Balmy…

It was a balmy 43 degrees today, complete with sun which turn the pasture into…

a watery, icy, slick mess.    😦    Ugh!

Wading through the pasture…

Did I mention we received 2/10ths of an inch or rain too?

There’s not normally a pond in the middle of our pasture.

Coconut crossing through the icy, watery mess…
Tip-toeing along the edges…
Trying to cross…
The matriarch and her reflection….
The rams pen, not as bad as the ewes.
The heifers…

On a side note, I think we successfully AI’ed Butterscotch (the red Dexter) about 45 days ago!  We should be expecting a calf sometime in early September!!

The sheep remind me of the kids, they have a nice dry hillside to stay on but are out exploring the puddles!  Hopefully the weather cools down a bit or seriously warms up to dry up this mess.

It is still January…right?

This is a part of  Homestead Barn Hop

Scenes from the barn…

We’ve been crazy busy with lambs~hope to give more of an update soon! 

Cosmo and Tori

 

Attracting more attention...

 

Teigen~ a real cowboy, shorts and all!

 

Butterscotch with a snazzy hair style...

 

Ewes in waiting...

 

Dugur checking on the lambs...

 

 

Sweet babies asleep in the straw...

Milking Icelandics and more…

Lisa left this question the other day…

Enjoying your blog! I am interested to follow more about your sheep. Do you milk your ewes? I’ve had Saanen goats and an Ayershire milch cow, but never milked a sheep and am curious as to how much they produce.

I was interested in the Icelandics as we have Norwegian Fjord horses and I really enjoy the “Nordicness” of the breed. Their mindset is distinctly Scandinavian in a horse sort of way.

Lisa

Hi Lisa!  We do not currently milk our Icelandics.  My husband and I- or *me* more specifically have had the occasional thought to milk them.   More for the crafting part of it as I understand the soap is quite lovely!  But the closest we have gotten is this…

Milking

…milking a bit of colostrum to save just incase…or the occasional teat that needs to be stripped of it’s wax plug.  But I did send off an email for you and found out that, depending on the ewe they can give up to quart each side or about a half gallon when they are newly freshened.  It sounds like they drop off after that though.  One lady milks her ewes that are raising twins and receives a quart of milk from each ewe.   Not too bad!  However right now I don’t have enough time to milk several sheep for a family of 9! lol! But maybe one day and that is why we bought Butterscotch anyway ;0)

Butterscotch...

Butterscotch...

 

I was interested in the Icelandics as we have Norwegian Fjord horses and I really enjoy the “Nordicness” of the breed. Their mindset is distinctly Scandinavian in a horse sort of way.

I love this!  Icelandic Sheep are a very hardy breed.  The do very well in our Montana climate and others throughout the U.S. and Canada are successfully raising them too.  They have quite the personalities and are thouroughly entertaining!  To be truthful the first aspect that attracted us to Icelandic’s was their variable colors and patterns.  Not just another white sheep!  It is thought there are 189+ different color/pattern variations.  Then the list of positives kept growing..

  • *They have a lighter lamb flavor than most traditional sheep.  Which was very appealing to me as I don’t care for the heavy lambiness flavor.
  • *They can be raised on pasture and good hay alone.  We very seldom feed grain or extras with the exception of a good mineral.
  • *Lambs are very hardy and vigorous.  We only lost one ram lamb this year that was born still and no other problems with our lambs.  We even had one ewe lamb have the tendon in leg severed while shearing.  She just kicked right at a bad time and the blade completely tore the tendon in two.  We could not sew it back together.  We thought we might have to put her down because she had such a hard time getting around, but within a months time she was using that leg and now you would never know unless you were watching closely.
  • *Lambs are born with naturally short tails so there is no need to dock! Yippee!
  • *Ewes and rams are early maturing and can be used in breeding their first year.
  • *Variety in horns- Polled, scurred, or horned.
  • *Beautiful dual wool coats.
  • *The possibility of milking them ;0)

Thanks Lisa!

Breve- a polled moorit ewe lamb

Breve- a polled moorit ewe lamb

Winter Wheat…

Last fall Mark no-tilled in a grazing variety of winter wheat to see how the sheep would do on it.  It has been growing like crazy this Spring and we turned the sheep out on part of the seeding earlier,  just to see how well it would regrow…

Winter Wheat growing back in...

Winter Wheat growing back in...

And right now it looks beautiful!  The rest of the wheat is just starting to head out…

Winter Wheat heading out...

Winter Wheat heading out...

So we decided to turn the sheep out on it a couple of days ago…

Icelandic Sheep on winter wheat...

Icelandic Sheep on winter wheat...

~*~

Dugur wading through...

Dugur wading through...

~*~

Maddie hanging out...

Maddie hanging out...

~*~

Icelandic Lamb eating his way through...

Icelandic Lamb eating her way through...

~*~

Bruno he's turning out to be so handsome...

Bruno turning out to be so handsome...

~*~

lil Briar enjoying being out with the rest of the flock...
Lil Briar enjoying being out with the rest of the flock…

~*~

Butterscotch is convinced she is a lamb!

Butterscotch is convinced she is a lamb!

~*~
Eating down a patch of Shepherd's Purse...
Eating down a patch of Shepherd’s Purse…

~*~

A Brown Headed Cowbird hitching a ride on Auðráð...

A Brown Headed Cowbird hitching a ride on Auðráð...

Just this past week I have noticed that we have had some Brown Headed Cowbirds around.  They are a terrible bird, according to Audubon
The Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)is North America’s most notorious brood parasite. Instead of building their own nests, incubating their own eggs and raising their own nestlings, Brown-headed Cowbirds have a different breeding strategy. Cowbird females use other bird species as hosts — laying their eggs in the nests of other bird species and relying on these hosts to incubate and raise their chicks. Scientists have now recorded that Brown-headed Cowbirds have parasitized over 220 host species, ranging from the Black-capped Vireo and Wood Thrush to the Blue-winged Teal and Red-headed Woodpecker. While not all hosts make good foster parents — a number of species reject cowbird eggs — cowbird chicks have been successfully reared by over 150 host species, with songbirds comprising the majority of hosts.
The boys are not allowed to try out their BB Guns on birds, but we may have to make an ammendment to the rules for this parasite.
Bianca munching on tender new regrowth...

Bianca munching on tender new regrowth...

~*~
Grizel chowin down...

Grizel chowin' down...

~*~
Badger eatin' away...

Badger eatin' away...

I think it was unanimous that sheep are enjoying the winter wheat, this weekend we will take them off  and see what type of regrowth we can get from it again.  Hopefully we get more moisture as it has been really dry the last two months and our pastures are already starting to stress. Yesterday we did recieved 1/10 inch of rain, not much but every little bit helps.  We have some cooler weather lately but not much in the amount of precip, the clouds just sort of tease us and dance on over.   Hopefully we’ll get some more…
Storm clouds passing over...

Storm clouds passing over...

Pasture perfect…

That doesn’t exactly describe our pasture, but rather where the animals prefer to be… ;0)
Dugur watching...

Dugur watching...

~Bliss~ enjoying the pasture...

~Bliss~ enjoying the pasture...

~Blush~ eatin' it up...

~Blush~ eatin' it up...

~Butterscotch~

~Butterscotch~

Blue Andalusian hen...

Blue Andalusian hen...

~Breve and Bistro~

~Breve and Bistro~

~Bruno~

~Bruno~

Lambs enjoying...

Lambs enjoying...

A brief mountain snow...

A brief mountain snow...

Soon to happen...spring shearing!

Soon to happen...spring shearing!

Spring Pasture…

With Sundays beautiful weather and the pasture grass up and growing well, we decided that after the sheep had a hardy breakfast of hay to let them out onto green luscious grass.  The sheep were almost in disbelief, wondering if it was to good to be true as they ran out on the grass…

Lambs racing off dry lot to...

Lambs racing off dry lot to...

 

...green fields!

...green fields!

Some of the lambs wouldn’t cross where the electronetting once was, afraid they would get shocked.  They would just stand there at the border and call out for their mamma’s.  After a while they finally worked up enough courage to go out on the strange new green stuff!
Working up the courage to go out onto the pasture...

Working up the courage to go out onto the pasture...

Mark watching sheep, after fixing the fence.

Mark watching sheep, after fixing the fence.

One of each color lamb enjoying grass.

One of each color lamb enjoying grass.

Dugur watching the flock...

Dugur watching the flock...

Butterscotch out enjoying the pasture too!

Butterscotch out enjoying the pasture too!

Sheep on pasture...

Sheep on pasture...

...with the mountains in the background.

...with the mountains in the background.

At night they get moved back behind the electronetting to keep them safe from coyotes and other dogs roaming about.  After loosing 5 sheep last year to coyotes or a mountain lion,  it still makes me nervous even to have them out in the pasture behind 7-strand electric fencing that has 7,000 volts running through it.  It didn’t seem to deter the critter too much from a lamb dinner.  Another thing to make me nervous was the spotting of a  Bald Eagle today while out checking sheep, and then a few minutes later a larger bird flew over that must have been a  Golden Eagle!  ~Yikes!~ 
While it’s unlikely an Eagle would kill and fly away with a lamb, as it sounds like they can only fly with about a 5lb load they could still kill a lamb and feast on it there in the pasture.  Hopefully Dugur will be enough of a discouragement to them, even though he is only a puppy and not quite ready to totally defend the flock on his own yet.

Friday Farm Daze…

Catching up on the week…
Sawyer...

Sawyer...

 

Rechristened Butterscotch...

Rechristened Butterscotch...

Grey Badgerface Icelandic sheep in need of shearing...
Grey Badgerface Icelandic Sheep in need of shearing…
Bellah's beautiful eyes...

Our Australian Shepherd, Bellah's beautiful eyes...

Girls and Butterscotch...

Girls and Butterscotch...

 

Spring underway...

Spring underway...

 

Busy bees...

Busy bees...

Speckled Sussex feathers...

Speckled Sussex feathers...

Dugur (Great Pyrenees) and Hayden and Garrett...

Dugur (Great Pyrenees) and Hayden and Garrett...

All settled in…

Garrett and the heifer calf...
Garrett and the heifer calf…
Mark and the boys reached home last night at about 1:00 am, they were all a little tired but excited about the new calf.  We settled her into her pen last night and went to bed only to rise and shine early this morning for her first feeding.   Tori was the lucky gal who was able to feed her this morning…  
 
Tori bottle-feeding the heifer...

Tori bottle-feeding the heifer...

Beautiful isn't she?

Beautiful isn't she?

The kids are too funny about the whole thing, and can’t really settle on a name  for her, they can’t decide between Buttercup or Butterscotch.  Teigen was sooo funny this morning, I could see him walking through the pasture toward the barn and then around the corner and then he spotted her…his eyes got all big and he jumped up and down and said, “My calfy, my calfy is here…

 

Here she is all settled in...

Here she is all settled in...

She seems to be settled in well and Royal seems to be a bit confused because when he moos, someone in his native tongue answers back! 

A trio of trouble-makers nibbling my pants while bottle-feeding the calf...

A trio of trouble-makers nibbling my pants while bottle-feeding the calf...

 
 ~On a sad note, my camera died 😦  It has been running on it’s last leg for several months now and has been giving me an E18 error.  I guess it has something to do with lens moving back and forth and a lot of Canon cameras are having this problem: (  So until I can get a replacement Tori has graciously loaned me hers!  (What a sweetie!)

Buttercup…

Now if your expecting new lamb pictures, I might have to disappoint you but this maybe better!   Maybe? ;-D

Too exciting isn't it?

Too exciting isn't it?

Mark just took this picture with his phone camera…she is half Dexter and half Jersey.  She is only a month old and she is on her way here tonight with Mark, Sawyer, Garrett and Hayden.  Thanks Eva!
 
Our plan is to eventually milk her by AI’ing her to a miniature Jersey.  Hopefully this will create smaller offspring, making them less intimadating to the kids. 
According to the American Dexter Cattle Association…

Dexter Cattle

    The native home of the Dexter is in the southern part of Ireland where they were bred by small land holders and roamed about the shelter less mountainous districts in an almost wild state of nature.  The first recorded knowledge of Dexters in America is when more than twho hundred Dexters were imported to the US between 1905 and 1915.  In recent years there has been a worldwide surge of interest in Dexter cattle.  They thrive in hot as well as cold climates and do well outdoors year round, needing only a windbreak, shelter and fresh water.  Fertility is high and calves are dropped in the field without difficulty.  They are dual purpose, being raised for both milk and meat.  Dexters are also the perfect old-fashioned family cow.  Pound for pound, Dexters cost less to get to the table, economically turning forage into rich milk and quality, lean meat.

    According to the guidelines, the ideal three year old Dexter bull measures 38 to 44 inches at the shoulder and weighs less than 1000 pounds.  The ideal three year old Dexter cow measures between 36 to 42 inches at the shoulder, and weighs less than 750 pounds.  There are two varieties of Dexters, short legged and long legged.  Milk and beef production and other characteristics are generally the same for both types.

    Dexters come in Black, Red or Dun.  Dexters are horned or polled, with some people preferring to dehorn them.  A milking cow can produce more milk for its weight than any other breed.  The daily yield averages 1 to 3 gallons per day with a butterfat content of 4 to 5 percent.  Yields of cream up to one quart per gallon are possible.  The cream can be skimmed for butter or ice cream.

    Beef animals mature in 18 to 24 months and result in small cuts of high quality lean meat, graded choice, with little waste.  The expectable average dress out is 50 to 60 percent and the beef is slightly darker red than that of other breeds.

    No other bovine can satisfy such a diverse market.

Jersey Cows:
The Jersey cow is quite small, ranging from only 800 to 1200 pounds.  The main factor contributing to the popularity of the breed has been their greater economy of production, due to:

 

 

 

 

 

  • the ability to carry a larger number of effective milking cows per unit area due to lower body weight, hence lower maintenance requirements
  • high butterfat conditions, 6% butterfat and 4% protein and to thrive on locally produced food.