Monday, April 28, 2014

New Crop Lambs!

Skirting fleeces has come to a stop ~ lambing has started!  Excitement and anticipation because three new rams were used last year.  "Hannah 223" (a granddaughter of old Hannah VerLee) started us out on Friday afternoon with a text book perfect lambing and gave us this set of beautiful twins, a ram and a ewe, sired by our moorit Corriedale/Bond ram "Killian".  I was taking pictures of our lambing barn set up to share and she obliged by going into labor, LOL! 

That post will have to wait for another day, but I was excited to share this one of the twins with you.  It's an "L" name year for us and in honor of my new knitting friend Leigh, let me introduce "Leigh" the lamb and her twin brother "Logan"!  She's quite photogenic isn't she? Stay tuned for more (we have a large black single ram and another set of twins, wildly colored ewes)  I think there are about ten more ewes to go, and I think you will also see one named for another new knitting friend "Lori"...check back to see ;)  Oh, and one named for "Lona"...the list goes on!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Shear 2014

The day has finally come and gone, the one I look forward to the most each year ~ shearing day for the sheep!  

I'd say Francie needs a haircut, wouldn't you?
I've said it before and I'll say it again that the wool is my favorite part, I love it so much more than the stress of lambing ;)  Not that shearing doesn't have its own stresses and I worry constantly about my "product" - will it be good enough, will it sell, will I have to much or not enough?  And the truth is, the wool crop reveals as much about the shepherd (me) and the care given to the sheep as their lamb crop does!  Poor feed or lack of it, crowded conditions, parasites, poor health, bad genetics - all of these things contribute to the quality of wool a sheep produces.  With the long winter we'd had and other circumstances that kept me from spending any time with the sheep apart from being sure they were fed and watered....I was anxious to see what we had!

The appointment is made with our friend and long time sheep shearer Dave.  The night before, we shut the sheep in the barn to be sure they are dry for the early morning appointment.  Also, they won't be so stressed about being moved around the barn if we take our time, bribe them with grain or sheep cookies and get them settled.  They look pretty relaxed, don't they, even with the chickens checking for breakfast early (I'm peeking over at them from the hay mow) ~

Good morning Girls!
They're moved from here to a pen at the back of the barn, underneath, where there is cement floor.  Its also well insulated, being the part of the basement barn that's "underground"  We'll remove the rest of the coats and get them ready for their turn in the barber chair!  In the picture below you see a small group penned here and the rest are waiting in a larger pen behind the wooden doors.  I'm not sure if you can make out that there's another door just to the left of the photo ahead of the panel, and that's where we'll move the sheep once they've been shorn.  Because it was still pretty cold on this day, we've bedded that pen deep with fresh straw and there's a big feeder in there full of fresh hay and fresh water, too.  They're pretty happy there!

Am I next?  I can't see!
(In the picture above, that is youngster Iris in the front, behind her the white ewe Honey and the older grey girl behind here is Ainsley)  White sheep are shorn first and then the rest.  The older girls accept what's coming, the yearlings usually fight like crazy!  I'm lucky to always have great help who know the sheep and we're comfortable with Dave and always happy with the work he does.  Lots of laughing and joking goes on!  Below, Dave's shearing while my daughter Nakia waits to take the sheep ~ just noticed the cinch hanging from a peg on the right of the photo!

I'm pretty that's Francie's silver grey fleece in the picture above.  It was a good morning's work, followed by a hearty lunch and more "tall tales" around the table!  There's still plenty of work ahead of me, just look!

Bags of wool, loosely tied, plenty of "air holes", waiting to be skirted
So far, fleeces look great!
And remember shaggy Francie in the first photo?  How does she look now?

Clean Francie, and she's in great shape!
I hope you enjoyed this look at Shearing Day at Serenity Farms!  I'm excited about the quality of the fleeces, but most of all I'm proud of the fact that the sheep (and I) came through this rough winter in fine shape.  Not a SINGLE SHEEP is thin or in poor condition, not even 13-year old Violet!  This even though we don't grain at all - just lots of good quality, home raised hay and plenty of free choice salt and mineral and always fresh water no matter how hard it was to get to them this year.  Half of the flock was snowed out and away from the main barn all season and I struggled to get hay to them every single day of this snowy, cold winter.  But I did it, with strength from the Lord and help from my kids.  The ewes all look to be bred, too, though it looks like things will be a bit more spread out and you know, I'm okay with that.

If you have any questions about our flock or our care of them, please don't hesitate to email any time.  In coming days, I should have more fleece photos and hopefully soon the lambs will start to make appearances!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

New Things

A new camera, with new software and photo editing - I don't learn these types of new things well, so this is just a "practice" picture to see how it looks and fits on the blog.  I took this when the boys and I were walking in the woods the other day.

Its feeling like spring.  Half the sheep are shorn, the other half next week.  Lambing should start shortly after.  Time feels like its rushing by, faster and faster.  I think I'm going to miss the isolation this past winter afforded.