Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My breeding philosophy

I've posted this before, but its good to revisit my goals to see if I am still progressing....

When we first got our Bluefaced Leicesters (BFL) my first goal was to establish different bloodlines, since they were so rare in the US. Now, 15 years later, there are quite a few breeders, and enough new genetics have been imported from the UK that inbreeding is no longer an issue.

So now - I am selecting for productivity traits. I have a flock that can lamb unassisted, and have nicely shaped udders and well placed teats so that I don't have to supplimental feed the lambs, or help them learn to nurse. I want ewes with nice, long, strong backs that can carry triplets without becoming broken down and sway-backed. I also select for stock that is up on their pasterns, since my flock is expected to graze year-round, which means a lot of walking. Also, I want heavily pregnant ewes that don't have weak pasterns, and rams that can support their weight on their back legs for breeding.
Like most Leicesters due to their roman noses, BFLs can have bad bites. So I am careful to select for lower teeth that meet the upper dental pad. I also have to watch for good fleece coverage, since BFL are prone to "peeling" along the belly, chest, and around the leg and tail area.
Of course, since I am raising registered stock, I also need to select for proper breed type. Besides good general conformation, I also want good blue skin color, correct lock structure in the fleece, a big roman nose, and ears that are properly set. Its fun, but hard work, and maybe someday I will have "perfect" sheep

Monday, March 29, 2010

New Fleeces




I have 6 fleeces skirted and readied for sale. 3 are spoken for - and if you have not yet been contacted, and have told me in the past you'd like one, please contact me now - I've not been good about keeping a waiting list. :^(
They range from 2.5 - 3.5#, and are $12 per pound.

Monday news

Turkeys strutting at about 8:45 this morning.
Jack and his "friend" Sophie.
Tibbie and Tabbie. No new lambs yet today.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Tibbie and Tabbie




These are Hannelore's girls - Tibbie and Tabitha. Tibbie comes from Tibbie Pagan - a poetess. Not sure if I will be brave enough to use the full name when I register her. What do you think? They are HUGE! But Hanna is big, too, and popped them out. They are constantly eating, and very active already.

A break from lamb pictures........

Something different than lambs.... :^) These are Sierra Leone's kits. She has 3 red and 4 torts. The torts are really pretty - very dark, shiny mahogany with dark chocolate points.

Meet Gemma.

This is Gemma and her mama, Wallis. She was born last night just about midnight. Chuck found her when he went down to check on the triplets. She is already out in the pasture, sleeping in the sunshine today.

What's this ? Livestock in the house?


These are Caliope's triplet girls, who were cold this morning at 25 degrees. They got to sleep in front of the heat exchanger in my spinning room until the day warmed up. Their brother is quite a bit larger, and he is doing great - hopping around his mama. Notice the girls' matching "sweaters" (which used to be sleeves of an old shirt of mine) I really should make brother something to wear, too. How about a scarf? Or a beret?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Greek Rabbit Stew with Artichokes

1 2-3# rabbit, cut up
2 c white wine
1 c dried beans, soaked overnight
1/4 c olive oil
1 large onion, sliced thin
1 c all-purpose flour
6 artichokes, hearts and short stems only, halved
1 c coarsely chopped celery
salt and pepper
2 c chicken broth
2 T flour
Juice of 2 small lemons

Lightly salt the rabbit pieces. Boil the white wine until you can no longer smell alcohol (about 2-3 minutes), take off the heat and cool. Once it’s cool, add the rabbit and marinate overnight in the fridge.
The next day, take the meat out of the fridge, pat dry and let come to room temperature for at least 1/2 hour.
Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
Once the rabbit is ready, dredge it in the flour and brown it on all sides in the olive oil over medium heat in a dutch oven. Add onions, wine marinade, dried beans, and chicken broth. Salt & pepper to taste. Cover and bake in oven. Add water if necessary.
After 2 hours, stir and arrange to avoid sticking, and add celery and artichoke hearts. Cover and bake another 30 minutes.
Whisk together lemon juice and 2 T flour, and add in a few spoons full of the broth from rabbit. Then gently fold into the rabbit mix, and serve with fresh, crusty bread.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Triplets!

Caliope had a set of very angry triplets this morning. They were in 3 different spots in the barn, and she was busily running from one to the next as each one called her. MEEEE - baa? MEEEEE- baa? MEEEEE - baa? I gathered them up and put them in our big jug, and she soon got them settled down and they stopped fussing. There are 2 little girls(one pink, one blue) and a nice sized, very blue ram lamb. The girls are Belle Valley and Bonnievale. Ahhhhh, peace settles over the farm once again.
And I once again have the use of my Explorer, with its new brakes, hub bearing, water pump, and belt tensioner bearing. When it rains, it pours..........


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Afternoon delight



Bijoux had a ewe lamb this afternoon. "B" is a new mother - she is not quite a year old herself. She did not clean the lamb really well, and seemed a little put off by it trying to nurse, so we left them alone for a couple hours to bond, and then moved them into a jug. "B" followed right along, and is very careful and gentle with her new young lady. Once we showed her why the lamb kept trying to latch onto her tender udder, she settled right down and let her nurse. They are getting along just fine now this evening. "B" even stood and let me milk her without restraint as long as the lamb was right there where she could touch it. The new little girl is named Joni - after Joni Eareckson-Tada. Her sire is Lanark.

Morning barn report

Found Royce and this guy when I check the barn this morning. She must have had him during the night, because he is dry and well fed already. Royce is a Loyalty/Laird ewe, and his sire is Lockerbie (Titus AI) I dipped his navel, and left them alone so they can go out into the pasture in the sunshine today. Right now, everything has a coating of ice, with heavy fog. But the fog is lifting, revealing a blue sky which promises a high of 60 today.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

SHF Calais



This is Calais, a coming yearling, who will be for sale at the show & sale during the Great Lakes Fiber Festival in Wooster Ohio on Memorial Day weekend.
Her dam is SHF Pegasus, a nine year old domestic bred ewe who is the backbone of my flock, and her sire is SHF Lockerbie, an AI son of Barlaes Titus E+ out of a Jamie bred ewe. This makes her 25% Titus, 6.25% Jamie.

Monday, March 22, 2010

What I want an udder to be............

........when its nine years old and has fed 15-20 lambs. This is Pegasus' business end.
Check out the body condition and those strong pasterns, too. And her topline is a tabletop.

Colette's lambs from this AM

A set of twins sired by Lanark. The ewe is Asia. She is gorgeous, with the most elegant, refined earset. The ram is a tank!

Farm Bureau Cook-off

Here I am, passing out samples of "Bourbon Street Lamb" to unsuspecting attendees. In all seriousness, most everyone accepted a sample, and I actually ran out before the evening was over. They had the opportunity to vote for their favorite dishes by putting tickets in a paper sack on our table, and I got quite a few tickets. One gentleman who'd never eaten lamb before came back, put all his tickets in my sack, and said "that is the best stuff here!"
This is my friend, Kim, her daughter, Etta, and their exchange student, Lera. Lera is from the Ukraine, and she prepared a soup for their dish.
There were about 25 vendors with everything from fudge to punch to Hawaiian meatballs, cheese dip, roast beef, and fruits dipped in chocolates. It was held at the local vocational school in their cafeteria. People paid $10 to come, and got to sample all the foods. It was well attended - over 100 people were there; up from the previous year. This is the first time I participated, and I will be doing it next year with another lamb recipe.

Wilkie lambed this morning

Not the greatest picture, but here is Wilkie's daughter, Montrose, by Lanark. Wilkie is a triplet
by Barlaes Titus E+, and this is her first lamb. Montrose was still soaking wet when I found them, but is already walking pretty well, and trying to nurse inbetween all of mom's licking and nuzzling. Montrose is 77% UK, combining Titus, CH R1, Loyalty, Jamie, Ebony Boy, and Laird blood. LATER: Hmmmm - I will need to take another picture anyway. Chuck just called to say he found TWO lambs in the jug with Wilkie - she had a ram lamb after I left for work. WOW - as big as Montrose is, I'd never thought there'd be another lambie in there. LOL He is not as tall and long as Rosie, but definitely as heavy. Here is a portrait of Wilkie as a lamb.Here are the twins together.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Shearing is DONE!

Jason brought along another shearer, Sam, and the 2 of them did all 30 BFLs in 70 minutes! And that is with us fooling around, moving 2 separate flocks through the barn, along with 2 ewes with newborns. And the 2 rams. Sam could not believe how easy it was. I admit, we do try to make the shearer's job as easy as possible. Hope he thinks so, because he is going to be our new shearer - Jason is not shearing anymore. :^(
The ewes look great - sleek and clean. I love to see them out in the fresh, green pasture when they are so clean and WHITE.
No lambs born today - I suppose they are waiting for the rain tomorrow......instead of the sunshine and 73 degrees we enjoyed today.

Update on the Quads

These are the quads at one week of age. There are 2 white rams, a black ram, and a black ewe.
They are being raised by mama with supplimental bottles. Here is their story...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Lazy, warm spring afternoon

Jack says "Happy Spring!"

Pegasus' ram lamb

Miss Peggy is 9 this year(our only remaining domestic blood ewe), and although she is still spry, has all her teeth, grows an awesome fleece, and has a lovely udder, she is starting to slow down. So I'm glad that she just has one lamb to dote on. He is about 2 hours old in this picture - born mid-morning today. He is 25% CHR1 and 12.5% Loyalty. I need to weigh him, but I'd guess him at 11#. Sire is Lanark.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Meet Rhiannon - first lamb of 2010

Rhiannon, born this morning, 12.5#. Daughter of SHF Lanark. 25%CH R1, 37.5% Loyalty.
Mama Aislinn's beautiful profile.
An optical illusion makes her look tiny, but Rhiannon is a big, tall ewe lamb. Chuck had to re-position her head to help deliver her, and she was slow to get up, so we're keeping both in a jug to make sure she is OK. She is strong and up and about tonight, under her mother's watchful eye.

Wintertime Blues

This is my new little blue FA buck, Somerhill Wintertime Blues. His sire is GC SHF Nightshade, and dam is GC SHF Voodoo.

Easy Lamb Kabobs

Sorry, no picture - they all got devoured yesterday at work. One of the guys brought in his grill and we had kabobs, burgers, brats, and all the fixin's with both agencies in our building. What a beautiful early spring day to cook outdoors!

2# lamb kabobs - I cut cubes from leg steaks.
1/4 c cooking oil
3 T soy sauce
2 T sugar
1 T chopped dehydrated onions

Put oil, soy sauce, sugar and onions in a gallon baggie and swish around to mix. Toss in lamb cubes, shake bag to coat meat with the marinade, and refrigerate overnight.
Put lamb on skewers, season with black pepper, and grill on medium heat for about 10 minutes, until meat browns and sugar starts to char, but be careful not to overcook and dry out lamb.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow......

tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow!!!!
The flock is due tomorrow! I can hardly wait for lambs! My stomach is doing flip-flops just thinking about it!

And the shearer called last night, and is coming Sunday afternoon. So WOOL, WOOL, WOOL!!!

Monday, March 15, 2010

MORE baby bunnies

Sierra Leone had 13 - yes 13! She lost 4 of them - likely she just could not clean them all fast enough. That leaves 9 kits for her. One is awfully tiny, so I don't know how it will get along. I may foster a few into mama Mandy's nest since she just has 2. Her two are so much bigger, and already look like they've double in size since yesterday.

WHOA! More news from Running Briar


Got this message and photo this morning from Alex and her BFL ewe, Keryn. This is Keryn's 4th lambing for a total of 9 lambs! She singled as a yearling.

"Yes! Quads out of Somerhill Keryn! 2 solid black, 2 solid white. All nursed, we need advise! Unassisted in the night."

A Piece of History



This is the slate roof on the back of our house, showing the date it was built(1886). We wanted to get a clear photo of it before we have the entire roof replaced. The front of the house was reroofed 20+ years ago with asphalt shingles. The entire roof is in need of replacing after a storm this winter damaged the asphalt shingles. As you can see, the slate roof has been patched and repaired over the years.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The boys



These French fellas are available for sale, although they will not be ready for another month. The black one has reservations for a trip to San Antonio, TX. The fawn and the white are not reserved. They are related, but from different parents. $50.00 each. Be careful, the fawn one will attack you and lick you! LOL

Mandalay's Kits

Mandy had 2 chocolate agoutis this afternoon. They are doing just fine. One looks like her(upper), and one(lower) like the sire, Timbuktu.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Farmers Market display board


I took lamb to the market for the first time today. This is the poster I made to attract attention to the booth. It has the prices, cuts of lamb, and some yummy looking photos. I also put up something about the rabbit meat. It seemed to work - I sold stew meat, kabobs, chops, ground lamb, and a boneless leg today.

Marinette's Kits

Looks like she might have a cream - it seems to be off white rather than a REW - hope so. There is one black, and the other 4 are dilutes or chocolates of some sort. More later when the wool starts to grow in. They are 2 days late, and VERY active. Its like taking the lid off popcorn when I touch the wool covering them. Mama pulled loads of wool, and her nest is very clean and dry.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Bunny Beanie

This 85% angora hat is for a friend who is sick and facing chemo. The roving was donated by Julie, spun by me, and knitted by Annette. Annette also made and added the angora pin.

Lamb Leg Steaks with Shitake Sauce

2 lamb leg steaks - about 3/4" thick (or 6 lambchops)
2 tablespoons peanut oil

3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup green onions -- thinly sliced
1/4 cup cilantro -- chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic -- chopped
8 ounces shiitake mushrooms - raw -- fresh, stemmed, caps sliced
4 T soy sauce
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons lime juice -- freshLime wedges -- (optional)
cilantro -- Fresh sprigs (optional)

Directions: Sprinkle 1 side of steaks with fresh black pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over high heat. Place steaks, pepper side down, in hot oil and sear 2 minutes. Turn temperature down to medium and continue cooking to desired doneness, about 5 minutes per side. Set aside, keeping warm in oven. Add butter, sliced green onions, cilantro, ginger and chopped garlic to same skillet and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Mix in mushrooms and soy sauce and simmer 30 seconds. Add whipping cream and simmer until sauce lightly coats back of spoon, about 3 minutes. Stir in limejuice. Spoon sauce over steaks, and garnish with lime wedges and cilantro sprigs, if desired.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Katahdin rams


This is #17 and #24. Kat rams have a much different look than BFLs, don't they!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Pardon me, I'm working here

This is Mandalay, building her nest.

Mule Lamb

This is a lamb born on a co-worker's farm last night. Pardon the quality - its from his cell phone, taken at dusk. The mother is 11-12 months old, and is a Cheviot Mule - the result of a crossing between a BFL ram and a Border Cheviot ewe. The lamb is sired by a Texel ram.
Mules are the backbone of the commercial sheep industry in the UK. They are a cross between a BFL ram and any of the smaller, hardy hill breeds of sheep. They are known for being able to raise a good, fast growing set of lambs on a pasture system. This girl had delivered,cleaned and fed the lamb and was keeping it up in the middle of a 17 acre hillside pasture. Although it was grain feeding time, she stayed right where she was, refusing to leave the newborn to get her evening meal. I love this picture - you can see the loving, attentive mother in the curve of her body, cradling the lamb. See how she moves her rear leg out of the way so the baby can find its way to her udder?
Tonight, she and the lamb will likely join the flock at the feed bunks. By now, it will be steady on its legs and hopping around with its mother. For the next few days, she will insist that it stay close at her side, and will constantly come over and touch the sleeping lamb with her nose to reassure herself that its safe. But soon, many more lambs will be born, and they will begin running in little packs, playing and jumping with their friends.