The Lucky Ones

As you must know when there are almost 80 lambs born in the spring I can’t keep them all. How many sheep would I have in 5 years? Who can do the math? My sheep capacity is about 55-65 adults. That includes a few wethers, more rams than I probably need, and the ewe lambs that I choose to keep. Someone has to go and a handful get to stay.

I just sent registration applications in for the lambs who are staying here. I was going to share their photos and then I thought that it would be fun to see their baby photos as well. For those of you who pay attention to who the sheep are I have included the (sire x dam).

16011-sylvia-2This one is Sylvia and the photo below was taken last week. (Rotor x Sonata)16011-sylvia-lt

16015-marillaHere is Marilla (named in a contest for her mother, Marilyn, and because she was our Spinzilla ravatar) in March and below in September. This is a good pair of photos that show that even when a sheep is black and white, the wool may look brown due to sun bleaching. The markings on the face and legs will indicate the true color, at least in Jacob sheep.16015-marilla-left

16016-marvThis is Marilla’s brother, Marv. He is one of only two ram lambs that I kept this year. He was champion Jacob ram at Black Sheep Gathering and his dad, Rotor, was Supreme Champion at the CA State Fair. The photo below shows the difference in rate of horn growth between ewes (Marilla) and rams (Marv). (Rotor x Marilyn)16016-marv-rt

estelle-and16042This is Stacy as a newborn lamb and below at 7 months. (Crosby x Estelle)16042-stacy-lt

jean-16062-16063More newborn photos. This is Jean with twins. I kept both of these lambs. The ewe lamb, trying to stand, is Cindy, below. The lamb nursing is the ram, Joker, in the photo below Cindy. (Nash x Jean)



Joker has a group of ewes and is wearing a marking harness with a red marker.

vanessa-and-16040 This is Vanessa with her lambs. Vanna , on the right, was 5.2 pounds when she was born, but you wouldn’t know that now. (Rotor x Vanessa)16040-vanna-rt


Vixen is the only lilac lamb I kept. Her markings are a brown/gray instead of black. That shows up better in the photo above than below. (Nash x Foxglove)16046-vixen-rt


This lamb is Virginia (Rotor x Ventura).16043-virginia-lt


This is bide a wee Trista, the one lamb that I purchased, so I didn’t take a baby photo. But I just looked and, yes there is one on the bide a wee farm website. Here is Trista as a little lamb.



Vixen, Virginia, Cindy, Vanna.

She’s Two Today!

So many cute photos. I may have to do more than one post.

I can use more photos if I make a mosaic. A lot of firsts for Ginny at two months old. First meet-up with the big dogs. First Christmas tree. First time in the barn. First visit to the vet.

Still two months old. Running in the fog. Spending time in the shop with spinners. Playing with Rusty and Maggie and conquering branches.

ginny-2-5-months-1Ginny and her lamb.

ginny-2-5-months-3Ginny and her moose.

ginny-7-months-1Ginny at 7 months with the favorite Toy.ginny-7-months-2


ginny-7-5-months-1Ginny not so happy after her little operation so that I wouldn’t have to worry about what might happen while I was going to be gone for two weeks.ginny-10-months-1At 10 months Ginny discovered that she wasn’t a big fan of drones.ginny-11-monthsFirst herding lesson at Sheepdog Debbie’s place (Herding-4-Ewe) just down the road.

ginny-1-year-2Ginny’s first birthday.dsc_3301

Ginny at two years old. Rusty will post some photos in his blog post of Ginny’s recent lesson at Sheepdog Debbie’s.


Breeding Season

This week it was time to separate sheep into breeding groups. After much debate and deliberation I ended up using five rams this year. I don’t NEED five rams for the number of ewes I have but it’s always fun to find out how each ram will match with the flock…and there is also a bit of “not putting all one’s eggs in one basket”.

There are a lot of criteria in selecting a ram to buy or a ram lamb to keep in the flock.

Fleece is the most important characteristic for me. If I don’t like a ram’s fleece then I don’t want to use him no matter how great he looks otherwise. I want to stay within the Jacob breed standards but consider fleece weight, fiber diameter (determines if a fleece is soft or scratchy), crimp, and freckling. One problem with making decisions about young rams is that you’re better off waiting until 18 months to fully evaluate fleeces. That is a long time to hang onto a ram and then decide he stays or goes. With my small acreage I just can’t hang onto several rams to evaluate a year later. I need to make my best guess at about six months old.

16044 fleece

Here is an example of a ram lamb from this year who lucked out. I love his fleece but he is freckled. He’s castrated and is the donkey companion for now.

Horns. You can have the best ram from all the other standpoints, but if the horns grow into the face he will have to go. Here is a blog post with examples of two-horn rams.

Color. The Jacob Breed Standard states that registered sheep must have 15-85% color. That’s a broad range, but not all sheep fit that category.


Jerry is a 5-year-old wether who won the sheep-lottery by having a beautiful fleece, but with too much color to be kept as a breeding ram. He was castrated as a lamb and was kept to be a buddy to any sheep who had to be separated from the flock. He lives permanently with Faulkner, the BFL ram. Also note how narrow his horns are. If he had not been castrated those horns would have grown tight onto his neck or face.

There is more, but this was going to be a post about the rams I am using this year, not a how-to-choose-your-flock-sire post. However other traits to consider are personality (yes, really), conformation, size, birth weight, gain, and is he a single/twin/triplet.


I hadn’t planned on keeping Meridian Joker, but as I looked at lamb weights over the last few months he stood out as one of the heavier ones. I sell at least half the lambs for butcher and the sooner they can be sold the better. So rate of gain is important. His horns don’t have a huge spread, but hopefully they will be all right as he grows.

By the way all the rams in these photos are wearing marking harnesses with red crayons. That’s what all the color is.

dragonStarthist Dragon is on loan from a friend. When I evaluated his lamb fleece a couple of years ago I was impressed and Trish remembered that so offered him for the season.busterBide a wee Buster came here from Oregon last June. He was so small I had my doubts about him being up for the task this month, but I should have had faith.dsc_3257

Meridian Catalyst is a ram who was born at the 2015 State Fair Nursery. He is a lilac ram with nice fleece and markings. That’s him in the middle of the ewes on the second day of breeding season.dsc_3239Faulker is ram #5. He is a Bluefaced Leicester (BFL) and sires the black (brown) lambs. He is the big guy in the center of the photos. His lambs are larger than the 100% Jacob lambs and are mostly sold for meat although they have very pretty fleeces and also wind up in some spinners’ flocks.dsc_3267Faulkner enjoying some time with the ladies.isabelleIsabelle, marked by Joker.15071-skyeSkye is in Catalyst’s group.15050-jillianJillian is with Faulkner.16063-joker-2Joker looks a little disheveled after a few days.buster-2Buster has his work cut out for him to reach those big ewes…buster-3…and needed a nap after the first morning out.

For any of you who pay attention to this stuff and may be wondering about the other Jacob ram I bought this summer…I discovered a few weeks ago that he must have been injured by another ram and his horn had changed position so that it was growing right up against his jaw. I found that the point of attachment was movable (I don’t know if went all the way to the skull which means that it would have been fractured). I tried to give his face a little more space by using wire and duct tape but that didn’t work. This is not a sustainable situation so he is no longer with us.

Lambtown, then Spinzilla

I haven’t posted since I was in Texas over a week ago. I had a great time with my granddaughter but what did I bring home? Not a puppy. Not a longhorn. A cold. So I felt pretty awful for several days, but I’m back and trying to catch up with things. (Although I’m catching up on computer stuff early in the morning because the cough kept me from going back to sleep.)

Lambtown, the annual sheep/wool festival in Dixon was last weekend. It’s only 15 minutes from home so it really couldn’t be easier. But being a vendor at a fiber festival is never easy.


It is always a challenge to decide what to bring and how to fit it in a 10’x10′ space (which really wasn’t this year, especially when you subtract the space with the post in the back corner). This year I focused on products that no one else would have.

img_4402I brought my brand new lambskins (incredibly soft and fluffy), brand new handwoven ponchos, and Jacob fiber and yarn and buttons.img_4403I brought my new farm photos in 2 sizes and as notecards. There were also my new calendars. (As I’m writing this I realize that there are a lot of new things to get listed on the website.) I also brought rigid heddle looms and weaving equipment.marv-and-honey

In addition I brought sheep. I had chosen to not bring sheep because it’s just too much work to have a vendor booth and sheep in the barn, but the show organizer asked me to bring my sheep. With the help of Farm Club it all worked out. The Primitive Breeds Sheep Show wasn’t very big but there was some Shetland competition. Honey and Marv were awarded Champion Ewe and Champion Ram in the division. They make a nice looking pair.

As Lambtown ended, Spinzilla week began. From the website: “Spinzilla is a global event where teams and individuals compete in a friendly challenge to see who can spin the most yarn in a week!” This is the fourth year that I have hosted a team for this program that raises money for youth needlearts mentoring programs all over the country.img_4426Not all of our spinners are local, but some who are showed up here Monday morning.img_4427

img_4424We had to take a puppy break at one point when my sister-in-law visited with her new 2-month old Queensland heeler.image_medium

Spinners are continuing to spin at home all week, but on Wednesday several showed up here again. The weather was nice enough to be outside. Notice the wheel in the background.


I had seen this on the way to the bank in Dixon on Thursday evening. All it needed was a drive band and a cotter pin to hold the wheel in place.


Alison and I got it going. I had figured that I’d resell it because I just don’t have room in the shop or the house. But it is way too cool. I’ll have to hang onto it for awhile at least.



Up and Down the Road in Texas

At home I write a lot of blogs about my walks Across the Road. Here at my daughter’s place in the Texas Hill Country my walks are Up the Road or Down the Road. These are photos taken from walks in both directions.


This was Up the Road the first morning I was here. It had rained heavily during the night.


I tried to clean my glasses a couple of times thinking that I must have rubbed greasy fingers on them. Then I realized that the glasses were fogging up due to the humidity and temperature. Well, that’s annoying.


Juniper berries, although everyone in the west calls these “cedar trees”.


I have identified this plant as either Snow-on-the-Mountain or Snow-on-the-Prairie, a Euphorbia species. I read that it is an annual that is poisonous to livestock. Here is an excerpt from Texas A&M Extension:  “The white sap of these plants has long been used to blister the skin or as an intestinal purgative. In most cases, livestock are poisoned by an acrid principle that severely irritates the mouth and gastrointestinal tract. This plant rarely causes death. Experimental feedings of this plant in Texas have shown that 100 ounces produces severe scours and weight loss in cattle, the latter persisting for several months.”img_4268

Gorgeous oak trees are seen where the juniper (cedar) has been cleared.


I have not tried to ID the rest of these flowers. I’m just enjoying them.dsc_3164


My granddaughter and I saw many of these large  Black Swallowtails  this morning.


Visiting Texas

I haven’t been to Texas since last year, but that’s because we saw my granddaughter several times last winter and spring in California. It was time for me to see her again and to do that I had to travel east. She is now two.


While Mommy painted the shed we went for a walk.



Time to take off the shoes.


The low water crossing on the road.


What better place to play on a hot day.


Hugging Colby.


Yesterday we went to the Comal County Fair.


This morning I said that we’d go for a walk in the rain. Kirby started to pack. You never know when you’ll need a stuffed llama, a cup of milk, or a bunch of books.


It had rained enough during the early morning hours that the water had risen too high for playing.


We turned and walked up the road the other way.


Well, one of us walked and the other rode most of the way.