Shearing Day Revisited

Shearing Day here was way back in early February. I wrote a post about shearing the rams, but never got to the rest of it.

As I went through my photos I realized that a lot of them are of people, not sheep. But that is what makes Shearing Day here so fun–my fabulous Farm Club. The Fiber members chose their fleeces this day, but other members were here too. Everyone has a job and it makes the day go so smoothly.

DSC_1913

The star of the show is our shearer, John.

IMG_6772

John’s shearing shoes.

IMG_6703-2

Stephany and Gynna…

IMG_6760

…and Brenda were sheep wranglers, never letting John run out of sheep.

IMG_6739-2

Deborah and Lorrian  pushed sheep to the shearing pen.

IMG_6730-2

Kathleen weighed fleeces.

aDSC_6024

Amy worked the gate in where the sheep left after being shorn.

DSC_5989

Mike swept.

With all these other people working…IMG_6750-2

…I could just lounge.

15584 Hallie

Here is Hallie after shearing…

IMG_6726-2

…and this is the beautiful result.

IMG_6717-2

Trista: “Does this shearing job make my head look big?”

Baa-ble hat-1

Speaking of heads several of us wore our Baa-ble hats.

Baa-ble hat-2

DSC_6056

Some people left before we took these last photos, but there was still quite a crew for this photo.

 

 

Sheep on the Road

This is a blog post that I meant to write a few months ago following our summer Road Trip to Colorado. While traveling I took photos of sheep I saw along the way. I forgot about this until I was going through photos tonight for another project.

dsc_0754

This was a band of sheep on the way to Bodie, a ghost town in Mono County, California. There are more photos of them in the post that is linked above.

So not all hardly any of the sheep I saw were alive. That doesn’t mean they weren’t impressive however.

img_2633

A bighorn ram outside the visitor center at Arches National Park.

img_2634

Another ram inside the gift store.

dsc_0919Petroglyphs seen on one of our hikes in the park…

dsc_0965

…and  a license plate in the parking lot (not a sheep, but I thought a mountain goat was cool anyway).

img_2690

After hiking all day in the park we stopped at the visitor center to fill up our water jugs and spent a little time with this ewe and lamb.

dsc_1001

Maybe it is a stretch but this is a photo of Sheep Mountain on the way to Leadville, Colorado.

img_2712

One of the old buildings in Leadville. OK, so it’s not sheep, but it’s fiber related, right?

img_2713

Also on a street in Leadville.

img_2714

In the restaurant where we had lunch (another mountain goat)…

img_2767

…and in one of the old hotels on the main street.

img_2765

I’d sure love to have brought home this ram…

img_2766

…but that price tag on his leg says $2900 (marked down from $4770).

img_2724

This print was on the wall of our motel room in Leadville.

dsc_1059

Somewhere on the road after leaving Leadville.

dsc_1083

On the way home we saw sheep and some other fiber animals in a few places but I was always too late with the camera. I barely caught these yaks. With the exception of the first day, this was not a sheep-watching trip (at least not live sheep). The last sheep photo I got was one that Dan pointed out to me:

dsc_1585

An anticlimactic photo of sheep on the road.

Shearing at Other Farms

A few weeks ago two of my friends did their fall shearing. Since I didn’t have to do any work I just visited and took photos.

dsc_4081

I don’t know which is which but this is one of Jackie’s Herdwick sheep, either Heddy or Hazel.

dsc_4083

I do know this ewe because she lived here for many years. This is Diamond who is now almost 17 years old.

dsc_4084

Lucy is Diamond’s granddaughter. She is almost 10. dsc_4102

Camelids are not my favorite animals but they can be photogenic. Jackie’s llama is named Peridot…

dsc_4109

…and her alpaca is Evangeline.

dsc_4114

Jackie’s flock after shearing. Jackie shears twice a year because many of her sheep are long-wools and benefit from twice/year shearing. The Jacob sheep will be shorn in the spring.

The next shearing location was Colleen’s place. dsc_4130

This is Colleen’s older ram, Razor,…

dsc_4133

…and her younger ram, Thor.

dsc_0243

When doing anything with the rams at Colleen’s farm you have to deal with the Goose. (Thanks, Dona for this photo.) The Goose is bonded with and protective of Razor (as if he needs protecting) but has a sincere dislike of Thor. Thor usually has to live separately to keep the goose from continually harassing him.

DSC_4145-2.jpg

Razor is about as big as John, the shearer, and probably weighs more.

dsc_4156

Velvet, the cat, enjoying the sun and the smell of lanolin.

dsc_4164

Colleen raises Romeldale and CVM sheep that have very fine wool…

dsc_4163

…and the unique “badger” face pattern.

dsc_4165

dsc_4207

After shearing we enjoyed surprise birthday cupcakes (mine–yes, I chose to spend my birthday watching sheep shearing) at Colleen’s outdoor table. Velvet joined us.

 

One More State Fair Post

Before I get back to my Road Trip blogs I have a few more photos to share. No big surprises in this post like there were in the last one, but Dona sent me the great photos that she had taken of the show. And since I’m writing another fair post I’ll include a few others as well.

I didn’t see much of the fair besides the livestock area but I walked around briefly. Here is what caught my eye.

IMG_3122

On the wall of the livestock office.

IMG_3147

Another longhorn, this time with not-so-symmetrical horns.

IMG_3141

A “corn-box” for children.

IMG_3142-2

This seems like a good idea for kids but I think I’d want it far from my house. It’s hard to tell in the photo but there are metal bars hanging at each station for banging “music making”.

IMG_3159

I always like walking through “The Farm” to get ideas for my garden. I like these bricks that made the corners of the raised beds. It would be easy to change the location of the beds.

DSC_8141

Back to the show ring. Rotor was sometimes reluctant at moving around the ring.

DSC_8168

Here he is at the head of the class of Shetlands and Karakuls.

DSC_8216

This is the Primitive Breeds Champion judging.

DSC_8218

DSC_8248

None of my other sheep did as well as Rotor. The judge preferred his fleece over that of my other sheep, although I think they are just fine. Meridian Honey, shown by my husband, had won Champion Jacob ewe at Black Sheep Gathering in June, but she was last in this class. That is part of showing any livestock, especially Jacob sheep. There is such a wide variety in acceptable traits in our sheep that it may not really be appropriate to judge them against each other. That is why Jacobs used to be judged by “card-grading”. Each sheep would get a “grade” based on the characteristics–not putting one of a similar grade above another. But that’s not how it’s done in traditional livestock shows.

DSC_8258

These are my two yearling ewes, Meridian Honey and Meridian Zinnia.

DSC_8319

This is the Jacob portion of the Primitive Breeds ewe lamb class. The two lambs without much color have a bit more on the other side. They are sisters and my friend, Mary, has bought one of them.

DSC_8362

Here is our Flock entry in the Primitive Breeds Division.

DSC_8380

Rotor’s debut on the photo stage after winning this show. See the previous blog for his other winning photos.

Big Wins at the CA State Fair – 2016

We interrupt this blog series…

I am not even half way through sharing photos and stories about our recent Road Trip, but for the last four days I have been at the State Fair and I have to share that experience.

Every year I wonder if it’s really worth the time and effort to go to the fair. My friends and I go to Black Sheep Gathering because…hmmm…why do we go? It’s a Road Trip With Sheep. I just bring sheep, look at fiber, and hang around with my friends. That can’t be said for the California State Fair. Although it’s close to home, it’s a lot of work. I set up a big display booth and my Farm Club friends and I staff it all day. It’s hot (105 this year), dusty, and I stay every night until about 8:30 because there are so many people still in the barn. We are under pressure to keep the area spotless and be nice to everyone because we are in contention for a couple of major awards for the display.

IMG_3121

For Farm Club member, Mary, who is also a new farm owner, this was a new experience. She has been here before but it’s different when you have your own sheep. Before we can put the sheep in the barn they are checked by the veterinarians.

IMG_3123

Once the sheep are settled in their pens we start with the display.

There is prestige and a good monetary award at stake for the Marketing Program that “should be directed at potential customers and show case the exhibitors Breeding Program and Operation”. Here is the scorecard:

  1. 20% Display. Clearly demonstrates it’s purpose, message and/or image.
  2. 20% Effective use of display materials. Paper, wood, metal, plastic, plants, etc.
  3. 20% Use of color and signage. Graphics and signage to create impact and storyline, QR codes
  4. 5% Special Effects. Movement, sound, audio visual, participatory element
  5. 20% Effective Use of Handout Materials. Flyers, pamphlets, business cards, recipes, children’s materials, etc.
  6. 15% Craftsmanship. Well constructed, balanced and has an overall finished, artistic, visual appeal.

IMG_3177

Here is the finished display.

 

IMG_3154

I’m glad that I had the last minute thought to provide a Touching Table. That came to me when I was looking for something else in the barn and came across these horns. We’ll expand on this next year. I was especially glad I thought about this when I realized that I had forgotten to bring the A-frame that holds some of our other interactive display material.

In addition to the Marketing Program, there are Herdsman awards that are offered “to encourage attractive, educational, and high quality presentations of all livestock exhibits”.  The Herdsman Award is judged on :

  1. 65% General Appearance
    1. 25% Neatness/cleanliness of bedding and aisle
    2. 10% Signage, banners, QR codes
    3. 10% Creative use of plants and special exhibit materials
    4. 20% Condition/cleanliness of animals
    5. 10% Educational material, marketing, breed promotion)
  2. 25% Feed Alleys/Tack Pen
    1. 15% Free of debris, not obstructed
    2. 10% Tack storage
  3. 10% Conduct
    1. 5% Exhibitor sportsmanship and cooperation with other exhibitors and staff
    2. 5% Public interaction and accessibility

In addition there is Best Educational Presentation over all the species entered in the three week run of the fair.

Farm Club members help to set up the display and come each day to staff the area and answer endless questions.

IMG_3135

This is the crew that was at the fair on Friday.

IMG_3131

I think they worry that I will forget to eat. On $2 Sample Thursday (all the fair food booths have to include a $2 item on their menus) they returned with this treat for me. I have a good photo of all of them eating their selections but they wouldn’t let me use it.

Other faces in the barn include:

IMG_3179

This Lincoln across the aisle from us.

IMG_3184

Suffolk ram that was just down the aisle.

IMG_3145

Longhorn steer at the other end of the barn.

IMG_3188

This is one of Mary’s new lambs who seemed delighted with the attention.

IMG_3157

The yearling ram, Meridian Rotor, standing behind the “DO NOT PET THE RAMS” sign.

IMG_3149

We spent the four days answering questions

  • Q: Is he normal? A: Yes, Jacob sheep can have 2 or 4 horns. (And that info is on the other sign right in front of the ram.)
  • Q: Where are the pigs? A: Out there (pointing).
  • Q: How do you get get it from this (wool in bucket) to this (carded sliver that I’m spinning)? A: We explain. Next year I will include the carders and carded batts, etc to more easily explain that.
  • Q: What happens if it breaks (fiber I’m spinning)?. A: Demonstrate how to join it.
  • Q: Where are the cows? A: Longhorns are at the other end of the barn. The dairy cows were here last week.IMG_3174-2

I spun three skeins of singles yarn while I was there.

But it’s really supposed to be all about the sheep show.IMG_3167

Mary and Russ practicing with their sheep.

IMG_3171

Dona, Mary, and Amy prepping sheep for the show. We don’t do all the fitting that other breeds do. That morning I had taken each sheep to the wash stall to clean their legs and feet. We wiped their noses and cleaned the grime off the eartags. Then we pretty much just brushed off the straw and were ready to go.

IMG_3175.jpg

The show started with yearling rams and I was thrilled when Rotor was placed first in his class and then awarded Champion Ram of the Primitive Breeds Division. The judge was not as happy with the rest of my sheep and they were interspersed with or at the end of the line-up of Shetland and Karakul sheep that were also in our division. Even Honey, who was champion Jacob ewe at Black Sheep Gathering, was placed last in her class.

image4

The breed show was Saturday. On Sunday champions from all 14 Divisions compete for the award of Supreme Champion. Rotor lo0ks pretty small in that line-up. (Some of those smaller sheep ahead of him are ram lambs that won their divisions.) As the judge went down the line he stopped and scrutinized him more than the others.

image3

He was one of four rams pulled out of the line-up to be in contention for the award.

image1

Thanks to Dona who got these great photos of us in the ring. In this photo the judge is discussing the four rams and said that although he wouldn’t ever want a Jacob (at least I think I heard that) he was very impressed with Rotor.

image2

He awarded Rotor Supreme Champion Ram of the State Fair!!!

IMG_3202

Here is me right after with all my loot.

Oh yeah, some of that is for the Herdsman and Marketing awards. Usually that is the highlight for me because I don’t expect to win with my sheep.

IMG_3211-2

From right to left: Supreme Champion Ram (banner and buckle); Best Educational Presentation (Herdsman); Best Program (Marketing); Third Best Educational Presentation over all the species for the three weeks of the fair; Second in Herdsman; Best Marketing Program.

IMG_3220-2

Of all the years showing in 4-H and later with our dairy and then with sheep, I’ve never had a belt buckle! I guess I need some Wranglers to go with it. And maybe some boots. I realized after the show that I hadn’t even changed into my (work) boots for the show and I was wearing those sandals through the whole thing. The excuse is that it the show was at 5 p.m. in the afternoon of a 105 degree day. (I was wearing jeans though. This picture was taken later at home.)

New Faces on the Farm

The last few blog posts were about Black Sheep Gathering. One reason that I decided to go this year was that I could bring home some new sheep. Here they are:

Bronagh-4

Windy Acres Bronagh, 3 years old, lilac (that’s a gray-brown color in Jacob sheep lingo).

Bronagh-fleece

This is her fleece…

Bronagh

…and here is another view.

Scout

Another sheep is 2-year old Hunter’s Glen Scout.

Scout-fleece

This is her fleece…

Scout-4

…and another view.

Hallie

Bide a wee Hallie is a yearling with very pretty horns…

Hallie-fleece

…and a long, open fleece.

Shelby-head Shadow Mountain Shelby is a yearling…

Shelby-fleece

…with a fine crimpy fleece.Sheena-head-2

Kenleigh’s Sheena is the last yearling.Sheena,Shelby

Sheena-fleece

Trista

I brought home two lambs from bide a wee Farm. I just realized that I didn’t get a decent photo of the ram lamb, buster. This ewe lamb is Trista and I just love this little lamb. She is one of those sheep who seems to have a friendly nature and is taming herself.Trista-fleece

And look at her lovely fleece.

I can’t wait to see these fleeces next February and new lambs in March.