Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Here's A Rambling Post

Ain't she Cute????!!

I've been saving up photos for a blog. Villa is asleep - or at least quiet - giving me an opportunity to post uninterrupted. Not even the cat is laying on my arms right now!

Villa's favorite chew toy is Thomas! They get into fierce looking and sounding battles with no marks on anyone.

She is such a smart puppy. She runs through tunnels already, spins, does Sit, Down, Stand, Come, Fetch, goes over jumps (really just the ground bar) and even did her first "back cross" yesterday! She waits for supper, runs into her crate, and is *almost* potty trained.

She is a little puppy in a big world, as she accompanies me doing farm chores.

Farm chores are something I can't do with Clifford, as he is so obsessed with the birds. I've failed to break him of chasing, catching and killing them. :-(

Thomas is a great chore dog, too. Both Villa and Thomas follow along as far as they can, then wait at fences and gates while Dave and I go in with the sheep and camelids. Villa thinks the sheep and camelids are all potential friends. She's going nose to nose with Acclaim, our alpaca.

Do you notice "something" about Acclaim?

He rooms with the ram-boys and recently was discovered bending down the electronet fence to get at the succulent new grass on the "other side" of the fence. As he's overdue for shearing, his long neck fiber was protecting him from getting shocked. The last straw was one afternoon when Dave came home and asked "Why are the rams loose?" When we rounded them up, Acclaim got some special treatment:

We weren't ready to completely shear him, so he got a custom cut. It sure solved the fence issue!


We're in Waiting mode. Waiting for lambs, that is. Waiting for warmer weather. Waiting for construction at ERN (EverRanch North). Hortense is waiting (usually for her lunch/breakfast/dinner/snack) and lambs.

She's bagging up and broadening nicely. We're hoping for twins from her this year out of the Gotland ram, Daniel. Hortense gives us a wonderful fleece each year. I try to shear her every 9 months or so, sometimes I keep the coat on her, sometimes not. Coated, she has a beautiful variegated grey fleece. Uncoated the grey is tempered with some sunbleaching and it comes out a heathery brown-grey. I've got several of her fleeces ready to weave into "something".

The "Hilton" ewes are waiting. I'm guessing Eve will be our first to lamb. I'm guessing this weekend. Her lamb(s) will combine all three of the Scottish rams we imported semen from.

Scattered around Eve are 4 ewes expecting Gotland lambs from the ram Daniel, 4 ewes expecting Gotland cross lambs from our backup rams, her cousin - Sweet Pea, and the 4 Shetland ewe lambs that weren't exposed to a ram. No, not all of them are visible in this photo.

Here is the handsome ram that Eve was bred to:

This is EverRanch Butch Cassidy. He's the guy who was splinted for several weeks as a young'un. His leg appears to be completely healed.

Shetland ewe, Cinnamon shows what happens when Shetlands are sheared "in the rise". It is really difficult to get the shears underneath the old/new fiber mat when it's so close to the skin. These patches will either shed off, or I'll trim them off as her fleece grows out more.

And Gotland/Shetland Bunny is waiting.

Bunny should be "incubating" 75% Gotland lamb(s). We're hoping for twin ewe lambs from Bunny. :-) We'll know in a couple of weeks.

...lots to do while "waiting".

- Franna

Thursday, March 13, 2008

B - U - S - Y !

I was going to name this blog "Chaos in the Kitchen" but I thought Michelle's comment was more fitting since it's been a long while since I've posted a new blog.

It's hard to believe that Villa has been with us for two weeks! She's 10 weeks old and growing like a weed. She's so smart it's scary - and fun. She came "programmed" to sit for her supper and anytime she thought she might get a treat. She's learned to "down", "stand", touch the end of a touch stick, push a box around, run into her crate, walk on a leash, wait for me outside the sheep pens, bring back a toy, go to the door to go outside, and many more essentials. :-) She's still a little timid about loud, strange noises and new things. I hope to get her used to as many "strange" situations as possible in these critical first 3 months.

Meanwhile, here's Villa watching the action (just a brief rest on her part). Clifford and Thomas are wrestling over the tennis ball tube while Lonie wonders about joining in.

3 Big and 1 Little dogs in our very tiny kitchen create quite an uproar. Villa is confined here until she's more reliably house trained.

Villa gets into the act with one of her favorite toys - brother Thom's tail! She actually prefers Lonie's very fuzzy tail, but Lonie has things to say about that! Thom spends a lot of time with his own tail in his own mouth, so maybe it's been desensitized somewhat.

On Saturday, we had a shearer come in to do the whole flock (less 2). He sheared 32 of our sheep and 4 sheep and 4 Angora goats for a friend in less than 3 hours. It was amazing to watch. We didn't get much time to watch, because all of us (6 of us!) were kept busy supporting him - putting sheep in pens, getting them out of pens, sweeping after each shearing, rolling fleeces, keeping cords out of the way....

It was great getting them all done, but since I wasn't the one rolling fleeces, I don't know what they're like. I get to skirt them all in the upcoming weeks and months, for buyers and competitions and for myself. :-) Hortense and Captain escaped shearing this time, as they were both sheared in November and need to grow out a little.

Here is Bunny, our Gotland-Shetland ewe. What a beautiful color she is! She is also expecting :-) Her lamb(s) will be 75% Gotland and should arrive in about 3 weeks.

These are 4 of our Shetland ewes. On the left is Asa, Bunny's dam. Asa is expecting 50% Gotland lamb(s). She gives us a lovely taupey fleece. One year I spun and knitted her fleece into a vest for DH... before he was the "H". He wore it at our wedding. :-)

Electra is the grey ewe. She's given us very personable lambs in the past years, though with fleece not quite as soft as I'd like. She's bred to Bubba (Gotland/BFL/BL) for market lambs.

The two blacks are "almost" yearlings, Pepper and Midnight. They look so skinny next to the pregnant ewes.

This lovely (almost) yearling Scottish Blackface ewe is EverRanch Eve. Eve has beautiful breed type, and especially lovely horns. Her sire and grandsire both live in Scotland, making her 75% UK bloodlines.

She's been bred to Butch - the SBF who broke his leg at 4 days old. His long-healed leg was no hindrance to settling her!

So there's a bit of what I've been up to. This coming weekend I'll be near Sacramento, California, judging an agility trial. Then back to the farm for more puppy and sheep fun.

- Franna