We took the rams away today as we like to finish lambing around the end of March. Above are photos of both the Sugarloaf and Stonecroft flocks and this years ewe lambs and they will stay together for the winter, in the field until the weather gets too bad and then in the shed. DunMor Yogi Bear has been put in with the ram lambs and when I left he was busy impressing them by butting one of the fence posts of the new fencing!!
I started a 'Meet the Flockers' column back in 2011 when I intended to write about some of the older characters in the flock. I know it has been a long time since my last post about Dot (2011!!) but I really want to continue it so here goes: introducing Sarah.
Sarah was purchased as a shearling at the JSS Show and Sale in 2007. She was bred by Karl Gill and registered in his Castlehill flock, but there is a bit of a story to that. In 2005, we had a big four horned ram named Arthur that we bought from Sue and Derek Brown, and we loaned him to Karl for the breeding season. When Karl came to pick Arthur up, there was a two horned ewe in the shed that we were sending off for meat because she was always scouring. Karl asked what we were doing with her, and when we told him, he asked if he could buy her from us. We agreed and put her in the trailer with Arthur. There were clearly some shenanigans in the trailer on the way back to Karl's as, five months later, the ewe produced twins and one of them was Sarah. (Incidentally, the ewe stopped scouring when she got to Karl's and went on to breed lots of lambs for him!)
As a shearling, Sarah was a big bodied but fairly rough looking sheep, but good four horned ewes were very very difficult to get in Ireland back then. However, when she turned two, she grew out of her ugly duckling phase and turned into a really beautiful sheep. We showed her as a two year old and she did ok but didn't win anything major. She seemed to get even better as a three year old ewe though, and her first good year was in 2009 when she was the Champion at Tullamore and Tullow Shows, and the Reserve Champion at Tinahely Show. She was shown as a four and five year old too and did well, although she was beaten on several occasions by Dun-Mor Ultimate and a fantastic ewe that Joseph Hughes was showing then.
Sarah's first lamb, born in 2008, was a bit of a disappointment, but in 2009 and 2010 she had lovely twin lambs by Overdale Monty. She really clicked with Dun-Mor Ultimate and has had twins by him in 2011, 2012 and 2013. The best of these have been Sugarloaf Noodle (2011) and Sugarloaf Sundance (2012) who did incredibly well at the shows in 2012. Noodle was the Champion and Sundance the Reserve Champion each time they were shown. In 2014 Sarah had another set of twins, this time sired by Border Marengo. Her ram lamb, Fitzgerald, is growing into an enormous sheep and was the first prize ram lamb at Tullow Show this year. Her ewe lamb, Ella, is four horned and is arguably the best ewe lamb we have had this year. She is also a huge sheep and we have earmarked her for the shows next year.
Sarah is still going strong and has been running with Dun-Mor Yogi Bear this autumn. We have never sold a ewe lamb out of her and her first great grandchildren will be born in 2015. She has made her mark on both the Stonecroft and Sugarloaf flocks, and is an incredible foundation ewe.
Things have been pretty busy around here for the past while, so we are only getting around to updating the website now. Nicola has moved home to Ireland to study veterinary medicine at University College Dublin, we have finished showing and the Show and Sale was on 27th September. We entered two ewe lambs in the Show and Sale and one of them, Stonecroft Marjorie II, was the Champion in the pre-sale show and sold for 520 euro, the top price of the day. Our other ewe lamb sold for 220 euro and we wish their new owners the best of luck with them. We bought a four horned ewe lamb from Matthew Kehoe, she is sired by Sugarloaf Sundance. We also bought a ram lamb, Hill David, from Louis Hill. He has some interesting breeding that we don't have in our flock, so should be a good way for us to get some new blood into the flock.
The ewes should all be in lamb now (although we saw the ram working yesterday so maybe there are still a few to go!). We find that the older ewes go in lamb first - they are sponged so that we have some early lambs for the shows - and then the shearlings come into season later. We will be taking the rams away from the ewes in about a week so our lambing should finish at the end of March or early April.
It's time to think about scanning now and the scanner will probably come in early November. That is one of the most exciting times of the year, when you find out how many lambs each ewe is expecting and it's when we really start to get excited about lambing time. We should start lambing on 4th January if everything goes to plan.
There have been lots of developments since the last blog post - some good and one very sad one. Our ewe lamb, Stonecroft Dora, who was the Champion at Tullamore Show this year, sadly got meningitis and, despite our very best efforts, we weren't able to save her. Not only was she a good sheep, she was such a sweet lamb and we are very sad about it.
Our last show of the year, Tullow Show, was a resounding success for us. We had the first prize ram, ewe, ram lamb and ewe lamb (see photo above), and won the Championship with our ewe, Hazel, and the Reserve Championship with our ram, Dun-Mor Yogi Bear. Clive Richardson travelled over from Cumbria in the UK to judge for us and we really appreciate him travelling over. I have put some pictures of the show in the 'Pictures' section.
The rams have gone out with the ewes now, and we are using Stonecroft Thomas, Stonecroft Clive and Dun-Mor Yogi Bear this year. Next weekend the bi-annual flock competition will take place and Barbara and Linda McKendrick will travel over from Scotland to judge flocks all over Ireland. It's a great way to get advice on the flocks from two very experienced judges and we are looking forward to it. The annual JSS Show and Sale will take place on Saturday 27th September at Blessington Mart, Co. Wicklow, and I have put some pictures of the ewe lambs we have entered in the 'Sheep for Sale' section.
Tullamore Show, the National Livestock Show in Ireland, was held yesterday. There was a really good turnout of Jacobs for the judge, Betty Palmer, to choose from. Betty chose our ewe lamb, Stonecroft Dora, as her Champion and Derek Brown's shearling ewe as the Reserve Champion. The Harney Family's ram lamb won his class with Matthew Kehoe's ram lamb second and our ram lambs were third and fourth in their class. Joseph Hughes won the ram class with his smart ram and our ram, Dun-Mor Yogi Bear, was the second prize ram. We were delighted to see Adrian Hamilton, Jimmy McGrath and Paul Colhoun who travelled down from Northern Ireland for the day, and of course Betty Palmer who travelled over from Lancashire in the UK to judge for us. Please take a look at the Pictures section for more photos of the day.
For the past six months or so, a small team of veterinarians, scientists and Jacob Sheep Society members have been working to establish a diagnostic test for Tay-Sachs disease, a genetic disease that has been identified in a small number of Jacob sheep. The test is now available for Jacob sheep owners to have their sheep tested, if they so wish. We will be testing our lambs and our rams initially, to see if we have any 'carriers' in our flock.
For more information on Tay-Sachs disease in Jacob sheep, and details of the testing process, go to http://www.jacobsheepsociety.co.uk/technical_info.htm
We have made our very own hay and have baled it and brought it into the shed. We got 689 bales from two of our fields and we're absolutely thrilled! Our new Hobbit-sized tractor and trailer were great help - below is a picture of Lucy hard at work bringing in the hay.
We are getting geared up for the summer shows - unfortunately Fingal Show was cancelled so our first show will be Tinahely Show on August Bank Holiday Monday. We think we have a good team this year (of course everyone thinks their sheep are the best and we are completely biased!) but our ram lambs in particular are looking excellent this year. I have uploaded some photos of them in the 'Pictures' section.
The Jacob Sheep Society AGM was held in Ireland over the weekend of 11th - 13th April. The activities were based at the Roganstown Hotel in Swords, Co. Dublin, and included flock visits to our flocks and also to The Leck flock in Donore, Co. Meath and Newbridge House and Farm. It was a fantastic weekend and a lot of hard work by the Irish Regional Council Member, Paul Colhoun, and his wife, Sharon, certainly paid off as everyone had a great time. Please see the Pictures page for lots of photos of the weekend.
Noodle, the ewe that couldn't have lambs (or so we thought) has given birth to twins, a ram lamb and a ewe lamb. She lambed on Sunday evening and is doing really well. Here she is with her lambs (the ewe lamb is in the picture; the ram lamb is on the other side of her) on their first day out in the field.
We are busy preparing for the Jacob Sheep Society visit to our flock which is under two weeks away now. On Friday 11th April, JSS members from all over the UK and Ireland will travel to Dublin for a 'sheep' weekend. The activities will begin with lunch and a tour around Glendalough, a beautiful ancient monastic city close to our house, followed a visit to our flocks in the afternoon.
Last but not least, we thought you would like to see how our pet lambs, Ella and Charlie, are growing up and they are experts with their Shepherdess feeder. The feeder is brilliant - the lambs get ad lib warm milk and are pretty much the same size as their brothers and sisters that are being reared by their mums.
Nicola and Geraldine
Two hobby shepherds