Sunday, August 31, 2008

Halfway to Junior Hunter!

Remember this Classy Dude? "Clifford" aka AKC and International Champion Briarbanc Brych Red Dog, RE, OA, NAJ? On Memorial Day weekend, he qualified once toward his AKC Junior Hunter title. This weekend we went to more hunt tests. ...ahem... we won't talk about Friday. But YESTERDAY, Clifford's work was brilliant! He earned his second qualifying score toward the JH. He only needs two more for the title.

Dave came and watched the little man do his thing in the field. Of course, we've been hunting with Clifford for 5 years now, and know he's a primo fantastic upland hunting dog. He finds birds that no other dog does, and finds more of them. He has a solid flush, and finds the birds after they've been shot. Up to now, it's been his retrieving skills that were lacking. (He always has a Labrador around to pick up the birds!) Well, yesterday, his retrieving was stylish, quick and to hand - awesome! He even impressed me :-)

He impressed judges Carolyn Joy Evele and Margaret Lindsey enough that his scores were 9.9 and 9.7 out of a possible 10.0!! Dave videotaped as much as he could from his position in the gallery. I'll get that posted so you all can see. I saw some of the other dogs work on land, but couldn't see anything of the water retrieve. Dave, however, saw all of the Junior dogs work and said that Clifford easily did the best water work of the bunch.

Clifford, Mom's pretty proud of you. If I was wearing buttons, they'd all be busted off!

- Franna

Poults show themselves

I found the nest! It was tucked in a patch of thistles (say it isn't so!!! Thistles on a wool farm!) and nettles up against the trailer we use for a chicken house. Well, we use the trailer, but the chickens really don't. The barn cat hides in the trailer to get away from the chickens. heh.

Below is the survivor of the twins that "Slate Hen" hatched. For a couple weeks we thought this would be our only turkey survivor of the year. Its survival isn't assured, as many things can happen yet to a young free range turkey. Slate Hen isn't ever far away and is a very vigilant mom.
A week later, all 15 poults are vigorous and keeping mom on her toes. These inmates have a greater chance of survival - at least while they're in the "big house". They do spend time pacing back and forth along the walls. Just being safe, having food and water, doesn't equal happiness, even if they're just turkeys. I'll be glad when they reach the age where we can release them to the great outdoors, or maybe just to a larger confinement space.

Anyone for Valentine's Turkeys? Ohhhh, how about Easter Turkeys - April 12, 2009! Yum!

- Franna
P.S. We just heard from our next door neighbors that another of the turkey hens is nesting in their pasture! We might be overrun with turkeys this fall/winter!

Saturday, August 23, 2008


We had resigned ourselves to no homegrown turkeys this year after several clutches failed to hatch. The many calls looking for pasture raised turkeys we've received have been turned away for lack of poults. We were even suspecting our Tom had gone sterile and were contemplating turkey sausage. (YUM!)

Two weeks ago, our "slate" hen (Bourbon Red x Eastern Wild) hatched two poults, and still has one living. This morning when we were feeding sheep and piglets, I was watching the slate hen with her one offspring and heard baby bird peeping from another direction! Lo and behold, one of the Bourbon Red hens had some yellow fluffballs scampering around her legs. I didn't even know she was setting! As I watched her with her brood, I saw more and more poults emerge from under leaves, between grass clumps and behind the compost pile. My quick count was FIFTEEN! YES! Fifteen poults are worth protecting!

We dug out the chicken tractor, feeders and waterers, bought some turkey starter, and proceeded to set it up in the backyard. Then after some stalking, herding, and coaxing, all fifteen puffballs and mom were safely closed in the chicken tractor in the yard. I hope 3 months is enough time for them to grow up!

This is a peek into the chicken tractor after the poults went to bed under Mom.

Turkey is back on the menu!

Of course, yesterday I'd finally ordered broiler chicks. We'll have 50 Red Broilers from Phinney Hatchery coming the second week in September. That should be enough time to set up another tractor.

- Franna

Monday, August 18, 2008

County Fair Time!

Dave and I have "done" the Puyallup Fair, first with our daughter in dog 4H, and more recently with our sheep in the Open class. Last year we got together with the NW Shetland Sheep Group and exhibited our sheep at the Skagit County Fair - a very nice small sized fair held in Mt. Vernon. Well, when ERN is complete, the Island County Fair will be our "home" fair, so we decided to add it to our schedule this year.

So, off we went, 2 weeks ago to the Skagit Fair with a string of Shetlands (for the second annual NW Shetland Sheep Group show) and a string of Natural Colored Gotland X sheep. We had a great time again with all the sheep folks and showing our sheep. Donna and Tina have posted photos and blogs about our Shetland "show", so I'll refer you to them for neat photos of that event.

Two days after getting home from the Skagit Fair, I packed up another string of sheep for the Island County Fair - GotlandX's in grey and white (ICF allows crossbred, non-registered sheep to be shown), and the 4 Scottish Blackface sheep.

There was a lot of "what was I thinking???" going through my head, but eventually, I and the sheep got packed and ready. The ICF is a smaller fair than the SCF, with a sheep barn maybe 1/4 the size with a dirt floor and cattle panel dividers. Most of the exhibitors are 4H'ers, and the other 2 Open exhibitors were connected with 4H. The kids were wonderful! Friendly, helpful, knowledgeable, and were always willing to help this sometimes creaky, never enough hands, shepherd. They had an amazing number of wool clothing items and educational posters on display!

Here's DH finishing up feeding the ewes and lambs.

The ewes could (and did!) poke their heads through the large grids in the cattle panels and solicited pats from Fairgoers, and stole hay from the neighboring sheep pens. Here is another view of our ewe and lamb pens:

And the Ram pen, with our posters on the wall above:

Butch, our Scottish Blackface yearling ram was the big draw in the Sheep Barn. Throughout the Fair, folks were pointing and commenting on his horns. The sheep show judge really liked the length of his loin, his fleece and his conformation. She liked him enough, in fact, to award him BEST IN SHOW over all the sheep there!!! That is really unusual for a minor breed like Scottish Blackface.

He really is an impressive ram, and we are very pleased :-)

Butch wasn't the only one of our sheep to do well in the competition. Two farms brought Gotland X sheep to show - between us we had 12 Gotland X's - 4 yearlings and 8 lambs. Bill, one of our 75% Gotland ram lambs, was awarded Champion Gotland X ram, and Bossie, one of our Gotland/Finn yearling ewes was awarded Champion Gotland X ewe. In the final lineup for Supreme Ram and Ewe, Bill was awarded the Champion Natural Colored Ram! Wow! Here are Bill and I with his Rosettes - they're almost as tall as he is!

And here's a photo of what his fleece looks like under those Rosettes - YUM!

In the fleece show, one of Joanne's white GotlandX lamb fleeces won BEST IN SHOW!!! And one of our Shetland Ram fleeces was Best Natural Colored Fleece!

The best part of the Fair is the people, though. Sheep people, and especially small county fair type sheep people are just the nicest, friendliest folks anywhere. We're really looking forward to moving to the Island. :-)

- Franna