|Ruby Peak FarmsRegistered Jacob Sheep||
Farms are very busy places in the spring, and everyone is anxious to jump up and prepare for our short summer, hoping it is productive and warm. The animals have been grazing on the hay pasture all winter, and their manure is the major source of fertilization for my hay. None of them are too happy to see the tractor dragging the chain harrow show up in the pasture, it is loud and and the harrow make rattling noises.
It is a beautiful spring day, but in the mountains that doesn't necessarily equate with warmth. About 45 degrees with a stiff breeze, I need a coat and gloves and still get a bit chilled when driving into the wind. As you can see the horses leave piles of manure that must be broken up to decompose faster, and harrowing also helps decrease the parasite load for the horses by drying out the manure faster. As I drive around and around I have plenty of time to contemplate the meaning of life. One of my favorite parts of this job is my ipod which keeps me rocking and rolling the whole time. Just as I get cold, "Island Woman" by Pablo Cruise worms me up. As I drive over the graves of favorite horses "Wild Horses" by the Stones help me remember them in their glory. There is something comforting in covering the same ground so many times each year, each familiar bump and ditch. In 3 and 1/2 months I will be cutting, raking, and baling hay, which will require three more rounds over the same ground. But it is a connection I crave, to be close to my land.
As the temperature starts to drop into the thirty's I finish up. There is a great sense of satisfaction in seeing the fields ready to grow, de-thatched and fertilized and waiting for spring rains., but apparently Mick still can't get no satisfaction. The animals have retreated to their corrals and barns, where they won't have to keep moving away from the large noisy red tractor. But all I hear are the refrains of the songs from my past, and all I see is the hay field of my future.
Shearing day dawned Sunny and 30 degrees, pretty promising day with a high of 60 degrees anticipated. The sheep gathered easily in their assigned spots, not quite sure what the fuss was about. Some of the transformations were astounding, and it is always amazing to try to recognize your favorite sheep once they have been sheared.
The Shearing went well, and my very experienced Basque Shearer Greg eliminated any fears of shearing pregnant ewes. He was very gentle with them, and some of them seemed to enjoy their beauty treatments, while others made it quite difficult by refusing to hold still. Greg tells me that Jacob sheep are about the only sheep that don't seem to hold still once he has them down and in position. This does not surprise me, as they are such active and primitive sheep, very protective of their young, and wary of strangers and traps. It is one of the things I love about them, and one of the things that make them a little more difficult to handle, We always save the rams for last, and I can't blame them for being grouchy about being sheared
They look downright silly with their large horns and sheared bodies. Especially the yearling rams who are not totally filled out yet. The older rams are the hardest to shear, due to their size and disposition, even the nicest rams don't like being sheared much.
It is a lot of work to get everyone sheared, even though we don't actually do the shearing. I kind of forget to take photos after a while, as we are moving sheep, and handing each one to the shearer, bagging the wool and tagging it so we know which fleece belongs to which sheep. Because of the short notice, only one friend was able to come by and help, Thanks Molly! We got 37 sheep sheared in about 3 hours, and we were pretty exhausted.
Some ewes look even better in short haircuts, like this Huntsberger ewe lamb out of Bide a Wee Glenda by Mud Ranch Vincent
Shadow Mountain Wind Dancer likes her new style!
And some of the ewes who thought being sheared felt good on a sunny day are in a hurry for me to finish bedding their barn with fresh straw because it isn't sunny or warm today. It will be near 50 degrees though, so I think it worked out pretty good. Still a bit muddy, but the grass is greening up, and only 6 more weeks until new lambs.
My name is Kate and I always dreamed of owning a farm. Although I have had livestock for 30 years, it took my husband and I many years to buy our 30 acre farm in Lostine Oregon in 1999. We raise Registered Jacob Sheep, Alpine dairy goats, heirloom laying hens, and Lavender. We also have several riding horses, dogs and cats.