Lambing on Snow!

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We didn’t plan it this way, but many of the ewes were bred by adventuresome wandering Icelandic ram lambs last fall and are lambing out in the hay Craig feeds them on pasture. It’s working out fine! Possibly because of the hardiness of the Icelandic breed, our only death losses have been during extreme cold (-25) or ewes with bag issues. Just goes to show there’s always something new to learn in raising sheep. I always thought that lambs born in March had to go in pens in the barn. Now I see that if they’re the right type of lambs, it’s a lot healthier for them out in the sunshine.

Lambs ready!

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Whole lambs are for sale at $285, half lambs for $150. A whole lamb is around 38# of packaged meat, just enough to stuff the freezer compartment of a refrigerator. For either a whole or a 1/2 lamb, I will take your cutting instructions and convey them to the butcher. Since my next two lamb butchering appointments are with Black Earth Meats which is a distance from most of my Viroqua area customers, I’m also planning on picking up the frozen lamb cuts and delivering them.

These are very nice lambs. They are the first out of our Texel and Charolais rams, Tex and Charlie, and I am very pleased with them. Our ewes are primarily Katahdins, chosen because they are the hardiest, most amenable to organic management. The Texel and Charolais rams have brought the genetics needed for nice sized lamb chops.

Organic sheep raising is not easy, but it’s healthier for the sheep, the land, and the consumer. I’ve been raising sheep for over 30 years. Always looking for ways to improve, but this is about as good as it gets, folks!

Grassfed? When there is pasture–and on this farm it’s a long grazing season–April 1-mid-November–where ewes and lambs get all the lush pasture they want. But in the winter when lambs come off pasture, they are provided organic oats and milo along with their hay, to ensure they have all the energy they need for winter finishing.

Call–608-624-5714–or email at wfam@mwt.net to order a whole or half lamb.

Nora’s Sweater

I just finished this Aran sweater for my granddaughter Nora. Our Shetland/Rambouillet yarn is perfect for Aran knitting. Still plenty available of white and the two shades of brown–some grey, also. It’s 3-ply worsted and the skeins are around 250 yards, 7-8 ounces. We’re selling it for $3.50/ounce. This pattern is by Kathryn Ashley-Wright of Ewetopia in Viroqua.

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Fall Farm News

The solar panels are soaking up the energy and generating electricity! Henry has the array, power center and batteries connected and solar is now powering the fencer and barn lights. Next step is to connect the house and we’ll cut our ties to the power company and be providing all our own power. This is … Continue reading

Life is so good sometimes, one has to share the joy!

I don’t have a photo to go with this post yet. There are plenty of options: the cattle so happy to be out on “real” pasture with the hair sheep, gobbling up the taller, coarser grass that the sheep turned down; the four new goat girls getting to know Mr. Moonbaby Donkey on the pond pasture where they’re going to find their favorite forage, some multiflora rose; the woolly sheep with their lambs up on a separate pasture unaware that the shearer’s coming tomorrow and they’re soon going to be feeling very fresh and ready for summer’s sun; or maybe just the wild ducks enjoying our pond today. I’ll choose one for sure, but the image I really want to convey is more in the feeling realm…..the contentment and gratitude I experience on a day like today–going to the Farmers Market and delivering beef and lamb to familiar folks, chatting with friends and fellow vendors, meeting new people who like what this farm has to offer them, then coming home and visiting the critters, preparing for a supper of grilled teriyaki sirloin and asparagus from the garden and planning tomorrow’s hearty shearing crew dinner. I’m one happy old lady right now and my blessings are too numerous to count. (Though I know I’ll be one stiff and sore old lady at the end of the day tomorrow, after trimming 120 hooves!) And turns out the best photo is right outside my door.

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Nettle Pesto

Here’s my creation to go with baked potatoes and broiled lamb chops:
NETTLE PESTO
I recommend halving this unless you have a powerful food processor and a crowd to feed. I’ll freeze some. Nettles are so nutrient-dense they don’t keep long. I wear gloves when picking nettles and have a plastic bag over my hand when washing them.

1# nettles (washed, steamed, cooled, drained, and wrung out in a towel)
2 C. Toasted sunflower seeds (pine nuts or walnuts good; I had sunflower seeds)
2 t. Garlic powder (or fresh equivalent, we’re out of fresh)
1 t. Salt
1/2 t. Pepper
2 T. Lime or lemon juice
2 1/2 C. Olive oil
Blend it up!
Mix with 2 C. Grated Parmesan.

Best pesto I’ve ever made! Sheep and cattle have fresh pasture, and we’re dining on nettles. Life is good.

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Lambs!

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Lambing is always a special time of both challenges and delights. The challenges this year were because lambing came a month before pasture, which means hay feeding, lots, pens in the barn, bedding, sometimes heat lamps. More work for Bonnie and Craig–which is why I haven’t posted anything recently. But the blessings are many. First off is what a joy it is to have a “normal” spring! Last year was not the way spring should be and so no surprise that right on spring’s heels came the drought of summer. So bless the snow, sleet, rain and cool temperatures, for though it means April is an intense month here on the farm (and my heart aches for critters on farms where hay is running out) and the cattle and sheep look longingly at their pastures while gobbling up every little bit of green in the lots, it’s the norm for our climate and bodes well for the rest of the year.

A blessing, too, is that barn lambing really gives me a good look at how my sheep are doing, in terms of productivity and mothering ability. Having culled heavily with last summer’s drought and with good production records and new ram genetics in these 2013 lambs, I am pleased to be able to have this closeup look at the 2013 lambing in order to select Katahdin breeding stock for replacements here on the farm and for sale at weaning this fall.

The ewe in the picture is stellar. She is doing a fantastic job of raising quads–3 rams and a ewe. These ram lambs will be for sale, but I won’t part with the ewe lamb!

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Blizzard!

I couldn’t go to work in town and spent all day at the computer or on a conference call, but Craig went out and made sure the sheep and cows had all they needed. Cattle huddled in the corral around a feeder; ewes hunkered down in a little wooded area; feeder lambs seemed oblivious; Moonbaby … Continue reading