The farm house

The farm house

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


So Trickster is coping well in his new environment. However, Lothario aka Harry has broken a horn. It's hard to not look at the sheep in the backyard as I leave to go outside, there they are. What I saw, I would only believe because I saw.. Charity, probably tired of being chased around by the boys put a stop to it by flipping Harry onto his side. It was quick, a cloud of snow from him falling made it all the more spectacular and it took a few seconds for me to register what just took place.Very odd indeed!

So a little later as I am touring to check on water-I do this frequently in winter as it freezes and these guys don't have a heated tank, I see Harry doing laps around the shelter with his head tilted. Oh no! Not this polio thing again!! And then I see blood and his horn bent close to his head. Holy Crow! Did the ewe do this or rather the impact from her flipping him?? Here I thought rams were dangerous!! Sure enough the poor boy has a broken horn and man, do they bleed out! Lots of blood vessels involved. The good thing is that it was cold and very little chance of bugs getting into the wound attracted by blood. Then the weather got colder and the blood was frozen to the side of his head. The boy is fine now. I keep monitoring but I do call him "Dirty Harry " now...

The day before yesterday, the big rams broke out. It happened shortly after the morning feeding. I was walking past the barn with some water for the turkeys and I heard the sound of something moving from within the barn. Sounds much different than chickens make.. I pushed the door open to see the boys, Magnus and Liam playing around in their old pen that I should be cleaning but with all the wind recently makes it impossible to pile anywhere. Liam decide to bash on one of the doors and Magnus was just taking it all in.. After 30 mins of trying to coax them back into their pen, I shut the door,had breakfast and then woke my son and told not asked to come help me put the rams away.My patience with them is waning as it is with my son. At least they were contained in the barn. It's breeding season and one has to keep this in mind when dealing with these displays of behavior.

So dear son went right into the pen where they were. I warned my son about them taking runs at him but he knew and he said: If he even tries to, I'll just flip the bas___! No fear at all. He's tall and big so towered over them, I told him to bend his elbows-makes it look like he has large horns. My son moved slowly towards them and then they took off to where they were supposed to be. Shut the gate, locked it and checked it again and that was that! Took but a few minutes.

In conclusion, rams have been proving to be a pain in the butt. There is something to be said about renting one but OSMA does not find this to be a safe practice due to bio-security...I will leave that topic for now. AI is a bit tricky..maybe no more rams ? But then someone knew someone who is expecting border collies in Feb.came to my attention. That might work!

So now I am waiting to hear from a friend who has trained dogs and had different breeds of herding dogs to hear what she has to say,the pitfalls, what to look for and not make the same mistakes as she did..

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Embarrassed Yes, But Educated Nonetheless

The frustration continues but add surprise to the list also! On the weekend as I had mentioned, Trixie was chasing Fingal around and acting very much like a ram. This behavior continued and from the onset, the fact that she had horns bothered me. They are quite big for a ewe. It does happen in this breed just like you may have polled rams. Some of us breed for these characteristics and sometimes the opposite occurs. It's like that.

So assisted by my support group of Shetland sheep breeders on Facebook-yes I actually consider these folks to be very knowledgeable and helpful, so I do trust the majority of the information and recommendations provided from this source.

If you are squeamish with anatomical vocabulary, this may not be a post for you. However, one must describe what I saw in order to explain how I came about the conclusion that Beatrix aka Trixie is a ram and not a ewe. You may be snorting and thinking to yourselves, as a breeder how could I make this mistake? Easy-it happens. What is more complicated is how it happened and what will happen next...

So when lambs are born, we check for "buds"-where the horns start to grow and "balls" testes in the scrotum which at birth is highly visible. It is common for lamb ewes to have little bumps on their heads where horns might grow but they are not as prominent as with a ram lamb. Such was the case with Trixie. Also, Trixie has no scrotum. So, I thought, a ram and a ewe.

Trixie's horns started to grow. I thought that was interesting as I've never had that before and was never produced by the breeding of the same couple at any time...Breeding season is here and Trixie is sensitive to all the ewes.-best investigate.

So, On Monday, I braved the wind and went out to the barn, caught Trixie, flipped her over and sure enough, no scrotum but testicles, 2, one small and another even smaller tucked under the tail and no scrotum. Well, to ensure no inbreeding should occur after this point, I carried him to the outside/backyard are where Lothario is with 2 ewes- no relation to any and the gals aren't registered anyway. As I carry the sheep to the pen it bleats. I've never heard Trixie bleat ever as Bertie was way more dominant. It was a most definite macho bleat. But, what is unknown is if Trixie aka Trickster can breed?? What can I do with this sheep? He does not fit in with my breeding program nor would I use him because of the genetic issues; the horns are starting to grow in towards the head, can't be registered(good thing I held off on that) and castration would have to be a surgical procedure-all this and it's not his fault... So a decision will have to be made on the fate of Trickster.

I have learned thanks to hatching all the eggs that the more you do, the more you see good and bad. It's a numbers thing. In my 2+ years of caring and breeding, I've had some interesting experiences, not all good, not all bad. It's just that: experience. Some day I may be that person that people call when they are not sure of some issue their sheep are having. Meanwhile, I read, ask questions and let the sheep do their stuff.

I will wait a bit longer before pairing up the breeding couples and only time will tell if Trickster will have sired any lambs. It will be determined by lamb birth dates. And when the new batch are born, every inch will get a thorough going over, especially the dangly bits!!
Trickster on left, Bertie on right

Monday, November 17, 2014

Intimation of Frustration

My rubber boots have holes: both of them.. They were purchased in June and lasted until August! I don't have winter boots-I wore them out. It's been snowing, wet snow that sticks to everything. I have wet running shoes because I don't have boots. I also am not getting a satellite signal. It will be a long winter if this little amount of snow interferes with reception... Boots are on the list this week.

I cleaned the chicken coop from top to bottom. The hens have almost ceased laying so I figure now they have no reason;there is a light on for them also. One of the younger heritage turkeys is laying every other day...odd as it's November! One ram is very frustrated, meanwhile a ewe that I mistook for pregnant is very receptive to the young ram. I also have a young ewe-with horns- who is trying to mount the wether!! I'm pretty sure she is a she as there is no "sac" with marbles.

My wool is still not ready. Why must it take so long and now is my busy selling time? It may not be... I also missed the Needler's Retreat, again. I had a spot reserved too. It just seems that at that time of the year, the planets must line up in a certain pattern in order for things to work out in my favor.

Christmas preparations...not sure what we are doing. My Mother may be coming to live with us for the winter.No worries, a friend has a bunch of empty wine bottles saved for me so I can brew my own. If I start now, I may have a chance!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Be Inspired!

I have always believed that inspiration can be found anywhere. In fact, you don't need to go find it, it is right before your eyes. It seeks you out. One just needs to recognize it much like the sound of opportunity knocking on the proverbial door.

On the weekend, I was knitting up the edging on a sweater. The tv was on and I had stopped channel surfing. Like most knitters, tv is mostly listened to and not watched while working on pieces. I was not paying attention to what had just come on until I heard what the person was saying. It spoke to me in volumes. It most certainly was about inspiration and it did inspire me.

Another interesting thing about this event is who the person was. We all have a story to tell and I never figured I would have anything in common with this person. But through technology and a television set I was connected. Now there is no looking back for me. I noticed my attitude change right after the tv show. I giggled as I thought about whom it took to inspire me so.

So, if you every watch Oprah's Master Class, or sneak a peek on Youtube, Billy Bob Thornton as unlikely as it sounds is my source of inspiration. Another lesson, don't judge the book by it's cover when it comes to these things. Accept it-don't question it and be an inspiration for others.

The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.
~W B Yeats