Monday, November 28, 2011

Ode to a rubber boot…


In Western Oregon it seems like we only have two seasons…  dry season - July through September, and mud season – the rest of the year.  During mud season rubber footwear is essential.  I’m not much of a shopper anymore - I don’t much care about my clothes as long as they’re comfy but when it comes to my rubber boots I’m mighty picky.  I wear my rubber boots pretty much 24/7 and I REALLY hate having cold, damp feet. 

My old pair of boots recently sprung matching leaks so I’d been tiptoeing through the mud to keep the mud and moisture from oozing into my boots.  Ugh!   Time for a trip to the farm store.  After trying on all of the options (each pair more expensive then the last!), hemming and hawing, and generally annoying the hubby :), I plunked down my money and came home with a brand spanking new pair of knee-high mud boots.  For once in my life my timing was perfect.  The next day the skies opened up, the wind blew in and it got seriously wet and even more muddy.  And I had a new, warm, dry pair of mud boots.  Oh happy day! 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thinking outside the llama (er… box)

We use four guard llamas, scattered around our property, to protect our sheep from predators and they’ve been mostly successful over the years.  Unfortunately all of them are getting up in years (20+) and all are exhibiting varying degrees of arthritis.  In July we lost one of our retired ewes to coyotes at our upper barn in an area we considered to be predator safe both due to good fencing and because we have a guard llama on duty there.  We couldn’t find any obvious point of entry but shored up every possible place along the fence lines which might have been a possibility.  We also decided that maybe it was time to try more serious predator protection – a livestock guardian dog (LGD).

About that time our neighbor, Linda Lowell of Ayers Creek Ranch, who raises great Pyrenees/Maremma LGD’s, mentioned that one of the puppies she’d sold a year earlier wasn’t working out in his new home and his owners were looking to re-home him.  We’d heard good reports from other breeders who had purchased Linda’s puppies so we decided to give it a go.  


Sam wasn’t too sure about us when first we met but with some encouragement (and a dog cookie) he climbed in the back seat of our truck and we all headed home.  His people really loved him but their neighbors were complaining about barking and he wasn’t getting along with their house dogs.  They did tell us they’d take him back if he didn’t work out at our farm so that was comforting to know.

Once we got on the road he put his front feet on the console between Doug and me.  He stood there for a few minutes then decided to lay down on the console (feet still on back seat – he’s a big guy!).  He decided it was okay to be petted and he settled down for the rest of the trip home. When we got home we walked him into the sheep barn and I sat down next to him while Doug set up a pen for him in the corner of the barn.  We occasionally use our border collie Sue to herd the sheep but otherwise our sheep aren’t used to having dogs around so we decided to take it slow with the introduction.  Sam was really calm as the sheep slowly started coming up to check him out.  One of the ewes sniffed his nose, Sam sniffed back, then he licked the ewe's nose.  Pretty cute :)  Thinking all was well I went to the house to get a water bucket and some dog food.  While I was gone Doug said the same ewe decided to try to head butt him so Sam growled at her - she backed off and so did he.  Seemed like a good start!

After we put Sam in his new pen I sat in there with him for about an hour.  He laid down next to me and seemed very happy to be petted.  At one point he even laid across my lap.  A lap dog! 

That evening after we brought the ewes in to the barn for the night we took Sam out to the big pasture and let him explore things for a while.  When we walked him over to one of the water troughs, he jumped into it and took a long drink, then he did the same in the second trough.  When we put him back in his pen he seemed very content.  We heard the neighbor's dog bark a few times that night and our house dogs barked back, but we didn’t hear a peep out of Sam.  Good news since barking had been one of the problems at his former home. 

In hindsight, we probably went way more slowly with the introduction then was necessary but since Sam hadn’t been around sheep and the sheep hadn’t been around dogs we wanted to avoid a possible train wreck.  Consequently it was several weeks before we were comfortable leaving Sam unattended with the sheep.  At first we were concerned that Sam, in his playful exuberance, might hurt the sheep, but we quickly became more concerned that the sheep might hurt Sam since several of our adult Jacob ewes made it their personal mission to attack Sam whenever he turned his back.   Baaad sheep!

Sheep/dog relations remained somewhat strained until the adult ewes left Sam’s barn to move into their breeding groups.  At that point the 2011 ewe lambs moved to Sam’s barn and it was amazing how quickly they came to terms with Sam.  So, at this point we’ve all settled into a comfortable routine and I sleep better at night knowing that Sam is on duty watching over the sheep and our laying hens.  He’ll even go as far as to round up any stray sheep if he feels they’re getting too far from the barn or the rest of the flock.  He’s a very sweet, affectionate dog toward us, but boy howdy! I wouldn’t want to be a coyote or stray dog who wandered into his territory.  

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Done at Last!!

Lambing finished up here bright and early this morning – hurray!  I always look forward to lambing with great excitement and anticipation, but after several weeks of intense lambing and the resulting lack of sleep, I’m generally just as excited when it’s done.  The amazing (scary?) thing is that within weeks I’ll already be planning next year’s breeding combinations.  Chalk it up to a short memory I guess.

I had planned to post more lamb photos several weeks ago but life (lambing, taxes, etc.) got in the way.  I’ll be posting all of the lamb photos on our website soon but in the meanwhile I’ve included more lamb photos below.

Here’s a sampling of our Jacob lambs…

Lizette 301R RS
4 Horn Ram Lamb #301
(bideawee Mr. Darcy x bideawee Lizette)
Lizzy 337E RS
4 Horn Ewe Lamb #337
(bideawee Tucker x bideawee Lizzy)
Lynne 339R LS 
4 Horn Ram Lamb #338
(bideawee Tucker x bideawee Lynne)
Maybelle 300R LS
4 Horn Ram Lamb #300
(bideawee Glyn x bideawee Maybelle)
Calais 333E RS 
4 Horn Ewe Lamb #333
(Kenleigh’s Imagine x bideawee Calais)
Rosalie 315R LS
4 Horn Ram Lamb #315
(bideawee Mr. Darcy x bideawee Rosalie)
Winsome 330E RS
2 Horn Ewe Lamb #330
(Kenleigh’s Imagine x bideawee Winsome)
Marta 327E RS
4 Horn Ewe lamb #325
(Sweetgrass Tobin x bideawee Marta)
Lynne 338E LS
4 Horn Ewe Lamb #338
(bideawee Tucker x bideawee Lynne)
Wren 343E RS v2 
2 Horn Ewe Lamb #343
(Sweetgrass Tobin x Rockies Wren)
Wren 344E RS v2
4 Horn Ewe Lamb #344
(Sweetgrass Tobin x Rockies Wren)
4 Horn Ewe Lamb #345
(Sweetgrass Tobin x Rockies Wren)
Whitney 297E LS
4 Horn Ewe Lamb #297
(bideawee Mr. Darcy x bideawee Whitney)

And more Navajo-Churro lambs…

Beebe 285R RS
Black & Tan Ram Lamb #285
(PDF Harry x baw Beebe)
Ailsa 313R RS
Spotted Black Badger Ram Lamb #313
(baw Salazar x baw Ailsa)
Beebe 284E RS 
Black & White Spotted Ewe Lamb #284
(PDF Harry x baw Beebe)
Oriana 294R RS
Black Badger Ram Lamb #294
(baw Salazar x baw Oriana)
 Melosa 286E RS 
Black w/TGH Ewe Lamb #286
(SLR Bejay x baw Melosa)
Selma 324R RS  
White Ram Lamb #324
(SLR Bejay x baw Selma)
Elisa 278R RS
Black w/TGH Ram Lamb #278
(baw Pinto x baw Elisa)
Ursula 320E RS
White/Tan Ewe Lamb #320
(SLR Bejay x baw Paulina)
Brunhilde 293E RS
Black & Tan Ewe Lamb #293
(PDF Harry x baw Brunhilde)
Querida 280R RS (Grey)
Grey/Tan Ram Lamb #280
(PDF Harry x baw Querida)
Sissy Mae 306E RS
Spotted Grey Ewe Lamb #306
(baw Pinto x baw Sissy Mae)

Thanks for looking!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Lambies at Last!

We finally started lambing last week.  It’s been a leisurely pace so far but a quick scan of bellies and udders today leads me to believe life is going to get much more hectic very soon… 
baw Brunhilde
Rockies Wren
baw Beebe
Sweetgrass Katerie

Eight ewes have lambed so far with a total of 15 lambs.  Mostly Churros so far - I think the Jacob ewes are holding out for a better offer.  I’ve posted some of the lamb photos below.  For now they’re just cute lambs.  We’ll be evaluating them for breed quality characteristics when they’re a bit older…
Spotted Badger N-C ram lamb #268
(baw Bernardo x baw Tessa)
Spotted Badger N-C ram lamb #269
(baw Bernardo x baw Yolanda)
Spotted N-C ewe lamb #270 
(baw Bernardo x baw Yolanda)
Black and Tan (Reverse Badger) N-C ram lamb #271
(PDF Harry x baw Audrey)
Black w/TGH N-C ewe lamb #272
(PDF Harry x baw Audrey)
White N-C ram lamb # 273
(SLR Bejay x baw Amorita)
White N-C ewe lamb #274
(SLR Bejay x baw Amorita)
Black Badger ram lamb #275
(PDF Harry x baw Winona)
Black w/TGH ewe lamb #276
(PDF Harry x baw Winona)

For more info. on the rams that sired this year’s lambs visit our website at:

More lambs coming soon (very soon!)…

Friday, March 4, 2011

Easy Keeper

Talk about an easy keeper!  He doesn’t eat, poop, ram things or wander off looking for girls.  Meet Capone II…P1010003

Jesse Leavitt of Willamina, Oregon, a fellow vendor at the McMinnville Public Market, carved him for us using a photo we provided of Maverick Capone, one of our past Jacob flock sires…
Capone Web 12-01

Capone II has been guarding our booth at the market.  He’s a favorite with kids and dogs…P1010004 


Here he’s pretending to be a Churro…

Thanks again Jesse – we love him!

If you’d like to have Jesse carve something for you contact him at 503-876-7024

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Return of the prodigal blogger…

Holy cow!  My goodness how time flies!  I started this blog back in December of 2008 during an unusually long and rare Western Oregon snow storm.  I was pretty much trapped in the house at the time and didn’t have much else to do.  I thought it would be a piece of cake to keep it up.  NOT!  As uneventful as our day-to-day lives seem here on the farm, there just always seems to be some new deadline looming which makes it hard to justify sitting at the computer for any longer than absolutely necessary.  And honestly I’d rather be out on the property doing something, anything, rather then sitting in front of a computer.  I’d think of the blog from time to time and would feel immense guilt (I was raised Catholic…) but actually sitting down to update it just never happened.

So, I’m going to try again.  Curiously, it’s snowing today in Newberg.  The first snow we’ve had this Winter.  The weather report calls for snow through tonight then the temperatures are supposed to drop into the teens through the weekend.  Our first lamb due date is Saturday so that should make things exciting.

A very quick trip through the last two years…
Lambing 2009 brought 106 lambs, and in 2010 we had 95 lambs.  Our ewe flock (for both breeds) has decreased slightly over the last two years.  The decreasing numbers are mostly due to attrition as old girls retire, so our resulting lamb numbers have also decreased slightly.  Not such a bad thing ‘cause Doug and I aren’t getting any younger.  For 2011 we bred 53 ewes so we’ll likely have 90 to 100 lambs again this year.

Oriana 143R Estevao 7-1-09 Face  
2009 Navajo-Churro lamb
Winsome with lambs (hi-res)
2010 Jacob lambs

We’re been selling whole lambs since we first started raising the sheep but In 2009 we obtained a USDA prepackaged meat sellers license and I started selling lamb cuts, pelts, horn buttons and other woolly things at the McMinnville Farmer’s Market in McMinnville, OR.  What a learning experience!  And how fun!  2011 will be our third season at the Market.  I’ve also spent Saturdays during the Winter and Spring months selling our wares at the McMinnville Public Market.  Determining how much/many cuts we’d need to keep a steady supply of meat on hand was an interesting challenge.  We butcher about 50 lambs, plus a handful of older animals, each year and that seemed like a lot – until people starting trying our lamb and discovered how tasty Jacob and Navajo-Churro lamb is.  The good news is we’re now selling pretty much everything we can produce.
USDA Meat Packages

In the past two years we lost some of our favorite old sheep…
Montgomery 12-19-08
Swallow Lane Montgomery 1999-2009
J Kirstin 8-05
Canberra Kirstin 1994 – 2010

And some of our farm friends….
Alice 1995-2010
Annabelle 6-08 
Annabelle 1994-2010
Sophie 3-2008 
Sophie – 2010 (age unknown)
Smokey 12-07
Smokey 1993-2010

But on a more positive note, we added a few new friends...  
 Eeky behind the panel 1-09
Bella and Bob 7-3-10
Bob (left) and Bella (right)

In 2010 we traveled to the N-CSA annual meeting in Idaho Falls, ID and the JSBA annual meeting in Ringoes, NJ.  While in NJ we met several East Coast Navajo-Churro breeders and attended their regional meeting.  So nice to put faces with names!  And of course I couldn’t resist doing a little sheep shopping while we were there.  We ended up buying five ewe lambs from Rebecca Gunther of Jersey West Navajo Churros, in Hillsborough, NJ, and Ingrid and Alan Painter of Puddleduck Farm in Brownsville, OR hauled them back home for us in late October.  Here’s a peek at the Jersey West girls dressed in their thrift store finest on the cold trip home from NJ to OR.  Their fashion stylist was Ingrid Painter.
  girls in coats

While in NJ we also picked up a nice Jacob ram lamb from Joe Bohr and Peg Bostwick of Sweetgrass Jacobs, in Saint Johns, MI
Tobin Face 9-10
Sweetgrass Tobin

And that pretty much brings us up to present!