Both lists will be added to as lambs and kids are born
Both lists will be added to as lambs and kids are born
Lambs are anticipated end of March through mid-April.
Anyone that knows me knows my deep and enduring love for Bruce Springsteen. I knew I wanted a sheep named Bruce but didn’t want to waste the name on just any old ram, so I was very selective on who finally got named Bruce. In my humble opinion, Bruce is the best sheep we’ve ever bred. He was Reserve Champion at 2015 Wisconsin Sheep and Wool and Reserve Champion Ram in 2016. He was a very correct structure and confirmation, fine, crimpy wool, and a very calm, easy to handle temperament without being pushy. He is a black gulmoget with a krunet (head spot) who carries moorit. A flock goal is to continue to breed for fine gulmogets, and hopefully get some more spotted and moorit gulmogets as well. Bruce has exhibited excellent parasite resistance. All of Bruce’s group will be named either after Springsteen songs, bandmembers, ect.
Red Oak Freya– black gulmoget, she was bred to Bruce two years ago and produced a very fine black, so we are trying again this year for a gulmoget
Red Oak Gillian– moorit gulmoget who is very fine around the neck and shoulders but does drop off a bit at the britch. I am hoping for gulmogets with improved fleece.
Red Oak Minnie-moorit gulmoget with fine wool and a beautiful personality, very friendly and sweet, one of my favorite ewes
Libbey– Somewhat double coated, will be very interesting to see how Bruce improves her wool. Very friendly and sweet. Libbey will be for sale after she weans her lambs.
Lil Country Crow– Crow has the best parasite resistance of any ewe we have, she always has an excellent body condition score and a 4 or 5 on the FAMANCHA score. She always singles, but they are vigorous. I would consider keeping a ram out of her. She is feral as all get out, but I am always impressed with her lambs.
Rambling Cherish– moorit gulmoget, hoping for more gulmogets.
Lil Country Bailey– My sweetie, lovely personality, always twins, carries moorit. I’ve kept most the ewes she has produced for me and kept both her twin ewes from two years ago.
OK Acres Sierra– This ewe produced some of the finest fleeced ewe lambs last breeding season that I have ever had on our farm. I’m very excited to see how things go with Bruce!
Emancipation Jezebel– Yearling ewe with great confirmation whose crimp came in late. So glad I didn’t sell her! Hoping for a gulkat. She is a favorite of mine.
Emancipation Beatrice– moorit ewe, I have a lot related to her so she is for sale after weaning her lambs
Lil Country Bee Sting– excellent confirmation and fleece, I loved this ewe when she lived with Kelly and jumped at the chance to purchase her.
Emancipation Cleo– The first ewe I kept out of Bailey. These will be her first lambs. Sheltering Pines Bug daughter. Has placed at Jefferson. My sweetest, friendliest ewe.
Emancipation Echo-spotted katmoget, yearling ewe
Emancipation Mindy– Sheltering Pines Bug daughter (Bruce is a Sheltering Pines Bug son) I am doing a few half sibling to half sibling in-breedings this year. They say one of the quickest ways to improve a flock is by concentrating good qualities through inbreeding. Let the great experiment begin! Mindy is a white ewe, and since I just purchased a white ram, she is for sale after she weans her lambs.
Emancipation Prija- The last Bug daughter going to Bruce, a huge improvement on her mother, lovely wool, great confirmation, another one of my favorites
Under the Son Senja- great structure, and amazing density (maybe the best in the flock) needs improvement in fineness, which hopefully Bruce can do
Kestral- moorit yearling ewe, first breeding
Yesfir- katmoget yearling ewe, first breeding
OK Acres Tina- one more Bug daughter for good measure
Ewe’s Have it Jael- katmoget
Emancipation Olive- katmoget, nice wool, and confirmation, I have a lot related to her so she is for sale
Emancipation Manja- moorit – nice wool and confirmation, but I have a lot related to her so she is for sale
Emancipation Lavender- spotted moorit, on the smaller side, with very fine wool, for sale
Emancipation Valerian – spotted moorit, on the smaller side, with very fine wool, for sale
It feels really great to be using two rams we bred ourselves this year. I am very proud of Wash. He is a Bug grandson, and you can tell by looking at him. Bug has had a huge influence on our flock and I feel so lucky to have a mini-Bug to continue to use. At the 2016 Wisconsin Sheep and Wool festival Washburne was fourth place out of a very large yearling ram class. His legs are likely the most confirmationally correct in our entire flock. He is moorit, spotted and his group is made out of a: 1. sheep I think can produce wildly spotted and flashy offspring with Wash 2: sheep I would like to see some leg improvements on. Washburne also has very good parasite resistance, with consistently good BCS and FAMANCHA scores.
Emancipation Inara– Inara was one of the very first ewe lambs born on our property. I kept her daughter Serenity. She always singles, and my preference is for ewes that twin. If I keep a ewe that always singles she has to produce really well to make up for it, and Inara does. I am hoping Wash will pass his stellar legs onto their offspring(she is just the slightest bit hocky)
Emancipation Raven– Out of Crow, black and very flashy (spotted), excellent parasite resistance like her mom, with great BCS and FAMANCHA scores.
Emancipation Ava– Out of Bailey, her twin is with Einstein and mom is with Bruce, katmoget, Ava is for sale, but if she doesn’t sell I will happily keep her
Emancipation Gretel– My last ewe lamb out of Sommerang Comfrey, moorit and very flashy (spotted), nice wool, would like a bit of improvement in the leg confirmation
Ewes Have it Pearl Drop– Her original breeder requested she be placed in Wash’s group and who am I to deny her request? Katmoget
Sheltering Pines Lotus– lovely fleece, white ewe, good confirmation
Under the Sun Sula- black and spotted, usually twins, has very solid confirmation but hoping for fleece fineness improvement in the lambs
Krazy K Wilma– sweet temperment, but not as fine of fleece as I would like, it will be interesting to see how Wash can improve on it.
Bruce’s daughter from 2 years ago. Has lovely fleece like her daddy, and my favorite marking, yuglet
Krazy K Kit Kat– moorit, sweet as pie
OK Acres Einstein’s group
Einstein is a modified (fawn) ram from one of my favorite flocks, with good confirmation and nice crimpy wool with a good staple length. Diversity of color in our flock, without compromising on fleece quality and confirmation is a goal of ours and Einstein’s group is filled with sheep that have produced modified offspring or are out of modified parents.
Sheltering Pines Temperance– a Salicional daughter that has produced a very nice shaela ram in the past. I’ve bred her a few years and always ended up selling her offspring because I have a lot of black ewes already and I keep hoping she will produce a shaela ewe worth keeping. Heres to hoping! She will be for sale after lambing because I am focusing more on katmogets and gulmogets.
Emancipation Katniss– Katniss was one of the first sheep born on our farm, her father, Thor, was shaela/emsket and she is moorit. We kept her daughter, Primrose, and her son was just sold to another Wisconsin flock. I am always happy with what she produces, hoping for fawns or shaelas.
Emancipation Serenity– Serenity is out of Emancipation Inara who was from Katniss’ cohort and who I still also own. I was thrilled when I sheared Serenity this year to realize she was modified.
Under the Sun Senja– Good structure and excellent density and staple length, possibly shaela herself
Dawn– Dawn is my girl. This may be her last breeding, so I am hoping for a keeper ewe.
Oseola– Out of another favorite, Lil Country Bailey, her mom and twin are in other breeding groups. I really like this line and its going to be very interesting to see the similarities and differences in the three breedings (mother, sister, sister).
Our first two doe kids, enjoying playing with the sheep.
The more time I spend around animals the more I feel like I ultimately learn about myself. We want to use opposable thumbs and verbal language to draw dividing lines between us and them, but lines in the sand always get blurry after the tide.
I have a goat named Saffron, she is an Alpine/Nigerian Dwarf cross, small, lithe and beautiful. Groups of goats have a herd queen, an individual that makes the decisions for the others: when to eat, when to sleep, when to move on. Saffron’s royal duties have lead her into climbing the highest, and taking the biggest risks. She rules with an iron hoof.
Last autumn , as the leaves fell, the grass shriveled and the hay feeders were brought out, Saffron decided she wasn’t going to eat with the plebeians. She was going to eat inside the feeder, where she could shit on everyone else’s food. The feeder is about a foot wide, and she would glide inside it like a dove, landing softly and gracefully. A few lambs occasionally tried to emulate her but could never jump high enough, and always bounced off the sides of the feeder, dejected.
One morning we found Saffron limping around the inside pen. She had jumped out of the hay feeder incorrectly, caught her leg, and broken her third and fourth metatarsal bones cleanly and completely. When we caught her and I ran my hands delicately down her leg she screamed as I realized the only thing holding her lower leg together was muscle and skin. The vet splinted the bone later that day and advised Saffron be kept in a very small area to heal.
She did heal, and she came out of her confinement slightly unsteady, biding her time until she had the strength to take back what was hers.
And take it back she did. During the growing season Saffron would sneak under the fence with her suitors. I’d hold the door open for her to come back in to the proper pen and she would give me a contemptuous smirk. The queen does what she wants.
Now its winter again, and Saffron is back to jumping in the feeders. Broken bones, and all the memories of a goat can’t seem to keep her out out of the hay. We put a board across the top of the feeder, and she now jumps up on top of that, balancing on it, to dip her serene neck down to eat.She will balance on three legs, and scratch her neck with her back leg, all the while looking me in the eye and saying without words, “The heart wants, what the heart wants.”
Sometimes she pushes her way down below the board, into the depth of the feeder. She is pregnant, and with the new board she can’t get out on her own. She waits quietly, head held high, till I come by and pull her out, while she squirms and screams at the indignity of needing help from anyone at all. But I am gentle, always. Because I get it. The heart wants what the heart wants.
Fall is here, the last hurrah before the Midwest winter buries us in snow and makes the residents of this frosty land question if continuing to live here is an erosion of our sanity. The crisp air makes everything feel fresh and eager, when in fact the natural world is battening down the hatches, preparing for the winter that not everyone will see the other side of. Fall is a death, and a prep for rebirth. A threat, and a promise.
After my parents got divorced we lived in an apartment, and then we moved to the house on Jonathan Ave, where my youngest sister and my mom still live. My sister was six when we moved. We met Peta a few days after we moved in. She was playing at the park down the street with her uncle Steve. Peta was five.
Peta spent a lot of time at our house. A LOT OF TIME. She went everywhere with us, and I felt like she was my sister. She was tall and blonde, like mom, and when we were out, people thought Peta was her daughter, instead of us. She loved Harry Potter, and animals and was a sweet and gentle girl, not afraid to be quirky, with a quiet, bright smile.
She died last week on Tuesday. The funeral was yesterday.
We released balloons into the air and we watched them float out of view, and then we watched a little longer because we didn’t know what else to do. When people stopped saying, “I can still see one.” we just drifted away too.
I came home and found Calypso’s seven baby piglets she started birthing around the time we were letting balloons go. Dizzy is in the stall next to her with her 8 piglets and Penelope is growing fatter and fatter in the stall next to her waiting for her turn to farrow, which should be any time.
So much death, so much birth.
Life is just to fragile. Be kind to each other.
Joel and I have been on the farm five years, and we have practically had chickens for the entire time we’ve been here. Over the first few years we tried Delawares, Buckeyes, Speckled Sussex, New Hampshire Reds, Silver Laced Wyandottes, Buff Orpingtons, Seabrights, Silkies, Cochins, Black Jersey Giants, Dominiques and Chanteclers. We liked different things about different breeds but the breed we were drawn back to time and again was the Delawares.
Using the check lists established by The Livestock Conservatory ( http://www.livestockconservancy.org/index.php/heritage/internal/chicken-manual) we selected our Delawares over the past years for meat and egg laying qualities. Over time we decided to keep only Delawares and Silkies.
Two months ago a fox visited the farm in the middle of the day and brazenly killed almost our entire flock. It was heartbreaking to lose all the work we had put into the breeding a line of Delawares to be effective meat and egg producers as well as profoundly upsetting to lose so many gentle friends in a single day.
Since then Joel and I have been trying to decide how to move forward. Re-establishing our line would be difficult if not impossible. Buying new chicks was a possibility but quality of chicks can vary so we might not get the greatest specimens. Buying older birds from other farms was a possibility but bio-security is an issue.
After mulling it over for a while we decided to go in a somewhat different direction. When we had initially started raising chickens we were incubating chicks each spring. We enjoyed this, but it never came together or was as lucrative as we may have hoped. In part, this was due to our inability to sex chicks at hatch like the big hatcheries do. Sexing chicks is difficult and employees that work for the hatchery sexing chicks are trained to do so. Many farmers wanted only pullets (young females), and did not want to deal with the hassle of using excess males for meat production.
Although we loved our Delawares, and we still believe the breed is a great one we placed an order for the following birds which arrived this morning three weeks ago and are being cared for by our silkie, Michelle. Michelle went broody a few weeks before the chicks came in the mail. We put ping pong balls under her so she would keep sitting. The chicks came early in the morning and we snuck them under her. She immediately started making happy mother hen noises.
6 Barred Rock pullets
6 Cuckoo Maran pullets
6 White Rock pullets
14 Delaware straight run
10 New Hampshire Red cockerels
10 Buckeye cockerels
Red cocks can be mated to white hens and the offspring are white if they are male and brown if they are female. Red cocks can also be bred to barred females and the offspring can be told apart by spotting on their head. Being able to tell which chickens are female and which are male from the get go will be helpful.
We also had a Delaware go broody so we ordered some silkies and Naked Necks for her. The Naked Necks are supposedly good dual purpose birds although I find them a little bit ugly. Joel says they will grow on me and they probably will.
And now you know why they are called NAKED NECK.
Joel and I have lived on our farm for five years. Before that when we were in the reading, researching and dreaming phase I was obsessed with dairy goats. Anyone that knows me even a tiny bit probably knows about my deep and unyielding love of cheese.
There is an often quoted saying attributed to Benjamin Franklin, ” Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” In all reality this is a condensed version of a paragraph Ben wrote in a letter that was actually about wine. Personally, I think he was just to drunk to actually remember he was talking about cheese. Cheese is just delightful, and really does seem to be proof that at least dairy goats love us and want us to be happy.
So why, given my overpowering cheese lust did we wait five years to start milking goats? I knew I wanted to make cheese but I also knew our animals needed to be working to pay our bills. Wisconsin has some of the most draconian cheese laws and one can not simply build a commercial kitchen and start making cheese. So, I put the brakes on my dreams of goats.
Half of our 40 acre property is overgrown woods. The first few years we spent building pasture fences (a task that never ends) in the obvious pasture worthy parts of the farm. As our poultry, sheep and pig herds and flocks grew bigger we began to think seriously about the woods. Joel has been wanting to clean up and restore the woods to Oak savanna (as it historically was) since we moved in, but it’s a huge project and it always seemed we had to many irons in the fire to get started on this important and time consuming project.
In 2014 we decided to get serious about restoring the woods. We knew we wanted to take out the invasives like Buckthorn and keep the trees with food value to livestock and wildlife such as oaks, bitternut hickory, shagbark hickory, black walnut, and mulberries. Some people don’t like mulberries because they are not native, but their leaves are very high in protein, everything loves to eat their berries (myself included!) and they provide shade in the pastures, so they are quite welcome on our farm.
We started building the first one acre pasture in the woods. We bought five goats and in the spring of 2015 put those goats and pigs into the wooded pasture. It was pretty obvious in the first few weeks that we needed more goats. The best goats for brush clearing are wethers, (neutered males, does currently in milk can damage their udders on things like raspberry brambles, which goats love to eat).
I made my case to Joel, if we want/need more goats we should get some does currently in milk, then in a few months we could re-breed them, and by next spring we would have more wethers for the woods, and almost the whole time I would have delicious milk to be made into cheese.
So, that is what we did! In subsequent blog entries I will show how the goats are working for us by
1. Making milk (cheese, soap)
2. Clearing the woods of invasives without the use of pesticides, or poisons all the while feeding themselves and having a great time.
3. How the does in milk are helping with the weeds in the sheep pasture.
4. The differences between sheep and goats, why I love them both, and why we need them both.