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

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

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.