Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Milking and Sheering Days on Bachar Farms

Its been a while since we have posted any new and exciting happenings here at the farm.  The summer kept our hands full with the drought.  The Finger Lakes region suffered like many parts of the country with little or no rain.  Our pastures were reduced to crunchy brown stuff that no honest law  abiding sheep would look twice at :0.  Everyone scrambled to find hay in the middle of July and keep the water buckets filled, a feet not so simple when you are running water to a barn through three or four sections of hose!!! ;-)
But by the grace of God, we had no losses to heat or disease.  A couple of the lambs suffered with a bout of  anemia but all in all we made it through unscathed.

Milking was exceptional! I milked every morning and managed to collect enough pure raw sheep milk to keep me in yogurt and soap for a full year! LOL  I'm sure hubby will be thrilled.

Speaking of soap, Bachar Farms will be introducing its line of pure sheep milk soaps very soon.  I have been playing around with the recipe and tweaking it to perfection.  We have done extensive testing in the last few months to get to the stage we are at now and in doing so I can tell you that the eczema I suffer from on my hands has improved greatly.  No, it is not cured but I can say that the high buttermilk fat of the sheep milk has had a lot to do with the improvement.  I can't wait for you all to try them! 

We also had our Sheering Fest at the farm this past weekend.  Great BBQ (thanks to Georgie) the man can make a mean pork roast (or two or three)! My mom chimed in with her Cuban black beans and rice (deeeelish!!) My  little contributions were fresh pumpkin bread and hot cider! After all I had to be in the paddock with the sheep being sheered.  We did have a lot of hands on deck so a big shout out to Cathy who reminded me I wanted to write the sheep names on the burlap sacks!  Yikes! I would have kicked myself after that.

This is Arna the most gentle giant! And the most beautiful fleece!

 Our Sheerer John is amazing!!! Finally someone who understands the Icelandic temperament and can handle it!! He managed to sheer Arna in one whole piece!! I dreamed of such a moment! After the sheering was over we plied John with good food and drink in order to entice him to return next year to sheer our little (but growing) flock.  We think it worked!

Now they look like goats for a little while!!!

 Kids didn't want to miss any of the sheering!! Well, in between climbing into the hay loft!!

 My mama and our Emma

 Workin, workin, Workin

Our girls with their grandpa and Uncle Rob...oh and the Guard Donkey Radar!!

The Sheep "Don"!  Hahaha Pacino got nuttin on my hubby! This was while he waited for his roasts to cook to perfection.

And that's me, Sandy...your friendly neighborhood sheep farmer!!

God Bless and have a GREAT day!!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sheep Healing Nicely

Wow! After lambing I thought things would slow down! Ha! No such luck.  Just after lambing we had the sheep sheared.  Though I know some shepherds find this practice to work for them, next year I will sheer them a month before lambing time.  Our Spring wool was a matted mess.  The ewes had begun their wool break and our oldest ewe Eliza Jane didn't need the shearer at all for she shook, rubbed, rolled her wool away! Typically, the spring clip isn't good for spinning after being matted down and laying in hay all winter, but our flock was looking pretty darn good and nice felting projects were in my future.  Seriously though, what I was able to salvage may make one hat! Ahhh the learning curve of the new shepherd.

During our shearing, the last to be sheared was Rhum, our Shetland wether yearling.  He is such a doll, but a sprinter.  He proved rather tricky for Jim to keep a hold of and on one occasion Rhum kicked and Jim couldn't move the clipper fast enough away.  I wasn't there when it happened.  As luck would have it, I had taken a stroll into the pasture to check out the lambs.  No one informed me that the cut was pretty bad.

By the end of that day as my hubby and I took a walk down the fence line he noticed Rhum was not eating and was laying down not chewing his cud.  We tried to coax him up but he just looked up at us.  Normally a sprinter, he couldn't get out of the way of his own shadow.  I was very worried.  Bringing them all into the barn we managed to get a hold of him and put him in a pen.  At close inspection, the wound was really bad.  Seemed like his was cut down to the bone.  I quickly sprayed it with a wound wash and then an antiseptic.  My fear was fly strike since the weather was unseasonably warm the flies were out in big numbers.

After a few days of this repeated treatment plus a shot of Penicillin he was still not putting any weight on it and seemed rather lethargic.  I gave in to my worries and called out the vet.  She told me we had taken the appropriate measures and in fact he had cut through a tendon.  She did a much better job of cleaning it out and injected him with more penicillin and an additional shot of pain killer and wrapped it up with a lovely neon pink bandage!  After a couple more days he began putting weight on it and we were beyond happy.
Though I feel a lot more comfortable caring for a wound now especially after watching the vet, it was well worth the cost of her coming out just for the pain killer.  We hated seeing him in that condition.  I liked knowing he wasn't suffering while healing.

Here is a picture of Rhum a few days after the vet visit.  Isn't he just the cutest!!!

I know accidents happen in shearing all the time, however I am really disappointed that Jim didn't let me know how bad it truly was.  It must have been pretty darn obvious when you looked at the leg.  If I had not been out that night checking on them (granted that is my job) Rhum would have been out there with an exposed leg suseptible to all kinds of flies and critters.  But it didn't happen and I thank God for that!

Alls well that ends well.  Life on the farm is really never dull!!!


Friday, May 20, 2011

Local Sheep Shearing Festival

For those of you in the Finger Lakes area Memorial Day weekend you should check out this great festival!! Lots of fun for the whole family!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Milking Icelandic Sheep

When selecting the Icelandic sheep breed, milking them was one of those items on list but somewhat on the bottom of the list.  During my two years of research on this breed, I always knew they were great milkers, very easily raising twins, triplets and even quads with out nary a problem with milk supply.  Further reading showed that many of the famous European cheeses such as Roquefort, Feta, Pecorino Romano were all made and still are using sheep milk.  Now, while goat and cow milk is the most well known and popular, there are many reasons most folks don't know why sheep milk has an advantage.

  • Nutritious
    Sheep milk is highly nutritious, richer in vitamins A, B, and E, calcium, potassium, and magnesium than cow's milk.
    Research shows that sheep milk contains more CLA, which is a cancer-fighting, fat-reducing fat. The fat globules in sheep milk are smaller than the fat globules in cow's milk, making sheep milk more easily digested.

  • Sheep milk
    Sheep milk can be frozen and stored until you have enough to use it to cook or make cheese with and it does not affect the nutritional properties of the milk unlike other milk.

  • After lambing this year I realized that one of my ewes had a huge udder.  I mean it even looked uncomfortable.  I checked her to make sure she was letting down and the lamb was able to nurse.  I had read about mastitis in sheep and wanted to make certain she was alright.  Turns out she is just a very milky gal!  Then it occured to me...why not milk her...heck why not milk them all??

    I sent away for the Udderly EZ hand milker and set out on Saturday morning to milk my very first sheep.  I had separeated the lambs from the ewes the night befor and about 12 hours had passed.  The lambing jugs lended themsleves for the perfect place to begin working.  Doug cooed Eliza (the milky young lady) while I with my sterilized milker in hand sat on my cute little milking stool! Ha haha did you get the perfect image in your head....good now throw it out!  First went the stool, I couldn't even see the udder let alone reach under there to latch this thing on.  Now, of course I didn't want to hurt the ewe, being a gal myself...I was cautious when handling an ewe that was full of milk since the night before. 
    No matter how I tried to latch this thing on it wasn't happening, she was getting cranky (rightfully so) and I wanted milk!! I'm sure it was user error.  I tossed the contraption and dove right into hand milking.  Whoa! Now this is something I never imagined having on my radar! A city girl milking a sheep...heck I now knew I could do anyting!

    Her milk let down nice and easy and I collected about 9 oz.  Not bad for a complete novice.  That morning we milked all three ewes.  With the second I finally figured out how to use the Udderly EZ milker and it was deffinately easier on the hands.  But this whole thing of being sprawled on the grownd covered in sheep droppings was just not the way to go.  Doug and I looked up some plans online later that morning and set off to build us a simple milking stand.  Anything that is easier on the back will be worth it.

    This first batch of milk (a total of 30oz) is sitting frozen in my freezer waiting for the summer soap making project.  This weekend we will give our new millking stand a try and if all goes well we will continue to milk the ladies once a day until July when the lambs are weaned. 

    I think I see yogurt and skyr and maybe even some fancy cheese in my farm kitchen's future!!
    Wish us luck.  I will post some photos and detail the process in an upcoming post for those who want to give milking sheep a try.  Believe me, it is a very rewarding and satisfying feeling!  You feel like its just one more thing that helps you get to know your sheep even better.

    Enjoy this wet Spring weather! At least Spring has finally arrived!


    Saturday, April 30, 2011

    Lambs 2011

    Black Beauty (cliche' but so true)

    Sweet and Funny spotted ram

    First cozy night in the lambing jug.

    Emma loving the new lambs

    Abby too!!

    Motherly love.

    Finally out of the pen.

    Lambs hoping about.

    Oh, and thats me, the proud grandma of our very first lamb born on the farm!

    Tuesday, April 26, 2011

    Guard Llamas Anyone?

    Good morning! After a torrential downpour last night, the morning greeted us with an almost (almost) warm breeze. The is coming up and a light mist is rising gently. I plopped my old chair right in the pasture with my coffee in hand and sat to watch the sheep. If anyone would have told me this is what I would have longed for twenty years ago, I would have giggled and put another coin in the jukebox and taken another sip of my frozen margarita!! Wow, one does grow up and if lucky learn to appreciate the much simpler life.
    Ok, but now back to the topic at hand. We are considering a guard animal for our flock. There haven't been many coyote or dog attacks in our area but it would bring me much comfort as sleep at night. Dogs are always an option but have heard of llamas being great deterrents and fiber would be a nice plus.
    Wondered if any of you have any experience with llamas as such. Also wondering if anyone knows of breeders in the Central NY area?

    Would love to hear your points if view!

    Mama and Babes are doing great! Still waiting on good ol' Eliza Jane to give us the last of the new lambs.

    Have a wonderful day.

    Friday, April 22, 2011

    Perfect Lambing!!!

    A quick update between barn checks, our first ever lamb was on Bachar Farms this afternoon, in what can be called a textbook lambing!
    Our first lamb was born to one of our ewe lambs Ania. From the moment we spotted her water bag to when her little lamb was delivered took no more than 35 minutes!! Within 20 minutes the lamb was up and trying to nurse while first time mom took great care of her charge.

    Both are in the lambing jug now getting more aquainted. Mama is enjoying her molasses and water and a but of our best hay. Baby is the cutest black button you ever saw with a tiny white patch on it's head.

    As soon as I go check on them again I will find out If its a ram or an ewe. I was just so excited that I forgot to look !!!

    We are just so thankful that all was smooth without any complications.

    Shepherdess (and loving it)

    Monday, March 14, 2011

    Lambing Jugs and Other Happenings

    Lots of things going on here at Bachar Farms.  Getting ready for our first lambing season! We still can't believe that it finally going to happen.  A dream of old finally come to fruition.  We plan and pray.  We build and pray some more. 

    This is the latest project going on.  Building our lambing jugs.  Our good friend Doug, who does so much for me and the sheep, especially when I am not at the farm to keep an eye on the flock, is building our lambing jugs.  He is amazing! Bachar farms would not be if it were not for Doug's help.

    Our lambing plan is not to have the ewes lamb in the barn in jugs (unless they choose too) but to have them lamb in the pasture if that tends to be their natural instinct and desire.  But we do want them to have a warm and covered environment in which to lamb readily available, especially for our first time moms. 

    The plan is that they lamb on pasture (since our flock is so small it should be easy to manage) and then take them into the barn for a day or two to spend quality bonding time in the jugs.  Once in the jugs, we will check out that the lambs are doing well (especially if there are twins or triplets).  Give the ewes some nice fresh hay and some fresh water.  Meanwhile we'll weigh the lambs and take care of clipping and dipping navels.  Drench the babies with Nutri Drench for a nice boost to their system and check mama's udder.  If all looks as it should we'll leave them in the jugs with plenty of hay and water and a heat lamp to make everyone comfy and cozy for the next day or so.

    This is the frame for one of the jugs.  Each will measure 4x6.

    We added two windows on the North wall for air circulation.

    And we added a small door so the sheep and their lambs have access to the pasture behind the barn.
    Oh and in case you didn't guess it...this is the AMAZING Doug!

    The plan is to have three lambing jugs with access from the main pasture that will then be closed off so that the boys can't come in and bother the girls.  The ewes and lambs will be turned out to the pasture behind the barn for a day or so until we are sure that everyone is healthy and bonding just right!  Once that is done we will turn them out to the paddocks with the boys who will be happy to see the babies!!!

    So these are the happenings at the farm right now.  We keep praying that the snows are gone.  After last weeks 22 inch storm I think I'm done with winter! But in the meantime we are so excited and expect only good things to come from this our first lambing season at Bachar Farm.  I am sure "our" plan will be changed a bunch of times as things involving nature often do.  We pray to be flexible and will bow down to the will of the sheep for who it is our privilege to share this glorious time with.

    I pray the same for you!!


    Wednesday, March 9, 2011

    Apple Cider Vinegar Your Flock


    With lambing season just around the corner, we are getting our checklists checked and ready to go. So I am reading and reading everything I can on lambing (for the 15th time). It's funny you start to recognize sheep farms online the minute you begin reading an article. You just know you've read it before, probably printed it and hole punched it and slipped it into your "sheep" binder. But still, you read it again, on the off chance there was something you missed, and just because your pushover for anything about your fluffy Icelandic sheep!

    But every once in a while you run into something new, something so cool that you just can't wait to try it and you sure can't wait to share what you've just found. Now I know most of you have heard about the health benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar in humans, and maybe even some have heard of the benefits of it on sheep but I didn't know to what extent.

    My first experience with ACV was last fall after our sheep were delivered. We'd had them about 6 weeks and we ran into obvious parasite troubles. Being new to the sheep thing I was doing what I could but it wasn't helping. Their eye membranes were pale, runny poop, all the signs were there. The vet couldn't get out to us for a few days to take a stool sample so I gave them Safeguard (a dewormer) on there recommendation.

    As luck would have it, Margaret Flowers from Trinity Farms was delivering a Shetland wether to us and I asked her opinion. That my friends was a loaded question. When she saw their eyes she said rather alarmed "you've got a severe barpol parasite situation here and Safeguard won't begin to touch it"!

    The following are the ingredients for the ACV Drench Margaret recommended.  I don't have the exact recipe right now (its in the "sheep" binder).

    Apple Cider Vinegar
    Garlic Powder (a generous amount...don't be shy)
    Sheep Nutri-Drench

    In two days time their eyes were pink and fresh and the runs were a thing of the past!  I did give them a dose of  Ivermectin three days later for good measure.  But truly I think the quick treatment with the ACV had alot to do with their speedy recovery.

    Now there are many varied opinions on whether the vinegar should be " or pasteurized and some say it is not necessary, while others say any ol' brand will do.  I for one used Heinz brand and like I said, it worked like a charm!

    Some shepherds have reported that once they began a routine of administering the ACV to their flocks in their drinking water beginning at three weeks before lambing who had previous problematic births, the problems all but disappeared.  And others swear that their fleeces have improved by repeated use of the ACV.  One thing most agree on is that alone or combined with garlic and other ingredients, it can act as a natural antibiotic and barrier to diseases. 

    Every flock is different as are the shepherds, but as the saying goes, everything in moderation.  I for one will be trying this ACV beginning at three weeks before lambing at a rate of 3-4 ml per week per head and see how it goes.  I will also use it as the first line of defense in future parasite situations especially during the hot months.

    Hope this tidbit of information helps.  We are always on the look out for anything that can help us better care for our wonderful breed of sheep.  Remember, do your own research and make your own determination if ACV is something you would like to use with your flock.

    To Ply or Not to Ply

    These were the pictures I took of the first attempts to ply my single spun yan.  It was amazing, even if the end result was not exactly knittable.

    Sunday, March 6, 2011

    Snow and Spin

    The days are getting longer and the sure signs of spring can be seen, yet mother nature won't let us off the hook just yet!
    Another snow storm is upon us. We rose early to see a whirlwind of tiny snowflakes falling from a white gray sky.
    I have finally succumbed to the flu everyone else has had a turn with here and my head is heavy as I try to write this post. I sent DH on to Mass without us. An extra Rosary will have to take it's place for today.
    But as I wondered through my congested fog I felt the urge to spin. And though I'd missed my last class I wanted to try and ply some single yarns I'd already made.
    I can't seem to upload pictures for some reason I will try at a later date.
    The result was a lovely (yet not balanced)kaleidoscope of colors blending into the white of the Icelandic single I'd already spun.
    The joy that I felt at seeing this is more than I could truly describe. Suffice it to say that it encouraged me to look at my own wheel (I'd been using the one borrowed from the guild)and attempt to figure out what was wrong with it.
    In short order I realized that it was the break band that needed to be set and though I still don't know for sure if I did it properly it worked like a charm!
    I had been afraid that I wouldn't like using my wheel, a Kromski Prelude after having been taught on a Louet I quickly discovered that "my" wheel that my DH so lovingly bought form me is THE spinning wheel for me!
    Well, it seems we will be snowbound for the next couple of days. Fortunately for me I have plenty of wool to spin.
    Sorry for the squirly post as I am using my phone to post because the computer doesn't seem to be in the mood this cold winter day.

    If you stop by please leave a comment! I would love to hear about your early spinning days or of your dreams to one day spin or knit.

    Shepherdess and (wool Spinner) hee hee

    Monday, February 14, 2011

    St. Valentine's Day

    I couldn't resist one more post before I put myself to bed.  My first thoughts were to make a special dinner and dessert for my dearest. The day had other plans.  Our oldest Emma woke up and seemed fine as she worked on finishing her classmates Valentine cards but then suddenly she seemed to wobble a bit.  A touch of the forehead confirmed the fever.  Hmmmph...poor little piglet.  She crawled back into her flannels and back into bed.  Next was the three year old Abigale.  Ooh she's a tough one.  Runny nose and whiny.  Needed me glued to her side.  Not once but a billion times I took the trek upstairs to check on Emma and of course she always thought of one more thing just as I was already at the bottom of the stairs. Who needs a gym!
    Ok, so by now I know I am home bound and will have to get creative with dinner! I look at the clock and shriek, it was already half past 2 and I hadn't even begun.

    Well, as it all turned out I made a red sauce with meatballs over gnocchi.  Small tossed salad and a yummy white cake with homemade frosting.  I took all the leftover hearts Em had cut out and sprinkled them over the table along with a few rose petals.  Used the nice china, oh and for the final touch...found our wedding cake topper and placed smack on top of my little cake! It screamed romance...and I prayed Georgie thought so too!
    This was the scene I set:

    Emmies little hearts....

    Then just as dinner was ending I realize I survived my crazy day without passing out or having a hissy fit because I didn't have on hand what I needed or should say wanted to have for dinner. What I DID have was a nice meal for my wonderful husband and family.  We had a yummy desert made with love and silliness. And I had them all with me...all around me.  What I though couldn't get any better did.
    My sweetie left the dinning room for a minute and like a jolly o'l elf came back with trinkets for the girls and Nana (my mommy).  They all beamed.  I beamed.  Then, just like in a movie he slips me a little black velvet box and whispers "happy Valentine's day".  Inside was a shiny new Miraculous Medal that he knew I'd been wanting.  I was allergic to the one I had been wearing and had been heartbroken since I couldn't wear it any longer.  He is so thoughtful (and handsome too).  I think I am just going to have to keep him.
    Here are the girls with their little trinkets from their daddy.

    and Abby

    Good night all.  I have a little cuddling to do.
    Happy St. Valentine's Day!


    Spinning a yarn!!

    WOW!!! What a feeling! As of yesterday, I have officially been spinning wool fleece into yarn.  It may not be the the prettiest right now but it sure is nice to see it winding up on the bobbin. 
    I started taking lessons after two years waiting, last week at the Philadelphia Handweavers Guild in Manayunk, PA.  Every Saturday from 1:30-4:30.  After the first class last week, I really thought I'd been in Spinning 101 for the next 10 years.  It seemed hopeless.  Each time I began to treadle, it seemed like my foot had bionic speed and my poor hands were impossible to keep up. 
    There I was, attempting to keep my "drafting triangle" steady, treadle slowly....ahhhh I threw my hands up more than once.  It was like patting my head and rubbing my tummy at the same time....it just doesn't work.

    But then our instructor Deb, patience and humor of a Saint just kept encouraging me. 
    The second class was getting started and I sat before my wheel and was resolved to continue spinning commercial yarn onto the bobbin (a bobbin which I was certain cried out for real warm wool wrapped around it).  Suddenly I felt a little push and I offered up a silly little prayer. 

    And this is what magically happened!!!

    OK like I said, not the prettiest but it felt so good to finally "get it".  Then I came home and amid all the usual hustle and bustle of family life I tried again and this is what I have so far.

    When I ran out of the Coopworth roving that I got at class, I tried the next batch of Shetland.  I have to say its not as easy to draft and spin as the first was.  Maybe its me (always a possibility) but I just think its a little rougher.  I need another bobbin and I might give plying a try!!! Did I really say that?? Wow, life is good!

    So there you have it.  The joys of a newbie handspinner! I can't begin to express how silly and giddy I felt when I first realized that I was actually spinning this raw wool into something that could soon be used to knit with.  I see a future filled with warm woolly socks for my kiddies! Heck I think the pooch might need a pair!

    And now it is Saint Valentine's Day and I have a house filled with little sick ones and one sick Nana that I have to tend to.  Spinning will have to wait until they are all tucked in for the night.  If I don't fall asleep at the "wheel" first! LOL that was spinning humor in case you missed it :-) !

    Happy Saint Valentine's Day to you! Share your love not only with that special someone but with all those, near and far who bring love into your life every day! And that means your sheepie too!

    God Bless you always.


    Sunday, January 2, 2011

    Learning Together

    The house is still and the last of the burning logs smolder in the stove.  Dear hubby left for Philly today, miss him already.  But so dear was he that he took to doing my chores around the farm this morning.  Practically before coffee was done brewing, he donned his coat and hat, slipped into his snow boots and off to the barn to fetch some hay he went.  He filled the buckets with fresh water for the sheep and chickens and collected the eggs.  Meanwhile I sat in the sitting room carding more wool.  Ahhhh, such a nice and peaceful way to start the day.  But no sooner was he back that the little ones came bounding down the stairs wanting much of our attention.  And we were glad to give it.

    Emma, our oldest couldn't resist the temptation of all the wool on the floor and not being able to touch it.  She looked at me with pleading eyes and I went about showing her how to card the wool.  She beamed!! When she made her first rolag she jumped for joy and wanted to know when she could start to make felt LOL!!  Abby, who will be three next month was content to sit in her rocker with her lovey and her milk, she likes to admire from afar.

    Emma placing her locks on the carders. They are bigger than she is! 
    She looks like she knows what she's doing!
    So as I go about learning all things Icelandic sheep and all things woolly, its so much more fun learning it together with my girls.  Even if they never grow up to enjoy the same things I do, its nice to know they have been exposed to these little wonders in the world.  Though I can bet that Emma will be asking for a set of carders instead of an I-pod for her next birthday!!! Yay!!! A mother can dream.....

    Saturday, January 1, 2011

    Sheepy New Year!

    Happy New Year to you all! I trust everyone had a great holiday and are already busy planning the many projects that will be completed this year!  We were fortunate to spend most of our time at home with family and friends this past week leading up to the the new year. 
    I spent some time fluffing up the sheep living quarters as they have been spending many more hours in there than usual.  Though we had much snow still covering the ground I moved some straw to the rams barn that they aren't using right now to store it.  For as soon as the snow begins to melt (like today) the mud pit will be enormous.  Its all I can do to keep the mud to a dull roar so the fleeces don't get packed with it. 
    The Chickens are still laying between 5 and 6 eggs a day with their little heat lamp keeping them toasty. I went in and fluffed up their coop as well.   We are looking to get Icelandic chickens this spring if I can find a breeder.
    All in all the chores were minimal and it was nice spending some quiet time with the Icelandic crew.  The lights on the sheep shed were a nice touch I thought!! LOL.
    Oh, and did mention I was on a yet another felting frenzy?? Yes indeed! Let me know what you think of my latest cobweb felted table scarves!

     Above is from our black lamb Ania with a little Eliza and some dyed red wool.
     Above is a mulberry silk/merino blend with a cobweb texture you can't really see in the picture. Its so light and smooth with a great sheen to it.

    This is my fave!!! I wish the picture was better so you can see the cobwebbing through out the felting.  I am not tooting my own horn, I am just amazed at what this Icelandic fleece can accomplish when played with just so.  This is just way too much fun!!

    Many wishes for a happy healthy and a sheepy new year!!! (I know corny)  :)