Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Este Blog investe e acredita na... PROXIMIDADE!

I received this award from Michelle:
"I received this award from two dear blogpals, first MiniKat and then Sharon. I wasn't going to post about it, since it's given to blogs that "invest and believe in the PROXIMITY- nearness in space, time and relationships. These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement! Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers!” See that little line, "not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement"? How do you accept an award without appearing interested in self-aggrandizement? But when it came my way a second time, it seemed rude to ignore the kind gestures of these two ladies, and not pass the award on to eight others. When I looked through the list of blogs I follow, I realized I've had the fun of meeting nine of them (not counting my sister, neighbor, and the proprietors of two local yarn shops). So although this award is not necessarily for those with whom one has shared a physical proximity, these bloggers fit the other descriptions, too. Tina, Allena, Karla, Franna, Tammy, Donna, Lois, Shannon, and Tammy - consider yourselves awarded!"

So in considering this, I chose 6 bloggers that have relative proximity in relationships and in physical location who have charming blogs.  (There are two repeats from the above.) They are:


is not "out like a lamb".............
in weather........
or in sheep.......

or even if you consider goats........

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Still waiting

Every year this happens...Everyone else is having lambs, and I have been up for many nights staring at fat sheep.  After a while I start wondering in a sleep-deprived haze whether they are really PG or just fat.  What do you think- PG or fat?

This spring has been cold too.  We sheared in the middle of March which should have been fine, but it has been much cooler than usual, and the sheep and goats are spending a lot of time in the barn.  We still have tarps over the doors to try and keep some warmth in and the breeze out.  Hannah, our Pygora goat, initially started shivering so I put an accidentally felted wool sweater on her which she wore for 3 days.  I had moved the wethers and some goats into a field that had a good shelter and grass to eat, but one evening they were hollering and trying to bust through the fence.  I took pity on them and moved them back to the barn.  That night there was a torrential and cold downpour- I am glad they let me know beforehand!  Then yesterday Gwennyth, our thin retired ewe, was shivering.  I tried to put the sweater on her too- she would have none of it- she kicked it off three times before I gave up and this morning she's shivering again. What to do?

This year's lamb/kid watch is a little different than some- Tom's on a trip so I am on my own. I have not been alone during lambing since I met him in 2001.  I did manage to take off of work but am getting less sleep now than when I do work.  Plus I aggravated my back- not sure if it was hauling 50# bags of feed or carting bales of hay through the muck.  Some mornings (like this one) I wonder if I am tough enough to be a shepherd.

On a brighter note, it is a beautiful morning after sleeting most of last night.  The sun is up, the sky is blue, the air is crisp and the birds are signing.  And it's my birthday!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Waiting for lambs- bunnies are born

We have been checking on the ewes every 1-2 hours for 2 days now without any lambs produced.  Then this afternoon Hazel, our Red Satin Angora rabbit, produced 4 bunnies.  They look great- one is a runt but well fed.  Without only three others to compete with, he/she may do just fine.  Ma Bell is also supposed to be due today- she's spending a lot of time in the nest box but is not making a wool nest though.  So the waiting continues....

Friday, March 20, 2009

Bags O' Wool

I have been skirting like crazy.  I have a hog panel set up on the back porch and between squalls I skirt the fleeces.  I have sold and shipped eleven of them but still have 12 more available for sale.  I only have 6 sellable fleeces left to skirt!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Situation at Schoonover Farm

So we appear to have a problem here.  On shearing day we noticed that our one CVM ewe (not so affectionately called Mutiny) had udder swelling.  We bought her when she was 6 months old, and she has never been bred.  We have had no ram escapes since last July so we were not sure what happened.  Then today I noticed that Wilma is looking wider than the other sheep and has some udder development:
So we herded the possibly pregnant hussies into a pen so we could start feeding them small amounts of grain.  Then I got to thinking- we have a cryptorchid ram lamb Barney that we had banded at 2 weeks of age.  He is too small to put in with the rams or to butcher.  I did some research on artificial cryptorchid sheep from Australia- that is they band the ram lambs after pushing the testicles into the abdominal cavity.  These sheep act like rams and have better meat production, but they are infertile and are run with the flock.  So I though it was safe to keep Barney in with the flock unless he started getting aggressive.  Now I am not so sure.
So we may have 6 ewes we did not intend to breed bred.  Some of them had birthing difficulties before and some I did not feel were as marketable.  There are also the two Gotland ewes and two skinny sheep that were briefly in with the flock as well.  So this could be a BIG disaster.  And since Barney is not registerable (for good reason) none of these lambs would be worth much.

So I need some opinions- do udders ever develop without a pregnancy?  Does anyone have any experience with banded cryptorchid rams?

On a different note, we bought back a Nigerian Dwarf doe.  It's Meadowlark out of our doe Magpie and buck CTC Mr. Mahogany.  She is a pretty (but a little chunky) doe but not friendly.  The family that bought her never bonded with her, and the child is losing interest in the goats.  So it was in everyone's best interest to have her move back.  

Saturday, March 14, 2009

37 fleeces!

So now I have 37 fleeces to deal with!  In previous years I have sheared 3-5 sheep per day once or twice per week starting in February and ending in March.  This gave me plenty of time and room to dry, skirt, and then package fleeces before the next shearing.  But this year I have 37 all at once.  I know with other flocks this is a regular occurrence, but I really do not have the space for this, particularly with my step-son moving back home.  So we have fleeces almost everywhere!

Stairway fleeces
Hallway fleeces
Upstairs fiber studio fleeces
Library fleeces
Fiber studio in trailer
Waste wool

And we have the electric heat going in each of these rooms with the windows cracked.  I cannot wait to see the electric bill.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Sheep (and goat) shearing day!

I am whooped right now so will not write very much about our exhausting day.  I did manage to post photos of the nicest fleeces on the fiber web pages at:


By the way, our shearers name is Zander Woofenden.  His email address is zanderwoof@gmail.com and his phone number is (360) 420-9739.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Shearing visitors and sick Jenny

Today we have 4 sheep visiting.  I found out that if I have 41 sheep + fiber goats here for shearing this next Wednesday that there is a 20% discount per sheep/goat.  So since I have 33 sheep and 4 fiber goats I need 4 more animals to get this savings.  So I asked our neighbors the Houles if they wanted to bring the 4 sheep they bought from us last year over.  They agreed although had been thinking they would shear themselves.  I feel bad about spoiling their shearing plans, but it certainly is easier for all of us to have the shearer do it.  So they brought Aries, Darwin, Josefina and Katarina over today in anticipation of shearing.  It's nice to see them again and see how they have grown and changed.  Josefina and Katarina are just cute and friendly as can be.  They did manage to get some hay in their wool like their mother.   Darwin has grown a lot and his fleece is gorgeous and huge- looks to be double coated, light grey and soft.  Aries has a nice colored moorit crimpier fleece. They are concerned it might be felting.  I will check it out when I get a chance.  In the meantime the sheep are reacquainting themselves and reestablishing rank.
Josefina & Katarina

We also had a bad scare this last week.  On Friday morning I noticed that Jenny, our 7 year old katmoget ewe from Windy Valley, was not interested in eating.  This is not like her at all so I brought her into the feed shed to examine her.  I noticed her abdomen was quite full, and she was breathing a little fast.  She was also occasionally moaning.  Her temperature was good, and she had plenty of strength.  I drenched her with docusate and as about to drench her with electrolyte solution when I thought better of it and decided to bring her to the vet.  We were scheduled to go to my uncle George's funeral at 3:00 in Seattle so I quickly called the vet and we carried, drag and hoisted Jenny into the truck and headed to the vet.  

One of our wonderful vets at Chuckanut Vet Clinic felt that she was not too bloated, but that she appeared to have ileus (rumen shutdown) from grain overload.  I had increased the flock to full grain amounts of 1# each on Monday which he did not think was too much, but we think she may have eaten more than her alloted amount as she is a pig.  I had been feeding grain in a 10 foot trough for the first time rather than in individual pans.  So we are thinking she bullied her way to get more feet of the trough and overdid it.  So now I am feeling quite guilty about changing the feeding practices for my convenience and now facing losing Jenny as well as her lambs due in 2.5 weeks.  The vet tubed a solution of Magnalax and activated charcoal into her stomach and gave us banamine (painkiller) once per day and propylene glycol/vitamin/electrolyte paste twice per day.  Then we hoisted her back into the truck, got her home, medicated her, cleaned up and drove the the funeral.  

We barely made the service but am glad I went  But then we had dinner en route home and arrive at 9 PM.  Jenny did not look good.  She could not stand, she was breathing quite quickly and had not stooled yet.  I figured we were going to lose her and even contemplated putting her out of her misery.  But we medicated her again and hoped for the best.

Saturday early morning I had to go to work so it was up to Tom to manage her.  I kept expecting a call from him that she had died and he was burying her. But instead I got a voice mail that she was perking up, trying to stand, had stooled a little and urinated.  He called the vet and was instruction to drench her, that it's too early to consider a c-section and he was surprised she was improving this quickly.  As the day wore on I kept getting voice mails that she was perking up more and more, standing, drinking, peeing, pooping.  Then when I came home this morning she is a whole new sheep.  She's ornery as ever, wants out of the pen now, drank all of her water, had 3 piles of diarrhea (which is what we want right now) and had hay all over her face.  She even blasted through the pen door and briefly escaped!  So it looks like she is on the road to recovery.  But she was quite ill and I worry about the status of her lambs.  We will see.

Jenny recovering
Supplies used to save Jenny

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Farm chores

We have just been accomplishing some random farm chores here when the weather is decent. We have had a donated old water tank that no longer holds water.  We have tried several times to patch it to no avail.  So when the clean plastic swimming pool we use for a duck pond finally gave up the ghost, Tom cut a piece off the old water tank, and it is now a duck pond.  The ducks are thrilled!

Then I got around to clean out and refurbishing the rabbit pen.  Initially I had chicken wire on the floor of the pen to keep varmints out and the rabbits in.  That rotted away quickly in our moist soil so I replaced it with old fencing.  Well the varmints figured out how to get through the fencing and ate a lot of rabbit food.  So I placed old pieces of plywood on the floor of the pen on top of the fencing.  The varmints chewed through that.  Then I placed metal rabbit cage pans on top of that.  The problem is that they were odd ball sizes and never covered the entire floor and the varmints found their way in.  So I ripped it all out today and started over.  This is the floor of the pen with everything ripped out:
These are the metal pans I was using, upside down and drying in the sun:
Then I placed metal recycle siding on the floor to completely cover it.  I topped that with wood shavings and then hay.  Now the rabbits are back in (with two pheasants), and they seem to be happy with their updated digs.  Now we'll see if it's varmint-proof.
Tom is building me a greenhouse with all the windows that were left here when we bought the place.  We purchased an old glassed-in screen door yesterday for it at a recycled building supplies store.  There we also found a motor that went with an old joiner and bought that too.  This motor we can attach to the hay elevator, and it will be more powerful than the wimpy one that crapped out on us last year in the middle of stacking hay.

Shaun the Sheep "Off the Baa"

Shaun the Sheep clip "Save the Tree"