After months of anticipation (about 5mo) the lambs are arriving. Although I remain a small breeder with only 6 ewes bred, lambing time is no less exciting than if I were a large breeder. Small is good! This year I bred my 4 Jacob ewes, a Border Leceister and a Moorit Corrieadale cross. Of course the Jacobs were bred with the Jacob ram Blue Ewe Expresso, co-owned with Elke Spirakis of Wellspring Farm and the other ewes were bred with my Cotswold ram lamb who is currently hanging out at Barbara Ruehl's farm. As mentioned in a previous blog, Jacob sheep have intense mothering instincts. The difference in breeds was clearly evident with the birth of my Border Leiceister cross lamb. Carly, the mom, was just not as attentive to her baby as the Jacob's. Oh, sure she licked her in between eating hay and made her unique mother sounds every now and then. But when you watch the Jacob's, they do not stop caring for that baby until they have it clean and up. Carly could have cared less when that lamb got up! I am sure it would have all worked out fine, but I am glad I got her in the lambing pen and payed attention to what was happening. You really want to own sheep that can take care of things on their own. That is what I love about the Jacob's. No dumbing down on this breed to suit our human needs! Oh and the little BL lamb is doing just fine. Getting fat on momma's milk.
Welcome to Hobbyknob Farm Blog!
I look forward to introducing you to the wonderful world of sheep, chickens, llamas, nigerian dwarf dairy goats and sebastopol geese. And any other little critters that happen to show up or live around here. Livestock keep us connected to our agricultural history, the land and the cycle of life.
Thursday, February 3, 2011
JACOB SHEEP-hardy, excellent mothers, thrive on forage, talkative, interesting personalities, reasonable size, good meat at any age, on the ALBC conservation list, lovely wool, unusual markings. All words I use to describe this incredible breed of sheep. They have a long history but for this blog you just need to know that they are a conservation breed. There is great information through the Jacob Sheep Breeders (http://www.jsba.org/) and the Jacob Sheep Conservancy and the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. As our agricultural system turned to only the breeds of sheep that could fatten up nicely on corn or fast enough to go to market to make a profit, other breeds of sheep were left behind and numbers dwindled. Not a good idea if we want to keep a good supply of genetics out there in case there is some type of disaster. Luckily, there were people out there that didn't agree with this system and are working to keep many breeds alive. If you have a few acres and want to keep the grass down and feed your family and maybe some friends, breeds like the Jacob fit the bill. Although I would never not worm, these sheep seem to have the best immunity when it comes to parasites. I know because sometimes I can't catch them all when it is time to check eyes and they have to go longer. So far, so good and been at it 10 years! Jacob sheep are extrememtly aware of when something is up. They know NOT to come into the stall even though there might be some tasty grain in there. They know NOT to come in when the strange truck and the stranger shows up (the shearer) All these tasks have to be taken on with planning on my part. Jacob sheep will even challenge dogs. BUT, this is what makes these sheep fun and interesting. Definately not dumb! Stuborn maybe, not dumb. So the sheep in the picture are now in the maternity ward. I expect these 2 to lamb within the next 2 weeks. Watching these sheep mother their lambs is a true experience. They often lamb in the pasture, usually without trouble and immediately clean the lambs. Each mom makes a unique sound and they start as they are cleaning the lambs.They are fiercely protective of their young. Moreso than my other breeds. And the lambs are the cutest babies you will ever see!
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Yes it is January 12th and the pullets have started to lay! Who would have thought this would be something I could get excited about! Raising chickens has been such a great farm adventure. When you nurture the little 2 day old chicks to the productive point of laying eggs, it is just very gratifying. And when you start enjoying the rich orange yoked eggs from your very own chickens it is hard pressed to ever buy a store egg again. Just do some research about the production egg business. The next thing you learn is about mothering. If you keep a rooster and you have a hen that likes to set on eggs, you learn that chickens have an incredible mothering instinct. Ever heard the term "mother hen". Well, I can see where that came from. These moms are fiercly protective of their young. As soon as they come out of the nest mom is gathering bits of food and dropping it in front of them until the little peeps learn to scratch for food themselves. When cold they huddle under moms warm downy feathers. It is truly a joy to watch them use their natural instincts. And as you can see from the pictures, eggs come in many colors. There is actually no nutritional difference based on color. Just makes them look more interesting. Who in the world decided that we only needed white eggs? How boring! So even though we have just come off a 5 day snow and some pretty cold temps, the 5 month old pullets are doing what they are programed to do-lay eggs. I can't wait til the days get a little longer and the older girls crank up again!