Saturday, June 27, 2009

This Year's Crew

At long last, we've got reasonable pictures of MOST of this year's lambs. Now that they are on the big pasture next door, they're not much interested in us. Oh, the little families trot down to the barn now and then for a lick of minerals, but the siren call of fresh grass howls in their furry ears, and mostly, we see the tail ends of these little guys and gals.

That said, we have managed a few recent photos. All these lambs are for sale-- Ewe lambs $325 and ram lambs $275. We'll make you a good deal (Offer ya can't refuse....?) if you are interested in a breeding other type of group. Please call us for details (413-624-3070) or to plan a farm visit.

The picture is a bit fuzzy, but this is Acorn with her huge ram lamb, Dodge. Sired by Charlie, Dodge is moorit gray and horned (Acorn is polled but with a tendency to throw scurred lambs, so we thought we'd try her with a strongly horned ram this year.) Dodge was 12 pounds at birth (giganto!) He has continued his stunning growth as you can see in this picture. He is chunky, with a beautiful fleece. Dodge has a very bold personality with the other lambs, and we have not handled him much because Acorn and her offspring are our friendliest sheep and we don't want to encourage this little ram. Dodge would make a wonderful breeding ram. He is over 1/4 AI (Rektor, Heli and Pettir) with a very nice meaty structure and a good (great!) size. He has a lot of color in his background-- solid moorit and black gray. If you are interested in breeding sheep for meat and/or colorful fleece, Dodge may be your ram.

Dracula. Dracula comes from our best fleece lines. His dam, Leela, has a consistently soft and luxurious fleece-- even as a mature, nursing ewe. He is sired by Charlie and is a moorit gray with an interesting (if slightly diabolical) badgerfaced pattern. He really looks his name these days :) Dracula was another big single (10 pounds!) He is 3/16th AI (Rektor, Pettir, Prestur). We'd hope this pairing would produce lambs with the best qualities of Leela and Charlie. Dracula has his sire's big, broad frame and his dam's beautiful fleece. He should carry black or black gray as well as the badgerfaced pattern. Leela and Charlie are both cautious, sensible sheep and this ram should have a similar personality as an adult. (Dracula is the only lamb we were unable to snap a decent picure of... we'll put one up soon!)

Data is a line bred white twin. His sire is Charlie and dam is Daisy. These two are among our most parasite resistant and healthy sheep. Both have great structure as well. Daisy's progeny may be of particular interest to felters as her fleece felts very well-- sometimes too well :) Data is almost an exact replica of his full siblings (Coraline and Caroline) from last year's pairing. He has phaeomelanin spots (a trait from Grandma Copper's line) and is very growing well. This line carries on the best traits of Jager's Solee-- hardy, easy keepers, competent lambers and great mothers. Data will likely resemble his sire as an adult ram. He is over 1/4th AI (Rektor, Bambi, and Pettir). Data likely carries the moorit and/or black gray pattern. Daisy is a friendly and talkative (read: loud) ewe. Charlie is a little more subdued, a nice thing in a ram. We'll see how this guy develops.

Daffodil is Data's twin, a beautiful moorit gray ewe. Much of what was said about Data will be true of Daffodil. Plus she is a real cutie.

Here are the twins out and about. This picture gives you a sense of their chunky builds.

Dots and Duncan. This breeding combined our broadest, most meaty animals, and Penny's twins have structure in spades. They are sired by Rahm and are a whopping 10/16th AI (Langidalur, Heli, Flekkur, Solon, and Dalur). Both are long bodied and wide with a capital W. They carry their sire's meaty (to the max) build. Both boys do have scurs. If you are interested in meat production, these boys might be just the ticket. both are shaping up to have nice thick fleeces as well. (Another trait of their sire, Rahm). Dots definitely carries spotting (a recessive trait) and possibly moorit or black gray as well. Duncan may carry spotting, and moorit or black gray. Their scurs are small at present and we are keeping an eye on the situation.


Diamond IS a diamond. Sired by the chunky Rahm-- and with quite a similar look to half-brother Duncan-- Copper's ewe lamb has all the best traits of her dam (good structure, good growth, parasite resistance and health) and her sire (meaty, long bodied build and thick fleece). She is 1/2 AI (Langidalur, Pettir and Dalur). Diamond has her mother's calm and good sense. (Copper is our flock leader and matriarch.) She may carry spotting or black. At present, Diamond is still polled (!) Time will tell whether this is a fluke-- due to Rahm's scurs-- or just slow to develop horns.

Dusk and Dawn black baderfaced twins from Carmen, a black badgerfaced one-winter ewe. Carmen has done a fantastic job mothering these two; she required no help birthing or nursing. Carmen hails from West Elm Farm-- she arrived as a bred ewe, adding to our gene pool here at Maggie's Farm. She has great fleece genetics and a calm nature. She herself was a fast growing, fleecy lamb just a year ago! Her twins carry the badgerfaced pattern and also possible black gray and spots. They are hardy (and adorable) and, from very fleecy lines, they should have great fleeces.
Here's Dusk:

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Everything But the Chicken Sink

You gotta love those chickens.

This one in particular-- the hen previously known as "Soapy Two" but recently renamed "Mighty Hera" by my eldest who is on a Greek god kick of sorts-- spent the better part of a month huddled in the a non-functioning utility sink willing the hatch of her 6 eggs. And she managed it too. A few days ago we found four little fuzzies hanging out in the sink with her. So far, so good. It was refreshing, we thought, to have babies around without the need for added vigilance or care. "Mighty Hera" would do the rest, right?

Ah, but we overestimated the chicken mind. After four more days of sink sitting, Hera gave up on the last two eggs and leapt down to the barn floor. One of the chicks leapt after her, landing in a plastic tub of sheep minerals, and the others remained in the sink, all of them shrieking high-pitched little chick shrieks. Hera also started up clucking and calling, but without opposable thumbs (or thumbs at all... or hands for that matter) there wasn't much she could do. That's how we found them yesterday. All in a tizzy.

We scooped the chicks out of the sink and mineral tub and set them on the floor by their mama and all was well, right? Not exactly. Mighty Hera is a young hen, a Partridge Rock from last summer's mail order batch. And she was clearly as stressed out and clueless as any other new mother. I felt some sympathy for the girl, remembering the days when a trip to the store with my squalling newborn seemed to involve more energy and knowhow than a hike up Mount Everest. I swear Hera had that same glazed look in her eye as she anxiously strode the barn scratching up tidbits for her chicks in the deep sheepy bedding. She led them to the waterer and to the piles of chick starter I put out, all with one wing raised to shield them. We left the little family to their own devices. Happy ending, right?

Well. Not exactly. After dusk, Dan went down to the barn to close up the duck brooder, top off the pigs and check on the new family. He found Mighty Hera squatting in her sink, fluffed as in the manner of hens when warming a batch of chicks. It seemed a little strange, he thought. That the babies made it the 4 vertical feet into the sink but such was the miracle of mothering. (Have I mentioned that my guy is the family optimist, the one who can look at a strung together, herky-jerky fence with a foot wide gap at the bottom and declare that oh, the sheep won't break loose, where would they want to go?) He returned to report that Hera and her babies were safe and sound in the sink.

I am a lot more cynical than my better half. I was sure there was no way those babies made it back into the sink. However, this is a FAMILY farm-- emphasis on FAMILY-- and it was past 8 and I was desperately trying to get dinner on the table... (Yep, we're more than a little disorganized over here this time of year...). Dan went back to check out the situation more thoroughly. He was gone a long time, a very long time.

When he returned, he told us (We were all seated around the dinner table by then) that the chicks were NOT under Mighty Hera at all and that he had searched every corner of the barn for the chicks. (Here I got that sinking feeling in my gut. Yes, death is part of "life on the farm" but it is never an easy part-- even when you are talking a batch on unanticipated and not really needed sink chickens)

But all was not lost. Dan said he'd found the chicks under "Brave Sara", our other barn broody. More sensibly, Sara-- a mothering veteran-- had chosen to brood her batch of eggs on the floor of the barn.

So, best we can figure it, after a day spent on red alert guarding and guiding her chicks about the barn, Mighty Hera spaced it and tucked herself in for the night just as the temperatures started to dip into the serious chick danger zone. (Feel free to start humming that old 70's song about here: "Yoooouu left me, just when I needed you most..." We did.) I can imagine the ruckus those four chilled chicks put up (Chicks can holler when they need to) before they found comfort under Brave Sara's bosom. Either that, or the chicks tucked under Brave Sara first and Hera, abandoned by her brood, decided to call it a night.

At any rate. All is fine on Maggie's Farm. Morning found the little family happily reunited. This is the second time we've encountered co-parenting in our poultry. I wonder if this is typical of chickens everywhere. Anybody?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Fecundity Central

Spring is all about new life and lots of it. This makes for an overdose of cute ....and a lot of extra care down on the farm.

For one thing, there are the 10 ducklings. These were to be the kids' project, but evidently, they are mine as well. I end up doing quite a lot of feeding and watering and de-duckifying their forever damp and splashy lair. And the cute little guys are not living up to their reputation for tameness. They are MORE afraid of us than the two batches of mail-order chicks we've known. They huddle at the far side of the brooder when we look at them funny (or just look at them period) We are working in this. Slowly...

Then there's the "sink chicken". This smart broody decided to make her home in the nonfunctional utility sink in the barn, in Puff's old spot, as a matter of fact. She showed the necessary patience, grit and determination, and this weekend-- Viola!-- she's got four little fuzzies under her, the largest hatch our hens have ever managed. The new family is living in the sink for now. I think this mama hen (Okay, I'll admit it. Her name is "Soapy Two". Long story.) is waiting on a few more eggs.

And the lambs. We have nine this year: 6 rams (!) and 3 ewes. They are roaming the lush pasture next door and hard to see in all that spring growth. We'll be posting a bit more about these little guys and gals very soon. But for now, I'll just say: Cute. Very cute. (And for sale too.)

Then there are the wild babies: A small toad (Named "Toady" of course) befriended by Joe.

And this ginormous green moth on the porch. (Not a baby, technically, but a male bent on making a few babies...)

And nests everywhere, stuffed with cheeping baby sparrows and robins and thrushes. This one is in our "down barn" with the pigs.

And the pigs? You ask. Well... "The Daves" are not quite as cute now. They're growing like spring weeds-- about doubled their size already. Yesterday they were tossing stalks of broccoli around like batons!

Not to be outdone by all this burgeoning animal life, the apple trees blossomed and have begun to form the small green apples that will, by autumn, make for many pies and crumbles and sauces. Serious "spring" around here.