Shearing day 2010

Wow.  2010 shearing has come and gone.

Emily gets started with Lupine

I am not ready for the lambing that is about to begin next week!  We had a beautiful day for shearing this past Saturday, and Emily got those pregnant and yearling ewes sorted out very quickly. I don’t know how she does it, and makes it look so easy, too.

Our good friends Marie, Pam, Crystal and Chloe came to help out and we had a wonderful time.  The wind was a bit brisk, but the sun kep us company all day and when we finished we had 14 gorgeous fleeces, each in their respective sheets, ready to move on to processing.  So of course, now they are residing in the back of my Subaru Forester…  just until I get them organized :*)

One of the ewes, half disrobed
Pam ready with the broom

Pam was at the ready with the broom to sweep away most of the yucky bits of fleece that we don’t want to get mixed in with the intact fleece blanket.  This is a huge help, and saves a lot of time when we throw the fleece onto the skirting table to get the dirty and poopy parts off before rolling and wrapping it in a sheet to keep it clean.

The last ewe to be shorn was Persimmon, prolapsed-ewe extraordinaire.  We really were hesitant to take off the prolapse harness and have Emily sit her on her butt end as that puts so much pressure on her vulva that it might have invited the prolapse to pop out again.

Marie holds Persimmon's head while Emily shears; Pam is skirting the fleece as the pieces come off

So we asked Emily if she would mind shearing her standing, and she was happy to do it that way, thank goodness!  Marie and Pam maneuvered her into position along one of the green panels and Emily took her fleece off in pieces, rather than as an intact whole.  Sometimes you really don’t want to do that, but I was more concerned in getting her ready for the lambs as she is the first up on the hit parade.  I hate the thought of having to have her shorn later on.  It’s just one more thing to try and fit into the schedule.  And she was a champ!

After taking the shearing floor apart (thanks, Marie!) we opened up the greenhouse so the ewes had the whole place pretty much to themselves, we spread out some feeders and finally gave them their days’ feed.  They were very aggrieved at having been on a starvation diet that day (to prevent them from having a rumen backup- bloat -while they are being held in so many different positions during shearing) and when we brought out the hay, we needed to step back quickly.  You can be run over and left for dead if you find yourself between a hungry ewe and her feed!  We were feeling a little bit that way as well, so we were able to go in, relax and have a nice meal together.  It was a lovely day.  The rams have to have their own shearing day in March sometime.  I can’t even think that far ahead right now!

Our LaMancha dairy does were very unimpressed with all the shearing hoopla!

Persimmon twist

(Warning:  Graphic sheep picture at the end of this post!)

It’s always something.  I don’t know who said that, but it’s true, especially if you are dealing with animals.  Monday morning I went out to feed the sheep and one of our crossbred ewes,

Persimmon at the feeder. She doesn't look too unhappy

Persimmon, (who is a tank on 4 legs) had a little mucous drip from her hind end.  I scrambled back to the house to look at my records, thinking, she can’t be going into labor yet!  She is the number one ewe who is due on March 4, but they were nowhere near the rams until the day they went in with Mr. Big.  So, this could turn out to be a problem.  Hmmm.  Never run into this before.  Hoping she isn’t going to lose her lambs.

I decided to wait for a few hours and go back up and check on her, and saw something a little disconcerting.  Something was definitely peeking out, but it wasn’t a lamb.  I have never seen a prolapse before, but I figured I was seeing one now.  Luckily for us, our friend Pam of Hatchtown Farm has a prolapse harness.  She came over later in the day and we cleaned the protrusion, got it back in, and trussed her up like a Christmas goose!  Apparently the point of the harness is to hold the protrusion in and also to prevent her from being able to push and strain.  So the harness keeps her in a slightly humped up stance.  Not very comfortable, most likely, but not the worst thing in the world either.  We have her on an anti-infammatory and some penicillin.  But she definitely is not my best friend right now.  When I went out this morning, she made sure to stay on the other side of the feeder.

Persimmon's working end with the harness holding everything in place

In need of repair

I know it happens to everyone from time to time, but right now I am feeling like we are living in the broken house.  Everywhere we look is something needing fixing.  Last summer while Bear the Lab was living with her cone of shame she came crashing through the mud room, winged open one of the

Pantry without its broken door

pantry doors, and hit it so hard that it split right down the frame.  So now we have a half naked, very unorganized pantry cupboard for all to see and admire!  It’s off its hinges and getting ready to be glued, but of course there is really no great spot in the house to be doing that…. so it lies in state on top of one of our many freezers, in the hallway.

Cabinet door awaits repairs. And waits.

Sigh.

That is one of the most obvious things in the house that is in need of repair.  Not so obvious, but even more inconvenient is the dishwasher.  A 6 year old KitchenAid, just about my favorite appliance of all, decided it wanted a vacation.  We have had our ups and downs with this dishwasher.  Currently we have been living with the door not having any springs on it, but Thursday when I came home from work and started to unload it, I realized that it had never done its thing that morning.  It is one of those washers that has an electronic keypad on it so we cleared everything and tried again.  Multiple times, different settings.  It was not about to budge.  Miracle of Miracles, on Saturday we actually were lucky enough to get a repairman up to the house.  Pretty amazing, actually.  It’s the quickest action we have taken yet!  It needs parts, but at least they are in the works and my husband (very wisely, I think!) had him order the springs as well.  I can hardly wait!  We really had that baby packed to the gills.  Figures.  It took me a few hours to get that load cleaned up.  And while we are in the kitchen, I won’t describe the half-on and half-off counter tiles, and the giant box sitting in the living room with the new sink inside right next to the 12 boxes of new tile.  Another sigh :*)

The thing that I am most upset about, however, is probably the damage that our dear, darling,

Miss Innocence!

Daisy the Bluetick Hound (our son’s dog) has ravaged on some of my most cherished property:  the Jensen spinning wheel.  Not the wheel itself (a 30″ cherry production wheel), thank goodness.  But she has now chewed up at least 3 bobbins, and the worst one:  one of my whorls.  AARGH!  She and her owner owe me big time!  Expletive, expletive.

Damages; handspun included

Vacation and remembrance

February break.  It’s here.  I am loafing and watching the opening Olympics ceremonies, dishes in the sink and all, hoping that we have some nice weather for the week ahead.  I would love to enjoy decent temperatures and spend some time with my grandson as well as with the sheep and goats.  Aside from that, I would love to get some fibery things started as well, maybe even get the loom warped.  Ye gads!  A miracle!  The YarnHarlot is doing her Knitting Olympics again during this year’s winter games and I was very tempted to sign up for a knitted challenge.  But I just think it’s setting myself up for failure.  My time is so fractured that I don’t know what I could accomplish.  I have been meaning to start a sweater for our grandboy, but I am thinking that it should be in a size meant for next winter.  He’s growing so fast I am not certain that he would get any use out of it this year by the time I finish it!

I have also spent a lot of time this week trying to figure out if I could get to the memorial service for a very dear, old friend of the family tomorrow in NY.  I was holding out hope that my husband and I could at least make a speed run down in time for the 11 a.m. service in the morning, but between getting the farm chores taken care of and wondering whether my bursitis hips and sciatica could survive the 14 hour round trip, the planning stalled.  I know we won’t make it.  But we will be thinking of you, Ken, there in spirit, knowing that the celebration of your life will be a joyous one.

It’s that time again

Kate wants to know if I have anything more interesting up my sleeve than just plain old hay!

The daylight is finally long enough that I am not driving home from work in the dark!  I am feeling the pull to be outside more these days and most afternoons I am actually feeding the ewes and does without the headlamp firmly attached to my hat.  It’s a good thing, too, because lambing and kidding is right around the corner.  I had a few minutes to make my lambing/kidding spreadsheet the other night and we have discovered that I never wrote down the date that our ewe Meadow was marked by Hamish the ram.  I don’t know how I could have missed that, but I have checked everywhere and can’t find it.  Usually I keep a list in my trusty palm pilot, but her name is not there.  Sigh!  I’ve always been very punctual at keeping track of those things, but this one got by me for sure!  Ah well, it’s not total chaos, it just adds a little more mystery into the whole birthing month of March.  1st lambs are due on March 4th, shearing is Feb. 20th.  It’s going to be close :*)

It’s a fiber party!

No, no metamucil on the menu.  Our friends Kali and Chloe came over for a little fiber arts celebration yesterday afternoon as Kali and I had secretly procured a used Louet s-10 spinning wheel for Chloe.  It wasn’t easy keeping it quiet!  This past summer Chloe spent quite a bit of time hand washing and carding her black Coopworth ewe’s fleece and she has been doing quite a bit of spinning with her Hatchtown spindle.  She already is an accomplished knitter, and as she really seems to have an ongoing love of the fiber process, finding a wheel really seemed like it was meant to be.  And who can beat a Louet for getting someone started.

Chloe gets to work

Last night was the unveiling.  Chips and dip, hot chocolate and a little wine were brought out to aid in the celebration.  And we have another spinner setting out on a lifetime of fibery adventures!