The Odyssey of Misha and her Broken Leg

Misha out on pasture not too long before her ordeal would begin. 11.14.2012.

It was a lovely fall morning, not unlike any other. The air was cool and crisp as I approached the East Pasture, current home of Freyr the wether and the five ewe lambs. The adult ewes had already left for the grove pen for their rendezvous with Ferdinand the ram. As usual, Freyr and the girls came running full speed to receive their morning hay. It was like a race, with the prize being first dibs at the best blades of newly laid hay. So it came as a surprise to notice one fuzzy head missing: Misha.

Here they come! Wait a sec, there’s one missing… what’s she doing all the way back there? 11.29.2012.

I surveyed the pasture for my missing moorit sheep. Ah, there she was! She was on her way. Maybe she had been snoozing, and didn’t get up as fast as the others. Soon she would be upon the hay too.

Except that she wasn’t. In fact, she was barely moving. I could see her trying to come, but with great effort as she struggled along on three legs. Now I was worried. I tore off running to see why she was limping so badly. Had she sprained something? Knocked her leg- oh. Oh my… I stared in shock at the sight of her lower right hind leg flopping to and fro like the pendulum of a clock.

My adrenaline was pumping now. No, not this. What do I do? I carried her back to the gate and tied her to a fence so I could think. The break was bad, I could see that. This was no simple little cracked bone. There were bone splinters poking through a gaping wound about halfway up her cannon bone. What did she do?!

If you want to see what I saw that day, click here, or scroll to the way bottom of the page, well past the end of my story. If not, when the story ends, do not continue your journey down the page. It is quite graphic.

What followed next was a series of calls on my cell phone; first my husband, then every vet I could think of in the area. All around I got the same answer; put her down. No one even wanted to look at her. But I couldn’t give up on her just like that; it was just a broken leg!

Except that it wasn’t just a broken leg. It was a compound fracture, with exposed bone. The risk of infection is extremely high on such an injury. And as I would later find out from both books on the subject and the internet, the prevailing advice is to put a sheep down with such an injury.

But I had to try.

Misha enjoying some hay and a pumpkin with her stallmate, Cinthi. 12.01.2012.

I splinted the wound as best I could, first cleaning out all the debris and dousing it down with peroxide and antibiotic cream. Then I sealed it all with honey. Yes, honey. A little unconventional, but used with success by others in similar situations. This was all topped off with a round of strong antibiotics. As supportive care, I put together a daily drench containing various vitamins and minerals, plus some herbal tinctures that aid in bone healing. I sound calm as I talk about this now, but in all honesty, I was barely holding it together. I had never before faced such an injury on a living creature, and it horrified me. But I prayed for strength and pressed on, for what other choice was there?

I put her in a clean stall in the shed with Cinthi, a very quiet and gentle ewe lamb about her same age. Other than a few splint changes and her daily drench, there was nothing left to do by pray and wait to see if her leg would heal.

Day by day I tended that little sheep, and day by day she remained her spunky, strong-spirited self. You’d be amazed at how quickly she got around on three legs if she decided she didn’t want her drench that day! The days turned to weeks, and still Misha was alert, eating well, and showing no signs of fever and infection. It seemed like she was going to be okay!

Misha trying her best to heal while stalled in the shed. 12.21.2012.

I waited until the eight week mark to remove the splint for what I hoped would be the last time. What I saw dismayed me to tears; the bone had not healed. There was dead flesh around the wound, and I feared I was looking at a dead leg as well. There was still no foul smell, no fever, no signs of infection. How had this happened? Why hadn’t it healed?

My heart sank low as the old horror of facing that wound again set in, but this time facing it would do her no good. I was resigned at this point that I had tried and failed to save this little gal’s leg, and it was time to call it quits. As she stared at me, her strong spirit shining through those large eyes of hers, it made it seem all the more the shame to give up before she did. But I didn’t see that there was much choice.

All the same, something inside me wanted to try one more time to call those same vets that had before said there was nothing to be done. It’s hard to explain; I just had to. I wonder now if it wasn’t God’s nudging me, His quiet way of saying, wait. Misha was in no pain; A few more minutes would do her no harm.

The first vet was as expected; leg is dead, put her down. The second vet, the same. I asked about the possibility of amputation, but no, not on a back leg. The weight of that large rumen would quickly destroy the remaining good leg. Third vet office, same story. But wait, they told me, there was one more vet who wasn’t in at the moment, but knew sheep. Could she call you back? I agreed, then hung up the phone, not expecting this final call to be any different than the others. I went back to my husband, who had been watching Misha while I made the calls. I was about to tell him it was time to put her down, when my cell phone rang. It was the sheep vet, Tracy.

This phone call went very differently than the others. This vet was willing to take a look at Misha’s leg before putting her down. With little to lose, I agreed, and we were off to the vet for what I thought would be Misha’s final journey to her end. It tore the heart so to hear her crying out for Cinthi as we left, and Cinthi calling back. The two had become quite bonded. Cinthi was not at all happy with her replacement companion, Bianca, another ewe lamb. She wanted Misha, and none other. Poor girl.

Things did not go at all as expected as we handed Misha over to the vet, who promptly sedated the little fighter. As the vet examined the wound and removed the dead flesh, there was blood. The leg was still vital. Oh? The slightest spark of hope came into the room. And there was no infection. The injured flesh just hadn’t all died and fallen off yet, which is why it looked like it did. The leg tissue was healthy! The cleaning and antibiotics had worked to stave off infection! Thank God for that miracle.

Then an xray revealed why the bone had not healed; about an inch of it was crushed, pulverized so badly that there were a whole bunch of little dead shards of bones between the two ends of living bone. Tracy explained that the body could not heal around dead flesh or bone; that if those shards were removed, Misha stood a very good chance of healing. OH?? That was the first time I had heard any vet give her a chance. I thanked God even as my stomach churned at the sight of an inch of bone being removed from Misha’s leg. It seems that it was not yet her time.

If only I had found this vet when this all first happened!

Misha the day we got home from the vet, sporting her new splint, complete with a waterproof “Medipaw” to keep it clean and dry. 01.13.2013.

The vet gave us a new improved splint for Misha, and instructions for how to change it at home. She even gave us some sedative to help with the task, as Misha does not acquiesce easily to what she views as an assault on her poor leg. I watched carefully, locking away each step in my mind.

Suffice to say, it was a happy reunion of sheep when I got home.

The day came for the first splint change. To say the least, I was nervous. I had nearly broken down that last time, the time when I realized that the leg had not healed. I had no sedative then, and she had fought me fiercely. I couldn’t help but feel horror that day as I saw her leg flopping around, and imagined the pain that it must be causing her. My husband had helped me restrain her so I could resplint the wound, but I’d had nightmares for days.

As I stared at the splint on the prone sheep who lay sedated before me, images of the last time came back to mind. I wanted to scream, I wanted to run, but I would not, for it was necessary for me to do this for Misha to heal. I would not allow my weakness to control me, and worse, to cause harm to a living creature. So I prayed for courage, and indeed, courage I found. I followed each step in the changing of the splint; I kept my cool, and all went well. The relief that one feels when they have faced down fear and conquered is amazing; there are no words to describe it. Now I knew I could do it. I face fear, and won. After that day, each subsequent splint change was easier for me to do.

Misha after her first of the new splint changes that I performed, still in her happy place from the sedative. Look at that smile on her face! 01.23.2013.

As before, Misha never lost her spunk. She’d even spar with Cinthi for a place at the food trough! (Though all in play. Misha cannot bear being out of sight of Cinthi.)

Six weeks later Misha had a follow up visit with Dr. Tracy to see how her leg was doing. The news was excellent! The missing inch of bone had regrown; the gap was filled! Her cannon bone was once again in one piece, and the large wound was well closed and healed. The risk of infection was over, and Tracy said that in another six weeks, her leg should be strong enough to support her weight again. Barring some unforeseen accident, her leg would be fine.

Misha and Cinthi eating together, with little Bianca in the background. Bianca had been added to the recovery stall because of a minor limp, which healed well. She remains with these two because I see no reason to send her back out with the others. 02.02.2013.

Misha is still in her splint on the day that I write this; her final six weeks are not yet up.

The lessons that I learned through this trial have improved me as both a shepherd and a human being. But isn’t that generally how God works? Turns bad things that happen into good? I know I found the support of a wonderful group of shepherds on the ISBONA forum, who offered both advice and sympathy. I found a wonderful vet who I will go to for all my sheep needs from now on; it is wonderful knowing there is a vet out there who actually knows sheep! I have found courage, and proven to myself that with God at my side, I really do have the courage to face things that I don’t think I can. I have proven to myself there is more strength in me than I give myself credit for. Bad things happen in this world, but at least I know that good things can come of it.

Misha’s leg is well on the way to being mended. 03.04.2013.

For those curious as to how this could have happened, the best guess is that 200 pound Freyr accidentally stepped on her while she was laying down. The injury was a crushing one, not the clean break you’d expect if she caught her leg on something and snapped it. Freyr is one of the gentlest of sheep on the farm, but I suspect his horns block his peripheral vision just enough that he doesn’t always see where he steps. And being so heavy as he is, little 60 pound Misha’s leg did not stand a chance even from a misstep.

When at last Misha is splint free, I will conclude this story with photos of her using her leg again. I look forwards to being able to post that update.

-Becky
Original posting, 03.10.2013

And now, for those who wanted too see..

Picture of Misha’s wound below… warning! Very graphic!

*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*

The bloody and broken mess that just the day before had been a functional hind leg. 11.29.2012

A live nativity with a few sheep…

Three of mine, of course!

The live nativity at Cornerstone Church. 11.15.2012.

Tonight three of my sheep got to assist in a little ministry; they were a part of the live nativity held at the Cornerstone Christian Church in Redwood Falls during the Christmas by Candlelight townwide event. I got a call on Wednesday that they were looking for some sheep for Friday (today!), and I said yup. I love the chance for my sheep to bless someone else. :) Freyr the wether and Cinthi and Cattleya the two ewe lambs were chosen for the task due to their calm and friendly demeanors. Freyr, after all, is only surpassed by his son for his docile nature. He’s just a lazy, rolly-polly fellow who loves to eat and to snooze and to be pet. Cinthi is my lap lamb. I’ve handled her since her birth last spring, and she has really grown into quite the sweetheart. Plus, she’s very pretty to look at, even sheared. Cattleya, though a new addition, has been trying to one-up Cinthi for a while now for being a sweet petting lamb. She loves attention, and loves to be scratched. All three seemed like good choices to patiently stand around the manger and be handled by all sorts of strangers.

So I stocked up on sweet feed and some hay, and off we went! Those three did a marvelous job standing there and allowing others to pet them, just as I’d hoped. They were all given plenty of treats and pettings, and not one got to nervous. Freyr just wanted to graze, for the most part, while Cinthi was curious to look around. Cattleya was content to just stay near the stable. Yes, it was a calm and peaceful evening for all, and the Christmas story got shared with a little aid from some soft warm sheep. Ah, what a wonderful night!

11.15.2012 Nativity with Freyr, Cinthi, and Cattleya!

-Becky

And Shearing is Complete!

About two weeks before shearing, all are fluffy and unaware… 09.27.2012.

Freya (left) and Jona. Freya is the fluffiest of the ewes, carrying 5.5 pounds of rather soft wool this season. Jona gave 3.5 pounds.

The wonderfully rotund Jona right after she was shorn. 10.23.2012.

It is that time of year again; fall shearing season. That time when the sheep are at their fluffiest, when I can’t help but drag the camera out over and over to capture such fluffy beauty… and also the time that I must go and deprive them of that wondrous fluff for a whole other year, since they will not grow a coat quite that grand again until the next fall. The positive side of the whole shearing experience is that I get to see how my lambs are built for the very first time, and see how my yearling ewes have matured and developed. In that sense, it is almost like opening a present. I had some really great gifts too! Some of the sheep I knew were built well underneath, but a few surprised me for just how well. Jona was one of them. She is a tall, leggy ewe with a thick flowing fleece; elegant and graceful, and quite nimble in her athletics. I never would have imagined she’d be second only to Freya for a broad build under all that wool! (I already knew Freya would look awesome, as she had been spectacular as a lamb.) My two year old ewe Lilija was another pleasant surprise, as she has always been so petite, but suddenly bulked up a lot during the summer. I could go on about all the pleasant surprises I found with the builds of my sheep, but that would take a while. I will be updating each of their profiles to reflect anything knew I learned about each sheep. I was also quite happy with the condition of each sheep under that wool. We purchased hay from a new supplier this year that tested out quite nice for protein content, and indeed it has kept all the sheep at excellent weights. A few are even a little pudgy! I am very happy with this new hay, and will be a perennial customer of this supplier.

The tool of the trade; my trusty blade shears.

I do all my own shearing at this point, and I do it all with a nice quiet set of blade shears. I have grown to really like those things, once I figured out how to properly sharpen them. Between each sheep, I wash off the lanolin with warm water, and give the blades a quick sharpening. That way, they cut clean, they cut well, and they just work. It makes things go so much nicer when the shears just work. For the most part, I use a New Zealand type method of shearing. Or at least I studied You Tube videos of a New Zealand blade shearer, and imitated his methods. I rotate the sheep around on their butts and sides, using gravity to help pull the wool down and expose the fiber that still needs to get cut. This way also has the advantage that I have better control of the sheep, so they can’t squirm too much, which is a problem I run into when I sheared them standing upright. I use my legs mostly to hold the sheep, while my arms shear. Uffda, does it work the lower back, gluts, and thighs! But my technique is getting better, I’m pretty good about avoiding second cuts, and I rarely nick the sheep. When I do nick the sheep, it is usually because they were extra squirmy. Even then, it’s always been very minor. So all in all, my shearing experience has been going well and is only getting better!

There is too much Freyr to be flipped… not too surprising since this picture illustrates his second-favorite past time. (Being petted being the first.) 10.24.2012.

I do have to admit, there are a few sheep, like my 200 pound wether, Freyr, that are just a little too much for me to be able shear on their butts. I’m not quite that muscular to handle such a big sheep, no matter how well behaved. For them, I halter the sheep to a fence, and shear each standing up. A quick cut down the backbone separates the wool in two halves, which I remove individually with my shears. I discovered while using this method that the vast majority of sheep do not like their hind legs touched. They get really fidgety when the shears start working that area. Even my docile Freyr wasn’t too keen on the idea. So between this fidgetiness and the greater ease that I have reaching all areas that need shearing that comes with shearing them on their butt, I do prefer shearing them on their butts to being haltered on the fence whenever I can handle it.

Sting says, “Please don’t do this,” as I make final preparations for shearing. 10.09.2012.

The boys look much less substantial without their wool…10.10.2012.

I sheared the first sheep for fall of 2012 on the 9th of October. Bane got to be my first victim. Out with the hand shears, off with the wool! He was quite well behaved for me, despite his skittish nature. Thankfully, the other two ram lambs I did that day, Sting and Ramses, were equally well behaved. Then Sam and Ferdinand were sheared the next day, on the 10th. Sam was quite well behaved, but Ferdinand wasn’t so sure about it. He was a little nervous about the process, but quieted down as we went and overall didn’t do too badly. No nicks, and his wool came off in one piece. The rams were a great confidence booster, and good practice to begin the shearing season with. I knew my toughest jobs would be coming up soon; the adult ewes. They would be left for last for just that reason. The rams also went first because the breeding season is coming up, and when the boys get busy, they need all the energy they can get. So I wanted them to have a nice wool layer grown in again before being put into the breeding pens on November first, so that they could focus their energy on their jobs rather than growing wool.

This was the shearing station I set up right in the ewe pen. 10.12.2012.

April says,”Why am I the only naked one? I feel so exposed…”

On the 15th of October, I started with the ewe lambs. April got to be first, followed by Misha. They looked especially tiny in a crowd of still fluffy sheep, many adults. But they weren’t alone for long. Cattleya went on the 15th, and Cinthi was supposed to. But I couldn’t bear to part my fluffball from her wool just yet, so Lilija, the first adult ewe to be sheared, took her place. I also got in Jona that same day. Things got busy for a few days, so it was until Sunday the 21st that Freya got sheared. She was the only one I did that day, as she really was something else to handle. You’d have thought I was axe murdering her, the way she fought to be free! But I got her done, only gave her two tiny nicks despite her struggles, and even kept the fleece in one piece. So I still count that as success. Isadore went first on the 22nd, followed by Tryna and Freyr. Then I finished up with my last two on the 23rd; Drea, and at last, Cinthi. Bianca and Bahama were intentionally skipped for shearing this year, as they are so much younger than the other lambs and haven’t grown out a whole lot of coat.

All fleeces are shorn and ready for skirting. 10.22.2012.

Thus ended my longest shearing yet; 16 sheep altogether. It was tiresome, but fulfilling. And now it’s done for the season. It was fun to see how the young sheep had developed over the summer, especially the lambs that had never been sheared before. Yep, I enjoy shearing.

Soon there will be updated pictures of the sheared sheep in their profiles.

-Becky
Shearing Fall 2012 began on the 9th of October, and concluded on the 23rd.

New dry lots for all!

The last few weeks have been spent doing a lot of fencing. First off, with the addition of so many new sheep this year, the grove pen was not going to be big enough to house all the ewes when they were pulled off of pasture. Thankfully, the grove had plenty of room for expansion, and I had a few rolls of wire and some t posts laying around. So down with the old, and up with the new!

Bianca exploring the newly expanded grove pen. 09.22.2012.

It was more work than it sounds. (Isn’t it always?) The grove was quite overgrown with underbrush, especially the evil buckthorn. These all had to be lopped down and cleared so I could get into the grove to even put the fence up. A big thanks has to go to my husband, Adam, for that one! It would have been so much more work for me if he hadn’t helped.

Cattleya pauses to scratch an itch as she investigates new territory. 09.22.2012.

On the 22nd of September, I finally declared the pastures done and useless, and the new grove pen complete. Thus it was time to move the ewes. My method still involves catching each one individually, haltering her, then leading her to the new location. It used to be more work, but I have used halters on my sheep enough now that they are catching on and it’s becoming much less hassle to move them place to place. Besides, they like the grove pen. It’s all woody and shaded and cool on warm days; it’s also well surrounded with brush so that the sheep feel hidden and secure. They are so much more relaxed in the grove pen than out in the open pasture. While I’m sure they miss the grass, they are far from sad to have to move to the grove pen.

Freyr the wether joins the ladies in the grove pen to recuperate after a ram lamb injured one of his legs. He doesn’t mind. :) 09.28.2012.

Not long after, a second pen was erected, this one for the ram lambs who were still on pasture. I put it right beside the horse and goat dry lot, with a solid wall blocking their view of the grove. (And a house between as well.) Thus would make the temptation of the ewes, should any go into early heat, much more bearable. The rest is the same 2×4 non climb fence that I used in the grove pen, which has proven to be pretty secure stuff. It was time to get them off of their pasture too, as it was only marginally better off than the ewes’, and near the road. Normally, this isn’t too big of a deal, as the rain helps to control dust. But I can’t remember the last time we had rain. Back in August, maybe? It is exceptionally dry out here right now. Same with the crop fields, between crop dust and stirred top soil from all the farmers harvesting. All of these add together to an entirely too dusty environment for sheep and human alike. But at least this pen is better protected, being inside the grove and near the house. The rams seem content with their new quarters, and it gives me better peace of mind; no H. contortus to worry about here, and much less dust! So better for everyone.

There is more fencing in the future, but not in the too near future. More construction is needed on the barn before winter, then if there is time, the next pasture fence goes up. Otherwise, we’ll be fencing next spring. So for now, this aching tired body can rest.

-Becky
09.22.2012 New Grove Pen completed.
10.01.2012 New Ram Pen completed.

Clean up crew!

Arabella and Njostr are out on clean up duty.

This morning I moved all the ewes off of the poor dried up pasture and into the grove dry lot. My method is to still halter each one and lead her individually to the new pen. Thankfully, all went smooth. They are all getting more used to the halter, especially the gals who’ve been here the longest. Lilija was walking like a pro today!

And the games begin! 09.23.2012

Flying along the fenceline! Note no hooves are touching the ground right now. 09.23.2012

When all the ewes were settled into their new quarters, I sent the clean up crew out to pasture. That means my Arabian Arabella and her two goat companions. Technically the goats aren’t clean up, as they are still affected by sheepy worms, but these two wethers are extremely resistant and have never had issues with worms of any sort. And my horsey horse will not accept being alone; either I need to be with her, or the goats. No other option, or she gets very unhappy. Anyway, the infamous H. contortus has no effect on horses, so Arabella got tasked with the job of cleaning up their eggs by grazing the pasture for the day. She’ll do it again tomorrow and the next day, to be sure and do a thorough job, before the pasture will get a much needed rest.

Feels so good to stretch those legs! 09.23.2012

Arabians are playful creatures, especially when they have a little energy like my gal did today. So I went out to the pasture with her and started up a game of “follow me”. When I started trotting down the pasture with a little energy, she got so excited, that she just cut loose. It was a delight to watch, and I even had my camera on me for some pictures!

Hey, can’t work all the time. :)

-Becky
September 23, 2012

Thank you God for the rain!

Drea says a prayer of thanks as she imagines the green grass that will soon grow. 09.17.2012.

What a wonderful birthday present; nearly half an inch of cool, refreshing rain! I’ve been praying for the rain to come, and today I saw it answered again. I’m sure the sheep are saying their thanks in their own ways as well.

-Becky
September 17, 2012

A farm’s journey: the barn.

The beautiful barn, in progress, highlighted by God’s glorious skies. 09.17.2012.

Tonight I couldn’t help but notice the beauty of the clouds rising up behind the noble structure that is slowly growing into a barn by the strong hands of my husband. The place we live on didn’t use to be used for any sort of livestock; Adam’s grandpa, who built this place, was a grain farmer. So other than a machine shed to house the various pieces of equipment, there were no barns or other such outbuildings on this piece of land. The disadvantage of that is that my horse’s stall is in a machine shed right now, and the sheep’s three sided shelters are made from the insulated doors that a storm stole from the turkey barns last summer. The advantage is that we get to build all the buildings to our taste, the barn being the first of these structures. It is modeled after the old style pioneer gable barns, and is build like Fort Knox by my husband with the intent that it last a hundred years and weather all but a direct hit by a tornado. It is the safe bunker for the critters, or will be. He has it braced and anchored almost to an excess, with huge timbers and plenty of them. He studies old sagging barns to figure out why they sagged, and then braced up this one so that it would never repeat the errors of these old barns. It is as much a piece of art as architecture. And oh, such a beautiful day to show that off! I thank God for such a loving and hardworking husband who pours himself into such a project just for me. :)

-Becky
September 17, 2012, which 28 years ago was the day I was born.

The final journey of 2012… at last!

The very next day after picking up Cattleya and CS from Misty Meadows, Adam and I were off to Montana to pick up our final sheep purchase of the year; a handsome ram lamb named Ferdinand. We did it all in three days; left on Wednesday, spent the night on the border of South Dakota, then made the rest of the journey to Bozeman, Montana the next day, just to leave again the next morning and make the entire 15+ hour journey back to Minnesota… Technically, we didn’t make it home again on that Friday, as it was 4 am Saturday before we pulled into the driveway of home, and our much anticipated bed! Whew!

Ferdinand and CS. CS is not small; Ferdinand is just that big. 09.15.2012.

Oh, but was it all worth it. Ferdinand was bred at Hyalite Farm, by a very nice lady named Laura Roe. She told us he was big, and we’d seen pictures of him as he grew. But we were absolutely unprepared for his actual size until we saw him in person. Literally. We brought an XL sized dog crate that had worked great for another ram lamb we’d picked up earlier, and we’d been told by another breeder that his fall lambs have always fit in that size of crate. I even shoved our largest ram lamb, Sam, into the crate to make sure there was room, figuring Ferdinand couldn’t be that much bigger. It was a great plan; we could take the PT Cruiser and save on gas over taking the pickup, as it was just one lamb we were picking up. If only every great plan actually went according to plan.

That first day when we saw Ferdinand, it was immediately evident that despite all our planning and assumptions, he was, in fact, too big for the crate. His butt stood higher than the top of that crate, and his nose extended beyond the length of it when he was stood beside it. There was no way we were getting him in there. Time for plan B, which was cobbled together on the spot with some painter’s poly cloth, a tarp, some duct tape, and some baling twine. We made him a nest in the back of that PT, and he seemed to fit quite comfortably. Ah, again all was well.

Ferdinand with Bane and CS. 09.15.2012.

Or at least, we thought this plan had worked for a little ways down the road. Ferdinand had other ideas. Mainly, he thought it was a great diversion to paw the tarp, rearranging it and the hay nestled in it. We didn’t think his nest would hold together for the rest of the 13 hour journey home, so we made a run to the nearest department store and bought a 48″ long dog crate, the biggest they had. At last, something big enough to hold Ferdinand! Of course, this meant haltering him and have my husband hold him in the parking lot while at least five passerbys just had to take pictures, all while I had to figure out how to wiggle both the new larger crate and the old XL back into the PT. I came upon the solution of taking the XL in half, nesting them together, then lining the bottom of the 48″ crate with it. When all the people were done standing in awe of the unusual looking fawn colored sheep with big horns, we reloaded Ferdinand and were on our way.

Ferdinand relaxing with Bahama. 09.15.2012.

You’d think we’d have finally gotten it right. Really, you would. Right? I didn’t think so. And if you didn’t think so, you’d be correct. Having the old crate in there meant that Ferdinand could not quite curl up comfortably. He’d lay down straight, find it uncomfortable, then have to stand up again shortly. Up and down, up and down. We had to figure out something. So at a gas station, Adam has this idea to tuck the nested XL crate up onto one corner of the larger crate, so that the larger crate’s corner rested in it. It’s hard to describe, but it did work. Mostly. Except for the part where we both had to push our seats forward to accommodate it. Poor Adam, being of longer leg than I, said he felt like he was in a clown car. And because his seat’s back was tilted forward a bit, that also meant his head now hit the ceiling as well. I tried opening the moonroof to give him more head room, but to reach it, he’s have to cock his head sideways. Sigh. There was no winning, and still 12 hours of road time. Poor Adam. The things he does for me, as the sheep were all my idea… No one can ever doubt that man loves me.

Then another hour down the road, the unexpected happen: Nothing. All was well. We’d finally figured out, and only at the cost of about two hours time! Adam would prefer to forget that journey home, but I figure if someone can get a little laugh at our mishaps, then at least there’s be some good of it, right?

Ferdinand from the front, 09.15.2012.

So after a long and weary journey, at last we were home with our prize; the handsome moorit homozygous grey ram lamb known as Ferdinand. He should add some size and growthiness to our flock, as well as some spectacular horns and great parasite resistance. The only thing he doesn’t have is spectacular wool. It’s about average for softness and density. But that’s alright. We have plenty of soft wool sheep. What we needed was a little build, and this boy should do that well!

Before I end the story of our most recent journey, I have to applaud the gracious hospitality of our host, Laura Roe. She is an amazing lady who went out of her way to make us feel at home, even giving us a bed for the night. We are both deeply grateful to her for her kindness. I also can’t say enough about the quality of her sheep; Ferdinand was not exceptional in size compared to her other lambs this year, even the ewes. Or put another way, they were all exceptionally large compared to what I’ve seen elsewhere! I’d happily make that arduous journey all over again for a sheep of the quality that we got in Ferdinand. He really is something special.

Thus ended the final sheeping journey of 2012. At last can I sleep again.

-Becky
September 12-14, 2012.

Off for more sheep…

This past Tuesday, the 11th of September, we were off on another trip to pick up a pair of sheep. This trip was not nearly so far as most of our others; this was just a three hour trip to the edge of the Cities, to Misty Meadows Icelandics right here in Minnesota. This farm has been around since 1994, making them one of the first in the nation and one of the pioneers of the breed in the United States. The flock at this farm is selected first for wool, without sacrificing conformation, and it shows in the stupendous soft fleeces of the two sheep we picked up Tuesday.

The pretty and soft Cattleya. Taken 09.15.2012.

Cattleya is a little white orphan who I would have overlooked had my husband Adam, on our trip to the farm to pick out sheep last July, not bent down and pet her wool as she came searching for a bottle. After all, I’m not a terrible fan of white sheep, and she was quite small, being a bottle lamb. But when I stroked her wool too, I couldn’t help but be a little surprised at how soft it was. So I watched her for a bit, and realized she had really nice conformation, and a wider chest then a lot of the other lambs. Upon picking her up just this last Tuesday, I was even happier about how she turned out. She’d only gotten better than when I’d last seen her! Her wool is still incredibly soft, with very dense thel and minimal tog that makes little curly ringlets down her sides. Her build was just as nice as I’d remembered, and then there was the little bonus of having the widest, nicest looking horns I’ve seen yet. I’m very excited about this lamb!

Feel the stare… 09.15.2012.

CS is the ram lamb that we picked up from Misty Meadows. I picked him out because he too had a very nice build overall, and also had the most beautiful spotting laid over the top of a very interesting, intense mouflon pattern. He is the most attentive sheep I have ever seen. The whole time we were getting the tour of the flock, he was always there nearby, watching us. At one point he stood up on a mound to get a better view, and at another he had to lean on a tree to help stay awake because he just couldn’t let himself fall asleep and leave the intruders unwatched… slowly his head would droop… Then up awake again! Can’t fall asleep! Even if everyone else was, that was all the more reason to stay on watch, because no one else was… That’s why the name CS, which stand for Creepy Sheepy. Because he’s always there, watching you… We didn’t mean to let the name stick, but it unfortunately did. It’s especially unfortunate because he really is a handsome, noble looking ram, even at his young age. And despite his caution, he actually is not too nervous of a sheep, at least when he gets to know you. He’ll hang out within a few feet of you, as long as you don’t try to touch him. He’s an extremely submissive ram too, which means he gets along great with the others.

I do have to say of CS that, when I first saw him that day we went to pick him up, he was even better than I’d hope. He is a very nicely built ram; not terribly beefy, but not small either. His wool is very nice too, as can be expected from a Misty Meadows sheep. I left that farm that day very happy with these two, and thinking I wouldn’t mind at all adding more Misty Meadow blood someday. Plus, Tom McDowell, the flock’s shepherd, is the nicest man. He is great to do business with, and is a wealth of knowledge to learn from. He is happy to share the answer to whatever question you can come up with to ask him about his sheep. I really can’t say enough good things about Misty Meadows Icelandics. :)

Thus was our second to the last adventure in sheeping!

-Becky
September 11, 2012

Another Long Trip… to Illinois!

Sam says hello to his new pen mate, Bane. Taken 09.07.2012.

The latest trip to pick up new sheep for our flock took us down to Illinois. We left on Wednesday the 5th of September, and returned on Thursday the 6th. On our trip we purchased a stunning moorit ewe named Isadore from Red Brick Road Farm, and a moorit badgerface ewe named Drea; a moorit mouflon ewe lamb named Bianca, a moorit mouflon spotted ram lamb named Bahama, and a moorit mouflon badgerface ram lamb named Bane from Sink Hollow Farm just a few miles down the road. This was our largest sheep pickup trip yet! And yes, I noticed we got all moorits. We’ve already gotten a lot of black in our flock, and are trying to balance that with the addition of more moorits. These sheep additions are also going to be providing some more pattern to the flock, while not sacrificing on build or wool quality. In fact, some of these new sheep should be bringing in a little heavier build, especially Drea and Isadore. And Bane’s wool is really something special, though none of them are slough sheep when it comes to wool quality. I have given each a profile with pictures, so you can read about each individual sheep on the “Meet the Rams” and “Meet the Ewes” pages.

Drea went around sheep to sheep, introducing herself as the new leader of the flock. Taken 09.07.2012.

I love travelling out to the farms of fellow shepherds. There is so much wisdom to be learned from talking with them, plus, it is just plain fun getting to know new people! The highlight of the trip was meeting the wonderful shepherds who raised the sheep that will help to improve our flock.

-Becky
September 5-6, 2012

The First Ram Addition of 2012

This last Sunday, the 26th, saw the addition of the first of several new ram additions to our flock this year; a handsome black frosted mouflon ram lamb named Ramses.

We had actually picked out Ramses before he was born; we saw his mother on the website for Sunrise Sheep and Wool, and put in a request for a mouflon ram should she give birth to one. His mother, Gisli, is a beautiful black grey frosted mouflon with one of the stoutest, squarest builds I’d seen. So we figured a ram lamb out of her would likely be able to add to the build and the pattern department.

Sure enough, spring lambing came, and up for sale out of Gisli was a homozygous moorit mouflon ewe, and… a black frosted mouflon ram. We got a deposit down on him right away.

Then Sunday the 26th was the day he would come home. Seeing him in person, he ended up being a bit of a surprise, but not necessarily in a bad way. Gisli was a Hawks Mountain breeding, all the way from Washington. Hawks Mountain sheep were known for their heavy, meaty builds. But the father of Ramses, Hjallur, has a high percentage of leader blood in him. It so happened that the leader blood appears to have dominated in Ramses, and while short legged and decently long bodied like his mother, he didn’t get her wide chest or her hefty bone structure. What he did get was the best wool I’ve ever seen on a lamb. It is abundant and soft, with a tight crimp that reaches all the way to his skin. He is a first rate wool sheep. He is very handsome too, with the high leader head carriage and a noble way of standing, plus the beautiful dramatic markings frosted mouflon markings that can be traced back to Hnykill. So while not what expected, he will be a valuable addition to the genetic pool all the same with that fabulous wool of his, and I am most pleased with him.

Ramses has been added to the “Meet the Rams” page, where you can find more photos and information about Ramses.

-Becky
August 26, 2012

Ramses on his first day at his new home. Taken 08.26.2012.

Off to Wisconsin!

Immediately after the Michigan Fiber Festival, it was time to head out to poor drought stricken south central Wisconsin, to Heartbreak Farm to pick up another ewe we had on reserve. By immediately I mean the very next day, on Monday, the 20th. This trip was to pick up Jona, a beautiful black mouflon yearling ewe. However, while there, we were offered a very generous deal on a beautiful 2012 moorit ewe lamb named Misha. After just a little consideration as to whether or not we had room for another ewe, we happily accepted. I have been very happy with the previous sheep we purchased from Heartbreak, and little Misha looked like she’d be no exception. So home she came along with Jona.

Now the two are inseparable. Jona, though she has never given birth, has taken on the role of mother to Misha, even getting between Misha and any perceived danger. It is so darling!

Each has their own profile on the “Meet the Ewes” page. It’s all alphabetical, so just scroll to the appropriate place.

-Becky
August 20, 2012

Jona being protective of Misha, as is the norm. The two are inseparable!

Michigan Fiber Festival 2012!

Adam and I went to the Michigan Fiber Festival for the first time this year. It was a lot of fun, and a great learning experience. There were many wonderful fellow Icelandic breeders that we got to meet. I really enjoyed talking with and learning from them! We also watched the judging as closely as we could, and got to feel what champion fleece feels like, to see what a champion build is, and just in general to hear what the judge said made a good sheep. I hope to use that wisdom to improve our own flock in years to come.

We picked up our first new addition while in Michigan as well; April, a 2012 ewe lamb from Fence Row Farm. She is such a lovely, noble looking gal with a great build and nice fleece. The Favres, owner’s of Fence Row, are wonderful people. I really enjoyed doing business with them, and getting to know them at the festival. I’d highly recommend them for wonderful sheep. :)

I’ve added a picture of April I took at the festival. You can see her profile on the “Meet the Ewes” page, with additional pictures.

-Becky
August 18-19, 2012

April awaits being taken home at the Michigan Fiber Festival.