31 January 2009

Rams Out

The 3 rams we used for breeding as clean-up to the AI were behaving very well and we had increased their pen size so today we put them back in the pen with the ram lambs. The older boys are enough bigger that none of the little ones will challenge them and they have settled who is boss. It reduces the electricity cost as we can turn off one water tank heater.

29 January 2009

Monmouth Cap

Here is another Monmouth cap knit from the top down with our Black Welsh Mountain bulky yarn. This is what it looks like before fulling it in the washing machine.

And here it is after being washed in the machine.

27 January 2009

Winter's Back!

Less than 24 hours later. Woke up to about 4 inches of snow and snowing hard. It got a lot colder too, around 15 degrees. So much for the thaw, winter is now officially back.

Main driveway looking south.

Looking east in front of the house.

The two stallions DW Zaraqin and RS Farwasabi.

26 January 2009

January Thaw

We always get a thaw in January. The days turn warm, snow melts and we have a mini-mud season. I know it won't last, it's just a taste of spring to come.

We'll probably need to add gravel to the driveways this spring. It's amazing how gravel dissappears so fast!

Front field still has good marks, we may not need to re-mark it this spring. Depends on how much damage the horses do before we get them moved back out to the cedars.

The ewe pens are a mess. But they seem to actually have enjoyed the manure mountains to play on. They do have nice dry areas under the barn to sleep in.

Even our barn cat Orange likes the warm weather. He was lounging on the front steps but sat up before I got his portrait.

21 January 2009

Sheep Postmortem

We lost a ram lamb today. He was looking off for over a week. We had separated him into a small pen. He wouldn't eat or drink but would eat fresh snow and we gave him nutridrench, propylene glycol and warm malt liquid. I could not figure out what was wrong, he didn't really appear sick as in a disease but with not eating and no manure something was clearly wrong.

He died early this morning so the first task of the day after chores was to do a postmortem on him. I think every shepherd needs to know what normal sheep guts look like and what abnormal is. When I opened him up a huge amount of yellow colored urine like fluid came out of the abdominal cavity. His bladder had burst. I could not find any problems in the intestinal tract other than a hard mass of hay blocking one section. I felt the urethra for any stones but didn't find anything. There was no indication of a clostridial infection, liver and heart were normal but the kidneys were filled with fluid. I did talk to a vet via phone and the result is we think it was a one off and not a flock problem or indication of a bigger issue.

I did take pictures, in case we need them later but they are pretty gross.

20 January 2009

Fence Wire

The weather is warmer, much of the snow has melted so Larry and Andrew got 2 sections of the fence wire up.

It's not tied off on the posts yet but it's in place and looks wonderful.

17 January 2009

Chicken Decisions

Well I decided on the chickens. One full box of 100 red broilers for meat. One quarter box of 25 pullets for eggs. 11 Gold Campines, 4 Spangled Russian Orloffs, 4 Silver Grey Dorkings, 3 Anconas and 3 Welsummers. I've requested them for the last week in May. They should be hatched 27 May and arrive here on the 28th or 29th. That's after primary lambing and also after the weather is nice. We'll separate the 2 groups and brood them in different pens. We've found the broilers grow too fast and cause problems for the much smaller egg chickens.

14 January 2009

Chicken Dreams

Gardeners wait for the seed catalogs to come in the middle of the winter but for me the first sign of spring is the arrival of the chicken catalogs.

Full of promise, breeds that are rare, common, colorful, plain the chicken catalogs hint at the summer to come. The poultry world at your fingertips. All the chickens of the world are now available via mail order from somewhere. Or nearly all. Certainly there are hundreds of breeds and varieties that you can purchase.

I love looking at the catalogs, some come via e-mail and refer me to a web site. Others are full color paper catalogs and a few are just plain typed sheets with breed or variety and price. I pour over the lists, refer to my notes about what types have worked for us and which have not. I always like to try at least one new variety each year and deciding which will be the test chicken is always hard.

I have eliminated the long tailed, feather footed and Polish breeds because of the additional care they require to keep in good condition. I have also eliminated all bantams, I want full size birds. Bantams are great as a cage bird but on our farm even standard chickens are at risk of aerial predators so I want the full size versions. I have also eliminated all white birds, they might as well be targets or carry around "chicken dinner" signs in our environment.

That still leaves a lot to choose from. I know that I'll get a batch of Red Broilers as dinner chickens. The egg laying chickens are the fun ones. We've had great success with Gold Campines so I will get some of those for sure. But what new variety (or varieties) to try?

The Dorkings look fun, I really liked seeing them in Wales but I can't find red ones like I saw in Wales except from the speciality breeders and until I know they work I am reluctant to buy expensive chicks. I've always like the looks of Ancona's but the extra large combs may be an issue in winter. I love Buff Orpington's but they haven't been very durable here so I'm not sure I want to try them again. Welsummer's might be fun, I've never had really dark eggs and the Barnevelders also look interesting. Minorca's have been nice in summer but don't tolerate our winter very well so even though I like them I am not sure they are a good choice. The Brabanters we had were decent layers but only lasted one season. Russian Orloffs have the same cute ruff and might be a good replacement.

I now only buy pullets for my laying chickens. The extra cost is worth it to avoid having cocks.

Got a favorite breed? Let me know in the comments.

08 January 2009

Pruning the Trees

In addition to building excellent fences. Larry also prunes fruit trees.

We have gone through the orchard and marked the trees that are in the best condition and Larry will prune them hard to invigorate them.

It's going to be a big bon-fire when we finally burn all the branches this spring!

07 January 2009

Yarns and More

I'm getting set up on Ravelry as a yarn vender. Over there my username is OogieM and our yarn brand is Desert Weyr. Here are the yarns I currently have in stock.

This is a blend of 50% Black Welsh and 50% Western Fine Wool from a local Delta County flock. It's designed for lace or socks. I have skeins and also have full cones if you want a lot of it.

This medium weight is also a blend but has more Black Welsh in it so is a bit darker. Ideal for comfy sweaters.

Pure bulky Black Welsh for Monmouth caps and other bulky knit items where you don't want to risk having the yarn color bleed out.

I will be getting more yarns in pure Black Welsh spun in 2009.

Our web site sales page has all the yarns on it. I will be editing as I now have more skeins of the solid Black Welsh than is listed there.

01 January 2009

New Year Start

Larry came out on New Years Day to deliver the gates for the elk fence. We are storing them out front so they are easy to get at when the snow melts enough to put them on.

Then we had to dig out the wire and get it moved over to the new fenceline. Larry wants to take his tractor home so we moved the wire first.

End of the day, lovely sunset.