Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Attack of the Moorit Smirslet Sokkets

My first intention with the camera was to take photos of the ewe lambs that are modified and are ever changing. Also wanted to take photos of Shocker the foal to note his color changing as he is getting older. I think he'll be a chocolate brown instead of gray like I thought, or black like my horse friends thought. Needless to say I never got to the modified lambs due to the onslaught of other sheep!

At any rate I barely climbed the gate and I was overrun with these moorit smirslet sokkets (If you look closely they all have about the same pattern that I seem to be smitten with).

First to the gate was Little Red Oak Wren, a ewe lamb that I purchased from Gail Vonbargen. I think she just happened to be in the 'wrong place at the wrong time' as she isn't overly friendly but I did manage to get a photo of her before she wandered off!

Wintertime Gracie was the first to demand my scratching which I obliged to however she was not to be outdone by:

Minwawe Slipper! Who is the only lamb that can still fit through the rails on the gate (much to my dissatisfaction!)

Winter Sky Buttons is my my second most needy sheep for touching (after Cleo the black) and so she was expected to come say 'hi' too.

After they were all done getting their attention, Cleo and a few others came up to check out the situation and when they were satisfied that it was "OK" they headed back out to graze again.

We finally had an inch of rain yesterday so I hope that the pasture greens up again FAST!

Monday, August 27, 2007


Four ram lambs of Mark and Brenda Lelli's at MFF.

What is it about the Blue Faced Leister that the Shetland breeders seem to drool over? I had seen Becky's two white BFL's this spring when I went to visit her farm. I adored the faces, their temperament and their fleeces! What's better yet is all summer long I'd been studying the breed, learning about the Shetland Mules, and talking with Mark and Brenda Lelli in Michigan who have done a lot for the breed in the States thanks to much importation of UK sires as well as a rigorous breeding program. I really wanted a ram to cross onto a few shetland ewes but realized that this year I wanted to breed ALL of my Shetland ewes to Shetland rams to see what the results might be. If i wasn't happy with the results I could either breed them to another Shetland ram next fall or to the BFL ram for mules. so why get a ram this year then if I wasn't going to get a few ewes? Well I ended up going to MFF and purchasing two ewes. I had seen photos of them but wanted to see them in person. They were on the smaller side and was told they shouldn't be bred this year. Plus the only rams available were related to the two girls I was getting so why have such a limited gene pool to start of with?

I figured I could keep the two ewe lambs for the next year and really get to know the breed that way without having to worry about the whole breeding and lambing thing with them. I could just enjoy them, watch them grow, process their fleeces, and see if I truly wanted the breed down the road. I don't want to go 'all in' on a breed I haven't witnessed anything with firsthand. Time will tell if they work out for me but so far I do know that the two girls i have are complete lovers and love to be scratched and nearly knock me over at feeding time!!

Here is a photo of Callaway, the little girl I got to show at MFF. Both girls are growing well on the alfalfa/grass hay blend and their oats/barley/cracked corn and lamb pellet blend.

You either love or hate that adorable face!!

A ewe I have dibs on after they are done using her. 232 was completely smitten with me and won my heart over while I held her during our waiting time between classes!

BBQ weekend!

Well I can't believe that the BBQ weekend is already gone. It was so nice to finally meet Sabrina and it is always nice to see Gail V as well. Gail brought a friend with, Mary and her Airedale Molly to visit and it sure was an educational and fun-filled afternoon!

I must say I was a bit stressed when upon returning from AM working to find Sabrina already at my place! I swear Sabrina could not have been a day older than me (I'm 27) and although she never mentioned her real age I am sure she cannot be much over 30 at the MOST! She's a super sweet lady with a wealth of knowledge and just the greatest personality you could imagine.

Gail and Rayna decided my place was a good place to pass sheep off at so Gail brought Rayna's three ewes and that gorgeous bersugget ram lamb. he has a TON of fleece!

Gail and Mary were great to talk with and I always enjoy Gail's company. She is one of the nicest people you will ever meet and I don't think she has a mean bone in her body!

I really was thankful for the kind words on my sheep and their fleeces from all those present. The smaller numbers allowed for a better chance of getting to know them one on one. We enjoyed some wonderful burgers and lamb brats (thanks Gail for the brats!) and some wonderful brownies supplied by Sabrina and some fresh veggies from my garden. I hear the cherry tomatoes were a hit!

I hope next year more people can attend the BBQ wherever we decide to have it. A day with fellow sheep people makes us realize we are not the only crazy person out there raising sheep!



A few weekends back I had the pleasure of roadtripping with Becky Utecht and Kim Nikolai to Allegan, Michigan for the annual Michigan Fiber Festival. We left St Paul about 4am and drove straight to Allegan. I couldn't believe that the 9 hour trip seemed to only take 45 minutes as we all had a lot to say and enjoyed the discussions that ensued.

Friday evening we went out to supper with a huge group of Shetland breeders and got to meet many new faces. I was able to meet Gail Former the current president of NASSA. Poor Gail was left behind when it was time for supper because Stephen Rouse and I were so busy talking and he forgot to pick her up for supper. Fortunately Gail did find the restaurant and we were all able to laugh a lot about the mix up.

We all stayed up rather late (considering Becky and Kim and I had been up since 2 or 3 am that morning) talking sheep and it was an early morning on Saturday as well.

I was able to help hold Blue-Faced Leisters for Mark and Brenda Lelli and was even thrown into the ring a few times to help them show. It was a bit different than showing dogs but it was much more laid back. I enjoyed myself immensely! With all the showing that went on that day I was unable to see the vendors much as I was constantly in the sheep barn meeting new shepherds and their sheep.

Saturday night was the annual pig roast at the Ludlam farm and was able to meet even more people there. The food was great and the company wonderful but we were all tired and headed back to the house we were all staying at around 10pm. I was up until 3am talking sheep with Stephen and up again at 7am!

A few more hours running around talking sheep with other breeders and it was time to head back. With new sheep in tow for all of us (Becky and Kim and I) and we headed back in the constant rain and flooding with a great weekend behind us full of new friends and old, laughter and more knowledge on the Shetlands.

Thanks to all those whom I met at MFF weekend and I look forward to next year!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Garden Fever

This is my first year of not being on the local Garden Tour that is hosted the last weekend in July every year. Quite frankly after the very warm oct-dec we had and then very cold weather in jan-feb with no snow killed off many of my 10 year old established plants, trees and shrubs. even a 15 year old Green Ash tree succumbed to the winter. I can't afford to replace all those plants! I have over 1500 plants!

I haven't done the gardens justice this year. I've had more than enough work with the new sheep and goats and the BUSINESS to keep me preoccupied. I've hardly even remembered to water it. But the weeds sure look nice.

Special thanks to Candice for coming out and helping me make what I have left of my gardens look good. Since I won't embarrass myself with what the gardens look like this year (no dead heading, splitting or pruning yet this year) I will leave you with a few of my photos from garden tour the past few years. Unfortunately not a lot of things bloom the end of July for Garden Tour but it really takes that long for the gardens to look their best :)

Wow my gardens need help before you get here for the BBQ!!

Odd traditions

Do you have peculiar traditions? One that we celebrated tonight was fresh homemade chocolate chip cookies.It never ceases to amaze the variety of homemade cookies. Guess every house made a different version of the homemade cookies? At any rate I took photos of the things we do when we eat these wonderful cookies.

1. Eat large amounts of cookie dough so there are hardly any cookies to eat

2. Enjoy a caffeine free (must be caffeine free) Pepsi with at least 4-6 warm fresh from the oven 'burn your mouth' cookies.

3. Moan and complain that you ate too much cookie dough and hot cookies and feel stuffed. (making loud burps from the Pepsi after chugging large quantities of it also indicates part of the time honored tradition)

This may not be as good as Kim's White Grapes and Gin but it still tastes pretty dang good!

Last but not least

Well here she is! My last Shetland of the year! Winter Sky Layla is an F1 horned mioget ewe lamb. She is out of Heights Orion x Underhill Loretta Lynn. Loretta is also a horned ewe and that is where the horns came from. She is quite a growthly lamb and nearly the same size as my yearling ewes already. She is quite breath taking when out in the pasture and very soft to the touch when up close and personal.

I think now that I have enough ewes to keep me going for quite a while :)

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Play date with the babies

Now granted the dogs are always with me. Wherever I go, there they are. I have found that doing chores is now impossible with four dogs as they love to eat on the 'poop buffet' that is our farm. Duck, Cow, Pig, Chicken, Goat and Sheep. Horses and their most favorite.....Cat. I'm sick of this disgusting behavior and instead of constantly having to watch them and say 'no', I keep them in their fenced in yard where they let me know that much to their dislike, that they are confined and away from me. Especially Oliver. I think he believes to be my long lost other arm who must constantly be with me. I think its an honor but then again also feel sorry for him as when I do have to work, he waits for me at the gate until I return again. He's a lover and a great lap dog.

Mac Attack (official name is Mr. McGregor) is turning out to be a very stunning and flashy black and white with tan pointed boy. He was reserve winners dog both days in LaCrosse last weekend. More importantly he is becoming a lap dog too (much to Oliver's disgust) and the boys are seen 'bickering' over who gets to cuddle with me and beg for attention. I really think they are two peas in a pod. Then again you haven't seen Mac and Sadie play.

Sadie is shown here with some old knotted Khaki pants. Anything she can find (even a piece of bark I watched her pull of the Boxelder tree I was sitting against) to tease and taunt the other dogs into playing with her. She must be in control at all times, even if she is just supervising. When play time has turned into fighting, she is the first to stop them. Then again they rarely 'fight' (play fight more likely but it sounds awful)

Here is Sadie unaware that Mac is about to try and take her knotted khaki rope toy that is off to the left just outside of the photo.

And not to be outdone..............the Zoe-miester is paitently waiting for her chance to intercept the rope toy from the bigger too. Its not uncommon for these three to run around with the same toy in their mouths while Oliver runs ahead of them (backwards usually) barking and telling them something only they can understand.

WHAT WOULD LIFE BE WITHOUT MY ENTERTAINMENT?!!! God love them, my little heart dogs!

How do you say no?

How does one say NO to those pretty blue eyes? They just make you melt! All she wants to do is lick you and cuddle with you and love you.....its hard to stay mad at her for doing wrong. Then again most Cardigans know this and use it to their advantage...Sadie does a really good job of it too :) Then again, I have always been partial to blue eyes......

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Ram Lambs

Thought I'd go out and take some photos of the boys. The gentleman standing in the back is Little Red Oak Hansel, a moorit smirslet that was part of the 'deal' package that Gail gave me when I purchased a few ewe lambs from her. He's a bit bigger than my other boys but it could also be partly his age. I haven't decided who to breed to him yet as I'm still trying to figure out the rest of my boys :)

The grey katmoget is the F1 Timothy, named Barish. He is out of Minwawe Boppity (from Mary Ellen) and he has a very dark fleece underneath that is very crimpy and very soft. His horns are nearly perfect and I thought they were big until I got my F1 Jericho son home :)

The other two moorits are NCWGA registerable. The one on the left is White Pine Heath, who goes back on a tight father/daughter line breeding. He is very soft, and falls out at the britch slightly but otherwise he is very correct confirmationally and is a dark dark moorit color. His horns will be close to perfect as well. He may be available depending on micron testing.

The more red moorit boy on the right is White Pine Reese's Pieces. He is out of my modified ram Bourbon that Gail has now and Temi, a dark moorit with exquisite fleece, very crimpy, no iset, and very dark and consistent! His tail is perfect, his horns perfect and he has a very square back end with proper leg placement. He was my favorite born here for the boys this year but sadly is also NCWGA registerable. I may keep him and breed him to some of the CW girls.

Here you can see that Heath will be more single coated and Reese a more intermediate fleece. Both are starting to get their crimp in their fleece that is so attractive and I'm pretty excited to watch them grow up a bit more before making any decisions. Hey its my first year! I can do that right?

Here are my 'little horned' boys. White Pine Rolo is the fawn (who might go mioget) and White Pine PayDay (the black). Rolo was line bred on Sandstone on both sides, while PayDay was an outcross. Surprisingly their horns are much smaller than the moorit boys that are partly related. The verdict is out on these boys. The Fawn is EXTREMELY fine and crimpy but I don't know what to think about the horns.....abherrent perhaps? Where are the polled gods and godesses when you need them? !!

Above you can see the difference in my F1 Jericho boy, Jazz (thanks Meghan!) and Rolo's head pieces. Granted Jericho was known for large perfect horns but Rolo's are teeny in comparison. Are they long scurs or just slow growing? I'd like to know, as his fleece is to die for and structurally he is very nice.

And just for fun, a closer shot of Rolo's head to give you an idea of what I'm talking about:

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Last calves of the season!

A double surprise for our last cow, a first time mother, Istas. She had been synchronized and A.I.'ed twice last year, then found to be still open so she went in with our herd bull that was at home. Nine months later TADAH! Twins! Of course there is a boy and a girl and 99.9% of the girls from opposite sex twins ends up being a free martin. she sure is a beauty! If she were a Shetland she would be a smirslet, sokket and she has white on the tip of her tail and on her belly. She's abolutely a doll! The boy is very different in regards to body style, type of hair, pattern, even the depth of the red is different. I went and looked backed at the calendar and it is actually a possibility that both our herd bulls were home by that date and 'could' have both bred her and fertilized an egg. The bulls are quite different in all the above aspects so we'll have to see where the difference came from. I'm not sure this is a reality or not so will have to DNA test the bulls and the calves to see who belongs to who or I cannot register them :) Well the girl won't be registered.....she'll be our next freezer full of beef in about two years so I'm thankful for that. Sad reality but it happens.

I took the Nancy Krohn approach (and I'm finding others who also do the step-by-step photos) to photography and after a 'once over' I ran back to the house to get my camera and take some step-by-step photos :) I do hope you enjoy :)

Here is momma Istas with her bull calf (the calf that looks like a yuglet sokket) and her heifer calf (the smirslet sokket)

Here the little guy bellerd and was wanting some lunch so he was trying to get up with the coaxing of his momma.

Not to be outdone, his sister then had to get up for lunch before he got it all!

And then before they got started momma Istas decided it was time to head into the yard to show off her babies and get some ice cold water for herself.

Yup they are still following you, dear momma!

My favorite tree

I love trees. I love every kind of tree. I even like photos of trees especially black and white ones with just a single tree in the photo. I like big trees, I like planting little whips in the spring. Hundreds of them. One year my dad and I were stupid enough to plant 16,000 of them in three days with a machine. That was the dumbest thing I've ever done. But also one of the smartest in the long run.

This tree has always been around. It is our last American Elm in our 'at home' pasture for our cattle. Its Vase-shaped trunk with elegantly weeping-like branches makes for an amazing tree. I hope it lasts many more years with us here as it provides beauty for me and shade for the cows. A truly majestic tree worthy of notice.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Fresh Linens

I'm trying to take the Nancy Krohn approach to farming where one carries their digital camera at all times so as to never miss a great blog story. I had three today!

I was changing the linens on the bed and the dogs had decided it was time for bed. Now try to imagine moving 4 corgis off of the 'old' linens and trying to get new linens on the bed before they get them all hairy! All four acted like they were cinder blocks with lead weights attached to them. I had to literally pull them off (the pups anyway).I had to put the two pups in crates and told the older two, more rule abiding dogs ' OFF ' and they jumped down. I got the sheets on and then went into the laundry room to get the comforter. Upon my return I had BOTH older dogs underneath the top sheet and playing! By the time my camera turned on (its slow) and I got the photo, Oliver had gotten out of the sheets and laid on top of them. As you can tell they look quite pleased with themselves :)

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 ...