Sunday, November 30, 2008

Goat hoof trimming

Today was goat hoof trimming day.  I trim their hooves every 6 weeks.  I alternate wormers every 6 weeks between ivermectin and albendazole (except I do not use albendazole on the pregnant goats).  I also give Multi-Min every 12 weeks.  The photo demonstrates using a human stanchion.  I do this when it's too much of a hassle to use the milking stand.  If you face forward you can administer oral medications and if you face backwards you can bend over and trim hooves and give subcutaneous injections.  Today Tom helped me with the hooves- usually I do it on my own.  It certainly is nice to have help!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Splitting wood (belatedly)

So I finally found time (and no excuses) to split the wood from the tree felling day.  This should have been done before the rains came- oh well.  Tom was at work today (yeah- he's no longer laid off!) so I went to it.  I used this wood splitter that I love- even this middle aged, overweight woman with poor coordination and a bad back can split wood with it. 
I split wood for one hour and then did animal chores for two.  The sun was out, and our red golden pheasant was gorgeously iridescent in the sunbeams- the photo doesn't do him justice.
Then I had lunch and split the rest of the wood over 2 hours.
Then I took a long hot bath!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Shetland wool for sale

I just came to realize that I have wool available for sale.  I am not used to having fall shearing and then wool available this time of year.  So here goes:
This above is the roving from our musket and moorit Shetland sheep- Daphnie, Lou, Hansel and Lily. I carefully sheared the wool from the sheep, then dried and skirted them. I sent them to Z-wool in Michigan for processing. They do an excellent job and this light brown roving is very high quality. It's available for sale for $30 per pound- there's 2# total left. This is roving processed by Z-wool from our Shetland sheep- Suzette, Monette, Darwin, Jenny, and Reuben. These sheep were well cared for to produce excellent wool and then their fleeces were carefully shorn from the sheep, dried and then well skirted to produce 9.5 pounds of wool. This was then washed, picked and carded by Z-wool to make 3.75 pounds left of gorgeous grey roving. It is available for $30 per pound.These are the fall fleeces off of our Shetland rams, Comet and Mortimer. They have soft light grey fleeces with little crimp. They will spin up into very nice soft yarn. They are available after drying and skirting for $10 per pound.This is the fall fleece of of our moorit wether Hazelnut. He has an absolutely gorgeous, crimpy, soft, warm brown fleece that will spin up into lovely, richly colored fine yarn. After drying and skirting his fleece is available for $10/pound.This is the fall fleece off of our Shetland ram Monty. It is a black fleece with medium fineness and dark consistent color. It will spin up into a black medium yarn. After drying and skirting it is available for $10/pound.
These are the fall fleeces off of our Shetland ewes, Wink and Wilma. They are mother and daughter, and it shows.   They both have a gorgeous golden brown (mioget), double coated, long fleece. This wool is striking in it's unusual color and softness. It will spin up into a lovely, soft, golden yarn- great for warm socks. After drying and skirting it is available for $10/pound.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ram bios

The Shetlands Yahoo group email list asked for bios of our rams.  So I typed those up this morning and thought I'd post them here- for those of you not on this list.

Our older ram is Bitterroot Ansel- we call him Jocko. I wanted to produce mioget in my flock so arranged to purchase Jocko from Judy Colvin. We went to Western Montana in January 2002 to pick him up during a blizzard. I had just met my soon-to-be husband Tom in November. On our first date I had dropped off a sheep to be bred just prior to the date, and our second date I had a bale of alfalfa in my car so he should have known what he was getting into, but this was quite a trip to pick up a sheep. We had my Subaru Outback wagon with a large dog kennel in the back. We made it to Lolo Hot Springs and stayed there- enjoying the hot spring that Lewis and Clack had enjoyed. Then the next day we braved the snow and made it to Judy's place to pick up Ansel. He was only 8 months old but had the most wonderful fleece I have even seen (including until now). Plus he handled the ride back well- very good disposition. I thought Ansel wasn't a very inspiring name for him to breed my ewes when he got home so we saw a sign for the Jocko River and decided to call him Jocko. We did not have the time to see Judy's place as we had to head all the way home to NW Washington. We made it back OK, and Jocko got to meet his new flock's ewes upon our arrival. He has been a great ram for us in producing lovely lambs, gorgeous fleece and minimal fence damage. I am currently trying to reproduce him as he will not last forever, and I want to continue his legacy.

His pedigree (with his offspring) is at:

This next bio is for our second ram, Lewis. I had wanted spotted sheep and was not having any luck producing spots with my genetics- all the spotted sheep were agouti and faded. So I made arrangements to purchase a solid black spotted ram lamb from Stephen Rouse in the summer of 2003 (while I was also making at-home wedding plans too). Then there was the issue of transportation. I found a woman who lived south of Missoula who was going to the Michigan Fiber Festival and could bring him back to her farm. So after Tom and I were married and honeymooned in July, we headed back to Missoula in August to pick up another sheep. At least by this time we had a truck with stock rails and decent weather. The only issue was there were horrible forest fires that year and Missoula and Lolo Pass were full of thick smoke and fire fighters. We stayed at the Hot Springs again and then picked up our new ram the next day and headed home. He hadn't been named yet ,and Montana was gearing up for the 200th anniversary of Lewis and Clark's exploration of the area so we thought Lewis would be a great and inspiring name for our new acquisition. It seems to have worked (at least to the degree a ram can be inspired) as he has produced wonderful spotted lambs (yuglet, flecket and HST) for us and continues to do so as we speak (read?).

His pedigree and offspring information is at:

I am pretty thrilled with the rams we have- can you tell?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Good/Not So Good pets & More Visitors

This weekend we had examples of good and not so good pets.  First, a good pet.  This is Missy, a cat I inherited from my grandfather when he died.  She quickly adopted the barn as her home and especially likes the hay mound.  This morning I found her sleeping in the mound with a dead deer mouse laying next to her.  Good girl!  She not only is keeping vermin from the barn but protecting us from hantavirus.  She received extra pettings for this.
This is an example of not so good pets.  We found our pump house fairly well tore up.  It's hard to see in the photo, but there's a large hole in the plywood, many of the furring strips are tore off, and there's a dug hole in the ground as well.  Another wall looks just as bad.  Inside the pumphouse we found a dead mouse and a dead rat.  So it's good the dogs were going after vermin but not so good they destroyed the pumphouse in the process.  So not so good pets.  No extra petting today and extra chores for us fixing the damage.
One more good pet- this is a photo of Vanessa waiting patiently for us to finish with barn chores at the gate.  She is our best dog, causes us no trouble and definitely knows not to go in the gate.  She's a pound dog we adopted a few years back who looks like a purebred Chesapeake Bay retriever.  
Now more visitors. Alta came by with three of her ewes to be bred with Lewis.  There's Emma in front with amazing fawn fleece, Syd the dark grey ewe in the middle, and then Buttercup, the moorit ewe who originally came from us.
Then there's Krista who brought over April and Minnie to be bred with our spotted buck Yahoo.
And finally Boris, the buckskin wether eating hay, who couldn't be left alone while April and Minnie are "visiting".  So for one bale of hay he gets to hang out here too.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Personal record largest (and exhaustingest) cider pressing

So we finally found time to press cider. We have apples from our orchard and donated from a neighbor's- John's. We had two large garden carts full. We started in the morning but as you can tell from the photo it extended into the evening. Here's our back-porch operation:
We pressed enough for five 5-gallon carboys!. We pressed these apples and then added crabapple juice we had pressed before to fill these carboys- there was a total of 5 gallons of crab apple juice so we should have plenty of tannins in our cider this year.

Then we moved the carboys into the house, let the cider warm somewhat closer to room temperature and added the yeast and the air stops. Our entire bodies hurt, and we are tired. So we cleaned up and went out to dinner. We will add the sugar in small aliquots later as there is not a lot of room in these carboys for fermentation. We will try to take it slow.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Visiting sheep, gravel, stuck tractor and sick goat

So by Monday we had several ewes visiting the rams on our farm.  There's Madison from Jackie's (in the back),
and Corinne from Bethany's (behind Jocko),
and Gwendolyn from Nancy's (in front of Lewis).
We are expecting three more to come visit this next weekend.  

Then we decided to forgo apple pressing and deal with the more pressing issue of the upcoming storm and more predicted flooding.  I covered all the farm equipment with tarps and tin sheets to try to prevent water damage, and we ordered 14 yards of gravel and proceeded to use our small tractor to spread it in the now moist barn.  As you can see it is a muddy mess:
But we managed to get a decent layer of gravel down before the steering went out on the tractor, and it was completely stuck in the mud.
Then we spend the rest of the afternoon hauling the tractor out of the muck with several chains and ropes from the truck in the driveway and managed to get it on the grass outside of the gate.  Since there's still no steering it's going to sit there until it is fixed.  We still have 2/3 of the gravel left that still needs spreading, but we have no tractor and are not excited to do it by hand- particularly trying to drag it though the soft mud.  So it also sits for now.

In the midst of this Tom and I both noticed that our older doe Candy had her tongue stick our to the right and her right ear drooping.  She otherwise seemed fine, but we decided to call the vet out.  He arrived in the middle of the gravel hauling and looked at her.  He couldn't find anything else wrong, and she did not have a temperature.  So he was worried that she had a brain tumor but thought there was still a chance it could be a dental infection so brought her back to the office for x-rays.  The x-rays showed a small density on the right skull so it probably is a brain tumor but since she's looking so good and not suffering we opted to put her on penicillin and thiamine and see how she does before euthanizing her.  So Tom and I went to the vet's office to pick her back up with her medication, bring her back and administer two IM shots.  Now we are hoping for the best.

By the way, it's our 7th first-date anniversary so after the day's excitement we cleaned up, got dressed and went out to a nice dinner.  The rest can wait for another day after the waters recede.

Visiting sheep, gravel, stuck tractor and sick goat

Friday, November 7, 2008

When It Rains, It Pours..........Literally

So I come home from a long shift of sleepless work and find this:

A flooded barn.....with 8 inches of water......Yeah!!!!!  

From snippets of news I heard that there was 3 inches of rain yesterday and 4 more expected today.  I first moved the animals that live on the ground on this side of the barn- 5 sheep, 5 goats and a hen with her chicks.  The rabbits in elevated hutches I left.  The stalls are so far not flooded so the goats went in the pen that normally houses the chicken food- they are not thrilled.
Then I considered my options and called Tom who is on a sheep delivery/hunting trip with the truck.  I have no way of getting straw since I have my compact commuter car, and I can't have anything delivered since a truck couldn't get within a football field's distance of the barn with the flooded pasture.  So I ran to the closest feed store with my little car (and my muddy knees) and asked them to fill it up with bags of shavings.  Now nine bags of shavings are on the water in the barn (surprised that much would fit in my little car!).  Although a lot of it is just floating on the water- hopefully it will absorb some anyway and elevate the level of the barn floor so less water is inclined to seep in.  We will see if this works and see what four more inches brings in!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Butchering Day

So today's the day. We are butchering Hana, our Highland cow. I bought her for Tom as a combination housewarming and birthday present after we bought our farm. She has produced many great calves for us but is getting difficult for us to manage. She knocks down barb wire and fencing with ease. Electricity doesn't faze her, and she can jump fences surprisingly easily for her bulk. She also eats a LOT. We have her better behaved daughter Dana to breed with so Hana will become meat. It's, of course, bittersweet. Hana's antic are good for stories, and she was our first cow as well as a sentimental present. But reality and common sense needs to take precedence. I am going to stay clear of the house, and poor Tom has to catch Hana and drag her to the butcher truck.

The more difficult decision for me is to have some sheep butchered for the first time. I am a vegetarian, and Tom doesn't like lamb or mutton so there has been a reason to butcher until now. We have too many sheep and especially rams. I was considering having four butchered, but it looks like I found a good home for Monty as a black breeding ram. This is much better since he will make nice lambs. And it looks like I talked Tom into keeping Hazelnut, our yearling wether. I sheared these four sheep in preparation for the butcher's visit on Saturday and just love his fleece. He's a wild sheep but otherwise not a problem (not like rams are) so he gets a reprieve. That leaves Mortimer and Comet. They are both grey, cryptorchid rams. They have very nice fleeces but can't be used for breeding and have ram behavior. I really don't need ram companions so there's no reason to put up with ram behavior just for their fleeces. So again reality and common sense need to preside.

Shaun the Sheep "Off the Baa"

Shaun the Sheep clip "Save the Tree"