Shepherd’s Harvest Outcome

It was a wonderful time at Shepherd’s Harvest in Lake Elmo, MN this past weekend.  Unlike last year when I borrowed mittens, both days were warm and sunny.  The fleece competition went about as well as could be expected.  Three of my four fleeces got first place ranking (blue) and the 4th got 2nd place – because it was competing against one of my other fleeces.  I was especially happy about receiving 2 ratings of 19, 1 of 18, and 1 of 17 out of a possible 20 pts. for cleanliness and purity.  In all, I sold 8 plus 2 halves out of 10 fleeces taken to the event, so I am very satisfied.  One customer already reported back that she spun some from one of my fleeces “in the grease” and loved it!  I got to talk sheep and wool the entire 2 days, plus was able to see friends and the other exhibits.  It was great!  I’m looking forward to seeing some of the folks who stopped at the both at the North Star Farm Tour September 30th and October 1st.  I’ll be at Clear Spring (Yak) Farm with a couple of this year’s lambs and more wool.

The display got a little sparse towards the end. Note the ribbons displayed on the card/rovings rack.

 

Babydoll Ram Lambs for Sale

Here are updated photos of the 3 lads not yet spoken for from this year’s lamb crop.  The two black ones could be ready to leave by May 10th, and little Caesar, the trailer, will be ready May 22nd.  They are all NABSSAR registered, RR at codon 171, and will be up to date on vaccinations and have their hooves trimmed at time of transfer. They are each $325 and buyer is responsible for transport and transfer of the registration to their farm through NABSSAR.

Calvin at 38 days and showing masculine musculature already. Long straight top line and clear face.  From Hattie and Bucko – a twin.

Cecil at 31 days.  Also a twin – from a white dam (Claire) and Bucko.  Clear faced and frisky!  Very noticeably free of any guard hairs in his fleece.

Little Caesar at 13 days. Growing like a weed!  He’s a single from first-time mother (Audrey) and Squash. Clear faced. Sorry – not at his cleanest in this photo…

Growing Lambs

They just arrived, it seems, yet they are already transitioning to independent woolly ones.  One or two tails have already dropped and their frames are filling out from that good momma milk.  Here are a few shots of the 10 in the “big kids” mixing pen.

Mommas restocking the groceries. Trying to keep up with growing dependents is rough.

The lambs are more independent now – no longer snuggling exclusively with Mom. Here are 9 of the 10 in a pile.  CeeCee is surprise, surprise, snacking with Mom.

Out on pasture with the ewes. Their distinctive calls keep them connected with their dams when they are exploring.

They’ve discovered the creep feed and are eating solid food. Their rumens are far from fully developed, but they are on their way.

All 2017 purebred ewe lambs spoken for

As of this morning, all my baby girls, existing and expected, are already promised to new homes.  (Just hoping to prevent some fruitless inquiries.)  If you wish to start thinking about 2018, the same players will be in the game.  I will be breeding Bucko to the black ewes plus Audrey, and Squash to the white ones (including Claire minus Audrey).  I will also (God willing) have a brown Finn ram’s services for Brea, Becka, the 1/4 Finn girls I keep, plus Bashful. Same info is in list form below.  I hope to get a ram lamb from Bashful to breed with Brea and Becka going forward and those will be potentially registerable with the Finnsheep Breeders Association AND result in some brown fleeces in the future.  

Important!!!  It is receipt of your deposit check and the order of its arrival relative to others’ that keeps your spot on the reservation list.  Reservations received before December 31st will be at the same rates as for 2017 lambs. Link to rates, etc. is at bottom of this post.

Bucko

Fergie, Hattie, Tammy, Adrien, Audrey

Squash +

Claire, Nina, Olivia, Sara 

Brown Finn Dude +

Brea, Becka, Bashful, and any daughters from Brea and Becka retained

Rams still available, most likely – pending lamb gender distribution and number in upcoming births.

Potentially lovely fiber animals, (3/4 Babydoll 1/4 Finnsheep ewes anticipated still available for $100 less per animal than Purebred Babydolls – not registerable.

Reserving a Lamb (Revised 3/20/17)

Shearing Day at Prairie Plum Farm

It was a super busy day at Prairie Plum Farm on Saturday.  Guests pitched in and helped shear the flock – learning as they went.  There were also 2 new arrivals – ram/ewe twins, tentatively named Calvin and Calista from Hattie and 5 lambs were reserved to go to new homes.

Steve Johnson showing good form holding Beck a in the on-deck circle.

Naomi Johnson and Ken Heidlebaugh taking a break after cornering Bashful and removing her coat for shearing.

Brent Winslow in the middle of shearing, Carol Wiegrefe and Moonshadow watching. He’s hoping for an opening so he can make a jail break.

Kari Jovaag awaiting fleece to scoop up, Lilly contemplating next coat to hand over, and Carol discussing some random sheep with Sara West.

Larisa Walk and Hailey working out the intricacies of the bag holder for storing the new fleeces.

The newly shorn ladies in their new spring attire.

The first morning for Hattie’s twins. Watchful mom to upper right.

Twin sisters (Fergie’s) cuddling in the corner of their jug.

Woodworking for the Flock

Lately I’ve made time to repair or build a few items to make the sheep wrangling go more smoothly:  

The canvas sheep coats will now be sorted and out of the perpetual road dust in their new coat closet.

The young ewes had their hay bunker repaired and bars installed across the ends to discourage entry and soiling the feed.  

The new feed bunkers have a removable bench piece to expand seating during Saturday’s shearing open house.

Shearing Day Open House

Shearing on Prairie Plum Farm will be Saturday, March 18th starting around 10:00.  This is approximate as the shearer will be working another farm prior to mine.  Individuals interested in sheep, wool, showing kids how wool is harvested, and/ or in getting a taste of lamb balls are invited to join us.  I’ll be serving the lamb balls with choice of sweet and savory sauces as well as lasagne for lunch (in case the cute sheep put you off eating lamb).  It will be simple fare and I’m accepting donations if you choose to help cover the cost (=optional). The shearing will be in the barn (duh) and lunch will be in my unheated greenhouse, so dress appropriately.  A friend who spins will be demonstrating that skill.  Cleaned wool and yarn will be available for purchase as will fleeces fresh off the animals.  Come a bit early (9:00?) if you want to pick out your fleece while it still has its personality attached to it.

Directions: from the intersection of Hwys 43 and 44 in Mabel – go north about 1/10 mile on 43. Turn left on Co Rd 28/120th Street.  The farm (fire number 42443) will be on your right about 1.7 miles out.  Gray buildings and plastic covered greenhouse are key landmarks.

 

Fantastic Fleeces

I’ve become super excited about this coming season’s shearing!  This week I was out changing up coats on the flock to keep ahead of growing wool and got to see and feel their fleeces – up close and personal.  They so impressed me that I’ve decided to enter a number in the fleece competition at Shepherds’ Harvest fiber festival this May.  If all goes as planned, here is the line-up:

Sheep          Division                  Class                Breed

Olivia           Purebred                 Medium         Babydoll Southdown

Adrien         Purebred                 Medium         Babydoll Southdown

Becka          Colored                   Medium?       Babydoll Southdown X Finnsheep

Bro              White                      Medium?       Babydoll Southdown X Finnsheep

Below are a few close-up images of the wool beneath the coats.  Nina’s fleece is always longer than most, but she was only coated since November, so Olivia’s, who also trends longer, will be entered.  She’s been coated since last shearing.  The Finnsheep crosses may be fine enough that the judges will move them to the fine category.  There they would be up against Merinos who have very fine textured wool.  Since cleanliness is highly weighted, I’m thinking they should do fine anyway.   I am planning – time permitting – to post pictures/ weights of fleeces and offer for sale on this website.  The fleeces exhibited at Shepherds Harvest will be auctioned off there (unless I get an “offer I cannot refuse” 😉 ).  I am also planning a shearing day open house (March 18th) where newly shorn fleeces can be purchased.  My coat provider, Rocky, was telling me that it’s been a good wool growing year with some flocks growing into sizes of coats they’ve never had to use before.  Click on each image for a close up look at their crimp!

Nina’s back wool – luscious and long!

Adrien’s back wool – still nicely dark.

Bro’s back wool – perhaps 4″ long!

Felting Fun

It’s not ALL work with the farm.  I had a mini-vacation earlier this month to play with fleece.  I had long wanted to learn needle felting from Stacy Dreckhan of Beelighted fiber shop and Artify consignment art store in Zumbrota.  The opportunity presented itself and I made the voyage for a private lesson, no less!  It was great fun and I was quite satisfied with the resulting gnome.  The sheep is, I believe, a product of Nancy Ellison’s daughter, but is something I am interested in emulating. 

Stacy, the master felter.

New Projects Inside and Out

The woolly ones are often foremost on my mind as lambing time nears.  I’ve been doing some updates to their accommodations to keep them comfortable and healthy.  

The feed bunkers improve things in 3 ways – greater space (shoulder room) to feed grain, hay not eaten off of ground (less loss of fines and fewer parasites ingested), and, (when 4″ x 4″ fence grid in place), less neck wool contamination.  Although this is mainly for the new mothers  come late March – here the wethers are vying for some choice bits.  Bashful hangs out in the background.

Second feed bunker modified to prevent through passage in first use.

 

This shows the reroofing of a shed that was partially deconstructed a while back. The white metal was saved from remodel of my house.  At least a part of the non-pregnant sheep will have shelter here for the next couple of months – depending on how well the rams get along. …Or bratty Moonshadow vs. little Bucko.