Two feet of snow and a new lamb!

Last week we started to get all kinds of warnings that we could possibly have a big spring storm hit us by the weekend.  We stocked up on groceries and made sure that all was well with the critters.  Friday night the rain started and the temperatures were starting to drop.  We went to bed Friday night secure in the knowledge that all was well.  Ha.  At 1:45am on Saturday morning we woke up to the bleating of a new lamb.  Sigh, our final ewe decided to deliver right on the cusp of the storm.  We went out to see a beautiful little ram lamb with the most unusual markings.

We got Athena all set up in the jug and made sure that our new little man, whom we named Wickham, was nursing and ready to go.  

 This is our last little lamb to join the family.  He was a 12 pound ram lamb out of Athena x Gilbert.

This is our last little lamb to join the family.  He was a 12 pound ram lamb out of Athena x Gilbert.

 Wickham has the most unusual markings!

Wickham has the most unusual markings!

Athena is a first time mama and Wickham was a little slower to start putting on weight than our other lambs this year.  I was a little worried until I looked back on last year's data, and the lambs last year had the same growth rate when all the mama's were first timers.  So he is doing great. We left him in the jug a couple of days because the other ewes, lambs and the llama were all staying in the loafing shed because of the storm. It was a bit crowded and we didn't want him to get run over.  It wasn't long before Wickham and Georgiana discovered the best place to hang out and not get run over.

 Under the hay feeder is the place to be.

Under the hay feeder is the place to be.

Our first single lamb

When we put our rams in with our ewes during the breeding season, we often try to keep a close eye on them to get an idea of when they were bred.  For our ewe Anna, it was easy to tell, as Ibsen was very relentless in his duties.  Ahem.  We had the date she was bred and knew the most likely date she would lamb.  She hit it within a few hours.  We had her expected lambing date as Saturday, and at about 3:45 Sunday morning we knew something was going on in the lambing shed.  Up until now all our our girls have come into the lambing shed to deliver, but we were having a beautiful night and Anna decided to deliver at the bottom of the paddock in the straw that we had placed down there from a broken bale.

By the time we got out there, the little ram lamb was up and had already found her udder and latched on.  Wow, we didn't have much to do but dry him off a bit and put the two of them into the jug.  It was a record, we were back in bed by 4:30am!

 This little ram lamb is out of Anna x Ibsen.  In keeping with our Pride and Prejudice theme, this is Colonel Fitzwilliam.  We are calling him Fitz.  

This little ram lamb is out of Anna x Ibsen.  In keeping with our Pride and Prejudice theme, this is Colonel Fitzwilliam.  We are calling him Fitz.  

Anna is a great mama, he put on 1.4 pounds in his first 24 hours.  The only problem is he is only nursing on one side of her udder.  We had to use warm compresses before we could get her milk to flow again.  We have had to really milk her down.  They will stay in the jug until he learns to nurse from both sides.

Another set of twins!

Wednesday morning we went out to do our morning chores.  We have been keeping a close eye on Astrid as she has been showing signs that she was getting close.  Astrid had a few bites of the alfalfa that we put out, but when it came time for the grain she just wasn't interested.  We decided to keep an eye on her through the morning and headed to the chicken house to finish up the chores.  We were just about there when we heard a strange sound from the sheep shed.  By the time we finished the chicken chores and headed back to the sheep shed the first of the twins was already on the ground.

 This is Georgiana, she is a black ewe our of Astrid x Gunter.  Bingley and Caroline are checking out the new addition.  Anik, the llama, has already been in to give her a good sniff.

This is Georgiana, she is a black ewe our of Astrid x Gunter.  Bingley and Caroline are checking out the new addition.  Anik, the llama, has already been in to give her a good sniff.

About 45 minutes later our next little addition joined the party.  In keeping with our naming theme this year, we now have Georgiana who weighed in at 9.2 lbs and her brother Darcy, who weighed in in 12.6 lbs!  That would be good weights for singles, let alone a set of twins!  When we untrasounded Astrid back in December, we could clearly see two sacs, and we could see a small third sac.  She probably started off with triplets, but the vet warned with the size of the third sac we would probably end up with a set of twins.  This did turn our to be the case, but with the size of the twins, I think Astrid was happy with two.  :-)

 Little Georgina and her new brother Darcy.  Darcy is trying to figure out how this whole milk thing works.  And yes, that is one of the placeta that Astrid is passing.  Yeah, we keep it real around here.  :-

Little Georgina and her new brother Darcy.  Darcy is trying to figure out how this whole milk thing works.  And yes, that is one of the placeta that Astrid is passing.  Yeah, we keep it real around here.  :-

 We will finish this post with a beautiful picture of the mama's and lambs in the morning light.

We will finish this post with a beautiful picture of the mama's and lambs in the morning light.

Catching up and the start of Lambing season

Wow, I can't believe it has been almost a year since we posted last.  Things have been pretty busy around here on the little farm.  We finished up last year by only selling two of our ewe lambs here locally.  Our little flock expanded some to accommodate the three lambs that stayed with us.

Our ewe lamb who was know as Gray in our 2015 lamb pics stayed with us and is now know as RKR Athena.  The two ram lambs stayed at this point also.  Ferdinand became RKR Ares and Little Man became RKR Apollo.  We named them all with letters that started with A to designate that they were all born our first year of lambing.

We finished the summer by taking our son to Idaho to start college.  We lost a big helper there! He is loving it though and is doing very well.  One project we tackled on the farm last fall was to add steps down from our barn to the sheep shed.  There was a fairly steep slope there and I bit the dust several times when we had rain or snow.  Now we are safe and they have worked out great!

 Bailey and our new German Shepherd puppy, Luna, observing our newly minted steps.

Bailey and our new German Shepherd puppy, Luna, observing our newly minted steps.

We also added a new hay shelter to the farm to accommodate our need for more hay this year. We ran out last year and had to supplement mid stream.  We thought with two shelters we would be fine.  Ha - not so much.  We lost half of one hay shelter to the rams.  They like to hang out there when we tossed them out of the paddocks to have room for mamas and babies.  We ended up having to bring in more hay anyway.

Now that is another story.  We split the rams ups with two ewes each, and sent Gilbert and Athena over to the farm where our other two ewe lambs went to live in the summer.  All went well with the breeding and it came time to ultrasound them to verify pregnancies.  We had checked two ewes so far and all was going well, both pregnant when Troy came around the corner with our son.  Troy was pale as a ghost and obviously in a lot of pain.  He had gone to catch one of the ewes and lost his footing in the muddy paddock and relaxed his arm. Unfortunately, he did not get it out of the way of the running ewe fast enough and she blew right past him hitting his arm, rupturing his bicep tendon at the elbow.  Ugh!  This happened on our 25th wedding anniversary, too!  He ended up having  to have surgery to reattach it on December 30th and he has been in recovery ever since.  

We survived January and toward the end of February we sheared the sheep.  Pete Hoffman of Top Knot shearing came down again and took care of the shearing for us.  He also trimmed all the hooves as Troy was unable to do that with his bum arm.  The big winner this year for heaviest fleece was Sigrid.  15 pounds!  

But I know the thing you want to hear about the most is the new lambs for this year.  Our lambing started with Elsa this year.  She was bred to Gunter, one of our colored rams.  Now, white is the dominant color for these sheep, and you must have two recessive colored genes to make a colored lamb.  I knew Elsa was a color carrier, so I knew we had a 50/50 chance of getting a colored lamb.  But I also knew she was carrying twins, so I though we would get at least one white if not two.  Ha, no such luck.  Both lambs were colored!  Two black ewe lambs were born Saturday, March 26th.

 Just a few minutes after the second ewe was born.  The one standing we are calling Silvertop and the new baby is called Silvertip.  

Just a few minutes after the second ewe was born.  The one standing we are calling Silvertop and the new baby is called Silvertip.  

 Here is a better picture of the second baby.  You can see why we call her Silvertip.  :-) 

Here is a better picture of the second baby.  You can see why we call her Silvertip.  :-) 

There were no problems with the delivery and all seemed to be going well.  We left the jackets on until they were nice and dry.  Elsa was doing well with them both until the third morning.  She then decided that she didn't want little Silvertip to nurse from her.  Sigh.  We are now bottle feeding her, but we are using Elsa as the bottle!  We go and halter her up multiple times a day and let the baby nurse.  After several days I did notice that the baby had a sharp spot on tooth; Elsa's udder did not show any signs of being abused, but I softened the sharp spot anyway to see if it would help.  No such luck.  We left Elsa and her girls in a stall for about a week.  She accepts that the baby is hers, but she still will not feed it without intervention.  But, the baby is doing well, so, so far so good.  

Elsa decided to deliver her first twin about 30 minutes before my son was to fly back to school at the end of his spring break.  Luckily my Uncle was able to take him to the airport as we had our hands full!  :-)  We got Elsa and her two girls all settled into the jug and took a breather.  Easter was the next day so we were busy prepping for Easter dinner and family.

At 1:30am Easter morning, Sigrid decided it was time to deliver her twins.  Sigrid was bred to our white ram Ibsen.  Now I wasn't sure if he carried the colored gene.  So I was expecting two white lambs as that is what he threw last year.  Again I was taken by surprise!  A black ewe lamb and a white ram lamb.  So the question of whether of not Ibsen carries the colored gene was answered.  Yup, he does.  

So that is where we are on this years lambing season.  We are closely watching our ewe Astrid today, she is showing signs that she could lamb at any time.  Her ultrasound showed she had triplets!  She was bred to Gunter, so no surprises here, they will all be black.  

I will try and keep up better with all the fun with the new lambs.  Let us know if you are interested in added a great new addition to your farm!

Happy Mother's Day!

We have had a wild and wooly last week of weather!  We had an unusual amount of rain. So much so, we were thinking we were back in Seattle and we should start looking out for moss!

 Anna, Elsa, Little Miss flat out, and Little Man in the background enjoying a break from all the rain.

Anna, Elsa, Little Miss flat out, and Little Man in the background enjoying a break from all the rain.

Friday night we had a series of thunderstorms that came through that woke us up and made us think there was a strobe light outside our window.  There was so much rain our usually dry loafing shed was getting kinda mucky.  So on Saturday morning we headed down to Big R and bought 4 x 6 stable mats and lined the shed with them.  Much better!  By Saturday afternoon we were under a Tornado Watch, a Flood Watch and a Winter Storm Warning!!  We woke up Mother's Day to this:

 Exploring the new wonderland

Exploring the new wonderland

 Getting to enjoy the branches that have been out of reach.  Astrid, Ferdinand, Little Miss and Elsa

Getting to enjoy the branches that have been out of reach.  Astrid, Ferdinand, Little Miss and Elsa

 A muddy Little Man, Anna and Ibsen photobombing the pic.  

A muddy Little Man, Anna and Ibsen photobombing the pic.  

 Ferdinand and Astrid

Ferdinand and Astrid

 Anik wondering what in the world happened!

Anik wondering what in the world happened!

Hope you all are having a beautiful Mother's Day, from all the new mothers on the farm.

Lambing complete

Our final ewe, Anna, delivered her lamb this morning at about 4:10am.  Yup, just one lamb.  Her size fooled us into thinking she was having more that one, but she had one sturdy little ram lamb, he weighed in about 10.2 pounds.

 Once we helped the little guy in the right direction, he had no trouble latching on.

Once we helped the little guy in the right direction, he had no trouble latching on.

 We have had fairly nice weather here lately, but we had freezing rain and snow this morning.  So we have him tucked in with a little coat on.  The yellow and green one were wet from absorbing the birth fluids, so he ended up in pink.  Oh, well.  :-)

We have had fairly nice weather here lately, but we had freezing rain and snow this morning.  So we have him tucked in with a little coat on.  The yellow and green one were wet from absorbing the birth fluids, so he ended up in pink.  Oh, well.  :-)

For some reason, both of our little ram lambs have chosen to be born around 4'o clock in the morning on very cold mornings.  The little ewe lambs all came between 4:30 and 6:00 in the afternoon on lovely warm days.  Go figure.  

We are excited to have finished up our lambing this year, as we will now be able to go to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival this weekend.  The Leicester Longwool Sheep Breeders Association (LLSBA) is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the reintroduction of Leicesters into the US.  It will be fun to be there to celebrate with them.

 

Lambing!! Yeah!!

Our lambing began on March 29th.  Unfortunately, I missed the first birth, as I was with my Grandmother who was in the hospital.  Sigrid was our first ewe to deliver.  We knew she was pregnant with twins, so we had been keeping a close eye on her.  We installed a baby monitor camera in the loafing shed, it really helped to keep an eye on the ewes without having to disrupt them by going out all the time.  Troy and Trevor could see that things were starting to begin and were keeping a close eye.  They got occupied talking to Troy's parents and hadn't checked for about fifteen minutes.  Next thing they knew, they heard the bleating cry for a new born lamb through the monitor.  They quickly hung up with the grandparents and headed out to the barn to witness the second lamb's birth.  I arrived about 10 minutes later, as they had texted me at the hospital to let me know and Grandma shooed me out of the hospital.  

 Two ewe lambs!  A great start!

Two ewe lambs!  A great start!

 As it was a chilly night, the lambs wore their little coats to make sure they stayed plenty warm. The coats were purchased from The Good Shepherd Lamb Coats.

As it was a chilly night, the lambs wore their little coats to make sure they stayed plenty warm. The coats were purchased from The Good Shepherd Lamb Coats.

Astrid was our wild card.  We had seen all of the other girls get bred, but we never saw her. When we did the ultrasound, it seemed to indicate she was going to have twins, so we weren't expecting her to go too soon.  But, on the morning of April 3rd, we were woken up about 4:30 in the morning to a ruckus going on in the shed.  We could hear lots of bleating, so Troy headed out to see what the fuss was.  Of course, Astrid had delivered a beautiful white ram lamb.  Well, we were expecting twins, so we woke our poor vet up about 5:45 that morning as nothing else seemed to be happening.  She came by to check, but by that time Astrid had delivered the placenta, so we knew we had one nice sized ram lamb.

 Snuggled in with his warm coat.

Snuggled in with his warm coat.

 Now that is a darling face.  

Now that is a darling face.  

Next up was Elsa, our gestation calendar had her delivering around the 12 of April, so when the boys wanted to go to Colorado Springs to see some live music for Trevor's college class on the 8th I didn't think there would be a problem.  Ha!  About fifteen minutes after they left, I headed out to do the chores with Samantha.  When I fed the girls, Elsa did not come in to eat.  I knew this was a good sign that something may be happening.  I finished the rest of the chores and sure enough she had come into the shed and I could see we were going to have a lamb soon.  I called the boys back, and she delivered a lovely white ewe lamb about fifteen minutes before they got back.  We got everyone all settled in the jug and they went the next week to hear the live music.  :-)

 Just moments after birth.  

Just moments after birth.  

 Already up and nursing.

Already up and nursing.

We have one more ewe yet to deliver.  Based on her size, we are pretty sure she has twins. When we did the ultrasound, the vet saw one lamb, but was pretty sure there was one there that we couldn't see.  I think she is right.  The next post will have some fun picts of the lambs.  Our vet calls them "Smiles on legs" and I have to totally agree!

Llama?

We have one more new addition to the farm.  Last August we had a tragedy, 8 of our chickens were murdered by a wily coyote!  We had been free ranging them in the pasture with the rams and the coyote dug under the fence at the very back of the property.  I was coming home from Samantha's horse therapy and I noticed a strange looking dog walking down the middle of the street with a bird in its mouth.  Now we have a lot of wild turkeys in our area, and once I figured out it was a coyote I figured it was one of the wild turkeys.  Not.  The stinker had killed 8 of our chickens, 6 were only about 5 months old and 2 were our 2 year old hens.  Uggg!

I started worrying about when we would have lambs on the property, they would be very vulnerable to a coyote.  So, we started researching how to make our property more predator safe.  We settled on a llama.  

 Anik wondering what all the fuss is on shearing day.

Anik wondering what all the fuss is on shearing day.

We purchased our llama, Anik, from Judy Glaser of Rockwood Llama's here in Kiowa.  She is doing a great job watching over our ewes.  She got a little confused after we sheared the sheep, we put the ewes back into their paddock and she started to get between the unsheared ewes and the newly sheared ewes!  She didn't recognize them, she had to do a few good sniffs before she relaxed her guard. 

 This is a classic expression as she observes her domain.

This is a classic expression as she observes her domain.

 Anik is trying to decied if these strange looking critters are supposed to be in her pasture.

Anik is trying to decied if these strange looking critters are supposed to be in her pasture.

Anik has been a great addition to our little place.  Judy is planning on showing her fleece this summer at Estes Park.  We look forward to see how she is doing.

Breeding and Shearing

Soon it was time to start our breeding.  Upon the recommendation of our breeder, Richard, we would rotate each of the rams in with the ewes for 17 days with 5 days between each ram.  That way we would be able to tell which ram bred with which ewe.

Ibsen was our starter ram this year, followed by Gunter and Gilbert would be our clean up crew.

Breeding went well, we had our vet out to ultrasound the ewes and found that all were pregnant, and two were expecting twins!  Yeah!

Our next big adventure would be the shearing.  We wanted to shear them about a month before the first ewe was due at the end of March.  So February 28, Pete Hoffman from Top Knot Shearing up in Greeley came to shear our sheep.  I had never seen a shearing done, but Pete took great care of the sheep, despite some protests from our biggest ram, Gunter.

 The girls were more than ready to be sheared for the very first time.

The girls were more than ready to be sheared for the very first time.

 Ibsen, before he lost his darling topknot.  

Ibsen, before he lost his darling topknot.  

 The rams, looking very put out after the fact.  You can see their beautiful color differences.

The rams, looking very put out after the fact.  You can see their beautiful color differences.

 The ewes, wondering why they lost their coats while we still had snow.  Just so you know, it only takes about a 1/4 inch of fleece to keep the sheep warm, and Pete made sure he used a comb that left a good amount.  :-)

The ewes, wondering why they lost their coats while we still had snow.  Just so you know, it only takes about a 1/4 inch of fleece to keep the sheep warm, and Pete made sure he used a comb that left a good amount.  :-)

The shearing went very well, the fleeces averaged about 12-13 pounds each.  The fleeces were a little damp so we took them to the basement to lay them out to dry and prep them for skirting.  A good friend, Judy, came to the shearing that day and was immensely helpful in getting the fleeces spread out to dry.

 Beautiful fleeces laid out to dry.

Beautiful fleeces laid out to dry.

We are now getting ready to start processing the fleeces.  Learning the best way to wash the fleece, saving some locks for specialty dyeing, and ordered a drum carder to process into beautiful roving.  Keep an eye on the website as we will be offering a variety of products in the future.

Settling in

Once we had the sheep home, we had to make a few adjustments to the pastures, but soon everyone was settling in and seemed quite content.

 Gunter and Gilbert, our colored rams.

Gunter and Gilbert, our colored rams.

 Bailey, the Golden Retriever, thinks he is one of the boys.

Bailey, the Golden Retriever, thinks he is one of the boys.

 Sigrid, Elsa and Anna wondering where all that Virginia grass went.

Sigrid, Elsa and Anna wondering where all that Virginia grass went.

 Making do with our Colorado mountain grass.  We do always have hay available.  :-)

Making do with our Colorado mountain grass.  We do always have hay available.  :-)

Journey to Virginia

June, 2014

It was time to go and pick up our starter flock of lambs in Culpepper, VA.  We had purchased a new stock trailer and were borrowing my Mom's F150 pickup.  Our F250 did not have an adequate rear seat for a car seat for Samantha, and room for Trevor to stretch out.  We headed out on a Thursday morning, made it to our first gas fill up and had a major heart attack!  We were only getting 7 miles to the gallon!  Oh, boy, this was going to be an expensive trip!

Twenty-four hours later, after an overnighter in St. Louis, we made it to Culpepper and checked into our hotel.  Samantha, our four year old at the time, was quite the trooper and traveled great. We would not be getting to Old Gjerpen Farm until late afternoon on Saturday, so we decided to do some site seeing, and as Culpepper is the home of Monticello, it was a no brainer.  

We really enjoyed touring Monticello, it has been beautifully restored and the gardens are absolutely amazing!  

After a bite of lunch, we headed out to the farm and met Richard.  What a wonderful source of information and an obvious love of the breed.  We toured his farm and had several hours of great information sharing.  Sunday we visited Ferry Farm, which was George Washington's boyhood home, and several battlefields.  We got a good night of sleep and headed back out to the farm to load up our flock and head back home.

 This is Elsa, our eldest ewe lamb

This is Elsa, our eldest ewe lamb

 The ewe lambs getting ready to be loaded onto the trailer.

The ewe lambs getting ready to be loaded onto the trailer.

We headed out on Monday morning, bright and early.  We made it to Columbia, MO late in the day, and headed for home the next morning.  After one flat tire, we made it home early afternoon.  It was a long trip, but very enjoyable and we were totally excited to introduce our new sheep to the farm.

The Adventure begins. . .

In the spring of 2013, Troy and I decided to add sheep to our little farm.  We already had chickens and rabbits, but we felt ready to add a larger breed.  Troy raised sheep growing up back in Texas, so we felt we had a bit of experience to tackle taking care of them.  Once we decided to add sheep, it came down to which breed to add.  Troy had raised Suffolks, but we wanted to go with a breed that had a market for the fleece, something handspinners would enjoy.  This past December we had made a family trip to Williamsburg, VA and had the opportunity to take their rare breeds tour, and were introduced to the Leicester Longwools.  We loved the idea of helping to conserve and bring back this wonderful breed of sheep.  So we started doing our research and put down a deposit on a starter flock with Richard Larson, of Old Gjerpen Farm.  We would not be picking up our flock until June of 2014, so we had plenty of time to prepare.

We had a barn, but it had a cement floor and was currently housing our rabbitry.  Our son had been showing Holland Lop rabbits for some time and was using a good portion of the barn.  We decided to build a loafing shed to match the barn, just had to decide where.  After several weeks of plotting out different locations we finally settled on an east facing shed, a little east of the current barn.  Troy and I built it ourselves, we were pretty proud of the finished product.

 

We added a paddock out in front of the shed, added electricity and ceiling fans.  It is pretty fancy.  :-)  We then added an automatic waterer, after we got tired of hauling water. 

We prepared the pastures for the sheep, the boys were so happy that I made them pull all of the cactus and yucca out of the pasture.  It was now time to go and get the sheep.