Saturday, February 18, 2012

HoopHouse v. 1.5

Well, our brand new hoophouse almost survived the winter.  We had some snow storms move through the palouse in January that even closed WSU!  (Incredible!)  With all the snow (somewhere between 2 and 3 feet total over just a few days) we went out and checked on our hoophouse in addition to checking on sheep.  Jason brushed the light powdery snow from the hoophouse thinking it would be fine.  Later that evening, the snow switched to wet, thick and heavy.  In just a few hours, enough snow collected on top of the hoophouse between hoops to crush the entire thing.  The end walls were strong enough to support the end hoops but every other hoop went from a half circle to M-shaped.

If it weren't for the ladder in the middle, the plastic would have remained entirely intact.

Unfortunately our walk-behind rototiller was also inside, under a hoop.  The handle assembly was snapped clean off.  Guess we'll have to get a replacement part for that as well.

This is the first time Jason can remember being thankful that he didn't finish a project (hoophouse 2.0) before the deadline (winter).  If he had, we'd be replacing 80%-95% of 2 hoophouses instead of just one.

We have a plan of action to repair and replace the necessary parts of hoophouse #1 and we'll be using a portion of our tax return to finish out #2.  Both hoophouses will be completed before we need to grow in them this season.

We are thankful for not having finished a project as well as for the many friends who upon hearing of the disaster, have immediately offered their help with anything in regards to rebuilding. (Of course we will be taking folks up on those offers soon!)

We are blessed indeed.

Internship Opportunity!

Omache Farm has an opening for an Intern for the 2012 season!

Do you want to REALLY see what happens on a small, diversified vegetable and livestock farm on the Palouse?  Do you want to have the opportunity to learn about EVERYTHING from planning to planting to caring to harvesting?  And from birth to shearing to rotating to finishing?  From planning to doing to recording and back? See what it's really like from the OTHER SIDE of the Farmer's Market table?

Check out our Information here:  Internship Opportunity

Have we scared you away yet?  No?  Then shoot us an email or call us.  Let's Talk.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Split Eyelids

Well, we got our first three lambs but apparently their Mamas were early birds.

There are more ewes that are almost there and they are definitely looking ready to drop.  We're learning to be able to tell which ewes are going to drop lambs next but it's certainly not an exact science.  Not only do their udders start to "bag up," they start to slow down and look like they are tired of lugging around that huge thing so many call "cute", just like humans do.

If you've ever been pregnant or the partner to someone pregnant, I'm sure you remember the feeling and the look.

The third cutie born was a little ewe lamb.  Her only issue is that she has a split eyelid.
It is a bit difficult to discern from this photo but if you look carefully, at the uppermost point of her eyelid, you'll notice a small triangular jog where it should be a smooth curve.  This particular example is a moderate split.  Sometimes all you'll be able to see is an unusual tuft of fur in that same location.

The gene for this deformation is connected to the polycerate gene a.k.a. the multiple horn gene.  Essentially when the hornbuds split in utero, the split extends through the eyelid and is not totally knit together.  The reason for this gene being bad is that the split can lead to less than ideal protection of the eye itself which in turn could result in partial or total blindness in the affected eye.  This defect is also highly heritable.

On the good side highly heritable genes are relatively easy to find.  I can discern pretty quickly which individual has the gene and thus which animal must be designated as a "terminal" sire or dam.  That means that all the offspring from that animal will be meat animals and not considered when determining which lambs to keep for the breeding flock.  While each individual case may or may not be a big deal to the individual animal, having the gene in one's flock knowingly poses, I feel, an animal welfare issue.  In keeping an animal with the split eye gene or with a split eyelid, you are knowingly exposing that animal's offspring to the risk of bodily harm and pain.  If possible, the good shepherd will work to eliminate this gene from their flock for the good of the flock.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Lambs are HERE!

We'd like to welcome our first two little lambs!

Born just about noon, the two little guys are our of Eira and weighed about 6 and 7 lbs.

Everyone was up and about and nursing well and Mama was doing her job well. (Kashme, our dog, could tell you that!)