Sunday, May 06, 2007

Farm Visitors and Sheep Moving Day

Today was the first weekend we had "free" in quite a while. It was wonderful to spend the whole weekend on the "farm" :-)
Saturday, we sheared two sheep that we'd sold to some friends. Tina and Jim bought one of our first Scottish Blackface lambs, Lucy, then last fall bought Shetland "Ovaltina" just before she won Grand Champion Shetland Ewe at the Puyallup fair sheep show! Both Lucy and Tina had nice, clean fleeces, and are living the good life as Pasture Pets. I then attended an 80th Birthday bash for a longtime family friend, then went by the feed store for supplies (they know me by name). We also got ready for showing folks around the farm and for sheep moving day.

We rotate the sheep through the pastures, letting each pasture rest and regrow in turn. When we get the timing right, the grass is still in its vegetative state (no shorter than 4") when we move the sheep out, and it grows quickly. We try to size each pasture so that the sheep are in for about a week. Then we do the moving on weekends.

The first to move were the rams. Here is what they got moved into. This is our backyard. Other people mow their backyards. We graze sheep in our backyard. The boys were very happy to move into this grassy jungle. The white Shetland is Winter, the black Shetland is Willie and the (sunbleached) Finnsheep is Eino. Buddy the Shetland, and our 4th ram, was just out of the photo.
Below is the "upper" group of Shetland and Finn ewes with their lambs. They are impatiently waiting to get their new grass! Niblet the Finnsheep is in the back baaaa'ing very loudly about her displeasure at having to wait. They really aren't as packed in as they look. When I came up with the camera, they all crowded to the front trying to be first out. Silly sheep.

This morning (Sunday), Michelle McMillen of Boulderneigh fame came visiting with her Dad. Her excuse was to pick up fleeces from the Shepherds' Extravaganza, but I know she was looking for a "lamb fix". I had a great time providing said "fix". We looked at lambs, and talked about lambs, and caught and felt lambs, compared birth coats and how they felt, and of course had to pet the adults as they crowded around.

It was wonderful to talk about Shetlands and wool types and tails and conformation :-) Thanks, Michelle! Later we got to meet son Brian, Michelle's husband, Rick, and her Mom. Brian (hi, Brian!) was more interested in our Labrador Retriever, Thomas, than all the wooly sheep. It was mutual. Thomas was much more interested in Bryan than a bunch of silly sheep.

We spent a lot of time looking at the gulmoget ram lambs, Franjean and Rool. I've been watching their "horns", earlier noticing that Franjean's nubs were loosely attached, but Rool's seemed to be firmly attached. Today it was obvious that both boys have loosely attached scurs. Franjean is shown below with his small nubs.

Then Rool's larger nubs are shown in the photo below. Also noticeable is the difference in color - Rool is very dark brown, and Franjean is considerably lighter - and wool character - Rool's birthcoat is very dense and straight, I call it "plush", and Franjean has a slight wave that is also softer feeling.

Of Bessie's triplets, Sorsha is the softest feeling. If we didn't already have two fawn katmoget ewes, she'd be on the potential keeper list! She has a shorter head like her mom, Bessie.

And a longer fleece than Franjean or Elora with even more wave to it. She didn't even object too much to being fawned over.
All too soon, Michelle had to pack up the fleeces and leave for the long drive back to Oregon. (Michelle took pictures - my camera was charging....) . I wish we lived closer together :-)

Our second set of visitors were Dave's coworker, Ron, his wife, Deb and daughter Hannah. Hannah was thrilled to meet Thomas, as well. Must be something about those big brown eyes and that wildly wagging tail.... We walked around and met the sheepie groups, then sat Hannah down with the "Hilton" group and just let the lambs come around. The Gotland-Finn lambs surrounded her and Bossie laid down and snoozed between her feet. What a deal for an animal loving young lady. We finished the tour with a demonstration of the spinning wheel where I'm spinning up some gaudy bright orange, yellow and hot pink Romney. Spinning had a lot more appeal for Deb; Hannah's heart was still in the lamb pen.

I got the Romney at Shepherds' Extravaganza from Lin Schwider of The Pines Farm. All four days I could see it on the shelf across the room from our sheep pens. It called to me, and kept calling until I gave in and bought it. It's garish, it's wild, it's *not Shetland* and I'm having fun spinning it. See, Michelle, I do get some time to spin. :-)

Also at SE, Dave found this lime green kid mohair with his name written all over it. He wants socks made from this so he can wear them with his Birkies in the wintertime. I'm going to card it with some white SHETLAND wool to add resilience. If it mutes the green too much, Lin offered me some electric yellow dye to enhance the white wool.

My name is Franna and I'm a fiber addict. This beautiful gray Cotswold fleece followed me home from SE. (This was the day after one of Linda Wendleboe's charcoal Shetland fleeces jumped into my arms - more on this fleece in a future blog!) The house is full of fleeces and roving and locks and yarn. Did I need more? Nooooooo. I haven't spun Cotswold though, and it is such a pretty color. Just look at how it shines with luster. Our Gotland sheeps' wool should be similar in color and luster and considerably softer.

Another weekend gone into history. The sheep and lambs are all on new pasture eating their favorite bits (dandelions and clover). By next weekend, they'll be eating the less favorite greens (fescue and seed stalks) and eagerly looking for us to move them again. Michelle and Ron and families, we hope you enjoyed your visit; we sure enjoyed having you here. Y'all come back now, y'hear! ... I think I'll spin a little more brilliant orange Romney before bed.

- Franna

1 comment:

Juliann said...

Franna, thank you for the update on the gulmogets! I've been wondering, watching, and waiting! The moorit I think is going to be a real treasure if those scurs stay small! I wish I could predict how they will turn out...