Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Spring Comes Slowly

Sir Walter Wally (NC's own groundhog) predicted an early spring. This was confirmed by the famous Pennsylvania groundhog. I see signs of spring all around. We've got crocuses.
And dandelions.
And even some daffodils looking like they are getting ready.
And then there are the Jacob lambs. NC028-103 had twins (ewe, ram) early this morning. We're now up to 7 lambs from 4 ewes, with 6 ewes yet to lamb. But it still feels so cold outside and the lows are supposed to be in the 20s for the next few days.

Monday, January 18, 2016

First Lambs of 2016!

NC028-131 (FCS Early) had twins (ewe and ram) in the pre-dawn hours of Monday, January 18, 2016. She is a reliable ewe with very strong maternal instincts and a very nice fleece. I always love the first lambs - gazing into their soft gentle marbled blue-brown eyes, marveling at their tiny hooves; my lovely transcendental lamb moment came to an abrupt end when Early wacked me the thigh to let me know that I had held her baby quite long enough and that she would really prefer me to leave (but not before giving her a treat of course).

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Winter I Can Live With

It is a well known fact that farmers tend to watch the weather obsessively. With the first potential snow of the year forecast for today, I was checking carefully emergency winter weather supplies and checking for the latest weather updates frequently in the last day or so. It looked really impressive when it was coming down.
But by the afternoon it was all gone and the sun was out - definitely my kind of winter weather. Now if it would only stay just a little above freezing at night... that spares me bringing in rabbit bottles overnight and extra watering in bowls. Looks like we are in for some serious freezing over the next few days though so no rest for the weary.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Newest Angora Goat at Avillion Farm

Pictured below is "Ghost Buster" - as in who you gonna' call. He comes from Kid Hollow Farm in VA. I spotted him from 100 feet away at SAFF in Fletcher, NC this year. I've been yearning for a blue buck for several years now - blue being the breeder slang term for white with colored fibers. Right now he looks silvery blue, but he will most likely darken with age. This goat has it all - lovely fiber, nice conformation and a charming personality as well. It was too late to use him this year, other than as a "clean up" buck, but I'm really looking forward to the kids he'll produce in the future.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Where They Are Not Supposed To Be

Winter has felt very long this year - even though the worst of it did not happen until February. Trees are not supposed to be bent over with snow and blocking the road.
Trees are also not supposed to land on fences, allowing sheep and guardian dog to escape.
Ducks are also not supposed to be using the rabbit grooming table as a nesting area.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

2014 Weather

The first third of the year has turned out to be a real challenge weather-wise. A relatively normal January was followed by highly changeable weather in February - featuring a heavy snowfall in the middle of the month. In March, we experienced a late winter ice storm that left much of Orange county an official federal disaster area; I had not seen so many downed trees and debris since the aftermath of hurricane Fran in 1996. We'll be cleaning up from that one for the next year. April's weather event was a hail storm like I had never seen before - large hail stones and lasting about 30 minutes. I wonder what May will bring ...

Monday, February 17, 2014

Sheep That Need No Improvement

Different breeds of sheep are sometimes referred to as "improved" or "unimproved". The term "unimproved" usually refers to sheep that are also called "heritage breeds" or "primitive breeds". Jacob sheep are one such breed and I prefer the term heritage. Basically this means that the breed retains and has been bred to retain its early characteristics, rather than being bred towards one specific purpose and a narrower range of genetic traits. The practical reality is a sheep that is hardy and thrifty with good mothering ability. In the pictures at left
and right, respectively are two ewes aged 2 years and 11 years
. The two-year-old is a first time lambing ewe that lambed on Feb 2 and the 11-year old lambed Feb 12 (during a particularly nasty winter storm). Both of these ewes lambed easily on pasture and did not need to be put in a mothering pen (meaning much less work for me). This is my kind of sheep and clearly needs no improvement.