Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Spring is over and summer takes the stage...

We have enjoyed the cooler weather and the sheep loved it.  But now we are back to reality with the 90 plus summer heat & humidity which will only get hotter over the summer.  I am soooo thankful for the completion of our milking parlor and having a haven to cool off.  We have no trouble getting the girls to come in to be milked.  They enjoy the brief coolness as well.

SunRa (above) enjoying the cool milking parlor, says Hi! 

We did Linear Appraisals this weekend on our goat herd,  Everyone was done who was ADGA registered and in milk.   We did have to scratch Annie Oakley, Butter, and a couple of others who were dry. 

This was our first Appraisal, but I studied the information and felt ready and informed on how it worked.  Our Appraiser was excellent.  There is a rule as to not mention who the Appraiser is so we will honor that and not go there.  I was very impressed in the knowledge and the " Hey, look at this, can you see what I am talking about", educational session.  Worth every penny and the time to check every tattoo and make sure everyone matched their papers and the tattoos were readable (we did this a week ahead of time, which took the entire day).  You do not want to be embarrassed, if your tattoo does not match the paper work or if the Appraiser can not read the faded tattoo on 7 year old Ariel.

The Appraiser wanted the does in milk to give them a fair and honest evaluation, which I appreciated.  Anyone dry was excluded.  We did a bunch of young stock as well to see how the appraisal fit with my own evaluation of the young stock.  We were very close to my surprise.  I hang on to young stock and grow them out because I am not sure who will be the next it girl or boy.  Now I feel more confident in my evaluations.  Maybe I am not so dumb after all...  We had 24 adult goats and 16 young stock appraised.  I wanted to know where we were and where we need to go with the young stock & our herd.  A total of 40 goats were appraised.

Silene was a sleeper doe who I liked and had a daughter out of years ago.  The daughter was very dairy and freshened with an udder to die for.  But she was not friendly and got sick one day.  I had to work out of town that day as a relief Pharmacist and had a hard time catching her.  Got her into a stall and gave her some Pepto and went to work.  Fourteen hours later when I got home, she was dead.  So I called the breeder and asked her to rebred Silene to the same buck for me and I would buy all her daughters.  Well, she had bucks and more bucks.  Finally she said, why don't you just buy her and breed her to one of your bucks.  So I did.  She went a few years without being bred and I bred her to Oldesouth Shell Foop, A LTE Olde Butter son, sired by The General.  She freshened with a high, tight udder for being 6 years old, twins, a buck and a doe.  The Buck has blue eyes like his mom and the doe brown.  I liked Silene, but did not realize she was an Excellent doe, scoring 90 on her linear appraisal.

Blue eyed Silene is pictured to the left.

Silene's rear udder.

Silene's side udder.

Busy as ever, we have shorn sheep the first weekend of May.  Below are photo's of how to shear on a stand.   I hope this helps others to shear on the stand.  The stand is the way to go unless you are a macho person who has the back and athletic ump to shear the old way.  When a stand it used, no matter if the ewe is pregnant or not, it is gentle for you and the sheep.  Do not have to worry about setting a pregnant ewe on her butt, squashing her triplets in the womb.  No worries, no trauma.

 The photo to the right is myself beginning to shear a Shetland ewe.  We start by shearing straight up the back, from the tail.

I get a lot of grief over my farmer jeans.  But I love all the pockets for putting stuff in and my phone fits in the front chest pocket.  Can also tuck bottles in the front and side.  Love them...
 Then you shear from back to front on each side.  I am using the Oster Judge Shears.  Oster does not make Clippers like they used to.  These died by the end of the day, yeah, $300 clippers are junk!  I do not recommend them.  The Premier One 4000 clippers are lighter and easier to use and finished the day.
 When you are shearing for no second cuts, for your hand spinning clients, make one pass and do not go back over the ewe.  This way you will not have short pieces of wool, we call second cuts.  We hate second cuts, they mess up the roving for hand spinners.  Once the wool is off, then go back and clean up uneven areas to make the sheep nice and smooth.
 Justin is learning to shear and has just gone down the back for the first pass on a yearling Icelandic ewe.  He is using the Premier One 4000 Clippers.
 Justin is now shearing the wool off from tail to head.  This young Icelandic has a felted fleece and it is coming off easily like a rug.  Spring fleece in the Icelandic is not prime.  The fall fleece in the Icelandic Sheep is the Prime wool.

Justin is cleaning up the ewe and then we will pull her head out of the neck chain to clean up around her head for a nice smooth clip.

Moms are much cooler now.  The photo to the right is a Mini Cheviot clipped with her lamb sneaking a snack.  The little spotted ewe in the fore ground is an Shetland/Icelandic mix.  She was nipping on this Cheviot as well when Mom was not paying attention...

 These two lambs below are a couple of my bottle babies.  I do love my bottle babies.  The Horned, Badger Faced Icelandic is on the left.  Her name is Angelina.  She is one of my favorite colors.  Her mother Angie is older and I pulled one of the lambs to hand raise.  Her sister is a lovely gray.

My little Monkey Faced girl is a polled gray Shetland lamb.  Her name is Baby Girl.  She is a sweet and spoiled little darling.  It is difficult to take photos of bottle babies because they are up your behind and do not get far enough away to get a good shot of.  Everywhere one goes, the gang of baby lambs follows.  We have 4 this year and they graze out with the group, but come a running to get their bottle when we are sighted.

Had to include a shot of Justin enjoying my Quarter Horse Joe.  Joe is a fat lazy boy, my kind of horse.  He is from a long line of cutting horses.  Justin hopes to train Joe to cut cattle. 
Last, but not least is Mommy Turkey.  She is a Royal Palm turkey and she has hatched out 10 baby turkeys.  What a good Mom!  She has done very well with out our intervention.  So far out of the 10, 6 are now 3 weeks old and going strong.  She puts them up in the barn at night, tucking them to bed under her wings.  She takes them out in the morning and you can see them grazing in the field.  Turkey's are not so dumb after all.
Enough for now, I hope you enjoyed the visit...

Monday, May 2, 2011

April is already past...

We have been very busy getting the Milking Parlor set up and finally going.  It took a bit of time to train the girls to the new space as well.  They have to step up three times to get onto the milking stand.  Ariel, my one large goat (Nubian) had the roughest time.  She is long and has to step up just right with her head down to get into the stanchion.  The milk stand has a stanchion for small goats and Ariel has adapted to it.  I do have a taller stanchion, but it is to tall for my yearling nigerians to reach the feed bucket.  Ariel then has to come off the stand, swing around to come down the step ups.  She has been doing great, but was a bit scared at first.  She is up pretty high for me to milk standing up.  It took some apple flavored treats to convince her she was not going to be eaten.

 Clean room is pictured left.
 Milking area with machine.  The goats enter from the right and step up 3 levels to the stand.  They are then the perfect height to clean and milk while standing in comfort.
 UDiamond is pictured to the left showing the Milking Parlor in action.

The small goats got into the routine quickly because they like to climb on things anyway.  So the higher the better for the little Diva's.  Everyone comes into the Parlor one at a time except, of course Brat.  Yeah, we are still putting up with her.  She is last and after you go out to get her, she runs into the parlor and jumps up where she is suppose to go.  Always has to be a Drama Queen & act stupid.

So far we have 3 goats who have qualified for stars with several others very close.  Of course nothing is official until the lactation ends and the results are submitted and approved by the Goat Associations. Even Ariel is close and milking quite well.  Her last test was 8.1 pounds.  She is a Nubian now, not a Nigerian.  My top Nigerian is UDiamond who milked 4.1 pounds on her last test as a first freshener.  Alexa's sister Babette, who I need to get a good photo of, milked 4 pounds on her first test, raising triplet sons sired by Fairlea Jean Louis *S.

The photo to the right is Oldesouth Babette.  She is not clipped, but her udder can be seen fairly well.  She has a lovely fore udder too.  She is pictured at the Goat & Sheep Expo in March where she was on display with her triplet sons.

We attended a couple of Goat Shows.  One in South Carolina at Teena's Farm and another at Carrolton, Ga.  We were so busy showing, I did not get but a few decent pictures.  Arlene and I showed.  Our young Jr Buck, Lost Valley PG Superb *S won Grand Champion Jr buck in one show and Reserve Champion Jr Buck in the other show.  Sunra took 2 first places and we had several 2nd, 3rds, etc with some stiff competition.  UDiamond took 3rd and 2nds in both shows, with her class being one of the largest.  Each show we attend, we get better at presenting our goats and move up the line.

I guess I was having an off day and my photo's were blurry and had to dump most of them.  Oldesouth Sweet Mocha is pictured in her Jr Doe class.  Look at her beautiful topline and dairy character.  The photo above shows how wide she is in the rear as well.

We are preparing for sheep shearing this up coming weekend.  We hope to get most of them done.  We shear on a stand and I do it.  I tried hiring a pro, or so he called himself.  He did not do an acceptable job and cut off a teat and cut a penis on one of my rams.  Of course he tried to blame his incompetence on my sheep.  Sorry my sheep have teats and male genitals that were in your way...  NOT!  Why can I shear the entire herd and everyone was still in tact when it was over?  It does not take that much time to be careful and do a good job.  The Icelandic's especally must be smoothly shorn with no chunks left to felt and ruin the new fleece coming up underneath.  The photo below is what a group of yearling Cheviots looked like after that IDIOT was done with them.  Not only were they cut up, but look at the chunks of wool left... (a picture is worth a thousand words...)

We were lucky to be missed by the Tornado's that hit Tuskaloosa, Alabama.  We are thankful and are praying for the folks who have lost loved ones and property.  It was terrifying to watch the Tornado live on the news as it was hitting Tuskaloosa with the weather woman frantic for people to take cover.  We were at the hospital monitoring the news while working to make sure our patients were safe if we needed to move folks to interior areas.