|Posted by Fluffy on January 3, 2013 at 12:00 AM||comments (0)|
There are only so many pens with shelters on the farm. The sheep were separated for breeding 2 days ago. Most were wormed at the same time and many hooves were also trimmed then. The pot bellied pigs are for sale because their space was needed, but they did not sell, so they are cohabiting with the Icelandic sheep.
The Icelandics are tough sheep, not the largest of breeds, but are quick to bash things in their way or that they do not want around them, like the pigs. I have figured out that if the pigs are fed dog food, the sheep will not touch it so for the next while, that will be their staple, but everytime they come anywhere near the sheep, they head butt them back to their shelter. A separate shelter has been erected for the sheep and the pigs have been relegated to their shelter or the area immediately around their it. The pot bellies do not like the snow and are not willing to forge a new path to the food and water, so they keep trying to get by the sheep and continually head butted back to their own place. Eventually the sheep will be resting and not care much about the pigs, but the water will likely have frozen by then. At least they can eat snow for a few days, but that is not totally adequate. The dog food is eaten and it is assumed that the pigs are doing so since the sheep are not interested in it at all. In the meantime, I am feeling sorry for the little piggies being bossed around by those mean Icelandics. Poor piggies.
|Posted by Fluffy on December 24, 2012 at 5:55 PM||comments (0)|
It is a cold day today. The animals are trying their best to stay warm, but when the cold is incessant as it has been for 2 weeks, they run out of energy and some succumb. Harley, my big Maremma, my beautiful beautiful dog, has cold feet. He stood and lifted his paw and cried twice today. I would bring him inside the house if he would come, but he won't set foot in the door. All the dog's and cat's houses have new straw for them to snuggle into, but the dogs seldom sleep in their houses unless it is very windy, raining or snowing. So poor Harley...what to do for him. I gave the dogs and cats a warm supper tonight and a little later they will get their Christmas eve treats, but I will warm those too. When it is so cold, somethiing warm from the inside will help to generate a bit of heat. Ofcharka and the puppies do not seem to be affected, nor do the sheep. The Cotswolds use their shelter, but all the rest stay outside even in the snow. Where they were laying all night melts from their body heat and creates a depression in the snow that has fallen around them. They are well insulated.
The little potbelly pigs stay in their shelter almost all of the time, tucked under a big layer of straw. The goats huddle together in their dog igloo houses. Yesterday there were 4 goats in one house. I was amazed. First Sarah came out and she is a half grown full size goat so I thought there would not be room for anyone else, but then two little girls and their mom also came out of the same house. They have a larger shelter but they prefer the warmth of cuddling together. When they come out it is to eat, but they shiver the whole time. The llamas also shiver so they eat in the kush position, that is with their legs tucked under neath. The horses have even been sleeping in their shelter for the first time this winter. The chickens only come out to eat since their food is outside. The ducks and geese are less affected it seems and still bathe even though the water freezes immediately. They will even bath in slush, silly things. I have been sprinkling fresh straw and hay for them though, so they can get some relief from the cold ground. The big white Embden geese are actually using their shelter for the first time this winter too.
The critters on the Fat Ewe are a wonder, like all life is. They are beautiful to behold and remarkable in their ways, uniquely different even within their species. I am truly blessed to be the steward of this farm, to provide their care and oversee their welfare. I love them all, even the chickens. I have watched them grown from babies for the most part and to me, they are like children in a way. This Christmas I am not sad to be alone. The wood stove is warm and I have the love of all my four legged and two legged friends to keep me happy. I visited my friends and family and celebrated several times with them earlier this month, so this day is only a day, but it is a special day. The reason of the season is to learn to love and be loved. May each of you be as blessed as I feel. May each of you also find peace in your hearts and share the love of the universe and the Creator's magnificent world. May your heart be happy and your spirit filled with joy. Bless you my friends and family. Bless you and have a very Merry Christmas.
|Posted by Fluffy on December 1, 2012 at 7:15 PM||comments (0)|
The rams have beautiful coats. Eric, the white Icelandic ram has a fleece so thick that the snow can sit on his back and never melt. The boys are most often outside of their shelter, just lazing in the uneaten hay. The only time they seem to actually go inside is when the wind is cold, but the snow does not bother them in the least. Three are hair sheep, that is they will lose their coats in the spring and regrow them in the fall and three are wool sheep, the Icelandic and the Jacobs. They will be sheared in the spring. Icelandic wool is reknown for its warmth and Jacob wool for its softness. In the meantime, the snow boys are hanging out in winter.
|Posted by Fluffy on November 18, 2012 at 11:50 PM||comments (0)|
Hmm, let's see. How many fat ewes live at The Fat Ewe Farm? There are 5 Icelandic ladies and one ram, 3 Karakul ladies, 3 Cotswold ladies, and one ram, 2 Jacob girls and two boys, one commercial mixed ewe, one Barbados Shetland ewe lamb, two Karakul Shetland ewe lambs, 2 Est a Laine Merino ladies and three ram lambs, Shetland/Barbados (1) and Shetland/Painted Desert sheep(2). That totals 26 sheep. They do eat a lot of hay, which on this farm, is forked over the fence into the feeder from the big round bales. Without a tractor, using a large round bale feeder is not feasible as there is no way to place the bales, but, it does afford contact with the animals every day. They see me, there hear my voice, and they know me and that is why I choose to do the feeding and watereing the old fashioned way. I love these sheep - to me they are very beautiful. The sheep are not fed grain and are hardy. They do have a shelter, however; even at minus 25 last week, they chose to sleep on the ground. With their heavy wool coats, they tuck their legs under themselves and the heat from their bodies actually melts the snow beneath them leaving a depression where they slept the night long. The Cotswolds do use their shelter on a regualr basis and sleep in it during any weather, good or bad. Soon, the rams and ewes will be placed together for the magic of conception to happen and then, 5 months later, beautiful baby lambs will be born and what a delight to the senses they are. I am grateful for the sheep, my beautiful, wonderful fat ewes!
|Posted by Fluffy on November 12, 2012 at 8:45 PM||comments (0)|
Eric is not purebred Icelandic. He has a bit of Shetland in him. Even though Shetlands and Icelandics evolved continents apart, there are some remakable similarities. The Icelandic sheep were the only source of domesticated meat and milk on the continent for thousands of years. The sheep are heavier than Shetlands, heavier boned and a bigger, meatier carcass. The Icelandic sheep were milked and the sheep cheese was eaten and enjoyed all over Iceland, particularly a soft cheese called Skyr. There has been interest in the Icelandic breed as dairy sheep most recently.
The wool from the Icelandics has coarse guard hairs and fine loft hairs. The wool, spun together is LOPI wool and is famous. It contains little lanolin and is very warm, but can feel scratchy against the skin. The skins from the sheep make excellent warm outer garments or rugs. Sheepskin has been used for the bedridden for centuries to aid in their comforts.
Eric is considered "white" though he is cream coloured with a few tan freckles. He will be sent in with the Icelandic ewes at the end of December so lambing will occur at the end of May when the weather is fine. This timing does not provide marketable lambs by the end of summer, but it is easier on the shepherd with not having to get up in the middle of cold nights in January and find newborn lambs, then revive them from being half frozen and set up a spot where they can stay warm and dry with their moms. Welcome to the farm , Eric.
|Posted by Fluffy on November 6, 2012 at 10:45 PM||comments (0)|
I have tried to keep the hay from going on the backs of the sheep to maintain a clean fleece, but that seems impossible. I suppose the type of wool the sheep has makes a difference. For example, Little Lamby, now Niki, has a tight wool close to her body and no hay gets inside the fleece, while the Karakuls have a long loosely curled wool that parts in the middle of the back and tons of organic matter is lodged there. The Icelandics have a long wool that is finer, but once hay sits on the sheeps' backs, it works its way into the fleece. There are sheep coats and next year I amy sew some for winter to keep the fleeces clean. The wool is much more valuable to hand spinners if it is clean. They, otherwise, have to spend many long hours picking the organic matter from the fleece, a time consuming and somewhat thankless job, since not all of the matter can be removed and the wool is left with a scratchy feel. The E'st a Laine Merinos have wool similar to Niki, tight and close, resulting in less organic matter in the fleece.
And then there is Dora, who really wants to get close to the food....from the inside!
The sheep feeder was supposed to keep the sheep from pulling the wool down onto other sheep as they ate. I have two feeders on the go, one constructed from wood and the other is simply a livestock panel, now out of the fence. The panel/fence space is the receptical for the hay and the sheep stick their noses through the fence to eat. This works for some, but not all, because the horned sheep cannot get their heads very far in. So they use the wooden feeder. Sheep are little piggies. Where ever I am loading a feeder, they want to be right there to see if the hay is greener on the other side of the feeder. Hence, the hay must be lifted over the feeder rails and some falls onto the backs of the sheep. I try to lure them to the other feeder by adding hay there first, but they follow me to the wooden feeder and the tamest are covered with hay. Wouldn't you know it, the tame sheep are those with the loose wool (except Niki). Oy. There must be a solution. Maybe next winter the sheep will all be wearning neon coloured coats!