One Amazing Donation of Hay

We have been waiting to make this announcement until we were able to show you what this donation looks like, and how big of a donation it really is. The folks over at Sage Woolens gave us a donation for hay, and it will cover over half of our winter hay needs.  Just to put it into perspective, this is what more than half our winter’s hay looks like.

I know, that’s a lot of hay. Just be thankful you were not the one loading and stacking it. We are thankful to be blessed with this donation.

The hay is an excellent quality, second cutting, grass hay with about 10-20% red clover. Last year it did the sheep very well, and the grower once again gave us a good price for buying in bulk.

Sage Woolens has been a great benefactor to us, and has done a lot to spread the word about what we are doing at RescEwe. As far as we are concerned, this donation is simply the icing on a really excellent cake.


A Great Day at the Twisted Ewe

So many of you have asked about our day at the Twisted Ewe, but with all of the hay moving, shearing, and sick sheep, I have been remiss in putting up this post. Well lets get started…

Shady trees, treats, and attention galore was the order of the day at the Twisted Ewe. The Twisted ewe invited RescEwe to come out for their anniversary and grand reopening celebration. They had a great location set aside for our information table and sheep. The hospitality of the folks at the Twisted Ewe was beyond compare. Even with us our forgetting our folding table, they were able to find one that we could borrow for the day. They tried to meet our needs long before there was even a need. Even with our protestations that we were fine, they still set us up with this and that, ‘just in case’. It was really a good example of what a culture of service can be.

The day was pleasant sunny and a bit cooler than it has been lately, the shade trees made it even better. Lots of kids of all ages were able to feed the willow sprigs, and brussels sprouts we brought to the sheep. A few were able to get a some pets and scratches in too. Good lessons on sheep behavior were doled out like “think and act like a sheep, not a wolf”, and “no pats on the head, that tells them that you want to fight”. We also got to share a bit on basic sheep care and management;  what they eat, and what their wool is like.  We brought a bit of washed wool from Tolkien and they got to see him and experience his wool as well.

The reception we got from the vendors at the event was great too. They all seemed to be having as good of a time as we were. The reaction we got from one vendor when we arrived was priceless, ‘FUR BABIES!!’. Or something to that effect. Being our first journey into the public, we were both surprised and pleased with that kind of exuberant reaction. It was great to meet more of the local fiber artists, in such a pleasant and welcoming environment.

One question came up in the afternoon a couple of times. “Why do sheep need rescuing?” Unfortunately, some of the public has a negative, but well founded suspicion of organizations that proport to be helping animals. With all of the sensational press that some groups have garnered through illegal actions, and other groups that raise funds and never end up doing anything to help a single animal; who can blame them. It gave us an opportunity to tell some of the more incredulous public, why we exist, and show them what makes us different from the most infamous farm animal rescues, or sanctuaries. I don’t know if we made any converts, but at least they walked away with an understanding of what we stand for, and that they could agree with most of our goals and methods. Most people who raise animals are good, and want all animals to be treated with compassion and care. That is our common ground. At RescEwe, remembering that is part of how we maintain a good relationship with pet owners, and producers alike.


Back on the Lush Greens Again

We are started the third phase in the grazing cycle of the Caldwell pasture. Prior to this, the second phase took about 7 weeks to complete. The second phase is drylot. Not the most exciting phase, but important from a health and safety standpoint. The second phase started when the cheat grass and foxtail barley went to seed. The dry seeds tend to get into eyes, and can do serious damage to the eye. So for drylot, they just stopped right where they were, and ate hay till the second wave of green got well underway. The drylot area is ideal for seeding. The surface is torn up topsoil covered with trampled down grass, waste hay, and of course manure.

The Dry lot area after they moved out.

They moved about 120ft. (36m) to where the green grass and kochia start again. We are feeding a small ration of hay twice a day because kochia can very rich and cause scours. We have been using part of our limited water allocation to water the kochia before grazing. Kochia can be an oxalate and nitrate accumulator, and watering ahead of grazing can reduce concentrations.


The area they grazed during the first phase was seeded with our own pasture mix. After 7 weeks of water, and sun the previously bare dirt now has our grass growing on it. In fact the earliest seeded, has pasture grass that is already going to seed itself. The new grass is protected by a three foot deep layer of sow thistle.

In about six weeks, the sheep will be done with the kochia, and the portion we can water of the pasture that was seeded last summer. Then the sheep will flip to the opposite end of the pasture, and start on the new grass and sow thistle. A couple of bonuses from last years seeding are chicory,  birds foot trefoil, and a flowering plant that I will have to go through the seed lists to identify.


Moving Back to the Caldwell Pasture

Last Saturday, the sheep made the journey from the Parma alfalfa (lucerne) field, back to the Caldwell pasture. As you can see, the alfalfa was out of its winter dormancy, and was starting to grow again. Not that the sheep disagreed with that, the alfalfa is really quite yummy. However, the farmer who was letting us graze the alfalfa field, needed them off as soon as possible.

The idea was to graze and naturally fertilize the alfalfa, but we did not want to stunt its growth.  It really worked well for us, because while they were on the field, it reduced our hay consumption by 25 percent.

The weather for the day was scattered rain showers. We were really lucky because we never saw rain where we were until late in the evening. We did see many storms pass through the valley all day long.

The views were spectacular.

Luckily for everybody involved, the move was complete, and the shelter was up long before the rain paid a visit.

The expectation is that we can start grazing the Caldwell pasture the second week of April. Until then we will slowly expand the containment, giving the sheep a gradual shift to the annual grasses that cover the south end of the pasture. The seeding process will continue this year.

However there is a major expansion in the near future.

Hmm… Where will we find the fencing, piping, and pasture seed we will need…

-More info to follow.-

Wind, Graupel and the Schrödinger Shelter

After the unseasonable warm temperatures we have experienced this winter, things have returned to normal. Well kind of…

While the Caldwell pasture is four inches deep in snow, the Parma pasture is bare and dry. We have had a succession of wind, graupel, and sunshine. It has been hard to know what the weather will be in the next hour. The moveable shelter has done the sheep well. When the graupel falls, the sheep hide under the shelter. When the sun comes out the sheep return to grazing or playing, and the graupel melts away. When the wind blows they hardly care.

Witness if you will, a 14mph (22kph) wind with warm sun. All the sheep, under the shelter chewing cud without a care in the world.

Sunday afternoon, the wind was reaching well over 20 mph (32kph). The shelter was whipping about. We were not expecting the clouds to break, but we were also not expecting any precipitation til Monday morning. The shelter is moved on Sunday evening anyway, so it would be down for only a couple extra hours. After all, we needed to put a few additional grommets in it anyway. The decision was made to take the cover off and do some work on it.

After the work, when we came back out to move the shelter, we were met with an interesting sight.

All but one of the sheep were loafing under the shelter that was not there. We know that sheep have excellent understanding of spacial relations, and rudimentary math skills, but could they really believe that the shelter exists in a quantum state?

I think they are just messing with us.

Teff, The Hay of the Month,

Over the weekend, we got some new hay in. Teff is a hay that the Fantasy Farm sheep have enjoyed most winters since they first tried it eight years ago. Although not always in plentiful supply in our area, They have been able to find it during breeding years. Typically, they feed Teff to the pregnant ewes during the last month of their pregnancy, and during lactation. It is a fine stemmed grass hay that in our region, has a nutritional value close to alfalfa (lucerne), but without the risk of bloat.  High in calcium and protein, the Icelandic ewes do very well on Teff, find it very palatable,  and waste very little. So when the folks at the Fantasy Farm found a stacker load at a good price, they gave the Rescewe sheep a third of it.

None of the Rescewe sheep appear to have never tried Teff. At least they approached it with some hesitation. Surely it is different from the grass / red clover mix hay they have been eating all winter. However, once they tried it, it was a big hit. The sheep were even digging through the clover mix to get at the Teff. The feeding tubs were virtually vacuumed clean the next morning.

“On a scale of one to ‘Nom Nom’, I would have to give Teff an eight” – Remmington

Caldwell to Parma and Del’s New Friends.

The move from the Caldwell pasture to the Parma alfalfa (lucerne) field went without a hitch. Our one worry, was how to move a llama (Cookie) in a sheep trailer. You see, the sides of the sheep trailer do not even come up to Cookie’s shoulder. The problem was solved with the addition of an arch made of ranch panels. Making a kind of Conestoga wagon looking trailer. The ranch panels are part of the moving fence that was going to have to be moved to the new grazing grounds anyway. As expected Cookie layed down and relaxed during the half hour ride to the new digs. As always, as hard as it is to get the sheep unfamiliar with the trailer, into the trailer. It is just as hard to get them out when the trip is over. With the doors open, they just stand there staring at you. ‘We are just as happy here as there thank you.’ But then, most sheep are not big on change.  B_conostoga_trailer

The alfalfa field still has a small amount of green alfalfa, and everyone enjoyed the change in diet. The grass/clover hay they have been eating has been good, but fresh greens, especially alfalfa are a real precious thing this time of year. as an added bonus, the alfalfa field has a sandy loam soil. Unlike the clay bottom land they have been in all Summer long, the sandy soil does not make a wet muddy mess during the Winter . Not that we have seen Foot Rot in any of our sheep, but a wet muddy mess is the perfect breeding ground for it, and nobody wants to see Foot Rot.

The farmer that is letting us use his field was going to move a whole lot of manure this winter from the local sheep sheds, and spread it on the alfalfa field. However, with his schedule rapidly filling up, he was glad to have us graze the alfalfa, and fertilize his field the easy way. With the lower fuel and equipment maintenance costs for the farmer, and yummy graze on dryer pasture for the sheep, this arrangement is expected to work out well for all parties involved. To prove the advantage of quartering the sheep here, we are moving the sheep in defined strips with ungrazed strips in between. It should be plainly visible where the sheep have grazed come the growing season. If it does the alfalfa some good, I am sure we will be welcome back next winter.



It was a bit of a rocky start as Del was introduced to the flock. Well, he has had through the fence contact, but not a full contact introduction.Interestingly, that limited introduction was enough, and he was accepted by Cookie, and the Wenslydale and Wenslydale cross crowd. The Bluefaced Leicester Texel, and Teeswater crowd were going out of their way to pick on Del. We ended up separating the “Meanies” from the “Buddies”. Del was feeling confident and at home with the Buddies, after all, his big bro Churchill was one of the Buddies.

After about 24 hours, we then moved Del in with the Meanies, and reduced the size of the pen to about 6ft. x 8ft (2m x 2.5m). There was a bit of pushing, shoving, and head swinging smacks, but no one could really harm Del. I am not saying that Del was an angel through the process, he did try to assert some dominance too. It is amazing that he would even try, because he is about a fourth as large as the others. I guess he figured, “Nothing ventured nothing gained.” All Betsy wanted was for Del to stop smelling at her backside. She whacked him a couple times to get the point across. After all, a lady must demand some standards of behavior from the gentlemen surrounding her. From then on, she was fine with Del

Del with his new friends, the Buddies


Del Keeps Growing, No Surprise There.

a_delDel has finished his quarantine period. Well he finished his quarantine three weeks ago. He is acting like a healthy, happy lamb. His weight is good, his eye membranes look really good, and he is growing. Next week he gets his second CDT vaccination.  So why is he still in the quarantine pen with Churchill? Well, first things first.

For those that do not know, Del came to us from the local animal shelter. He was picked up by animal control wandering the streets of the third largest city in Idaho. When the animal shelter took him in, they registered him as a 4 year old ewe, and named him Delilah. Of course he was none of those things. We started calling him Del. For those old enough to remember Del Shannon, and his famous hit song Runaway, this name will make more sense. Well, to me it makes sense. I assume most are like I am, it is hard for me to think of that song and not think of the movie American Graffiti. Truly iconic.

A_del_and_churchillFor his quarantine period, we paired Del with Churchill. Sure enough Del adopted Churchill right off, and Churchill has always been patient, and gentle with Del. It was cute how on day two, Del was following Churchill’s lead. Del wanted to do everything Big Bro Churchill did. When Churchill was drinking water, Del was there taking a drink too. When Churchill was laying in the shade chewing cud, Del was right there doing it too. When Churchill was grazing, Del was right there next to him eating the same plants, learning what was good and what was not.

As Del became more confident and independent, he has given Churchill more space. We have been concerned about Del hanging out with an old fuddy duddy like Churchill. A lamb needs playmates. However, we need not have worried. Two weeks ago I peeked around the corner of the shop building, and from 300 feet away I saw what they had been hiding. Churchill was in front of their shelter, Del bumped Churchill’s head, and spun around and ran around through the shelter, coming back around from the opposite side.  Churchill spun around just as Del bumped heads with him. Del took off and ran back around the shelter the opposite direction. Churchill spun around again to meet Del head on. Del bumped Churchill, and took off again… That is when Churchill realized I was standing there watching. Churchill immediately turned to me, straightened up and just stared at me. Del came blasting around the shelter, saw Churchill acting proper and all, and stopped in his tracks. Del calmly walked up, stood right along side Churchill, tilted his head against his Big Bro’s side, and started watching me too. Those of you who are familiar with that gesture in lambs, know that it is filled with all kinds of good and wonderful meaning.

A_chelle_and_delAs for why Del is still in quarantine. When Del came to us, it was obvious that he was a bottle lamb. He is way too relaxed with humans and being handled. For bottle fed rams, the line between human and sheep can become blurred. When they mature they can be dangerous when in close contact with humans. The alternative is becoming a wether, which eliminates the dangerous behaviors and emotional volatility that rams experience.  This really gives Del few career choices. A range ram where he will have little contact with people, or as a pet or companion wether.  Even though Del looks really good, and has good conformation, his genetic background is unknown; making it risky to use him as a flock sire. So, that leaves wether.  For long term health reasons, it is best to wait till a lamb is at least six months old to have them wethered. That leaves us with a problem in the short term. The main Rescewe flock has a ewe, and Del is all ram. Most times 1+1=2, but this time of the year, 1 + 1 may end up equaling 4.

So, until he is wethered, Del is stuck in  quarantine. Time to make an appointment with the Vet to have Del’s mind changed.

$1.59 Treat Pumpkin

Do you know that most sheep love squash? Well they do. Four days after Halloween, this pumpkin was found out front of the hardware store. They had marked the pumpkins down to $1.59 each. I could not resist. treat pumpkin

Most of the Recsewe sheep are unfamiliar with many forms of healthy treats (like pumpkin), and are learning what is good, and what is not. Over the summer they have learned that apricots are yummy. Celery and Brussels sprouts have been well received. Oddly, most are still unsure about apples.

B_treats 4 sheep

Over the Summer, volunteers and supporters have been giving the sheep treats. As the sheep are nearing the end of their stay in Caldwell. We have put up pumpkins and acorn squash for the winter months. When they move to the winter digs, the squash will break the monotony of hay. Besides, I doubt the volunteers and supporters will stop bringing them treats

Shearing is Finished

The last of the sheep have been sheared.  We cut these three of from the flock, and moved them to the shearing area inside a triangle made with 3 ranch panels. Yes we moved the 3 panel pen with them in it. We call it the flying wedge. It has been handy for moving smaller groups (up to 14), where some are not used to a halter.


They each took their turns being sheared, and were returned to the moveable pen. Two of our volunteer shepherds are shearers, and they have been splitting the shearing responsibilities. There are some unique situations and solutions when caring for sheep in an industrial site. like using a 400lb steel sawhorse.


And when the shearing was done, we moved them back to the flock.


Can you tell which volunteer shepherd works with them the most?