Friday, April 29, 2011

Finally Friday!

Being around sheep every minute of the day, do you think J would notice if I wore this around the house?
Source: here.

Happy Friday!

Monday's Mutton Monday post will be about lambing. There are babies everywhere!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wool Fit For a Prince.

Everyone is wondering and staying up late to see what Kate will wear on her wedding day.

I'm sure she will look absolutely gorgeous in her wedding gown, but can we please talk about what Prince William will be wearing?

Prince William will be wearing a wool suit on his wedding day.
Exciting stuff, right? Just humor me, will ya?
Source: Australian Woolgrower Innovation
I wish I can say our wool will be woven in there somewhere, but it won't be.

Still, very exciting that the Austrailian Woolgrower Innovation thought up such a clever idea and got local woolgrowers involved in the Wool Fit for a Prince project.

Prince William will be wearing wool donated by Australian woolgrowers as a thank you for his recent visit to Australia.

You can read more about the story here.

Happy Wedding Day Prince William and Kate!

Have you heard about the real estate they get to choose from? Crazy.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

my heart hurts a little.

I've written about Purdy in an earlier post and had many more planned for her because she has had a tough go and well, she has a special place in my heart. Her mama and brother didn't make it and she’s been on her own since the day she was born. She quickly became our most special bummer.

For the record, it wasn’t just me who fell in love with her. ;)

Purdy was all alone and we all knew she could use a little extra loving. Purdy was born with some jaw problems and she would often get pushed away by other ewes which would leave her limping for a few days. She also never quite got over a runny nose.

J and his mom's daily routine included feeding Purdy three times a day. I would visit her as much as I could especially on the weekends. Purdy took to us and we obviously took to her. She would come running when she saw us and would follow us around like a puppy.

Naming her and visiting her more than necessary was so very, very wrong for me to do. Purdy died this past Wednesday from pneumonia and my heart hurts a little.

I don’t know how (experienced) ranchers do it. I know losing animals gets easier, you eventually don’t see them as pets because well, they aren’t our pets. We give the sheep the best life possible while they are in our care and I feel good knowing that is what we all did for Purdy. I’ll learn (and live) this eventually.

The reality of ranching (so I've been told and am quickly learning) is that I can't get attached. There is a lot of death and there always will be. There is death every single day; I’m just not around to see all of it.

I wish I wasn't such an animal lover, but at the same time I am so glad I can love as strong and as much as I do. I’m reminded of this quote by Anatole France, “Until one has loved an animal a part of one's soul remains unawakened."

Thank you for letting me vent. We've buried Purdy where my husband plans on planting a few vines. I like the symbolism in that.

Sorry for the downer post - last week was a doozie. There are some other things going on that have really gotten me down the last few days. I’m sure I’ll snap out of it soon!

I leave you with a picture of my Jigs...she can always make me smile.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

Wishing Ewe a Happy Easter!
I hope you are enjoying this Easter Sunday in whatever way makes you happy. Lambing has begun here at the ranch and it's raining like crazy.

I'm inside with Jigs cooking the men some warm spaghetti for dinner. J and the herders are working hard.

How did you spend your Easter? I'd love to hear what you did.

"And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, "Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him." Mark 16:5-6

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Shear Relief.

What a whirlwind of excitement this past week has been.

You are well aware the sheep made it home safely last week and I am sorry to report that I didn’t make a cake like I said I would here. I made these sheep cookies instead!
They were a big hit, but J is holding me to my promise so there will be cake. Eventually.

The sheep were able to rest for one day before the shearing crew arrived. The crew of three men arrived bright and early on Thursday at 6am. They were set up and started shearing by 7am and didn’t stop until 6pm. They did this for two days.

This is their setup. Pretty nifty, eh?
You are probably thinking, how hard can it be to shear sheep? Well, I can say it’s truly a skill. For one – shearers need to know how to properly get a sheep to the ground and in sheep shearing position. They obviously don’t want to cut the sheep with the shears but must hold them in a position that prevents the sheep from breaking loose or getting cut. On top of this they have to be fast. These guys are good at all of the above.

They were able to get through hundreds of sheep in just two days!

The head guy on our sheep shearing team has won several awards for his speedy shearing skills and it shear shows! ;) 
This is how it all goes down.

The sheep are brought in from the field in bunches of about 50. They are pushed into smaller groups averaging 20 and those 20 are pushed into the shoot. As they come through the shoot J vaccinates them. Not all sheep ranchers vaccinate at shearing time, but this the way Pop has always done it and it's effective.
I have to take a second and give kudos to my husband because this was his first year shearing and he rocked it!
This was J at the end of day one. Yes, that is dirt on his face and windblown hair.
Nothing but hottness at our place.
Of course we wouldn’t have been able to have such success without our awesome help, but I don’t even think a doctor could vaccinate 1,000+ people in two days considering these sheep aren’t just standing waiting patiently for their vaccination. They are trying to run from you the entire time.

Once they are vaccinated they are marked with a chalk pen – this was Morgan’s job. We mark them so we know they have gotten their vaccination and are ready to be sheared.
After they are marked they are pushed up the shoot and get in line for their cut. The sheep line the inside of the trailer and the shearer gets a sheep (through the doors in the trailer) when he is ready.  
He shears them then sends them on their merry, wool-less way.
The wool is then “skirted then compacted into bales with this neat machine. 
Before we knew it there was a field of naked sheep and a truck loaded with wool bales. 
Another reason for all the excitement was the arrival of our senior, Morgan. This kid is nothing short of amazing.

Morgan is a part of The Senior Field Studies program at his high school. This program allows seniors to participate in direct field studies in urban, rural and wilderness settings while earning credits. Morgan has been on a 2 week backpacking trip and leaves for a whitewater rafting trip a few days after he arrives home from being at our ranch for a week. We were lucky enough to partake in this program through our membership with the Colorado Farm Bureau.

On his first day here Morgan jumped right in and helped with shearing. He was great help - J and the crew were happy to have him. The “city” in him was nowhere to be found.  

Aside from being a huge help with shearing he introduced me to some new tunes (this kid has some great taste in music) and he made us laugh. A lot. 

Morgan has such a great personality and his mood is infectious. He’s the type of kid you want to be around as much as possible because he makes you feel good and he makes you smile. We truly enjoyed having him with us.

I’ll admit I got a teary eyed when I said good-bye.

He says he’ll be back to visit and I believe he will…even if it is just to see the animals! ;)
I was able to get in on the action too! The first time I asked if I could help I was told no. They said it was because there was too much dust flying around. Are you kidding me?! I hung my shoulders, found a sac and started picking up trash. Pathetic (I know), but I was bound and determined to contribute somehow! I came back and the guys must have felt bad for me (like the kid that was picked last in dodgeball) because when I asked a second time and J told me to, "Jump in!"
Here's to another season of (shear) success!

You can read more about shearing here.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Our Senior and a Winner!

Today is the 4th day our senior, Morgan has been with us and let me tell you - we LOVE this kid.

I'll be sharing more about Morgan and his time with us on the ranch, but for now here is a picture.

Also, thank you to everyone that participated in my first giveaway and thank you to Little Bird Crochet for the adorable Easter Egg Lamb Cozy. 

The winner is Amy and Jeff! Congratulations. Contact me and I will have your Easter Egg Lamb Cozy shipped out to you!!

Friday, April 15, 2011

My Friday wish for you {and a giveaway reminder}.

I hope your day is fabulous! 
I'm leaving work early to try and get in the way help the guys with shearing. :)

One pregnant ewe.
I'll be back soon with pictures from shearing! 

In the meantime, don't forget to enter my very first giveaway here
Winner announced tomorrow. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Purdy Exciting Giveaway!

There is a lot going on at the ranch this week. 

Our senior arrived yesterday, shearing begins today and most important - everyone made it home safely on Tuesday from the winter range!

You know you are a rancher's wife when you take a 30 minute break at work to help with traffic as the sheep come through town! 

Here are some photos from this week's trailing through town.
Here they come!!

It was my job to stop traffic. Luckily the first car I stopped was a nice man that even gave me a smile. It's as if he knew I so desperately hoped for his cooperation since once the first car is stopped the rest is cake.

The sheep made it through the intersection with no major hiccups. 

One mama was a bit too tired to make it the rest of the way (about 7 miles) so she got a lift in the truck!
I don't think she minded much. 
A few minutes later the view was nothing but woolly rear ends and everyone was closer to being home.

In honor of all the excitement and the safe arrival of our sheep I'm so happy to host my first giveaway!

Here is what you'll win...
an Easter Egg Lamb Cozy from Little Bird Crochet just in time for Easter!

I came across Little Bird Crochet on the wonderful, fabulous world of Etsy.
A few things I love about this shop is that it is run by two sisters in North Carolina, Joy and Paige (I would love to work with my sister, wouldn’t you?), each item melts my heart and the item we are giving away today reminds me of my favorite little lamb, Purdy. 
This is Purdy.
I asked Paige to tell me a little about herself and Little Bird Crochet and here is what she had to say:
"I learned how to crochet a couple of years ago and taught Joy soon after. We have three nieces, two nephews (and a niece on the way!) and were initially making things for them as birthday and Christmas gifts, and whatever else their parents asked for.

My husband and I live in Greensboro, North Carolina with our two kitties and are currently watching through the entire series of X-Files. I'm a vegetarian, wannabe minimalist, I'm constantly annoying people I know (and some I barely know) about eating healthier and perhaps best of all, really goofy and I’m sure to never take myself too seriously.

Joy and her husband also live in Greensboro with their fluffy little dog Norma. She's a graphic designer by day and a crochet princess by night.

To me, the best thing about crocheting is reminding people to see the creativity in others and themselves. I love when something I've made inspires someone to take up crocheting. It means so much to me when they can see themselves as a creative person, something I believe we all are."

I think Paige is right. When I saw this little gem I thought, I must learn how to crochet! 
Thanks for the inspiration Paige! 

So here is how you enter. 
Please leave one comment for each entry for multiple chances to win. 

Mandatory Entry – head on over to Little Bird Crochet and come back and tell me what item is your favorite. This entry is mandatory and no others will count if this is not completed.
Additional Entries
1. “Follow” my blog. You are already here so why not?!
2. Add Little Bird Crochet to your Etsy favorites.
3. Answer the following question: How do you use your creative talent?

This giveaway will run through 11:59pm MST April 15, 2011.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dreaming Big and Passing the Test. Part #2

You can read Part #1 of this story here.

Class three and four of Hunter Education we focused on animal identification and survival. Let's just say I have some studying to do. I'll admit I don't know the difference between elk, deer, and doe but in my defense they sure do look alike.

We took a quiz on animal identification. If it was graded I would have failed and here are a few reasons why.

I thought a pronghorn was a gazelle. 


 I thought a moose was a caribou.


I mistook a Collard Lizard for a Gecko. I blame the Geico commercials.
Collared Lizard

The famous Geico Gecko
The list, as you can imagine, goes on and on, but let's talk about something I did right.
I'm proud to report that I DID identify a jackrabbit, lynx and a prairie dog correctly.  :) Redemption!

Shooting range day I totally rocked ("rocked" meaning I didn't shoot my own foot) and the day prior I only missed 3 out of 50 questions on the final test. So, yes I passed the test. Now I can say that I'm armed and dangerous and mean it! You scared yet?

Here is a picture of my target from shooting range day.

If you look closely there are 13 bullet holes in my target.

Here is the problem...I was only given 10 bullets.

Where those extra holes came from I have no idea but I'm thinking someone in my class needs to practice a bit more. Oh, and by the way I'm ONLY claiming the targets that have red arrows pointing at them.

There is some comfort in knowing I wasn't the absolute worst. Thank you classmate!

In all seriousness I am glad I took the course. I learned a lot about gun safety, hunter safety and survival like how to build a campfire (and how not to panic when lost in the woods) and I'm feeling more comfortable around guns already. Hunting and gun safety is important and I will practice all I have learned.

Still haven't decided what hunting license I'll apply for I think I need to work on my animal identification first. Of course, there is the option of going with someone that knows what they are doing that way they can just tell me when and where to shoot since I'm sure I would mistake a horse for an elk. Apparently that does happen.

Who knows...this might be me in the future:

Dream big, right?!

I walked away from this class smarter about guns, with an orange hunting whistle, a compass, a minor gun (shot) wound and some gun confidence.

All in all I think it was a success! Watch out hunting world here I come!

Since writing this post I have applied for a hunting license. I'll be blogging about that soon. 

Stay tuned this week - I have a fun announcement!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Mutton Mondays - In the Spirit of Shearing.

Since it's shearing week on the ranch I'm going to share with you all you need to know about shearing.

So, what is shearing?
Shearing is a haircut for the sheep except they don't get to choose their style - they all get a buzz cut.

Why do you do it?
Sheep grow wool year round and with warm weather just around the corner shearing helps the sheep stay cool in the summer months. Each sheep produces on average 2 - 30lbs of wool a year and at the time of shearing their fleece weighs on average 7.5lbs. That's a lot of wool to carry around on a hot day! 

There are also reasons why we choose to shear our sheep right before lambing season begins. Lambs have an easier time nursing when sheep are shorn. Some sheep ranchers shear before lambing because shorn sheep take up less room in the barn.

What do you do with the wool?
We sell it. We get paychecks two times a year - a few months after shearing from the wool and in September when the lambs are sold.

Does it hurt the sheep? 
Absolutely not. I'd imagine they are a little frightened but the team we bring in to shear does a great job. There is an occasional nick, but it's nothing traumatic or too stressful for our sheep. 

How many times a year do you shear?
We shear only one time a year. There are some sheep ranchers that shear twice a year.

Who shears?
While anyone could try to shear sheep not everyone does a good job and that is why we pay the professionals. ;) Pop has used the same man every year and J and I don't plan on changing that. Our guy knows what he is doing and he has a good crew that we can trust to do a good job. 

What do they shear with? 
Shick razors. Totally kidding.
Our guys use electric razors and these have three parts to them - the handpiece, the comb and the cutters.
Electric shears look a little something like this:
Scary looking, right? Again, this is why we leave it to the professionals.

How do you package the wool?
First the wool must be "skirted". I've just learned what this is so bear with me.
Basically the "good" wool must be separated from the "bad" wool. Bad wool tends to include belly wool, off-color, burry and seedy wool and stained or dead wool. We get paid differently on the bad and the good wool.

Where do you send the wool?
After the wool is separated it's compressed into 400lb bales (like the picture below) and sent off to Roswell Wool.
So that is all you need to know about shearing, but don't go trying this at home!

Today I helped trail the sheep closer to home.
I'll be posting about this soon, but for now here is a picture from the day.
I have lots of things to share this week so stay tuned!
This is one of our VERY hard working herders.


Friday, April 8, 2011

Finally Friday!

What are your plans for the weekend?
If you are anywhere where the sun is shining please soak some up for me!

We have lots to do on the ranch in anticipation of the sheep coming home on Tuesday and shearing which begins Thursday!

I'll be helping J as much as I can, but I have lots of spring cleaning to do (even if it does decide to snow) since our senior, Morgan will arrive on Wednesday!

The next two weeks are quite busy for us and I am looking forward to blogging about all of it. For now, it's time to meet my best friend for lunch!

Have a lovely weekend!
Read this Ewe's story here.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Spring has sprung and the sheep are comin home!

My mother in law was always so happy when everyone was home at the ranch and I never understood why. Well, last fall I learned why and now I'm right beside her with a big grin this time of year.

Everyone and by everyone I mean all of the sheep, all of the dogs and all of the herders are home only two times a year - in April for shearing/lambing and in September for the 'loading of the trucks'!

The large herd of ewes, our two herders (one was away for the winter and the other was on the winter range with the big herd) and 5 dogs (Wito, Embre, Gringo, Sage and Chili) will be home from the winter range on Tuesday evening and I have goosebumps thinking about it. Their trip home will take about 5 days total and these mamas are going to be so tired. All of the ewes are pregnant and due in May so Pop and J make sure the trek home is spread out and as peaceful for them as possible.

When the sheep came home from the summer range it was a wonderful event! It’s a feeling of accomplishment - another season of success. It's also nice to know everyone is safe. A large part of this success is owed to our wonderful and hard working herders of course. Our herders stay with the sheep for months on end working from sun up to sun down and they always have a smile when we see them. I'll be blogging more about our herders soon.

I’ll be working at my office job 2 of the 5 days of their trek home but I'll be getting at least one good day of trailing in this weekend which I'll be sure to report on! I'm actually quite sad (believe it or not) that I can't help trail like I did in the fall when the sheep came home from the summer range. For those of you that missed my post about the summer trailing you can read about it here, but you have to promise not to laugh. 
This is from fall trailing last year.

So the next few days are busy ones for J and Pop. It's 7:40 pm on Tuesday right now and they are still out working on things. This is a huge event I tell you!

On top of everyone coming home J and I are participating in a Senior Field Studies program. This is a program that allows a Denver area high school senior come help out on the ranch.  Our student will be with us for a week and he will learn all there is to know about the operation. I emailed with him today and he's excited to be here during one of our busiest times of the year - shearing!

Needless to say I'm excited for everyone's arrival and I think I'll make a celebratory cake! Woo hoo!

* * * * * * * * * * * * *  * * 

Here are some questions about "trailing" I'll be answering in the next week...

If you have any questions please let me know via the Contact Me tab! 

Are the sheep actually on the road? 
Have you ever had a sheep get hit by a car?
Has a Ewe ever gone into labor while on the road?
How long is the trip?
How many miles do you trail in a day?