Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sheep in winter

Supper time!
My innocent BFL ewe lambs :)
A view of some of the flock
Ma boy Jazz (F1 Jericho)

There really isn't anything like sheep in fleece, in snow, AFTER all the breeding groups LOL. A sight to be seen indeed!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Sunday, December 16, 2007

As Fall Out Boys would say..........


Well its that time again. Time to move out some of the girls due to lack of any of the following reasons: space, feed, money, new genetics, or some of each or all of the above.

I never make a point of selling girls that are in their prime years (for cows that 5-8 years old) They always produce their nicest replacements during these years, area most efficient with the feed they consume and have the daily routine as well as know how to work themselves into the head gate, livestock trailer, field roads to get back to the 'home' pasture in the fall, etc.

Its always hard for me to part with girls knowing that they have so much yet to offer me. I feel like I've cheated them. I feel like I let them down. They trust me and I move them out. I normally only sell cows that are not being productive, are terrible mothers (or too agressive towards me) , don't settle, abort, bad udder, too old, etc. These girls are some of my best. I've tried for about a year trying to sell some of the girls to another breeding farm that raises registered Simmental. I've had inquires from all over the nation, but no one wants to drive that far for only a handful of cows. they want 25+. I don't have that many to sell!

It appears I'm rambling. Just bear with me. Indulge in my sorrow of letting perfectly beautiful, prime girls go, as unregistered stock to the "SALE BARN". I know the owner as he married my best friend of 9 years. He gets a fair 'market' price. Its about 1/2 to 1/3 the value of my registered stock. I'd rather eat them all if that was the case, but there comes a time when I have to say "UNCLE" and give in. Its still money. And until I can break into the tight group of registered simmental folk, I'm doomed to sell my high quality registered girls as commercial stock. If only those guys knew what they were getting.

Thanks for listening.

A group shot of the girls headed to new homes.
I decided to sell two cow/calf pairs this winter. The two little red heifers on the left are the lucky girls. I had planned on keeping them but due to lack of hay and lack of space, they got to go with their moms. Dacia (the large red in front is mother to one of them) Ina behind her is a gorgeous cow and I kept her first calf, a daughter, Inez to carry on her line. Maddy (the other blaze face) is the last girl from my Millie line. I kept Maddy's son this year so she had to go, but she always raised the largest calf, even being the smallest cow of the herd. Trixie (the mother of the other calf) is hiding back there too.
Rudie, Nysa and Brandy hiding in the back. Rudie has been my foundation cow and I kept EVERY single heifer calf from her. I have about 50% 'R' names out there thanks to her. She is a mild mannered, medium framed, great mother. At the age of 8 she still has a great udder and calves easily. Nysa goes back to my Jersey cow from about 15 years ago. She's 1/2 red angus and 1/2 simmental now, that jersey blood has been bred out, but if you look closely enough, you can still see bits of that breed in her. I kept her daughter this year, New York :)
Another group shot
Maddy, Ina, Trixie, Nysa, Dacia and calf

Loose hay

Our hay mow is up above the main level of our old dairy barn. Upstairs we normally store all of the hay that the main floor pens, the horses and the lean (usually the weaned calves) eat in a given winter/spring. well since we have had a drought the past two years and are short of hay (that's in the next blog) i've been trying to utilize every bit of hay. In the photo above you'll see some of the well fed pygmy goat does trying out their new feeder LOL. Its really the wall of the pen. I used hog panels and 2" x 6"s to make a sturdy wall, yet allow all sunlight to come through.

The loose hay is the hay that accumulates after you throw the bales down from above, open them up and move them to their respective pens. I hadn't swept the aisles in a while (I know shame on me) and this 'pile' of loose hay was getting in the way! Every day when the girls get let outside they stop to munch a mouthful or two, well knowing they have hay outside as well. So today I thought i'd try pushing all the loose hay against the fence/wall and try to pile it up so they could eat it. I could never do this with the sheep as their fleece would be a disaster waiting to happen, but with the goats, who cares!

These girls are showing you how it works. While they can't get their heads through, they can get enough of the hay through the wires to eat for the evening and I"ll repile it in the morning and every morning until its all gone. saves a few bales and I don't have hardly any waste! See I can be creative when I need to be!

Bachelor Party

Well the boys (except for Jazz) all got put back together. The bucks and the rams. For the most part they seemed to get along but Hansel and Reese and Barish thought they had to constantly bash each other. even standing out there and picking them up and throwing them on their backs and yelling in their faces didn't seem to phase them. Well I showed them! After adding lots of cheap vanilla extract to their butts and noses and foreheads I crowded them all into a 3x 6' area where they could all lay down if needed, but not really bash or move much for that matter. I didn't want to press my luck so I'm leaving them in there for another night and we'll see how they do tomorrow morning when I open them up a bit.

This is Caspian. In the photo he was trying to climb up over the other boys to get to me to PLEAD with me to let him out. I went to do the rest of my chores and when I came back Caspian had climbed these tiny 1"x2"'s that I use for a brace in that pen and got OVER the wall and was raoming the barn freely like he didn't have a care in the world! He saw me and came running over to me to greet me. Greeting him wasn't really on my mind but I have to give the guy credit for be creative.

Permanent Christmas Tree

Well its not a Charlie Brown tree. Its native to California I believe. My mom has had one for a long time and its only reached 3 feet tall. its beautiful. I decided to buy the largest one I could (14" pot) and its 7 feet tall! It has surpassed all my expectations and is beautiful. Better yet Rayna got me some Cardigan Christmas tree balls with different colored cardigans on them doing various activities. Better yet my dogs DON'T pay attention to it and it takes up that bare spot in my living room. I think it looks pretty. But then again I'm a guy and I'm single LOL. Any tree at this point is good right?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas photo

Clockwise: Mac, Oliver, Sadie and Zoe
Thanks to Krisma Images for taking such a great photo of the Babies!

Its official!!! I'm crazy!!

Just enough to tease, and for you to keep wanting more ;)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Pygmy Goat breeding groups seperated

Well the Pygmies are seperated. It wasn't a dramatic event. I showed the boys the door and they ran out of their pens probably thinking they were getting a 'fresh' group of girls. OR they thought GET ME OUT OF HERE these girls are MEAN!

I am so amazed at how this years breeding groups went. Of the two remaining bucks I have, both have been disbudded as babies. They have better manners, don't bash the walls, and don't smell nearly as bad (the scent glands were also rolled over while being disbudded so they weren't so pungent). I must say I am going to disbud all of my Pygmies from this point on. Not only is it necessary for showing, but they are all around nicer to be around. Granted they are harder to catch with no horns (they make such great handles) but I have adapted by putting dog collars on the lot of them. The girls with the horns are just too vicious towards the disbudded girls and so I am going to have the vet out here to dehorn the adults that still have the horns. Fortunately she knows HOW to do this and I just have to help hold!

the sheep are in their breeding groups until around Christmas time. I put them in on Halloween so that should give them three times to cycle. I haven't seen a single one being bred yet, but have seen a lot of squatting and peeing in front of the rams, followed by the lip curl of the rams. I've seen several of the goats bred, but maybe they aren't as 'shy' as the Shetlands :)

I also need to get our bovine vet out to preg check our herd. Any open girls get a one way ticket out of here, and then the rest must get sorted as to who is staying and who is available for sale. With the drought we have had the last few years our supply of extra hay is gone and we don't want to buy TOO much hay if we don't have to. If anyone would like some beef processed if we have open girls, be sure to let me know. Its all natural, no hormones or things like that, all grass fed.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Welcome to my Blog!

Well hi there :)

Glad you stopped by. Yes I'm still alive. No I am not sick anymore. I am ready for winter to be over (where did all this snow come from?!!)

I was deathly sick for a good solid 9 days before getting better. since then i've been on the rampage. I've been eating super healthy, running three miles a day, drinking only water and 100% juice (no caffeine!) and have been tanning. I know this last thing is a bit of a negative but FWIW, I need this extra time of direct sunlight. There aren't many days in the winter that are not overcast and it becomes dreadfully boring here and lonely in the winter months. Short amount of daylight and way less time spent outside, doing the things i do. Chores make it, well a chore, to get out of the warm house and tend to the animals. Once I"m out there though, the animals envelope me and i can't resist sitting and talking with all the different groups of critters I have. Its quite relaxing and refreshing.

The past few days we have been hit with about a foot of snow. It snowed in a way where I had to go one entire evening, the following entire day and then this morning. Next storm is supposed to hit tomorrow morning through wednesday am and I'm so exhausted from moving so much snow so fast in such little time that I'm quite honestly overwhelmed! I even had to bring in the dad and brother-in-law and MAKE them volunteer to help me. I'd still be out there if they hadn't helped me out!

There are 100 things I could think of to blog about. But none seem so exciting to post about them. I'd call all of my readers and talk but quite frankly at the end of the day I'm so beat I'd rather just sit and stare at the wall (or watch my corgis as they are so dang entertaining). So bear with me a few more days and after I get back from pushing more snow , and then off to a pigeon show in Des Moines and then a dog show in St Cloud, I'll hopefully have a few days where I can catch up and blog my little heart out.

So starting next week it'll be helpful if you check back often during the first part of the week to see all the new posts I"ll be writing. They may not have photos (which sure make for a more enjoyable reading IMHO, but they'll bring you up to speed on what i've been doing.

Thanks Sabrina for calling me to check on me, and to Michelle for the email to see where I ran off to. Its appreciated!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I'm not dead, just sick!

Farmers are the only people I know that still have to work when they are sick. Even on their death bed, the needs of the animals depend on the farmer. I've been sick for awhile, first with sinus and head colds and now with the all out flu. I don't get sick often, but don't realize how much I actually NEED to do each day when I AM sick.

I've had a hundred things to blog about, but too sore, tired, and miserable to be able to do much. Everytime I feel good, I go out and do chores only to feel bad again. Last evening my dad did my chores. Its not something I ask of often as its my responsibility, not his. I missed my time with the critters. I hate sitting around and I hate watching TV. You can only watch so much and sit for so long and I've done it for four days. That's four days too many!

I promise to be back soon. I know you've missed me ;)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Official Breeding Groups, Part 1

The breeding groups here at White Pine Shetlands are set in stone now! The 2008 lambing season will consist of three rambs from my farm, and two from Cynthia's farm, for a total of five different rams used.

Firth of Fifth Amaan is an F1 Orion son out of FirthofFifth Autumn. He is a handsome boy who is quite soft, uniform fleece, and modified to boot! I am planning on breeding RYL Rachildas to him. Rachildas is a super crimpy white illget who carries Ag and spotting. If anyone remembers, I also have Rahu, her daughter from this year who is out of Wintertime Black Forrest, the black gulmoget of Meghan Namaste's. At any rate, Rachildas should have twins and I look forward to having some Orion in my flock.

Wintertime Black Forrest is a black gulmoget who is very soft, crimpy and single coated. I am breeding his daughter, FirthofFifth Tailka back to him in hopes of getting more gulmogets that are free of the side pattern. Tailka herself has a more intermediate fleece but WOW is it soft!

Also being bred to Forrest is Underhill Peep, my musket girl that I just picked up from Gail Former. She is quite the adorable girl, with soft eyes, consistent fleece and pretty nice confirmationally. I'm hoping for an Ag Gulmoget (no, really!) after seeing Underhill Dancer...that Gulmoget face on the Ag body is adorable! And I hope she's soft too! :)

FirthofFifth Pi Lo Chun is also going to be bred to Forrest. She is a grey katmoget who is out of V Creek Silver and she is perfectly marked for a kat. A kat or gul would be ok from this breeding :)

White Pine Heath, a linebred Winter Sky Tennyson son, who is a very dark moorit, with perfect horns and tail, very single coated handsome boy will be bred to four shetland ewes. White Pine KitKat and Musketeer (fawn kat and musket respectively) and their mother FirthofFifth Jasmine Phoenix (Ag, katmoget) are all being bred to Heath to help make the colors more rich, while softening up the fleeces and shortening them up. Also in this group is Winter sky Laya, who is an Orion F1 daughter. She is a horned mioget with incredibly soft fleece and her micron report was a tight bell curve that is totally impressive. Her mother is Heath's Grandmother, so it will be a line breeding on Underhill Loretta Lynn. I'm excited to see how this tight linebreeding turns out!

Also in this group are my two BFL ewe lambs. I'm not sure if they will cycle this fall, but if they do, they have the potential to throw some colored mule lambs!

The larger two groups will be saved for a later time :)

AI weekend

Well the AI weekend in Ottawa, IL was a success! It was such a great pleasure to meet Mr. Martin Dalley who did the AI'ing. He is one smart guy, and a sense of humor to boot! Many thanks to Chris and Alan Green for opening their home to me and for the great meals! I truly appreciated the talk about fleeces and knitting with Chris and Gail Former. Gail was a great gal! She brought up a group of potential sheep for me to see (I wanted a musket and an Ag grey). Gail is truly a wonderful person to sit down and talk to and is so knowledgeable of Shetlands and with fleeces. I also was able to finally meet Maureen Kock and her brother Johnny. There wasn't much time for chit chatting as they arrived late (like 2am) and we were all up and out of the house getting ready for AI early in the morning. Hopefully I can sit down and chat with Maureen again sometime soon! I was very surprised and EXCITED to see Juliann Budde arrive to assist in the AI procedure!!! She and I were both first timers with the AI and I know we both learned a lot! Juliann's ram lamb she picked up was sure a cute thing too. Have fun with him Juliann!

Saturday after the AI, we went back to Chris and Alan's home and I had Martin, Juliann and Maureen go over the potential sheep for me to purchase. I value their opinions and it was Gail's idea, so I jumped on it! I knew who I was leaning towards and they were all in agreement with me as to who I should take home with me :) I left quite happy! Thanks to everyone for a great weekend!

On the way home I decided to pit stop at Cynthia's farm to visit my three girls that are staying there for the breeding season. It was really nice to see how my gulmoget ewe lamb has grown up and to see how the AI lambs were growing so nicely. Very impressive and uniform group of girls Cynthia! As always its so nice to sit and talk sheep with you and go over breeding groups and fleeces with you!

I came back late sunday night after spending the day with a college buddy of mine in Tomah and started the work week in full swing on monday morning! Monday night I did worming and hooves and put the rams with them on tuesday morning. April 1st lambs! I'd hope to have them all lambed out before I go back to work in the spring!

One step forward, two steps back

Well I wanted to post the other day about not being able to catch the mink. I left the duck carcasses in the pen to entice him back, but he kept eluding the traps. Monday morning (about a week after the ducks were killed) I went about my normal morning chores; bringing hay out to the pasture, letting the girls out to eat it, filling water tubs, checking mineral tubs, feeding my new chickens etc. I noticed a very pungent ferret like smell in the one silo room I have to walk through to get outside. "odd", I thought. He must have been in here not too long ago. Well I looked down and much to my surprise there was a mink in the trap! It didn't look very big! Was this the big buck male I'd been waiting for? Well it was a mink nonetheless, and I disposed of it. I proudly let my two remaining ducks and two guineas out into their pen again! I left them out there for the night too, as it as a balmy 56 degrees and a full moon!

The next morning I went out to feed the ducks and I saw a duck pulled halfway through the fence. "I thought I got rid of all the carcasses" I thought to myself. OMG its the BLACK HEN!


So off to reset traps, I called our trapper friend and he didn't bring any more traps out, and just left the one trap set up again. I pulled the duck out and by the other trap, by morning this morning its pulled back to the hole in the fence and nearly completely eaten. Whatever it is is quite hungry and if its the buck mink we NEEd to catch him!

Ducks and Chickens are anywhere from 5-20 dollars each. IF he'd get into any one of my pigeon pens, we are talking THOUSANDS of dollars! And I can only think of hurting the mink so much and it still won't make me get my birds back or make me feel any better.

Fortunately I was able to collect the two guinea hens and bring them back into the barn. My chocolate Swedish duck amazingly flew OVER the fence and back into our stock pond where she lived all summer. She's probably safer there than she is in the barn :(

Will keep you posted

Sunday, October 21, 2007

No more bull(s)

Well I can say there's 'no bull' on our farm. LOL

We rounded up the last group of cattle from their summer pasture and brought them home. We managed to get the cattle home, the bulls seperated and put into the stock trailer without much stress or dramatic stories. The more 'docile' bull crawled underneath the tractor to get back to his girls one time...I can hardly crawl under that tractor, and I wish I could have seen that 2500 pound bull do it!

It seems that our farm is now overrun with cattle! Its a nice sight to see them all home again, but after the 5 or 6 inches of rain we've had this past week, it makes for a very muddy yard. It was particularily funny to watch the oldest calf trying to walk backwards while nursing, as the mother cow was walking home from their summer pasture to the home pasture. Where is my camera when I need it!

On a good note we have a friend of the family who traps for a hobby come over and set a few traps for this mink. Today we saw hundreds of LARGE tracks that this buck mink (that's what the guy says it is) is still around and still trying to get those ducks out of the pen (I left them in there as to bait him back) He's too big to get through the fence ( I thought it was a good fence) and he found a hole in the wall of the barn to get in and out of. I asked about the chickens and he said that it 'was' possible that he did that too, but would have probably killed the cats and/or the other fowl in the barn also. He's now coming back just for the fun of it. Steve tells me by tonight we should have him as he apparently isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

He also told me that the area farmers and residents would be AMAZED at how much wildlife is around here yet. He said we have many otters, fischers, bob cat, mountain lion, coyotes, mink, weasels, wolves, bear, skunk, possum, racoon and even the occasional lynx coming around. If that doesn't make me want to get some LGD and walk with a flaslight instead of just fumlbing through in the darkness, I don't know what will! Glad to hear that we have so many animals around. I'm even more happy to not see them. That means there is enough prey to eat that isn't on my farm!

Will keep you updated as to when we get the critter!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Bad Luck comes in three's.... or ten's

This morning I have had another massacre.

This time it was a mink who snapped the necks on all but two of my ducks. I had a trio of Saxony's that were going to a family home with a pond in their front yard....they lived near Fergus Falls.

I have had these ducks in this pen for more than four years. This summer they were even let 'free' to roam the farm yard and never had a problem with this before.

I only have two left out of the eight I had. I'm going to have to get traps set up....

I'm to the point where I'm just numb to all the problems I've had this year. I'm afraid to say 'what else' but really what else is left to happen? Maybe its a sign.......

Thursday, October 18, 2007


I feel like I have been keeping a journal in my head.

1. Since the last day of the 'chicken massacre' I've had a lot of things on my plate. The morning after I had one chicken left I went out to tend to the ducks. Much to my surprise and delight I found my original hen wandering around the pen with the ducks, acting like nothing had happened. I brought her back into the barn to her very happy rooster. In the mean time I went ahead and purchased 2 roosters and three hens of the Fawn Silver Duckwing (dilute to the pair I have left). They are being shipped out Monday from South Carolina from a top notch breeder. His website is I encourage you to see them. Show Quality all the way. Even if I never show chickens (I can't do one more thing I swear!) I want something that is very representative of the breed. I'm also looking at larger breeds of chickens for next spring, but really wanted some more bantams as I enjoy the OEGB (Old English Game Bantams). I have put chicken wire in one of my large 14' x 12' pens. They are 4' high plywood, 4' chicken wire. I have made more roosts, cleaned the pen and have it ready and waiting for the new batch of chickens. I"ve learned my lesson. They'll be inside all winter and next spring if I get some chicks, I'll release them all so they forage around the farmyard like chickens are supposed to. Watch for photos!

2. Last weekend I was able to go to Albert Lea, MN for a Young Bird Pigeon Show co-sponsored by the three Minnesota All breed pigeon clubs. While there I brought four breeds. Three of the breeds I had BEST OF BREED. In the 4th breed, the English Trumpeter, I had 5th overall with my blue bar winner from this summers Squeaker show. A well earned, well respected placing for all my hard work with the color. In addition I had 5 other of the top 12 color class winners, receiving Best of Color with the Blue Class, Opal, AOC (Any of Color) Splash, Lavender Splash, Dun and Red Splash. I was surprised with a few of them, but happy nonetheless.

3. After the pigeon show I drove even further south into the forbidden land (Iowa) to Mason City for a dog show. I was SO PROUD of how Mac, my tri boy did. He stacked perfectly, effortlessly and for several minutes (which is pretty hard for an 11 month old to do mind you). He was 2nd in his class to a dog that had won the major the day before, and went Reserve the day I showed. Much to my surprise my little blue merle girl Zoe, was Reserve Winners Bitch on a 4 point major!!!! It was only her 2nd day out, and just a week over the 6month old mark! The judge was very forgiving of me trying to 'rush' her, but he told me I had a very nice girl. I couldn't be prouder!

4. After raining pretty much since Saturday noon and still raining now, I have been unable to work all week. Its frustrating when I have fall clean ups to do, shrubs to prune and cattle yards to clean. Now after what seems like a foot of rain (my rain gauge is cracked I found out!) the yards are a runny mess of mud and water, knee deep on the cows and higher on the calves. Their dry areas are only the loafing barn for the cows and under the lean of the hay shed where the calves can lay in loose hay the cows can't reach. And we'd been meaning to clean them out all summer when we had a dust bowl in there.

5. Even the sheep don't like the mud. I put a 4'x8' sheet of plywood in front of the door they jump into every night and every morning. It doesn't solve how muddy the rest of their winter paddock is, but I think it helps a little bit as they aren't splashing down into the muddy water. I'm even going to bring the horses in tomorrow to let their feet dry off...their loafing barn I found tonight is a standing pool of water thanks to the build up of hay around their barn from this dry summer's feeding.

6. I'm off tomorrow to meet up with Peeps in the cities. I'm officially a sheep addict now and you can blame Mary Ellen :) I really just wanted to see her again and chit chat but I told her it was silly to drive up to MN and not bring some sheep with!

7. I was invited by Gail Former to help assist/attend an A.I. day at Chris and Alan Greene's farm in Illinois. Its about 10 hours of a drive for me, but well worth it, considering I assisted in swine reproductive surgeries at NDSU when i was in college there. A very educational day I believe and I'll get to meet Maureen Koch there, as well as others. Gail told me she's going to ask Juliann to come there too. I hope she'd be nice to see her again.

8. My black ram lamb is definetly scurred. Next to the other boys with their massive, thick, gracefully sweeping set horns, they look like toothpicks! His one scur will have to be trimmed as it is coming back towards his head too soon. On the good side his fleece is killer soft for a black. I wanted my black ram. I got him. I wanted soft. Got that too. But most everything I want to breed him to is related to him. Maybe I can sell him as a whether for a fiber animal. He's too nice to eat :) The other boy that is scurred or slow growing horns will be staying here. His micron was quite impressive (although not as impressive as the F1 Jericho boy, Jazz) and if i decide not to use him this year, he'll be used next fall. He's a gorgeous fawn color that looks to be turning even lighter now, with some nice crimp coming in at the base. Maybe Juliann wants me to bring him with on my trip to IL?

Well that's all the news and gossip up this way for the time being. I wanted to have only ONE post, but wanted to let you all know what was going on up this way!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

1 is the loneliest number

I went out this morning to find two cats eating the remains of one of my last 2 hens. Now all I have left is my silver duckwing rooster. He's the biggest and probably why they didn't go after him. I lost six GREAT hens, and a gorgeous blue gold duckwing rooster. not to mention all the eggs and chicks I lost this year. Hundreds of dollars worth. Now my vet tells me that the cat feces leads to sickness in my ruminants and coudl be the cause of my stillborn/aborted fall kids.

Let's just say I had to protect my livestock from animals that crapped in their mineral tubs, in their hay, made my animals sick and killed generations of my chickens. My Grandpa said he'd take the majority of them and they can live their lives as house cats. I'm glad he can have some company again, and glad to be rid of the problem.

Now i need spayed/neutered animals that will tolerate poultry.

Or kittens that are raised with them. Most of my pigeon friends have done this and have loft cats that kill mice, and not the pigeons. At an early enough age the cats regards them not as prey. I'll have to give this a try next spring when I get my new chickens.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Less animals to feed

Well the pot bellied pigs are gone. I kinda miss them but glad they have families with children to let them spoil them :)

The ducks mostly went to the ethnic families to eat, I'm happy I can help feed people with my animals!! I still have eight ducks to winter over. The Saxony trio and the five Swedes. They sure are neat to have around.

Now with the chickens depleted I'm thinking of getting a larger breed. I LOVE the batams but perhaps some wyandotts or brahmas or d'uccles. There is always next spring to get chicks and raise them....that way they can free range and I don't have to feed them this winter ;)

I still have my miniature mare and foal for sale. Shocker is turning into a stunny boy. I was hoping to have him go for training as a seeing eye companion. He wouldn't be the first, but my friend who trains them doesn't have the time currently to do so. Annie should be bred back for a May or June foal for 2008.

I also will have beef available to purchase, either as breeding stock or ready for the table. Inquire privately for more information on any of the above animals

Chicken massacre

Well Becky's bad luck is coming this way. This morning I went out and was doing AM chores and noticed that I was missing over half of my chickens. "Typical" I thought. The two Roosters are always vying for the 6 hens affection. I only saw one rooster and two hens. While walking down the barn aisles I found several piles of feathers. "Barn pigeons" I thought. Nope, chicken. And not just one, FIVE. Its not my sisters dogs, they haven't been back for a long time.

It was our cats!! You know, the nine or so that don't hunt, crap in my mineral tubs, in the loose hay, scream and cry if you don't feed them at least 4x a day. About three days ago I stopped feeding them. Let them hunt! We used to only have hunting cats. Then one year they all had kittens and we felt like we needed to help support them feeding so many kittens. Well that was stupid! They never learned to hunt and the generations after never learned that trait.

The only time they seem to know how to hunt is when they get into my pigeon lofts. Those cats don't last the day. They've been living harmoniously with my chickens and ducks and the posse in the barn for a good year, and now all of a sudden they are attacking them...and with gusto! They eat too much cat food and my chickens are much too expensive to keep this going. Our farm dog and my Sadie are better mousers than all of our cats combined. Can you tell I'm disgusted? Free cats!!

I'd give anything for 2-3 hunters that are spayed/neutered that would live out their life more cat more more eating the chickens!

Shetland Breeding Groups

Well these are not set in stone, but I think they are pretty close to how i want them. I really don't want more than three breeding groups, but I am holding over the other ram lambs for 'educational' purposes. In other words, I want to see how their horns and fleece continue to develop, how large they may or may not get and see if by chance next years ram lambs will be better than them and they need to move on or if they will be useful in next fall's breeding program. I've got the room, might as well educate myself with thier lines and such.

I'm sure the colors/patterns and sexes I'm hoping for won't happen, its Murphy's law at its finest! But nonetheless doesn't hurt to dream right?

Wintertime Jazz AI - Grey Katmoget F1 Jericho son. He was spotted at birth and his brother is an emsket katmoget so he also carries modifieds. He will have the largest group of girls with 12. He is 87% UK, single coated with the most crimp I've seen in a Shetland ram to date. He's consistent his entire length of his body and he is a mild mannered boy. He is only katmoget and black or white going back almost his entire pedigree so I'm expecting all blacks, or grey katmogets from these breedings.

He will be bred to:
Justalit'l Chloe - fawn katmoget - 31.25% UK She is homozygous katmoget, F2 Minder, son of Underhill Bartok. I am expecting all katmogets, most likely greys.

RYL Rachildas - white - 12.5% UK. She is white carrying black. She is conformationally beautiful, very crimpy from front to end. I'm expecting white, black or grey katmogets.

RYL Corild - jet black - domestic ewe with primitive fleece. This breeding should produce some stunning black or grey kat lambs.

Bono Creek Lavender Brown - dark fawn - 37.5% UK, F2 and F3 Jamie. These lambs will be 62% UK and should be striking lambs, possibly modified.

Winter Sky Maya - dark moorit - 31.25% UK, She is a Winter Sky Tennyson daughter, and she produced Heath this year, the ram lamb I'm using in a breeding group this fall. She is very consistent from front to back, dark gorgeous fleece. Her micron this spring was 22.8 with AFD of 8.2, and fibers greater than 30 only 18.8. These lambs will be to die for!

Winter Sky Buttons - moorit - 37.5% UK - Sandstone daughter, her micron was 21.8 and was the lowest micron in my tested flock. She is a smirslet sokket and so I'm expecting some spots from this breeding!

Firth of Fifth Assam Meleng - shaela - 25% UK - Sandstone daughter, She was born jet black and is now a shaela, with her daughter possibly going to be an emsket. I'm hoping for some modified lambs from this breeding.

Firth of Fifth Rooibos - fawn - 25% UK - Sandstone daughter. She was a dark moorit at birth and is now a fawn, gorgeous color. She lambed this spring the smallest ram lamb but he is a beautiful fawn who might be mioget. He is being kept to 'watch' for the winter. More modifieds expected here. All Sandstone daughter have the possibility of carrying spots so I could get spots from her and Meleng as well.

Firth of Fift Tailka - black gulmoget - 43.75% UK, a gorgeous gulmoget with minimal 'side color', I'm hoping for a gorgeous gulmoget or katmoget or even better gul/kat ram lamb to expand on my gulmoget line. Modifieds are possible here as well.

White Pine Twix - moorit - 18.75% UK - Twix is a very feminine girl with a lot of presence for such a small package. This breeding should produce some nice fleeced, correct lambs

Minwawe Lyra - black smirslet, bronget, sokket - domestic ewe with intermediate fleece. This breeding will hopefully produce some spots, either black or katmoget

Minwawe Skippy - fawn smirslet - domestic ewe with intermediate fleece that is quite crimpy. Modified, spotted lambs are expected.

Firth of Fifth Barish AI - F1 53% UK, Timothy son. One of the last F1 Timothy sons. Barish is a gentle, katmoget with a darker face, lacking the 'badger' markings, however he is also down from emsket lines and the possibility of having some gorgeous modifed lambs from these girls is quite likely as well. He also could carry the moorit gene as his sister is a fawn katmoget.

Firth of Fifth Sikkem Temi - moorit - 28% UK, very crimpy, gorgeous dark colored moorit with loads of type, style and great conformation. These lambs will be very consistent with excellent conformation. katmogets or solids in black or moorit.

Love E Ewe Cleo - black - 6% UK. Cleo at nearly four years old is just now showing signs of iset in her flanks. She is Temi's and Twix's mom and both girls are nice improvements on her. I'm hoping that Cleo will throw me a gorgeous black ram lamb (again) with nicer horns and a great fleece and look like her daughters.

White Pine Skor - shaela - 28% UK, a modified extremely crimpy, consistent little typey ewe lamb with loads to offer. Bred to Barish this should be a great chance for getting more emsket lambs or emsket kats.

Firth of Fifth Rahu - white - 31.25% Uk, she is from Wintertime Black Forrest who is still extremely black with a short UK fleece. Rahu is loaded with crimp, consistent in fleece and has tons of phaeo on her legs and face. I'm hoping for a flashy gulmoget or katmoget from her or a nice white ram.

Wintertime Gracie - moorit smirslet sokket - 18.75% UK - another Sandstone daughter with potential for modifieds from this breeding, and conformationally nice lambs.

Minwawe Slipper - moorit smirslet sokket - domestic ewe lamb. This will be a line breeding. Slipper's mom is Barish's grandmother. Am excited to see what I get.

Little Red Oak Rose - black smirslet - domestic ewe lamb. I'm hoping to shorten the fleece and add some crimp to the fleece, while keeping the dark black color.

Little Red Oak Dot - black - domestic ewe lamb. She's a double coat who carries moorit, so moorit lambs are possible, or fawn kats.

Little Red Oak Wren - moorit smirslet sokket - She's down from Minwawe stock so will be interesting to see the simliarities if any that show up in the lambs. She has a very dense and thick fleece. Beautiful ewe. Moorits possible here too.


White Pine Heath is a dark moorit with perfect horns, single coated fleece. He is a double Tennyson son, 28% UK and consistent from front to rear with loads of crimp and style. This group can produce mostly rich colored moorits, and most likely a nice group of finely fleeced animals with rich colors.

Winter Sky Layla AI - horned mioget - F1 Orion, 62.5% UK, very crimpy, even in her britch, goregous color and an awesome presence, even for a ewe lamb! This will be a line breeding back to Underhill Loretta Lynn, a nephew to aunt breeding. I'm excited about this breeding!

Firth of Fifth Pi Lo Chun - grey katmoget - 31.25% UK with a micron of 24, even and consistent fleece. Her markings are perfect for a katmoget and I'm hoping for a goregous fawn katmoget, but what I wish for doesn't always happen :)

Firth of Fifth Jasmine Phoenix - Ag, grey katmoget - 34.4% UK, micron of 25 with the most creamy colored fleece you could imagine. Her markings are also quite perfect but tend to fade throughout the year due to her Ag gene. Look for some flashy lambs here!

White Pine Musketeer - musket - was also smirslet at birth. Jasmine's ewe lamb. 33% UK with a very dense and soft fleece. I'm hoping for a moorit out of her but either way the fleece will be delicious.

White Pine Kit Kat - fawn katmoget - Jasmine's other ewe lamb, 33% UK. I'm hoping for another gorgeous fawn katmoget with even crimpier fleece.

Beechtree Kershope - Blue Faced Leicester - 56% UK, her sire is a colored ram so I'm hoping for a flashy colored mule lamb.

Beachtree Callaway - Blue Faced Leicester - 56% UK, she possibly carries color too and am hoping for another great fleeced mule lamb.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Ducks available

I have many drakes available for butcher. Our exotic sale is this weekend in Perham and if I do not have them sold by friday, they are going to the auction.

The photo above shows my trio of Saxonys and my quint of Swedes. The male is the silver, all the other 4 are hens. If anyone is interested in either group of ducks as breeding groups, I'd be persuaded to let them go.

Sheep Breeding Groups

My life would much less stressful if I just knew who to breed to who. Each ram lamb I have offers such a different set of outcomes. I have many directions I could go with each ewe bred to each ram.

This spring I thought I'd get one, maybe two ram lambs and use them exclusively this fall. I had decided to move on my modified yearling ram as everything was quite related to him. I was hoping all my ram lambs were awful, ugly, coarse babies. I really wanted some lambchops and lamb brats! (Gail V got me hooked on those!)

Of course most of this realization came true. I did end up getting two F1 ram lambs. A jericho and a timothy. I did move Bourbon on (thanks Gail!). But as I sit here and wait for my micron tests to help me make a more educated decision on my other ram lambs, I'm up in the air.

I have all my ewes and ewe lambs paired up with one or the other of the F1 ram lambs. They are both katmogets but both are only heterozygous for it so I can still get some solid lambs (50% on paper but I'm sure it will be more skewed than that). If the microns come back for my 4 ram lambs I raised, plus the one from Gail V, and they are excellent, then I'll have some last minute switching to do. But to who and how many?

Remember my ram lambs are all quite related to the ewe lambs and I have seven Sandstone daughters too that I cannot realistically breed them back to. again.

So now I'm out being quite critical of the ram lambs. I'm really feeling the neck, the mid side and the britch. I'm checking for cow hocks, horns that aren't questionable, staple length, color, overall build, bites and making notes mentally on who looks the nicest, who has the strongest conformation, strongest fleece, strongest horns etc. My nicest horns are on a non NASSA regsiterable boy. he will have quite a short, single coated fleece. Will I keep him? The two F1 boys seem to have short UK style fleece too. And that's great for my ewes as most are intermediates. But what about next fall? Will he be worth hanging on to for an entire year and then realize I can't use him because the fleeces on the F2 daughters will be that much shorter? I'm only guessing, and probably poorly at that.

Another one of the boys is much more square in the rear, wider, broader, more masculine head, intermediate fleece, fawn, and crimpier fleece. However he is also non NASSA regsitered, and his one horn looks 'iffy' as compared to the nicer horns on the other boy. He is also related more so to the ewe lambs from this year as he is also a double Sandstone grandson.

That leaves the NASSA registered boys. Gails is a double coated moorit. Horns look nice, larger size.......maybe he'll be a better match for the ewe lambs from 2008? The black and the fawn/migoet boys I think are scurred are quite crimpy, soft, but their horns are iffy. I don't know what will happen with them. And I hate to purposely breed for a ton of scrurred ram lambs. Most of my girls have the potential of being poll carriers down from Sandstone. These two boys are double Sandstone and therefore could be poll carriers. mated back to the Sandstone daughters might create a ton of new polled ram lambs at my place. That would be a pleasant surprise, but one I wasn't working towards.

I hate thinking outloud. My head hurts from thinking about this too much. I want the best lambs I can get. If I decide to pass on all the ram lambs I bred, then I'd have my freezer full at least :) And a less stressed head!

Anyone care to help me wager a guess as to who to keep? I hate to have 7 breeding groups!

Breeding Groups for Goats

Well the goats have been put into their breeding groups. I am using three registered bucks that I purchased in May while on my once in a lifetime roadtrip. I didn't sleep more than 4 hours while driving three days from my house in Minnesota to Knoxville Tenneesee, back to Ohio to a goat show to pick u more, to South Bend, Indiana to pick up more and then finally home. Before I left I also had two goats shipped in from Washington State. There are maybe two other people in Minnesota raising registered Pygmies so I had decided early on to go out of state to bring in some new blood.

Anyway my groups are as follows:
Jeff's Classics Prince Caspian - a light caramel registered buck. will be bred to Pinta, Abby, and Siete. Caspian was lucky during quarantine to breed the doe that accompanied him here. Strawberry Field's Sharon. Miss Sharon is due any day, I'm hoping for some medium or dark caramel does!

Spring Vale's Solar Enery - a medium caramel registered buck. Solar is being bred to Santa Maria, Maddy and DeNae. I am hoping for medium to dark caramels here as well.

Blackshire Connan 1xGrCH is a dark grey agouti registered buck who is getting Krista, Miriam, DeLila and Sharon (she'll be later but will be put in to his breeding group after her kids are a few weeks old).

Photos of the girls are on my website:

Importing UK Semen

Sorry not another post about sheep! (but soon I promise!)

I have done the initial queries into importing Simmental Semen from the UK. I contacted UK Sire Services and had emailed a gentleman by the name of Rob Wills. I emailed him in regards to having semen that is ready to export to the USA and here is part of what he wrote back

"Thanks for this. You will be aware that we are nearly 100% full blood in the
UK.....concentration on shape, fast growth, milk, early finishing rather
than colour. The exception is that we like our Sims light coloured for cross
breeding in the dairy sector. (40% of the national dairy herd goes to beef
to add another income stream for the cross red calves). Light colour x
Holstein calves are chocolate coloured. Dark Sims tend to make the calves
look like HE crosses. We have quite a selection of bulls with semen collected to US Health Certs. Go to and have a look on our database."

Two seconds later I was in heaven looking at their line-up of Simmental Bulls. That is what I was trying to breed for here!

I then contacted the American Simmental Association in regards to having the offspring registerable with the ASA. Their response was as long as I have a copy of their "Foreign" Registry Certificate, an affidavit stating the animal is indeed a fullblood registered individual, and a $25.00 registration fee (my cost) before any offspring is regsitered. Everything else has already been paid for (DNA markers, disease tests etc).

All I need to pay for is the shipping, the cost of the semen straws and the $25.00 reigstration for the bull into our American Herdbook.

Now I just have to decide on which bulls. Below are a few photos I borrowed from the UK Sire Service website to give you an idea of what I'm looking for!

Blackford Hawk

Darsham Playboy

Wroxall Luke

Friday, September 28, 2007

Why Simmental, Part 5 (AND LAST!)

Cruising down the cattle highway.......I couldn't find the girls out north! I kept calling but I figured the gale force winds had something to do with it.

They aren't at the stock that thing is low! I did walk out to the top of my knee high boots and the water is still deep where there IS water.

When I did find them they were laying down, and when I called it startled them and they all jumped up and came running towards me!

I just had to take a photo of another two year old mom with her 6 month old bull calf. He's looking good!

The red bull calf I'm going to keep. He's related to most of the red cows so he will be bred to dad's black cows. (he keeps blacks, I keep reds, less confusing for him!)

One of my pretty girls from AI. She's a keeper too! See how much darker she is than the adult cow behind her?

Poppa Valiant standing proud amongst his harem of ladies and his offspring.

They decided to go for their daily run (literally) and went running back to the stock pond for their afternoon drink. Valiant the ever watchful protector stands guard while the women and children drink. what a guy!

Why Simmental, Part 4

A few of our yearling heifers that we did AI with this summer. I didn't have any 'traditionally' marked calves last year so that was kind of a bummer, but these girls sure are gorgeous!

Why Simmental, part 3

Some of 'da boys' from our west pasture. We are keeping the solid black bull calf as he is from AI, and he is the last of his mother's line, so totally unrelated to all other lines of our girls so he will be a GREAT outcross.

Gisele (black goggle face) and P06's red heifer calf. I love that facial marking. In the background you see a red cow, that's Rudie. She's the start of my most heavily kept line of females on our farm. I"d say 50% of our girls are related to her in some way.

Keeley is 1/2 Simmental, 1/2 angus. Her mother was our nicest Angus cow ever. Very typey and great mothering skills, and her bull calves were always breath taking.

Here is my cute little Ithaca (I found her name!) She is just too cute for words and very dark cherry red like they like them here in the US.

Here is our 18 month old herd bull Teddy, working hard. They are just so docile! Yet I never trust them. He's going for Butcher as his use was quite short lived. The US Simmental breeders are trying for more blaze faced animals. He wouldn't be going but we have better bull calves this year from AI. Well, that and our freezer died in the garage and we lost all of our meat!

Why Simmental, Part 2

These are photos of the Traditionally marked Simmental at our home pasture. Lots of photos so be patient.

Three calves from three different sires. All gorgeous in their own respect.

Father, Daughter, grand Daughter. The father is our mature 4 year old herd bull. The mother is a 2 year old and the daughter is 6 monthns old. Notice mother is still growing, and calves aren't normally weaned until nine months old...that's three months from now! She'll be nearly her mothers size when weaned. And her mom is in great condition!

This is Racine. I named them after major US cities this year :) She is from the yellow herd bull and a solid red cow. She is defintely a keep! This is breed type!

This is P47's calf. I can't remember his name of the top of my head. MAN IS HE WILD! I don't typically keep hyper cattle as most of them were in my camera as I was taking the photos and couldn't get a good shot :) He carries the yellow gene, is spotted and striking. Hopefully he'll settle down this winter in closer quarters with people. I don't need them to be tame, just not flighty

The twins that were born last taking a break from lunch to smile for the camera! First time mom Istas is such a good mom!

My herd bull Sherlock. His time is up here after being used for three years. I wish I could use him more as he's been THE driving force behind me getting more yellows on the farm. Now nearly 1/2 of my girls carry that yellow factor thanks to him.

Minneapolis is Maddy's son (I name according to first letter of mom's name) He will be the replacement bull for his father. Minneapolis was born quite light and I'm hoping that means he will throw more yellows! His mother is by far my smallest cow I've ever had in the Simmental. However she always weans the largest calf each year (over 700 pounds). That's over 1/2 her weight! She's been worth every blade of grass. I hope to get a female from her next year bred back to Sherlock.

Family photo of Sherlock with Bacardi and Bismarck. I was hoping for a spotted calf this year and ended up with a spotted YELLOW HEIFER calf! Bismarck is so gorgeous and my first true yellow calf born here. I have bred Bacardi back to Sherlock in hopes of repeating with another girl next spring!

Why Simmental?

I was looking at the British Simmental Cattle Society website today and had to agree with them :) These are the reasons I have my Simmental:

* Easy To Handle
* Excellent Mothering Ability
* High & Long Term Fertility
* Short Intervals Between Calving
* Good Grass Converters
* Early Maturity
* Longevity
* Good Growth Rates

I could give you many examples for each reason given above, but you'll have to come seem them for yourself to believe me! They are also used for being outstanding suckler cows and fast growing terminal sires.

Better yet, their meat is very tender and flavorful! In America there is even more good news for the Simmental. The American Simmental Association is the LEADING breed association the United States for their innovative Carcass Merit research, bull tests, complete cow data which furthers the importance of the female, after so many breeds have relied so heavily on only the bull side of the breedings.

Simmental Genetics in the US have gone through a transformation over the past 15 years like no other genetic source in the beef industry. Intense research and selection for production and end product traits have positioned SimGenetics at or near the top of all Continental breeds for growth, efficiency, quality grade and retail yield. The time has come to take advantage of these genetic improvements by identifying feeder cattle that carry the added value of Simmental.

A little more history on the breed:

Production strains
Three major production strains have evolved:

* Milk strain - Possessing higher milk yield performance
* Dual purpose strain - With balanced milk and beef performance
* Beef strain - Featuring higher growth and carcase performance

Simmental cattle have proved very successful in crossbreedings with beef breeds to improve growth and milk performance. Simmentals, when used in crossbreeding on dairy breeds improve the muscular-ity and beef quality. Simmental is of special significance when used for crossbreeding with different breeds best adapted to extreme environmental conditions, such as Zebu and Brahman. The excellent suitability for extensive ranch and suckler herds has further enhanced the spread of the breed. Good mothering ability and excellent temperament are important characteristics of the breed.

Functional traits
Simmental cattle are healthy, hardy and show an excellent adaptability to the different geographical and climatic conditions. Easy calving, regular fertility and a long productive life are, besides the high performance potential for milk and beef, the basis for efficient production.

There are polled lines in the Simmental breed which are further developed in breeding.

I'm off to take photos of these guys :)

What's better yet is all of our calves are raised on pasture, as well as our entire breeding stock herd is maintained on a grass fed base diet.

We do have beef available from time to time that is grass fed and free of growth hormones.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Photos from Sadie's NADAC trial

Thank you to Chris Rhea for taking the time on saturday to take 1100 photos of all the dogs competing. He takes them just for fun! Thanks for sharing.

She sure is happy!

Available sheep

With my work load continuing to pile up, and less time to spend with the sheep, I am offering the following: My entire flock of BlueFaced ...