Well Fall is here, so it that time of year to decide breeding groups. Rams "Brewster" is very spotted and his fleece is heavily crimped "Chocolate Bar"is modified, moiget, heavy fleece and larger So how to split up the 12 ewes?
To Brewster---Spotted ewes Tulla, Bella and Poppy, hmmm fancyYarrow, Tinkerbelle, Nugget, Shasta
To Chocolate Bar Pansy, Splash, Choco, Maybelline, Palisade
Well I have given myself till Saturday morning.......that morning the ewes are sorted and rams go in..
Last Monday on a fantastic sunny day, I turned Shilo and Anna out of their own pasture. They enjoyed the sun and the lush grass. They are still getting full rations of hay and grain. They are milking well--certainly keeping me in milk for my slurries. They are a welcome addition to the farmstead. November 1st they will have a guest buck for a month, so I get April kids. I figure one doe for my milk and the other to supply milk to bottle feed the kids. I will wean the kids at three months, the does will be slowing up in volume a bit and I will be able to use up all the milk myself. Really enjoying my sheep, chickens, silkies and goats. Who said you can't have it all! Jerry
Meet "Flash2" my Ameraucana rooster. His dad "Flash" was Blue creme and his mother was an brick red hen that laid sky blue large eggs...my best winter layer. Flash2 is home raised. He has every color, note the blue laced red feathers on his lower breast, his tail is dark blue, straw colored saddle, black edged gold hackle and his wings--brick red, blue and yellow. That why he is king of the hen house. Toward Spring my silkie hens can sit on some Ameraucana eggs.......trying for a flashy pullet or two. Yesterday I expanded the hen coop and today I painted the walls white...after I took Flash2's pic. More later Jerry
No the Shetlands have not taken a back seat, its just that I like to take pictures. The seller sent me pictures from the Fair. Shilo and Anna are beautiful does and I feel humbled to have them in my barn, Remember I tend to hover. My life is exactly on target. I have all day to putz with my Ameraucanas, Splash Silkies....a pair, 12 four month old chicks. The hen is setting on more eggs (some are from my Ameraucanas) My the-way-I-like-em Shetlands and 2 dairy goats. I should have been born in the time of self-sufficient farmers on tiny acreages raising their own food.......a team, a milk cow, chickens...you get the idea. A Pioneer I guess.
Shilo Fair 2008
Shilo - Fair 2010 she is not set up correctly at the moment but look at her beautiful udder
Shilo in my barn She wants me to pet her when I walk by
I am an old 4-Her. I have 12 lap ewes, I sit on a cement block and everyone comes up for a chin scratch. My laying hens- you can pick them up and my Silkies come to me to be picked up ( I guess I have a petting zoo- works for me!)This is a milk stand to milk a dairy goat! Here is the story, grab a cup of coffee..its long..
I had a benign tumor removed from my neck. I can not swallow anything. I have had my feeding tube for 7 1/2 years. You get use to shotting in smoothies...no big deal.
I surfed the net for better foods to use in the smoothies. I found that Goat's milk has everything a man needs to thrive---stating it would just be a boring diet....hey I shot mine in my tube........boring left the building a long time ago. Raw eggs, goat's milk, cooked oatmeal with flax seed.....that's it I am home every day.......so
milking a goat fits right in In 1997 I milked 5 does morning and night, and working full time at the bank!we all drank the milk its really good. The Secret to flavor is to fast chill the quart jars of milk in an ice water bath
I would pour the goat milk into a empty milk jug and the kids drank it up they would drink cow's milk but not goat milk---ah but they were! Milking and working full time got to be too much. So I sold my Registered herd of French Alpines to Kelly Lund........their kids have dairy goats as their 4-H projects.
So I searched around for a good milking doe. Lunds have the best goats at the fair. I sold them a 2 yr old was named "Sherri" out of my doe Sheyanne Sherri went on to win a lot of trophies. I found Kelly Lund's email on the Fair site. I emailed her. She emailed back that all her goats are from my goats. She has a 6 yr old milking doe Shilo--- this August Shilo was Senior Doe Grand Champion and she is a daughter of Sherri! I told Kelly I was on a budget!!
Tomorrow afternoon we go look. Shilo for sure..........
So at 1 PM this afternoon we drove the pickup with the goat box on to Brad and Kelly's. They live very close to Brandon. Brad and Kelly lived for 20 years north of Brandon--10 miles on Brad's parent's farm.
Brad's parents wanted to move back to the farm?-why I don't know. Brad's parents bought this small house near Brandon and remodeled it. In June Brad, Kelly and kids move there. They live only 6 miles from us. BUT now Kelly has no barn. Only a chicken coop and four calf poly domes. Kelly sold off a lot of goats this summer. She has about 12 now-- the kids' show stock, all are descendants from my Sherri, Allie and Mona2. I came to get 6 yr old Shilo, daughter of my Sherri and a second doe (one doe alone is lonely and may cry all day). So I asked Kelly if she had another doe. Kelly said she really didn't have any for sale, but winter was coming and she felt bad for the does. And she knew they would have a great home in Jerry's barn.
We talked of Shilo and a 4 yr old Anna could go. I asked if I could come back Nov 1st and borrow her buck, to breed my does, Kelly said sure that would work. Kelly said next year she would have a new buck . Kelly asked if she could "lease" the does back--just paperwork --so her kids could show my goats next year at the Fair, I said sure. The does and offspring would be mine, but Kelly would come and show trim the goats and go to the Fair.........this is all leading somewhere so bear with. OK these goats are Registered French Alpines. Every year Lunds' goats do well at the County and State Fair. Shilo was this August's Grand Champion aged doe, last year she was Grand Champion 5 yrs old---GC the year before that--you get the idea. Same for Anna, she was Reserve Champion this year and last year..
Now Reg. Champion does in the prime sell for $300-500/ a doe or more And who sells Champions?
Kelly said she wanted $100-125 a piece. I said I will pay the $125/ea as I get free buck use every year to Kelly's best buck. Come Nov 1st and I pick up the buck, he breeds my does and I take him back. Kelly's kids can show the goats, I have fantastic goats for milk...both milk extremely well.....its a win-win.
So tonight I milk two goats. Milk stand head stanchions needs to be higher-- tall goats..so I have to do that first. I figure next Spring one doe is milk for me and the other doe's milk will feed the baby kids. Both does are super tame. They have been halter broke and shown since they were 4-6 month old!
Here is Shilo (left) and Anna just in their new pen. The pen is 5 by 16 ft..... Tonight I make their pen 10 x 16...then they will have plenty of room as they are big does.
The drafts and trades have been done. The team is a gorgeous group of ewes. I took pictures of the team players. They sure look nice. Great ewes and rams. I would like to thank Becky for May, Corrine for Brewster, Garrett for Shasta and Choco, Terri for Nugget and Bella (both origianlly for Gail) and Most of all Gail for the other 7!.......for making available such beautiful ewes. Gail is a great friend -emailing all winter, discussing Shetlands and which ewes she would sell to "a very good home". Thanks again Gail
I will lead with fancy brood ewe
I wanted a spotted Shetland ram. Corinne Russo blogged about Brewster, a beautiful ram lamb, gorgeous fleece, good tail, broad build, a stunner but with only one testicle. As my flock is unregistered, I contacted Corinne right away! Brewster lived in SE Iowa- quite a trip from Alexandria MN----Corinne knew Garrett--so do I. Garrett said he would haul Brewster back from the Jefferson Sheep and Wool Festival in six weeks. Great!........then I waited and waited...Patience is not one of my virtues........today finally came.
Brewster is everything Corinne said he was and more. Good size and frame, stout back legs, gorgeous fleece and his spotted Wow!
I tried to get a new "off the truck" picture...my camera died...plus it wouldn't be fair to Brew as he has travel
SE Iowa to Eastern Wisconsin and then to Western Minnesota-- a lot of miles. New pictures will be posted when he is rested and filled out . Pictures courtesy of Corinne Special Thanks to Garrett for his care and hauling!
Next Spring I will have lambs like this running about!! (Brew baby pic)
I feed grain to my Shetland sheep. I have had sheep for 15 years, and this is what works for me. In my Minnesota weather with bitter cold winter, I have found that feeding some grain to my Shetlands has merit. The ewe lambs and yearlings grow to a larger size--have wider pelvises for easy first time lambing. They have better condition for motherhood and supply abundant milk for their lambs.The ewes nursing twins and trips stay in better condition. I read that it takes the sheep rumen 3-4 weeks to utilize and properly digest grain. So feeding grain at 6 weeks before lambs are due, one month of flushing/breeding-- some days on grain is lost. That leave a non-grain feeding period in mid- gestation of 74 days. Now consider the embryonic lose due the lower energy in those 74 days, less lambs will be born. The fleece growth replies on good nutrition and grain can help. On and off times of good feeding can cause wool breakage and poor fiber strength. So my ewes are on some grain year around. I feed 1-2# corn/oats/extruded soy bean flakes (16%) per day per ewe to nursing ewes for 3 month lactation, dry ewes on late summer pasture get 1/2 # rolled corn/oats. Flushing, breeding and gestation my ewes receive 1# of grain. Lambs are hand fed the 16% mix in a lamb creep. No my ewes are not lumbering fat, but they have good condition to meet the demands of lactation and have an abundant milk supply for their eager lambs.
They always fresh water, loose sheep mineral and a white salt block. In winter I have a heated tub-- water stays 42*, sheep drink more which is good as their embryonic fluids is replaced 7 times a day. Routine wormings of the flock, ewes are wormed at lambing time, if its an early lamb crop, ewes are wormed again before pasture turn out, moist humid summers ewes are wormed mid season. Ewes are wormed coming off pasture which coincides with breeding time. More cost- yes, but better looking sheep and healthier lambs. When selling sheep you are also selling a feeling. Ewes in good condition and bright fresh straw (just like Grampa's) sell better and faster. Weaned lambs with some finish, well fleeced, well grown with good size, Cry "take me home". No one has ever bought a thin skinny ewe and felt good about it. We all think, "I will get her back into shape......" I like to keep her in good shape.
We are asking more out of our sheep that in their native Shetland. We aim for 180-200% weaned lamb crop of well grown lambs, ewes that remain in the flock till 10-12yrs or more. Adequate energy/protein for abundant fleece of good crimp, good handle and reasonable length. Rolled corn is easier on the ewe's teeth than whole corn..I believe with grain supplements and good care our ewes can be productive for many years.
My ewes are enjoying the fantastic fall grazing. Some years I am feeding hay by now. Yesterday I lead them out to the far corner....they hadn't ventured that far yet. Its nice to see soft abundant fleeces coming on...nice crimp and length.....just beautiful. We had 52* this morning. I hope fall and frost stays away for a great while Till later Jerry
Jerry Fletcher, Fergus Falls, MN
November 2011 I retired, sold my Shetland flock and moved to town.I live on the edge of Fergus Falls, pop 13,000. Its has been a great choice. My mother, sister, her family and my granddaughter live here. I have a garden shed that I converted into a chicken coop. Its also houses my granddaughter's pet Rabbit. My backyard will be flowers and shrubs.