Sokka dressed at about 40 pounds.

He weighed about 120 live, give or take a few pounds. So he was spot on. They’re putting weight on in the right places, even if it’s not as much as we’d like.

Now we’re just waiting for lambs next month, right around the time summer school gets fired up.


The foodies vs. the junk food eaters.

When it comes to sheep, some like to eat the tastiest and highest-nutrition delights, rich green leaves full of protein and chlorophyll.  Other sheep like to stand in a few specific places and eat down everything within easy reach, no matter what its quality is.  The foodie sheep in our flock are the yearling ewes Dottie and Lisa.  They are fearless in tearing through bramble and vines to get to the most delicious browse.

Our chubby-wubb mature ewe Grey and our petite prize Goldie are junk fooders.  They just stand around eating whatever is handy and try to avoid moving around too much.  And genetics really shows up here.  Grey is usually overconditioned while Goldie is usually just about right on the five point scale for body condition.  But Grey is our biggest ewe and she grows the lambs that grow superfast.  Little Dingus, her runt lamb, is now a yearling that will be quite worth the wait in slaughter because he’s caught up surprisingly well.  And her ewelamb Ripley is almost two weeks younger than Goldie’s lambs, but already as big.

Goldie, meanwhile, is small and produces small lambs, but is very well formed and efficient as a breeding ewe.  She doesn’t eat much, her ewelamb Azula never had any trouble making weight alongside the other ewelambs and right now her boy/girl twins Zuko II and Katara are giant and mighty.

And yet they eat the same ways, but have very different results in terms of their condition. Both worth breeding though.

Photos of Scottie’s butchering (graphic)

How to butcher a delicious ram of slightly more than one year in age, aka a hoggett ram.


From this…


…to this.


then this…


And now two sides of almost lamb.


Scottie did have a good heart.


Do not do this when removing the offal you want to throw away. Unless you enjoy scooping it up with a shovel later.

It took about three hours, mostly because it was being done without the benefits of a block and tackle.  Hoggett is just lamb a few months past a year, so still perfectly tender and delicious and a long way from mutton town.

Ram Tamer says “Scottie is now yummy yummy.”


Secret raspberry garden

I am not a fan of the landscaping that came with this place, but some of it has unexpected summer joys attached.  Like this ever-bearing raspberry sport that survived and thrived in the shadow of the Himalayan menace that stalks our acreage.



Ever-bearing means it was domesticated.  It survived unlike the secret rhubarb from a couple years ago, which sadly got shaded out.  We failed it for the last time.  😦  But hey, RASPBERRIES THE BIRDS CAN’T FIND WOOOOOOOO.

Little Shaft is rooing too, it turns out.

He’s just rooing from the neck out, which is hard to keep clean, plus he loves bramble more, so it’s harder to pull usable wool from him.  I may just have to get the shearer down in March if possible, as soon after lambing as I can manage, to avoid wrecking the ewes’ fleeces, since they might start rooing sooner than expected too.

Icelandics, being a primitive breed, naturally shed in the spring (though on an individual basis this can be anywhere from January to June).  They can still be sheared, but the heavy shedding (rooing) leads to a wool break and if you mistime the shearing, you end up with a lanolin-gummy, felted mess instead of market-usable wool.

And if they roo easily and freely, you can just pull it all off and watch the new wool come in with no shearing required.  Although generally people like to shear just to be on the safe side since rooing cleanly is no guarantee.

I’m piling up what I pull off for now somewhere dry and warm, but this weekend I’ll start soaking the wool and preparing to work with it after it’s had the bits of hay and dirt and bramble removed.  We were going to do hand carding, but it looks like we’ll be using combs and (possibly) a drum carder instead.  Provided the weekend of soaking and cleaning goes ok, the next steps are to comb it up into roving or even go all the way to yarn.  Whatever I end up with, it will be lopi (both layers of the Icelandic’s two-layer wool blended together) as I am not experienced enough handling the wool to easily separate tog and thel (the two layers, thel being the soft under-layer and tog being the top layer).

Shaft’s wool, the few small tufts I pulled, is really really soft and rich in touch.  Even the pieces that are possibly beyond saving (we’ll see after a good day or two of soaking) have a good handle despite being full of bramble and hay bits.  Both rams have thel soft enough to make baby clothes with, it’s easily that soft, if I could separate it cleanly and get enough off both of them.  Which means they’ve been getting enough to eat and make the most of their excellent genetics.

Pale ewe problems

Our four ewes are all heavily pregnant, but the three dark-colored ones look a bit on the pale side with their muzzles.  As it turns out, the last few days one of the rams has been leaping onto the mineral feeder (sometimes knocking it down) and peeing on the salts within.  So the girls haven’t been getting minerals to the extent they should.

We started offering minerals with the alfalfa pellets they get and the three dark ewes ate some.  Paleness is a potential sign of copper deficiency, as is coarsening of the wool and shedding.  But the latter are also signs of advanced pregnancy for some ewes and not by themselves a bad sign.

I’m not really sure what else to do except keep offering minerals 1-2 times per day with their pellets.  The light colored ewe is fine, but then her copper needs are lower, same with the rams, their fleeces continue to look great and their faces aren’t lightening at all.

The lightening of the three dark ewes is very recent, just the last week, and we started providing minerals over the weekend.

I have no idea how to solve the peeing ram problem, I guess we’ll have to put the minerals really high up this weekend.  Which we thought we had, but we were clearly wrong.

I’m not quite as nauseous of late, so I can spend more time with the sheep than just tossing some hay in and running away before I get sick in the barn.

Got our goat!

Made it down to the butcher to pick up the rest of the cut and wrapped goat carcasses.  Between organs, bones, heads, and standard cuts, we got about 90lbs of meat, and we got the hides if we want to do anything with them (probably not!).

Final expenses for the goats were about 725 dollars, including their share of the hay/minerals and their share of the water bill and of course purchase cost and butchering fees.

Goat meat is hard to find, it runs about 9-10/lb by the cut when I can find any. Having said that, however, we do live down the street from a goat man with many delicious goats that party in his yard and the next time we are interested in goat meat, we will see if he will sell us a whole goat for a flat rate.  Specialization is a beautiful thing.

The sheep are doing ok, Shaft’s scur is healing.  The bunk feeder finally arrived and indeed there is less wastage.

Time to get some more hay out before total dark!