High Castle Traditional
News from High Castle Ranch
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At one week old, Juniper is getting big! She's filling out quite nicely.
When lambs are born, they are really thin and stay that way for a little while. You can tell when they've just nursed because their sides expand. When they get a bit older, they start putting on more weight and really showing their growth. Since Juniper doesn't have any brothers or sisters to share the milk with, she is growing quite fast.
She has a lot of energy and races around, chasing anything she can find to pursue. Then, suddenly, it's time for a nap. That's a youngster for you.
Juniper is certainly precocious. At one day old, she tried chasing a hen. I happened to walk between them, so she decided to follow me instead.
At two days old, she attempted to mimic her mother by nibbling hay. She's too young for solid food yet, but she certainly has the right idea.
It's been raining (and snowing a bit) for three days. I like rain, but I'm certainly feeling soggy. The sheep pasture is mired in mud, and water leaked into the barn in one corner. There's still room for the sheep to stay dry, but I'll need to fix the problem when everything dries out.
We're low on wood and have had to collect and burn wet wood in the woodstove. (It's our main source of heat for the house.) Wet wood not only burns poorly, but it uses some of the energy it produces just to dry itself out, so gives less heat to warm the house. We went through a lot more wood than we had expected to use last month; it got cold and stayed cold for quite awhile.
Looking out the window, I can barely see across the road because of the fog and rain. It's lovely.
Hildegard, our oldest ewe, lambed today. When I went out to feed the sheep in the morning, everyone but her came running to the gate. Hildegard stood partially in the barn, looking at me. She gave a baa, then looked over her shoulder into the barn, and then turned to me again. I knew there was a lamb before I even got there. Sheep can be very expressive sometimes.
When I entered the barn, I found a good-sized black ewe lamb with a little white spot on the top of her head. (All of Hildegard's offspring have been black, and most have had a small white spot on their heads when they were born.) The lamb was already dry and had nursed.
We've named her Juniper.
I finally added a Shearing page to my website. It includes pictures of Hermes being sheared and some explanation of the process.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
Three sheep (Gabriel, Brenta, and Selwyn) went off to their new home in Colorado last weekend. Gabriel was very reluctant to enter the trailer. He laid down and refused to move; getting an unwilling 225 lb ram onto his feet is no easy task, but we finally succeeded. Once he was in the trailer, though, he discovered there was hay in there, so his world suddenly brightened, and he immediately started eating contentedly. It's amazing how quickly sheep will accept a situation when food is present.
We sheared Sierra, one of Heloise's lambs, last Sunday. She was not amused! Lambs are the absolute worst to shear. Everything is new to them, and they'd much rather be off eating or playing or doing pretty much anything else rather than being sheared. She got through it, though, and is happy again.
Franklin, one of the ram lambs born in January, is turning into quite a character. He's very sweet and affectionate and likes his nose and chest rubbed. He always runs to see me when I go into the sheep pasture, and he follows me around wanting attention.
I've just posted a schedule of knitting classes I'm teaching in May and early June. Select the "Classes" link on my homepage to learn more.
Several people have visited the ranch recently to see the sheep. The sheep love it. They get to be the center of attention. They have their pictures taken. They get petted and ooohed and aaahed over. What a life!
One of yesterday's visitors, Rowena Tank, put the sheep's pictures on her blog. Take a look: http://rowenablog.typepad.com/rowena_bead_and_fiber/2007/03/index.html.
We have lambs everywhere! Nine of them: 7 black and 2 white.
I love to watch them bounce up the pasture, then down the pasture, then back up and back down. They have so much energy that sometimes they simple bounce up and down in place.
I've gotten behind on lamb birth annoucements! Minerva lambed on 3/18/06. We've named her black ewe lamb Wilhemina.
Heloise had twin black lambs (a ewe and a ram) on 3/21/06; we named them Gabriel and Gabriella.
Aurora gave birth to a single white ram lamb on 4/1/06. We dubbed him Twyford. (I love that name - Twyford, Twyford, Twyford. It sounds great.)
Juilana had twins yesterday, finally. She's been looking like she was going to lamb any minute for the last month. The lambs are huge! She had a black ewe lamb and a white ram lamb. The ram lamb is so tall that he practically has to kneel to nurse, and he's only one day old.
Juliana is a big sheep, and the lambs' sire is large, so it's not surprising their offspring are sizeable.
Last Thursday Freyja had a single black ewe lamb. It's a good sized lamb, almost as big as Clare's little ones, and they're twelve days older! We've named the lamb Thirza.
Clare's twins are now officially Mehetable and Matilda. They are bouncing (lambs really do bounce) all over and having fun running up and down the pasture and then coming to screeching halts at their mother to nurse. Lambs do not have a good sense of stopping distance; they tend to run into things a lot at the end of their sliding stops. So a word of advice: never assume a lamb will stop in time and not hit you!
Clare gave birth to twins this afternoon: two black ewe lambs. They're small, but they certainly want to eat. The mother has milk flowing on only one side, though. The little ones keep trying to nurse from both teats, so they're only getting milk half the time. I've guided them to nurse several times to make certain they're actually eating.
This is Clare's first time as a mother. Right after the lambs were born, she looked confused and pushed them away, but soon after her mothering instinct took over. Now she's a typical first-time mother of twins: over-worked! Every time she moves a little away from them to eat, they cry, so she hurries back to them. I've supplied her with her own personal supply of hay and water, so she doesn't have to move more than a few feet to eat and drink.
The yearling ewes, Freyja and Minerva, are fascinated by the twins. The yearling rams just look rather inconvenienced by the whole event. They're not the center of attention anymore!
Yesterday it snowed for the first time this year. So far we have had a mild winter, but the cold wind this morning is anything but gentle. Although the snow is melting rapidly, our black lab, Dreamer, is enjoying what's left of it.
The lamb, Jana, is growing rapidly; being a single birth, she gets all the milk for herself. Since she's the first lamb of the season, she doesn't have any lamb playmates yet, so she is amusing herself by chasing chickens.
A little black ewe lamb ushered in the new year at High Castle Ranch. When I went out to feed the sheep this morning, I found her standing next to her mother, Hildegard, in the barn. Althought still a bit unsteady on her legs, she is nursing avidly and napping frequently between meals.
Last year's lambs (now 8-10 months old) are fascinated by the young newcomer. They seem divided on their priorities: eat or investigate the lamb. Food won out, of course, but they keep trotting back to the barn to peer into the lambing pen.
We've named the ewe lamb Jana, the feminine of Janus, the ancient Roman god of the new year. The name seems eminently appropriate, since the month of January derives its name from the two-faced Roman god, whose one visage looks at the departing old year, while the other gazes at the arriving new year.
© 2006-2011 by Diane Braun