We are a small acreage farm in southeastern Wisconsin that raises Jacob, Romney, Lincoln, and Corriedale & Targhee crosses, as well as English Shepherds & poultry. Our goals are home-raised lamb and fleece production. We periodically have stock & puppies available for sale. Ask me about Lamb's Choice Total colostrum!
Bubba is the major rule enforcer at our farm, while Lola is generally the muscle... So it's always interesting to watch the interactions.
We've had several new people over to the farm the last few days to meet the dogs and see pups. Since our dogs don't go to town a lot, they are a little slower to warm up to new people (although they warm up faster to ES people...). But after a few minutes during which they are allowed to be loud and sound the "intruder alert" (while we ignore them)- they settle down and come up to the visitors. Interactions off-farm are usually different than on-farm; if we aren’t home they don’t care nearly as much.
We had a couple visit last night who wanted to meet the ES and get to know more about the breed.
I had brought the dogs out one at a time, first Bubba (who stayed out), then Eva (out and back in the house), Lola (oh so glad to be away from the pups) and finally Honey. The dogs were generally good ambassadors. Last night, however, Honey was being a particular crab-ass and didn't want to settle down. Honey decided that she could be as loud and obnoxious as she wanted, barking loudly and not quieting down. Before I could correct her, we watched as Bubba dove for her and in a split second had given her the "I can put your whole head in my mouth" correction...
She settled down...
I guess it doesn’t matter how old you are- your parents can still correct you!
I finally had a chance to go through the many bags of raw sheep fleeces I have stored in the garage. Each bag had to be sniffed and checked out by Honey, Bubba and Lola. I guess each bag must have a unique smell relating it to a particular sheep. They finally decided the best place to supervise was right between the bags of fleece (foreground) and the truck where I was sorting.
Once I had them sorted, I started filling the Jetta with bags to take to the Midwest Fiber and Folk Art Fair, where I was meeting Jane Zeien from Illinois Wool & Fiber Mill. I stopped counting at 20 fleeces... I took mostly fleeces from the Targhee crosses, the Corriedale/ELL ewes, and a few bags of Romney, BFL and Shetland.
It's hard to believe it's already mid July. We've got so little time until Syd leaves for WKU. What is it Willy Wonka says, "So much time, so little to do? Strike that, reverse it". It's been a busy week at our house with the pups now starting to get mobile. Their eyes are mostly open and they are starting to have personalities. We'll get individual pics of them this weekend.
Bristol is back again for the week- She loves "camp" and loves to play with Lillie and Olli. And she's learned what it means to know your place in the pack. Her first visit here, she spent a lot of time getting corrected and there was a lot of whining on her part about how badly she was treated. ;)
But she's a few weeks older and wiser, and has obviously learned what is expected of her. Lola is the master pup trainer...
Watch for the correction at 2:25- one correction and she's remembered what she's supposed to do.
It's hard to believe that it's been one week already since these little ones were born! They are already getting big and scooting around the pool to get to mum. Eyes should be opening this weekend- then the fun really begins!
Final count is 6M/6F. There are 5 tricolors, 6 sable & whites of varying shades and 1 pup that might end up being a red tri- we'll see how he develops. Lola is a proud and protective mom- slightly tolerant of Honey and Eva taking a sniff or two- but doesn't want Bubba, Lillie or Olli anywhere near them. I'm sure a few more weeks and she'll be happy for the babysitting. ;)
Hopefully we can get individual pup pictures this weekend and get the website updated.
The weasel has popped at 12! We're hoping she's done, but Lola surprised us with one more last time several hours after we thought she was done. Looks to be 5 shaded sable & white, 1 clear sable & white, 1 very dark (almost chocolate colored) sable & white and 5 tri-colors. The males are winning out for now- I haven't checked a couple yet- Lola was tired and the pups were quiet. We can always do that later when we weigh them.
For now, quiet and rest. And some cachaça to celebrate and to help me come up with a dozen names....
Seems like when you are waiting for something it always takes forever. In reality, puppies only take 63 days (MOL). Lola's due date was June 30th and sure enough, she was restless all last night. She kept insisting that the perfect spot to have the pups was under the deck ramp outside, but I convinced her to take refuge in our closet for the time being.
First pup (a beautifully marked sable and white male) arrived around 1130 this morning and the second (a tri-colored female) just arrived. I managed to get her upstairs into the "planned" whelping area and baby pool between #1 and #2, so now it's just a matter of waiting for the final count.
We had a beautiful weekend outdoors finally- two days of sunshine and no rain! So we took advantage of it to get some pictures around the farm. I love just sitting out in the pasture and letting the sheep come to me. And of course, who can pass up a very photogenic hen!
One of my favorite shots from the weekend is Bubba and Megan, one of our Lincoln yearlings. She was very interested in him.
A very nice young photographer came out yesterday and took several hundred pictures if the sheep & dogs. Can't wait to see how they turn out once she's done. Sara's got a great eye and I think a bright future! Here's a link to some of her pictures. http://saramarieotto.blogspot.com/
Wow- it’s been since the end of March? Guess I really did get busy this spring. Had a quick trip to Calgary in April to work on the database pages and to get data updated for that facility. Two days of travel for three days of work, but when I left we were fairly well caught up. It’s been 2 years but we’re finally getting there with the amendments. I do love going up there- the storms are awesome- you can see them for miles as they move in.
We ended up the season with 25 lambs- the last one is a little white Lincoln ram. One of the first to be born has already been sold, 24 more to go…! We didn’t lose any to hypothermia. I am SO relieved!
The next thing I need to do is start shearing…anyone up for some aerobic exercise? By the time I’m done, my arms are usually in pretty good condition! Nothing like wrestling a 200 lb sheep while holding a sharp powered object in one hand!
If this isn't a picture of patience and tolerance, I'm not sure what is. The newborn lamb is just getting his legs under him and still trying to figure out where mommy is. Mom was just out of the picture with his brother and this guy hadn't figured out yet that she was gone.
Bubba is our master lamb guardian & nurturer. This is where Bubba excels! He loves his babies- as far as he's concerned- they're all his wards. He lets them sniff him, then he in turn cleans them up- front to back! He's even been known to snuggle with them.
Here he is with the bottle babies. He'll play with them, gently herd them around the yard and teach them the rules of the farm. It's so nice to have the lambs treated so calmly!
Bubba's pedigree is Beebe, Mohns, & Anderson. He's one of the gentlest dogs I've known. While there isn't a mean bone in his body, he will take on the sheep in a heartbeat if they challenge. He's a lot like his sire - Beebe's Sparky- and I'm pleased that his daughter Honey and granddaughter Eva are very nurturing as well. It's one of the qualities that drew me to English Shepherds. I don't always need herding help, but I do need extra eyes watching out for the safety of the livestock.
What's not to like about this guy? He's adorable! His dad is the East Friesian and his mom is a Jacob/Shetland/Cheviot/Wensleydale. He has his little coat on to keep him warm at night. Underneath, he's white with a spot on his back. Don't you love the eye patches! He looks like he's all head right now- he sure does have some growing to do to make those legs fit the rest of him!
This is one of my favorite Jacob ewes. She's a great mom, has nice horns and fleece and is a pretty easy keeper. She's one of the more dominant ewes so she's also a good dog trainer! She and her ewe lamb were enjoying the warmth of the sunshine yesterday.
We had one more ram lamb born this weekend- a Jacob/Shetland/Cheviot/Wensleydale x East Friesan cross. It will be interesting to see how he develops. He looks like he'll be a tall boy like his daddy. Mom isn't that flashy, but she has an interesting fleece. She's a good first time mom- fiercely defensive of him. She doesn't like when we have to handle him and stays very close. That alone is one reason to keep her in the flock!
If I've counted right, we should have one more ewe to go- the Suffolk. She's bagging up so I have a feeling she'll go this week. It'll be perfect weather if she goes early this week and the lamb can get past the first couple days before it gets cold this weekend.
The bottle babies are growing like crazy. The four littlest ones are still coming in at night, but they spend the day outside with the big lambs. The singleton ram lamb is going to be HUGE if he keeps eating the way he has been. And the others aren't far behind. They get their daily milk, but are already nibbling the hay and creep feed.
It took a while, but I finally got my own domain and a new website set up. We are officially http://www.asylumfarm.com/ and on the web. I had to remember how to use the program to get the website published- it's been a couple years since I took the class, but it came back as I started using it.
It's not quite as painless as using a drag & drop site builder, but the results are so much better. I can finally add products to sell from the site, and can add more pages as needed.
I still have to load pictures of lambs and sheep, and finish up some of the descriptions, but the majority of the info is online.
Lambing is almost done- 18 live lambs bouncing around. The lamb races are starting with a couple of the older lambs. We have a fair number of bucket babies, but they are doing great. And they are big! They are already nibbling on the creep feed and hay.
It’s been a busy couple of days at the farm! Another baby this morning- a Jacob. Unfortunately, mom wants nothing to do with it. First time mom so I’ll cut her some slack, but it’s so frustrating when the ewe refuses to bond with a lamb. Upside is, the lamb is healthy and bouncing around like she should.
We’re definitely having a ewe year! Only 2 rams so far; one CA Red cross and one Romney x Corriedale cross. The size difference is funny- the CA Red is a tiny boy; the Romney cross has a lot of skin to grow into.
Every lamb is getting their doses of Lamb's Choice Total Colostrum replacer. It's made a difference. The lambs are active, warm, and ready to nurse. Most are going right back to mom. We'll have a couple that will be "ours". But after last year, I’m at the point, I’d rather have bottle babies than dead babies…
The English Shepherds are loving this time of year. I’ve been rotating who goes out with me to the paddock. Bubba knows the drill- calm, quiet, slow movements so the ewes don’t panic (although he does forget sometimes and get “so-o-o excited…). The pups get to watch how he works, so when they go in with me, they also are calm and quiet. They’ve all been eager to help clean up the lambs. The bottle babies are getting used to being cleaned, preened, and licked by the dogs.
So I imagine we’ll have a few more “watch sheep” who don’t realize they aren’t dogs this summer….
Lambing is in full swing at our farm right on schedule. We had planned for lambing to start at the end of February/early March- and the ewes are accommodating. The weather is perfect- days above freezing, nights not overly cold. Thursday we came home to a pair of newly born lambs; Friday brought two lambs, with three more Saturday & Sunday. The routine this year is to bring in the lambs shortly after they are cleaned up, let mom get a snack, and get a dose of Lamb’s Choice Total colostrum replacer into them ASAP. Then we take them back out to mom and repeat the LCT 2 more times within the next 12 hours.
This lamb is one of the twins born Thursday afternoon. We pulled into the yard after work/school and could see one of the ewes sitting with a new black lamb. Both seemed fine. So I changed my clothes, pulled on my coveralls and headed out to check. Sure enough- the lamb couldn’t be more than 30 minutes old. But…when I approached, I could see a yet uncleaned white lamb lying next to/almost under the black lamb. Damn! I figured we were too late. I picked it up and started checking it out. Amazingly, it was still alive- barely- and chilling fast. Not sure why the ewe hadn't cleaned it- she's usually a good mom. I managed to get it to open its eyes as I rubbed it. So into the house we went to the “lamb hot tub”. I’ve got this down to a science now!
I’ve learned not to give up on lambs. After last year, when we lost so many because of the extreme cold, I was determined that this year would be different. So- the plastic tub gets filled with very warm water and the lamb goes into a kitchen garbage bag up to its neck (make sure it’s unscented!). After about an hour and half, several tub refills and lots of massaging, I manage to get both eyes open and the lamb starts struggling with me. Yeah! Once I’m sure it’s staying with me, out it comes into nice warm freshly laundered towels for a vigorous massage and the LCT. It was a little slow to suck, but once it got the hang of it, she wouldn’t let go until she was done. We managed to get almost a quart of LCT in her over the next 18 hours. We kept her in the house under a lamp (we brought her sister in too for the night) and Friday put them both back out with mom. This is a great ewe who took both of them back right away- and both lambs are bouncing around with no problems.
I figure it costs me about the price of a gallon of milk to make sure these lambs get a good start in life. That is darn cheap insurance!
Came home the other day to find 2 little lambs. They are from one of the California Red cross ewes. Cute little buggers- tiny! One looks like dad and is white with the red markings, the other looks more Barbado like mom. They have their little lamb coats on them and they've gotten their Lamb's Choice Total colostrum boost to help keep them warm.
Which means- the other ewe could go anytime too. So we'll be keeping a close watch on them.
Let’s just say sometimes life gets in the way. The girls completed their heat cycles without driving everyone completely nuts, although Bubba sure was a mental wreck! And just as Honey & Lola are finishing, Eva came into heat. Sigh- at least this was a little easier to manage. Bubba was already used to the snarkiness and isolation.
Things got busy at work with our database and the “regular” work I do. The GOOD thing about being able to work from home is that sometimes, when you need to leave a little early, you can finish up at home. The BAD thing about being able to work from home is that you have access to things that you used to be able to leave at the office until the next day… It’s a mixed blessing that I wouldn’t trade. At least this way, I don’t have to commute for hours a day. I can do a little extra work while still in my bunny slippers (or sitting on the deck on a bright sunny day!) and still have time with my family.
How many things can break at your house at the same time? Since August, we’ve had 1 minor fender bender; a truck vs deer collision; the “new” dryer broke; the 30+ year old dryer went on to appliance heaven; the refrigerator repaired 2x; new rear brakes on 1 vehicle (which now needs fronts…); well, you get the picture. I really need to get a lottery ticket- you know- the one with the 6 winning numbers…
Sometimes when your teenage kids get sick, you just have to roll with it. The sniffles, the aches, pains, low fevers… Oh wait! That might be the flu. No testing, just assume that’s what they have. When they get sick again within the month, figure it’s the next bug going around. Then the sinus infection- two rounds of antibiotics. When finally her tonsils blow up to the size of tennis balls, you gotta do something. So out they came- but then we had to have a curveball in there- she tested positive for Mono! Well- that explains all those early symptoms… So after almost 3 months, the VERY crabby, irritable, tired teenage girl is FINALLY almost back to her NORMAL crabby, irritable self! (Hey- she’s still a teenage girl after all- what else would we expect). ;)
And just when you think things can’t get any crazier, I added another variable. Or two. Ollie & Lilly are from Butcher’s. Peg picked them up in OK and I met her in IA for the hand-off. They are kin to Lola- related via Copper & Sasha. Ollie will stay with us while Lilly is at our place until she can be with her owner- however long that may be. Ollie is a very biddable, empathetic, caring pup. He is very interested in people, but also loves being out working. He has to check on us to make sure we’re ok; he doesn’t stray too far away when we’re out and about the farm. Lilly is much more independent, bossy and very willing to challenge the big dogs or the sheep. When she arrived, she would take off much farther from us than Ollie. She’s benefited from being with the Alpha Girl Pack at our house- if she hadn’t been under the tutelage of Lola & Honey, I think she would have had some bossiness issues down the road. As it is, she knows her place, but has no problem stepping up to the plate. She’s much more interested in being with us than at first and is fairly biddable. She will make a great sheep dog- loves to tell those big woolies what to do! And she delights in making the tom turkey go back into the poultry area.
There isn’t a lot to do with the livestock once the weather hits, so the dogs are on hiatus for a while. There’s always the job of holding sheep back when we’re feeding, and letting the turkeys know who the REAL bosses of the farm are, but aside from that, it’s mostly socialization and play. With the 2 young pups, 11m old Eva, and the mature dogs, it can be quite a blast to watch! The pups are learning proper pack dynamics- from how to approach a big dog; how to steal the big dog’s toy without getting reprimanded; how to share blanket space; etc. They learned the daily routines quickly. And they love being outside. The more time outside the better- regardless of the weather. Cold, snow, rain- doesn’t matter. We’ve had to keep a steady supply of towels by the doors so we can grab them and dry them off before they get too far inside.