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!