Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday Milking

The weather up here in the Finger Lakes has been hot like most of the North East but fortunately where we are on Skaneateles Lake we seem to be getting a steady cool breeze that has kept the flock pretty happy. Eyes are in the pink and panting is down to a minimum.  They have plenty of shade and a few glugs of ACV in their drinking water helps them keep cool.  They were all sheered last week except our lambs of course and that aids in keeping everyone fresh during these hot hot days.

Today was my first time out milking as we have had a very busy springtime.  Seems like though most of the lambs are eating a substantial amount of grass and hay they still are in need of mama's milk.  Since milkiness is one of my breeding priorities we still had plenty milk to go around for them to share.

Considering no one has been milked since last year and this was Benta's first time on the milking stand they were all pretty darn well behaved.  Aniella gave George at bit of a run for his money but he sweet talked her and she settled right down so that I could tap into the liquid gold!  They were all relieved to have that udder pressure released and not a one kicked or squirmed.

That's Mr. Paul holding Ania just to make sure she doesn't pull out of the head piece while I milk her.

These girls were happy to be milked!

Once the sheep were all done being milked, I checked eyes and made sure every one looked healthy.  Hooves look a little shabby, but those will have to wait a few days.

As soon as we let those baby lambs out of their stall, it was off to find mama as fast as they could!  As you see here with Aniella and her little one diving head first under mama.

The milk was plenty as I said for being so late in the game to get started this season.  But all in all out of three ewes I was able to collect just over a quart of milk.  Boy did it look fresh and yummy but I didn't drink any...I saved it all for soaping later this week.  Can't wait make some super moisture rich soap with our organic sheep milk!!
As you can see, this is about as processed as it gets before becoming soap.  First they graze, then I milk them, then I filter the milk like this...

From here it is frozen where it retains ALL its nutrients and enzymes, until it is ready to be mixed with the lye and made into YOUR favorite tub time treat!!

Here are a few shots of the girls after we were done milking!

And our one black ram lamb of the season.  He was our oops baby! But what a cutie he is!

So from that sad first day of lambing to our first hot day of milking all in all its still pretty darn good to be a sheep farmer.

Don't forget to PIN us!!!
More to come! Check us out on  !!!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Lambing Prep 2012

Hi everyone.  Its been quite a few months since I posted last.  Lots of happenings at the farm.  For one I began a small business making gourmet sheep milk soap!! It is very time consuming but so much fun and rewarding.  After about three months of using the soap, my horrific eczema that tortured my hands has absolutely disappeared!!! There really is something to this handmade organic sheep milk soap.
If you want to check some of my goods out here you go .

Now, seems like just yesterday we were wringing our hands losing sleep waiting on our first crop of lambs so arrive on the farm.  After three perfect births we thought we were pretty hot stuff as far as shepherds go LOL...but now its that time all over again and frankly I am a nervous wreck!

I have checked my lists and double checked them.  All the necessary items and some not so necessary goods are well stocked in the barn.  Heaps of towels an bottles of molasses are standing by.  Hooves have been trimmed and ACV added to their water troughs.  I know I have forgotten something...I'll think of it.  Funny how no matter how well versed I thought we were the excitement takes over and nerves along with it. 

True, this time around we have more possibilities of multiple births.  And though the thought is awesome, the real deal makes me shake in my boots.  Icelandic's are known to be excellent mothers to multiples but one can't help but worry about all those "what if"'s you read about in the sheep books on your shelves.  Nature certainly does know what she is doing. One has to know when if at all to intrude on their moment and help them just a wee bit.  Its the knowing when that makes the butterflies take flight in this shepherd.

What are some of your concerns your worries more than any other?  What are your lambing delights ?
Would love to hear from you fellow shepherds who's experience or lack their of brings them to this lambing season full of wonder and excitement!

God Bless all your lambings!!


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Milking and Sheering Days on Bachar Farms

Its been a while since we have posted any new and exciting happenings here at the farm.  The summer kept our hands full with the drought.  The Finger Lakes region suffered like many parts of the country with little or no rain.  Our pastures were reduced to crunchy brown stuff that no honest law  abiding sheep would look twice at :0.  Everyone scrambled to find hay in the middle of July and keep the water buckets filled, a feet not so simple when you are running water to a barn through three or four sections of hose!!! ;-)
But by the grace of God, we had no losses to heat or disease.  A couple of the lambs suffered with a bout of  anemia but all in all we made it through unscathed.

Milking was exceptional! I milked every morning and managed to collect enough pure raw sheep milk to keep me in yogurt and soap for a full year! LOL  I'm sure hubby will be thrilled.

Speaking of soap, Bachar Farms will be introducing its line of pure sheep milk soaps very soon.  I have been playing around with the recipe and tweaking it to perfection.  We have done extensive testing in the last few months to get to the stage we are at now and in doing so I can tell you that the eczema I suffer from on my hands has improved greatly.  No, it is not cured but I can say that the high buttermilk fat of the sheep milk has had a lot to do with the improvement.  I can't wait for you all to try them! 

We also had our Sheering Fest at the farm this past weekend.  Great BBQ (thanks to Georgie) the man can make a mean pork roast (or two or three)! My mom chimed in with her Cuban black beans and rice (deeeelish!!) My  little contributions were fresh pumpkin bread and hot cider! After all I had to be in the paddock with the sheep being sheered.  We did have a lot of hands on deck so a big shout out to Cathy who reminded me I wanted to write the sheep names on the burlap sacks!  Yikes! I would have kicked myself after that.

This is Arna the most gentle giant! And the most beautiful fleece!

 Our Sheerer John is amazing!!! Finally someone who understands the Icelandic temperament and can handle it!! He managed to sheer Arna in one whole piece!! I dreamed of such a moment! After the sheering was over we plied John with good food and drink in order to entice him to return next year to sheer our little (but growing) flock.  We think it worked!

Now they look like goats for a little while!!!

 Kids didn't want to miss any of the sheering!! Well, in between climbing into the hay loft!!

 My mama and our Emma

 Workin, workin, Workin

Our girls with their grandpa and Uncle Rob...oh and the Guard Donkey Radar!!

The Sheep "Don"!  Hahaha Pacino got nuttin on my hubby! This was while he waited for his roasts to cook to perfection.

And that's me, Sandy...your friendly neighborhood sheep farmer!!

God Bless and have a GREAT day!!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sheep Healing Nicely

Wow! After lambing I thought things would slow down! Ha! No such luck.  Just after lambing we had the sheep sheared.  Though I know some shepherds find this practice to work for them, next year I will sheer them a month before lambing time.  Our Spring wool was a matted mess.  The ewes had begun their wool break and our oldest ewe Eliza Jane didn't need the shearer at all for she shook, rubbed, rolled her wool away! Typically, the spring clip isn't good for spinning after being matted down and laying in hay all winter, but our flock was looking pretty darn good and nice felting projects were in my future.  Seriously though, what I was able to salvage may make one hat! Ahhh the learning curve of the new shepherd.

During our shearing, the last to be sheared was Rhum, our Shetland wether yearling.  He is such a doll, but a sprinter.  He proved rather tricky for Jim to keep a hold of and on one occasion Rhum kicked and Jim couldn't move the clipper fast enough away.  I wasn't there when it happened.  As luck would have it, I had taken a stroll into the pasture to check out the lambs.  No one informed me that the cut was pretty bad.

By the end of that day as my hubby and I took a walk down the fence line he noticed Rhum was not eating and was laying down not chewing his cud.  We tried to coax him up but he just looked up at us.  Normally a sprinter, he couldn't get out of the way of his own shadow.  I was very worried.  Bringing them all into the barn we managed to get a hold of him and put him in a pen.  At close inspection, the wound was really bad.  Seemed like his was cut down to the bone.  I quickly sprayed it with a wound wash and then an antiseptic.  My fear was fly strike since the weather was unseasonably warm the flies were out in big numbers.

After a few days of this repeated treatment plus a shot of Penicillin he was still not putting any weight on it and seemed rather lethargic.  I gave in to my worries and called out the vet.  She told me we had taken the appropriate measures and in fact he had cut through a tendon.  She did a much better job of cleaning it out and injected him with more penicillin and an additional shot of pain killer and wrapped it up with a lovely neon pink bandage!  After a couple more days he began putting weight on it and we were beyond happy.
Though I feel a lot more comfortable caring for a wound now especially after watching the vet, it was well worth the cost of her coming out just for the pain killer.  We hated seeing him in that condition.  I liked knowing he wasn't suffering while healing.

Here is a picture of Rhum a few days after the vet visit.  Isn't he just the cutest!!!

I know accidents happen in shearing all the time, however I am really disappointed that Jim didn't let me know how bad it truly was.  It must have been pretty darn obvious when you looked at the leg.  If I had not been out that night checking on them (granted that is my job) Rhum would have been out there with an exposed leg suseptible to all kinds of flies and critters.  But it didn't happen and I thank God for that!

Alls well that ends well.  Life on the farm is really never dull!!!


Friday, May 20, 2011

Local Sheep Shearing Festival

For those of you in the Finger Lakes area Memorial Day weekend you should check out this great festival!! Lots of fun for the whole family!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Milking Icelandic Sheep

When selecting the Icelandic sheep breed, milking them was one of those items on list but somewhat on the bottom of the list.  During my two years of research on this breed, I always knew they were great milkers, very easily raising twins, triplets and even quads with out nary a problem with milk supply.  Further reading showed that many of the famous European cheeses such as Roquefort, Feta, Pecorino Romano were all made and still are using sheep milk.  Now, while goat and cow milk is the most well known and popular, there are many reasons most folks don't know why sheep milk has an advantage.

  • Nutritious
    Sheep milk is highly nutritious, richer in vitamins A, B, and E, calcium, potassium, and magnesium than cow's milk.
    Research shows that sheep milk contains more CLA, which is a cancer-fighting, fat-reducing fat. The fat globules in sheep milk are smaller than the fat globules in cow's milk, making sheep milk more easily digested.

  • Sheep milk
    Sheep milk can be frozen and stored until you have enough to use it to cook or make cheese with and it does not affect the nutritional properties of the milk unlike other milk.

  • After lambing this year I realized that one of my ewes had a huge udder.  I mean it even looked uncomfortable.  I checked her to make sure she was letting down and the lamb was able to nurse.  I had read about mastitis in sheep and wanted to make certain she was alright.  Turns out she is just a very milky gal!  Then it occured to me...why not milk her...heck why not milk them all??

    I sent away for the Udderly EZ hand milker and set out on Saturday morning to milk my very first sheep.  I had separeated the lambs from the ewes the night befor and about 12 hours had passed.  The lambing jugs lended themsleves for the perfect place to begin working.  Doug cooed Eliza (the milky young lady) while I with my sterilized milker in hand sat on my cute little milking stool! Ha haha did you get the perfect image in your head....good now throw it out!  First went the stool, I couldn't even see the udder let alone reach under there to latch this thing on.  Now, of course I didn't want to hurt the ewe, being a gal myself...I was cautious when handling an ewe that was full of milk since the night before. 
    No matter how I tried to latch this thing on it wasn't happening, she was getting cranky (rightfully so) and I wanted milk!! I'm sure it was user error.  I tossed the contraption and dove right into hand milking.  Whoa! Now this is something I never imagined having on my radar! A city girl milking a sheep...heck I now knew I could do anyting!

    Her milk let down nice and easy and I collected about 9 oz.  Not bad for a complete novice.  That morning we milked all three ewes.  With the second I finally figured out how to use the Udderly EZ milker and it was deffinately easier on the hands.  But this whole thing of being sprawled on the grownd covered in sheep droppings was just not the way to go.  Doug and I looked up some plans online later that morning and set off to build us a simple milking stand.  Anything that is easier on the back will be worth it.

    This first batch of milk (a total of 30oz) is sitting frozen in my freezer waiting for the summer soap making project.  This weekend we will give our new millking stand a try and if all goes well we will continue to milk the ladies once a day until July when the lambs are weaned. 

    I think I see yogurt and skyr and maybe even some fancy cheese in my farm kitchen's future!!
    Wish us luck.  I will post some photos and detail the process in an upcoming post for those who want to give milking sheep a try.  Believe me, it is a very rewarding and satisfying feeling!  You feel like its just one more thing that helps you get to know your sheep even better.

    Enjoy this wet Spring weather! At least Spring has finally arrived!