Quick updates

  1. The King is dead.  Bucky went off to freezer camp in late April.  He’d gotten crankier in late middle age and was hassling everyone.  Clovis followed two weeks later.  I will get around to the pictures later this week hopefully.
  2. Life finds a way.  Zuko IV was castrated last fall, but somehow, against all odds, he regrew a testicle.  It’s small, has a bit of scarring, and is totally functional.  Oopsie.  Now he’s a possible candidate for the surprise lambs we thought we might have narrowly averted.
  3. Speaking of which, his dam, Brunhilde, dropped surprise twins Sunday evening while we were enjoying the nice weather.  The likely possibles include her own son and her half-brother.  It’s just a little Wagnerian.  They are a large black ram who is a little slow on the uptake and a vigorous but tiny little brown ewe who is simply adorable.  Pictures also to follow later this week just as hopefully.
  4. Faux Cow fell victim to predation.  Coyotes and black bears have been partying it up in our way way back.  We had gotten her back into good health and she was getting hearty and lanky like her dam, Dottie was in youth.  Oh well.
  5. We have a lot of yard work to do, the grass is going hog wild.  And we discovered the barn is too damp to store feed or pellets in sacks, so we’ll have to switch over to the garage for those.
  6. Icelandic rams are delicious at 4 years of age.  Tough, but flavorful without greasiness or bitterness.  Slow cooking them gives a really delightful repast. Honestly comparable to standard sheep breeds’ 18 month hoggetts. We had butchering help from a friendly local down the road and we sent him off with some mutton, which was turned into burger and was excellent, delicious, great in omelettes.  This made us relax about future slaughters of the older animals as they age.
  7. The kids are really taking to chores and starting to develop the general habit of tidying up before bedtime and after dinner.

That’s all for now.

 

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Lambing tally 2016 by ewe mother

Shaft’s second breeding of the ewes has yielded the following lambs.  We’ve named them all.

Goldie: boy/boy both moorits (Wolverine and Cyclops)

Badgerface: boy/girl, spotted girl (Faux Cow), moorit boy (Strop Boy)

Grey: surviving girl is solid moorit and named Newt

Black N Tan: boy/girl, both dark moorits (Dark is the boy and Lovely is the girl)

Azula: boy, moorit (Pedicure)

Dottie: boy/girl, like Badgerface, a moorit boy and spotted girl (Camo is the boy and Saddleback is the girl)

Lisa: boy/boy, black badgerface (Zuko 3, very similar coloring),  and moorit (Gambit)

The fencing has been progressing and the sheep can get to almost everything within our property line.  They are pretty happy.

Also, I saw a fawn today on the other side of the fence up the mountain.

Sokka slaughter and ducklings outside

On Saturday we had to slaughter Sokka.  He’d recovered well from his flystrike, but it made his horn grow back wrong and during the last week or so before his slaughter, he had a ton of new growth…right into his jaw.  We caught it before it could kill him, but he was starting to experience discomfort.  He hung around 90, not unusual for Icelandics and ok for a ram who’d been through what he had.  His carcass was in great shape and he was in fighting trim.

The ducklings are outside in the old run, we lined it against weasels, we’ll see how that goes.  They are very happy and enjoying a diet of greens and bugs to add to their feed.  Looks like only one drake, so we may get a broody girl and some natural ducklings in a year or so.

We have to slaughter all the males Shaft produced.  They favor fleece more than we’d like and aren’t making weight like their sisters.  At least we’ll finally have that freezer of lamb/hoggett.

Bark like blood, bolusing and breeding.

The ewes are stripping the trees of bark even though the grass is not that dormant and they have plenty of hay available.  This makes the trees look like they’re bleeding.

We’re going to journey into the world of giving minerals via bolus next week and do a very late, long delayed breeding then as well.  We will probably do this one in Feb with the seven adult ewes and one with Shaft’s daughters in October or November.  I think that’s just how it’ll have to be and then we can see how both Bucky’s and Shaft’s daughters produce before beginning the work of closing the herd.

It’s sunnier lately, we’ve been quiet because we went back and forth about whether to keep going with the sheep.  We will, but probably go with things like the staggered breeding plan above.

Late summer lambs will be challenging, but Shaft was one and he turned out great.

The wetlands police, overstocking and husbandry issues

Not too far from us is a property on a major road we checked out but rejected due to the house being a structural mess and the five acres being true wetlands (one of the local rivers runs through the middle).

Anyway, in the last few months someone bought the property, which had turned into a mold palace and is currently overstocking illegally.  Due to the river issue, very few animals of any kind could be raised on the land.  But there are currently more than a dozen sheep, half a dozen alpacas, two dozen or more poultry, five calves, a dozen or so goats, and a few llamas, all on five acres of wetlands. There were some fencing issues, although the loose animals did not make it out to the street.  They did get hay for the animals, but it’s of poor quality and the sheep are wool breaking due to stress.  And the sheep are not a breed that sheds, so it’s pretty bad.  The calves are very skinny and so are the alpacas.

But they fixed the fencing and the animals have hay and water.  It’s not a situation where you can file a cruelty or neglect complaint.  They’re just bad at “having animals” and some might die, but the animals just might not.  Sometimes animals can get along for years on bad hay and generally poor forage.  And overstocking is a relative thing to most people.

The reason I’m finally writing this up even in passing is that the wetlands police are pretty ostentatiously not shutting them down or taking their stock away.  Even though with the overstocking literally in the flow path of a river, there is an actual case for wetlands policing.  Things are changing in this county, I guess.

I’m not sure what it means for the future.  And we’ll see in a few months if it’s just a delay in processing.

Scottie’s summer slaughter

…was messy but went decently (no contamination of anything we wanted to keep).  66lbs of meat plus offal was the approximate final tally, which means a live weight of about 200lbs.  He did have a full belly though, because we weren’t planning to slaughter this weekend for sure, so we didn’t restrict his food to reduce that.

More on Monday, including pictures!