Joy of joys! Brittany's fleece arrived in the mail yesterday from Wooly Knob Fiber Mill. It spins beautifully and I've already spun one bobbin, getting ready to spin another one as soon as I get the plied skein off my wheel. I get to experiment with how it dyes, so looking forward to that experience.
You just gotta love rams and their quirky behaviors! Here is a pic of a fine, black Katahdin ram just purchased last week by the lady who rents our pasture.
He was put in with a white Katahdin ram who has been with the Katahdin ewes the past few weeks for breeding purposes. Our renter also purchased a white with black spots Katahdin ram of the same age.....her plans, to get them to a good weight and have them slaughtered for this coming spring's farmer's market .
Well, how did the boys get along(all three intact, BTW)? The white ram was defending his "girls" from the new boy on the block. They were pushing against each other, groaning, butting heads, etc. The ewes were busily eating grain, oblivious to the struggle for their affections. Where was the white and black spotted ram? I looked fervently and found him among the ewes munching his little heart out. While his macho companions continued their wrestling match, "Lover Ram" mounted and bred a couple of ewes.
I had a good laugh and made a mental note to tell our renter that she might have some white and black spotted lambs this spring.
I heard from Jamie this evening...a long anticipated call regarding Brittany's fleece we sent in September to be processed by him at Wooly Knob Fiber Mill. I had asked specifically about the quality of this fleece for spinning. We intentionally crossed Scottish Blackface with Horned Dorsets in order to produce a fleece with a long staple for spinning with softness from the Dorset. He said it was a nice fiber but should be used for socks or rugs , not quite soft enough for next to the skin wear. I was grateful for this advice to help us know which marketing direction to take with this type of fleece. Brittany is a first generation cross with a Horned Dorset ewe and a Scottish Blackface ram. Chunky Buns is a product of a Scottish Blackface ewe, Jihad, and a Horned Dorset ram. We have a total of five lambs born this past July of this particular cross.
I hope to get some more photos posted of them. In the mean time, I am happily awaiting Brittany's fleece to arrive in the mail. I can't wait to start spinning it and see how it takes a dye! Until then, Happy Spinning to all you spinners in the blogosphere!
We had to put down Jihad this evening. She was suffering and couldn't get up. I had the distinct impression she was hanging in there for us......because we wanted her to live. When we went to check her this evening , she was lying down and when she saw us, she struggled to get up. My husband let me have a few minutes with her while he got the other sheep out of the barn and shut the stall doors to the paddock. I scratched her ears and told her what a good ewe she had been and what a fine baby girl lamb she had given us. I told her she was going to a better place and her suffering would be over. My husband shot her with his rifle at the base of her ear. I couldn't be present but he alleviated her suffering in a quick and humane manner and for that I am most grateful. Here is a poem in her honor:
A Sheep Farmer's Prayer
Heaven won't be so lonely If what I hope is true If a little lamb is there Or some old friendly ewe In those celestial pastures Beside still waters deep May the eternal future find me With a little band of sheep
My husband said the expression in her eyes after death showed relief.
My husband and I had a discussion about Jihad yesterday. She is not improving but she is still alive and has not given up. She is still eating but not enough to put on any weight. She doesn't appear to be in constant pain and she is holding her head up when she is lying down, It disturbs me greatly to see her like this, but she is still here so I take some encouragement from that fact.
Jihad got out this evening while we were feeding the sheep. She eagerly started eating the grass in the yard, stumbling and weaving about like a drunk sailor. We let her graze awhile and decided to let her graze again tommorrow in the yard. She is still so very weak and I don't know if she's going to make it. It makes me very depressed....
We have a sick ewe. She is two years old and gave us a fine, little ewe lamb this past July. Her name is Jihad and we gave her that name in jest. She is a Scottish Blackface. Here is a photo of her we took this past Saturday.... You may be asking, what happened to Jihad? Well, we thought at first it was mastitis since she seemed to be in the process of weaning her lamb. I gave her 3 days of penicillin but she did not improve. She was off her feed and very emaciated. She was grinding her teeth in pain so we got three days of Banamine from our vet to help her. We noticed her her moving very slowly and her hind quarters appeared stiff when she walked....then I remembered the attack by Neo,our miniature horse, from a few weeks ago. The lady that rents our pasture for her border collie training was out working her sheep that day. I herded our flock towards the back of the pasture. Neo came storming out of the east paddock and started chasing our sheep. From a distance. I saw him tromp one of our sheep with his hooves. He had the sheep on the ground, stomping and biting the sheep on the back of the neck.I came running to check the sheep that was still lying on the ground, but the sheep was up and away before I could reach it. From that distance, I thought it was Malcolm, another of our Scottish Blackface sheep. I noticed Jihad lying in the barn about five days after the event and that's when we started treating her. Needless to say, Neo doesn't live here anymore ! It has been a real challenge to get Jihad to eat. We have been giving her Survive orally and that seems to have improved her appetite......for cat food! She got out of her stall the other day while I was fighting our Boer goats who had broken the chain on their stall and were heading for the hay. I ran over to shut the barn door, turned around, and there was Jihad chowing down on the cat food. It was the first time I had seen her eat with enthusiasm for a couple of weeks.