“Butters” with Kelly, Milquetoast and Orca
Jason, surrounded by his ewes
As of Saturday afternoon of 9/28, we separated our flock and put out our two new young rams with their respective breeding groups. They first went through somewhat of a quarantine period while I did fecal egg counts on them before and after worming. Jason, the Icelandic ram, still had a few lingering eggs so I wormed him again before putting him out in the front pasture with our 12 registered Icelandic ewes , including two 2013 ewe lambs.
The Icelandic ewes were probably not cycling that early, but I needed to get the crossbred ewes going because some were cycling already and I am hoping for some late February/early March lambs from them. The ram we are using for our cross/meat flock is a purebred Texel ram lamb, born late March of this year. My son wanted to name him “Butters” despite my thoughts that’s it’s not really an appropriate ram name, but Alex says it’s because of his butter colored wool when you part it. So his name is “Butters”. He is a very nice ram, both appearance wise, with the solid and meaty build that his breed is known for as well as a calm and friendly demeanor. We still keep an eye on him when we are in the pasture with him though. He has been busy with the cooling weather. His ewes are a rowdy bunch and I have at least one definite breeding date for Lavender, the Jacob ewe, and they seem to be constantly running around and playing with each other, although some have minor limps due to too much silliness so I’ve been trying to catch the limpy ewes to see if it’s anything I can treat. Other than a hoof that needs trimming they seem to be minor things. His ewes consist of two 75% Texel ewes and three of their half Icelandic daughters, two are 2013 lambs. There is also one black 75% Icelandic lamb with Texel/Finn in her. We also have a Lincoln/BFL ewe and her half Icelandic daughter, two purebred Jacob ewes, leftover from when I bred Jacob sheep and a large black Tunis/Jacob ewe and her twin half Icelandic daughters. My husband also is planning to bring home a Suffolk ewe soon from a neighbors, but she’ll have to spend some time in quarantine before going on pasture with the group. We have two Tunis ewes who are being bred to a big Tunis ram belonging to another neighbor, but the Tunis “flock” are Jade’s FFA/4H show sheep.
Jason has been carefully watching his Icelandic ewes too although they haven’t seemed very interested in him yet and mostly are just begging for food when they see me – they have a much smaller pasture so I have to feed them hay. I noticed what might have been some muddy hoof marks on the backs of a couple of my older ewes yesterday afternoon and think I saw Jason chasing Brigetta today. Brigetta had late March lambs last year so maybe things are finally starting in that pen as well!
Posted in farming, fiber, Icelandic sheep, Jacob Sheep, lambs, sheep, Uncategorized, wool | Tagged Icelandic sheep, sheep, Texel sheep | Leave a Comment »
Violet Green Swallow. This is also the Meadowlark’s favorite singing perch.
Last year we had a drought and our pasture was like a dead zone. I remember walking through it hardly even finding a grasshopper and the dogs couldn’t find field voles, which are usually everywhere. It was really barren of life .
This spring we added some new seed and kept the sheep off the pasture as long as we could and let them on to areas gradually. Not necessarily managed intensive grazing, but at least partly managed grazing. We have mowed about two thirds already since it’s starting to go to seed, and the sheep are working on the last un-mowed section while the rest of the pasture rests and regrows.
For some exciting reason, we have attracted a pair of Eastern Meadowlarks who have made their home in the NW corner of our small pasture. I have not seem a Meadowlark since I moved to Ohio in 1995. We have had Killdeer nest in our pasture almost every year, occasional Bluebirds and Violet-Green Swallows and we do actually have a nesting pair of the Violet-Green Swallows in our remaining nest box. They, and a few barn swallows, accompany me across the pasture each morning and afternoon while I check on the poultry who we move across the sheep pasture in summer.
I know Kelly wants to mow that last third of the pasture sometime soon, but I’d like to keep a section of the pasture un-mowed so we can protect our new Meadowlark family.
In the above picture, taken earlier in May you can see that our neighboring farm planted a cover crop of grass hay next to one side of our pasture last fall. It’s now been cut, ploughed up, and planted in corn, but is shown in the above picture. I think having this area nearby gave various small animals a good place to overwinter as well as looked nicer than bare soil.
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Our new turkey and his “mother” hen
White meat turkeys and Maran chicks sharing a pen with baby turkey and his foster mother.
We decided not to incubate our Narragansett eggs this year as the hens decided to set. We started with around 9 eggs in April and eggs got eaten by rodents, broken accidently, etc and the turkey hens gave up, but we still had three eggs left under our Buff Orpington hen. Our young Golden Seabright bantam hen decided to join her in the nest and then the Cuckoo Maran hen decided to go broody too. One of the eggs developed a crack so I discarded it and another was broken the next day, but had a turkey embryo in it. With only one egg left from the April batch, I was about to give up when the turkeys started to lay again so I put the new eggs under the broody hens.
I checked on Friday quickly after work and only saw two eggs, but we were working on other projects and I didn’t think to look for the broken egg until later. When I went back I found an egg shell and pulled it out, but the hens were really angry so I picked them up and found a little turkey poult, alive and well and already dry. He wasn’t 100% steady on his feet yet, so I left him with the hens over night.
Saturday morning I tried transferring him into the chick pen with the banty hen, but it wasn’t working. When I brought the Orpington down with him, you could tell she had a better bond. I haven’t actually seen him eat and drink so I dunked his head in water this morning to be sure and got my hands pecked for it, but they seem to be doing fine. I’m now more worried about the older chicks as the mother hen is a bit bossy, but they seem to have split the pen and both have access to the food/water.
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Bianca with two day old “Micro-lamb”
We had our last Icelandic lamb this week, but he was born extremely small to a new, inexperienced mother in the middle of the night. I was up from 1 am till almost three trying to make sure he got some milk. Bianca, his mother, didn’t want to stand still and “micro-lamb” was not too energetic an eater. I finally milked her into a syringe and fed him with that to get his energy up and by the time I got home from work – at noon, they were doing okay together and I went back to bed for a while. Of course, today when I put the sheep in the pasture, Micro-lamb stayed behind while Bianca went out to graze, but I put them back in the stall together for bed time.
We also lost one of our crossbred quads being raised as triplets. His mother has a clear preference for her ewe lamb and the boys were not doing well. I started supplementing some of the needier triplets including these two with extra hay and soybean meal, but the white ram slowly got worse instead of better, although the extra feeding seemed to help the others who are doing better now. He stopped eating last night and despite my efforts, died this morning.
I can’t complain, overall, as we haven’t lost that many lambs this year, but it always feels bad when you have to bury one you’ve spend a lot of time caring for.
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The 2013 lambing season is coming to an end soon at Moonstruck Farm. We have one Icelandic yearling, Bianca, who is still pregnant and 4 who don’t seem to be. Our Blue Face Leicester/Lincoln cross ewe doesn’t seem to be pregnant either, but we hope she is. Fergie is really tall so maybe our young ram wasn’t able to breed her.
As of today, we have had 38 lambs born since 2/21 out of 21 ewes and sired by 4 different rams.
19 crosses, 18 purebred Icelandics and 1 purebred Tunis ewe lamb.
2 died and one left to be raised as a bottle lamb at another farm.
9 rams and 9 ewes
9 white, 2 black and white spotted, 1 black badgerface, 3 spotted black mouflon, 2 black gray, 1 solid moorit (died)
8 sets of twins and 3 singles
11 rams, 8 ewes
1 set of quads (1 died)
2 sets of triplets
2 sets of twins
5 singles to yearling mothers
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Last night I knew a young ewe, Fern, was in labor but went to bed hoping for the best. I woke up at almost midnight and went out to check on her. She was trying to have her lamb, but it seemed stuck with just it’s nose and a foot showing. I went in and got supplies so I could examine her and when I did, I found the other foot and straightened it out. The lamb was big and the ewe was a bit small so I carefully worked it’s head and then it’s shoulders free. Fern pushed and I pulled and we got a big white ewe lamb out. Before going bed, I waited until she cleaned the lamb, both got on thier feet and I checked to make sure milk was flowing and left them to bond.
This morning the lamb looks great and she weighed in at 8.5 pounds. The lamb is 75% Icelandic and the other 25% is from her BFL/Lincoln cross grandmother. She seems to have the dark shadings on her muzzle and face of a longwool breed and is very pretty with a sweet sounding voice. Based on her breeding, we are probably not going to keep her though.
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Lavender’s half Icelandic twins, born 3-22-13
Brigetta’s purebred Icelandic twins, born 3-22-13
This evening not long after getting back from a family dinner out, we had two sets of twins born almost simultaneously. Brigetta, a purebred Icelandic ewe, had lambs sired by Rusty, a homebred ram lamb who is moorit gray and carries spotting. Now we know that Brigetta also carries spotting as both lambs are spotted. They are still wet, but it looks like the ram lamb may be black mouflon patterned, but we’ll be able to tell more when they are dry. Brigetta has a very large udder and teats, so I spent some time working with the lambs to make sure they learned how to latch on and get some milk . This is Brigetta’s first set of twins after 3 single’s in a row. She also has better than average parasite resistance in my flock so I’m really pleased she had two energetic lambs, an 8 pound ewe lamb and an 8.5 pound ram lamb.
Our new young Icelandic ram, Rambo, also sired some crossbred twins who were born today. Although we had put out Ralph, our yearling ram, to breed our larger crossbreds and Jacob ewes, he was not able to breed all of them before he needed to leave for his new home in mid-October. These lambs are out of our Jacob ewe, Lavender. They are also a ram and ewe and both weigh 8 pounds. Lavender needed some assistance with the second lamb as he had only a head presented and she wasn’t making progress. I examined her and found one leg and we delivered him with the other front leg pointed backwards. After a short rest while she cleaned him, she was up nursing both. It appears that Rambo probably carries spotting!
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