Happy New Year from MLWPA!

08 Jan
January 8, 2013

Fortunately the Mayans were wrong and we are still here tending to our sheep. My 2013 lambing season began a week early. The ewe developed pregnancy toxemia, went down and consumed little feed. Her water bag was out 7 days before her due date, and in her weakened state I had to pull both lambs. Despite my best efforts, it didn’t turn out well. Some of my more positive shepherding friends have pointed out that since these lambs were technically born in 2012, I should proclaim that the 2012 lambing season ended poorly, and look for the 2013 lambing season to begin successfully when my next ewe lambs (due Jan. 14).

In the spirit of positivity (especially now that Congress has “saved us from the fiscal cliff”[insert sarcastic tone here]), I will look forward to better lamb prices for 2013, and strong demand for quality breeding stock. Perhaps more importantly to all of our bottom lines is a good crop year to take some pressure off of feed prices. I don’t know about you, but it seems like the more expensive hay gets, the more of it my sheep eat…

Wishing all of you the best of luck in the upcoming lambing season. (As always, the MLWPA board welcomes and encourages your input on how we can better serve MN’s sheep industry.)

Shepherd’s Holiday Wrap-up

05 Dec
December 5, 2012

The Shepherd’s Holiday was grand event highlighted by the selection of Dan Persons, of Kensington as this year’s Silver Bell award winner. Although relatively new to sheep farming, Dan has excelled in the production and promotion of sheep, and has been a dedicated leader for the association. The use of technology, labor-saving managment techniques and a focus on production records helps Rafter P Ranch care for over 1,000 ewes and provide a year-round supply of lambs. Congratulations Dan!

John Dvorak, of Webster was elected President of MLWPA at the annual business meeting. The MLWPA board also welcomes newly-elected Travis Fowler of Truman. Travis and his wife Jeanine have been coordinating the trade show and auction, and did a super job again this year.

The Make It With Wool contest featured 40 contestants. The MIWW fashion show was an incredible display of talent and creativity. Congratulations to our winners, we know you will represent MN well at the national competition. (watch for photos at a later date)

If you weren’t there, you missed out on some great seminars, fun social activities with fellow sheep enthusiasts, and a delicious leg-of-lamb banquet. Join us next year as we move the Shepherd’s Holiday to a soon-to-be-determined northern MN location.

Holiday Season Fast Approaching

12 Nov
November 12, 2012

The Holiday Season is here. Our family really enjoyed Halloween. Two of my favorite quotes from my Daughter: “I’m not cute, I’m scary!” and “We should get paid if we make people pee their pants.” And the sheep enjoyed feasting on leftover pumpkins.

Thanksgiving will be here soon. Nothing against Turkey or ham, but a smoked leg-of-lamb would make a fine thanksgiving feast. That reminds me, I need to pick up my lamb from the locker plant (thank you Odenthal Meats!).

The Shepherd’s Holiday is set for December 1 in Mankato. Register by Nov. 17 to take advantage of the early registration discount. An updated agenda has been posted. It will be updated one final time in the next few weeks. Looking forward to seeing many of our sheep friends in attendance.

Deer hunting is a holiday for many. Sadly, I am not participating this year. I am excited about MN’s wolf hunting season though. Here’s an update on that: As of November 9, over 80 wolves have been harvested during the hunt. The harvest quota for the early season has been set at 200, with an additional 200 for the late hunting and trapping seasons. The season has been closed in the east central zone with 8 wolves harvested, but the northeast and northwest zones are still open. The season ends on November 18 in series 100 deer permit areas, and November 11 in series 200 deer permit areas.

Before you know it, Christmas will be here. I’m looking forward to the family celebrations, and the expectation of the first lambs of 2013 due to arrive on January 1. If Sydell equipment or a pair of wool slippers are on your Christmas list, you can pick them up at the Shepherd’s Holiday Trade show!

Happy Holidays

image courtesy of http://baaramewesheep.blogspot.com

2012 Shepherd’s Holiday

28 Oct
October 28, 2012

Plans for the 2012 Shepherd’s Holiday are now being finalized (please go under the “events” tab for a tentative agenda and registration form). If you need a hotel room, the number is on the registration form (call by Nov. 1 and ask for the MN Lamb & Wool block to get the best rate). The agenda is subject to minor changes and when we have all the topics confirmed, it will be updated. It is a packed agenda as we do our best to fit everything into one day. We think you will enjoy the seminars and the social time with fellow sheep producers. There is still time to nominate someone for the Silver Bell Award. MLWPA also needs new leaders to consider running for a spot on the board.

I’m still waiting patiently for the last two ewes to mark, and searching frantically for affordable hay to get me through the winter. The last non-keeper lamb goes to the locker plant on Tuesday, and other than a couple bred ewes yet to be sold this fall, sheep income on our farm will be pretty scare until the winter lambs are weaned next spring. Hoping that 2013 brings higher lamb prices and reduced feed costs.

Breeding Season Challenges

09 Oct
October 9, 2012

First it was hot weather in July and early August that reduced ram fertility. Then a lingering leg injury to our lead stud ram forced 3 of our ram lambs into service in addition to leasing a ram from a friend. Finally, a busted fence resulted in the mixing of two groups of ewes – fortunately I was able to separate the rams before serious injury occurred. It looks like these challenges will result in a very drawn out lambing season for us, with a few early January lambs, a few more late January lambs, a lot of February lambs, and some stragglers coming well into March (as we still have a few unmarked ewes). It shouldn’t take 2+ months to lamb out 40 ewes, but it sure seems like that is what we are in for.

Lessons learned (again):

1) Always have more rams on hand than you think you will need.
2) Pay extra attention to the rams’ hooves prior to breeding season.
3) Taking a ram to a fair in July when the weather is hot is not conducive
to early season fertility.
4) A wire panel secured with twine will not keep 2 mature rams separated
when ewes are in heat.

Hopefully, breeding season has gone (or will go) more smoothly on your farm than it has
on ours.

Happy Shepherding!