Lambs with a Destiny….

This post may not please any of you who are animal rights activists. My apologies to your sweet hearts, if you should choose to read it.

Jimmy and I have been talking about the fate of our eleven lambs. We now have a rough plan for each of them, which is a huge relief to me.

The kids each have chosen their show lambs, pictured here with them…

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Bailey took his time and finally chose and named this little ewe Lily. She is the daughter of Lady, who is our youngest mama. Lily is a smart and sassy lamb. I’m sure she will serve us well as a breeding ewe someday. Just look at how she looks at the camera–she’s not your typical lamb!

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Mason and Taj are holding Jayden and Makana, their keepers, who will also be breeding ewes for us in the future. Since this photo was taken, these two ewe lambs have grown into graceful adolescents! They are really fun to watch. So feminine! But they are nearly too big to hold now, with legs twice as long.

The kids each got to choose a market lamb to sell at the Yamhill County Fair Auction as well. Taj and Mason chose the brothers of their ewe lambs. Since Bailey’s girl doesn’t have a brother, he is going to use the older of our other two remaining boys, or maybe our firstborn girl, who is huge. Boys (ram lambs) are chosen for market most of the time, because they are almost always bigger than girls and the price is per pound. They are also less valuable to keep, because you only need one ram per flock, for breeding.

So that accounts for the first six of our lambs. Five to go.

This past weekend, Jimmy decided to allow Madison, our niece, to choose a lamb to work with for the 4-H year, even though Madison won’t be old enough to show one until next year. He warned Madison that her lamb would not become a pet, but she would be able to work with her as if she were going to show her at the fair. Madison didn’t take long to choose her ewe lamb. She chose the smallest–the one that I bottle fed for a few days just after she was born. She is the most tame of our ewe lambs. Madison named her “Bella”.

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Bella will likely be sold for meat at the end of the summer, sadly, but my real heartache has been worrying about her brother’s fate. I bottle fed him twice as many days as I did her, and became quite attached in the process. I’ve been careful not to give him a name or to visit the barn too often these days because of him, but he’s so fond of me, when he smells my boots he knows its me and he starts sucking on my pantlegs. He’s a real cuddle bug. I told our 4-H friend about him, and she said that she might be willing to trade us one of her lambs for him so that her granddaughter has a tame lamb to work with as a show lamb. I told her that this would make me so happy. Since Jimmy is going to do the “harvesting” of our lambs on site here at the ranch, it would be hard for me to be around while he was taking the life from my little guy.

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Here I am with brother no-name. God help me if I ever have to feed another boy again! I’ll give him a name as soon as the trade is confirmed as a sure deal, hopefully this weekend.

After trading my little friend, we will still have five lambs left after the fair, including Bella. I imagine that one of the kids may want to trade Madison or keep another of our lambs instead of their own after the fair, if they have a hard time working with their ewe lamb, but they probably will be too attached to let their lambs go.

We are trying to project now when the harvesting will happen so that we can start to reserve lambs for meat for those that might want to reserve them in advance. Jimmy is very experienced at harvesting elk and deer, and he will be glad to be the one to patiently and carefully harvest our own lambs in the most humane and stress-free environment possible, before they ever see the butcher.

We will be charging around five dollars a pound, with the first lamb going to the butcher in April. Do you want to reserve one? Let us know! The butcher we will recommend will likely be in Dayton because of the lower cost offered out here, but if you have one in Portland, you may be able to choose your own butcher and pay their higher price.

Eggs For Sale!

I got my first customer today–traded her a dozen eggs for a pound of her Newberg-grown home-roasted hazelnuts. In November and December, only four of my hens were laying, but now they are all laying, and I get about six eggs a day!  This is way more than we can eat, so I’ve started to make up flyers and business cards to pass out to folks in Newberg.  Since I drive there every weekday to take the kids to school, I figure I can deliver eggs to folks who live in the area I drive through.

It was really fun for me to shine up the eggs and place them in the carton.  We have brown, blue and white eggs, with blue being the majority, so it is a colorful cartonful! Here are the five I just collected…

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Just now, my hens are enjoying their free-range access to the back pasture where they are enjoying sunbathing and grassmunching free of dog barking, since the dogs are asleep on my bed.

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Jimmy is out filling my future garden beds with bedding from the stables….

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Family Photos

We had some good light today so I thought I’d take some pics of the animals…

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Here’s our firstborn, Dela, with her “Mamacita”

 

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Next oldest are these twins that Taj named, Makana and Shaun. Total hams.

 

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Here they are with their mom, Tahdi.

 

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And the next oldest are Mason’s “Jayden” and her twin brother, seen here with their “Mamita”

 

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Stormy’s kiddos were shy with the camera today, but here they are in the icy front pasture with mama and her muddy knees.

 

I didn’t get a shot of the baby (who Bailey claimed as his 4H lamb today!), because her mom is still a little freaked out, but I did get some cute shots of our sheep that are in the Western Pasture….

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Our ram, Mason

 

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Julieta, our only unshorn girl, with the llamas

 

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Tinkerbell, formerly our “baby”

 

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…and my sweet tame Clover, the only one who doesn’t mind closeups!

The other gals, Miki and Stella, are in lambing pens in the barn, getting ready for delivery!

Fiber

Today we had three more sets of visitors to the ranch to pet and love on our toddler-lambs. What a treat for us on New Years Day!

My friend Diane was asking me about their fiber and I told her that theres not much wool on our breed of “hair sheep,” and what is there is is so full of debris, it would take me forever to clean enough to make a felted wool toy or ornament.

Tonight I was noticing the return of the barn swallows and researching ways to attract and retain them (I’m in love with swallows of every kind). While reading back issues of the articles on the Backyard Bird Shop website, I stumbled upon a wonderful use for the wool fiber that we trim off our ewes… bird nest material!

Birds don’t care about the little bits of hay, dirt and seed in the fiber! In fact they might even tease the hay seed out as a snack for those long days of laying.

Then I thought: Oh! My Chickens need nesting material too! Right now I use shreds from my paper shredder, but they aren’t always very soft or cushiony, and they make the henyard into a littered mess when one gets dragged out. Next time we shear, I’m collecting the remnants for my hens! I can’t believe I didn’t think of this sooner.