Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Giving Thanks

I have truly met some amazing people in my years with the dogs, sheep, pigeons, college and high school. Every single person I've met has lead me to life lessons and for that I am thankful. I am glad that I am able to continue to meet new people via Facebook and Blogger, and reconnect with old friends who haven't been forgotten.

I absolutely love my family. They are a pillar of strength and guidance, showing unlimited love, respect, wisdom and laughter when its needed.

I thank my Heavenly Father for all his many blessings, both large and small: my health, a thriving business, education, friends, and most importantly, His forgiveness.

God bless you all on this special holiday and please take a moment to pause and give thanks for all that you are truly blessed with!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Culling Rates

I was reading some past comments on Laura Matthews blog about her Coopworth ram and how the Coopworth registry has a mandatory 75% cull rate in rams and 30% cull rate in ewes.

When I first read it, I was like WOW that's a pretty serious number for rams, but then went back to my breedings in the past. In cattle our cull rate was 25% for heifers and 95% for bulls. We typically kept most of our heifers for replacements. If they didn't work out, they were sold. Our bulls we are/were extremely picky about. This year my cull rates for the heifers was 50%, and the bulls 95%. I kept only one bull and 2 heifers. Since I only ended up with 4 heifers, and sold two, that would be the 50% :)

In sheep in years past my cull rate was 35-60% in ewes and in rams 50-100% in rams. My first year I culled all of my rams ( I ate them) and same as my 2nd year. I did winter some over to eat them, but never used any for breeding, even though I did registere a few. This year I kept back 50% of my ram lambs as over half of them were from AI and they were the last of those bloodlines. I want to grow them on to see how they develop and compare them to the lambs that are born next year from AI.

It would be interesting to see what Shetland or BFL people do for culling %'s. I bet some Shetland breeders have zero culling as they either don't breed, or they can't part with any as they are their pets :) Its a bummer that Shetlands are not more based on production like other breeds of sheep that are considered livestock, and not pets. I think we'd see improvement a lot faster in them if they were not pets first and kept because they are cute or friendly. Even if they aren't registered, I don't think that constitutes culling?

What are your percentages?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

2010 Goals

Its that time of year to see if I managed to meet my goals for 2009. For a recap here is what I had posted for my 2009 goals:

1. Find a softer moorit ram (hopefully from my AI lambs!)
2. Have a gulmoget ram born that is ultra fine (or find one!)
3. Push for importing of new Shetland ram semen to use in 2010 in my next AI
4. Continue to keep only my softest ewes that also have correct conformation and colors.
5. Move many of my "B" class ewes to the crossbreeding program and use the Bluefaced Leicester ram on them to get Mules in spring 2010.

1. I have a mioget ram lamb that IS softer. I still hope to find a moorit ram out of my AI lambs next year

2. I was gifted Angus, the Shaela gulmoget from Cynthia. While he isn't ultra fine (and I didn't raise a single gullie this year) I'm still hoping to get a soft gulmoget LAMB next year from Angus and my softest ewes.

4. There is word of importing some rams from the UK, although it wasn't in time for my AI this fall. I have a lead on a nice ram that is moorit so fingers crossed that we might move forward with that one!.

5. My 'B' ewes were in fact put with the BFL this year (or sold) and I have only put my very best Shetland ewes to Shetland rams.

So what are my goals for 2010?


1. My flock is seemingly quite katmoget heavy (gray katmogets that is) and I'm praying for solid (AaAa) ewes and rams from my lamb crop in 2010, hopefully some nice moorits and blacks.

2. Retain all promising lambs and sell their mothers if feasible (or put them to the BFL next year for mules)

3. get a moorit gulmoget lamb born on my farm!

4. continue working on importing a fine ram from the UK.

5. fence in and use the additional 20 acres of pasture for rotational grazing. If that was the case, I will keep all of my mule ewes and breed them to Champ the Texel next fall for a large flock of cross bred market lambs.

6. Find a collection site for a few prime rams for future use (like in a decade or so)

No huge changes really in my goals, and they all seem quite attainable. If you know of a place that collects rams in the midwest, do let me know!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Trying to learn how to spin

Gosh has it really been so long since I did this?? The date on the camera photos doesn't lie....

With crazy life happening the past few weeks, it took a rainy Friday night home alone (well with the dogs around my feet) to finally get around to posting these photos!

So on a rainy day the end of October a fleece customer (who swears I can sell out of my fleeces at Shepherd's Harvest if I get it turned into roving!) encouraged me, educated me and enlightened me on the ways of many things this day.

First off is she showed me how to properly wash a fleece. I won't bore you with the details she told me but it was a lot more involved and less complicated than I was doing :) Below is just a generous amount of Jazz's 2nd fleece that I brought along to wash. Isn't it just gorgeous?!
Here Lisa had some of Jazz's lamb fleece on her drum carder. Oh she also showed me this machine, but also showed me how to hand card and make wool eggs (is that what they are called?) and bats from this combing. I was combing some lovely CVM fleece of hers.
Several photos of Jazz's lamb fleece she had washed and was waiting to card.

Below she showed me some lovely yarns of Jazz's lamb fleece she has on her spindle (bobs? spools? I can't remember)

And her awesome wheel, whose name(the wheel) escapes me!
She then had me learn how to ply two commercial yarns together. It seemed fairly straight forward and appeared easy enough to do (hey even the photo looks nice huh?)

Below was a neat photo of a sweater I would hope someone would love to make me (I'd pay of course!) as there is no way I'm going to learn to KNIT! I had 8 hours of mind boggling spinning terminology and i was completely mortified and overwhelmed!) I took four full pages of notes and numerous other photos of the trip/day and thank goodness I did as my mind was over flowing with knowledge!
She then gave me some hideous (truly the color orange this is, is so obnoxious...she even laughed when she gave it to me) Merino roving that was partially felted to work on! Talk about such a nice lady! I had asked her why she chose Merino and she said my fleeces were as fine as they were (to which i politely thanked her and then disagreed...Heck Jazz is 25 afd! that's like 10 microns over a Merino). She remarked that she wore that lamb fleece skein of Jazz's around her neck for three days and never felt a prick on her neck! I had to remember his lamb fleece microned at 20.2 or something ridiculous, so it could be closer to that low micron than I think :)

She showed me how to draft and although slightly felted I was getting the hang of it....for awhile....I would do things like try to talk and pedal at the same time, which ended up in some twists :) She is SUCH a patient teacher! So she had me draft quite fine at first, and then not so much so I had more of a 'rope' look to it.

.....then she gave me Corriedale cross combed top to work with. Again she had me do both finely spun and more rope like spinning/drafting (if you can even call it drafting)
thank goodness the photo is blurry!
To further add insult to injury she then had me ply my rope/fine yarn combo TOGETHER into the below hideously awful looking rope/yarn wanna be skein! Had it not been orange, or partially of rope, I might actually have it out in the house, but its already packed away!

And so ended my very first day of spinning. Now if I could just prioritize some funds towards a wheel I'd be set, but since I just did A.I. and blood draws on 54 sheep, its a little on the back burner for now!

One last breeding group

The BFLs and the Shetland ewes that were bred to the BFL were put in together on October 7th, and were separated on November 11th.

The Shetland purebreds were put together on October 12th and separated November 10th.

Champ the Texel wasn't put in with his girls until October 25th and will remain in with his girls until Thanksgiving. I didn't have a marking harness on him until about a week ago, so they either were bred right away, before the marking harness, or haven't cycled yet. I"m hoping for the former!

I'm going to be putting my clean up rams in with the girls in a week. One BFL for all the BFLs (and a few shetlands for those mules!) (and including the BFL AI girls) and two shetland rams in with two groups of Shetlands. I had an odd idea to put two mature rams in with the girls, instead of two ram lambs, but I still can't decide. I"m hoping most are already bred!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Breeding groups are done!

'Jazz hands' has been finding ways out of his pen from his ladies, into the ram lamb pen for the past four days. I've had enough of it, so all of the girls went back together and all the boys are in a squeeze chute where they can smell each other but can't back up and bash heads. I figure if Jazz would rather be with the 'boys' that his ladies must surely be bred :)

The girls were mostly excited to be back together and mother/daughter bonds were renewed. The clean up ram(s) will be put with their group(s) on the 17th or so....whenever they decide (or I do) that the groups need to be put back together.

The greatest thing about this year's breeding groups is that I didn't have to break ice out of the water troughs, and the weather has been recently quite nice out (not freezing at night) so I've thoroughly enjoyed the breeding groups in something less than a blizzard like years past!

The funniest moment of the day is when the quarantined girls from Cynthia were let out with the rest of the flock in the pasture. The three of them stuck together like peas in a pod and when they saw the cattle jumping and kicking up their heels in the next pasture they literally FLIPPED (yes one appeared to do a backwards somersault) out and took off running back to the shelter. LMAO I did. The other quarantined girls from Susan Kimball were released at the same time and they looked at the cattle with the slightest interest. They must have seen your cattle Susan? At any rate they were all quite excited to be back outside where they could stretch out their legs. I think they'll sleep well tonight :)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Photos from our AI clinic

Here are some photos of the AI clinic we did on Saturday. Here is Sarah with my group of ewes waiting to take their turns going in for their 'shot at love'.

Below, Mary and Sarah watching the girls pre-procedure.

Below is Beechtree Kearsley telling Sarah a story. I'm sure Kearsley was trying to bribe her way out of this!

Here Erica and Sarah are getting Kearsley situated in the cradle (you can see my head behind Erica)AHA!!!! We DID get a photo of Kim!!! :P And she did a fantastic job of trimming the belly wool off the girls! (girl sheep)

Erica and Sarah's friend Jessie preparing the pipettes for the clinic.
Here are Kearsley and I posing before I wheel her into the procedure area! :D

Thanks to Erica for posting these on Facebook!

AI is done, and now we wait

Our AI is done for another year.......

I wanted to thank hugely my friends who drove from all over the place to come and help me! Kim Nikolai came from Prior Lake, MN to assist me with my AI and she brought her shears which were used to clip the belly wool. She was a trooper and helped me load and unload my ewes for the trip to town. Mary Morris and Erica Morris the mother/daughter duo from Wahpeton, ND came to assit me. Erica and her friend Sarah are dog friends of mine and They both ROCKED coming to help me with the AI. Since I was sick with the 24 hour stomach flu (i'm better NOW) they did a lot of the loading and unloading onto the cradle, holding the ewes in place while AI'ing and many of the scrubbing and shots. Their classmate Jessie was also there from a local town of Ottertail and she helped get the semen ready for Martin and double check which ewe was next. Mary Morris aside from running the CO2 tank kept things going in a timely fashion and kept us on track. Shona the vet tech from the clinic was ever helpful with preparing all of the supplies I needed and had everything ready and in order for them. Amanda Covington a DVM from the Minneapolis area who specialies in goats and sheep only, was there also to assist in any function and eventually took over the semen preparation when Kelly had to go. I ordered pizza for everynoe who helped and was VERY grateful considering I was not up to speed due to my sickness.

We did the two BFLs first, followed by the Shetlands. There were two ewes who jumped as he inserted the right horn so we made note of it that we may not have those bred as Martin says typically the right horn is the horn that gets settled when doing LAI. He told me I should not expect to be as good as last year with my conception rates. He said since I had 100% last year, not to expect that or be that lucky again, but I wouldn't complain if that DID happen :)

So now I wait two weeks before I put the clean up rams in with them. They'll only be in with the clean up ram 10 days as I have to have all my lambs born before April 20th as I have my Cardigan National Specialty out in Gettysburg,PA from April 23-May 1!

It was a sad day when I used the last of my Holly, Timothy and Minder straws. I still have 11 straws left to use in the future but will probably wait a few years to do most of the F1 ewe lambs. I will however probably do quite a few BFLs next year to AI as I have quite a few of those straws now.

Friday, November 6, 2009

AI tomorrow

I've been so busy with fall clean ups that I haven't had much time to check email or phone messages and for that I apologize! Tomorrow is my AI date with Martin Dally of Super Sires, Ltd doing the procedure. I'm in good hands tomorrow as I have 5 Vet Techs and a DVM who specializes in goats and sheep helping with the clinic tomorrow. AND I have Kim Nikolai helping out too so that should be a blast!

I am so busy right now that I"m not even going to be deer hunting this year...the first time EVER as I have gotten so far behind with work due to all of the rain and snow we've been getting. Naturally tomorrow is supposed to be 55 degrees...the last nicest day of the year and I'll be doing AI in the morning. If I can get everyone else OUT of the clinic by noon I could still have about 5 hours of daylight to get a few more yards picked up.....

wish me luck!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

OPP negative flock too! And Blue Tongue too!

Another 'as expected' result from the blood draw. I actually did a specific OPP test for sheep this time around. It does not give false positives (or negatives) and is highly effective in finding those with OPP.

Needless to say I'm quite relieved!

I also had my flock tested for Blue Tongue as I acquired sheep from areas of the country that have it throughout. I've only gotten the results of 25 of the 54 sheep as they are running the other batch tomorrow. The first half are all NEGATIVE as well. I will not test for this test again once I get the rest of the results(if they are negative) as here in the cold northern part of MN we do not have the vector for BT to be transferred (most of the midwest doesn't have this vector, or the mountainous areas to our west). The only way it can be transmitted is via this vector. If we don't have it, other animals cannot get it transmitted to them.

This is also NOT the same Blue Tongue that is ravaging Europe and the UK. There are 6 or more strains throughout the world. After talking to my state vet, the state vets in CA and OR and the Federal vet (who actually has a lake cabin 30 miles from my farm!) I've concluded this is not a huge worry for us in the Midwest, especially since we do not have the vector. The federal vet for BT told me that eventually the titers if present will eventually fade away. Titers just mean that the animal was exposed to it, but did not get it (antibodies if you will) is how i understood it.

It will be interesting to see the rest of the results.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Johne's Free!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Our results are starting to come back from our blood draw last week.

Our entire mature flock of 54 animals has been tested negative for Johne's. As expected!

I have decided at this point in time to close my flock for the most part, and only allow animals in that have been tested prior to coming here (in a well educated purchased) or tested at my farm in quarantine (more of an impulse buy). Those animal will have to test negative for all tests that I am testing for to maintain the negative flock status. I can really see that there will be few animals that I 'need' to get and should be able to breed from within my own flock to make the animals that I am looking for (gosh I hope so!)

Further, I am going to do fecals on all animals that come into my farm hopefully prior to them getting here or again in quarantine. I'm not being 'anal' (pun heavy) about doing fecals but if I'm going to spend the money to draw blood and test for those diseases I sure should be doing fecals as those seem to be a larger problem with sheep in general.

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 ...