys" would be taken care of, this was the very least I could do.  My uncle told me that once I had a donkey, I would always have a donkey.
Luke & Barney

Uncle John passed away in the spring of 2007 after a long and well fought battle with a terrible disease.  Luke the donkey, who was in his forties at the time, died a year later.  Poor old Barney, no spring chicken himself, had been pastured with Luke for over 20 years and was heartbroken on the day that Luke died.  Within 24 hours, having heard the news of Luke's death, some good friends offered to let us buy their miniature Jenny to keep Barney company.  It was LOVE at first sight.

This is where my "can't leave well enough alone" gene kicked in and I somehow talked myself into buying a 2nd Jenny....   FOR BARNEY...  did I mention that she was also pregnant???  (see some amazing pictures of the donkey birth)

Barney is definately showing his age.  The winter of 2008 was very hard on him and I was worried that he may not be with us long.  I bought him a waterproof and insulated winter blanket, had our Amish friends build him a new run-in shed, and started hand feeding him Equine Senior feed every night.  That's right folks, since 2008, I hold a bucket for 15 - 30 minutes each and every night while Barney chews every mouthful.

This is time I have come to enjoy with my old friend.  We talk about the weather, the latest happenings on the farm, and remenisce about our younger years.  I would like to think that my uncle is watching us and smiling... 
Gibbs, Sophie, Barney, and Zoey

By the way, I didn't believe it then but I am pretty sure my uncle was right... I can't imagine life without a donkey or two around.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Obsession, Excitement, and Appreciation

Obsession (noun) - the domination of one's thoughts or feelings
by a persistent idea, image, desire, etc.

Anyone who knows me personally is probably aware that over the years I have lost, found, lost, found, and lost again no small amount of body fat over my lifetime. In the fall of 2009 with my 35th birthday looming in less than a year, I became very focused on finally conquering my "battle of the bulge". I worked hard at changing my eating habits, my diet, and my excercise routine and ended up celebrating my 35th birthday very happy with my health and very happy with my weight loss (met my goal and then some).

I continue to work on toning and tightening with thoughts that some day I might possibly go to a beach without being mistaken for a marshmallow wearing a bathing suit (although marshmallows are VERY sweet and I insist that we will always have this in common).

You will probably note, after reading my blog, that I am prone to obsessing. The other day I caught myself rescheduling a friends birthday dinner because it fell on the same day as a Zumba class. Luckily I have very understanding friends and "can we reschedule your birthday so that I don't have to unpack my fat clothes" was completely understood.

Excitement (noun) - an excited state or condition.

I am the youngest of 5 children (I am pretty sure that my parents kept having them until they got the perfect one). Each year we try to get the family together on Christmas Eve - this year my sister and her family, from Chicago, will be jointly hosting the family festivities here at the farm. I am very excited to see everyone and to enjoy good company and homemade family recipes.

My sister found my grandmother's recipe for Pierogi and is bringing 6 dozen of them. Unfortunately my Brother and his family from Minnesota won't get into town until later in the week but it will be great to see them when they finally do.

Appreciation (noun) - Recognition of the quality, value, significance, or magnitude of people and things.

Wayne has been working his butt off to get ready for this party... he is cooking, cleaning, shopping, and getting the house ready for my family. I REALLY appreciate it! Between work, Zumba, and Christmas events throughout the week, I will be little help until Thursday night. I am pretty darn lucky!

It's a good thing that the dogs are ready and willing to help... Too bad there are no dishes to be cleaned.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Weekend in review...

It was a bit of a lazy weekend here at Ugly Dog's Farm...

On Friday morning we drove out to Imlay City and picked up a freshly mixed batch of sheep grain, followed by haircuts (the human kind) and then Sushi with our friends from Pitchfork Ranch at Sagano Japanese Bistro & Steakhouse in Flint...

Now to put this in perspective, understand that for the first thirty-some years of my life, I was a die-hard seafood hater.  There is something about the taste, smell and texture of most seafood that turns my stomach.   That said, I will try just about anything once (and some things even twice...) so when asked to go out for sushi a few years back, I was willing to try it (with absolutely no expectation that I would like it).  I was pretty blown away when I actually liked the stuff...  I mean, raw fish?!?!?  It's mind boggling even still.

Saturday morning started with 9AM morning ZUMBA!!!  I really love this excercise class - it is a cross between latin dancing, cardio-aerobics, and partying on the dance floor - how could one not love a party?  We then finished some Christmas shopping and went out for Margaritas with some friends.

Sunday was a very lazy day...  other than breakfast in town with friends and picking up some odds and ends for the family Christmas party later this week, we sat by the wood stove and watched movies for most of the day.  I fed the animals a little earlier than normal and we took a walk to the end of the road and watched the kids sledding on Toboggan Hill.
The hill is part of the 4500 acre park which is just across the road from us.  There are tons of non-motorized horseback trails traversing the woods, creeks, lakes, and hills.  It is an amazing resource which we are lucky to have so close to home.

The sheep are finally coming to the realization that their protests have fallen on deaf ears.  The tyrant farmers (Wayne and I) are not listening to their demands for 2nd cutting alfalfa hay.  Sometimes life is full of bitter disappointment.
The peafowl spent the day in and about the chicken coop - rations are good and plenty in the coop...   but don't tell the sheep!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Activisim on the farm...

The sheep are not happy and they are letting it be known...

We always increase protien levels "pre-breeding" which increases ovulation thus increasing lambing rates (this means good 2nd cutting alfalfa hay and grain for the month before breeding and into the first trimester)...

We have just switched to 1st cutting grass hay (the sheep think it is crap)...  There is MUCH protesting going on...

Some of the ewes are even threatening a hunger strike (that is until we get out of view and then they reluctantly eat the "crap" we have left for them).

The poor babies...

"Distinctly Cheviot" - PART 2 (SNEAK PEEK)

Just a quick word about the future of our Cheviot Flock...

We decided that if we were going to promote ourselves as breeders of "old style" Cheviots, then our sheep better have breed character coming out of their ears...  So when a friend found a breeder down in North Carolina who was interested in selling stock from his registered flock which he has kept closed for 16 years, we were interested in finding out what he had...  I will say that I would personally never keep my genetic base so narrow for so long.

I talked to the breeder extensively and he emailed me a few pictures of his sheep.  I liked their breed character and thought that crossing these sheep with ours would definately be worth trying, so we decided to invest in a few ewes and perhaps a young ram.  Our plan was to breed the ewes to our homegrown ram lamb and then to put a ram from his flock on some of our ewes.

Wayne drove down to North Carolina and picked up the sheep...  after many hours of driving and an unexpected tow to a Ford Dealership for a new alternator on his way home, I finally got to see the sheep in person.
As you can see, they were nice, "typey", and stocky ewes...  What immediately suprised me was that they were quite a bit smaller than my ewes.    WHY?    Is this the "TRUE" size of a Cheviot?    or is the smaller stature a function of keeping the genetics of the flock closed for so long?   Or perhaps this is a result of a completely grass fed environment and upbringing?
This picture was taken the day the ewes came out of quarantine and had gone through a very agressive deworming regimine in order to minimize the risk of introducing parasites from a warmer climate which may be more resistant to commercial dewormers.  You can see the size difference pretty well in this picture.

Regardless of the reason for the size difference, these ewes do not look narrow so their capacity to carry and deliver healthy lambs is not worrying me...   and I think that crossing them with my genetics should produce some pretty nice sheep.  Time will tell!

If nothing else, we have added some more variety...  stay tuned for updates as our 2011 lambs show us what the future may hold!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

"Distinctly Cheviot"

I have often said that Cheviot sheep are not for wimps.  They force you to be smart, to plan carefully, and to try to see the world from a sheep's point of view...  And just about when you think you have things figured out, they point out your weaknesses.  The good news is that if you can successfully handle Cheviots, most other sheep are a breeze... and besides that, Cheviots really don't require much coddling...  as a rule they are good mothers, easy lambers, and the lambs are up and nursing in no time.
A lot of shepherds try to set up their paddocks, feeding areas, and handling systems so that they don't have to go in the pens with their sheep on a daily basis.  These can be great time and labor saving ideas, but I find that when dealing with Cheviots, the more you can physically interact with them, the better they are when you have to catch them for worming, shearing, foot trimming, and the like.  My ewes are used to us being in their space - these are smart little sheep.
As we have grown our flock of Border Cheviots, we have worked very hard to find sheep with that "old style" look and charm that we instantly fell in love with.  Cheviots have a presence about them - they look so alert and bright eyed - there is something you can see even in a cheviot crossbred sheep that is "Distinctly Cheviot".  Their wool-free heads are stricking in contrast with black noses and eyes which sometimes look like they have been outlined in black eyeliner.
As with most breeds, the show ring dictates how a breed "evolves" and the modern Cheviot is losing a lot of the things that I love about the breed.  They are being bred for larger frame, longer legs, size, and more size.  A very successful show breeder told me that Montadales are being crossed back on to Cheviots in order to get size needed to win in the ring.   It is pretty apparent when looking at some of the modern show Cheviots that there is some fox that has been running amok in the hen house.  The resulting sheep are definately taller, more narrow, with very long legs.  Their ears are longer and sometimes set much lower and you can even find pink noses.

Let's face it, there are no "pure" breeds...  all of these wonderful breeds we have today were developed from crossing sheep and selecting for desired traits...  It continues even today (even if a registry might not want to believe it).  I would never tell any sheep breeder what their breeding goals should be and I am certainly not upset with people who are breeding these modern sheep (they are making a lot more money selling sheep than I will with my cheviots)...  That being said, I personally know what I want to see in MY flock and am excited when I find others with like minds who are breeding the same kind of sheep.

So if my sheep aren't "show" sheep, who am I marketing to????

1) I continue to be pleasantly suprised with how many like-minded Cheviot enthusiasts I find.  Others who fell in love with those same traits that excite me when I see my sheep...  They are out there and they continue to grow in numbers.

2) Cheviots also make great commercial crosses...  The great mothering abilities and the way the lambs are up and going so quickly make them an excellent breed for any commercial breeder to consider...  Not to mention that those pointed noses and relatively narrow skulls make those crossbred lambs come out with ease.

3) Cheviot lamb is mild flavored...  I love to eat lamb and I promote it like crazy.  Folks who buy a freezer lamb from me are likely to come back for more.

4) Cheviot wool is gaining in popularity...  It is springy and spins very easily...  It also dyes very easily and blends very well with Alpaca, Llama, and other sheep wool...

5) The Future???   I am convinced that one day the show ring is going to have to add some Cheviot back into their Cheviots!!!  And when they do, I am going to be ready for them.  And who knows, maybe one day I will even decide to show my sheep...  It may be good to throw an "old style" cheviot in the class if for no other reason than to show how much the breed is changing...  who knows, maybe someone might remember why they chose this breed in the first place?!?!?!?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wednesday in the SNOW!

It was a beautiful day here today...  I got home from work to news that the Clun Ram was a busy boy.  He was breeding U46 who will be three years old in March.  The group is pictured below waiting for their dinner. 
U46 is the one on the left with the rip in her ear.  If all goes as planned, December 15 breeding should yield May 11 lambs (give or take).

In addition to the Clun ewe lamb I wrote about previously (X42), we have also retained three Cheviot and one Natural Colored Merino ewe lamb from our 2010 lambs...  I took a few pictures this evening to share.
The Natural Colored Merino Ewe lamb is really starting to mature nicely.  Her dam has been an excellent mother and has lambed twins every year so far with no assistance, she also produces a beautiful 14 pound fleece annually...  I am very excited to have a daughter from her to retain for our brood flock.  Even more exciting is that I think the daughter is turning out nicer than her mother.
If you can read her expression above, she is saying "put down the camera and put the feed in the trough."


The wind died down today and temperatures were in the low 20s, bright white snow on the evergreens makes the farm look like a winter wonderland. 
My favorite part of having snow on the ground is being able to see the tracks marking the activites of our dogs.  I am always amazed at how much ground they cover.  Here is a picture of Abby the Border Collie gaurding the Chicken Coop...
I tried to get some pictures of the horses in the snow, but by the time I got done feeding the sheep, dusk had arrived and it was too dark for pictures.  I guess I will save that for another day!

Stay warm and dry!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Financial Benefits of Freezing Water

Yesterday I told you about the bitter cold temperatures and the new ice sculpture opportunities freezing in our water tanks.  We run water tank deicers for the horses and donkeys, but currently have 5 different groups of sheep and I just can't bring myself to give that much additional financial funding to the electic company.

Tonight I have had to resort back to my yearly winter exercise routine of carrying buckets of fresh water to all of the sheep.  In addition to the cost savings on the electric bill, I am also saving a BUNCH of money on a gym membership.  I figure that if I squirrel away all of these saved pennies that one day when I come to my senses I will be able to afford to run more deicers.

Now if I could only get this ice sculpture business off and running we would really be cooking with fire...      (or rather ice?)

Hope everyone is staying warm!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Weekend Recap!

Friday and Saturday were dry days and brought temperatures in the mid-thirties.  We took advantage of the weather to get some Christmas shopping done.  I also fit in a short 3-4 mile run on Saturday and judging by the change in weather since, it may be the last one for some time...

We attended a "Barn Warming" party on Saturday evening at Kat and Bill's Laughing Horse Farms in Lapeer.  We were celebrating their new Clydesdales and the new barn they built for them.  It was a great party and while I was a bit "under the weather" on Sunday as a result of a few celebratory cocktails, we had a great time.  Kat is the friend who introduced me to horses...  it seems that sometimes life gets busy and too much time goes by between visits but I am always glad when we reconnect and have a chance to catch up.

Sunday was a day of snowfall and dropping temperatures.  We filled all of the water tanks and gave everyone some extra hay for what was forecasted to be a bitter cold and windy night.  The snow continued through the night and by Monday morning we had nearly a foot with drifts.  Temps have hovered under 10 F with windchills in the minus double digits all day and those freshly filled water tanks should be ready for carving into ice scuptures any minute...

The week promises more of the same.  I am hoping that they are able to get the roads cleared - my commute today was treacherous and Zumba was CANCELLED!!?!?!  On a positive note - all of the animals seem very content and happy with the extra food - it amazes me how well equiped they are to deal with frigid temps.

Hope that everyone stays warm - winter weather has arrived even if we are officially still in Fall.  Just think, it is only a few more days before the shortest day of the year and then we start adding daylight back on!  WHEW HOO!!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Cold Hands...

Ugly Dog's Farm hit the single digits this morning - we are clear and crisp at 7 degrees F...  There is no wind to speak of and other than the usual winter challenge of keeping the water tanks open, things are going pretty smoothly.

Some snow would help even out the footing after the late fall mud we had been dealing with a week ago, but everyone seems to have their "runways" worn pretty smooth and all of the sheds look warm and cozy with straw beds.

I have to say that these cold temps have turned the dial up on my Christmas spirit...  "Bah Humbug" 2 weeks ago has given way to singing carols along with Sarah McLachlan or the cast of "Glee" on the way to and from work.

Todays words of wisdom are (1) dress warmly and (2) bring earplugs if you will be riding in the car with me... (some might say that this is always a good idea)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Thumbs, Fists, and Kittens...

Waiting for lambing time has always been very exciting for me.  I have never been overly fond of the cold and dark winter months, but since we have been raising sheep, the winters seem to pass by with much less "seasonal slump" than before.

My good friend, Ann Simeral, from Ohio told me that each year while waiting for lambs to come, she and her husband Don will talk about how big the lambs would be as they are growing inside their dams.  This has given me a great visual image and I have pictured my lambs growing from nothing to the size of thumbs, then to fists, and next little kittens.

As I do my evening chores each night, I think about how many lambs we might have next year and when they will be born...  I think about which ewes are getting older and how they have contributed to my flock...  I look around at the replacement ewes we have kept and consider which of my old girls have produced those lines.  It is those old girls who have contributed so much that I wonder how much longer they will be with us.

We have spread out our breeding season this year so I am sure right now we have many thumbs, fists, and kittens growing...  There is a lot of careful planning, management, and good luck needed over the next few months to ensure they make it out safely!  Let's hope that we are up to the challenge!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sunday in December...

Yesterday was a busy day...  Pam dropped Milton and Norman off around 11:30AM.  They trimed three draft horses, four light horses, put shoes and snow pads on Riot and trimmed all four donkeys and were finished by 2 pm.
Sunday started with Breakfast at Jimmy's Coney Village Cafe in Davison with our friends Mel and Roberta.  After running a few errands, we ended up picking up a truck load of firewood.
When we returned home, we caught the clun ram (X63) breeding the clun ewe lamb (X42) so we should be able to plan for May 1st lambing.  It is amazing what a differance a day makes...  the mud of last week has frozen over, here are the Merinos enjoying their alfalfa hay...
The suffolk girls are into their 2nd breeding cycle with Alexander, our homegrown Border Cheviot ram lamb, and should be ready to go to their new home on the weekend of December 18...
Our 16 Border Cheviots brood ewes were also enjoying their dinner this evening....
Each nighttime feeding ends with the donkeys...  Barney, who is in his thirties or forties gets to take his time eating his grain while I fend off the others.  His blanket seems to keep him warm in the cold weather.

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Busy Friday...

It was a crisp December day and we took advantage of the nice weather while it lasts.  We picked up a truckload of some nice alfalfa hay this morning and stopped for lunch on the way home.

We ran the clun ewes into the barn, wormed them, and trimmed their feet.  Then we caught the clun ewe lamb (X42) who has grown beautifully and put her in with the older ewes.  I am really thrilled with how she is put up and can't believe how mature she looks for 8+ months old...  this is the first time we have ever considered breeding a ewe lamb.
Our decision to breed her this year was based on her maturity, the fact that many clun breeders routinely breed their ewe lambs, and the demand we have seen in the past year for clun lambs.  I think that she will do just fine, but we'll definately be close by to watch for any issues.  Here is another picture of her with some of the other ewes so you can see her compared to some mature clun ewes.
You probably also noticed that we decided not to wait until Sunday to put the clun ram lamb (X63) in with the ewes...  that is him in the far right of the shot above. 

He wasted no time in getting to know his girls...

Definately doing the right things...

Definately showing interest...

Apparently the ewes and this young buck were waiting for the day when we would FINALLY put them together.  This little guy is definately not shy and these ladies were not playing hard to get.  The countdown to our 2011 Clun lambing season has begun!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

First Snow of the Season...

December gave us a taste of things to come yesterday with the first snow of the season...  maybe an inch of the white stuff by the time it was done.  I tried to take a few pictures of the Clun ram lamb gearing up for his introduction to the ewes this weekend, but it is just too dark by the time I get home from work...  you will have to wait another day.

Roads were pretty slick last night on the way to and from working out (I love Zumba).  It was pretty hard to see through the blowing snow and by the time I got home, I had convinced myself that my sheep run-in sheds needed more straw.  Rather than laying awake for hours contemplating my failure as a shepherd for not spreading more straw, I trudged out and did it in the dark.  Wayne followed me out and bedded down the Merinos and the Cluns.

It is gearing up to be a busy weekend... 
Friday - worm/trim feet on the Clun ewes, move the Clun ewe lamb in with the older girls, and dinner with the Pitchfork Ranch girls at El Charrito.
Saturday - Amish boys will be over to trim/shoe the horses and donkeys (always fun).
Sunday - X63 goes in with the Cluns (final breeding group for 2011)