Carmen gave birth to her first baby, DonnaLisa, on March 12th.
Carmen with a confused look on her face just after DonnaLisa was born.
For some first-time mothers, delivering a lamb can be confusing ... the ewe seems to be not quite sure what they should be doing. This was the case with Carmen. She was surprised at DonnaLisa and seemed to consider the lamb a threat. Carmen would stamp her feet and butt DonnaLisa hard enough to knock the lamb down. Carmen would not allow DonnaLisa to nurse or stand up.
We found it necessary to intervene until Carmen realized her lamb was not a threat. The answer is to use a device called a stanchion. The ewe's head is placed in the stanchion and locked in placed ... almost like the old-fashioned stocks for punishing criminals. The stanchion allows the ewe to eat and drink, but prevents her from butting the lamb or interfering with nursing. Typically, within a few days, the ewe gets over her confusion and readily accepts her lamb. This is what happened with Carmen and DonnaLisa; Carmen was released in three days and is acting like a mother should toward her lamb.
DonnaLisa is one of the important lambs for Grace Valley Farms. She has genetics from both Edison and Foreman. Her conformation and wool qualities are evident even though she is quite young, displaying relatively long, lustrous, and soft wool!
Belvedere's twins, Dixie and Dolly, received their first coats last Saturday!
Our baby sheep coats are still a little big on them so the twins have little "dillys" of excess coat on their backs.
Standing in the hay trough!
Belvedere with Dixie and Dolly, grazing in our pasture
Now that the snow is melted and the temperatures are warming up, the grass and legumes in our pastures are starting to green up. The sheep love to eat the little shoots of new growth. Very soon, however, we will have to move them off the main pastures. This will allow the plants to mature so we can cut them for hay this summer. The hay (first and second cuttings) will become the primary food source for our flock for the winter of 2010/2011.
Our naturally-colored flock ram is Edison. When he was a lamb, he produced a fleece which won Reserve Grand Champion at a noted wool competition. Edison is now five years old, and still producing wonderful wool.
For 2010, he produced this stunning fleece! For a mature ram, his wool is soft and fine with a beautiful luster!
Edison's 2010 Staple
Not only does Edison produce a nice fleece, we have been very pleased with these excellent traits passed on to his offspring. His lambs have been consistently producing wool staple lengths between 6 and 8 inches!
This photo of samples from last year's fleeces, demonstrates the wool traits Edison is introducing to our flock. The top sample is from Belvedere (mother), the middle is from Edison (father), and the bottom sample is from Blossom (daughter).
Carolyn is a very lovable girl! She was born last year to Heather, one of our full-blood Hampshire ewes. Carolyn and Heather share a similar personality ... both adore their shepherds and crave affection in return! When we kneel down to their level, they like to come close to our faces, to hear our voices, and enjoy a massage. Since she was a lamb, Carolyn has had the unusual ability of being able to unzip and then re-zip your jacket! She is a cutie and we love her!
Carolyn also has remarkable wool, with some of the characteristics from both her father Edison (registered Romney) and Heather. It is finer and softer than typical Romney but maintains much of the crimp and luster. The color is light-to-medium gray and gives a hint of lavender hues in the bright sun. Beautiful! We'll post more about her 2010 fleece at a later date.
On March 6th, Autumn gave birth to twins! She set our farm record for the highest total birth weight of lambs for a pure-bred Romney. Her lambs together weighed in at 27lbs. 4 oz. Autumn has been a gentle mother to her two babies.
"I received Bluebell's fleece today. The color, the crimp, the length of the locks and the overall condition of the fleece--WOW!! It's simply breathtaking. I could spin it right out of the box but I'm going to restrain myself and wash out the lanolin first. I loved my last fleece (Carrie's) and this one is even better. Thank you so much. Thank Bluebell for me, too. You all have really spoiled me.
I'm a happy spinner!
P.S. I love the classy presentation with the photo. What a nice memento. "
Belvedere, once again, produced a beautiful fleece! With its shades of silver and gray transitioning to heather, her wool is very pleasing to the eye. Despite being a mature ewe, she has maintained a nice crimp!
The outside tips of Belvedere's fleece are peachy-heather in color, adding to the overall warmth and attractiveness of the fleece.
Romney fleeces are noted for low lanolin content. Belvedere's lanolin level is considerably lower than typical Romney; this will translate into a higher yield of clean wool after washing.
Last Sunday afternoon Betsy delivered two white babies! Her twins were different than our normal lambs because they were very small. They look like toys! The two lambs together weighed in at less than 12 pounds, total. This is compared to our lambs' normal birth weight between 10 and 16 pounds, each.
Dewey - 5 lbs. 12 oz
Dilly - 6 lbs.
We have been giving these two babies extra attention since they are so tiny. Dewey has been having a hard time nursing, so Shepherdess Emily has been milking Betsy and then bottle-feeding him Betsy's milk to help him stay strong and start growing.
Betsy frequently checks on her babies and talks to them!
Heather, one of our Hampshire ewes, delivered twin girls on March 4th. She had a very fast delivery and has recovered rapidly. Heather is such a strong ewe, it seemed like delivering lambs hardly even phased her! She does a good job of caring for her girls.
Dorcas (black) - 14 lbs.
Diana (white) - 12 lbs. 12 oz.
Heather and Dorcas
Many of our sheep love to eat apples! Apples provide a good source of nutrition for our ewes and rams. Heather especially enjoys this special treat. If fact, she likes apples so much, we joke that she nurses her lambs with apple juice instead of milk!
As a lamb, Heather was raised out on the range; so, when Heather first came to live on our farm, she was wild and afraid of people. After much patience and gentle care by our family, she became a very lovable sheep! When Heather sees us, she comes over and stands next to us, waiting to have her neck rubbed! Oftentimes, when we kneel down to care for one of our other sheep, Heather will lovingly places her head on our shoulder or even on top of our head!