Monday, June 25, 2007

that's life....

So many times, we use little phrases to express our feelings. That's life, that's farming....Murphy's law....I'm not in charge....
I am reminded by the envelope in front of me that life has a way of changing. With or without our help.
My cousin has just lost her husband of many three weeks. Now sometimes we don't even have three weeks. Sometimes life comes at us fast. And boom, things are different....way different, and will be forever. Now, I don't want you all to go out the door looking over your shoulder, but have you counted your good things lately? Have you smiled at little joys....hugged perfect strangers...or family....or friends. Celebrated milestones....?
Like hay in the barn, rain on the ground, messages in your in-box. Lamb races, and ewes needing petting? Flowers on the side of the road, birds flying high in the air, or sitting at your feeder? Our time here is so short, and our energies so fleeting, that there is no time for extended anger, or sadness, or dreaming about things that should be. Go out and make it happen, live today to the fullest, love everything around you..... good and much as you can.

I have written about life altering changes. Sometimes it is easier to control your life...but not at all easy to try and change someone elses life. Unless those someones are your children, who need their life molded, or your parents who now need you to help them in their failing can't control them at all. Surprise. Oh yes, I hope you have a partner or member of the family to help you share life. But if you don't, go ahead, share your life with a pet, a critter, a pen pal, a spirit.
While I am on the subject of parents....yes, we all want to help our parents....especially if they no longer have the ability, or capacity to help themselves. Do not sacrifice your children or partner to your parents. Do the best you can, and then let someone else help. Parents, how ever much we love them, have lived their still have a life to live. Caregivers have a way of sacrificing themselves, but it is not fair to sacrifice the lives of everyone else in your family too. Get help.
I have many other thoughts on this subject....if you are in the midst of a family crisis because of me. I have years of memories to help you with. Did I do everything right?...No none of do everything right....we can only do what we are capable of at the moment.

Yes, I have hay in the barn, and rain on the and the powers who control these things have been good to me. My local farmer did something like the loaves and fishes, and made much more hay than we had any right to much that the girls can stand on the fences and eat some of it. You know the hay they aren't supposed to get, it's the best hay in their minds. I have been skirting the fleeces left in bags in the back yard...under tarps in the rain....I will have to go back to skirting too, before they all get moldy.
Have you read the Alaskan blog? Trying to imagine doing all the same chores and yet in the middle of a beautiful wilderness.....mind-boggling!
If you have taken time during your busy day to check in on me, and read all the way down here....I hope you go back to living your life with a spring in your step....a smile....and a sense of anticipation for what is yet to come today.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

hay hay hay

Yes, my neighboring farmer is actually cutting my hay field right now. I don't expect much in the way of results. Our grass was hurt by the late it is short and it is pretty dry right now. According to the weather departmant we are on the edge of a drought area.

It looks like every year at this time we are in a drought area.

We discussed predators as we opened the fence to get the tractor into my field. He said some dogs are moving in the valley near him. Great! Like we don't have enough natural we have to watch for packs of dogs. They are the worst.

So I suppose I need to go practice my marksmanship soon.

I have been asked about the caped fleckets.

As far as I know there are only a few in existance here, and they are all in Pennsylvania. There was a caped flecket in the Sue Russo book....she had a question about wheather one big black spot could be called a flecket.

To describe the caped fleckets. Think of a white sheep with the front half black. I believe Sandy has several, they all have totally black faces and heads, and necks....and the black expends like a cape down the front shoulders of the sheep. Thus, "caped".

I checked my files and I don't have a photo from Sandy of this spotted type of sheep. the closest I have come to anything with a black face is Lyra....who has one side black and most of the other white.

Monday, June 18, 2007

work work work

What did you do over the weekend?
I know we all have plenty to do...with new lambs and milking moms.
Did I mention I gave first CDT shows and wormed 43 lambs last week? Oh, I still have a dozen to go....but that's a big chunk.
We did.....well my husband did....BBQ on Saturday....I made potato salad....and it was a good thing, because there would be no cooking the rest of the weekend.
They are supposed to cut our hay this week....yes, as my dear friend should be good for thatching roofs by this time....but, in order to get bales of hay in the barn...something had to move out.
Mostly my old wool...which is now under tarps in the back yard. Then, under the old wool bags were lots of plastic storage boxes. Yes, it's almost three years...and we still have storage boxes....mostly family things. You know, the type of things from our youth that make us smile.
I found one several weeks was a tiny plastic cowboy hat in orange. Maybe says Phoenix on was in a box in the barn. I immediately grabbed it. I can remember playing with this hat on my finger when I was small in my grandparents home. My cousin, Dick, would have the yellow hat, and we likely played cowboy stories together. Why do these things become so important that we have to pack them and move them and store them? For years....and years...and maybe more years than that?
I don't know.....I was working with a book years ago....and it said to get rid of everything that wouldn't fit in my new life. Yes, I do too have a new in the woods....well I have a few sheep too. The things we could keep would be things that were an "altar" to our past....Well, maybe I have a few boxes of altars. he he....heh
The little hat wound up in my son's pocket, because I was doing something with my hands in the barn...and he took it back to Minnesota....and threw it in the washer...with his shirt. Yes, it came out of the wash fine....and he dutily brought it to me on my most recent trip to back to Missouri came the little hat...and it is now hanging on my wall in the bedroom.
Long aside.....

What I wanted to say was I found Regie....I knew he was in there....but with the piles of wool and storage boxes I couldn't see him. I called Pat....who was out burning wool....and said "Come see the snake."
He came in, but couldn't see Regie anymore...."Sure you saw a snake."....he went back to burning wool. Later Regie decided the boxes and bags of wool weren't coming back to his corner of the barn.....and he dutifully crawled out to find another hidy place in the barn. "Come see the snake!", I yelled....and this time my husband came into the barn, as Regie uncoiled his four or five foot long body, and headed for the other side of the barn. Wow....he is a big snake.
Although he looks mostly black, he is likely a rat snake....and is helping to clear the mice out of the barn. I know it will help if I clean out the old bedding too. But then I wouldn't want Regie to have to find another building to live in....that would be the house.
Well, I just wanted you to know that even in 90 degree heat....we can get work done here.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Is it June already?

Yes, here we are....mid-June....oh my. I suppose that means it isn't spring and lambing season anymore. Well, I have almost all my girls wormed. That is progress.... I need to finish cleaning the back of the barn. Sometime next week or the week after, I have been told, they will cut and bale our hay.
I need to do CDT and ivomec on my babies. Then I am spitting my flock.
I'm planning to keep my moms and lambs out in the sahara....and put my single and older ewes in the far meadow. ....with our new puppy.
No I don't quite trust the puppy with the younger lambs, and I figure she will have to step fast to keep from being clobbered by the older sheep.

I was writing about modifiers last post. Yes, any of your sheep could be carrying a modifier. You might notice a color change...or maybe you don't. If you can breed the sheep in question to a know carrier of two might get a color change in their lamb....or if only one modifier is won't. If you have a modified color sheep and you breed it to a pattern. Patterns are Ag grey or musket....Katmoget and Gulmoget. Then, you will have a patternerd sheep with a modified color....assuming the patterned sheep also threw a modifier.

Then I wanted to say that I kept a few sheep for myself.....he he heh....
You have to know why you are keeping the new lambs. I kept several from my lost head ram Pan. He didn't leave me a showy son...but I did keep some daughters from him. I had a couple of non-showy sons from Pan that I kept from last year. One is grey, and so definitely not a "pan". One was a triplet, with facial markings and nice big horns....he is the one that disappeared. I have a similar small ram lamb with facial markings and big horns that I will hold....he is from Pan and the same dam. So I thought I would explain how I decided to keep these babies.
Prancer and Pan were identical in spotting. Prancer had a couple of Pan duplicates I am keeping her daughters, Serendipity, and Synchronicity.
Well, I labeled their photos opposite names, and sorry, I have two serendipity's up there...but you get the idea.

Monday, June 11, 2007

breeding tests

When I sold small flocks to beginning shepherds, I explained that they would need to buy their first mioget sheep. The concept at that time in my understanding, was that you had to have one, to get one. At that time, I had not seen a "real" emsket sheep. I was still searching for a dark brown, and there had been no testing of mioget modifiers.
Blink forward....we have now had three breeders who I know have tested the genetics of mioget....and emsket. They all admit that the genetic modifier for making a mioget out of a the same modifier that makes an emsket from a black. In fact, if you breed emskets to will ONLY get emsket and mioget lambs.
Now these tests work better if you actually HAVE an emsket and a mioget who can breed together.
Right now, I don' I am depending on my friend's mioget breedings to supply me with my own test breedings.
It takes two modifiers to achieve the color emsket and the color mioget.
One passed from the from the sire. You can understand how unreliable the color testing can be if your sheep only have one modifier each.....argh! It could take a long time in number of lambing get one of either color.
I know that some of my rams had or have a modifier. Unfortunately, I am missing a couple of those rams this year. So, I have been watching for a real mioget ram to appear in my own flock.
Thanks to my friend, I now seem to have one ram lamb who looks positive for two modifiers.
I know I have several ewes who have one modifier.....if they had more than one, I would only get emsket or mioget by breeding them to this ram....who by-the-way, was named soso. Well, he didn't impress me with anything special when he was born....So, my newest breeding ram is minwawe soso. he he heh
What can I do with one mioget? Well, I have several girls who are modified blacks....if I bred them to a two-modifier mioget, I might get a mioget if they carry brown...or an emsket...if they don't. Yes, I said might. If these girls only carry one modifier, they could throw the modifier or their lambs. 50% doesn't happen in real life....sometimes the sheep is reluctant to show your their real genetics....and will breed 100% the other way, just to irritate you. Or in this case, to irritate me. I might say, I am torn right now. I still have breeding goals, and I still would like to have fewer sheep. Right now the goals seem to be winning out.....But I may decide later this fall that I don't want to work this hard....that I can't afford good hay for all these sheep....and that I need to cull, or otherwise remove these sheep from my flock.
We'll see.
I thought I would share the latest photos. The group of two girls and the lamb belonging to one of them....are from a mioget ram and two ewes who carried modifiers. They are imported to my flock. The ram, when I caught him yesterday has a color change to the skin, and will be a mioget. The single ewe lamb is looking much lighter right now, and her wool also appears to have a color change to mioget....well, I think so anyway.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

boo hoo

Where did this post go? Anyone else missing a post?

Everyone must be busy this weekend....they don't want to play. Smirslet far as I can see.
So I will introduce a couple of our cats who came south from Wisconsin. We called them pierce county orange cats. Because their mother came with the farm, and had single handedly populated that corner of the world with her grown orange kittens. While we moved in she had two quick litters of five kittens each....only one was female....and then before those last kittens were weaned moma...aptly named not-so-lucky, became a cat rug on the highway.
We fixed all the kittens to keep them from straying....but we are down to two now. This is Hex...he is our expensive cat....poisoned himself one day....and we ran him into a city emergency clinic.
And Nosey, named for his unusual noises from a previous bite thru his nose....he takes after his name by following us on any walks in the woods.

Then there is the old cabin fireplace....the rams like to nap near it because it has some coolness.
What I was trying to capture, is the Catalpa trees blooming. Someone who lived here must have liked Catalpa trees. They planted them near any buildings. I don't understand why someone who had to watch for snakes under their feet....would plant a tree that dropped speckled snake-like seed pods....oh well. They are really late blooming, because all the leaves froze off in the late freeze. But the leaves and now there....and so are the blossoms. It's a heady perfume, but not as great as the witch hazel.
Have a great weekend.

Friday, June 08, 2007

play time

Well, it should be play time. Usually when my husband is away I clean and put in flowers, and rearrange furniture...or paint the house outside a different pumpkin!
I do the wash, and wash the floors, I might even bake. Or bathe the dog....really good idea.
Oh the shear joy of smelling something baking!

Not this week, I realize that tommorrow or the next day my farmer friend will cut the bushes that pass for my hay ground. It will be baled and left on the ground for me to pick up and throw in the back of my pick up. No new-fangled kickers out here. Bend over pick it up throw it on top of the other hay, drive to the barn.....slip the bale in before the ewes jump you, and pile it as high as you can reach. Do that a hundred times...or if I am really lucky...more. And watch the ewes beg for hay because there is NOTHING to eat. They are just like teenagers when they smell new hay.
So I started cleaning out the back end of the barn....hoping I can get the hay in without taking up the room the sheep need when it rains. Well, I took some new photos too....they are still in the camera. Don't get excited. As I was taking pictures of the ram lambs, I heard snorting. Snort snort snort....the brown ewe snorted as she pulled the new grass. Sounds like Dick and Jane doesn't it? Oh Oh, look look look....see the sheep. Funny funny sheep.
Actually the sheep wasn't funny....she had mumps. That is why she was snorting as she ate.
This is classic worm over-load or what they call "bottle-jaw" It is named for the swelling under the bottom jaw caused by too many worms in the sheep.

My vet calls them sentinal sheep....The first to show the signs of illness....before the rest of them come down with it too. Yes, I was planning to worm the ewes in their lambing jugs. But somehow, I didn't have any wormer at that time. Yes, I could have ordered it....but other things seemed too important.
Fortunately for my ewe, I mentioned needing wormer one day at the feed store,....and nice lady ordered some for me. If you don't treat bottle-jaw right away....other bad things can happen. I just don't want any bad things any more. So with the first bottle jaw I saw, I drove to the feed store and treated my ewe. Making a mental note....that if one needs worming.....they ALL need worming. Bother. This was indeed the second ewe. Double bother. Instead of getting the rest of my old fleeces out of the back of the barn.....I rigged catch pens in the barn and in the area in front of the barn. Then suddenly, before I was even ready....Everyone decided it must be feeding time.
Feeding time at the zoo....everyone ran into the barn....I got a bucket of grain and tried to capture as many adults as possible. Then ran to the house for the wormer and a notebook.
Now most of the girls I can tell by sight....some who look the same have different lambs because I put them in different breeding pens. So I caught and shoved a syringe of wormer down the girls throats....I checked the lambs eyes for any sign they were also anemic. I didn't find anyone. I ordered new CDT and Ivomec wormer for the lambs from Pipestone....YES, I get to do this again next week, only the lambs by then will be wary of going in the barn with mom.

Fun fun fun, fun with the big sheep. About two hours later I had all but a dozen girls done. I caught a couple more at the real feeding time. Anyone I don't get this week will get done next week as we do shots and wormer for the lambs. Can they really be that old?
So I may not have had play time....but I got something good done.
The question, what is this is so much fun....what is this one?

wakey uppey time

Good morning all,
I know I am remise again.
I'm working the "ranch" alone for a couple of days....and I don't like it. So there!
Not that I don't love to go away myself once in a while....but there is a lot to do, and it is a good thing we have summer daylight late. Somehow I don't feel a bit sorry for my long-suffering husband, feeding and watering all MY sheep while I am gone. I should. It's a lot of work when you are alone.

Down here in the almost south, you can't refer to your "farm" if you don't raise crops.
Well, we can't even raise good hay, let alone crops. We tried doing a garden the year of the 17 year drought....Pat watered that sweet corn twice a day, and got it about a foot high before the cows came from three miles away and ate it. That cured us.
How could cows three miles away find sweet corn in the woods?????

Well, it is raining right now....real blessed rain.....wheee!
We needed rain for a week now. Usually that stuff stops falling from the sky in the summer. Right now the "sahara" pasture...named for the way it looked in the 17-year-drought, has real grass growing along the sand. It's not really dirt like you have in crop growing is the silt deposited by centuries of flooding from sinkin', our creek. If you can find a pinch of it to pick up in your looks more like sand crystals. The silt does not hold moisture like real dirt does. So three days after a rain the "ground" starts to harden and crack.
This is the area the sheep are in over the winter. We have big crop circles where the round bales were in the winter.... some have already been cleaned up, and where the hay bales were, there are big green circles of green grass sprouted.

Sheep love grass. I would love to let this grass grow a little, but as I have mentioned, we have two rams missing. The most recent was an adult, a week ago. The only critter down here that doesn't eat it's catch on the spot is a big cat. My local farmer calls them wild cats....but there is no such the ones we see that are smaller must be the young ones. I will say having had two missing, does tend to put a crimp in what I feel free to do outside.

Oh, and the rain?.... we are the only ones who haven't had our hay cut and baled....but I would rather have rain on the grass than hay in the barn.
We can play what is this? The photo posted is Plenty....she was born this lighter color. If I had a grey ram, I would say she was double Ag....but since I don't she must be AgAa.... she will be a musket. Now the game consists of what to call her marking. He he heh....According to the Sue Russo cencus....she may be a sholmet? white face on any other color? There are no real face markings. her dam is just a grey, her sire a spottie. Do you have a lamb that looks like this one?
She may just be a musket when she grows. I once had a bioget...but he was an Ag too.
Hope your lambs are growing like weeds.....and your grass is too.
Oh, and the title....that was what I yelled at my growing children to get them up for school. Wonder they didn't throw things at me....well, maybe they did. That was a long time ago.

Monday, June 04, 2007

I'm back!

Boy oh boy, I think I really like shows.
First, the show in Sedalia is put on by a really nice group of people. Count on sheep people to be fun and pleasant. Seems like everyone was a big group of friends.
We had a fun Judge too George Harrell from Indiana was nice enough to make the long drive, and taught two classes on growing and grading wool. Really good stuff from a professional who has been in this field for over 30 years.
If it sounds good....he will be coming back next year too, I was told.
The show was held in the state fair grounds, so we had nice new buildings, and nice camping facilities....without the state fair crowds.
The Hopkins family, including grandmom, came from Indiana, and it was so fun to compare notes....even though we were competing...the entire family helped me show my sheep too. How is that for midwest nice! Thanks folks! They took top places, but I had a fair number of seconds. My little two month ram held his own, by taking reserve champion and top honors for best fleece.
For folks who don't know the history of spotted shetlands. The fleeces were really in question a few years ago. Many breeders turned to A-I to cross-breed their spotties, to correct the fleeces. I didn't go that route....since I mostly grew my own spots....and have taken two best fleece of show ribbons I am very happy that a spotty breeder can also produce nice fleeces.
At least if I grow small shetlands they have nice fleeces.
Got to go out and check sheep, but I'll go into shows another time.