On Tuesday afternoon, March 22nd, Tammy gave birth to a bouncing baby girl who I’ve named Becka. She’s deep black and her half-Finn heritage is evident in her shorter tail and incredibly soft facial hair. She’s the best snuggle buddy in the pen! She’s the youngest right now (March 27), but more than keeps up with her pen mates. I will definitely be keeping this treasure for my fiber flock. I’m hoping Nina provides me with an off-white half-sister soon.
This gallery contains 5 photos.
I’m super excited to be getting a duvet (comforter inside a case) made from the bulk of my second-quality wool – FOR ME! The St. Peter Wollen Mill offers this service. I send them 8 pounds of greasy (but skirted and sorted) wool and they return a 90″ by 90″ duvet. I also intend to take them up on their service of sewing the zippered cover once I figure out what 10 yards fabric I will send to them. I will be cozy this winter snuggled under my flock’s old coats!
This last week I made a final hazel inventory with the help of my boarder, Mark Hamann. We found 121 first year hazels still alive representing an 82% stocking level and 63% survival. You can see I did lots of replanting even during this first year to replace losses from wandering calves and weak plants. I accepted some weak plants at discount because I wanted specific genetics – so expected some losses.
In general the plants, all from Badgersett, performed well. One high light was the final row, planted on the 16th of August, which has 100% survival to date. These plants had been upcanned to Anderson bands (AB39, 3″ x 3″ x 9″ or AB410, 4″ x 4 x 10″) and were actively growing when planted and had been growing outside for a number of weeks. As Philip says, maintaining the momentum is important.
There has been much burrowing by rodents under the landscape fabric I used to keep weed competition down. The diameter of the tunnels is about 1.0 to 1.5″ so could be 13-lined ground squirrels or mice. There are mole tunnels as well in the planting area
, but between the rows, not under the fabric. They tend to be quite a bit larger in diameter. The nicely loosened soil there is much more to their liking than that compacted by the calves on the other side of the fence.
In our year-end clean up, we removed the fabric from one of the 4 rows and mowed the weeds down that had provided protection from drying wind. At this point I figure the risk of providing habitat for rabbits and rodents was greater than the plants getting desicated by wind. I’m hoping they will soon be covered in snow.
The breeding pairs have been somewhat modified. I should know that the sheep would have some say in the matter.
- Because Amos didn’t head to his new home “up north” until a ways into breeding season, I gave him Sara as a companion to, hopefully, produce lambs unrelated to the others to sell as breeding pairs/sets.
- Olivia didn’t like Arlo’s attention so escaped to Winslow’s pasture by going under the fence. After repenning her with Arlo twice I decided to renig and put Nina in with Arlo instead as the token white ewe. Hopefully the lambing dates will be clear cut so I won’t need to expend funds to determine paternities.
Adrien and Audrey are still sequested from the rams, so at least that part is going according to plan.
2015 has been a good year with healthy interest in registered Babydoll breeding stock. The flock has been pared down to the essential numbers for my farm going into breeding season and winter. This season I will be using only one babydoll ram (Winslow), who is off-white, 18 months old and a proven ram. I anticipate 10 to 12 registerable lambs next spring – probably all off-white – from 6 ewes (Claire, Nina, and Sara (off-white) and Fergie, Penny, and Hattie (black)).
The experimenter in me has led to the purchase of a brown/badgerfaced Finn ram to breed just 3 of my ewes (Olivia, Tammy, and Abigail). As much as I love my Babydolls, this will introduce 4 traits they don’t possess: another color (brown), longer fiber, a sheen to their fleece (but may detract from the lovely springiness), and a greater probability of multiple births. With multiple births I may have fewer losses from problematic deliveries as twins are generally smaller than singles. My ewes are definitely of adequate condition to carry multiple lambs and nurse them successfully. I am also redoubling my efforts to prevent 2 of my ewe lambs (Adrien and Audrey) from being bred their first season. I will compare their growth and performance with Abigail, the one ewe lamb that will be bred. Finn crosses are also known for their exceptional vigor as lambs. Depending on the number born, some of the lambs may be available for sale, though I may need to wait until later in the summer to sell so I can evaluate what the fleece characteristics will be. I expect off-white and black lambs from these parings as brown is a recessive trait.
My big black ram has gone on to other pastures as of this afternoon. He’s been a great asset, siring 7 ewes and 2 lambs in 2014 and 2 sets of boy-girl twins this year. I still have some of his lovely dark fleece to console me.
Things appear to be taking off on the fiber front. I prepared materials explaining my fiber offerings for sale and sent them to a couple of potential customers and received good feedback from both. North House Folk School in Grand Marais, MN and Blue Heron yarn shop in Decorah, IA both expressed interest in buying rovings. I will continue to do direct market sales at fiber events but this will enable me to move more volume. The direct sales margins are better but the time invested is also seriously greater.
The lambs received their second CD&T vaccinations on May 22nd and are separated from their moms now. It’s time to fledge some of them to greener, or at least different, pastures. Since I am nearing my capacity for overwintering animals, I will only be retaining Audrey. The prices for lambs are: $400 per ewe (Abigail, Adrien, and April), $250 for RR rams (Abner) , and $200 for QR rams (Amos). If more than one animal is purchased the second and any subsequent animals will be discounted $25. All of the lambs except the wether are NABSSAR registered.
Adult sheep: I also have a proven black ram for sale @ $250. J. C. (D.O.B. 2/15/12) is RR and has sired some wonderful lambs for me over the last two years. He also has the most gorgeous fleece. . . SOLD
Also from last year’s lamb crop, I have a pretty black ewe, Rachel (D.O.B 4/11/14) for sale at $375. RESERVED
As of August 3rd, I still have 3 ewes lambs, and 2 ram lambs for sale. Check out the page under Babydoll sheep to see the parentage of each and additional photos. The prices listed there are for individual sheep – remember the quantity discount for additional sheep to the same buyer. See also the page on how to reserve a lamb. Ashley, the cost of health certificate is included in the price – sorry for my lapse.
This coming weekend is one of Minnesota’s big events for fiber folks. It’s held at the Washington County fair grounds in Lake Elmo, an eastern suburb of St. Paul. In addition to lots of classes on everything from fiber animal care to dying fiber for special effects, there is a LARGE assortment of vendors with their wares.
I will be selling my Babydoll and Shetland fiber at the Natural Fiber Alliance booth. It will be in all conditions from fleeces “in the grease” to spun yarn and batts. My first lot of processed wool will be back from Dakota Fiber Mill, so there are even more colors to choose from – think coated black lamb!!! Another new item is rovings made from a Babydoll/alpaca blend. Scrumptuous!