Monday, May 30, 2011

Sheep Shearing DONE

The weather report for Sunday was a repeat of the last several weeks. Highs in the 60's, showers and overcast. Monday's forecast was sunny and in the 80's. Way too hot to be shearing sheep. They would be heat stressed and so would we. We had to get the sheep shearing completed before the warm weather got here. So that meant that we were up early Sunday morning and shearing till 5:30pm. Every sheep is shorn. Ted got into a rhythm and wouldn't let me shear. With the Premier shears the fleece was given up like an old winter coat. A wool coat!
I was keeper of the head and chief grain giver. It really helped get their sheep minds off of the sound of the clippers.

Ted wants the sheep to look nice. No tufts of wool left. I don't think a barber could leave a nicer coat.

Shearing serves so many purposes. It gives you a fleece to use, cools off the sheep, and lets you see what condition your sheep are in. It is difficult to tell how they wintered and lambed. I was very pleased with the condition of our sheep. I tried to feel through the wool but that can be a bit difficult.

Almost done.

Almost there....

Now that's a happy, healthy, and beautiful Icelandic ewe. Still working on a few tufts.

The combs get so mucked up with lanolin they have to be removed and cleaned after about 4 sheep. I think we will invest in a few more combs for this fall.

Truffles was such a gentleman. He was a bottle fed ram and I'm sure Lambert will have the same sweet and gentle disposition. Look at that face.

And now he is just handsome. How about that beauty spot.

This is one of our rams out of Emily and Fin (Red Brick Road Farm in Dixon, Ill.) He is going to have a beautiful set of horns when he becomes full grown. I am looking forward to seeing what his lambs out of Esther look like.

Now came the time for our MAN to get shorn. I don't mind saying that I was a bit hesitant. Echo is all RAM. Not pushy or in your face. He is just big. I wasn't sure he would fit onto the stand.

I didn't say there was a lot of room to spare!

All done. Well, Ted had to keep taking a little off of the top but he looks marvelous. The more we work with the Icelandic sheep the more we appreciate their personalities.

Not a bad days work.

About a week ago we took the hand shears to Baby our wether. He still needed a touch up.

Now that's nice wether! Sorry, I had to go there.

We are still a bit muddy but the boys club enjoyed spending the day in the girls pasture.

They were hanging out smoking cigars and talking about the good old days.

What have we learned? We learned that we could shear sheep. Sometimes you just have to pull up your sleeves and try it to know that you can. We don't have to depend on undependable shearers. We can shear when we need to, not when it fits into someone else's schedule.

Shears $300.00, stand (that saves our backs) $450.00. 18 shorn sheep, PRICELESS

Much Love and Prayers from Mainely Ewes Farm.

In Flanders Field

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up your quarrel with the foe:
To you from falling hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

-John McCrae 1872-1918

Thank you to all who served we have not forgotten.
Much Love and Prayers from Mainely Ewes Farm

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Our First Sheep Shearing

Well, we finally accomplished shearing. Notice the unshorn (round) sheep compared to the shorn (much smaller but still round)sheep. Yes, yes, yes, we have shorn sheep. No shearer came. We can say we did it ourselves.

It didn't take long to set up the stand and equipment at all.

Emily was the first to be shorn. I was really surprised that they did so well. No freak out I'm going to be eaten by the blue thing at all.

She was so well behaved. I do believe that the side rails should be standard not extra. If you purchase this stand make sure to order the side rails. They provide stability for the sheep while you shear from the opposite side. No one fell off!

Ted had it all under control. Look at that concentration.

There, a much smaller ewe.

Esther was next. She is a very loud ewe. She voices her opinion loudly.

"Hey come here. I have something to tell you and I don't want the humans to hear. I would never tell them this but they did a much better job than that shearer did last year. They were very careful and didn't cut me not one time. I don't have patches of hair left either. I think they did a great job. I just don't want it to go to their heads."

Moriah was next, and Ted got faster as the day went on. He has even mastered hoof trimming.

We were able to get 5 sheep shorn. Ted has gotten really good at keeping the fleece in one piece. This is really good practice for the fall fleece shearing. That will be the "good" fleece that we will skirt, wash, dry and learn how to card into roving. Then spin the roving into yarn.

It always amazes me the small stature of the sheep after they are shorn. They may be small but they are packed with attitude.

We still have eight sheep to finish up. I know what our plans are going to be for tomorrow. We will begin much earlier next year. We can shear before the lambs are born. Less stress on the ewes while pregnant. This past year we took a shearing class, bought shears and a stand. All three were invaluable. The stand is worth it's weight in gold. After 5 sheep our backs weren't killing us. It makes it so much easier to shear. The stand is adjustable and can be raised or lowered as needed. Reaching those bellies is so much easier.
It feels so good getting this job done. There is so much satisfaction when the sheep are comfortable, cool, healthy and happy.

Much Love and Prayers from Mainely Ewes Farm. The home of shorn sheep.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sydell Goat/Sheep Stand

After taking the sheep shearing class we knew we would need some help with this process. Ted and I just can't flip sheep and make them stay where you put them. Especially Icelandic sheep. You flip them and they act all docile then, boom they're gone like lightening. After perusing Uncle Henry's and Craigslist for the Sydell stand I finally broke down and ordered it Monday afternoon. I guess the things just don't come up for re sale that often. They are American made and that makes me very happy. I decided to call them this morning to see when it would arrive. After all it has to come from South Dakota all the way to Maine. The gentleman was very nice and told me it would probably arrive Tuesday or Wednesday of next week due to the holiday. Oh, darn. I think I actually let out a long sigh. Oh, well. I would just have to wait. I went to work on the laundry and I heard a delivery truck backing into the back yard, straight toward the barn! I had my slippers on and ran out the door to greet the UPS man. He probably thought I was a little too happy.
It didn't come assembled. What the heck?

All the parts removed from the boxes. Thank goodness there were some big pieces that didn't need assembly. Ted didn't break and run. He was actually happy to get it started.

Start with A and put 1-5/16 x 3" screw with spacer nut and5/16 nut. WHAT THE HECK!

Truly it wasn't that bad.

Actually the directions were very simple and they had pictures. Thank you Sydell. I love you.

It took only 1 hour to finish. It winches from a flat position to a height of 30". Much easier on the back.

It even has wheels to make moving much easier.

Tomorrow we will try it out with a sheep. I am very excited. Do you think the sheep will be as happy? Probably not. I guess we will just have to convince them otherwise. I am sure we will have some excitement. We always do.

To our goat friend Marigold, yes we will put the goats on the stand to trim hooves. You didn't think I was buying this only to torment the sheep did you? Muhahahhahhahaha

Much Love and Prayers from Mainely Ewes Farm.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Spring Lambs

Lambing season is always exciting. We love to sit back and enjoy the lambs with their mothers. At first they are afraid of leaving their mom's sides. They stay close and nurse often. After a few days a sort of independence sets in. The lambs congregate together running, kicking and bucking. They range further away from their moms in the safety of the pasture. Oh, they still nurse and run to mom if there is any loud noise or suspected danger. After about 2 months it is time to separate the lambs from the ewes. I do not look forward to this time. Both ewes and lambs are unhappy. The ewes loudly voice their disapproval and the lambs are afraid and making all kinds of noises. It is necessary to make the separation. We hope to sell the lambs and those who do not are destined for freezer camp. We have to keep perspective on our farm. Otherwise we get too many animals to take care of effectively. After the lambs are rounded up they get another injection of BoSe (vit e and selenium), their Covexin 8 (CD&T) booster. And not to be forgotten, a dewormer. We have wet and cool springs followed by warm summers. The perfect breeding ground for barberpole worms. We are taking a proactive stance this spring. After the treatment they are turned loose into this new wonderful green pasture. They will have free feed grain, water and minerals. This little lamb loves to sit in the hay. Not a good idea. When they poop or pee in it, no one will touch it after. I don't really blame them.

We still have afternoon play sessions. A game of chase is always fun.

We put up this stockade fence to protect the one tree in this pasture. They look like they are working on a break down plan.

The lambs have settled into a routine of sorts. Eat, play, eat, play. Not a bad afternoon.

We sold two ewe lambs to a friend right here in Bradford. Diane is getting back into fiber animals after taking a tour with horses. I tried talking her into taking Sadie and Shirley the Cashgora goats back. She said her husband would have a fit. Evidently Sadie and Shirley made a breakout and ate all of his raspberry bushes. Ooops. I guess they will be staying here a while longer. Unless someone is interested in taking the ladies home that is. I am thinning out our Icelandic sheep flock a bit. I want to work with more colors. Always changing. Keeps the farm interesting.

Our prayers go out to our friends, family and neighbors in the midwest. This weather is strange and has touched so many.

We have been so busy here on the farm. I couldn't believe how long ago I had posted. Spring and Summer are out busiest times of year. I enjoyed visiting and reading your blogs. I really have kept up with the reading. You guys have been so busy too.

Much Love and Prayers from Mainely Ewes Farm.

Monday, May 9, 2011

House Lamb No More

Okay. Now that our House Lamb is begining to get way too comfortable with the use of a glass he needs to go out. Time to be a lamb. Time to be outside at night too. Time to give up the bottle. He has to take off his diaper and put his big boy pants on. Yep. Lambert has to leave the house before he starts using a fork and knife.
Much Love and Prayers from Mainely Ewes Farm

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Spring 2011 Goat School Day 2

First of all HAPPY MOTHER"S DAY.
Day 2 started out at 9am with coffee, and a delicious goat sausage breakfast casserole. It was a gorgeous morning. A bit nippy but that ended around noon with a beautiful blue sky. There are so many aspects of taking care of goats we felt that it would be beneficial to attend Goat School for a second time. Most learn by trial and error, internet, books and magazines. We are willing to try anything we can do to improve our skills. We chose to attend Goat School in Maine so we would be instructed on issues pertinent in our area. Our country is so different. Each region has it's own issues. What works in our cold weather state of Maine will not work in Florida. We are cold enough that much of our worm load does kill off in the winter. Some wormers are still effective in Maine, and do not work in Florida. I feel the more knowledge we can accumulate the better off our animals will be. I have no problem learning from others. It is best to learn from others errors and not have to repeat them ourselves. Saying that we will probably make different mistakes.
We covered so many topics. Disbudding was covered in detail. What to look for, how long to hold the iron in place and post care was explained.
This kid was used in the demonstration but was not actually disbudded. Oh, and always give a nice warm bottle or return to mom for comforting after the procedure. Disbudding is done mostly in the US. In Ken's Anatomy of a Horn class we learned that goats don't pant or sweat to cool their bodies. It is done through blood circulating in their horns. Maybe we need to rethink the disbudding practice. Not such a problem in cool Maine, but what about Florida?

You can see the tissue in these old horns that had come off.

Lunch break and out come the kids to play. Nothing is sacred. They will climb on anything or..

..... anyone!

Kids go back into the pen so we can continue. Oh, I wanted to take a couple of these little girls home with us. Ted looked at me as though I had lost my mind. Hmmm.....

Janice spoke in detail about de worming. Medications,vaccination dosages, explanation and demonstration of giving goats injections. She even let a few give injections. If you haven't done it before it can be very intimidating. We then dove into hoof trimming. If done correctly it leads to healthy goat hooves. If done incorrectly it can cause your goat to become lame. To me this is the intimidating part. I have trimmed our goat's hooves and try to do a good job. It always helps to see how trimming is accomplished.

Nice and flat. Good base to stand on.

Trimming young kids hooves.

Close up view of a goats front teeth. They don't have top teeth on the front. Velocity tolerated this well.

Finally everyone got a pair of gloves, a hoof trimmer and a cadaver hoof to trim. Great experience. No goats go lame from too aggressive students.

Once again the day came to an end. I know that everyone went away with more questions than they came with. After they get goats they will have even more questions. That is just the nature of things. If you attend Goat School the Spauldings are available as a resource. A treasured resource. Thank you once again for holding this class. I only covered a small bit of the information shared. I hope I get this right. There will be a streaming video available in the future through the University of Maine for Goat School. Everyone will be able to attend. Just sorry that you won't be able to taste Janices food. Or you could pick up the Goat School: A Master Class in Caprine Care and Cooking. Then you could have the food too.

After class we came home and took our goats for a walk. Yep, the girls love to taste new grass, tender leaf buds and the ever popular dandelion greens. Yum.

I hope everyone had a peaceful day.

Much Love and Prayers from Mainely Ewes Farm.