Tuesday, October 31, 2006

moving sheep

We have some talented breeders. Ones who can work with their sheep and take photos at the same time. I can't do that. In fact lots of my sheep photos are missing heads and sometimes the whole sheep.
So although I had help taking pictures for this sheep moving spot, this is not a "training essay".
We had lots of rain....finally.
So I was watching for this to happen. The creeks started running. I even got ready for this event by moving my fencing panels out of the creek bed. So you can't see the fenced path the sheep used all summer to get to the meadow out back.
However, my old mind works too slowly sometimes....I forgot to move the sheep.
I had an hour before the creek was too high to stand in....but I never thought about moving ram lambs through to the other side.
So the next morning....after the creek went back down. Mostly.
I had to coax the ram lambs that were leaving for the sale.....down the side of the creek to the deeper water still running....and wade them through. I pulled a half dozen for the sale....mostly black. I actually had to go back for another one, because I found one of the spotted wonders had turned shaela. I had one last year but shipped him anyway. This year I am planning to over-winter a few. My husband, Pat, also got a nice photo of our great pyr, Angel.

Friday, October 27, 2006


Yes, folks....we ARE having weather. We had 5 inches of rain last week, and between the rains yesterday and over-night we have three more inches.
We have a rock in the pond that we measure the water level against. If the rock is under water, we are OK...if the rock is high and dry....like it has been most of the year, we need rain. This morning, the rock is under water.
But the interesting thing is that I don't see or hear the creeks running. Where has all that water gone, I wonder?
I spent most of yesterday out in the rain, covering hay bales and making rain shelters for the breeding pens. I even put up black plastic between Spots pen and the next pen. Last year Spots broke out of his own pen and broke into Cinder's pen because one of the ewes was breeding. So now I have two areas of black plastic duck-taped to the fences.
I will say these rains have put a stop to any halter training....I can't pull little ewes from the flock in pouring rains. I don't want them sick next week. So I am waiting a day or so to let them dry out before I stress them.

These are a couple of ram lambs hiding in the trees instead of being halter trained. Oh well....so my sheep aren't perfect. Hopefully they will get to Kentucky anyway.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Well, the blog masters ate two of my blogs so far....so I will be brief.
The trees have been nice this year, so I took a few pictures.
One of the ewes has already cycled, I wasn't going to breed her, but she was trying to get my oldest and head ram to bash his way through his fence. So I guessed the easiest solution was to let her in with one of the ram lambs down by the barn.
Why do we let them live together for weeks? In about three hours she was tired of the whole thing and wanted out. The ram lamb is really excited by any of the ewes coming close to the fence now...."come on over baby!" I have been putting in gates for the breeding pens, and will have to add some spring clips to the fencing where they have lost some. Hopefully my farmer friend will come in a couple of days to move the hay down to their pens.
I got a call about one of the sold ewe lambs who was down with pnemonia. With the five inches of rain we have had and the colder weather it is a good season for that. It didn't sound good. I use the shotgun approach when a sheep looks sick....Nuflor, wormer, vitamins....maybe bo-se or thiamin depending on how they look. I had one last night. She usually is pushing in to get grain, but was laying down out in the pasture....when I went to check her she walked away. Later I saw her laying down again out by her daughter....after a while I walked out to see what she looked like close up....I checked my records to see if she had missed the last round of wormings. When I got a hundred yards from her she got up and went back to eating. The only thing I noticed was a clicking noise while she was chewing her cud. I'm guessing she had picked up a nut, and was waiting for it to dissolve. But, I will watch for her movements as I let the sheep out this morning. Is she laying down, is she walking OK, is she slower than the other sheep, how are her eyes? her ears? Is she with her daughter or off by herself?
I know lots of shepherds are working full time elsewhere, but once a day, you need to watch the sheepy behaviour, so that you can tell when one of your babies is heading for a problem.
Cloudy and cool this morning, but we expect to be in the 50's later.

Friday, October 20, 2006

more weather


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

the weather

Well, I am forced to talk about the weather.
No one seems to have a sense of humor anymore.
If I make a joke and get a lecture about the morality of breeding shetlands....it's time to let people be bored by their own company....and the lists go empty.
It's foggy this morning. I know the sheep went out to the hay ground because I watched their hind ends disappear into the fog. I tried to walk our little dog, when I got thirty feet down the road, some of the ram lambs started baaing. As I stared out into the foggy fields, I heard something like a wooping crane. Now we do get flocks of king geese coming over in the late fall.
It's a great game to figure out where their big "V" is in the sky before they fly over. Kind of like trying to see the Airforce jets ahead of their sound stream. But, this was more likely a hound who had been running and barking all night in the fog. He sounded hoarse, when I figured out it was a dog. I put the dog inside, and walked out across the creek. The sheep stopped baaing, and the dog went on about it's way home. Big excitement.
I read with interest about one of our northern shepherds who is watching a cougar near her sheep. Wow....bad news. The thing that made me nervous was that she mentioned the cougar sitting ten feet up in a tree.
Good grief.....they climb too? I kind of forgot they were cats....We have something here...in our pastures. I mentioned we saw some long tailed cat crossing the road a few yards from the pastures about a week ago.
Now, I know there are cougars here. My closest shepherd saw one in her driveway. She had several kills during the years she was raising sheep in the area.
The folks that sold this place mentioned watching a panther carrying a fawn going through the hay fields. OK I thought, it can't be a panther. They are something from South America....or Africa...or zoos. I come from the northern midwest....and I remember seeing pictures of a big black cat roaming the cities' parks.
When I talked to my neighbor, who is a native....he said these dark cats were wild cats. As far as I can tell, they are grey....have long tails....and the one I saw was about the size of a ram lamb.
The first thing I thought was that a ram lamb had gotten out of the yard....well....I know....my ram lambs don't have long tails. ...but that was the size....We have found big cat footprints out in the pastures....and our nice neighbor said he stopped his truck and watched one day to see if he could get a shot at a wild cat that was crossing our field....nice fellow.
When I check for wild animals in Missouri....there is nothing called a wild cat....of course they also say there are no cougars....funny. There are no other big cat type things with long tails....our neighbor has killed two in his long lifetime....so whatever they are they do exist....they are grey with long tails.
My new problem is that I have never looked up. Wow just think....there could be a big cat up there too.....argh!!! I know cougars can travel 40 miles from their homes....we live near a mountain called panther hill....I suppose they have caves up there.
Considering that I have walked very little out in our woods....I suppose we could have caves too. Now when I hear a noise in the woods...I have to remember to look up too. I hope it's a wild cat and not a cougar....bother!
Well, the weather is foggy with some storms coming in later....hope you all have a good day.

Monday, October 16, 2006


wow, must be the political season...folks are sure pushing for others to agree and accept their point of view.
Lest you start to worry about holding your wild shetland ewe still while you measure her twice and then get out your calculator to weigh her.
Does anyone have ANY idea how much effort it takes to run down a shetland ewe who knows you want to catch her?
Hey, I will be the first one to admit that is an awsome idea....but, I have a life....I can't spend weeks doing it....even though I admire those who will.
Or, heaven forbid.... I start to see breeders shaving their lambs legs to get ready for a show....don't laugh, I know some folks already shape their tails...
I had a yearling ewe do that this spring....she ate the tip off because it was a different color than the rest of the tail. Sorry...off the point....pun....did you catch it?

Anyway, I wanted to inject a bit of humor into the serious discussions. "It's right here, in print....you can't do that! Listen to me.".....I'm the boss/leader of the free world....anyway you put it, it HAS to make you think.
Does the person telling you that your sheep are too fat, too thin, too tall, too short.....too non-breed standard.....have any, ANY idea what you are breeding and why? Have they walked your flock, feeling fleeces...checking legs....measuring tails? Well then, don't get too excited. Some people just need to have their say. Look at me....I blog. According to fox and friends I am one of the "looney left bloggers". Also off the point.

Some folks like to argue....like me! Use your own judgement....don't believe everything the far right tells you.....opps.....the "sheepy experts" tell you. It's one day...it's one point of view...it's one person....it's one moment in time...whatever the argument is...it won't start a war...it won't stop a war....

I think you are a good shepherd....I think you breed good sheep. I'm not worried about your tails...I know you are trying to make them better each time you breed. I am not worried about your ewe's weight....I know you are trying to feed them the best you can find. I'm not even worried about their legs....if they have wool or don't have wool....it's way down there on the ground....do they trip on it? Catch barbed wire in it? ...maybe then it is a little long....work on it OK?
But don't give me a lot of garbage about everyone raising cookie-cutter shetland sheep. These genetics are what we got.... we have done the best we can with them.....and seriously, there have been a few things I don't like about this AI stuff....but I don't preach against it....you want to do that to your ewes.... go ahead...they are your ewes, I have plenty of ewes of my own to worry about !

I want to remind you to vote....vote for your choice of NASSA board members. Have you put the nassa news down somewhere...go find it. There are very few breeders who bother to fill out the ballot and send it in....your vote will count in the NASSA election.
Now, I can't guarantee your vote will count in the November elections in your state....but it's all you can do to voice the way you think the states, the congress,...the world...and the war is going.
I don't care if you vote against me, just vote....ignore what your church, your president, your newspaper, your talk radio host, tells you to do....think for yourself, and vote. It is your RIGHT and it is your OBLIGATION.
If the free world is going to continue to exist....we need to worry about the direction it is going and try to shape that direction.

Now seriously, aren't you glad I'm not coming out to check your sheepy legs for wool?

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Well, just a note to say I am surviving so far while my husband is north. Ha ha, he had a snowstorm. The night before he left, we saw a big cat coming out of the woods near the pastures. It was about the size of a small sheep....grey, had a long tail....and looked pretty comfortable with the area. It did not make me comfortable, however, and I go out with the dog when she barks at night.
I did ocupy myself while he was gone, and have finally done the dishes, rearranged the living room, and the porch, and painted the front of the house a nice halloween pumpkin orange. Gotta love paint!
I will place bets....to anyone who wishes, that he doesn't notice the front of the house is no longer white....yes, it will be dark when he gets home.
I am including a photo of our goose, who now grazes with the ram lambs in the back yard. The cat who wanted to see what I was doing so far from home, checking the sheep.
There are a couple of photos of the girls, settling into the hay field for the winter. You can try counting....I do know how many there are out there....but the grass is taller than the heads.

On another note, we recently delivered some ram lambs to the USDA facility in our state. I was pleased with the money for my lambs. I didn't feel too bad for them because they were penned with some big girl sheep....and appeared to be taking advantage of the tall hind ends.
Some fellow brought in 25 goats....and we commented that he must have stuffed them into the truck until he figured he had 1000$ worth.
So on the way home we speculated about throwing a few goats into the mix....then the subject was bigger sheep.....then cross-breeds.....you remember, those mules?
So I spent a few days on the computer looking into goats....and other bigger breeds.
Now...please don't think I am considering anyones breeding programs!!!! I am letting you follow my logic.....goats....I know goats are noisey....I know the male goats have a strong odor....they also have several health problems which would require inspections in Missouri. Well, that's too much trouble for me....especially since there was only 20 cents difference in cash per pound the day I was there.
I would prefer sheep.....I have had big dumb girls....they weren't any more trouble than the rest of the sheep until I wanted to lift them into the truck!
So I considered the difference in price....my boys will never go more than 50 pounds before I get them shipped. A bigger breed....especially if I didn't want another ram---but cross-bred the ewes.....could grow maybe 20 more pounds before shipping..... so for 3 big ewes....and 6 lambs....shipping 4 and breeding back 2....would be 80 $ more than my own sheep would bring.
OK....initial cost could be 100 per ewe....cheap cost....that's 300, subtract the extra money for the lambs.
It would take me FOUR YEARS to make a profit on those three ewes. If I breed three ewes that I am just keeping because they are friends....I can make a profit on their ram lambs the FIRST YEAR.....and I have the added benefit, that I might decide to sell a ewe lamb....registerable from those extra breedings.
So I have decided to do nothing different....and plan to make more money from the sheep I already own.
Hopefull my logic is better than the logic used by the washington crowd.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

cute sheep stories.

This is a story from a new client. Angela bought some ewe lambs this fall, for her new flock....several were my "special pets". You-know....the ones you plan to keep forever, because they are sooo friendly. She wrote me this week with this story:

The girls are doing well, I added a ewe lamb from Tammy Powell in Windyville, and all are getting along. We put some of the overcrowded chickens in the barn, to eat dropped grain, and be "real" chickens. The day we did that, it poured buckets about 30 minutes after putting the chickens out. The chickens didn't know where to go for shelter, so I brought them into the barn. Then Kiva took over. She (and Hot Pepper) would get as close to the chickens as they could; when the chickens squawked an alarm, she froze into position and wagged her tail at the chickens until they quieted down. When the birds were silent, the lambs advanced slowly until the chickens squawked and so on. Finally, the chickens kept quiet and still under the lamb's hot pasture breath. The next day, just before sundown, Kiva patiently rounded up the chickens and herded them into the barn. Three times. Finally the chickens settled into a corner to sleep, and Kiva laid down curled around them, with one snuggled up against her.

Just thought you would enjoy the story.
Take care,

I got another story from another one of our shepherds too:

Here is my most recent "cute" sheep story, though only a shepherd would see it as cute.

One of my older shetlands, Grettle, is a real pet and likes to lean on me etc. She had a long labor this spring and I ended up so worried about her that I sat with her in the barn. She was huge and after quite a bit of straining (while laying down) she had a giant bag of water sticking out the appropriate area. Then she groaned and strained and the water burst. It must have been a huge relief because she immediately jumped up and spun around and started checking the ground in excitement. I felt so bad because she obviously thought that she was done and her lambs was here! Then, when she sniffed around frantically and couldn't find the lamb, she started glaring at me. If looks could kill! I think she thought I had stolen her lamb, she nudged at me and made all kinds of noise, obviously angry with me. She then went back to her spot and ignored me completely. She did finally have her lamb, but then she would hardly let me near it (I had already stolen one, remember?). I have seen lots and lots of lambs born but this was honestly the first time I have ever seen one who mistakenly thought she was already done and who showed such sincere disapointment over it. Becca

Thanks everyone for the burst of stories....it just reinforces why we all love our sheep.

Monday, October 09, 2006

rams ramming

leaves falling,
frost, freezing
ewes jumping,
rams ramming.
Yup, it all sound like fall to me. Ever noticed those shy skittish girls who suddenly become your long-lost firends about now?
Enjoy it, the next time they come up to you they will want a belly-rub before they lamb.
To breed or not to breed....................?
Ever patted a girl and felt two bones...they are not ready to breed again.
And take a good look at your ewe lamb...........how tall is she? Can you visualize a lamb falling out? Would a normal size lamb dwarf your new breeding ewe lamb? Think about why you need to breed her, now. Before you have to question yourself in the spring while trying to pull her lamb out.
I have a list of little girls I want to breed....then I go out and look at them again....maybe they are too small?
I have several girls who are yearlings and were not exposed last year....but, they seem like total idiots next to my mom-yearlings.
I'm not even thinking about putting those little girls and little boys together for a month or two....the rams aren't ready, the ewes don't need to be ready. There is no reason a ewe lamb can't cycle once or twice before she is bred. As long as your fences are secure. Girls are brazen. Kind of like teens. Panda was twelve and still she labored over to the rams pen to push her tail end up to the fence.
The first year we were here with thrown up fencing, I had a ram break out to breed everyone. He got three ewe lambs pregnant that same morning...he also butted one out of the way, she later died. That was his first and last breeding frenzy.
Keep your unbreedables out of sight. Rams during breeding season can break wood posts and pulverize woven wire. They have been seen wrapping electric fencing around their horns and breaking it as it zapped.
If you have walked near your ram fencing lately....have you noticed a pass, or maybe a bump?
Caution visitors and children to stay far enough away from the fence that the ram can't hurt them just by hitting the fencing.
It's a normal thing this time of year. The rams set up their status in the pen. I keep my two olde
st boys in a pen all year with one younger ram. Every year the number two boy has holes in his head after hours of sparring for first place. The rams actually believe that if they win they get AAALLLLL those girls. They do....ask them.
I keep confusing the other pen of rams by adding ram lambs....so there is a chorus of wild kingdom horns banging every afternoon. They will get it right in a week or so, and I will confuse them again by taking bigger ones to market.
Oh the life of a ram.....short but happy.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

fall chores

Go figure, this entire post has disappeared....oh well, go hug a sheep.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

pitching in together

Looking for sheep?
Want something special?
You realize that all breeders keep a few lambs for their "private stock".....if they have lots of lambs they will be selling some that are special....but you have to know that in order to improve our own flocks, we either have to buy someone better from another breeder....or we have to keep someone better that resulted from our own breeding. I start out after spring lambing with several lambs that are reserved for my "private stock".....as the summer goes on, I may add a few based on friendliness....or fleece.
This year I got a note from someone "needing" some friendly lambs, and I gave them the opportunity to buy some of my friendliest ewe lambs. I miss them, but figure they will get more attention in a smaller flock. As fall goes on I find myself offering some ram lambs that were reserved by me earlier this year. I have a certain pride in selling a new client a really good ram lamb, so some of my "private stock" may wind up for sale.
All this leads up to our dear friend Stephen, who recently lost his best friend and fellow shepherd.
I want to thank publically, Bill Stearman, who came down from Canada to help Stephen do his falll chores. A very good friend indeed. And also Heather Ludlam, who went in to Stephen's flock to give him another person to help downsize his flock.
Now, what I want you to do is go look at Stephen's list of sheep for sale. You all know Stephen has kept a big flock. He has a large flock with some great lines. And now they are for sale!
This is another opportunity to find exactly the sheep you need for your own flock. There will be others buying, and perhaps you can find some way to hitch-hike your new sheep across the midwest to your flock. Everyone could benefit from these sheep being redistributed. The genetics can only improve the breed by having a little influence other smaller flocks. I personally know of many F-1's and many spotted wonders presently living with Stephen....
We will all someday need to down-size or dispose of our own flocks.....this should be a priority for our fellow breeders....making sure good sheep can find a good home.
Oh boy, got to go look at some sale sheep!