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Friday, May 29, 2009

Spring Flowers and such

Spring flowers and such...the plants - while they are young and just starting to regale us with their beauty. Another rain today, the low light and moisture makes some appear a different color than usual. Beautiful to enjoy tho.....

First, Scented Stock with a heavy perfume in the cool evenings....

A fun rose of old fashioned type, Playboy goes from yellow to pink to hot pink as it opens...
A beautiful rose in it's own right, when dry in full sun, is indeed like it's name - Hot Cocoa

Those in the Northern climates know the May Day Tree well....blossoms arranged much like the lilac.

One of my deck rail planters, consisting of Sweet Alyssum, Calendula, and Dusty Miller.

Spring flowers and such.......

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Silly me

It's hard having so many interests when the Alaskan summer finally hits! On Sunday I'm not only entered in a dog show in the morning but a goat show in the early afternoon......with 20 of my goats entered no less. Nigerian Dwarves, Nubians, and Saanens. Of course each venue is 45 minutes in opposite directions......if I'm not careful, I'll be passing myself on the road zipping from one thing to the other! Everything is crammed into an Alaskan summer, but then again we get to snooze all winter and make up for the madness......

silly me!

And here she is!

And here she is...... Minwawe Sleeping Beauty's new ewe lamb. Note the full face markings and the back markings......she sure is interestingly patterned. Almost a cape....not quite but sure close if you connected the dots - haha! BIG girl too.

And we had another little one arrive today - probably our last one of the year. Silveraurora's Feather, my moorit yearling with a small krunet, gave birth to a solid black with a full smirslet! And guess what sex? You got it - it's another girl!! I'll try to take pics of her tomorrow.
The final count out of 13 ewes:
11 ewe lambs, 2 ram lambs - both sired by Captain Hook.
Anyone want to buy some ewe lambs? I think we've got enough this year to sell, that's for sure! And to make things even more comfortable in the wallet, NW airlines has been shipping 2 to a crate lately too.....not a bad thing to consider, don't 'ya think??? Does anyone look like they should fly to your home?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sleeping Beauty's new lamb

Good morning! Spring is here in full force and that means little time in the house - and little blogging - when the weather is good. But I needed to take time to type just to announce that we have yet another beautiful registered lamb in the flock as of yesterday. Minwawe Sleeping Beauty gave birth to a very large single lamb, and, if you've been following my blog, then you've guessed it - it's a girl! She's a beauty too......mostly white with only a few big round black spots on her front half and big Yuglet eye markings along with the black muzzle that Topple passes along to his lambs. Yes Topple. You see, Sleeping Beauty was with Peyton, the Gulmoget. But Peyton doesn't seem to have 'done anything' this time around - the only girl in his pen that has shown any signs of pregnancy is Sleeping Beauty and that is because 5 months ago, according to my calender, I heard a loud crash and saw Topple clearing the fence while I was doing barn chores. By the time I put back one of the dairy goats I was taking out to milk so I could get out there and grab him, the 'deed' was done. Boy was I mad! Perhaps Topple was frustrated that his neighbor wasn't taking care of things. So I marked the event down on the calendar and yesterday, his daughter made her grand arrival in the sunshine of a warm day. So, Peyton, we don't quite know what has happened to you, we have no lambs from you this year even tho you were quite happy living with your girls since last fall, all through the winter, and into spring. But, at least Topple took over and we have a lovely little girl to be thankful for!

10 registered ewes have given birth with one more due soon. So far, the count is 8 ewe lambs and 2 ram lambs.

For the unregistered working flock, they have finally finished lambing including the yearlings. 23 lambs running around like crazy!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Blessed rain.....

Blessed rain........we have gone directly from winter to summer for us here in Southcentral Alaska. 3 weeks of temps in the high 60's, last years dead grasses and dry spruce trees meant horrible fire danger. You can see the forests in these photos, they are dense. Last Friday I had to rush home from town when I received the call that a fire had started only 2 miles downwind of our house. 6 hours later the fire was contained, but that was a nerve-wracking afternoon. Now, today, finally we have rain. A light, steady, cleansing rain. Wash away the ash still lingering from the last time Mt Redoubt blew up; wash away the dust and grime that comes from afternoon thermal uplifts that cause winds; wash the gravel and blades of new grass and gently woo the leaves on the trees to fully erupt. Rain, we certainly needed it!

Above, rose buds will eventually reveal a Cocoa on the left and a Honey Perfume in the center which is flanked by Fern Dill and a box of Nasturtiums. Above, my rail planters I started in the greenhouse consisting of Alyssum, Calendula, and Dusty Miller - this is the south deck, so very hot in the summer and requires tough plants no doubt! The marsh behind still has plenty of water and wildlife. Yes, the 'green thing' is a parrot stand for our Cockatoo.
The deck, a hodge-podge of outdoor furniture picked up bit by bit at end of season sales - haha! The water fountain on the left surrounded by miniature red and white pinstripe roses; Honey Perfume front right, and a non-patent further back on the right. The 'view' is the south hayfield and mom's rabbit hutches.

And here's Blanche's little ewe lamb. Long bone pattern! Good crimp, nice little Krunet on her head telling us she's carrying the spotted genetics.

How are you doing??

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Did 'ya ever notice....

Did 'ya ever notice how gabby us Shepherds are in the spring and summer? Full speed ahead comes lambing and spring and pastures and fencing and paddocks and barn repairs and planting gardens and flowerbeds and going CRAZY!

Isn't it just GREAT??????!!!!!!!! WOOHOOO!!!!

Welcome Spring in Alaska!! YAY!

Worth cross-posting

I posted to the Shetland e-list this morning and this is probably worth cross-posting.
Preface - we feed hay all year long and don't put our sheep out on pasture ground here, instead the ground is reserved for hay production. Nancy commented that she felt sheep should be grazing on pasture, and others also commented that they don't pasture either, but for many different reasons. Here's my response: (note - copying and pasting makes some of the words run together, so forgive the odd spots in this post!)

Re: hay feeding ?
LOL! It's ok everyone, I doubt Nancy meant harm (G).... you DID shock a few folks tho Nancy! Bad girl! Not really!

My working flock are, for those who don't know, used for training stockdogs to work. They do their best to earn their hay and living quarters. That means that on a good day, they leave their paddock, travel down the open trail to the arena snatching grass along the way. Then are put in holding pens down at the arena to wait their turns. When they are out in the arena - 110'x 210' which is approximately a half acre, we're teaching the dogs to move them quietly and efficiently from point A to point B and they graze along. The arena is kept in very good condition and the graze is mostly brome that they keep down to a length of between 2 and 4 inches. So, Nancy, you can think of them as traveling souls snacking along the way. The amount of graze they get is equal to what a shepherd would do is you are taking them from their winter quarters to introduce their rumens to spring grass - limited to prevent bloat or grass tetany. During herding trials, after they are done each day working, they are turned out on the arena for a few hours of R&R. The transition from low moisture bailage to fresh grass is not as dramatic on their gut processes as would be dry to grass, so they can stay out longer. I will say tho that be the end of a 2 day trial, they get much looser poops so are at their maximum allowable consumption of green grass.

Certainly the visions of sheep grazing on open pastures with not a predator insight are idyllic. It's what we were shown that sheep do when we were children. But it's also our responsibility as Shepherds to keep them safe, which for us means confinement in clean, large paddocks. Our bailage is made from our 2nd cutting - like Northern Ireland, getting dry hay from 2nd growth is all but impossible because of the cold fall temps, high dew point, and little ability todry it to 12% before the dew hits it again. We individually wrap each round bale and make sure it's sealed tight with no rips in the plastic and then it's stacked and stored for the year.

Kate - our first cutting is generally ready for cutting by the 3rd week of June into 4th of July. Right now our grass is just starting to green up on the hayfields and lawn. 2nd cutting is ready late August into September most years.Last year was so bad that we couldn't even do a 2nd cutting on 1 of the 3 fields, the growing season was so cold and cloudy, there wasn't enough grass to justify running the haying equipment to break even. Our hay ground is organic BTW. This year's fishbone meal is over $800 a ton. Commercial chemical fertilizers are about $100 a ton less. Ours last for years with residual effects- theirs, only the growing season . With the new manure spreader we had shipped up this winter, the boys were able to take all of the sheep manure that had been scraped and composted over the winter and spread it on the fields this spring when the ground was still frozen in the mornings; same for the goat manures.

Confinement in a controlled area means they also contribute to the longevity of the hay fields with composted manures. Yes, sheep grazing contributes fresh manure pellets directly to the ground but those aren't composted, may contain live organisms such as worms and eggs that other sheep come in direct contact with too soon and provide cross-contamination, and also weed seeds passed through the digestive process - where composting, when done correctly, kills worms and eggs as well as any seeds. Grazing over large areas reduces the likelihood of cross-contamination, but also requires diligence on the Shepherd's part that the grazing is nutritionally at it's peak value,animals are always provided fresh clean water close to their grazing area, loose minerals be also set near their grazing area to make up for the natural nutritional deficiencies found everywhere, and predators are non-existent. Fencing in smaller areas for high-density rotational grazing is nice, but again parasite management is a key issue. In 14 years of raising Shetlands we've never had to worm our sheep. The occasional poor-doers have been tested through the years with no significant worm load found, and have usually come from someone else's flocks interestingly enough. Since we switched over to bailage, our lambing rate and ease of lambing has nearly doubled. The final numbers are coming in, and including 6 yearlings that were bred, 4 of which have birthed and have had singles, our final lambing rate is around 170% or greater. Almost every mature ewe had twins, 1 had triplets, none had to be pulled, and only 1 ewerejected her lamb but that's her 2nd time in a row for complete rejection even being tied up, and has been sold for human consumption. They are in the best body scoring immediately after lambing I've seen. They are rarely fed grain,only the bailage which is mostly (Manchar)Brome with some (Egmo) Timothy. Our flock is also OPP and Johne's negative, no CL, and we live in a blue tongue negative state. I lost one new ewe this year just prior to lambing with suspected Hypocalaemia with treatment obviously being administered too late. No one else exhibited any nutritional deficiencies. No lambs have been lost to predators this year so far which is in and of itself amazing considering our location and high predator numbers.

Each Shepherd has to provide the best that they can, both cost-wise and management-wise. Everyone has to do what they feel is best for their flock, and each area will have best choices for management practices that not all can or should adhere to. That's what makes raising livestock so interesting! It's is very much like the micro-climates found on any given piece of property that serious gardeners certainly understand well. My little 24 foot wide English garden at the front of the house is a perfect example - on the east side I can grow big peonias, on the west side every planting for consecutive years has died. The same can be said for pastures.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Other pics

Good morning! I thought I'd share a photo here and there from around the farm as I slowly but surely download them off the camera. Here's a photo of my junior dairy goats in the 'big breed' pen - from left to right:

Queisha, Zasia, Francie, Jewel, and Dearly.

The nubians are Purebreds from the Ober-D'Rainbow herd, the Saanens are Americans from the Des Ruhigestelle herd. They are a great group and fun to spend time with!

Monday, May 11, 2009

I'm slow

I'm being very slow at getting photos up.....bad me.......too much sun, too much work in the greenhouses transplanting, potting, etc.....I DID get my roses out in the sun tho, finally, on my deck and on my mom's patio. I also got my window boxes stuffed and put out as they are hardier plants and against the house, may be safe from the morning light frosts we're still getting. Although a really nice warm spring, our nights are still very cold and fragile hanging baskets like Begonias will remain the greenhouses for a couple more weeks. At least the roses like the cold night temps! YAY!

Ok, maybe I'll go drag out the camera ...........

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Jackson and Perkins FAILS

What a great time to post a major complaint. Hey, you can even cross-post it if you want! After more than 20 years of ordering bare-root roses from Jackson and Perkins, they fell flat on their face in the service department so don't bother buying from them. Horribly so. Here in Alaska we treat roses as a 'potted plant'. They don't survive our long winters if planted in the ground. So over the years, I look forward to my order. We have greenhouses to start them in, I usually pot them up and put them in the heated dairy room for 2-4 weeks in March or April, so that means ordering before the 'usual' planting time and waiving the guarantee - which I do. They leaf out and set buds by the middle of May to go outdoors, filling the deck and around the house with the smells of rich, beautiful roses. I usually buy 12-16 roses every year. I know the many names very well and have my favorites. Well, I ordered them in February. I told them please ship the first week of April. They noted that in the order and assured me, like usual, that they would arrive as ordered.
The week came and went without roses.
So did the next week.
The 3rd week I called and asked where they were, were my instructions to ship still there? Yes, indeed they were, they were so sorry, oh my, someone dropped the ball in shipping, we'll put a rush on them and get them right out.
The 4th week - no roses. Another call. Oh my, I wonder why they didn't ship out?! We'll get them right out to you!
Finally, I called back again - I explained it was too late for bare-root roses now. By then it would have been late June before I'd even see a flower - why spend that kind of money for a couple of months of roses that I should have enjoyed for nearly 5 months instead? So I asked - since you folks have screwed this up so badly, and not once but 3 times now, do you think you could substitute them for those you have already potted?
Well, sure we can!
So, into the discussion further, I got on the Internet with the 'customer service' person to find the potted roses............there were a few varieties. I said OK, so can I substitute the 13 bare root roses for the potted ones, even tho they are not the same specific variety? And for the same price??? The money I'd already paid WAY BACK IN FEBRUARY???
Uh, no, I can't do that for you ma'am, I can send you those in the amount for which you've already paid but I can't make any special accommodations plant for plant....
Fine. I was beyond mad. I was furious. Where was a supervisor with some clout? There were none to be had, after all, they are nothing but sales takers and note typers on their computers, they can't provide any retribution for their terrible service, the ball they dropped not once, not twice, but 3 times...nope, can't do a thing.
Well, I think that's just miserable. I didn't get my special roses, a really big deal here in Alaska especially. After all these years, at least TWENTY YEARS, the loyalty to buying from Jackson and Perkins with their 'former great service' is done with. I think I'll start buying from a different rose company from now on. Too bad too, with this economy, that no one there at J&P seems to even care enough to do something. Not even an email to say how sorry they were but please let them know if I wanted anything else.
Yeah, right....I might see it by Christmas?

Sad, isn't it? A once glorious company reduced to just another internet shopping site any Tom, Dick, or Harry could run. Yes, please cross-post this one around, I sure don't want anyone else to have to go through this kind of mess either!

My grump for the day!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Sunday was our first AHBA Ranch trial in Alaska!

Pics coming soon........Russell of was in the first AHBA Ranch Dog Trial ever held here in Alaska. He qualified for his first leg, so has half his title. GREAT fun too!!!!!!

Happy Birthday!!!

YAAAAAAYYYYYY!!!!!!! HB TO ME!! LOL! Had a lovely birthday today, Herding judge is still up here so very very busy day, but still, sunny weather and plenty of fun!

Blanche had her lamb this morning!

For Michelle......hehehehe..........
no pics yet, but Blanche was bred to Topple......
she gave birth to a solid black with white Krunet ewe lamb.....yay!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

AKC herding trial yesterday

Russell's High in Trial award, Started A sheep.....notice how "unhappy" he is....hahahaha......this boy loooooooves people......
this finishes his AKC Started title with one 4th place, and 2 High in Trials. It wasn't pretty yesterday, but we are still proud of him!