Archive for the ‘shepherds’ Category

Herding Bunny

Surprise!  A few new things are happening on the farm so I will hopefully start posting again.

In the meantime, I ran across this cute video on another blog.  This little bunny herds sheep better than my dogs!  Enjoy!

Click Champis, the Herding Bunny for video.

Meet the Shetland Ewes, Part 1

We have four Shetland ewes left in our flock.  When we made the switch to Finnsheep we were able to find new homes for most of them.  But we couldn’t part with Jellybean, a musket ewe who was of our original flock.  She is a very feminine, dainty Shetland with a wonderful fleece.   She has been bred twice.  She is an excellent mother who has given us two sets of twins.  This past year she became very very, very thin while nursing her lambs.  I separated her from the flock and gave her extra grain and hay, but that didn’t help; she still blew her fine, lovely coat.  I weaned her lambs as soon as able and she gradually bounced back.  I don’t know that I will breed her again.  She is such a dear sweetie in the barnyard.  She sticks a bit to herself and is very independent.  She loves a treat of bread or cracker and greets me at the gate when I enter the barnyard.

Jellybean’s white ewe lamb Phyllis was our first lamb born in 2010.  She is also the first lamb I’ve had to “go in and get.”  Fortunately we were both at home when Jellybean went into labor.  Long-suffering husband helped calm her while I pulled the lamb.  She quickly delivered a black ram lamb afterward.  We named the white ewe lamb Phyllis, after my mother-in-law who had recently passed away.  Of course, she will spend her days here on our little farm.

The Sheep Whisperer aka The Shepherd

Phyllis is a petite ewe, like her mother.  She loves to have her neck scratched.  I think I better stock up on treats!

The last two Shetland ewes are Bonnie and Glory.  I will write about them in another post.

“Where Did I Put the Ear Plugs?!”

Shetland lambs Curly and Phyllis. Curly is yelling for mom!

It’s that time of year when the blissfully peaceful country existence is set aside.  I know it’s coming.  I put it off as long as I can until it can’t be put off any longer.

Weaning.  Let the cries begin.

A 3/4 BFL 1/4 Shetland ewe lamb cries for her mom.

We left the lambs with the llamas and moved the ewes to the another pasture.  To help decrease the lambs’ stress, I gated the door from the llamas and opened a pen so the lambs can be close to mom.  However, instead of laying next to each other along the fenceline, they tend to stand apart and scream. Yes, sheep can scream…

Blue observes the barnyard chaos.

It’s amazing how much a lamb “baah” sounds like MAAAAAH!  Where are you maaahh??  Why aren’t you near me, Maaaahh?!  The ewes baah while they eat, looking for their lambs.  I have one lamb who sounds exactly like my daughter did as a teen.  Maaaahh!?  Sorry, Amanda but you know what I am talking about.  🙂

The llamas are always agitated when we work with the sheep. They like peace on the farm also!

It’s hot outside so the air conditioning is on and the windows closed.  We will be able to sleep without the noise.   In a few days, peace will again return to the farm for a short time.  A few cries will arise when lambs and ewes are picked up by their new shepherds.  New adventures await on different pastures.  Such is the cycle of a lamb’s life.

Rams Bluefaced Leicester Dougal (L) and Finnsheep Eino

The rams continued to graze as if nothing was new.  They are just biding their time until fall – breeding season!


A spring view to the back pasture.

This photo was taken about one month ago.  The pastures are much greener now and the grass is growing.  This is the time of year when the animals become very, very annoyed with the Shepherds.  They can see the green grass.  Why, oh why, won’t we let them have it?  But green alone isn’t enough – it also has to have some growth and height.  Portions of the pasture are ready and they have been let onto those portions.  They are also getting hay – and it’s a good alfalfa/grass mix hay.  It’s what we have left and you think they would be happy???  No.  NO.  NO!! Instead, it’s frequent, annoying baahs from the sheep.  Aargh!!!

The good news is all the rain we have been getting.  We have gotten several inches in the past few days and tomorrow the sun is supposed to start shining…throughout the weekend.  So the grass should grow fast in the next week.  Which means relief for the sheep and llamas…and the Shepherds.  🙂

Out of the Jug

Finnsheep triplet ewe lamb Eeva (NFS)

Hi, this is Eeva.  My brothers and I are doing great at six days old!  Here is the latest news from the barnyard…

A few days ago, The Shepherdess removed a panel from our jug and made it double sized.  That was nice because then we could explore and play more.  And we have great news!  Erno has opened his eyes completely!  Yay!  Now he can see me!  I like to snuggle up with him when we nap.  Esko kind of likes to lay off the the side by himself.  We have a very good mama, she is calm and has alot of milk for the three of us.

Finnsheep triplet Erno has eyes wide open!

The Shepherdess still brings me out a bottle twice a day.  I run over to her and drink it down but sometimes I only drink some of it because I have enough from my mom.  Last night after I had some milk from the bottle, I decided to take a nap on The Shepherdess’ foot.  She thought that was really special!

Finn ewe Eeva takes the bottle while Esko looks on. Esko is For Sale.

This morning, we got weighed again.  The Shepherdess was very happy that we have all gained almost two pounds in 6 days!  She put clean new jackets on us and then we got our ears pierced!  We didn’t need our tails banded though because we have short, skinny little Finnsheep tails.

Then the Shepherd walked my mama out to the nursery while the Shepherdess carried us.  It was really scary at first with all those new sheep and big lambs.  We cried and yelled for mama while the other sheep and lambs greeted us.  They were all nice to us though.  There is this one lamb named “Tank” – he is really big!  After awhile, we settled down and The Shepherdess took pictures of some of the other lambs.

Greeting party

Finnsheep ram lamb (For Sale) with 3/4 BFL ewe lamb 2010

Finnsheep ram lamb 2010 (For Sale)

Aren't I pretty? 3/4 Bluefaced Leicester 1/4 Shetland ewe lamb

The Shepherds are relieved that lambing is over and everyone is healthy.  They promised us that they will work on getting us onto some nice green grass now.  Our mamas are eating alfalfa hay but they are anxious to get on the grass because they see it growing in the pasture.

More Lambs! Yeah!

Three More Lambs

On Sunday, our black Mulesheep (Shetland X Bluefaced Leicester) birthed beautiful twin lambs, one black and one white!  I arrived home from work to find her cleaning off the black lamb.  The white lamb was already fairly dry and nursing from mom.  I quickly checked the sex of each – EWES! Yeah! – then picked up the black lamb and led Maliah and her white lamb into the lambing jug.  I could tell that milk was flowing from both of mom’s teats from the milk mustache on each lamb.

I snipped and dipped the lamb’s navels and gave them each a squirt of Nutri Drench. I then gave Maliah hay, filled the water bucket and gave it a few good glugs of molasses.  The white lamb weighed 7 lb. 1 oz., the black weighed 6 lb. 14 oz.  The white lamb has a black spot on her rear right leg.  They both have tight curled, purly, BFL type fiber.  They are 3/4 Bluefaced Leicester 1/4 Shetland so that is exactly what I was hoping for!  I didn’t get a great photo of the black lamb so I will post a photo later.  Her fiber looks very similar to her twin’s.

2010 Twin ewe lamb, 3/4 BFL 1/4 Shetland

2010 Twin ewe lamb 3/4 BFL 1/4 Shetland

Monday Morning

2010 Mulesheep (Shetland X BFL) ram lamb

I woke up this morning to find that first-time Shetland mom Lulu had a white Mulesheep ram lamb at her side.  He also has fantastic fiber.  Yeah, again!  I got them into the jug and snipped, dipped, stripped and watched the lamb sip.  Lulu had one side of her udder which was more filled out than the other and the second udder took more stripping to begin flowing.  The lamb had been drinking out of the other side.  I will watch her udder closely.  This lovely boy has a few facial spots and a quarter-sized black spot on his right hip.  He was a mellow boy in the sling and weighed in at 10 lbs.

The Jugs are Full

We have three lambing jugs.

In this photo, you can see our three lambing jugs look more like a jail.  We had to install a hog panel across the top of the jugs for “crowd control.”  The panel is hinged and can be attached to the ceiling.  Those darn llamas love nothing more than stealing the ewe’s good hay!  It doesn’t seem to bother the ewes but I feel a bit sad for them.  The Shepherd made the panels all removable so the small barn has more space when we are finished lambing.  In a few weeks, we will set up a creep feeding area for the lambs.  We haven’t done that before so I’m sure we will have a few new challenges working on that!

First Lambs – with Assist of the Shepherds

Our first possible lamb date was April 1st.  April Fool’s Day.  Hmm.  Next year, I may plan that a bit differently…

Rudy keeps his eye on us.

Not just another day…

We awoke to a beautiful, sunny, warm morning on the farm.  Daughter Amanda and her husband Kisu were in Minnesota for a spring visit.  The plan for the day was to do a bit of spring sightseeing but that changed when I checked on the ewes.  On my morning rounds through the barnyard, Shetland ewe Jellybean was showing early signs of labor.  This calm ewe – the sweet, petite Jellybean, has had one set of twins whose birth was trouble-free.  I gathered my lambing bucket and camera and took a seat near to the ewe; my goal was to ensure another successful birth.  Amanda and Kisu also sat down to watch; the Shepherd was busy putting the finishing touches on the lambing jugs.

Once Jellybean was in active labor, it didn’t take too long for a lamb’s nose and mouth to appear.  Hmm.  I should be seeing some hooves also.  According to the books and the births I witnessed last year, the front hooves should present along with the nose of the lamb.  As Jellybean pushed, little progress was made; in fact, the lamb slipped back inside a few times when she stopped to rest.  I admit, I was nervous about having to “go in” to assist; I also didn’t want to rush in too soon.  But I also knew that I could lose a lamb or even the ewe if I didn’t help when needed.  At that point Jellybean was in no distress, so I was trying to be patient, thinking it was better to let the birth progress.  I did push the lamb back in once.  I had read that the maneuver might help the lamb to reposition.  As I put my gloved hand inside, I was surprised at how small the ewe’s pelvis was.  Pretty tight.  Not much more room for a pair of hands.  The poor girl baahed and pushed against the pressure of my hand.  My heart ached for her!  After about 15 minutes more she was back to the where she started, with just a lamb’s nose poking out.  I really can’t remember the time — I think it was about two hours from the start of early labor — at that point Jellybean began to baah louder.  That was my cue.  Time for the Shepherdess to assist!

Help, Please!

I called the Shepherd to hold and soothe Jellybean at her head while I worked at the back end.  Kisu had excused himself earlier, preferring not to witness the event.  Amanda assisted by pouring OB lube on my gloves and preparing to document the event with her Nikon.

The Sheep Whisperer aka The Shepherd

I took a deep breath and let it out – s l o w l y.  Think, Terri.  I needed to check for the front legs and bring them out.  I slipped my left hand in – I could not feel a leg.  I slipped the right hand in and was able to gently fold and bring the left leg out .  Victory – one leg and a nose!  But I could not get at her right leg.  The lamb was tilted at a 45 degree angle – imagine the nose pointed to the “4” on the clock when it should be pointed at the “6.”  The lamb’s right shoulder and leg were tucked down inside her pelvis, toward her bladder.  I just could not get my hand twisted into the correct position to grab the leg.  But I could tuck a finger under the right “armpit” and get my hands around the body of the lamb.  While the Shepherd soothed the ewe, I gently pulled with her contractions and pushes.  After a few more contractions, she gave birth to a beautiful white ewe lamb with a brown spot on her hind leg.  (So she is genetically brown with a huge white spot.)  Amanda furiously snapped pics while the birth took place.  And the Shepherd did a wonderful job keeping Jellybean calm.  She immediately started licking off her lamb and I suctioned out the lamb’s nose and mouth – just in case she inhaled any amniotic fluid.  Within a few minutes the lamb was standing on her legs and looking for the teat.  We all sighed with relief!

We named the lamb Phyllis, after the Shepherd’s mother, who recently passed away.  She was strong and spunky and found the teat very quickly.  Jellybean rested a bit and started pushing again.  It was as I thought, she had another lamb in there.  This time, I was relieved to see two hooves and a nose appear.  After just a few minutes, a black krunet ram was born.  He has very shiny, curly fiber with sugar lips and frosting in his ears and private parts.  He is Ag black so will turn gray.  He also found the teat quickly; all was well.  I dipped and stripped, but forgot to weigh them both.  After I got alfalfa hay, molasses water and let the rest of the flock greet the lambs, I went into the house and collapsed on the bed.  The Three Stooges were on TV.  It was April Fool’s Day, after all.  We came up with the name of Curly for the ram lamb.

Shetland ewe Jellybean cleans off ewe lamb Phyllis

2010 Shetland Lambs Phyllis and Curly (LRO Jellybean X RA Baab)

Today, Jellybean and lambs are doing well.

Amanda and Kisu have flown back home and North Country Cheviot Molly had a single Bluefaced Leicester X ram (Mulesheep) lamb on Saturday who weighed 11.25 pounds at birth.  I am watching him – his mouth is warm, he stretches when he stands up and his tummy is filling out, but he has a bit of congestion in his nose.  I can tell that Molly and he have bonded but she is a ewe that becomes very quiet when people come near.  She just stands still and looks at me.  I want to see him nurse more!  This would be one of those times that a barn cam would come in handy.

BFL X NC Cheviot ram lamb 2010

Shepherd’s Holiday Weekend

A Shepherd’s Weekend

I was able to attend the Shepherd’s Holiday (SH) this weekend in Alexandria, MN.  SH is an annual conference for members of the Minnesota Lamb and Wool Producers Association.  The Friday and Saturday conference consisted of workshops, silent and live auctions, entertainment, great food, a business meeting, a Make it with Wool competition, and an opportunity to connect with shepherds from across  the state.  The final sessions on Saturday were held at the Rafter P Ranch which has a 1,000+ ewe commercial flock.  I carpooled and roomed with Becky Utecht of River Oaks Farm.  Gail Von Bargen of Little Red Oak Farm and Winnie Johnson were also in attendance.  It was wonderful to meet Winnie and I always enjoy spending time with Gail.

The session that was most helpful was the one led by Bob Padula on wool grading.  He had an OFDA 2000, which tests the micron count of wool samples.  Bob presented a nice explanation of how to interpret micron testing results.  I brought two random samples of Shetland which tested at 24.1 and 26.7 microns.  Of the samples provided by participants, the lowest micron tested was a Merino at 16.  Becky’s sample from her Shetland ram lamb, Greyson, took 3rd place at 22 microns.  Yeah, Becky!!  I also enjoyed the Make It With Wool competition.  The contestants, who ranged in age from 7 to 77 years of age, sewed an article of clothing or a complete ensemble which had to be 100% wool or a wool blend.  For many years, I sewed ALOT, so I can really appreciate all the work involved.  In the Decorative/Misc. category there were quilts, shawls, mittens, hats and a very large braided rug.  Perhaps I will be motivated to enter an item in that category next year!

A Greek Marinade lamb shank was served at Friday night’s banquet – it was delicious!  I looked for a recipe on the internet, I have included the recipe and the link below.  This is the most basic marinade that I found.  There were other marinades with more ingredients…but I would rather start with the easier recipe.  I will try it soon and let you know what we think.  Tabouli and a Gyro were served at the Saturday luncheon, again the food was excellent.  I was lucky to win a small Sydell hanging feed trough as a doorprize!


Greek Lamb Marinade from

This Greek-style marinade can be applied to any meat, but is particularly good on lamb. Let the meat marinate for a while so the flavors can infuse.  Prep Time: 10 minutes


  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste


Combine all ingredients and mix well. Use this marinade on all cuts of lamb. Plan on marinating chops and small cuts for about 4 to 5 hours. Large cuts like leg of lamb should be marinated for 8 hours to overnight.  Prepare as you like.

Farm Tour

The weekend ended with a trip to the Rafter P Ranch to take part in an on-farm tour.  I looked at this as an opportunity to see how “the big guys do it.”   I spent most of the time observing Kelly, a veterinarian with H & H Vet in Benson, MN.  She was performing pregnancy checks with ultrasound.  It was fascinating to see the fetus’ in different stages of development.  I also was interested in the chute/handling system.  Click on the photo to enlarge.

Kelley, a veterinarian from H & H Vet in Benson, MN performs ultrasound on the ewes.

A very BIG barn for a 1,000 ewe commercial operation. (Sorry for the blurry photo!)

Ewes eating corn silage at the fenceline.

Welcome to the Board

Ooh, I almost forgot to mention that I was elected to the Mn. Lamb and Wool Producers Board of Directors!  I have been wanting to get involved with an organization at a higher level so I offered to fill an open position.  So I am now the Northeast Regional Director of the MLWP Association.  I look forward to learning more about the industry and working to help promote lamb and wool in our state.  Becky was elected to the Secretary position.  Congrats to her!

%d bloggers like this: