Thursday, April 28, 2016

Friday, April 22, 2016

Donkey Paddock Fence







Just a few pictures from today. 

We made a trip to town last night and got the fence boards and cement we needed to finish the fence. Ken took a break from his studies this afternoon and we set the second fence post. It was mizzling rain but very mild. Cloud and mist hanging between the mountains, bringing memories of Scotland.









Saturday, April 16, 2016

Sheep Shearing - The easy way!




I'm sure there are people out there - especially spinners and weavers - who dream of having their own flock of sheep but quickly give up on the idea when they think of the back breaking job of shearing. 

Well, not me, oh no. I got the sheep with nary a thought of the back breaking job of shearing them! I mean, you just flip them over, buzz through with the electric shears and the fleece falls off in one piece, right? Well, in our case it didn't. The electric shears wouldn't even go through the first half inch before bogging down. We worked on that first sheep for two hours! I think we have the wrong blades. But let me tell you, thoughts of giving up on the idea popped up real quick when I was laid up in bed half crippled! 

Anyway, the quickly constructed, head gate pictured above has proven to be the answer. That and my big fabric scissors. The gate just slides down over the sheep's neck, locking her in place. They're under much less stress and I can take my time and even sit down for most of the job. I can also give shots and worm the sheep while they're confined. 

These pictures were taken last year. It was the first shearing for that particular sheep and she had a lovely fleece. The electric shears would probably have worked just fine on her. I sheared her again today but this year she had a lot of lanolin and at the roots of the wool it was like a mat of felt. I think it's just the nature of Scottish Black Face and why they can endure such harsh weather conditions. 

One down and seven to go.







Thursday, April 14, 2016

Dry Stone Progress




The wall's coming along and the first fence post is in. Hmm, in the picture, it looks like it's leaning but I can assure you it isn't. I need Ken's help with setting the posts but he's been busy studying for business exams and some fire department duties. It won't take long to get the fence rails on though once the posts are set. The chair's there for tea breaks! 

The weather is beautiful at the moment. Maybe this weekend I'll be able to start the sheep shearing. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Pack Burro Racing



Ooh, if you have an hour to spare, watch this movie! I've been wanting to see it for a long time and  was so pleased to see that it is now available on You Tube! We watched it this weekend.






When you think of Colorado you probably think of snow and skiing. But there'a another sport unique to the state and that's Pack Burro racing! I don't know where I first read about pack burro racing. It involves running long distances with a loaded pack donkey.  The shortest race is about 5 miles and the longest is 30 miles!! Over excruciatingly rough terrain. At 13,000 ft abs!! Some of the racers have been competing every year for over 35 years, the oldest guy is in his 60s and still running 30 miles!

If we lived over that way, me and Rimfire would definitely be in training! I guess we'll have to be content with our own little burro jogs down here on the creek.

And speaking of Rimfire... I backed him for the first time yesterday!! Woohoo! he wasn't in the least bit phased. I've been waiting for this moment for 4 1/2 years!




Ken got on Damascus and she was just as good! 


She may have been ridden before; we just don't know what her background is. She's such a sweet natured girl. I can't imagine life without donkeys.













Monday, April 04, 2016

Walling With Donkeys

With lambing behind us and the arrival of warmer weather I decided to get back to walling. In fact I've been on a bit of a walling marathon this last few weeks as I want the driveway to be finished before the end of May and the start of the really hot weather. My Dad's coming over from England in May for three months and Ken's family are coming up from NC in October, so this is about the only time I'll have to work uninterrupted for long stretches.

I was going to continue the original wall all the way down to the gate, but after making multiple sketches and plans it seemed better to break it up with fence in order to have access to and interaction with the Donkeys. They come to be petted and talked to every time we walk down the drive and a solid wall would really cut them off from us. Didn't want to do that!

I started down at the gate. It's about a twenty foot section. Then there'll be some rail fence, a ten foot gate that will allow us to drive the truck in there and a kissing gate for easy walk through, and then another section of wall. 

Damascus has been helping me. I sling a couple of rubber buckets over the packsaddle and she thinks she's the bees knees carrying small rocks - "heartings" - for the center fill of the wall. She takes her work very serious and listens well and follows instructions. I have to alternate between her and Rimfire as he gets jealous and mischievous if he's left out!

















Saturday, April 02, 2016

A Little Late Night Pat Metheny



Nothing quite as exquisite as Pat when it's late and the wind's whipping and howling around the mountains outside!

Enjoy!

Banding Lamb's Tales






We banded the lamb's tails last week end. We usually do them at a week old but Ken's been away in North Carolina so we got to it as soon as he returned home. We do this because long tails tend to get dirty and attract flies. Believe me, it can get ugly under there! Banding is a simple procedure and while it looks like it should be painful, the lambs go straight back to running around after their Mum like nothing has happened. The end of the tail, below the band will shrivel and fall off in about 7 days. Most lambs have a triangle of bare skin on the underside of the tail. We usually put the band right at the point of the triangle, where the wool starts. You may be able to just make out the bare skin on this lamb's tail. Every so often we get one that has no bare skin at all. In that case we just have to make a decision. I don't like to go too short. If you look at the Momma sheep, someone really went to town on her. She doesn't have much of a tail at all. I don't like to go so short.

Anyway, here are the lambs, enjoying a bit of freedom and green grass about 3 minutes after their tails had been banded. As you can see, they're growing like weeds, though their Momma is still rather thin. Since getting the first taste of spring grass, she's been turning her nose up at her hay. Unfortunately, we can't just turn them out on grass full time, they have to be re-introduced to grazing in short spells to avoid bloat. We're now up to a couple of hours in the morning and a couple in the afternoon/evening - plus hay and some grain.  I alternate them with the rams so that everyone gets a turn.

Hoping to get some shearing done this weekend if the weather forecast is good. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

It's a Girl!!!


And she has a twin sister!


I'm so thrilled! It seemed as if we were destined to have nothing but ram lambs, forever! I kept turning them over, just to re-check. I'd forgotten what little girls looked like. And black fleeces too!! Can't wait to be able to spin the wool. The second lamb presented backwards and I was all alone but fortunately I had no problem delivering her. 


They're almost as big as the little boy, whose now a week and a half old. He's thrilled to bits to have some playmates and keeps bouncing around wanting them to join in.

Anyway, these are the last lambs for this ewe. She's getting old and this was a very tough pregnancy for her. It was obvious that the lambs were taking all of her resources  and there were times I thought she was going into pregnancy toxemia as her legs kept going out from under her and she would have great difficulty getting back on her feet. I kept giving her Ketogel in the hope that it would keep her on an even keel and I think it helped. She's been my best mother sheep. I do hope these two have inherited her maternal instinct. 

It's been a long two months of waking up every few hours and I'm so glad it's over!  Last night was the first full nights sleep. It was wonderful!


Saturday, March 05, 2016

First Lamb of the Year

At last, We have the first lamb of 2016! This is also the first lamb for this little ewe, Maisie May. She was in labor when I went out to feed them this morning.

I was a bit worried when I saw the lamb presenting with just the head and only one front foot. You should see a nose and two little hooves. Kind of like they're diving into the world. I tried to find the other foot and couldn't. I think the leg was tucked way back. I sent Josh across the road to get the neighbor. She's had lots of experience in birthing farm animals and I'd promised to call on her if there were any complications. Anyway, just as Josh was over there knocking on her door, Maisie May really went to work and popped the lamb right out!




 She's being a good Mum but we are going out there every couple of hours to hold her still while the baby gets a good drink. Her udder is tucked up really high and he was having a difficult time finding the teat. Heck, I had a difficult time finding the teat! But he's doing ok and gaining strength steadily.

We bred the ewes to a Jacob ram so this little fellow is a Scottish Black face/Jacob cross. We did the same last year and I really like the fleeces of this cross. Not too soft but not as coarse as the pure SB.

I wish Ken could have been here. He'd just left to visit family in North Carolina.

Hoping the other ewe has her lambs during the day. She's looking very close but no sign of labor yet. We're praying for girls. Last year, all our lambs were boys, and now this one!

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Hand Carved Ex Libris Stamps

If you like rats or foxes, here are a couple of ex libris stamps I carved this week.



You can find these and some other bookplate and library stamps over in the Ex Libris section at my Etsy Shop.