Saturday, January 25, 2014

Sheep Update!

Sal has been my sheep since I acquired my first flock in 2008. I was renting six acres in the woods of Vermont and living in a small cabin (around 400 square feet). I loved that place. If I could have bought it, I would have. After living just a few weeks in Vermont I signed up for my local Ag Extension's Sheep 101 class. I had my first flock just a fewmonths later. Sal, Maude, and another sheep named Marvin made up that first trio, which I drove home to Vermont in the back of my old Subaru.

Sal and Maude stayed (and are outside right now). Marvin was missed so much by little girl in the the homesteading family that traded him for fiddle lessons her parents asked for him back. I obliged and replaced Marvin with Joseph, my only black sheep.

The old Guard is still here, and going strong. Sal,Joseph, and Maude are older now but in great shape. They are around 8 years old (Sal and Maude) and Joseph is nearly 5. They are hardy stock though and I suspect they will be around a while longer. They have never had issues with worms, illness, weight loss, or anything as such. The blackfaces I have raised since 2010 have had more of these issues, and I'm sure that has nothing to do with the breeder or the breed, but my inexperience and mistakes. But even though there have been low points in my shepherding career I am immensely proud of the lambs I have bartered, raised, and helped others get their own flocks started. I raised all the sheep that Brett has on his land now, including the lamb that was born this past year from a ewe born here in 2011. Common Sense has a gorgeous flock of Scottish Blackface all from stock born here. Their ram, Cloud, should be the new Dodge Logo. He is a tank!

I only have four blackface in the flock now, having sold off the other four adult sheep in the fall. All of the offspring born so far (since 2010) have been bartered for firewood (sometimes my life is very much like a game of Settlers of Catan). Looking back I wish I didn't trade any of those young ewe lambs at all, and instead culled or sold off the older males and non-breeding ewes. If I had done that instead of using lambs as a form of currency I would have a very different flock. Right now, two of my current blackfaces are male, Monday the ram and a little ram lamb from this past spring. The two females I have are ages 4 and 8. I hope these gals produce some young and healthy lambs this spring, as they were served by Atlas before he headed north.

The plan for the flock is to let the older sheep (they are mostly older sheep now) live out their days and hopefully raise two or three young blackface ewes up for starting all over with a breeding program. This year I am moving all the sheep out of their old paddock on the hillside and reseeding it and letting it rest so it'll be grassy again. In the places near the house where the hay has piled up from winter feeding I will be fencing it off and making a giant potato patch, taking advantage of the natural compost. So what was once a sheep paddock will now be grass and potatoes. I will look into selling some of the sheep as well, if anyone is looking for some elderly lawn mowers at a big discount. Well, all except Sal. He'll be here as long as Brigit lets me keep him. He's my favorite, him and Maude. Those two (oh hell, Joseph, too) aren't going anywhere. They've been with me since I started feeling lanolin between my fingertips. And here they will stay.

P.S. The wool mill I use and I have been in talks recently, and I will finally be sending off the fleeces I have stored all this time to finish up the Wool CSA from previous shearing seasons. It most likely will not be actual yarn until next fall. If you do not want to wait for your wool, email me to set up a payment plan to repay your share. Same goes for Webinars. Or if you prefer, trade in your share/subscription for a workshop. Let me know how to make things right in your eyes and I will.


Blogger Kathleen Stoltzfus said...

Why not butcher that fine young ram lamb and have yourself some fine eating rather than feed him for the rest of the winter? The lamb skin could also be tanned and sold.

January 25, 2014 at 7:07 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

I am considering it!

January 25, 2014 at 8:20 PM  
Blogger ST said...

Just a quick note to let you know that I've really enjoying the blog lately! :)

January 25, 2014 at 8:40 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

That means so much to me! Thank you Shannon!

January 25, 2014 at 9:06 PM  
Blogger WillowBrookFarm said...

You'll get a great yield of potatoes I bet! I used a spot this past year where I had built a little pallet hut for my bottle calves until they were big enough to be in the shed and the potatoes did great.

January 26, 2014 at 2:30 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

If someone wants out of their share ill purchase it off of them. I have so many projects that to wait awhile for some wool wouldn't hamper me.

January 26, 2014 at 2:01 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I wouldn't mind buying someones share off them if they want. Tried to order wool last fall from another source but ups musta delivered it to the wrong home.

January 26, 2014 at 2:04 PM  
Blogger Carrie said...

Don't worry about the webinars, I know you tried. Consider it a donation. Love your blog.

January 26, 2014 at 4:24 PM  
Blogger Westfarm Goat Mom said...

I suspect Maude, Sal and Joseph will live a long and prosperous life. My oldest wether sheep Herbie lived to be 17 years old. He was a Jacob/Lincoln and a wonderful wool producer.

January 26, 2014 at 9:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice to see all you good people out there.

January 27, 2014 at 7:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like a lot of prudent planning. As for the webinars, could I barter my earlier donation for them for a spot at the clan's virtual table? I'd love to be able to make an additional contribution but right now I'm just trying to keep the lights on here and land gracefully from a tough couple months. Things are looking up... but still treading water. Thanks as always for sharing your story with us all!

January 28, 2014 at 5:00 AM  
Blogger Robin Follette said...

I seldom comment but I always read and enjoy everything. I'll have a cup of tea and read the second installment of Birchthorne when I take a work break this afternoon.

January 28, 2014 at 6:51 AM  
Blogger Cindy said...

Just checking in to see how you're doing. So glad you opened up comments again!

January 30, 2014 at 10:26 PM  

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