Monday, November 28, 2011

Weekend Lambs

Two if our ewes gave birth overnight this weekend. Trouble had a single, and Marcia had twins. Still waiting on Fat Cindy to drop hers, we thought she would be next!

Here is Trouble's little one, Huckleberry Hound. He's got cute markings across his front.  I have to pay close attention to the markings so I can tell them apart. Unless they are really unique like Strawberry Shortcake or Captain Caveman, I have to find something that identifies them, for this little one, it'll be the patchy black spots across his front.


Here are Marcia's twins, hiding out in the gap between the barn and the open stall door. These two scared the bejebus out of me yesterday. Marcia wasn't acting like they were missing, but I couldn't find them. Huck was on the wrong side of the fence, apparently found a sunny spot to sleep but didn't notice that mama was beside herself. So I went looking over there for these two, wondering if they squeezed under the fence, too. Of course, my mind went to other places, and I realized I didn't know where my dog, Moose was (he was asleep inside the whole time) but why wasn't Marcia worried, and I finally thought to look behind the door. Happy as clams, and warm as could be.  This is Boris and Natasha, well, I guess, Natasha and Boris.  Natasha is the white one with the orange ear, and Boris is the one with the little black spots. Cute little buggers! I am going to vy for Natasha being a keeper! She's adorable!

This isn't the greatest picture, but I wanted to add it. If you can get past Shirley glaring at us in the corner, you can see Captain Caveman in the back, he's standing in front of Strawberry Shortcake, and next to Blueberry Muffin. This little bugger is growing like a weed. I had to pick him up yesterday and move him to a stall with his mother. He's HUGE! I can't believe how much he has grown! And he's a little stinker, his mama, Angel, is a big worry wart. She calls for him all day long and he never answers! He runs and plays and does his own thing. And at night, when she calls for him so they can bed down in the same stall, he just finds a spot, lays down and never answers her. He hides in corners and even I have a hard time finding him. He's going to give his poor mother high blood pressure!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

We seem to spend a lot of time thinking about food this time of year. And since we are farmers and ranchers, I guess we think about it a lot!

But Thanksgiving isn't just about gorging on yummy dishes. It's about giving thanks. So I want to take a moment to do that here.

I want to give thanks to our birds. They lay us wonderful eggs, provide us with meat for our dinners, allow me to hatch dozens of cute little baby chicks, and on occasion - hatch a few of their own!

I want to thank our sheep for being such good mamas to their little lambs, for being so quirky, even on their bad days. For letting chickens ride on their backs in the cold, and again, for putting wonderful food on our table.

I want to thank our barn and our coops for keeping everyone safe and warm as the winter approaches.
I want to thank my family. We give each other grey hair and bounce ideas off each other. And then there is my little girl who reminds me that sometimes the only time is NOW, that things aren't what they seem, and that boxes are a lot of fun. My family has taught me to learn new things (canning and sewing), to appreciate what we have, and to work hard for the things we deserve.
I also want to give thanks to my wonderful day job, that I truly enjoy, surrounded by people I love working with, and for helping me keep a roof over my family's head. And I am thankful for my husband's new job opportunity that he is so excited about.

And last, but far from least, I want to thank our customers. We have some of the best customers in the world. They are patient with us through our struggles, they understand that some things are out of our control and that most things can not be adjusted quickly. They have survived with us through egg shortages every winter, turkeys being too big or too small,  and our vegetabl garden generally being a bust. We have some of the best customers in the entire world, and as things are winding down for the year, and I start thinking about planning for next year, I hope that you will stick with us. You are part of the larger Long Shadow Farm family, and we appreciate you very much. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake and Blueberry Muffin

Betty gave birth to her second set of twins today. Betty is the surviving daughter of Laverne, who was our favorite sheep. We are planning on expanding our flock a little, and happy to have some ewes, especially descendants of Laverne.

However, after naming Captain Caveman, I just decided to stick with ridiculous names. That generally works on rams, because we don't keep them. However...

Introducing Strawberry Shortcake and Blueberry Muffin. I am sticking with the cartoon character names this time around, though I think these cartoon characters came AFTER the toys, in this instance.

Here they are with their mom. Strawberry Shortcake is the one in the front, another one with really unique brown markings. Blueberry Muffin is a more standard dorper, with pure black and white markings. I didn't get a good picture of her, I'll try again this weekend when we can be outside. It's hard in the barn.

Here is Strawberry Shortcake, she almost looks like a Barbados goat!

OK, you can tell I was trying to get pictures of this unique coloring. Pretty cool, huh? We are definitely keeping her, and Larry is not impressed with the names I chose. I'll have to think again, but it's hard finding female duo names, as I have already used Laverne and Shirley, Lucy and Ethel... So if anyone has any female duo cartoon names, send them my way and I might reconsider (Jane and Judy from the Jetsons are on my list)

 Oh, Lucy says she us ready for her close up, while Annmarie turns away.
And here is Mama Angel again, with Captain Caveman - isn't he just adorable?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ducks and another Lamb

So, here is proof that my stubborn ducks DO now how to come through the fence and back into their house.

 They even walk around the house, hoping that we put some food outside (we put it inside the house for them, so the sheep don't eat it.)
 And then when they are done eating, they go back out the fence and into the pond. Sigh. I keep waiting for them to decide to sleep inside their house, where they are safe and warm, but I guess to a duck, they are safe and warm on top of their pond.

Angel gave birth yesterday. I noticed that she was in the barn by herself, so I gave her a peek, and saw that she was in full labor. She gave birth to a healthy ram lamb with some really unique coloring. We were disappointed it was a ram, because we wanted to keep it!
Being on the hook for a name, and being sleep deprived,  I tried to think of one quickly. I wanted to use cartoon character names this time, and the first one that came to mind was Captain Caveman. So, yes, his name is Captain Caveman!
I just love his markings! He's the sweetest little thing, and Angel is such a good mom!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Deciding to Cull

We have never had to cull an adult ewe before. We've had some bad luck with losing a few. But being a young farm, our sheep are all relatively young themselves. Shirley is the oldest at 7. The rest are 4 or younger, assuming the ages I was told when we bought them were correct.

We briefly discussed culling when we found out they had CL, which is highly contagious. We now vaccinate for it on all our ewe lambs, and our adult ewes get vaccinated every year.  We also discovered the hard way that they all carry OVH-2, which is what gave Bridget MCF, and caused her to die.  At that point, we had the decision of culling all our sheep so we could continue raising a cow or two, or say goodbye to our cows and not raise any more. I thought it would be easier to keep all our sheep, than to start over.

So we decided to vaccinate for CL, and maybe in 10-15 years it will be gone. We've decided not to cull PURELY because of that.

But we are now facing the decision again. We have plenty of ewes, maybe even too many,. We kept all 6 ewe lambs that were born last season. So we have room to spare some.  And Lucy abandoned a lamb this year. I looked back in her records and saw that this was the THIRD time she has abandoned a lamb. She abandoned her first lamb, Little Orphan Annie. We assumed the dogs got between them, and Atlas was being protective of her. We managed to wean her back onto mom, and thought nothing of it.  This last year, she abandoned Cornelius. I thought it might have been that we handled him too much, and that he got too cold in the snow, and she left him behind. Turns out, she's just a bad mom. She abandoned Charlie this year, too. And we TRIED and TRIED to get her to take him back. To no avail. And to our heartbreak, he actually did freeze to death, and we lost him. So Lucy gets no more chances.

She's a relatively nice lamb when she isn't a mom. She lets us pet her, and is pretty calm, if not a trouble maker sometimes. But when she has lambs, watch out if you are less than 3' tall! She is the ONLY sheep that has knocked Shannon over, and she did it more than once last year. That's trouble. We don't hurt her babies, she doesn't get to hurt MINE.  I wouldn't have culled her just for that, but add it all up - CL, abandonment, mean distemper - we are saying goodbye to Lucy as soon as she weans Annmarie. We won't take her away from her baby until it's time, but we can't have ewes that abandon their babies, when the rest of our ewes are such good moms.  It will get one CL sheep out of the flock, and start us on the path of replacing our ewes with new, vaccinated lambs.

So watch out ladies, you make too many mistakes, and it's mutton for you!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

November Lambs

So, one of our sheep had lambs yesterday, but it wasn't Jan!!  Here is Lucy and her little ones. Charlie and Annmarie.  Annmarie is the larger one with the big white spot on her back, and Charlie is the almost all white one with the black head.  I'll go out and check this morning to see if Jan gave birth yet, too!