News Letter: Summer, 1998

The Lambs Are Growing and Growing...

It's June now, and the lambs are all three to four months old, and obviously bigger!

Life on the farm, this time of year is consumed with "out door" work, like fencing....the kind you do with a post driver, not that kind they do with swords. As you will see in the photos, this is not Kansas and our fencing begins with trying to get through the bushes. Fencing: the "impossible dream".

This is on the far north edge of our farm, looking west. The idea is to set a fence pretty much in a straight line through those bushes and rocks. Perhaps you will notice the foreground.... that is rotten granite. Notice how not much grows there? Well, it's also nearly impossible to drive a T-post into. That far off pointy hill is called Round Top. The ridge is at about 8000 feet in elevation. Most of that stuff to the west is National Forest Land. In fact, the west forty acres of the farm is inside the Roosevelt National Forest.

Here is where we want the fence line to go. That's me with the "brushwacker". It's kind of like a weedwhacker with a blade like a circular saw blade. Whenever possible Keith will go in with the tractor and the brush hog, but that can't be done here. It's much easier to see the rocks now. The next thing to do is try to move some of the rocks with pry bars. There is some slope, and if we get lucky, the rock will roll out of the way, if we can get it moving at all.

After an afternoon of hacking, prying, and pounding we have advanced the fence line another forty feet. If you turn around and look up the hill to the south, you can just see the house roof at the top of the hill. The open areas on the hillside are where Keith has been working with the brush hog.

The sheep will graze and browse this entire hillside down to the fence line.

And now for something completely different.... a weekend at the Estes Park Wool Market. This is the only show of this kind that we do. There will be other sheep and wool shows over the summer, but this is the only one that includes commercial fiber selling booths. Its usually held the first weekend in June.

Our booth.... under a plastic roof.... as the metal building roof leaks. This year we had both snow and rain coming in. There are lots of shows: rabbits, goats, alpacas, llamas, coloured sheep, handspun yarn, and of course, wool. There are also workshops on spinning, knitting, weaving, felting, etc. held on Thursday and Friday before the shows start. This is not on the scale of the Maryland Festival, but is still a good regional show.

As you may know, we closed our flock some years ago and no longer take the sheep to shows, but we do show our fleeces. This year Evelyn and Elsie took first and second place in their class: white, 3/8ths blood. Maudie and Gertrude did less well, placing fourth in their classes. It's a fairly large show of about 150 fleeces. The next shows we will take fleeces to are the Platte River Livestock Show, Boulder County Fair, and the Colorado State Fair. We usually show 10 to 14 fleeces at each of these shows.

You want to know how the lambs are doing, no doubt. It's weaning time: not anybody's favorite time. In spite of the fact that some of the lambs are almost as big as their moms are, it still seems to be hard on everybody. It has more to do with separation of the flock than a change in food/milk. We have the lambs only sort of alone. They have old Erika, Nimbus, and Candy as their "flock moms". They are not as satisfactory as the real moms are but this is a necessary separation for the time being. No, the ewes will not wean the lambs. Well, they would stop nursing eventually some where around six or seven months of age. By then the lambs are so large that butting at the udder can cause damage and mastitis.

And so we leave you with an up-close-and-personal shot of Kermit. He is doing his best to grow a dark shade of chocolate fleece.... a small genetic miracle in the Corriedale breed. It may be that I only imagine this colour on his part, but I really think there is some hope that over time he will fade to brown and not to grey.

From all of us here at the farm, we hope your summer months find you relaxing, at least part of the time.

Gleason's Fine Woolies

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