Wednesday, December 19, 2012
As I have probably said before, my Shetlands arrived on my front lawn in 2000, tossed there by an owner who discovered she was more a horse person than a shepherd. We quickly put up electric net fencing and they stayed on the lawn for 5 years. They were funny and the lambs cute. They never got sick and didn't need me at all except for a bale of hay and grain daily. I sold the lambs and fleeces and kept the nucleus flock small while focusing on my growing Bluefaced Leicester flock. My son,Tim always referred to the blues as the "Diva flock" while he loved the Shetlands and their quirkiness. It wasn't until several spinners who had purchased my Shetland fleeces at Maryland Sheep and Wool began to email and reserve fleeces did I start to notice the beauty of the Shetland fleeces. After all these years, I was suddenly spinning Shetland and loving it! Thanks to Garrett Ramsay the history of Shetlands and breeding for specific colors and fleece types became interesting. Now that the last Blues are almost gone, the Shetlands have become my solace. I spend so much time with them that they stand and look at me as if to ask "Is there something wrong?" I've tried to move them from their little lean to barn behind the stone wall into the big bank barn but they don't want to go. Shetlands don't seem to fit in a proper barn. They like to lie in the snow and eat it in place of water in a tank. The recently sheared Shetland fleeces were so beautiful and so varied in colors (thanks to Garrett's input) that I've got a new focus and not missing my Blues as much. The farm is off the market too so I guess the Shetlands will be first class citizens for a while.
Friday, December 14, 2012
Shearing time for the Shetlands. It's earlier than usual but the fleeces are clean and beautiful right now and the weather is warm so "let's shear". One little ewe will be a sheep to shawl shearing candidate at PA farm show in January so she was left out of the shearing group. She was not happy about it either. She stomped around outside the pen and demanded that she join the others. Her turn will come. This morning was a bit chilly. I found them burrowed in the straw in their barn, warm and cozy. They actually dig these burrow holes for themselves. Such fun to watch.
Thursday, December 6, 2012
I kept one Shetland ram lamb this year. Son of White Pine Ruben and White Pine Selah so he's fine and soft katmoget just like his momma. Everyday at feeding, I'd part his fleece and wonder how soon I could shear him and spin his sparkling grey wool. Last week, I allowed Sam to go to a friend's house to breed some ewes. Sam had other ideas. Within days of getting to his new flock he tried to walk home. I've never had a rent a ram do this and was shocked when I got the word that "Sam was gone". Nooooo! Fortunately, my friend was relentless and searched for 5 days. She left no stone unturned until she found him in a small flock 4 and 1/2 miles from his starting point. He's home now with a fleece full of burrs and wait a minute vines but he's happy and so are my friend and I since it's hunting season. We only wish Sam could relate his adventures "on the lamb". (Booooo)
Thursday, November 29, 2012
Cold sunny day. Perfect for working with my Shetlands. It's so much fun to crowd them all and look at fleeces. In the last few weeks one lamb has become a beauty. She has a spunky way of looking at me that is captivating. Deciding who will go to a new shepherd is not an easy task. Mustang Sally will go for sure. She incites stampedes whenever she can. There were several of those today aimed right for my knees.
Monday, November 26, 2012
It's been a season of goodbyes. My Bluefaced Leicester flock has been dispersed to several new homes...all great. Saying goodbye was horrific. One purchaser had pity on me and has left her 2 ewes here for me to lamb. It's nice to know I'll have at least a few bay blues. All but eight of the Shetlands have been sold. They were suppose to move a few weeks ago but I keep making excuses to keep them here. They are my view from the kitchen window so I need them make me smile. This year my BFL ram bred many of my Shetlands so the lambs will be surprises.... crossbred or purebred?..... we'll know when they hit the ground. There's still yarn in storage and some BFL and Shetland roving available for sale so if you need Christmas projects email me. Sheepskins for sale too!
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
For over 10 years, my heart has been with my Bluefaced Leicester flock. It was a breed that I first saw in the UK with my friend Isabel. The fiber is spectacular and as a breed there could not be a more gentle sheep to raise. From the first very ugly BFL lamb I purchased, the Potosi flock had become the beautiful fiber animals that I had seen at the shows in England. It was a joy to sit on the porch and watch them run with their long locks flowing. Although I did the wool show circuit with yarn and roving my life in the barn gave me the most pleasure. Especially at lambing, when a walk to the barn was like Christmas morning finding a new lamb or two. I loved my travels to shows all over the country to buy rams for my breeding program. Not only did I buy rams but I made some wonderful friends that I hope I will keep for life. Things have changed here at Potosi. My husband is no longer able to do anything outside so those jobs have fallen to me. Along with sheep chores I mow,fix equipment,run the house and take care of Bill. Too much for this old chick. The farm will be for sale soon so my Beautiful Blues had to find a new home. This morning they left for Colorado and a new home on the mesa. The silly Shetlands remain until the farm sells. Good thing too. It will give me fiber to spin and chores to do outside, although not as many. I couldn't imagine not smelling like sheep or being bowled over with a feed bucket in hand. Sheep are a passion and an addiction. Wyatt, my remaining BFL ram realizes that the Shetlands are the only game in town now and has made his way into their pasture. Nice crossbred babies in the spring I hope.
Sunday, September 9, 2012
It's been a busy summer. Since my husband is unable to work any longer I have too many jobs that I thought I couldn't do. Thursday night I smuggly announced,"All gates are hanging on the pegs and working." An hour later my Shetland ram removed one!!!! My neighbor continues to provide me with tasks. When I went out to see what he was chain sawing I found my sheep muching on a pile of branches...cherry included. For those who don't know, wilted cherry leaves kill sheep. All the gates he had passed through were open behind him leaving the Shetlands clear access to the road. The neighbor watched me frantically drive the flocks into safe pastures away from the road and the poisonous leaves. He offered no help. With new fencing and all gates workable, my sheep are now safely contained. I hope. The neighbor and I no longer share a fence line or gates. Potosi Sheep Farm will not be setting up at Rhinebeck this October. It is my favorite festival and I will miss it and all of the people I meet there but I'm just too busy with the farm and the sheep to dye wool for sale. My flock is much smaller also. Many of my BFL ewes have moved to new homes. Hopefully a few more will leave in October bringing my BFL flock down to single digits. Can't believe it after having a flock in the eighties for so many years. The Shetland flock remains for the time being but they will be fewer soon too. Just can't let go of shepherding completely right now. One step at a time.
Friday, August 3, 2012
Saturday, June 23, 2012
Friday, June 22, 2012
Being a shepherd brings such joy to my life most of the time. My little shetland ewe lamb, Sharieka, made me laugh from the moment of birth. Her entrance into this world was a tight squeeze requiring me to pull.... hard. As I pulled, she shreiked into my ear. Hence her name, Shareika. As soon as she hit the ground she was on her own. Uncatchable for CDT shots,worming and just plain attention. She ate grain through the fence so I couldn't grab her from behind. She was crafty and good at avoiding me. Last week I noticed a twist to her head a stagger to her gait. Catching her for treatment was a fierce battle of human versus lamb and I was elated when I won round one. Successive treatments were curtailed by Shareika's craftiness. Everything about her that made me laugh was suddenly NOT funny. It wasn't until she fell over and could no longer walk that I captured her and began serious treatment for meningal worm. All the while I treated her,every six hours, her mother stood behind me watching. She stood sentry like over her lamb. But I was losing the battle. Extreme heat added to my worries. This morning Shareik's mother was gone out to pasture. An omen for sure. Mom told me it was time for all of us to give up.Sharieka died shortly afterwards. Every shepherd knows something always happens to you favorite lamb so you try to be impartial or just not acknowledge "specialness". Sometimes being a shepherd loses its joy. For all you folks who think when you get sheep they just stand around and eat grass with little care, think again. It is a labor of love.
Saturday, June 9, 2012
Getting together with other Bluefaced Leicester breeders at nationals is ALWAYS fun and educational. As an eastern breeder, I am fascinated with the predator perrils of the west. We have infrequent dog attacks here and sometimes a coyote or bear attack but western breeders face these attacks daily. One the other hand, here in the east summer brings our worst predator....worms. I have begun watching my lambs for this wee beast of the east. Vigilance is the key word for good shepherding here in the land of grassy pastures and humidity. Breeding for worm resistance has been a goal here in Potosi. Adult ewes show good resistance and hopefully the lambs will follow suit. Contrary to what people think, you don't just turn sheep out and let them eat grass all summer. Shepherding is a time consuming labor of love.
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Sunday, April 29, 2012
Saturday, April 21, 2012
I decided Molly needed one of these in her house when I found a pile of old molding in the barn. I had fun making it while I was not suppose to be on the broken leg the doctors didn't think was broken!Hope Molly has a wall in her house for it since all we have on the walls here are sheep paintings and prints!
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Almost finished finding Shetland lambs. anna surprized me with twin rams on Tuesday. she was in the barn with the tiny brown one only when I returned from Lancaster. I was certain there had to be another lamb somewhere. Sure enough, when I entered the empty hay shed a little baa called to me from under the water tank. He's the same color as the straw and hay and much bigger than his brother. His tummy was full but I am not sure how he got there so far from mom. Guess I'll never know. The reunion was funny. Mom spent minutes checking him out for damage. So glad I found him!
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Beautiful sunny day. Sam came over to help me get great pictures of my lambs for sale. Or so we thought. They knew something was afoot as soon as we entered the barnyard. Lambs dashed to the gate,escaping under and through it. Sam tried to catch and hold several budding models but they either sat down or set their legs at strange angles in protest. Cornered they climbed on top of each other to avoid the lense. One little ewe tried to squeeze through a space in the gate into the ram pen with the encouragement of the yearling rams. I had to laugh since that's the way I feel when someone come at me with a camera.
Friday, April 6, 2012
Thursday, March 29, 2012
It was inevitable. Lambing was going too easily so Eudora decided to liven things up a bit. As I called the flock up to the barn for the nightly lamb count I noticed her in the upper pasture obviously pushing. My binoculars didn't help so I hobbled up to her. The lamb was stuck and needed human hands to free it but Eudora fled as I approached. I decided against the flying tackle approach to catching her and herded her up to the barn. It seemed to take forever. Once penned,Eudora stood for me but I couldn't kneel down to get my hand in her to grab the lamb. My knee not working was so frustrating at this point. When I put a halter on her, Eudora dropped to the ground in surrender. With no other option I had to lie beside her with my head at her butt. Not exactly the best angle to pull but it worked! I got my hand in the free the lamb's long legs and out popped a huge ewe lamb. Her head was swollen and red from being trapped and compressed but momma loved her the instant I plopped her under under mom's nose. Mission accomplished! As I felt satisfied and relieved that all was well I realized I couldn't get up! GGRR. As Eudora licked her ugly baby I rolled through the straw and manure to pull myself up on the feeder. Vertical never felt so good. The baby's name is Swan, hoping that's what she'll turn out to be after starting out as the ugly duckling. with one more BFL ewe to lamb, I'm hoping we return to easy lambing 2012.
Sunday, March 25, 2012
Almost finished lambing. The ewes have been very cooperative, lambing easily as I sit here on my veranda with my leg propped up watching my flock through binoculars. My veranda is getting bigger with each week I sit on it but walking the pastures on crutches isn't easy. It's been a strange year. Warm weather, fewer sheep, a hay surplus and a barn full of ram lambs. The Shetlands have not even come into the barn to lamb. As soon as I can catch the babies, I install a bright red eartag so when I scan the field with my field glasses I can spot a newborn minus a tag.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Monday, March 19, 2012
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Sunday, March 11, 2012
Saturday, March 10, 2012
Saturday, February 25, 2012
I've gotten lots of emails and calls about roving. I'm glad to hear that everyone is getting motivated to enter yarn in Spring Shows. The BFL Ntional Show in Wooster Ohio on Memorial Day Weekend is a great place to enter BFL skeins and garments. I have plain white roving for sale as well as a blend of BFL and tencel, and a blend of BFL,alpaca and silk. Dark BFL blended with carbonized bamboo is also for sale. It is dreamy spinning.
A set of Bluefaced Leicester twins arrived yesterday starting the 2012 lambing season. Due to lots of issues beyond my control, lambing did not begin in January as usual. 2010 and 2011 were cold and snowy but the lambs thrived in cold temperatures. 2012 is unusual. Really warm (tank heaters on for a total of 2 days), no snow and many fewer sheep to lamb. These first BFL lambs are sired by my AI Mossvale Masterplan ram lamb from last year. These newborns are big boned and heavy. I like the way they look so far. Group two of the BFL lambs are sired by my Heddon Valley ram lamb. Now he's classy! These lambs will begin to arrive in another week.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Usually mid February means cold weather and frequent trips to the barn looking for new lambs. 2012 brings warmer temps and pregnant ewes but no lambs yet. Hopefully I'll be posting pictures of new additions by the end of the month. Sure do miss January babies. Since my ewes lamb in the barn that is monitored 24/7 winter lambs here are lively and healthy. It's like Christmas finding newborn surprises every time I go out to the barn. I can't wait for the surprises to come.