FARM PRODUCT INFO

Raising Finnish Landrace, Cotswold, Border Leicester, and Romeldales, in the Heart of Illinois, as well as working with rescue llamas.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Yesterday and today are the type of fall days that leaves one seeking a  easy chair with cup of hot tea, good book or fiber project, and a cozy fire. Now, of course, that does translates differently for each species. Here is our barn cat version:


Calliope sitting outside the back door of the farm house looking real cold.......
Calliope spies her Mom, Darling and sister, Cece in the napping basket.....

Pile on! with all brothers and sisters for an afternoon nap en mass. 5 kittens and their Mama cuddled and snoozing the afternoon away in a hay filled basket. My mousing army, lead by that fearless leader 'Little Darling'. I am sure the mice wonder why we named her Darling as they do not find her frequent daily hunts endearing at all.  I've always heard the best mouser is a well fed cat, thanks to Darling I now believe it. She is simply a mousing machine, frequently bringing back several catches before lunch. She has tutored her children in her kill and they show a lot of promise in the hunt.
Please note all of our cats were sprayed & neutered & vaccinated through the Operation SAFE program, since they are outside cats they bear the international sign of a fixed cat they have a tipped left ear. This program enables us to have barn cats and not have the headache of finding kittens homes constantly. In fact they when they found out we lived on a farm they tried to send extra cats home with us!!! Great program check it out they are on the internet!!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

 Much has happened here in the last few weeks!  Fall has arrived, with it's bold colors, cooler temperatures, and delicate fall aromas on lovely light breezes and even our first frost a couple weeks ago. Fall has brought breeding season for most of the flock. Finns, as a breed are able to breed in any season of the year but we made a choice to only do one breeding once this year, so the rams are in with the ewes. But this fall has brought something new in with the ewes as well. 2 guard llamas, Buster and Dot, who we are adopting through Southeast Llama Rescue.(southeastllamarescue.org ) This has been a wonderful experience!! From the beginning our contacts at Southeast Llama Rescue have been awesome, they found us nearby mentors and national mentors for all my questions. The depth of knowledge and deep he love for American camelids these folks have is truly awesome.
Buster and Dot in one of our pastures, the sheep were around my knees begging for more breakfast.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A sheep version of the lick the frozen flagpole dare scene from the movie "A Christmas Story"...

There was a message about Finnsheep intelligence a few weeks ago on the Finnsheep yahoo group,... until a recent morning I was inclined to agree with the writer's assessment of Finns being more intelligent than other breeds of sheep.   Our Finnsheep have consistently shown us they are more physically able than our other breeds from the minute they arrived here. Some of our ewes are downright goat like in their physical abilities and curiosity. The Finns are more active, and physically more able in terms of jumping on top of the round bales(!). Our Finnsheep generally can read human intentions quicker than our other breeds, Shetland excluded. The Shetland are just amazing intuitive hardy creatures. Our Cotswolds and Border Leicesters are so laid back they don’t care about human intentions just grass, and getting a good scratch now and then... ya gotta love that about both breeds!!

Since we all know physical prowess doesn’t equal intelligence the question remains does moxie equal intelligence?? Here was a recent morning’s Finnsheep related escapade here on the farm:

Nora is one of my favorite Finn ewes, she is typically clever, calm, social always seeking a scratch and a treat. She is a great Mama who raised well behaved healthy triplets this year with out even breaking a sweat. She has a nice fleece that she keeps fairly tidy, and all around enjoyable to be around. The other morning my eldest went out to do morning chores, planning on starting as usual with taking feed and minerals to the cows and rams. However, Nora had other plans for him. As he walked by the chicken coop run on his way to the barn he discovered Nora, darling Nora with her TONGUE stuck in the chicken run fence. He quickly got her disentangled and made sure she was uninjured. 

Now I, like you am thinking, 'WHY?!! What on earth could there possibly be in or on that fence that she could possibly need to lick?!'  Chicken with the feathers on can’t taste good to a sheep, not to mention the possibility of getting pecked right on the tongue. The answer, a chicken flock block.  Thank heavens she didn’t reach it! Chicken feed can be deadly to sheep as it contains copper and higher protein level than most sheep feeds.  While it is comical now, it could have had a disastrous ending for Nora.

As a whole sheep get a really bum rap on intelligence that I find rather unfounded. Our sheep are just as intelligent as our cows. I find the difference to be more temperament than anything else. Our steers would follow an empty bucket right to the butcher without ever looking up. Our flock simply wouldn't, they have more of a self preserving awareness than the cows. Perhaps it all boils down to trust, if they know they can trust the shepherd then they relax and let their guard down. We have a commercial ewe, Stomper, who came to us from another flock. Stomper is an amazing mother, throws good lambs, and is the dominant ewe of the flock. Stomper is a bear to work on, she has a reputation for being near to impossible to work on. Trimming hooves is a 3 person job with her because she is 250+lbs and so full of attitude. The running theory here is that she simply had to be proactive in self protection in her prior flock, so she developed an intense self reliance. She is a ewe I do not enjoy working on but we would hate to be without her in the field. What she herself practices personally, she extends to the entire flock during times of percieved need.

 I guess the jury is still out on sheep intelligence here……. I am not sure if she was dared or not by another ewe but I still hear muttering about Nora's tongue being caught in the fence! 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bunny Update

Well, we've had an exciting couple of weeks in the rabbitry. We had a good show in Bloomington, Illinois, with many compliments on the French angora bodies under the wool. That was exciting and a definite nod to our eldest son's skill at feeling under the wool for body conformation and scoring!!!! First, our 8 month old REW doe Jewel got her 3rd leg which I believe qualifies her for her grand championship. YIPEEEE, and she has a great calm personality too so she is definitely one to watch for big things! Next, the little red eyed white buck on our for sale page got a leg a couple weeks ago, another to watch for big things. The little Lilac tort is also showing well, with multiple comments on the body under his fleece.

Sadly, we discovered that our very best satin junior doe has a umbilical hernia, and is no longer show eligible. Several judges recommending keeping her for breeding stock since she has great conformation and the condition is not health threatening nor genetic. I've seen the condition in lambs, but never rabbits. The judge said it is from the Mama doe not getting this particular kit quite cleaned up after birthing. Knowing the Mama, Chocolate, it was because she was so busy with babies coming, she has large litters.

Lastly, a very sweet English lop with multiple legs toward her grand championship followed us home from the Bloomington show this last weekend bring with her a darling otter Mini Rex buck with a very impressive pedigree. We were encouraged to take both to Nationals later this fall, as the breeder thought they would both do very very well. Nationals...hmmmm???

 Happy Labor Day!!!


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bunnies

 Hop on over to the Rabbit page and you'll see what we have to offer this summer.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Recent Experience....

There was a message about Finnsheep intelligence in the last couple weeks on the Finnsheep yahoo group.... until a recent morning I was inclined to agree with the writer's assessment of Finns being more intelligent than other breeds of sheep. Our Finnsheep have consistently shown us they are more physically able than our other breeds from the minute they arrived here. Some are downright goat like in their abilities. The Finns are more active, physically more able in terms of jumping on top of those round bales (!). Our Finnsheep generally can read human intentions quicker than our other breeds, Shetland excluded. Our Cotswolds and Border Leicesters are so laid back they don’t really care about human intentions just grass, and getting a good scratch now and then... ya gotta love that about both breeds!!

Since we all know physical prowess doesn’t equal intelligence the question remains does moxie equal intelligence?? Here was a recent morning’s Finnsheep related escapade:

Nora is one of my favorite Finn ewes; she is usually clever, calm, and social. She is a great Mama who raised well behaved healthy triplets this year with out even breaking a sweat. She has a nice fleece that she keeps fairly tidy, and all around enjoyable to be around. This morning my eldest went out to do morning chores, planning on starting as usual with taking the feed to the cows and rams. However, Nora had other plans for him. As he walked by the chicken co-op he discovered Nora, darling Nora with her TOUNGUE stuck in the chicken run fence. He quickly got her disentangled. Now I, like you am thinking, 'WHY?!! What on earth could there possibly be in or on that fence that she could possibly need to lick?!' Chicken with the feathers on can’t taste good to a sheep, not to mention the possibility of getting peck right on the tongue. The answer, a chicken flock block about 18 inches  away from the  fence. Thank heavens she didn’t reach it!!! Chicken feed can be deadly to sheep it contains copper and higher protein level than most sheep feeds. While it is comical now, it could have had a disastrous ending for Nora.

I guess the jury is still out on sheep intelligence here……. I can still hear him muttering, about Nora getting tongue being caught in the fence!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hot+Hot+HOT= the need for coooool!

Late July and August are always hot and steamy here in Illinois. Down the road a neighbor's herd looked to be attempting to make a dam out of cows in their creek or at least trying raise the level of the water by fitting as many bodies in the creek at the same time as possible.  While this weather is great for record breaking crops of corn, beans, and hay it is not so good for animals, particularly animals in fleece. While wool is a great insulator against cold and somewhat against heat but when the temperature reaches 85+  it is simply time for some cooling measures.... The kids get the creek to play in, hang out in the basement reading frequently checked out library books, occasionally a trip to a pool but what do the animals get??? The local pool isn't an option for them, nor is the basement!  So our steers are taking refuge in the creek, wading in up to their bellies, simply standing as the cooler water flows over them and cools their core temperature.  While the cows enjoy standing water to cool off the sheep aren't really partial to it and the bunnies.... not at all.

In the rabbitry we are running fans, a dehumidifier, and ice bottling each rabbit hole. Mama's with kits are getting more than one ice bottle so every bunny has access. This does lead to extra grooming for the French Angoras but their comfort is worth it as a comfortable bunny is a bunny that is healthy and consistently gaining weight and growing quality fleece. No one is allowed to leave the doors to the rabbitry open during the sun up hours or risk  hearing the "shutting the door to protect the bunnies" speech. Last week when it was 100 with high humidity outside walking into the rabbitry from outside felt like walking into air conditioning. So far so good, all bunnies appear to be comfortable and happy. The babies are romping around in full play. Frozen veggies and fruits with their evening meals is always popular with the bunnies too.  A good friend and local rabbit shower/breeder (http://summersfieldbunnies.webs.com/aboutus.html)  told me this week that her bunnies are really enjoying frozen strawberries and blueberries... but not to feed them right before a show as the bunnies frequently wear a berry big smile afterwards... which I would love to see!

In the pasture, the ewes are hanging out in the deepest of shade, lounging in the valley near the creek, and grazing earlier and later than they do during cooler weather. Over in the "guy pasture" the rams are going deep into the woods with the steers and lounging as close to the creek as possible without getting wet. they are almost risking getting wet with as close as they are getting. I keep thinking "if you boys would just get in you'd feel cooler," but they seem to prefer it this way so we'll let them choose since they are all adults.  I know that  wet wool will continue to insulate against cold so maybe it hold the heat in? The weaned lambs are in the paddocks with access to the the barn loafing stall we have 4 fans blowing into the loafing stall for the lambs. They like to park in front of the fans if possible so we have the fans raised so the breeze is blowing over their backs. We have discovered a couple lambs are just serious fan hogs... hence the 4 fans blowing from 4 different locations and heights. I think a giant cooling fan may be in order in the future... less cords for tripping over but for now this is working. We also are borrowing a rabbit cooling concept. We have placed a extra water tank in the middle of the stall for them to lay against as they wish. During the heat of the day we are floating 2 liter ice bottles in this tank. They seem to enjoying draining the ice water tank over their regular tank. I didn't know they could drink that much in a day!!! We even checked for a leak in the tank.  Nope, almost completely drunk while the regular tank was nearly untouched.... if they start asking for tea and lemons or koolaid in their tank the answer is gonna be ... well, I guess I might just have to oblige.. since they asked politely and all. ;)

4h show coming our way next week!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

2011 Shetland Ram lambs- Available

George is no longer available, thank you all for all the inquiries!!!  We will miss George and his snuggles!Arthur is still available, if you are looking for a Shetland ram lamb.

Thanks!
Elizabeth

Friday, June 24, 2011

Shetland ram lambs 2011- For sale


Introducing George and Arthur.



They are both 2011 ram lambs. Born on April 3, 2011 to a Grey Bersugett Dam and a Musket sire.  Both have been around our Finn lambs and get along well with others as well as people. Both have very exciting fleeces for different reasons!! They will be available mid-August. Each $250 registered.
This is George. He is a registered Shetland ram lamb. George is a complete sweetheart. He is very friendly and seeks loving when it is available. About the only thing sweeter than George is his fleece pictured on the right. This fleece simply screams to be spun!








This is Arthur. Arthur is a registered 2011 Shetland ram lamb.  Arthur is friendly but feels that food should always come first before chin and chest scratches Arthur's fleece is jet black with a few white streaks on each sides, visible in the photo to the right.  In the color department what George has in variegation Arthur has in intensity. His fleece color should stay jet black for an intensely colored fiber to spin. Simply delightful fiber!!





Thursday, June 2, 2011

Happy June!

We have had an interesting few weeks here. The shearing is done, the lambing is done, fences have had their spring walkings and patchings where needed, hooves are trimmed, grazing rotations have begun and weaning is occurring for the early lambs.  All while dodging the rains that just appear to keep coming. We, the people of WSF, took a deep breath and went camping....  where I thought of all the things we should be working on at home but worked on a needle felting project instead of succumbing to the guilt of inactivity.

I will be posting fleeces soon, as in as soon as I get a set of unscheduled dry days for skirting, and photographing. We have a Finnsheep, Shetland, Border Leicester, Cotswold, and huge amount of Commerical (Merino, Lincoln, Romney). If you are interested before I get the pictures posted send me a email walnutspringsfarm@hughes.net  and I will email you photos.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Bunnies in the nestbox!


One of our favorite French Angora does, Snowflake, a chocolate pearl, gave us a lovely litter of 8 kits on 3/20/2011. Snowflake was bred to one of our main herd bucks, Noah, a broken blue cream tortoiseshell a new breeding combination. They are quite a special group!! How we caught them all still for this photo I'll never know!




Saturday, March 5, 2011

Minerals-Loose or Block?

      To block or not to block mineral that is the question!  While both are a viable choice for a flock.We have chosen to go with loose minerals to save wear and tear on the teeth of our flock. We seem to have several sheep who are convinced when we allow free access to the mineral blocks that they need to eat the blocks like unsupervised children in a candy store. Yet those same ewes loose their intense affection for mineral if the minerals are served free choice as loose minerals. However, loose minerals have been terribly hard to find here locally, until recently.  We have been driving way out of the way to buy it for the flock.
     After spending the better part of January/February pounding on a mineral block from TSC to turn them into loose minerals and pulling a muscle in my shoulder doing it. I decided to finding a reliable source for loose mineral was simply a priority.  BUT WHERE? While I was at our local feed store, Country Feed and Supplies in Princeville, I decided to ask if they could order it. Imagine our pleasure when they said "we keep it on hand, it is right in back".  Ahh, the good things in life a local, reliable, and friendly source for loose sheep mineral!!!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

2011 Youth Conservationist Program is again seeking young people interested in raising “Heritage” breeds of sheep.

 Below is a press release from the coordinator of the Youth Conservationist Program thru the American Livestock Conservancy. This program has been a real blessing to our family!! 3 of our kids won in 2010.
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2011 Youth Conservationist Program is again seeking young people interested in raising “Heritage” breeds of sheep.


2010 was again a hugely successful year for the recipients, the Pullen Family of Walnut Springs Farm in Princeville, Illinois and boy have they had a extremely busy year. Nic was the recipient of the Border Leicester ewe donated by Bear Hollow Farms (John Moran and Don Morehouse) and he also was given a Registered Border Leicester Ram from the Moore Family of Spring Hope, NC.  Nic’s brother, Alex, was given the Cotswold yearling ewe from Orion Acres (Linda Schauwecker), of Plympton, MA, AND sister Lillian was the recipient of the Shetland ewe from Twin Springs Farm (Bill & Sandy Truckner) of Avonmore, PA.  These children spent their summer attending fairs all over Illinois, introducing fairgoers to their unique breeds of sheep and meeting breeders that have helped them get their ewes successfully bred with the exception of Nic who already owns his own ram.
The 2010 recipients are for the most part eagerly awaiting lambs.  Many have almost completed their requirements with the exception of their final reports, several have send examples of their fiber activities.
 Many recipients with the help of their families have been able to encourage their local County Fair Boards to add a Wool Breed Classes to their Sheep Shows that traditionally have been oriented towards the meat breeds and the Show lamb classes.
Youth interested in applying for the 2011 Youth Conservationist Program   
                   * Must be between 9 and 18 years old.
           *Submit an application postmarked by April 1, 2011 that includes:
     An essay which introduces you, your experience with animals, if for
     any reason, the animal will not be kept at your own home, explain,
     in detail where it will reside and what exactly your responsibilities
     will be.  Your essay should explain your interest in sheep, and  
     answers the question: “Why  I would like to help preserve a heritage  
     breed of sheep.”

The applicant should indicate if they wish to be considered for a
particular breed or for any of the breeds available.

Each applicant must include a letter of recommendation from
Their 4-H advisor, FFA advisor, veterinarian, teacher or clergy.
The total application/essay should be no more that 2 pages in length.

The application must include address, phone and if available, email address.  Interested young people should contact Elaine for an updated list of breeds available, then submit their letter of application/essay to
        Elaine Ashcraft, 46118 CR 58 Coshocton, OH  43812
740-622-1573    tankewe@tusco.net

                 
                               Requirements if selected: 
               Must be present to receive the ewe at the Maryland Sheep & Wool
                      Festival on Sunday May 8, 2011.
               Must exhibit the ewe at least twice in 2011 at: 1) a county fair or local
                      Sheep show and 2) the State Fair in the state where the recipient lives.
              Must breed the ewe to a registered ram (of her breed) in the fall of
                      2011, should consult the donor breeder for their recommendations.
              Must either use the ewe’s fleece to personally make a wool item or sell
                      The fleece to a spinner, felter or weaver.
              Must submit an article the following Feb/Mar to their local newspaper
                      covering their year and including information concerning the next
                      year’s YCP program.
              Must submit a one to two page report, with pictures, to the Donor
                      Breeder by April 30, 2012.

Any questions please contact   Elaine Ashcraft  46118 CR 58 Coshocton, Ohio 43812
1740-622-1573            tankewe@tusco.net

Monday, January 24, 2011

2011 lamb count -current to 2/8/11

Well, 2011 lambing season has officially started here. I though I might keep a running total here on the site.  If you see a lamb that you are interested in please email me: walnutspringsfarm@hughes.net

 Born 1/24/2011 in our commercial line:  1 ewe lamb. Mama is a Lincoln X Merino X Romney (Lincoln look) bred to a full blooded Merino. She should have lovely fleece with great crimp, and a big meaty body. Both Mama and daughter are very vigorous and active with a very strong bond already. Phenomenal Mama and a huge bodied ewe lamb.  CURRENTLY GAINING OVER 1 POUND a DAY!!
BLIZZARD BABIES!!
Born 1/31/2011 2pm in our commercial line:  1 stillborn ewe.

Born 1/31/2011 7:00pm in our commercial line: Twins:  1 ram 1 ewe. Mama is a Lincoln X Merino X Romney (Romney look) bred to a full blooded Merino. Lost Mama. Bottle-feeding. Lambs doing well.

Born 2/1/2011  between 1-5 am  in our commercial line: Twins: 2 ewes. Mama is a Lincoln X Merino X Romney (Romney look) bred to a full a blooded Merino. Mama has nice fleece, good mothering skills, and is calm. One lamb chilled quite a bit we brought her in and warmed her up. Other ewe hit the ground running, chilled lamb passed on.
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Born 2/8/2011  7 pm  in our commercial line: 1 BIG ram. Mama is Lincoln X (Lincoln look) bred to a full blood Merino. At birth  this lamb is larger than the 10 day old ewe lamb!! This is gonna be a BIG boy with huge fleece potential.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Nestbox news!

4 French Angora kits in the nestbox. Born 1/7/11. Mama is a black tort. and Papa is a broken blue cream tort. 1 of the kits is more that likely a broken blue cream tort, like Papa.  The other 3 are very light, possibly red-eyed whites. Time will tell. I will try to get photos of them before they get out of the nestbox.