March opened with a Virgo Pisces Moon, the Worm moon, rising over Ruby Peak Farms. After an unseasonably dry and warm winter we are headed into spring. At 6 in the morning I have 45 degree temperatures, something that usually happens in July! All the animals are happy and well fed, and have enjoyed the easy winter, with cold temperatures and snow basically left back in 2014.
Spring brings baby animals, and one of my favorite times is when the new laying hen chicks arrive. My friend Penny ordered Black Copper Maran and Welsummer pullets from Backyard Flocks, and these are the little cuties in their first week. Now they are nearly a month old and growing feathers,...by August they will be adding their beautiful dark terra cotta eggs to my egg market.
Part of the magic of the season is shearing the sheep. They go from magnificent wooly creatures to slick lovely deerlike creatures in a period of several hard working hours. My friend Nancy came down the road to help with the shearing, and Greg as always did a great job. It was definitely springlike, and I love lambing clean ewes. The wool is also better when you shear before you lamb, no weak spots from the lambing month! I had several yearling ewes that I was very excited to get my hands on their fleeces! This is Ruby Peak Ammi out of Ruby Peak Aspen and Shadow Moutain Flash.
There is quite a bit of preparation to get ready for the shearing. The shearer needs a level clean place to work, and the fleeces need to be bagged and tagged with which ewe or ram they came off of. The fleeces need to be kept clean from dirt and straw, and then placed on a skirting table and skirted. Skirting is removing the breech wool and any wool that is too contaminated with VM or manure to provide good clean wool. Luckily my sheep are pasture raised, and the wool is generally pretty clean, I skirt probably 25 % of the fleece to get it ready for sale or to send off to be made into roving or yarn. I love the many different colors I get from my flock. Only the best will make it to my wheel. Unfortunately the farm and my job makes it difficult for me to find time to spin more than one or two fleeces per year, and this year we sheared 36 ewes and a ram!
Here is lovely Ammi after her designer cut. She is still beautiful, but only half the size. This year my ram got out with the yearling ewes for a week while I was out of town. I don't usually breed the yearling ewes, but it looks like some of them may have been bred. Luckily not all of them! But everything is more apparent now that they do not have their woolly coats. I can see how large they are and when they bag up. And of course everything is quick and clean with lambing, and there is no lamb mistaking wool tags for a teat.
The ewes all gather in the sunshine to discuss their new hairdos. In the foreground is lovely Shadow Mountain Wind Dancer, who is expecting her first lambs this year. I am very excited for lambing to start, and with everyone vaccinated and sheared, the barn bedded with clean wheat straw, lambing jugs constructed, we are ready to March into Spring. Lambing begins March 26, or whenever the girls decide to get started!