Update

Well, guess my assessment of Daisy yesterday was wrong!

After 2 hourly checks last night it looks as if the girls are going to make us wait a little more.  

Everyone rushed to the hay feeder this morning – well, some a little slower than others with a waddling gate!  But no one appears to be in active labor at the moment.

We’ll continue 2 hourly checks (at least) throughout the day!  Looks like a pretty cold night tonight, too.  Hoping the lambs don’t come when it’s freezing out there!

Go Daisy!

First ewe showing early labor signs!  

Daisy was the first lamb born at Morning Star Meadows, so kinda neat if she ends up being the first of her group of maiden ewes born that year to lamb!  Her pen is all ready for her.  We’ll wait until she’s a bit closer to separate her – right now she’s not sure what’s going on and wants to be with the other girls.

She’s still eating and chewing her cud, but stops from time to time and just stands there wagging her upright tail and looking uncomfortable.  She even let me pet her for the longest time.  Poor thing needs comforting!  After going through this enough times myself, I certainly have an idea of how she’s feeling!

Countdown is on!

This weekend lambing should begin at Morning Star Meadows!

We are very excited this year, having bred our largest number of ewes – 7!  We have 2 mother-daughter pairs pregnant, which is always fun.  We’ve heard stories of daughters helping their older moms with their lambs and experienced moms helping their inexperienced daughters, so we’ll see if any of that happens!

4 of our mommas-to-be are maiden ewes, so this will be a big first for them!

Lambing is always full of surprises!  Last year we had to assist every birth – probably due to overfeeding (that’s our theory, anyway!)  This year we stuck to only 2nd cut hay feeding (no grain supplementation) and so we’re hopeful to have mostly unassisted births.

Visitors have been predicting triplets and quads based on the rotundity of the bellies out there!  I’ll just be happy with twins and singles who are healthy and happy!

Our lambing kit is packed and ready to roll, along with lots of clean towels!

So stay tuned for lots of pictures and videos of cute babies and nickering mommies!  Just bear with me if I don’t get them up right away, as 6 of the ewes are all due within a couple of days of each other, and I may be a bit sleep deprived.  

Speaking of sleep, what little I get will be gotten on a cot in the shed near the lambing pen.  Hopefully I’ll get a pic of that up at some point when we have my little sleeping quarters set up!

So think happy thoughts for us – stop by and visit sometime next week if you can – and pray that all goes well next week for our ewes and their babes!

Covert operations

Had you stopped by our farm last night you would have thought that some chicken smugglers were hard at work under cover of darkness!

Actually, it was our entire family of 10 working together to move 20 young layer hens from their temporary home to their new home with nearly 30 older layers!Image

This is the third time we’ve done this, and hands down, the best time to merge flocks is after dark, after they’ve roosted for the night.  They are so calm that they don’t even notice that they have a new neighbor on the roost with them.

So we brought the 20 new pullets to join with the old hens, mixing them up a little on the new and old roosts.  Today they’ll have a cozy day locked in the henhouse so that the older hens can beat up establish their pecking order with the new girls and show them around the place.  We’re hopeful that the new girls, who have just started laying, will adapt to using nesting boxes (they haven’t had them up until now) by following the older hens’ lead.  

Plan is to then let them out into the small hen yard, blocking them off from the big fields until they learn where their new home is.  After a few days they’ll get run of the pastures and they should quickly adapt to their new routine.

One very cool thing about the henhouse (or perhaps I should say “warm” thing) is that we ran out of time putting up the battens, so there were still some gaps that would have let in cold air near the upper roosts.  Some of us took off-cuts from the spring shearing and stuffed them into the gaps to help seal them temporarily! Image 

Sure did the trick!

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Here’s the nesting box side…

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And the old door, now the new door!Image

We’ll soon have LOTS of eggs available and will be able to re-open our roadside sales here in North Stonington in a month or two!  Stay tuned!

 

Spring Shear

Wow!  It’s April!

Things are really beginning to get busy around here!

Last weekend we tackled a huge chore and sheared all of the sheep and trimmed their hooves!

The weather has been pretty cold compared to this time last year when we had temperatures in the high 70’s.  We’ve been putting off shearing because we especially didn’t want our pregnant ewes getting too cold at night.  Right now we want to keep them well fed – but not overfed – and comfortable in their final 2 weeks of pregnancy.

We started out with the two most “ram”bunctious of the flock – Drover and Boomer, our rams.

Drover was very cooperative.

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He looks far less imposing when he’s lost that fluffy coat of wool!

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We followed up with Boomer, beautiful black boy that he is…

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He’s always quite cooperative for shearing or pretty much anything else!

Reintroducing the rams brought predictable results.  The boys didn’t recognize one another at first and had a few minor scuffles that were easily broken up.

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Then we moved on to the pregnant ewes, hoping to finish them all before lunch.  Let’s just say it was a late lunch that day!

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Our matriarch, Millie, was first.

She’s so good, and so used to all of this.  We took the liberty of balloting her abdomen to see if we could feel one of her lambs – and sure enough, we felt one on the right side, down low just behind her ribcage!  We’re guessing there’s another one in there as well!

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We continued to work our way through the white ewes.

Next was Millie’s daughter, Fatima.  We’re pretty sure from the look of her that she’s carrying twins – her first pregnancy!

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Nice baby bump!

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Final touches

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Next up, Daisy

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Pit crew at work…

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Sorry, Molly, looks like you’re next!

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She’s a pro, too.  Very cooperative.

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Peeling off in sheets!

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Molly’s daughter, Shirley…

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No!  Not me next!

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Sorry, Bruna!

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Don’t forget my pedicure!

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After lunch we tacked the three yearling ewes

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Freyja’s wool is so gorgeous!

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Blue’s wondering when it’s his turn!

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The yearlings happily head to their pasture

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And the pregnant ewes head for their hay bunker!

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They’re pretty much fixated on food – eating it, ruminating it , burping it up and eating it again

Roxanne, Fatima, and Millie strike a pose

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Look at those bellies!

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Time to retreat to the furthest corner of the pasture!

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You’re not going to catch us again for a while!

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CT Sheep, Wool, and Fiber Festival 2013

CT Sheep, Wool, and Fiber Festival 2013

Hope you can attend!  Follow the link for a flyer with times of events!

Announcing………The 104th Annual CONNECTICUT

Saturday, April 27, 2013

9AM – 4PM, rain or shine

Tolland Agricultural Center 24 Hyde Ave. – Rte. 30 Vernon, CT (Just off I-84 exit 67)
Free General Admission–Parking Fee $5/car

Sheep Displays • Fleece Sale
Sheep Shearing • Fiber Animal Displays
Sheep Dog Trial
Vendors of Spinning, Knitting, Fiber Products and Crafts

Great Food
Free Seminars & Demonstrations • Kids Corner

Spinning Bee & CT Blanket Door Prize

Sponsored by: The Connecticut Sheep Breeders Association, Inc. http://www.ctsheep.com

Always the last Saturday in April!

No Dogs on Grounds except Registered Guide Dogs or Trial Dogs (in designated areas only) Check the CSBA website for programming times & details……..