Monday, November 3, 2008

Frosty Morning (warning: picture heavy)

Last week we had a couple of frosty mornings. I took my camera out with me when I went to feed and took a bunch of pictures. They are not the greatest photographically, but they'll give you an idea of what life looks like around here.

I always marvel at the frost that stays on sheep's backs. This shows just how well their wool insulates them, since the heat from their bodies doesn't melt the frost that forms on the wool. These are some of last spring's karakul lambs.

The flock has been spending the night up near the barn and in the round pen. Here they are moving away from me (and the dogs) while I try to take their picture. These are mostly karakuls, but you can see one tunis lamb at the back.

Maia is wondering why she can't eat her breakfast undisturbed. She has put on a layer of fat, apparently in readiness for winter. Notice how nice her coat looks--it's growing out beautifully after Darci's shave (to remove some terrible mats) a couple of months ago.

These ewes are staying in the paddocks behind the barn because I'm hoping they're being bred. I didn't buy a harness for the ram lamb, and he was just five months old when I put him in with the ewes (who tower over him), so I have no idea if he's managing to breed them or not. Since I'm not desperate for replacement lambs, if the ewes don't get bred, Ill put them back to a ram in the spring.

That's the red ram lamb on the far left.

Because they don't have a lot of space or grass back behind the barn (even though I do let them out to graze in the unfenced pasture), I am feeding this group of sheep. So after giving Maia her breakfast, Twist and Lark and I go in with the feed. Twist and Lark are a good team for holding sheep off feed bunks, though with this small number of sheep, you could easily get by with using just one dog. Still they both enjoy the job, so I let them both help. Lark is wearing the dog equivalent of a horse blanket because she is so small and has little meat on her bones and gets cold easily. I actually put it on her at night because we're keeping the heat really low in the house to save on the electric bill, and since we got up and went straight outside, I just left it on her. Here she's holding her side of the paddock.

While Lark is rather clappy (and for that reason alone I probably shouldn't use her for this job), Twist likes to spend the time while I'm dumping corn in bunks walking up on the sheep and pushing them off.

Here, Lark is walking up and pushing the sheep away.

Just to give the dogs something extra to do this morning (you know, so I could get pictures), once I had dumped the corn, I sent them around to gather the sheep back up and bring them to the feed. Notice that while Lark has turned on the sheep in this paddock, Twist is flanking around through the gate to get the sheep that are out of view in the lower alleyway.

Briging them back up to the feed.

Phoebe got her turn in the paddock with the ram lambs (they get a little bit of corn because they don't have much grazing space). I took the opportunity to do a little training with her, too, since we have a problem with her listening to my stops as well as anticipating flanks instead of waiting to hear what I want her to do (which can create a mess, needless to say). Here she's pushing the rams away.

After she pushed them away, I flanked her around to head them back up toward the feed, and then stopped her and asked her to flank off balance back toward me to catch them before they got to me.

And here you can see her taking a nice square flank. She had been facing the sheep. I asked for a left (come bye) flank and she sqared off nicely at the start. Imagine that--she was actually listening and waiting to hear what I wanted her to do instead of just winging off on a flank before I got a whole word out of my mouth. Now if she would only do that consistently, we'd be doing much better at trials....

Here are some random chicken photos. This is the little OEG hen that looks like a Sebright (there are some Sebright genetics in my flock, though my last Sebright died a couple of years ago). She hatched out eight chicks a couple of months ago. She's puffing up a bit at the dark hen because the dark hen is too close to her chicks.

This Old English Game (OEG) rooster decided to pose in the barn window. He wouldn't crow for me though.

My Rhode Island Red pullets are six or seven months old now. Twist is hanging out in the background waiting for something to do.

This is one of my oldest OEG hens, Onyx. (No, they don't all have names--just some of the very oldest ones from back when I had just a few chickens. Now that I think about it Onyx and Albion, a rooster, are the only two named chickens I have left.) She's the one who hatched out and raised quail for Jimmy. She's probably eight or nine years old now and peeking to see if there's any left over corn in the feed bunk.

This pretty little hen hatched out this spring. You can't tell from this photo, but she's a slate blue color with gold spangling on her neck.

This is not a great photo, but it is good for comparing the sizes of the half-grown RIR pullet and a mature OEG rooster. Sadly, it's next to impossible to find OEG bantams this small any more, and I'd really like to bring in some outside genetics, but not if it means making bigger chickens.

Willow says, "What's in there?"

Lark also wants to know what's in there.

So do the four-month-old Dominique pullets.

Oh, that's what's in there! Yep, two weeks ago, this OEG hen hatched out five chicks in a nest in the hay stall. When they say bantams, and especially OEG bantams, are quite broody and good mothers, they're not kidding! Sorry for the poor photo, but the angle and light were bad....

And that's a morning at Willow's Rest. All that before starting my paid work....


1sheepdoggal said...

Now I like Larks little jacket on her, or,...should that be little Lark in her jacket? The chicks are all looking great BTW. One little entity I didnt see was a certin stripped kitty who Im surprised wasnt right smack dab in the middle of everything. Wheres the Jelly bean? (probably hiding in the barn cause he didnt get a new cool blue jacket)

Julie said...

JellyBean was indeed in the tack room looking for mice, although I have to say that he doesn't actually overdo himself at that task. He doesn't really get in the middle of things much when I'm feeding and watering chickens, but just let me go out in the pasture with the main flock and he can't help himself but join me!

~~Sittin.n.Spinnin said...

Great pictures Julie! Did you see your award on my blog? I really enjoy your posts, you have such full and exciting days. Thank you for sharing :)

Laura Carson said...

I kept trying to comment and it wouldn't let me yesterday. Maybe today! Anyway, what I wanted to say was that I love the shot of Phoebe flanking towards you - the light and shadows playing across her are lovely. Eep, that might be a grammatical mess. lol

Julie said...

Thanks for the award! I'm glad to know someone finds my life interesting. LOL!

That just goes to show you that I can manage to take at least one decent photo in a hundred! Miss Pheebs is pretty cute....