Summer Shearing – Part 2

Shearing Day  for the 12 sheep Dona and I acquired was last Thursday. Here is another blog post with photos from that day.

Sorry. I’m not saying much about these photos. It’s been a long hot day and I am falling asleep a the computer.  They really don’t need an explanation.!

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Summer Shearing

I’ve written two blog posts about acquiring 12 Jacob sheep in what became something of a rescue operation. The sheep were healthy and well-fed, but had not been shorn for three years we think.

This was shearing day for these sheep. The photos in this blog post were all taken by Farm Club members, Dona and Gynna. Thanks!!

IMG_8196                 John is the Rock Star.

DSC_8295                                                 We checked teeth to try and figure out the ages of the sheep.DSC_8346                   This sheep had a 13 pound fleece. The average for Jacob sheep is 3-6 pounds.DSC_8178                   It was a multi-person operation to stuff some of these fleeces into plastic bags.DSC_8267              The usual suspects were there to watch and cheer John on.DSC_8400                            Not a bad looking group of ewes after shearing.DSC_8451                            The two rams.DSC_8505                       After shearing we looked at all the fleeces. The longer fleeces have a break about 4″ in from the outside, but the rest of the fleece seems sound.DSC_8513                                                                  It will take some time to work through it all.

DSC_8536                                                                As we pulled out staples from some of the fleeces I thought it would be a good idea to get a photo. Susan and Gynna worked on this while we opened up and re-rolled the fleeces.IMG_8221                       Note the measurements marked on the sides and down the middles. Weights are below. IMG_8205                                                  This was a fun day for all of us and a good day for these sheep.

 

Sheep Adventure Follow-up

Monday’s  Sheep Adventure started because someone had asked for help in selling Jacob sheep that his parents couldn’t take care of. I didn’t consider it a rescue operation although I didn’t know this person and I don’t need anymore sheep, at least sheep of unknown background, and I didn’t really have a plan for what to do with them other than try to sell them. When he called again last week things were a bit more desperate because his mom was in the hospital and the family had no clue of what to do with the sheep…other than to get someone else to deal with them. That’s when I said I’d get them.

Dona and Rick were up for the adventure but we didn’t know what to expect. What we found: Sheep that really are Jacob sheep–there are a lot out there that people think are Jacob because of horns or spots, but they are not; Sheep in relatively good health EXCEPT for in desperate need of shearing. So the Sheep Adventure turned into a Sheep Rescue of sorts.

Yesterday I took time to look at each sheep more closely. Now that I’m spending time with them, the group is kind of growing on me. “I don’t need more sheep. I don’t need more sheep. I don’t need more sheep….”Ewe 2-2                  This is a ewe they called Athena.Ewe 2-1Ewe 2-4                                                      I think that this is at least a 3-year fleece.Ewe 4-1                   I love the markings on this ewe’s body. I don’t have any information about her.Ewe 5-2                 This is a ewe they called Caliope. She is pretty wild.

A ewe called Dimitria. The wool is very pretty, but its as long as my elbow to my thumb.

Ewe 9-1                Markela, one of the original ewes purchased by this family.Ewe 10-1                    No idea about this ewe…Ewe-4-4                 …or this one. Don’t you love her horns?Ewe 11-1              Paniota…

Ewe 11-2            …and her fleece.Ewe-8-lamb                 The lamb named Easter because that is when she was born.IMG_8440                New temporary quarters.IMG_8445            Stay tuned for a Shearing Day post.Rams              Let’s not forget the rams. Tikes on the left and Costa on the right. I think they are yearlings.

Evaluating Lambs

We had 81 lambs this year. I’d like to keep…well I’d like to keep a lot but realistically I should keep only about five. In fact since the JSBA AGM is here in August I should allow myself enough space to buy/trade from other people. So I have to narrow down my choices. I also have to figure out which lambs will be sold to other breeders and which may go to market. It would be nice to wait until they are all six months old or more to evaluate them but that is not realistic either. I am weaning the oldest lambs now and buyers want to take them home. (And I need to get them away from here because they are getting bigger and eating more.)

I take lots of photos of lambs as they grow to put on the Sheep for Sale part of the website, but sometimes I need to gather the whole batch to be able to make real comparisons. I did this about a month ago.2-horn ram lambs           First I sort and start narrowing down choices. This is two-horn rams.2-horn ram lambs-2           More two-horn rams. 4-horn ram lambs          Four-horn rams (except for the one I liked best who broke his horn this morning and I put him out so he would hopefully not keep knocking it on others). I bred to two two-horn rams and one four-horn ram last year. There are more two horn lambs than four. Some ram lambs are missing from these groups because I had already castrated those that I knew right away would not be candidates for registration (too much or too little color or horns that were too close). Time to narrow these into groups.4-horn ram lambs-3         These are rams who will be on the cull list. It doesn’t take much for a ram to be moved to that list. In this case two of these lambs (on the right) have wide spacing between the upper and lower horns. That seems like it would be a good thing, but usually those upper horns tip forward and sometimes there are other issues with them. I’ll report back with more photos as they keep growing. The lamb facing the photo on the left doesn’t have enough spacing between horns. His right side horns are already touching at the base leaving no room for growth. The other two both have a lot of freckling, although it’s hard to see without parting the fleece and one is scrawny.

4-horn ram lambs-2         Three of the potential 4-horn breeding rams. Nice horn spacing and shape so far. No sign of freckling. Color % OK. Nice looking fleeces. Britch wool not too high on back leg. IMG_7068             Out of two pens of ram lambs I pulled these four out as potential at this point. That is mostly due to the wide horn growth. There may be others in the pens but I won’t guarantee the horn spread yet. Of course, they all have to meet the other criteria mentioned above as well.IMG_7067           Here they are from the rear.IMG_7071           Another from the front showing the ram with the best horn spread so far.

On to the ewe lambs.4-horn ewe lambs            These are the 4-horn ewes. I will be less picky about the ewe lambs than the rams. The breed standard isn’t so stringent and each ewe doesn’t play as large a part in the flock as the ram. Keeping a variety of ewe lambs is a good way to maintain some genetic diversity (although that is a good reason to buy some lambs from other people in August).2-horn ewe lambs             The 2-horn ewe lambs.2-horn ewe lambs-4       Another view of the pen on the right. Notice the two lambs (sisters) in the upper left corner. Compare their horn growth to the others. All these lambs are about the same age. Those two are showing minimal horn growth compared to the rest. I don’t know if that is temporary and their horns will be just fine when they are mature or if those are scurs. This is another reason to look at the lambs in a group. All of the rest of these lambs look fine to me so it will be hard to narrow this down to only a few to keep.4-horn ewe lambs-2            These are some of my 4-horn choices. Preliminary selection is based on wool and lack of freckling in the lamb and the dam.4-horn ewe lambs-3              The same group from the rear.  I don’t fault the sheep for their rear leg position, but from this photo it would be the lamb on the left that I’d take to a show.2-horn ewe lambs-3            Two horn lambs that I like.2-horn ewe lambs-2          From the rear.

Uh oh.  I have selected a few more than my original five or fewer. There will be more selection work ahead.

Farm Days

Farm Club members have spent time here during lambing and helped with cleaning, lamb ID, etc. And of course there is always lamb cuddling.IMG_5547                  Farm Club is a great way to learn about raising sheep before you invest in sheep or if you won’t ever have the lifestyle that lets you own a sheep.

IMG_5548             Zorra had plenty of cuddling while she was still in the lambing area with her mom. Lisa is a lamb cuddling Pro.IMG_5550                 This is pet sheep Jade’s lamb (and me).

IMG_5670                                                   This is her again being held by Peggy. We’d really like her to be friendly too.

IMG_5672               This is Zorra again with Sumi.

Betsy and lamb-3                                                   As the lambs get a little older we have other Farm Days. This was Betsy’s first day on the farm and she jumpred right in holding lambs as we ear tagged and castrated. 18042                         I don’t castrate many because it’s hard to know how they will grow out and which might be a great flock sire for someone. Some are easy though–too much or too little color to fit within the 15-85% breed standard. This one’s horns are already touching at the base under that hair. As the horns grow they will fuse and not grow well separately.Marina and lamb-3                                          Marina and Maggie (no photo) helped catch lambs too and Mary handled the clipboard. The lambs were all tagged with their white ID tags right after they were born but we put added a colored tag on Farm Day. I like to use a second tag for back-up ID if the first one falls out and also to color code the sire. It’s interesting to keep track of that and it also helps to find a lamb when you’re looking for one among 75. You can narrow it down some if you have a color to look for.DSC_9172                This year Cayenne’s lambs got orange tags. Pink tags go in all the lambs that have been castrated.

DSC_9183                         Green means these are Buster’s lambs.DSC_9189                          Blue was for Catalyst.

18013            Peyton’s lambs are obvious so don’t need an extra tag.

Orchardgrass-3-2             After we tagged all the lambs Marina and Betsy stayed to help me set up the pasture for the sheep. I had put the sheep out for a few days but hadn’t cleaned and moved the water trough.

Orchardgrass-2-2               We walked around the pasture and took stock of things. I always point out the issue that I have with the dallisgrass that is out of control. That’s what all that dry grass is. I’d much rather see green grass growing. The whole pasture was looking somewhat dismal from a growth standpoint. At this point we had just had March rain after two very dry and cold months. I wasn’t seeing much growth–at least not enough to feed 55 ewes and 75 lambs. unknown grass-2               We spotted this grass that I don’t recognize.unknown grass-11                     I took photos to send to a friend of Marina’s who she think might recognize it.

Thanks Farm Club!

People at the Farm and Tiny Lambs

Every year  I offer a Sheep Handling and Management class that occurs sometime during lambing season. This year the timing was lucky! We had twins born in the morning before the class started and a ewe started lambing during class.IMG_5679               During the discussion about other aspects of raising sheep we kept an eye on Zinnia, the ewe who was lambing. When she got more serious we watched.Zinnia lambing-14                 One thing of note was the presence of two bags, each a different color. A lot of time I just see membranes that have broken so I wouldn’t know if it were one or two, but it seemed unusual to see two distinct bags. I saw a bit of a small foot emerging but the whole thing seemed to be taking awhile so I thought I’d check.  There was one foot and a head. Not very far back was another head. Both lambs were coming at the same time, and it was obvious from the two sacs that one had meconium staining, a sign of fetal distress. I pushed the second lamb back and was able to pull the first lamb with just the head and one foot. I could tell that it was very small.  Usually it takes a little while for the second to come, but it was right there too. Weighing these later, they were 4.8 and 4.2 pounds.

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Both lambs were alive. The second lamb acted unusual. Most lambs start trying to get up within minutes of birth but there is a normal sequence that I have a hard time describing. It’s just something that I’ve seen many times. (If you go to my YouTube channel and look at lambing videos you’ll see this.) The second lamb was noisy, baaing constantly and sort of scrabbling with it’s feet. It seemed frantic as opposed to a more methodical attempt to stand.

IMG_5688                    You can’t rush a lamb to be ready to nurse. I didn’t know if something was wrong with this one, but I knew that, even if it was normal, it needed a little more time. We went outside and looked at the fences and the pasture. When we came back in the first lamb was doing fine. The second still wasn’t able to stand but I could hold it up and get it to nurse.

Zinnia lambing-19              We kept checking back and eventually the second lamb was on it’s feet. This photo was taken later in the day.IMG_5694                 Later that afternoon a friend of mine came with another friend to take photos of the lambs. That’s Raquel with triplet ram lambs.

 

The three of us spent time in the pasture photographing lambs before we came in to go out to dinner.

IMG_5708           Here is the tiny lamb from the morning.

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IMG_5706              This was getting close to the end of lambing.18075-18074             Here are those two tiny lambs 12 days later and here is their listing on the website.

 

LAMBS!

Lambing started the day after I got back from Texas. I’m sure that Dan was grateful I was back. There was one lamb on the 22nd, nothing the next day, and since then they’ve been popping out right and left. I haven’t had time to do anything with photos until now (although I should probably be sleeping).

Shadow Mountain Shelby was the fourth ewe to lamb. She is a lilac (Jacob terminology for markings that are not black but are gray/brown), ewe with beautiful blue eyes. I got to the barn and found her with a lamb.

Shelby lambing-1                    Lamb #1. These aren’t usually a pretty side when just born. Slime, dirt, blood. Shelby lambing-4                Jacob ewes are usually very good mothers and the lambs are vigorous. Shelby was cleaning up her baby…Shelby lambing-7             …even while pawing the ground and having contractions for the second.Shelby lambing-12                    I got them inside the barn and the lamb got to its feet and started looking for milk.Shelby lambing-13                       Lamb #2.

Shelby lambing-15                 The first lamb is nursing while Shelby cleans the second.Shelby lambing-18                   I love the look of this one. These are both lilac ewe lambs sired by Catalyst.18006           Here they are three days later.18007                  These lambs are listed on my website lamb page. I’ll be updating the listings with photos as I get time.