Our first lamb of 2016…

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It was quite a surprise when I went out one morning and there was Beulah, with a little baby girl.  I knew she was expecting, but I really thought she had a little longer to cook!  But I guess not.  She had cleaned the baby all up and was nursing it, and very attentive.

That was great because last year, Beulah refused her son, Thistle.  I was worried about her and decided to give her another chance.  Perhaps she was a little young or immature last year, or just didn’t like boys?  I’m not sure.  But I figured it was worth one more try.  And she came through.

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We decided that this year’s baby lambs would all be named after rocks and minerals!   Because we have a rock and mineral business, it just sounded like a great idea!   And so this little cutie patootie is named Ruby.   And it’s fun because she was born on a Tuesday!  Ruby Tuesday!   May 3rd…    I went out at 6 am and no baby.  I went back around 8:30, baby all clean and like she was there all the time.  Sheep don’t mess around.

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Love her speckled coloring!  Not sure if she will keep that or mature into a more gray like her mom or more black like her father!  She is cute and fiesty though.  She is quite a little mix…  she is half Finn sheep, and then 3/8th Shetland and like 1/8 Welsh Black Mountain sheep.  I think that is right.  Her mom is 3/4 Shetland and 1/4 Welsh Black Mountain.  Well, she’s cute, no matter what!!!

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Look at that little face!!!  Adorable!

Now to just wait on the rest of these ladies!!!

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6 AM Ewe Check…

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It’s been a good 10 days since our first batch of lambs were born and they are all doing well.  If you follow us on Facebook, then you know that our three little baby girls are thriving and happy!  It’s been a very busy two weeks on the homestead and I’ve finally caught up a bit and able to sit down and write about the experience of Lambing 2016!

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Ever since we have had sheep and lambs, nearly every one has been born between 3 am and 10 am in the morning.  I’ve read somewhere that it’s fairly normal for sheep to do so.  They have this ability to sort of time their labors, to a degree.  Its supposed to be a trait that was developed for herds that lambed outside.  Lambing in the dark of night was difficult for the animals, who don’t have the greatest eyesight to begin with and predators can easily pick the newborns out without the protection of the flock.  So by having them in the very early dawn light, the mommas can be up and done and the babies ready to meld into the flock for protection, if need be.

Makes sense to me.  It’s also a little easier on us shepherds!

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When I start to feel like I’m going to have lambs soon, we start to do late night checks.  Around midnight or so, since we are often up.  We check to see if any of the ewes are breathing hard, super restless or have any sort of discharge from their nether regions.  These are signs that this morning might be the day.  If so, we vote and someone goes out at 3 to 4 am.  It’s usually me!  Which I don’t mind because my girls are wonderful all the time with helping and I know they really like their nice warm beds at night.

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3 AM checks require the lantern and I usually bring a few little treats out, because who doesn’t like treats when you get woke up?  Angus, the head whether, he is always alert and meets me at the gate to check me out.  I love to see him outside the barn, even late at night during lambing time.  He knows.  He is very protective of his ladies.

It’s always funny when I go in the barn, Everyone gets up and looks at me and then at eat other and is like, “What is going on???”  They all act like this has never happened before when it was just the last three nights in a row.  Funny girls.  DSC_0453

I just go around and check everyone, sort of let them calm down a few minutes and watch and listen.  A ewe in labor can’t hide it.  She will be breathing hard, stretching funny and getting up and down.  Often she will be off in a corner of the little barn, in her own little world.  She usually won’t want treats.  (I have to say “usually” because Iris will eat in mid-push of her babies, she is smart and wants the energy!  Or maybe just the cookie…)  If I see a lady showing these signs, then she gets a little closer watch.

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If all is good and no one seems to be in any sort of distress, back to bed I go.  I will be back up at 6 – 7 AM to check again.  My thought is that if someone goes into labor and is having any signs of distress, there won’t be too much time between checks to cause too much of an issue, hopefully.  I know that is a slightly vague statement, but it’s been true in our experience.  Until this year, we’ve never lost a newborn at birth or had any birth complications.  Sheep generally are very easy delivering mommas.  That is nice.

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Angus is escorting me back to the gate.  He is my favorite sheep for sure.  He’s such a good boy.  A great uncle to the babies.  A protector of the girls.  And yet, he’s a baby and loves attention and wags his tail with pure joy when you rub behind his ears.  I just love this big old lug and I trust him entirely with the babies.  I believe he gives the ewes a calm protective aura as well.  They always look to him for direction.  In fact, in the very early morning, they will stay in the barn and he always comes out first to check me out.  When he knows for sure all is okay, he will grunt this little low chortle sound, not unlike the mommas do to their babies and they will all file out of the barn to see what is up.  He is their leader.

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During lambing season, my late night snack offering gets a little unappealing…  this night was a little leftover bit of stale pretzels.  I try to keep a big bag of animal crackers handy because that is their favorite snack.  But when we run out, you just gotta bring something to the party.  Bonnie and her girls didn’t mind.  Salty snacks are always good!

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Thank goodness this late night stuff doesn’t last super long, because it does get hard at around day 10.  Okay, who am I fooling…  it’s hard day 3!  Hahaha…  But it’s important and I think if I’m going to let my sweet ladies fool around in the late fall, it’s the least I can do to check on them and make sure everything is going well.  Someday, when we can afford it, I do want to consider getting the little video cameras that are available now for very reasonable prices.  I’ve seen decent setups with a camera or two for under $150.  I think that would be good for a lot of reasons, not just lambing.  We can keep an eye on flooding in the spring, and winter conditions.  And I really think it would be neat to check on the sheep when they don’t know we are watching!  Big brother maybe, but learning about how sheep act and react when they are alone sounds very interesting.  Perhaps some day, I’ll have to start saving up a little video camera fund!  :-)

Well, this is how it goes around our little homestead in the spring!

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Finally Weaving Again!

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It’s been a little while since I sat down and weaved.  Yep, just been either too cold in the studio or too busy.  Mostly, too busy!

Ever since Maggie started her fiber tool and loom business in July 2015, we have been playing catch up and trying to keep up!  It’s been an amazing blessing for our little family and so wonderful for Maggie!  You just can’t imagine how much it’s helped her to blossom and mature.  Just wonderful.

But, unfortunately, something had to take a bit of a back seat and for me, it was my own weaving and fiber arts!

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Don’t don’t despair, I really enjoy it much too much to give up forever and we are finally starting to get a better grip on Maggie’s orders and keeping them going through the shop and it’s much warmer now in the studio!

I am definitely going to have to look into some sort of decent extra heat source for the studio.  It sits out over an old porch area on the house and there is only one lonely little heat register in there that is very inadequate.  It’s too hard to weave and be creative with your fingers are freezing!  I will think of something…  I hate the idea of a kerosene or wood heater in there because of the fabrics and such, even the dust that comes from all the cloth and such.  Have more duct work run out to the space seems a little expensive and possibly difficult.  Perhaps a decent electric heater might work, something that I can turn on and off as needed to warm up an area.

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Well, regardless, I have several months before I have to worry about the cold again!  And in the meanwhile, I want to get weaving!   Our friend Monica has been coming over to help out and learn our ways a day or two a week and she is helping me sew strips and get more materials ready for weaving!  That is such a huge help.  We have been making Hit or Miss rugs the last two weeks.

Hit or Miss rugs come from an old rug maker’s terminology for just a random rag rug! Basically, you just put a mess of strips into a box or two and mix them up and grab them in any old manner to make a hit or miss rug.  It’s hard to be totally random, because, you really don’t want to grab like 3 light colors in a row and them a bunch of dark and then a mix.  But you do want to be very carefree as you make the strip balls!  I like to do hit or miss rugs with a colorful warp…  really makes the rugs beautiful and so folkish!   DSC_0463 DSC_0464 DSC_0467

The kitties love when we do strip rugs!  They love to sit in the boxes and watch us play with the long cloth strips.  Little Sophie really was involved this day!

You can see the result of our work!  This one is really pretty.   We did that first one on the post with mostly whites and creams.  Because we had a TON of those strips!  Figured, we might as well use up a bunch so we dug out a big handful of similar strips to balance out the rest of the rugs.

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We will make about 6 to 8 rugs on this warping until we run out of warp or weft!  (The warp is the string wound on the loom and the weft is the fabric rag strips we weave in)

I have three huge boxes of the stuff, so I hope we can really rock out and get a bunch of fun rugs done!  That will be fun!  And we’ll get them up in our Etsy shop eventually!  I’ll be sure to share that link when we get them up there.

Until then, I am just enjoying the process and having a great time weaving, again!

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