Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Odin and Frigg

Mama Alice had udders the size of a basketball. She was definitely ready for her little ones to greet the world. On Monday, we welcomed little Odin and Frigg. They are big lambs already, but mama is definitely prepared to feed them! Alice is one of our older ewes, in the grand scheme of things. She's always been a good mother. Last year, she had an eye infection shortly before lambing and couldn't see from her left eye very well. It made it hard for her to see her babies, and one of our young ewes actually stole one of her twins from her. But this year, she won the race to be first, and doesn't have to share her lambs with anyone.

It's highly likely that we will keep Frigg. We are looking to build our flock back up a bit, and we always try to keep one or two ewes from each lambing to keep the age of our flock young. We love Alice. She's always been gentle and kind, and is a good mama. She is now 6 years old, and in those years, she has given us 9 lambs. She averages 1.8 lambs per season, and her average live weight on her lambs is 111 pounds! That's pretty good!  Being an enginerd, I have devised a calculation that sort of gives an apples to apples comparison on our sheep and their productivity. It's the lamb weight to lamb # ratio, and Alice is in second place, behind only Shirley (who sometimes gives us triplets).   We haven't yet kept any of Alice's lambs, likely because she often has rams. So here are Odin and Frigg, and their proud mama.


 Mama Alice and baby Frigg


 Alice, Odin and Frigg  (Odin in the front, with the sleek coat, and Frigg in the back with the curly coat)


 Our little lamb with Frigg


Our little lamb with Odin

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Canning Season is starting on Long Shadow Farm

I recently completed my first batches of dill pickles and bread and butter pickles. My cucumber plants have taken over the greenhouse, so I suspect MANY more batches of pickles to come. I am picking up peaches, tomatoes and pears in the next few weeks. That will produce peach ice cream, canned peaches, peach preserves, and peach pie filling as well as a very intriguing carmelized pear ice cream, and pear jam. We'll see what happens with the tomatoes, most of them go to tomato sauce for my own family, and we are on our last jar from last year, so I need more!

Either way, lots of good canned items and ice creams to come, so don't forget to pick some up when you stop by for chicken!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Turkeys!

It's August- and already people are thinking about their holiday turkeys. I usually wait until September to start taking orders, but people are anxious, and excited.  Of course, my mind is on getting my nugget off to school! But others are contemplating other fabulous holidays, like Thanksgiving! So, to kick off your Thanksgiving planning, here is the deposit form for Turkeys.  Like always, we can't promise an exact size, but we really do our best. For reference, they generally state that you need 1 pound per person eating. Realizing that some of the weight of the bird is going to be bones and such, so that doesn't mean each person is eating a pound of meat, though I know a lot of folks could! You can round that up or down based on how many leftovers you would like to have.

Some info about our birds - we raise 2 types of birds. One is called "Heritage" which means they come from a long line of registered breeds that can breed on their own, and have some traceability back to wild turkeys. There are 6 recognized breeds by the American Poultry Association, and we have a few of those on the farm - Bourbon Reds, Black Spanish, White Holland, Narragansett, Blue Slate and Royal Palm. We have bred our own birds this year, from a few small hens and toms we kept last year. I don't segregate my breeds, so mine are mostly mixed breeds from those few. But they are the same size and quality as a registered breed. Since we also have a resident wild tom that I am sure has been successful in breeding, many of our hatches might have him as their father. If a heritage bird is what you want, keep in mind that the hens are usually 6-11 pounds in size, and the toms are typically 12-18 pounds.

The other breed of bird is called a broad-breasted, or double breasted turkey. These guys are genetic hybrids, just like our chickens, bred specifically to grow an extra breast muscle. These are the big turkeys that have that big round chest and look great on your holiday table. I struggle with getting the size just right on these guys. Two years ago, they grew way too big, and no one wanted 30 pound turkeys! Last year I overcompensated and got them way too late, and most never topped 20 pounds. I got them a bit earlier this year, and am hoping the toms will come in around that perfect 20-25 pound size that a lot of people want. It's too early to tell, as they are still quite small, but they grow so much faster than their heritage cousins.  If you want a bird between 9-12 pounds, I will have plenty of them. Every turkey is going this year, and last night, I tried my best to count them and counted at least 100. So we have more to sell than I thought!

If you want a holiday turkey - we process them the weekend before Thanksgiving, so you can pick them up fresh, and not have to defrost it!  If you want one for a subsequent holiday, we can freeze them for you, and you can make arrangements to pick them up.  If you are interested, there are two ways to sign up: online or print out and mail in this form

Monday, August 12, 2013

Ferdinand

The Flock becomes a Flerd again. Not that my sheep really want it that way.
 
 
Meet Ferdinand. He's a little Jersey bull calf that we bought from a nice 4H family in Wyoming.



He's just getting used to being on the farm and away from his mama.
 

 
 
The sheep weren't too sure about him. So they tried to send Dancer over as a special envoy to broker a peace deal with the new species. However, when Dancer got close enough, Ferdinand leaned in for a sniff, and she ran off. I guess there won't be a peace deal.

 
The dogs, however, found him quite interesting. He's pretty small, almost the same size as my Moose.

 
They all came over to say hi and check out their new charge.



He's a calm little guy, he's really gentle and my nugget seems to like him a lot.

 
He's a sweetheart, he'll be with us for a bit over a year. I know, we swore we'd never do cows again. But the freezer is looking pretty empty and it's time to get some beef back on the menu.