Maine Fiber Frolic 2017 Poster
MOFGA Common Ground Fair Poster

rams get a mention

We do a lot of talking about the girls…ewes…moms — especially as we get into lambing season.  But not much is said about the boys. Let’s face it…there wouldn’t be any lambs without them. Well, there’s always artificial insemination but that’s not happening around here just now.  So I thought it would be nice to give some time and space to the very important but not often mentioned rams.  Just before they were sheared I actually thought to take some photos of them.  One young ram, Hatchtown Dickens, just couldn’t be captured on film so you’ll have to meet him another day. But here are the bigger boys…all Coopworths and handsome devils!

I know…there seems to be disproportionate number of rams to ewes here at Hatchtown Farm.  That’s because I adore rams.  Can’t help myself.  I can justify my addiction because with this many rams, we can switch the ewes around at breeding time each year and get lots of years out of the two groups.  Besides, I think they’re sweet — at least ours are — and they make so few demands.  They just hang out and eat (ok – a little more than ewes) make gorgeous lambs and grow a delicious, humongous fleece every year.

This year’s lambs were sired by Cole and Bartok.  Hoping for lots of natural colored lambs.

more hay…in April?

I think I must have miscalculated somewhere along the way because we’re still getting hay that I ordered last summer.  It’s lovely stuff…certified organic and it smells so good, I might eat it.  Jim thought it might make good tea.  The sheep certainly approve and they’ve been staying in very nice condition on it.

preparing to off load hay

There’s another 100 bales waiting for us to pick up so we’ll definitely have some left over when it comes time to put the sheep out on grass. That could be a good thing, though, because the soil is very dry…we had very little snow.  It might mean a not-so-great grazing season and maybe we’ll be happy to have that extra hay in the barn.

lambing begins

Lot's of action under EllenG...everyone is making a run for the milk bar!

Yesterday evening our oldest ewe, EllenG, had triplets and made it look easy.  It never occurred to me that she was carrying three…she looked like a “normal” twinning ewe. But here they are…2 ewes and a ram…and all nice sizes right around 9.5 – 10.5 pounds. And very spunky, too!  Great job, EllenG!!!

It’s beyond me how people can think sheep are stupid. EllenG can count!  Take one of those lambs away to weight it and she knows…she looks for it…calls it…and isn’t happy until it appears and is counted.  At eight years old, she’s been a mother many times and she’s also had three a couple of times so I guess this is her normal.

On this lovely Spring day, the little family is doing really well.  The babes are well fed and warm and snuggling with Mom.

The other ewes…still waiting…

 

 

wide body

still at least a week to go

getting some D after breakfast

shearing 2012

We sheared all the ewes on the 10th.  Well, actually Emily sheared them and did a fabulous job as always.  She makes it look so easy and is never grumpy even when there are challenging moments.  It may have been over a week ago but memories of the big reveal are fresh, and Jim and I are still talking about how many people came by.  It was really fun to be surprised!  The weather was pretty good so nobody froze and afterwards, quite a few of us celebrated with a potluck, lots of chatter and laughs.

soaking up the sunshine

We had a wonderful crew of helpers who did such a good job on the fleeces that I’ll hardly have to do anything when I get back to them.  Thanks so much to everyone…for coming…for helping…for the food and good cheer. We couldn’t do it without you all.  And it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun either.

happy skirters

The photo above unfortunately doesn’t include the sheep wrangling/sweeping/shearing portion of the crew who really get down and dirty and don’t even get the chance to get their hands into those warm fleeces…except while trying to move the sheep onto the shearing floor.

The fleeces are stunning this year!!  I do believe the abundant grass and excellent hay we were able to get has contributed…we are what we eat, right!  The girls are also in excellent condition as they go into lambing and that makes the shepherd very happy.  It’s nice to get a look at what’s under all that fiber.  From what I can see right now, 8 of the 10 are definitely pregnant.  The other 2…we’ll see…still early.

really really like this one...

really really liking this one too...

Shearing done -- what a good day!

We were so glad the weather cooperated and we were able to get the girls back to their paddock on Tuesday. The sooner the better as far as I’m concerned. Depositing poop outdoors is preferable to indoors where the shepherd gets to clean it up.

They know the way home.

And what of the boys?  They’ll be sheared this Saturday — 3/24.  Looking forward to seeing what they’ve grown this year!

leaping into March

February was longer than usual by 1 day and it still managed to slip by me.  I didn’t go on holiday or anything…just got caught up in family, farmy and fleecy things and then it was March.

We celebrated our younger son’s Birthday on Groundhog Day.  Yes, he was born on the 2nd at home while we were still in NJ. As he made his way into this world, there were jokes made about him seeing his shadow and retreating for another 6 weeks.  That seems humorous now but at the time…not so much.  Anyway, we had a little family party at the local Thai restaurant and had a great time.  I’ve recently discovered Thai and have fallen in love.  I’d always thought it would be too spicy but not so.  And we shared fried ice cream…ginger…worth every calorie! Forgot the camera.

On the 10th I reported for jury selection.  This was a first for me.  It was a really interesting process and the Judge was a wonderful educator. I wasn’t chosen for either of the juries they were selecting but I met a lot of interesting people and got to knit whenever the Judge wasn’t in the courtroom…which was a lot of the time. No photos in the courthouse.

Our neighbors at Ruit Farm North, Nina & John had their shearing on the 18th.  Happily, it coincided with our spinning group’s 3rd Saturday meeting so a bunch of us went to help and brought our wheels &  knitting along. We stayed for a yummy potluck lunch and a relaxing afternoon of fibery fun.  Wow! A fiber-full day!  Photos posted at the group’s site.

All month, Jim was tap-tap-tapping and sawing away at lumber for new sheep feeders. One we had was falling apart and the other had already totally self-destructed.  It’s really important for pregnant ewes to have lots of space around the feeder. They can get very grumpy and hurt each other if they’re crowded and the less aggressive ewes will get pushed aside and not get their fair share of food.  This is more of a problem than you might think and can lead to serious, possibly life threatening, problems later in pregnancy. I think Jim has been posting photos of the feeders at various stages on Facebook but here I bring you the finished product…very spiffy indeed!

The girls are loving their fabulous new feeders - made by Jim

Looking at these girls…shearing can’t come too soon!  And it already has — March 10th was the big day.  Jim and I put our camera in the capable hands of one of our guests that day, Maureen, and she took wonderful photos!  We’d never met before that day…wonder if she thinks we’re a little strange.  I’ll be back shortly with her photos.  Thanks Maureen! Until then, enjoy these sheep face shots…

Hazel expects more hay

 

Teasel needs a haircut