Getting Excited

A while ago now, I mentioned that I was planning to buy some Bluefaced Leicester sheep.  Well, it’s real now.

I am buying four ewes from Smiling Sheep Farm in New Hampshire on May 22nd.  I purchased two adult ewes aged 3 and 4, and my mother invested in two lambs.   Technically, I’m buying these sheep from a 12 year old girl who has them as a project alongside her parents’ Romneys.  For financial matters, I’ve been talking to her mom.  I’ve really enjoyed corresponding with Hilary (Mom), and I hope that we can be resources to each other raising Bluefaced Leicesters in the Northeast.

More pressingly, Mom and I are now planning our May 6-7th trip to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.  This festival owns sheepandwool.com, so you can tell they’re a big deal.  We’ll be meeting two Bluefaced Leicester farmers from Michigan there.  Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival hosts the Bluefaced Leicester National Show every other year, so we’ll get some great information about how to evaluate our sheep and which flocks have the features we want most.  As a bonus, we’ll get to spend some time with my sister and niece!

We are buying a ram lamb from Pitchfork Ranch .  He will be white.  We are also buying an adult ram lamb from Beechtree Farm, also in Michigan.  It took me a really, really long time to pick the right ram with the right pedigree configuration, but I finally settled on two year old “Outlander”.  Look through these shamelessly-pilfered pictures with me, and let me know what you think!

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Nice, nice wool, and perfectly in line with the breed standard.

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He doesn’t want to be on the stand.  Lucky for him, I don’t own one of those (yet).12994370_965398876848139_1058772733294063678_n

This is the business end of a ram.  Not for the obvious reason, but because that width and nice, meaty leg is what makes money in the meat business.   As much fun as wool is, the meat business pays the bills.

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A Real Scare

I thought that Chickadee might choke to death.

I had taken the ewes out for a romp on the Wedding Meadow.  They aren’t allowed there after May, so I thought I’d let them have a few nibbles of it while their own pastures grow a little taller and greener.

The lambs decided to have a goodly romp, and they raced from ewe to ewe until they were all openly gasping for breath.  At 60 degrees, it’s warmer than they’ve ever experienced before.  The ewes ate and ate, and eventually the lambs settled down, too.

It was time to go in, so I put out some grain for everyone to lure them in.  I did not consider that one of the hay mangers was empty of hay, while the other had plenty.  When the lambs and adults came in, the ewes went straight to the hay-less manger to have an easier time getting grain.  That allowed the lambs free access to the grain in the other manger.

Shortly after the end of the dining session, Chickadee began coughing and staggering.  Her breathing was harsh and rapid, and I noticed goop coming out her mouth.  Her mother was baahing at her while the other sheep backed away.  I grabbed her and started knocking her  sides, trying to loosen the goo.  Her coughing worsened and she fought me, hard.  A big wad of goop flew out of her mouth.

She stopped fighting, but began panting hard in great distress.  I called the vet.  The same vet I called for Agnes.  Thankfully, one of their field vets was just driving by, so she was examining Chickadee only 20 minutes after the call.   The vet confirmed that Chickadee’s lungs are raspy and probably at risk of infection.  She’ll get some antibiotics for a week to help her heal.

Phew!

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Lamb Updates

How are our fuzzy friends progressing?  Overall, I’d say that they’re all benefiting from a having their mothers’ milk all to themselves, as they’re mostly growing like weeds.  BadHorse and Todd are approaching weaning weight already and will be separated by early May.  Crazy.

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BadHorse

BadHorse is incredibly handsome guy. I am in love with his straight back and meaty structure.  I want to use him in the fall, but I’m realizing that I would be using him on three unrelated ewes, four fairly closely-related ewes (three half siblings, a half-aunt) and his own mother (who would need to meet up with a different ram).  I don’t think that the little BFL I’ve chosen can handle 8 ewes his first time, so I’m trying to think of another plan.

 

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Todd Chavez

Todd.  He’s a charmer, and he’s as soft as can be.  This guy can’t get enough attention.  He’s adorable for the moment, but the sad part about bold, intact rams is that he’s likely to be a dangerous adult.  We’re keeping that well in mind.  Todd and his sister, Swift (born last year) give me complete confidence in Bobolink as a brood ewe.

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Mr. PeanutButter

In contrast to Todd, Mr. PeanutButter is, well, another argument in favor of letting Timberdoodle move on from the flock.  He has amazing, impossibly fine wool that simply will not endure this climate (too much moisture will lead to fleece rot).  He is lean and scrawny, and his growth has been overtaken by two lambs who are significantly younger.   He also has a hunchy, arched appearance that he shares with Fake Thomas Jefferson, below.  They are bouncing and pooping normally and aren’t cold, so I think they just have weird legs.   His characteristics are a reminder that I need to calm my search for fine wool in favor of meat and production characteristics, sometimes.

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Fake Thomas Jefferson

And this guy.  This guy is the go-to lamb for handing off to visitors.  He will come and sit on your lap.  He will tolerate being held for quite a while.  But he is hilariously and impractically tiny and growing only incrementally.  As Matt puts it, “he is his grandfather’s son” (Cinder is his sire and grandsire because I didn’t have another option at the time), so I’m just glad that his mom is getting practice mothering.

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Phoebe

Phoebe is that wild, sassy, daredevil friend you had who didn’t mind if she got in trouble. She’s very shy around people, but will probably get gradually friendlier.  When I take the flock for a walk on the newly growing pasture, she seems to be challenging all of the other lambs to races and boinging competitions.  Though her fleece is a little rougher and coarser, she’s nearly perfect in all other respects.  I’m leaning strongly towards keeping her, and making peace with a wider variety of fleeces in my flock.

And with apologies for the blurry picture, Chickadee wins the cuteness contest, hooves down.  She’s friendly and wonderfully soft.  As awkward as it is to say as a devoted non-sentimentalist, I feel a little bit of Agnes in Chickadee.  Her friendly curiosity and appearance both remind me of my dear friend.  I’m really excited about this attractive little gal.

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Chickadee

Lambs on the Lam

Matt and I were preparing dinner on Thursday, when we happened to look out the window.

“Huh.  Are those lambs out?”

“Oh, yeah…two of them!”

So I went out to get them.  Here’s where we have a full display of lamb personalities.  Todd Chavez, Bobolink’s friendly and ebullient son, ran straight up to me.

His expression said, “Hi Person!  We’re just hanging out here, outside, where we aren’t supposed to be.   It’s really BadHorse’s fault, because he was out here first, but he jumped back in and now we’re just out here.  Can I jump on you?”

About 20 feet away, Phoebe was staring at me with the utmost caution.  She seemed to be saying “Todd  SHUT UP!  Don’t tell the human anything about us being out here!

So I started petting Todd, and Phoebe felt the need to come closer because she needed to be near other sheep.  As soon as she was close enough, I grabbed her and pitched her back over the bars of the enclosure.  Todd just watched, and when it was his turn he nibbled my face as I tossed him back, too.

For the third time this year, I lifted the metal enclosure bars onto the increasingly tall manure pile.  You guys just say in there!  Grass is a few weeks away, still.

 

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Phoebe- she’s pretty sure I can’t be trusted
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Todd just wants our love. All of it.