Saturday, March 19, 2011

Rainy Day

In spite of it being Spring Break, I have been driving incessantly...which left me with less time on the farm than I would like.  Today, though, after driving my son to his track meet, we wormed the sheep.  Only two really looked like they needed it (nasal bots and less than bright pink eyelids) but I wormed everyone, just in case.  I checked Minnie's udder, because she should have her first lamb in a few weeks.  She felt right on track.

I also wormed the horses.  Crazy Horse Gib did really well with the wormer - so his craziness is selective, it seems.

I really wanted to do some repair to the dug up garden, but it was really pouring and a bit chilly, so I headed in help my husband with some business things.  I have been looking out the window like a kid in school, longing to escape all day.... What I really  need to do when there is a break in the rain is to bag up a lot of my finished compost and wheelbarrow it over to the green house so I can at least start some seeds.  My green house is filled with tomato volunteers.  I hope I get enough tomatoes that I can learn how to can.

Several weeks ago, I inquired about a craigslist ad for half dairy sheep/half local hair sheep.  The farmer didn't get back to me, so I thought it wasn't going to happen and put it out of my mind.  Well, he called today! It's been over a month, so it was a surprise.  He lives in Honaunau, which will be a four hour round trip drive, but I hope to go see them early next week.  They are half-dairy (Lacaune-East Friesian cross) and half-hair: which around here means some barbados, some katahdin, and some st. croix.  I really need some thought, research, and expert help on how to manage the breeding of my little flock, and how to improve them.

Right now, I have two unrelated ewes (Dodie and Audrey).  Audrey's daughter is Minnie.  Dodie's daughter is Niele.  I have two ram lambs intact, who are half-brothers to Niele and full brothers to Minnie.  All the lambs are Elvis' offspring.  I am sure I will need a new ram, and at least two more ewes, but it gets complicated.

A lot to think about.  I just about have time to do at least some of the baking for the week before Driver's Ed.  I would complain about Driver's Ed being two hours every day, except that I have been waiting in the parking lot and taking naps.  Apparently, I needed them, because yesterday was the first time I didn't feel like falling asleep in a week and a half.  I have been running at full speed ahead since Christmas - Spring Break came just in time.


Chai Chai said...

I am no expert but the first thing you need to decide is what the sheep are going to be used for. Hair, milk, meat, or sale? Hair and meat are easy but the other two require more thought and work.

Milking needs a milk stand and time for you to get them used to it and used to your close attention.

Selling sheep is best if you have a clear bloodline or a very desirable hybrid.

Worms here a bad but I'm sure that in your tropical environment it is much worse. I use the eye method like you do and when I worm I always make sure to get them 2 weeks later to rid them of any hatched eggs.

NancyDe said...

Chai Chai, if I bought these sheep, it would be eventually to milk them. I would like to keep the cross between the parasite resistant hair sheep and the dairy production of the Lacaune/EF sheep.

Bloodlines don't matter here, yet. Sheep are sheep, pretty much. Most people use them to lawn mow, and there aren't any breeding records or anything like that, as far as the people I talk to. The lambs I am thinking about (since the farmer called me) have half parentage of mainland ewes brought in from Oregon and half a local ram - not to be confused with a feral Hawaiian Black sheep.

I just really am getting a headache on how to keep from in-breeding too much. I ended up with an abundance of ram lambs and, in spite of his occasionally battering ways, I am fond of Elvis.

Deb said...

I apologize for not getting back to you about breeding suggestions, I will try and get back to you soon.

NancyDe said...

Oh, Deb, I know you are so busy at this time - no worries. They are lambs, anyway, so figuring it out can wait a bit. I might send you pictures, though, when I go there to check them out.

I told him that I knew they weren't pure EF (because you told me (: ) , and he said they were half Lacaune (the original ewes). Does that sound right? Sad: he brought over 25 ewes and in two weeks, 20 of them died. I don't think the trip was easy on them. I am not sure if he brought them over as lambs. That makes it more attractive to buy even half diary breeds here - at least they aren't traveling.

Chai Chai said...

Wow 20 out of 25 died? What a tragedy.

Milk sheep are nice to have as you can make some of the best cheeses. The problem is that they aren't as easy to handle as goats.

I have read that the Barbados sheep is very parasite resistant so that is a great hybrid for your area.

Look up inbreeding vs line breeding, it may help you a little.

NancyDe said...

I keep telling my husband we should think about goats, but he really doesn't like goats. We've had escape artists in the past and they tend to eat our fruit trees. I am just dying to have a dairy animal - but then again, my son keeps pointing out to me, "Mom, when will you have time to milk it?!" It might have to wait until the kids are more independent. He is in Driver's Ed - which he thinks of as "Freedom" and I think of as "Driving your siblings around and going to the store," which means more independent might not be that far away.

Chai Chai said...

Maybe smaller goats like my Nigerians? They are very loving and easy to handle. They are smart and can escape, but since they are smaller your fences can be smaller too. Goats are browsers and love weeds and brush vs sheep who like to graze grasses. What do you have more of on your property, brush or grasses?

NancyDe said...

Nigerians have really taken off here on the Big Island. I have really been thinking about it. One thing is, we only have the one big pasture right now which houses the sheep and the horses. In fact, we have two horse stalls - one is currently used as the sheep shelter and the horses use the other stall and walk way as a run-in shelter. I have read conflicting things on running sheep and goats together. In this case, they would have to share a shelter for a bit, too. We are working to create more structures - such as a separate sheep shed next to the horse stalls.

The pasture is mostly grass, although there are big stands and rows of waiawi, a type of guava that is invasive here. The hair sheep tend to both browse and graze, although I know from experience the goats would do even more browsing.

Chai Chai said...

Goats and sheep require different minerals, goats need copper and the copper can kill the sheep. We don't keep ours together, the goats in the pictures today were just visiting - they are so curious!

NancyDe said...

It would be fairly possible to house the sheep and goats differently, but just run them in the pasture. Probably, I need to wait until I can get the front 1/3 of the land fenced, though. I always want animals before I am ready for them!