Search This Blog

Monday, April 28, 2008

Another photo of Tah Dah...

Well, here's mom...perhaps mom is a modified Kat? Beats me! The lamb sure isn't colored like mom at all...and yes, I am sure that really is her mom :-)
How about Fawn??? Might Tah Dah be that? In 11 years I've never produced a lamb this color...nope, not ever!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sandhill Cranes and Do you like Oatmeal fleece?

We had visitors again this morning. The Sandhill Cranes are back from their long migration. We believe they are part of the group that spends their summers here on our farm. There has been 5 for a number of years now, but these could be 2 of the 5. They traveled on over to the sheep pen, and last year's one pair always did wander around the sheep, up the drive, over past the chicken coop and then on to the hayfields. We like to think we are good land stewards and care about the wildlife that's called this place home far longer than the years we've been here.

Do you like an Oatmeal colored fleece? Wouldn't you know it, one of my unregistered ewes has given us a beautiful Musket ewe lamb. A week old, she is just lovely, complete with wool on the forehead. She is perhaps out of my 5th or 6th generation ewe - a good 'working' mother. She's also a devoted mother, with a spritely little girl that came into this world and went Tah Dah! She should have a fleece that some spinner will just love next year!
Enjoy your Sunday!

Saturday, April 26, 2008


I'm sorry, but I'm giggling...we turned on the Discovery Channel. "The Alaska Experiment" is on. A new show about 4 groups/pairs of suburb types dropped off in the wilds of Alaska in the Icy Bay area near Cordova in the fall during the last run of salmon. 3 have cabins and 1 has a wall tent. And there are plenty of bears. They get the basics to ration and have to fend for themselves. Sometimes I wonder how they choose these people - randomly out of a big barrel of names? I don't think so, they probably choose folks that they suspect would never make it. Just for a TV series. One family was supposed to have 2 milk goats.....I know this because they called me several times wanting to buys goats in milk for their show. I said no, my goats don't get to be dropped off in some bear-infested area with Cheechakos who don't know how to care for them. Eventually they did find 2 goats, but then the people they had chosen for that setup, well, something happened to one of them so I heard and the goats were shipped back to the seller. I was giggling over the first enstallment...first they wanted water when they got there, but what went through my mind was that they'd need a fire and fast. Fire is good, it warms and dries and comforts you to sleep well after a very long trek to find your home for the next 90 days. They were in a very rainy area, so soaked wet clothes and skin would be a problem. Fire was most important. Water seemed to be their most important desire, but when it gets cold, you have snow...when you have fire, you can melt snow. No fire, then no water, no comfort, you just freeze to death. Thinking ahead. They should be out picking berries and catching salmon, drying both. By the fire. They should hike to the beach and harvest kelp and sea urchins and mussels. Fire and smoke help keep bears away...they were worried about the bears. One family got into their one and only jar of peanut butter and ate some straight. Now, mixed with flour and baking powder and oil or grease, it makes a wonderful desert. One that lasts sooo much longer than one spoonful quickly swallowed. The salmon makes soup and fish cakes and salmon candy. Lichen supplies minerals and vitamins. If it was close to fall, rose hips would be everywhere to pick for tea high in Vitamin C. So much for them to learn, how could they do it fast enough?

Like raising sheep, we don't learn it all from a book, we learn from other people and from experience. Share your sheep knowledge. Who knows, maybe in the next show they will be dropped onto an island with only sheep to save them. :-)

Interesting show, I look forward to watching it.

This is what happened in less than 24 hours...

We are located between Wasilla and Northeast Anchorage as the crow flies. We received more than enough of our fair share - ha! It's slowly melting not with temps in the upper 30's but there's still 6 inches on our deck as I type this. Only one lamb born overnight, a healthy ram lamb to the unregistered flock. The registered girls are holding out for ransom grain I believe....

From the National Weather Service in Anchorage:


SKWENTNA..................................4.0 INCHES
TALKEETNA.................................6.0 "
PALMER - FARM LOOP ROAD...................9.0 "
WASILLA..................................12.0 "
WILLOW...................................12.0 "
EAGLE RIVER VALLEY.......................14.3 "
CHULITNA.................................15.0 "
SAND LAKE RD.............................17.2 "
30TH AND TURNAGAIN.......................17.5 "
UPPER HILLSIDE - O'MALLEY................17.5 "
LAKE OTIS AND HUFFMAN....................18.5 "
GLENN ALPS...............................19.0 "
O'MALLEY AND NEW SEWARD..................19.5 "
UPPER HILLSIDE - HUFFMAN.................20.0 "
DIMOND AND MINNESOTA.....................20.2 "
NORTHEAST ANCHORAGE......................22.0 "


The final snowfall results...

Here we are. Yes, pretty much buried in snow once again. Anchorage's official weather station in town received 15.5 inches of snow in less than 24 hours...actually, in about 18 hours or so. This past winter is now the 6th heaviest snowfall on record. The snow has stopped here on the other side of Knik Arm. The winds are supposed to pick up to finally push the front through. I'll have to haul some bales of hay from the barn today, the sheep aren't going to enjoy standing in belly-deep snow for too long. They may be covered in wool, but they still haven't figured out how to put on snow boots! We'll see if I can get some more photos today...I need to go let them out of their sheds now, I believe the lambs are going to be in for a shock if they try to do their normal lamb races....hehehehehehe..........
good morning!

Friday, April 25, 2008

A record snowstorm now...

Here's what the view looks like out our livingroom glass doors now...

Here's what the ground looked like this morning - the first 2 cranes to come land in our south hayfield made their appearance before 8am.

Well isn't this special! So far we've gotten somewhere between 10 and 12 inches of snow, although at the moment there's only about 5 or 6 inches (make that 8 now!) piled up since it's just above freezing ad compacting. It's dropping now,the temperatures are going down, but the storm isn't moving at all. They are predicting, by the time this ends tomorrow morning, a total snowfall of 12 to 24 inches. Oh brother. No, Alaskans don't get snow around here like this...we may live in Alaska but this is NOT normal!
Ok, there, I feel better, I whined a bit....
back to the woodstove!
And probably no herding again tomorrow.....sigh......
I updated this post several times, I'll leave it now!

Snowing again - what a day! What a storm!

No, it's not supposed to snow this late in April, but it's not unheard of. We get storms coming over from Russia on occasion, and this is exactly what's going on now. Snow. Actually at the moment it's a whiteout. It's been whiteout conditions all day. It was supposed to be 3 or 4 inches total. 9 hours after it started, it's STILL snowing with current measurements anywhere from 8 to 12 inches. They originally said it would turn to rain, but it didn't. It's a real storm with power outages and lots of road wrecks. No new lambs but still plenty of ladies in waiting...perhaps the bad weather will help them lamb?

How are you doing? Did you post new photos of lambs? If so, let me know...I love to window shop just like everyone else does, and you never know, I may just have to buy another lamb or two....genetics, can never have enough diversity and beauty too!

Enjoy your Friday, my woodstove is going and it's nice and dry and warm in here, would you like some tea?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Another photo of Natalie's girl


I am my mother's son...

And I am my son's proud mother!

Dominique and her new ram lamb born today....
Check out that crimp! Woohoo!
No, not woo woo...

Good morning!

This morning I went to check on new mom, Sister. I jugged her last night with her ewe lamb in hopes she'd figure out that she needed to feed this little girl by herself without my assistance. All is is standing for her little girl and she is nursing quite well on her own. I even got the pleasure of seeing her other end working properly too, meaning she'd indeed had a good meal already before I'd gotten there.

Alaska Dominique, a dark Moorit, gave birth to, yes, a Moorit ram lamb with a small Krunet. She's an old hand at this and I watched him easily get his first meal while her eyes glazed over...hehehe....she's a good mom, and is the dam of Sister who has the best fleece in my group. The ram lamb looks to have a good tight crimp also, but we'll see later when he dries off a bit more.

Photos soon....

Friday, April 18, 2008

Here's dad

Here's Barbados, sire of both ewe lambs....

Barbados's 2nd lamb

And, not to be outdone, Silveraurora's Sister just gave birth to a lovely Moorit daughter with a small Krunet... I finally checked her out closely, those were shiny wet spots on her fleece and she's definately a very dark Moorit! Another very tight crimpy girl - how very lucky I am today!

I did get a chance to look at Natalie's daughter closely...not a sign of gray anywhere. She has a very tight crimpy fleece too! Her mother has a lovely fleece so I'm betting on 'crimp retention'. :-)

Minwawe Barbados has his first daughter!

TADA! Presenting Minwawe Barbados's first born, a lovely daughter out of Alaska Natalie! This year's first registered lamb has finally arrived.

Decisions she a Moorit Krunet or a Musket? Mother carries Ag with some white fibers in her fleece at 3 years of age. Dad is a Moorit spotted Yuglet Smirslet Sockett. Well, on close examination she's a Moorit Krunet! YIPEE!

Silveraurora Sister looks to be next...hmmmm...that tail sticking straight out for the last few hours is at least a good indicator, eh? :-)
Above is Natalie and her daughter....

Boys boys boys

My registered girls moved yesterday from their winter-safe quarters out behind the barn to their new digs out front. Actually, they are old digs - the old sheep pen - but don't tell them! They think the small round bale in their shed is the best bounty they've seen in a long time and all that space - with the noisy geese next door - left them with big wide eyes all day long! And they are carrying loads...lamb loads...a few look, finally, like they are ready for the next low pressure system to come through so that they can show and tell. Not ONE registered ewe has given birth yet! GRRRRRR! There are 11 of them out there so someone surely needs to keep this Shepherd entertained soon, ya think?

Now for the boys.....
well, they weren't happy seeing the girls leave. Hey, they LIKE living with their girls. So much for that, the girls are gone. Now what to do with ourselves.........hmm, how about fighting? We put a stop to that, seperating them until we have their 'tight pen' done and ready for reintroductions. Hopefully they will work it out after the close encounter. Boys will be boys, and those big horns don't exactly help matters when they are all ticked off without their harems.

Hope your Friday goes well... I have to go teach lessons now!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

pricing fleeces? help!

Since I only want to help cover the costs of having my shearer shear my sheep in the spring, I don't know if I'm charging too much for my fleeces or $20 for the realy big, soft, nice fleeces and $15 for the yearling lamb fleeces too much? Our new feeding program leaves little vegetable matter in the fleeces now. The ones that seems to felt on the outside or otherwise feel or look poorly, I sell those for maybe $5 for someone to ouse for batting and craft projects. The other day I was made to feel I was charging too much...I feel bad if that's really the case. My shearer takes off the lowest part of the sides and britching and belly wool, leaving a nice big fleece that's trimmed. Can you tell me?? I don't want to overcharge! I haven't broke even yet this year, I still have at least 12 very pretty fleeces to sell....and I can't go to the weekend events where they sell fleeces because that's when I have to be here to teach lessons, so people have to come here. Thoughts?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Just a 8:15pm, it's still, yes still, snowing.BLECH!

Another day, another snowfall, and still no registered lambs!

Isn't this just lovely??????

It's 2 in the afternoon on Tuesday and lookee at the wonderful present! Oh, no problem, everyone thinks it's supposed to be snowing in Alaska...sure..

Actually, it's not supposed to be snowing, it should be in the 40's. Will the snow stick? Maybe some of it will, on top of the other 2 snowstorms we had last week. This time they're only predicting 2 inches...last week each storm dumped 6 inches. I'm very glad we live on a hill, the marsh below will have plenty of moisture no doubt.

At last count I had 17 lambs from my 'working flock' of unregistered sheep...and not a single lamb yet from my registered flock.

Someone has a real interesting sense of humor, doesn't He????

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Visions of gardens and spring

This is my garden as seen from the driveway... for some reason I can't find a photo from the side right now.....this is what it lloked like last summer...late summer. I planted in raised beds. I don't know how I found the time to have such a beautiful garden last year, or else I got lucky, but it really grew and grew beautifully! I ran out of fresh carrots last month. I only planted 2 packets worth and never fussed over them, yet I produced enough carrots for the 2 of us to enjoy through March. Amazing really. We grow great carrots up here...the fall frost makes the Nantes one of the sweetest you'll have anywhere, they really get sugar-y in Alaska. In fact, our carrots are known for that ultra sweet taste up here. Potatoes too...we just ran out of good ones, they are starting to sprout too much now in storage, although we have managed to save our seed potatoes in the dairy room for this year's planting. I also just ran out of onions. I planted some red cabbage know, the little 4 packs from the store. Without anything special, I grew a red cabbage that weighed 16 pounds...yes, I weighed it, I thought maybe I should enter it in the fair for the heavy red cabbage weigh off, but I didn't - they don't give them back! And I couldn't see wasting a 16 pound red cabbage. Based on last year's entries tho, I would have won 3rd place...a few dollars. Well, it was worth more than a few dollars so it stayed home. HA! I bought and Rick planted raspberry canes... Boyne to be exact, an old favorite of mine. Some grew, some showed no life, but I'm hoping the roots all lived so that this year we'll have our first crop of red raspberries in years. We had a huge patch at our old house and I miss putting up raspberry preserves in the fall. I plant pansies and other flowers in the garden too, a garden should be pretty as well as functional in my opinion, so it's nice to see flowers smiling back at you when you're weeding or picking something to eat. Oh, the rock on the left is a huge piece of white came from one person to another then to yet another, and landed at our house. So it sits in the yard as company to the other boulders we've had to move on our land. Sitting here typing, I realize that I have green, yellow, and pink nails right now...I went out to the greenhouse where it was warm and hand painted my favorite fountain. My butterfly maiden is now 8 years old and she was once quite colorful but had faded to the point of being a very sad looking maiden. I found several 8 packs of pastel paints on sale at the store a few weeks ago and said ah-ha! Just what my fountain needed. So, this year it will be a little gaudy for my likes, but it will fade nicely in our long sunlight days of summer until it is soft and pretty again. With all the new colors applied, I'm sure our honey bees will flock to it for their daily drink again too. I've wanted to get that project done for a while, so it's a good feeling that she is done and ready to be put out for the warm weather, if it would just hurry up and arrive!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Another sunny day

Another sunny day after the snow storms....but how frustrating. The snow isn't melting much, just enough to cause 'wet' instead of 'melt'....

I believe it set everyone back a bit.

People aren't too happy around here right now....not like we don't expect spring snow, just that we were primed for thawing with several weeks of weather going up into the 40's. Then this.

A bit depressing for some.

Not too bad for me, nor the sheep....nor even the baby chicks that have hatched.

Just not what we'd hoped for I suppose!

I want to dig in the dirt and plant the many seed packets I've bought. I would like my garden to thaw out.

My tomato starts are doing very well, a table full of cups with nice tomato plants growing up, in my livingroom. We raise our tomatoes in the greenhouse, the ground is too cold to grow them outdoors and expect to ever see a ripe tomato, and we start them from seed in the house. I have a nice flat of marigolds ready to put into pots too.

I wintered over a few rose bushes in the dairy room, they have survived and are waiting for real sun too.

Hurry up spring...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Another snowstorm, another day on the farm...

Yes, we had a big snowstorm Saturday and Sunday. They say we got 6 inches of snow, and it broke all-time records.

Well, it started snowing again this morning at 7am...I was to leave for the airport to deliver a dog for a flight around 9am. I could have done 9am had it not been forecasted for another, yes, another snowstorm. So I hurried, fed the farm, packed up, and left for the airport by 8am. Good thing I did, it took more than 3 hours to go 55 miles, just barely making it there on time. On the way home, a nervous wreck watching too many cars do 180's and 360's and ending up in the ditch, I stopped at the post office in town to see if my chicks had, THAT truck was 3 hours late from Anchorage too. I live 12 miles from the post office, and lucky for me my guy works in town so after making a quick phone call I headed home. I knew I'd have to run in and change back into chore clothes quickly, this time the snow was horizontal, blowing in from the south east and Prince William Sound. Rushing like a hen with the sky falling on her head, I made my way out to the sheep shed where I was greeted by many loud voices asking what took so long. Sheesh, talk about a SPOILED group! I shut them in and threw in a bale of dry hay to munch on...ahhhhh, peace reigns once again. After making the rounds to the coops and the barn next, I headed into the house and took the photo above. That's what it looks like at 2pm on Wednesday, April 9th, 2008.........not a ewe nor lamb in sight! But I know they are very happy with me right now too........

hope your Wednesday is nicer than mine weather -wise!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

so more lamb photos

Since everyone needs lamb photo fixes, I thought I'd share some photos I took before the snowstorm came in yesterday.....these are from the unregistered flock since none of the registereds have lambed yet.....plenty of gray showing....

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

I have a lamb question...

I have a strange lamb question....or it could be a strange lamb....

it's a boy of course, and a big boy at that. I bought his mom a few years ago, this is her first lambing here, she's unregistered but looks mostly, if not all, Shetland. Now, I wasn't present when this boy arrived into the world during the night. No, I saw him the next morning. He's a gray, one of those black Ag boys, and I didn't even need to pick up this big boy to determine he was a boy...that gray sure does stand out from behind, doesn't it? hehehe...

so, forward a few days, I have this lamb coming up to me. Not stopping back a ways to look at me, no, walking right on up to my feet. Looking at my feet like some do? Nope, stops and looks up at me. How strange. His mother isn't friendly to me, good luck catching her if you're not serious about why does this lamb come up to me? I didn't imprint him, that I'm sure of.

Today he greeted me again, stood there at my I reached down and rubbed below his jaw.....he leeeeeeeeeeeeaned into my hand. Perhaps a dominant boy out there, don't know, but oh did he lean. So I stopped and stood back up..he proceeded to chew my pant leg.

No, I'm sure he's not really a goat.

So I took a few steps, and I could feel bump bump bump...trying to still chew my pant leg.

Now why couldn't this be a ewe lamb instead? It would be so nice to have such a friendly ewe lamb without much effort.

Somehow this boy thinks I am a big part of his family. I will have to band him soon...he might turn out to be a very nice gray, and a friendly one at that, so I can work on finding him a kind spinner's home where his friendliness will be appreciated. He would be terrible as a ram!

Any thoughts why he's picked me???

It's snowing....

Yep, it's snowing. I don't think I need to take a picture of that for you, do I? You've already seen plenty of it 'down there'....spring WAS here, really it was, we could even leave hoses out all week without them freezing........

that's done with for now. Harumpf!

This is one of those storms that moves in over Cook Inlet (this might be a good time for you to Goggle Maps "Anchorage", the body of water coming up from the south is the inlet where the Beluga whales are.). We're at the West North-west part of Knik Arm, at the 'top' of Cook Inlet. We are surrounded for the most part by mountains......Talkeetna Mtns to the West; Chugach Mtns to the East; well, when a front in the spring comes in from the south, up Cook Inlet, it can get stuck.

The sucker is indeed stuck.

The radar shows it sitting over us, it's not going to 'go' anywhere for a while, not until it's empty of moisture.

So I can sit here in the spring blizzard at the computer....I heard about the potential storm yesterday, so I hauled straw for the sheep shed in case anyone wanted to lamb in the storm since they like to do that, and I hauled a square bale of hay since silly sheep stay out in the snow eating their new round bale with fervor and I get tired of worrying about them and their 13 lambs and finally lock them back in - then they'll need something to munch on until they give up on yelling at me for locking them in.

I even picked up hoses, again, in hopes that they can be left out again in a few more days.

Spring never comes easy in the north, but then again, we wouldn't appreciate the good days as much as we do if that's all we had were good days.....

why aren't my registered sheep having lambs? I don't know, they are holding onto them tight. Can't wait to see what Barbados contributes to the Alaskan they hold the secrets of spots or not.......time, and spring, will tell............

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Birthday game?

So, the Birthday Game is floating around the sheepy goes:

My birthdate:

You have an extraordinary character - moral, responsible, and disciplined.
Your sincerely and honesty shine through in almost every situation.
Driven and focused, you rarely let your emotions get the better of you.
You're level headed and rational.
People count on your to look at things objectively.
Your strength: Your unwavering loyalty and ethics
Your weakness: Your rock solid stubbornness
Your power color: Navy blue
Your power symbol: Shield
Your power month: April

First I noticed they didn't use a spellchecker (grin).

Driven and focused...well, triage, experienced long enough, will do that to you. It's how you stay sane.

As a herding instructor, I'm needed to look objectively at what the dog, the sheep, and the handler are doing and make adjustments, so ok, I have to have some objectivity.

I am loyal to my mentors and those who've been kind to me. No doubt.

Stubborn.......yep....been known to be stubborn, firm to convictions.

Power color navy blue - well guess what, the new house and the old house are carpeted in navy blue. Not kidding. The bathroom towels and carpets are navy too. Scary.

April, huh? Never thought about that one........

good night!

Good morning, it's Thursday

Good morning. It's already Thursday... why is it that when the daylight gets longer, the days seem shorter? Is it because spring is on it's way and we are anxious for flowers and leaves on trees, gardens, time spent on the porch or deck, perhaps also waiting for the first real outdoor BBQ of the year? It could be one or more of those things. I'm waiting for more lambs to show up. We wait for spring, then we start seeing lambs appear in multiples.....then nothing.
Primitive breeds such as the Shetland have their own breeding schedule in the fall, when they are good and ready according to the weather, the decreasing sunlight, the temperatures, and, when they are just good and ready! Unless you're using things to synchronize the exact 'when', then you are like me...waiting. A little anxious. Forever checking. I watched the lamb races here yesterday, round bale feeders are conducive for lamb races. But less than half of the ewes have had their lambs in that group, and my registered ewes have not even had a lamb yet in their group! The lambs are late all over the place it seems, most shepherds reporting in that they've had very few lambs so far compared to last year...all except Minwawe, who already has a wonderfully large group of lambs to enjoy seeing on her blogspot. She must be on a special piece of land there with magic in the water too. The rest of us, well, we're still waiting!
Last year, I asked that someone's lambs be saved for me this year...Cheesecake is a favorite ewe here, one that came from Peeps last year. Everyone loves Cheesecake including me, but I especially love her little, sweet, and melodious is like music to my ears. When I was told her mother has this voice and usually her lambs also have the same voice, well, that was that. I had to ask for those lambs, if any were born from her mother Cupcake, this year - and they were. Cheesecake also has a wonderful fleece and a very nice Shetland disposition. Of course I would want the chance to have more just like her.
Above is a photo of Cupcake and her new lambs, Chocolate Torte and Key Lime Pie.... aren't they beautiful?? I couldn't have asked for more, lucky lucky me, they were both girls too...not that that really mattered, I would have taken boys if that's what she had! I am very grateful for these special lambs, I can't wait till they have wings and fly fly fly north to call our farm home......not soon enough, just like waiting for spring....not soon enough!
good morning!