The New Girls

These are the ewe lambs that are still here after selling everyone (almost) that I intend to. (And there were 81 lambs this year.) I’m very pleased with this group and proud that my breeding program has led to this selection.18001-JanieMeridian Janie (bide a wee Buster x Meridian Jane)18021-Maybelle-headMeridian Maybelle (bide a wee Buster x Meridian Mae) This ewe was going to be on my sale list but she had an unexpected tryst with Cayenne and may be pregnant.18041-RuthieMeridian Ruthie (Meridian Cayenne x Meridian Ruth), who just broke her horn and is somewhat bloody on one side. This is another ewe who may be pregnant after the aforementioned incident.18054-Zora-headMeridian Zora (Meridian Cayenne x Meridian Betty)18054-ZoraZora is a pretty little lilac ewe who was chosen from Day 1 for her cute markings, although “cuteness” isn’t listed under the JSBA Breed Standard selection criteria.18056-QuartzMeridian Quartz (bide a wee Buster x Meridian Jade). Quartz was chosen because, besides being a nice looking ewe, her mom is everyone’s favorite pet sheep and…18056-Quartz-hd …I want to see how her 6 horns grow out.18080-2Meridian ??? I haven’t named this lamb yet but she certainly deserved a good one. (Meridian Serrano x Unzicker Shenandoah)18454-Marion-headbide a wee Marion (Ruby Peak Cinnamon x Meridian Maven), who didn’t go home to Oregon after the AGM we hosted in August.18078 JannaMeridian Janna (bide a wee Buster x Meridian Janis). Janna is a big tall ewe lamb and is out with the breeding group, possibly to be bred by Meridian Axle.18002 SopranoMeridian Soprano (bide a wee Buster x Meridian Sonata) has definitely been bred by Axle.

It looks as though I am missing photos of one ewe and that is Meridian Haldana, who is one of the lambs that went to the state fair. Everyone else is accounted for here.


Shortest Breeding Season

The last post was about breeding season that started for us on October 3. A week ago, only 24 days later, I called it quits (almost). I had five breeding groups and one non-breeding group. I get tired of feeding hay to all these different groups especially when there is still green feed in the pasture. But mostly I get tired of the rams tearing up the fences. Also, Hug a Sheep Day was the next day and two groups would cause trouble with that. The young ram, Clark was in the most accessible (to visitors) pen and I don’t trust him if someone stands right at the fence. In addition I thought that we might need to park behind the barn and that’s where Buster’s group was. Time to be done with all these groups.

I decided that Axle would get to remain with the ewes in case someone had not been bred and Peyton could keep his ewes for another few days. But that meant that Buster, Cayenne, Clark, and Spark (who had not been given ewes) would be back together. IMG_0510I brought the groups in one at a time and separated the rams. That’s Buster in the pen. His nose is already bloody because he was ramming the panel to try to get to Axle, the young 2-horn ram in the middle of the photo.IMG_0523Most of the ewe flock was back together now and that was Clark’s lucky day! That’s him in the background with his head turned away.IMG_0524Meanwhile the other four rams went into their “buddy-up” pen. The point of this is that they are confined enough that they can’t do much damage. That doesn’t mean that they don’t hit each other but at least they can’t back up 10 feet and come charging.17025 Cayenne-6After a few days of learning to be buddies again they went back to the ram pen with minimal fuss. They all had figured out the pecking order. Cayenne (above) is #2.17025 Cayenne-4Cayenne. I love a nice two horn head.18062 SparkThis is Spark, Cayenne’s full brother, born this year. There is the difference a year makes. Cayenne was born last year.Spark-CayenneBrothers.Buster-3Bide a wee Buster is #1 in the ram pen.Buster-ClarkBuster is 3 years old and Clark is his son from this year. Buster-Clark-3Bookends?18030-AxleHere’s the lucky ram who gets to stay out with the ewes for another few weeks. This is Axle, also a 2018 ram. He is wearing a blue marker…18002 Soprano…and I finally saw some real color. This is ewe lamb, Soprano.Pope Valley ewesToday I moved most of Peyton’s ewes back to the flock. Three of them were the Pope Valley sheep that came this summer, and they immediately found their two friends. That’s the five or them in the front. Large Triangle, 4-Horn, Small Triangle, White Ear, and Crooked Blaze in the back. (They do have names but I remember them better by what I called them at first.)

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!