This is where we'll announce the most recent additions to our web site. If you've visited us before and want to know what's changed, take a look here first.
We have been as busy as ever on the farm. The final total of hay we produced totaled 430 tons. Have about 40 tons of 1st cutting and 40 of second left for sale all in round bales. We planted a couple acres in turnips & forage radish in July. A group of ewes have been grazing it since September. They ate the leaves first; now are eating the turnips as the forage radish was eaten first.
Our ewes are back from pasture “minus 15 ewes” and in the various breeding groups. The groups are broke down as follows.
- Hampshire ewes & a few targhee with the best Hampshire ram.
- New maternal Suffolk ram lamb with Suffolk & a couple hamp ewes.
- Wether sire Suffolk ram with a group of wether style Suffolk ewes. We sold a 4-H lamb this spring that ended up being the grand champion market lamb at the fair in August.
- Ile De France rams with a large group of Suffolk ewes. A few targhee & polypay ewes are included. We want to see how they cross for smut faced ewe replacements.
- Ewe lambs and a few granny ewes with a couple polypay rams.
- Lacuane X fresian ewe lambs with a Rideau Arcot ram.
- All the rest suffolk, targhee, columbia etc with a couple hampshire rams.
Lambing will be in March instead of Feb, but should still work well.
Sold more locker lamb again this year as our product is spread by our customer’s recommendation to friends & family. Our beef, pork and chicken have all sold out. We appreciate and thank our customers for their support.
The last couple weeks we have been haying. We have about 75 acres of 1st cutting alfalfa done except the hauling. Hopefully the next few days we will get the last 30 acres done. Our oat hay should be getting close to need cutting for hay. Looks like second cutting with all the rain and heat is coming on nicely.
We sheared the sheep finally last weekend. All spring long we kept attempting to have them sheared, but it just rained and rained. Well it rained while we sheared, but luckily the ewes fit in the barn to keep them dry. All total between us and a neighbor we sheared close to 200 head.
We added three cows to the herd and finally took them out to pasture with the other cows and bull. The pasture has plenty of grass for them to eat. Looks like a couple cows will be calving soon so need to haul them back home.
Now! One of our fields we need to plant turnips for some fall grazing. Once we cut the oat hay at home we will plant turnips in that field.
We should have quite a bit of hay to sell this fall. We bale everything in small round bales with string ties that average 640 lbs a bale.
A few orders for locker lamb is coming in, need to sort off the best ram lambs to take to pasture and weigh all our fat lambs. The mid size lambs we will take to pasture to the ewes since we have lots of grass. The heavy lambs we will sell soon.
The 8 head of feeder calves are looking good on grass and a bit of grain to tame them and give them a bit of a boost.
THUNDEROUS waves of rain and strong winds fill the afternoon hours, as lighting flashes; brightening the dark black of the sky, we can see the hayfield beginning to lay down in sheets of defeat. Standing ponds of water fill all the low dales and the crop rows are separated with ribbons of water. I am thinking we should have planted rice!!
Our garden is still in seed packets. It is just too wet for anything but mud balls. By now, we usually are salivating over the new peas, carrots and potatoes almost ready to harvest for a huge pot of creamed veggies. Having been daily eating fresh greens we are ready for a change to the hearty root crops added in… BUT... Not this year. I point out the rainstorm, not a gentle- this feels good type, but a genuine down pour that sent everyone looking for shelter. And this was suppose to be the “GARDEN is CREATED” day. We colored pictures instead.
School is out and the kids are home, how wonderful it is to have the house full of life and wonderment and Exuberance in action. Whew…
Farm lessons are in full force, feeding and care chores, puppy and kitten taming, rounding up cattle, horse riding lessons. Machinery safety. Go carting, shoveling, mowing, raking, fencing, and two weeks of swimming lessons!!
Feeder lambs are consuming volumes and the Ewes have been out on mountain pasture.
However, the shearer has had 3 different plans to arrive and shear, delayed each time due to the endless rain fall. The next plan is for middle of this month, right in the midst of hay days, most farm folk are use to juggling their activities but this will give a new meaning to the word ambidextrous! Hope we can accomplish it.
My sister and husband came up the end of May, bringing their tractor and post driver with them, along with complete and delicious prepared meals, allowing the four of us to spent four days of sun up to sun down and an honest day on Tuesday laying the new water and electric lines needed out to the new barn, installing several frost free faucets and three self watering troughs and pounding two hundred and twelve wooden post for the new corral system. These special 3 little words are for them.
The spring litter of pups has grown beautifully and is becoming quite the farm protection team. Learning quickly from their Mom & older Uncle, who is generally tagged with puppy guarding. We have 2 more we will part with, and the remainder will develop here at Clear Skies protecting our flock.
Clear Skies selected and purchased our new herd bull this spring. We researched and considered several different breeds and ultimately decided on a Razza Piedmontese. Check out the Cattle Page for all our research information. This is an exciting addition to our farm.
We are in the process of updating the site layout over the next couple days. If you have any comments or suggestions, please let up know. Check back often for new updates and content. Thank you.
Beautiful summer, reminiscent of the weather from my childhood, long cool spring with snow lingering in the high mountains; well into June before the Iris’s bloomed and when the warm days finally arrive the high temps are only in the 80’s. Aaahhh…these are the days!!
On the farm, life is a challenge, juggling work, chores, social engagements and educational opportunities, and getting it all done in a timely manner. Well, a close resemblance to timely is often all we get. Sometimes, closer to delinquent (the garden) is what we have. The pigs have eaten more fresh produce this year than we have. Oh, how they love it.
Thankfully! We have a wonderful young apprentice, dedicated to gleaning sheep husbandry knowledge from our humble operation; raised on a farm with a background in dairy, she brings volumes of experience and a cheery attitude to work. We are renewed in our hope for the future generation. We are not easily impressed, but this 16 yr old has proven she is capable, observant, and willing up to the task at hand, many times on short notice. A bluebird, on the clear skies trail to becoming a shepherdess.
Only a handful of sheep left on the home place, all others are out grazing in meadows or the mountains, accompanied by LGD’s. We are down to one mature dog and the other 3 are still puppies. We divided them one older with one younger. Of course the mature dog and largest younger pup went with the remote mountain flock, and the pup that is just turning a year old along with the younger pup are with a flock in a much smaller area adjacent to a country home. So far this has worked well. The older dogs are excellent at teaching the younger pups the ropes. Often, (this is amazing to observe) telling them to stay with the flock, while they go out and patrol the perimeter, leaving them for longer and longer periods of time and only come running back for defense when called by the pups barks or whines, initially coming when the pup is sounding off because it gets scared, lonely or bored and then only returning to the rescue when a real need arises and through it all the young learn not to “cry wolf.” Unfortunately, this winter, we lost our mated pair; we believe Marcus fell to wolves, as a day and a half after our neighbor stopped in to tell us they had seen 2 wolves just across the way, he went out, as was his way, when predators came close and never returned.
The beginning of May, Gos was lying dead in the barnyard alleyway, I suspect poisoning. Terrible loss, they were both excellent, loyal guardians, and made awesome crossbred pups. All our other LGD’s were placed with farms and families of their own to guard.
Still haying, have gotten 95 % of the 1st crop done, have had to take time out for repairs. :( Plan to start 2nd tomorrow and then hopefully move onto the meadow. Last year we were unable to cut it, the fall rains started early, before it had even dried out. This year has had so much moisture that most of the time it has been under standing water, finally all the water has made it into or nearly into the drainage ditch, and the overflow covering the road has quit flowing across and is down to a puddle. If we stay dry into September we should get a crop. And be able to get it out without sinking into the peat bog.
Our newest addition is a pole barn, it is nearly finished. We are quite excited, it will offer us much needed storage for hay and protection from weather during lambing season.
Over all we have enjoyed a mild winter. It has had it days of Cold, Snow, Rain, Wind and Chinook thus the mud. Not too much of anyone weather pattern during anyone time frame, the breaks have helped.
2011 calendar is updated to simplify and notify us at a glance what we need to know to be doing.
Breeding of our LGD’s started the 11th. 63 days gestation and pups are expected about March 15th.
We have about 45 ewes due to lamb in Jan and Feb. The main group will start 2nd week of March.
The cows come due toward the end of April, and the last group of ewes will drop in the middle of May.
Mudders day weekend May 6-8 we will be at the Moyie Mud Bog flipping burgers and serving refreshments to the exuberant crowd of American 4X4 fun lovers.
Prep work, research and education are never ending, always evolving and vastly important for ease and stress free as possible success. The more we learn, the more we discover that there is much more to be learned. What a blessing this is, how bored would we all be if there wasn’t anything more? On a farm who has time to be bored? What a blessing this is! Enough work to keep us occupied in a natural healthy work out program that requires attention and focus. Focus to prevent injury to ourselves and others and attention to the body language of our livestock to detect any issues that need addressed, going off feed, close to birthing, sick or injured, along with paying attention to nature herself; the sights and sounds that surround us, what are the birds and wildlife actions? Rising or falling of temperature, humidity, clouds will there be extreme precipitation, temperatures or wind? Do we need to provide shelter, extra feed, or water heaters?
Summer has just flown by as busy as we have been. We have all the ewes and lambs on pasture for awhile now. We have decided to sell all our hair ewes and rams. We feel that changing over to medium wool ewes we can sell our lambs easier and at a better price. One raising a handful of hair sheep or closer to the ethnic markets than it makes total sense to raise them. When you run a few hundred ewes and take a dock per head well that adds up.
We have some nice White Dorper and Dorper rams for sale from $250.00 to $400.00 each. 45 2 year old White Dorper X Rambouillet ewes for sale. We will sell our lambs later this fall. Probably will have a 100 replacement ewe lambs for sale.
Thanks to those who have bought our ewes and rams.
Nice to see lamb prices are up still, but replacement ewes are also high.
Looks like over 200 ton of hay stacked on our place with second cutting and a meadow field still to finish. Our garden has come along nicely. I am looking forward to corn on the cob. Homegrown foods sure do taste great.
We have started to attend the Liberty Lake Farmers Market every other Saturday taking orders for whole and half a lamb. The first one went well with many people showing interest.
The farm has been a bee hive of activities.
Gardening: warm crops planted later than normal as there was no break in the cool rainy days and often freezing at night weather pattern. Weeds have been indestructible, growing again and again. Finally, just this week end, the garden is weeded side to side and the sun is available to bake the invaders. Hopefully everything, but the weeds will flourish, so the garden doesn’t look like an abandon lot.
Fencing: 60 acres of sub irrigated mountain meadow pasture. Still have another adjoining twenty acre area to do yet.
Hauling: The spring lambs and mothers out there. Two stock trailers and 4 rounds later had all the ewe’s except the woolies on pasture. It has just been too wet to shear, so, we finally, hauled that group out as well, 2 more loads. Now we will be working the fall breeding group, pulled the 3 main White Dorper rams out 2 days ago, and will begin hauling these girls out to a different pasture. The rams will go to a separated location until needed in the fall.
We are still working on repairing and weed whacking the fence line of the 300 acre mountain pasture. Then we’ll get it sprayed, and should have a good hot fence line.
Our new cow, Glory, didn’t wait for summer to calve; the morning of June 5th she birthed a beautiful little Pinzgauer heifer. Hallelujah is now almost a month old. We added two more cow calf pairs to the herd. Now all we need is a bull.
We have also added several more Suffolk ewes to our flock. A few Suffolk rams, the one was purchased from the sale in Sedalia 3 yrs ago and has since sired many grand champions in the 4 - H shows of Post Falls and Coeur d'Alene. The other two are unrelated ram lambs with full potential of developing into prize sires. The most promising is still suckling his mother and we will pick him up in another 6 weeks or so. Along with those we also bought a handful of Columbia ewes.
We have decided to sale all of our goats, some have already gone. Having a cow that is milkable should provide ample colostrums for the bummer lambs.
Our friend and neighbor ploughed and planted 3 of our fields for us. Timing worked out perfectly, the day after the seeds were in the ground, it rained for three days. The oats are now up and turning the fields green.
Would the rain never end? Finally tt is haying time. Lou is getting the equipment ready. New blades and everything lubed, tuned and then out to the fields we go HI Ho HI Ho
We are at the Tail end of lambing. This is almost as exciting as the beginning and in No way! compares to the thick of the season, when midnights are still busy hours and the birds sing of the glory of sunshine and encourage us to turn out with gaiety in our hearts, asking, after only a few hours in the sack. It is a beautiful life.
We changed out our way of doing things. Our larger number of ewes and the limited lambing area, necessitated we go to jugs. Mainly to prevent mis - mothering issues and facilitated easier sorting of groups, i.e. wool needing to be sheared, triplets or better needing higher concentrates of food and then the main group. At least we are experimenting and will document and compare the work load, the survival, the ease of tending. The continual expansion of our knowledge, through research and other shepherds shared experiences keeps us enthralled and humbled.
Learning is the greatest richness offered in life, adaptation is the exciting challenge to success. Nor does it hurt to be a workaholic.
The hatching of broilers arrived on the 17th and is growing rapidly. Cute little balls of yellow fuzz are now growing tail feathers. Our grandchildren love to come and watch them.
Oh how my peas love the rain. Finally separated and transplanted the lettuce. Am waiting on dryer warmer conditions to plant the beans, melons, and corn.
Went to the livestock auction earlier this week, hauled a full load in, cull ewes, goats and lambs. Hauled a full load home again. Bought four nice size weaner pigs, paid a premium, but mostly all that sold was ready for slaughter, or only weighed 6 pounds. So we were relieved, wanted five, but, last trip down we came back without. Wasn’t in our plans, but as opportunity availed, we also bought a coming 3 yr old Pinzguaer cow. She is due to calve this summer.
State trapper is working our mountain pasture, taking out as many predators ahead of time as possible. A neighbor north of there runs a flock and has been losing large numbers of lambs. Another neighbor with cattle says the wolves are making their presence known. Makes it tough on the coyotes, as the old adage goes; Out of frying pan, straight into the fire. Or, between a rock and a hard spot. When the yotes are no longer a concern, we’ll be forced out of business, as wolves are voracious and intelligent killers. They will kill the guard dogs first and then have free access to the flock. Coyotes’ have a healthy respect and live neighborly like with the guard dogs, a, my side your side understanding develops. Well, not that there isn’t opportunity that can’t be passed up, the dogs do have to be actively on duty or all agreements are voided.
We just spent the weekend vaccinating the ewes & lambs with CD&T. We vaccinated 457 ewes and 153 fall lambs. We also wormed & ear tagged 91 ewes. We also wormed the fall lambs.
We will lamb over 400 ewes starting in a couple weeks. We will be setting up lambing jugs, nursery pens and mixing pens soon.
The 20th of March we purchased bred 18 Suffolk and 1 Columbia young ewes. We have 3 lambs from three ewes so far from this group.
Lately we have been getting calls for lambs as replacements, lambs to finish on pasture or locker lamb. We are happy to be getting contacted.
We are also getting calls for broilers, goats & beef. We are taking reservations for chicken.
Wednesday we will be taking some cull ewes to the Lewiston livestock auction. We will be buying a few hogs to finish.
We have traded with our friend & fellow Shepherd Eric three of our 9 month old Great Pyrenees for a group of his Targhee ewe lambs. We want to test assorted wool breeds with our White Dorper rams. The crosses are an interesting experiment for us to see how our rams cross. We are slowly adding a purebred group of White Dorpers & a group of Dorpers.
Spent the day working sheep. The expecting group is done. J Tomorrow will be the fall group. Wonderful warm temperatures with only a mild wind now and again. Just as soon as the sun went down it was jacket time, though.
Yesterday, we took a road trip, left shortly after 8 a.m., lots of places to go and errands to accomplish. Made it home by 11 p.m. We drove as far west as Milton-Freewater, OR. Where we dropped three of our 9 month old LGD’s with a friend running 1200 head of ewes. On the way over, we met another LGD purchaser in Ritzville, roughly half way for each of us. She brought a dog carrier to transport Adder back to his new sheep flock, but, ultimately he road home in the back seat of her pick-up. He made the space look small, laying across the seat his back nearly as high as the front seat, backs. Amazingly good, calm natured dog, he took the entire strange unknown (city parking lot) in stride. Very exciting to have our “children” relocating and being able to continue their important jobs.
The other three pups off loaded directly into a corral full of ewes heavy with lambs, they were right at home. The stresses and worries of the long distance haul replaced with relief and joy at the smell of ovine. A good sniff here and there, a dump, and a roll in the dirt, they didn’t look back at us. Our last stop before heading home was in Prosser WA. where we loaded 23 Boer goats, 10 doe’s and 13 kids. 1st thing this morning we were ear tagging, vaccinating and then fixing the boys, we left two of the bucks intact. Found where part of the electric fence was down, so time out for repairs. The fence tested low, so a thorough check found a dead short where the electric wire was wrapped in the barbed, untangled that and had a good hot fence so our new comers will learn respect.
Four pups from the Jan litter have gone home with their new families. Four others awaiting their new owners.
The kids and I took our first spring horseback ride last week end, we all rode bareback, as we generally do, and none of us fell off, as we generally don’t. But, I hear a lot of people talk about being bucked off, but from where I’m viewing the action it looks like falling off to me, now I’m not saying that the horse didn’t step sideways and most can do that very quickly either in a squatting position or a jumping one, but neither movement is bucking. Bucking takes more than one move; generally, has at least three distinct actions and will often continue even after you’ve been pile driven and are spitting dirt. Well, I’ve fallen off more ‘n once and have been known (hate it when there’s a witness) to do so without much effort from the horse, like a fourth of a buck. Which always surprises the horse; they look with soft eyes and perky ears and gently sniff your face as if saying “Whatcha doing down there?”
Spring, especially blustery spring days, will bring out the squirrel in a horse; We all managed to stay seated, yes, it was a fairly mild day, even so, we had our hands full a couple of times convincing the three horses that the big bad deep woods dwelling, horse eating boogie boogey wasn’t real and oh ! Yeah, they did know how to rein and what cues meant and they could tuck their chin and walk calmly, resisting the urge to run and buck all the way home. We never knew what was in the woods, we couldn’t see, hear or smell it, but then our hands were full and that sort of narrows the other senses. Since then our LGD’s have been upset by and patrolling the same area.
Have you all appreciated this mild winter? No hazardous roads to navigate. No plowing and shoveling of snow. No 30* below, although those early cold snaps took there toll. Green is becoming an apparent color. Pace, set a slow pace, I tell myself; or my garden starts will be long legged, damped off plants long before they can be set out. O’ The fever of sunshine.
The horses are shedding heavily, bucking and snorting with sunshine on their shoulders, watching them makes me happy. Our newest litter of pups, yes Gos lets us be parents too, well closely supervised parents, are already 5 weeks old. Chubby go getters, they climbed over the straw bale blocking the door way and are exploring the great outdoors. Tails curled and wagging, sniffing and growling and then running for the familiar safety of their dog house. Mom will soon have them out on patrol with her.
The fall lambs are growing well. Most are 70 days old now, more interested in eating grain than playing chase. We weaned the last three bottle babies today, then moved them to the outside pen with the older BB’s .
Beauty day, after yesterdays rain. The vet was here the 24th to health check and vaccinates the pups; Gos is weaning them off now. She has been taking the whole batch out on patrol with her, they love it, tails curled in a wheel, heads alternately held high and then sniffing the ground, keeping pace with mom, a pond of puppies ebbing and flowing, tails wagging the entire time. The new owners are anxious to finally get their pup home. It is wonderful knowing they are going to good homes and hard to let go of the adorable babies. Ah, the bitter sweetness of life.
We added two yearling heifers to our repertoire, they are nice looking girls and talk to us each time we go by. Raised by an ambitious young lady, Alyx, has halter broke and handled them often enough to make them friendly, this is a real plus for us. As obviously our facility is set up for sheep handling, so having cows that will be catchable and leadable are the only types we want to deal with.