Archive for the ‘lambs’ Category

Here are a few more pictures taken last week. Upon looking at the lambs this morning, I have realized just how fast they are growing…not only in their bodies, but in their behavior and minds as well. The lambs have started eating more and more solid foods while the moms have shortened nursing times dramatically. I find this funny as the lambs simply run a circuit of “Lamb Races” only to head back to Mama for a quick drink before heading out again. They may not be nursing as long but what they lack of in time they make up for in quantity.

Sugar (white/gray with spot) and her sister, Candy, were a few days behind the other lambs. These are Ailee’s girls who were born by c-section. They are two of the sweetest sheep I have ever seen – hence the names.

This little charmer is one of Amanda’s triplets. I haven’t named her as yet. Her sisters are darker but she’s got some interesting markings – or is it pheomelanin coming through the white? Wikipedia has a nice simple definition for we mere mortals: “Another common form of melanin is pheomelanin, a red-brown polymer of benzothiazine units largely responsible for red hair and freckles.” Hmm…maybe I should name her “Freckles”???

Here’s Loretta with her two. We’ve tentatively named her ram lamb “Rory”, after the little sheep of The Barn comic strip. I need to get a nice photo of Rory to send to the cartoonist who does the strip. He is so very nice and really gives us a chuckle each morning.

Candy and Sugar taking a bit of a siesta in Ailee’s feeder.

Candy, being sweet. Normally she’s jumping all over me wanting a scratch or a brisket rub. We’re working on “minding our manners” this week.

And finally, They’re Off!!! The Lamb Races have begun in earnest here at Sheep Thrills Farm!
So…whose YOUR money on?

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The Newbies

It’s been a very busy few weeks around Oleo Acres (one of the cheaper spreads). The lambs are growing so fast now and the Lamb Races have officially begun! A few times a day the girls and their babies are turned out into the pasture area for some noshing grass and running excess energy off. It’s funny to see the moms running after the speed demons the lambs are – huge udders weighing them down from joining in fully.
It’s amazing to me to see each ewe taking turns as the “babysitter”. The sitter watches the lambs while the others enjoy the grass or have a long drink of water at the trough. One will spell the other and the process begins again.
While I sit and watch the goings-on I have noticed the boys in their pen. At times I see the wethers and Loki running the fenceline just begging to be let in with those babies to show them what running is really all about. Then I will see Loki, his head gently resting on one of the wires of fencing and looking my direction, batting his eyes. What a ham. “No one’s paying any attention to me and I should come first!” I go over and scratch his chin through the fenceline. “Later, Lok-ster. I promise.”

Here are a few photos our friend Lois, from Stonehaven Farm, took as she came through on her way to the hospital on the reservation. More will follow…I have finally figured out a better way to load them to the blog.

A kiss for the shepherdess

Lacey and her two, ewe and ram, lambs

Lacey’s pretty ewe lamb

Ring around our Mum! (Amanda and her triplets)

Oooo…..wht’s inside here?

Proud father, Jehovah’s Skeld Loki

These are just a few photos. It seems when I take my camera down to the barn I either have nose prints on the lens or the lambs are running so fast it’s hard to get good shots in even with the “Sports” setting.

And, if you get a chance, please stop by my sheep-friend Michelle’s blog. Michelle lost the ewe to a beautiful little ram this morning. I know her heart is hurting very much over the loss of her Brava – one of her first Shetland sheep. She could use some “hugs” right now. Thanks.

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A Quick Update

I just wanted to post a very quick, short update on Ailee and her lambs.

For those new to this year’s lambing, Ailee (one of our ewes and fleece producer par excellence), could not deliver her lambs normally and was rushed into the vet’s office a week ago for an emergency c-section delivery of two beautiful ewe lambs.
Due to the drugs and stress she had undergone, Ailee was taking care and nursing only one of the lambs. I had taken over and was bottle feeding the other girl as Ailee kept pushing her away. I named her “Sugar”, for the sweet little girl she is.
I had been feeding Sugar until about three days ago. It seemed when I showed up with the bottle, Sugar was more intent on just wanting to be with me as well as sucking on the seams of my jeans. I had a sneaking suspicion as to why but it wasn’t confirmed until today.
Ailee has indeed taken over mothering Sugar as well as continuing on with her other daughter’s care! It seems all she needed was some time and space as well as a round of pain meds and care. Today we saw Ailee actually nursing both girls at the same time, one on each side.
I feel relieved. Sugar is getting the care she needs from her own mother. I don’t mind being a substitute, but this wee lassie needs to grow up with sheep and learn all things “sheepy”. While part of me would have loved to bring her in the house (diapers, please) and have a “house lamb”, I know, deep in my heart, that our house is not where she’s meant to be. That said, she still stays very close to me when she’s out in the pasture. Or she’ll run with her sister and the other lambs…but as soon as she’s tired she’s right at my side…still my shadow.
Thank you all for your kind words, suggestions, and encouragement as we have dealt with this situation. It has not only helped me, but also Ailee. I see her getting stronger each day and more of the mother ewe I know she can be.
The only sad thing is that Ailee will have to find a spinner’s flock to live in instead of a breeder’s flock. And these two beautiful ewe lambs will be her last babies.

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Today should be the start of lambing season for Sheep Thrills Farm. The girls are uber-pregnant right now, with two showing signs that labor may be beginning soon. The first photo below is one I took about a month ago, right after shearing. It was obvious then the girls were all “with lamb”.  Loki did manage to figure out what breeding season was all about.

Udderly Pregnant

I am really looking forward to seeing what we get with this breeding from Loki. When I was researching his pedigree I noticed all his sire’s first generation (called F1 generation when using artificial breeding) were white, but when I looked farther into the F2 generations offspring, all sorts of colors and spotting showed up. I know Loki carries spotting as he does have a mottled nose of black and pink as well as some sports, although small, on his face and ears. I am really hoping for a multitude of colors this year. That said I also realize Mother Nature has the final word no matter how I plot and plan.

Ewes live to be moms. They excel at mothering above any other creature I’ve known, humans too. They’re OK with skipping a year, but give them the choice and they’d have litters of babies if they could. (Not unlike the Finn-sheep who do have litters) I can see in the girls’ eyes that while they are at the very uncomfortable stage, each one is hoping for lambs to mother. I have to be on my toes that one ewe won’t steal another’s lambs, which has been known to happen. They just love those babies!

As soon as we get some lambs I will post a few “baby” pictures. The lambs haven’t even hit the ground and I ready for lambing to be over with. As I wasn’t sure if Loki could handle the job (I’ve always used full-grown rams before), and with the stress of the dog mauling attack in February, I wasn’t sure we’d have any lambs here at all. But where there’s a will, there’s a way – and Loki most definitely found “the way”.

Rascal, the Gardener's Helper

Rascal, on the other hand…could care less about lambs and more about sunshine.

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Thank you, Boys…

It was a very hard decision to make. I took the three remaining ram lambs from last year’s lambing to the butcher earlier this month. Times being what they are and having an overabundance of rams, I just couldn’t see any valid reason to prolong keeping these boys. The cost of feed in Arizona is outrageous, plus I have enough wethers of the same colors already. They are now living in the freezer.
We all think of the housing markets with this downward economy, but these conditions effect everyone – farmers included. This is the first year many sheep people I know have had to sell even breeding stock for the meat market. But on the upside, this is the time we also keep the very best for breeding. We Shetland breeders tend to have rather large hearts for our small sheep. If individuals don’t make the cut as breeding animals we tend to find them “Fiber Homes” or “Pet Homes”. Shetland’s intelligence and friendly dispositions make them easy to place…usually. But not these past two years.
So, steeling our hearts against the hurt we make tough decisions. This is the part of farming we have to face whether we want to or not. Decision time. Who goes, who stays. It’s been this way since man first started keeping animals. A Farmers’ Natural Selection, if you will.
My three boys went to market where they were slaughtered as humanely as possible considering just what slaughter really is. They came back to me in beautifully wrapped packages labeled for resale should I wish to sell the meat. And I love lamb, so last night I broiled a small package of loin chops for myself to try. I had never tasted one of the Shetland sheep I raised even though others have. I wanted to know if my care and feeding came through in the meat.
So, I found out…
It was the best lamb I had ever tasted. (Even with my cooking the chops a bit too long.)

Thank you, Boys. I respectfully appreciate what you have given me. And may I always appreciate exactly where the food sustaining me comes from. You did good, Boys.

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{We’ve had a few nice days here in the High Country, so I have been doing things outside and around the house that needed attention (instead of being in front of a computer). Here are just a few pictures I snapped last week:}

Sheep Thrills Trooper! Trooper is going to be a musket (greyed brown) ram. He and all his brothers will be for sale when they get a bit older.

Introductions to Dad Skittles are in order. Every one of the ewes did this – they made sure the Ole Man got to see his offsprings.

Then there’s always Sheep Thrills Shaun for a little excitement around the barnyard. Shaun loves the taste of this upright honeysuckle. OK, Shaun…you just wait ’til you get a mouthful of bees when it blooms! Don’t you come cryin’ to me then!

And the proud Pop, Bluff Country Skittles. Gee, Skit…I dunno…it looks like everyone of them might pass muster this year. It looks like they all may be good looking rams for flocks of their own.

Skit? What the heck are you grinning about? As if I didn’t know…

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We’re not through with lambing here at Oleo Acres, aka Sheep Thrills Farm. We have Ailee and Loretta to go. Both are first-timers never having had lambs before and both are taking their sweet time about getting on with things! What is it Lucy from Peanuts says? “Argh!”
I knew that they were not cycling with their mothers when they went in with the ram, but I didn’t think they would be this far behind. It appears Loretta will lamb first as her udder is really filling in and the lamb(s) are starting to drop. I expect she’ll lamb in a couple of days. Ailee, on the other hand, is trying to maintain her girlish figure or holding everything in when I’m looking. Her udder is developing, but not as far along as Loretta’s.
So, to entertain you between the periods of mass hysteria that lambing is, we offer you the following photos. Enjoy!

“Are you my father?”

“OK…which one of you knuckleheads woke me from my nap? And who’s been touching MY tire?”

“London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down… Hey! Didn’t the Big Thing with Two Legs say London Bridge is in Lake Havasu City? Where’s that?”

Sheep Thrills Jerry Lee

Sheep Thrills Elvis

OK, Boys! Heads up, straighten those legs, and get those horns growing in correctly! No slackers in this outfit! Everyone better make the cut this year…you need to go find your own herds. We’re full-up here. 🙂 And tell those Aunts of yours I want ewes only for the remainder of this breeding season! (From their lips to God’s ears…please!)

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A Wee Stretch of the Legs

This afternoon, wind or not, I decided that the two ewes who have lambed had the look I get when I’ve not been to town for a couple of weeks. You know the one. The look that says “If I don’t go outta here, I’m going to go crazy just talking to kids!” We have had more winds this spring than I care to think about. Springs here used to be such a nice season. Not any more. They have fallen to the bottom of my list in my favorite season ratings. At least with winter you know you’ll have cold, bitterness, winds, chills. This spring has just teased us enough to give us a promise of nice days, then slapped our faces with both sustained winds and terrible gusts (50 mph).
But the moms needed to get out and stretch their legs…if only for an hour.

Above you see our resident lamb-sexer checking twice to make sure a ewe didn’t slip past in the excitement of freshly birthed lambs. Nope. He’s still a boy, darn it.

Now, I say that with reservation. The Husband-and-Supporter of The Shepherd was just delighted to see this little spot-headed lamb. He uttered those dreaded words, “He’s a keeper!” quickly as if they lingered a bit too long in the air they would be shot down by The Shepherd. I just stared back in reply, mumbling “We’ll see.” in as glum a manner as I could without totally crushing his exuberance at seeing this lamb with the painted head

Above is Lacey with her new little family. She is such a good mother. At first I had both the girls with all their lambs out together. Soon, I noticed that Amanda (below) had taken her boys to explore their Dad’s pen. She introduced them to the Tire-Toy, specifically mentioning not to touch it.

All in all, a good time was had by all. All, that is, except The Shepherd who by this time had a whopping migraine headache and was looking forward to 6 ibuprofen and a Coke. No one complained at going back into the barn, away from the wind and the dropping temperatures that hit us in late afternoon. Tonight we’re supposed to get to 17 F, with more wind. I made sure the shutters were closed on the barn and a board placed across the moor to block an icy winds from chilling anyone.
It was then I noticed that the wethers and Skittles were standing at the fenceline watching the little ones cavort around. As I looked around I saw that the two first-time-expecting ewes had lined their fence trying to get close to these little bundles of energy. You could see a look of amazement on their faces. Soon, they too will have bundles of energy of their own.

On your toes, boys and girls…new arrivals mean serious decisions need to be made as to who stays…and who has to have a new home!

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I have to say this “Being Good” part of my recuperation from has been very hard for me. I am not a person who just likes to “not bend” for three months. Try it out sometime. Try going through part of your day without twisting or bending your spine. No lifting, except for maybe a tissue fallen to the floor and when you go to reach for it, don’t use any bending of the back. Keep it straight and bend only with your legs as a ballet dancer would. Uff Da! 🙂 I will either have very strong legs or my knees will give out before my next Dr. visit!

I did take a few pictures of the lambs having their ears tagged this past weekend and IF I can find where my DH put them on the computer, I will try to post one or two. That’s right, we ARE official and the lambs are up for sale! I will try to get some “nice” pictures (current ones) of everyone.

I walked down to the barn this noon to make sure everyone has fresh water and I wanted to spray fly repellent in the pens in the barn. It’s hot today! Even Skit came out from under his lean-to to take the tender leaves from the apple tree I picked for him, then went right back under into the shade as soon as there were no more leaves. He’s no fool…the shade is where to be today. Rain has been forecast, but not until later in the day. Until later we all must endure the hot.

At this altitude, the sun can be more brutal than south of us in the Phoenix area. It’ll fry you in about five minutes in the summer at 80+ degrees. Locals can tell who isn’t from here as most visitors leave with roaring sunburns and puzzled looks as to why they were burned when it wasn’t as hot as home. The news people always do the egg-frying-on-the-sidewalk thing here in Arizona in the summer. And I knew exactly what that egg felt like as I came out of the house. There is no breeze. The fans in the barn are going full blast. Everyone is getting ready to “siesta” until the cool of the evening.

At night we start out without covers over us, but by morning we’re in the 40s here at Oleo Acres, one of the cheaper spreads. I am always amazed that I have a blanket over me upon waking as I barely remember pulling it up during the night. But it’s always there in the morning. 🙂

I know now that summer has dropped from the favorite season when I was a kid catching fireflies in jars in the Midwest. I’ll take a cool Fall or cold Winter day over this anytime…and you’re welcome to remind me of that statement next Winter!

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Feelin’ Hot, Hot Hot!

It’s been really, really warm here today – almost 90 F! This is really hot for us for this time of year. I’ve started to hear rumors that we are to start getting the possibility of monsoons starting soon. I certainly hope so. I miss clouds. Today we’re had nothing but clear sky.

I’ve been watching the sheep via “Sheep-O-Vision” today…mainly because they, too, are feeling the heat and staying close to the cool barn with the fans blowing the air inside. I do go down there often to make sure everyone has cool, clean water.

As you can see from this first photo (Sheep Thrills Ole) the lambs have become Debris Magnets, gathering hay, twigs, and assorted other bits flying around in the air lately. My DH keeps asking if I can get coats in their size. At the rate they are growing it won’t be too long before they are big enough for coats…and ear tags, and shots, and weaning, and finding new homes(?).

The second photo is one I got recently of Blessa. She’s finally warming up to me! I’ve noticed this of most ewe lambs and wonder if it’s some internal mechanism given to them from Mother Nature…the boys are bold and the girls hang back almost as if to say, “You guys try it first and if you’re still alive afterwards then I might try it too”. Natural female survival instinct. 🙂

And Sheep Thrills Shaun the Sheep was caught off-guard this morning, looking over his Mum’s back. Shaun has the softest fleece of any lambs we’ve ever had here. It is just bee-u-tea-full! He is very respectful and comes for attention or treats only when called. I think he’s inherited Skit’s personality…but then all the boys are that way.

The only one who will be any problem (and I’m nipping it in the bud right quick!) is Ole. Ole would rather be in someone’s lap than anywhere else! Or he might try to sneak up behind someone to nibble on clothing. (And yes, Lois, we are indeed using the “Tough Love for Rams” approach with this one!) I rap his knuckles and say a firm “No!” if he tries anything like that. He has, on occasion, found himself suddenly on the ground with me pinning him down and saying “no” in a very loud angry voice. It only took twice before he realized that I meant business. And in his eyes you can see a very gentle soul softly looking back at you. What a charmer! But, if he ever slips and wants to be a Lap-Sheep again, I’ll have to explain to him that it would mean he has to lose a little something first…like his ram-hood.

And, Blessa was kind enough to stand still for this wonderful shot of her bum! But you can see she’s got a nice set of square legs there! She’s her father’s daughter alright!

And here’s hoping that all of you are staying cool and hydrated in the Summer heat! Before we know it, we’ll all be complaining about snow and ice! 🙂

Thought for Today: Never chase elk out of your pasture in flip-flops. The elk have the advantage if you do! 😉

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