The farm house

The farm house

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Bye, Bye Bertie!

Yesterday, a couple came to see the rams for sale and took Bertie home to be the herd sire to the 2 Shetland ewes they have. I was tickled pink that he would be going to another hobby farm!! I also dreamt about him last night. He is no longer my worry but I still do worry. I hope he is settling in and coping in a different environment. Silly isn't it?

Meanwhile a breeder near Peterborough has pulled her ad as she has been harassed by potential buyers who wish to "sacrifice" the lambs:their word not mine. They even sent her a clip of how it will be done!! Wow! What intrigues me is why this particular "fibre" breed? Wouldn't they want a meat sheep? Or is it simply that sacrifice? I did not ask what prices she had posted but if the prices were higher, would she be able to avoid certain types of buyers? Is it her location that is appealing? I also think lambs sell better as they have that cuteness factor but if you are breeding for a specific characteristic, wouldn't you want the more mature model? Any defects would be visible then...a point to ponder.

Meanwhile, what to do with Magnus.He is still listed for sale. However he may breed a ewe this Fall and then become an"it". The big boys also provide more fleece He is graying out in the hind which is a fault in the 1927 breed standard ; yet another point to ponder.

Only time will tell what's in store for the big boy!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Never A Dull Moment!

No udders but a round belly that protrudes a little more to one side.Yesterday morning totally stressed me out. The last couple of days have done that also but I thought I was finished with those the little annoyances that keep you from getting to the things I had planned on accomplishing. Not so.

After putting the dog out in the morning, I promptly fed all the big animals( sheep, horses) and then I do the birds. I open the door to the coop and notice that the heat lamp is off, the ducks are in with the meat chicks, huddled in the corner, quacking. I start to see what has taken place. The boards separating the 2 areas had fallen down, the heat lamp had been clamped to a board. Wait, the heat lamp is still on and burning the wood shavings!! I move board to find 2 squished chicks, dead and a third looking a bit frazzled. The heat lamp was so hot that it burnt the read paint off the outside of the bulb, burnt the shavings and also one of my fingers as I tried to re-position safely in order to turn it off!! Oh My!! Another chick was either burnt on it's back or hurt by the board but he's doing ok...

Well, better to lose them young but my,oh my, I could have lost the entire barn!! Not just that but guess what's next door? Sheep and turkeys and all the other chickens including the grown meat birds that are at the processor right now!! That would have been the end of my small holding and what is left of my sanity.

Meanwhile, I suspect that one of the ewes that acquired in July may be pregnant!!I will have more out of season lambs than regular at this rate. No udders but a round belly that protrudes a bit more on one side. A careful watch is on as the temps drop overnight. Also, the group of animals that that sheep came from have barber pole worm. So, deworming will be a-happening!! The gal who confirmed it in her flock found out as the Finn crosses were suddenly so weak and she was unsure why. Sadly they are in with the rest of her flock so the must deworm the whole lot. My group that is potentially exposed is a group of 5. The other sheep can wait a bit...

Back to cleaning the barn for the upcoming colder months. Oh, and we have  chicks that hatched, in the Fall...
Never a dull moment!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


On September 9th we were blessed with the birth of Jasper!! At first, I wanted to wether him right away-another ram,unregisterable...But wait! He's white(brown really but we won't get into the whole color genetics thing) I have two white ewes and now one white ram. Spinners and knitters love white because they can dye it. So, by keeping him intact, I can now produce more white-no guarantees but better chances!!

He moves around so much, it's hard to get a good photo!

This only occurred to me after being disappointed by another buyer withdrawing from the sale of a ram. These things happen. I would prefer they go to a fiber farm than a freezer. So, having said that, I pondered who could I contact to sell a ram, for another farm to diversify their gene pool? Well, folks, there are no other registered breeders within 50km of here. Registry does not necessarily make a better animal but as a breeder, you pair them up for a desired outcome of better fleece, conformation or color if you dare. Again, no guarantees. Yes, you will end up with flops. That happens within all breeding possibilities. you learn from theses things, hence the importance of keeping records and registries do help with that. I did contact another breeder that I know from spinning guild who has been breeding Shetlands for some years. Waiting to hear back.

So, do I wish to step up and become a bigger breeder? Maybe. I have limited funds and property to consider. But I will say this: I will not discount my animals to make a sale. Too much time, effort and energy goes into providing a better fleece. With everyone retiring and moving, I understand their motivation to sell at a lowered price but from now on, I stand by my product.

Back to keeping an  unregisterable white ram? Fleeces sell and provide funds for their food. Regular breeding season is around the corner. So, I have decided to breed and now must decide what I am striving for in the pairings. I'm kind of glad that my wonderful ram of great fleece will be staying!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Wildflower Or Weed?

There aren't many flowers blooming in my front garden.In fact, what's flowering aren't flowers but weeds. Looking at them takes me back to a visit to my Grandparents' home in the prairies. Let's take a trip down memory lane! Back to a time when you had to get up and dial the knob to the 3 channels you could view on the t.v. if the reception gods were smiling at you at that moment. Back to a time when phone service to this quaint town was made up of party lines. Ring once for the home, ring twice for the store!! Very annoying if your bedroom is near the phone stand-no mobiles or portables then.

There wasn't much for me to do to entertain myself at their home but being an only child, I adapted. About 500 feet away from the front door of their house was the railway. The china in the cabinets most certainly got a workout. No brittle stuff here or you would find it broken on the floor.The tracks were still in use and so was the grain elevator. I would walk along the tracks for miles, past the dug out where I sometimes caught tiny frogs and salamanders or a quick swim. Someone had even left a couple of boards so you can get out easier. Out to the the cemetery on the South side and then leave the tracks for the dirt road to the other cemetery where I found some familiar names. I sometimes continued down that road where I picked Saskatoon berries with my Father and was chased by cows. There was a dugout there where my dad said he used to swim and catch lizards-a rusty old slide ladder protruded from a corner. I don't think the cows were using it much.

It amazed me that my Grandmother always knew when I was on the tracks. Apparently, my pants were covered with black "tarry" stuff that only she could see. To curb my appetite for wandering I was told to do some reading. I've always been a reader and had brought my own books. I was introduced to Reader's Digest and the family bible that held information on the family tree. So, while the Priest came to visit my Grandparents;the local church was almost in the backyard, I scampered off, this time to gather some flowers to embellish my basement bedroom.

The coast was clear when I came back through the front door with a bouquet of mostly yellows and purples and a few whites. The wild roses were flimsy and had very little stems so did not do well in my mason jar vase. Beside it was my mason jar of swimming frogs. A few hours later, Grandma came to see if all was well and if my bed was made and had asked what that smell was in there? I said "What smell?" There are a few smells in a basement after all. She took a look and said "What are you doing with those weeds?" I said they are flowers, making the room look pretty. Those aren't flowers, they are weeds-it's time you learned the difference between the two. That meant if it wasn't raining next day I was to help weed the flowers, the real ones. The ones you sow, nurture, cut and delight in arranging into a vase.

Since that episode, whenever I would visit their home, there was always a small juice glass filled with sweet peas, as a reminder of what a true flower was meant to represent and the little secret we had.