2004 PHOTOS (Click to view 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 photos)






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December 15, 2004

'04 Lambs check out the photographer

Every fall, while the adult ewes are busy with their rams in separate pastures, I move the previous spring's keeper ewe lambs into the front hillside pasture. Here they'll spend the next 6-8 weeks under the supervision of a couple of retired ewes and one or more of the Pyrenees dogs. Though many shepherds breed their ewe lambs, I like to wait till my lambs are more mature, at a year and a half of age, before adding them to the breeding flock. Today, all 15 of the ewe lambs rushed up when they saw me and organized themselves into two amazingly neat lines . . . are we going somewhere?


November 3, 2004

Angus the Great Pyrenees guard dog demonstrates for the new Pyr pup Daisy his annoying, ineffective, but obviously fun technique for harassing gophers. Though I do appreciate the thought, it's a good thing that Angus doesn't dig like this too often, or the hayfield might start looking more like a minefield. Thankfully also, smart pup Daisy has already figured out that her time is better spent guarding her sheep from above-ground threats!


July 21, 2004
Don't talk to me, I'm busy eating!

For the sheep and goats at SkyLines Farm summertime is one continuous, all-you-can-eat buffet. When they're not basking in the shade, they can almost always be found in this position - heads down, intent on the business of converting grass into bone, muscle, and wool. Thanks to a warm and rainy spring this has been a terrific summer for grass, and all the lambs, including Madeline's black and white twins (foreground) are making wonderful growth on this season's lush green grass.

Ewes & lambs graze orchard

Ewes and lambs at their summer jobs.

Sheep and orchards, a symbiotic relationship
In the photo above, some of the ewes and lambs are mowing the grass between rows of young apple trees. Grazing them through this area in rotation is part of my organic, sustainable management philosophy for SkyLines Farm. While the sheep help keep the grass from competing with the young trees, they're also depositing their rich manure, which will ultimately fertilize the mature trees. The enriched soil supports a wider diversity of microorganisms (and earthworms) too, all of which contribute to increased fertility and a healthier ecosystem in the orchard.

As yet another example of the "full circle" concept of sustainable agriculture, once these trees mature, many of the apples will be fed to the sheep during the flushing period before breeding in the fall. For now, every fall I pick apples from a local orchard and feed a few to each ewe every day during flushing and breeding. They love the apples, and my experience (and that of most shepherds and researchers too) has shown that increasing the nutritional level during this period helps increase the number of multiple births at lambing time.


The goats take their summer jobs seriously too. Here, they dive into a stand of weeds about to go to seed in the winter barnyard. They'll have this area completely cleared within a couple of days and these weeds won't have a chance to reproduce next year.


April 27, 2004

Grace, one of my all-time favorite Romney ewes, delivered another set of gorgeous black twins this year. Her lambs are 5 weeks old today, and the ram lamb (above) has been purchased by a young sheep breeder who's going to pair him with Finnsheep ewes.

This beautiful boy will stay with his mom, sister, and the SkyLines flock till he's fully weaned at about 4 months of age. Then he'll travel to his new farm and, in time, become head ram of his own flock. I just can't wait to see the fabulous fleeces those babies produce!


April 14, 2004
The new lambs have arrived!

Lambs Play King of the Hill

The 2004 lambing season was a flurry of activity this year. In a short 2-1/2 week period, the hardworking SkyLines ewes delivered 60 beautiful, healthy babies. These lambs are about 2 weeks old and are quickly learning how to hang out together and "flock up."

After lambing is over, the sheep always spend a few days in this safe paddock near the barn, to make sure that all the lambs know to stay with the flock and to come when they're called. Obedience to mom is critical to a lamb's survival, and each ewe insists that her lambs learn the rules. Once all the lambs are safely bonded to mom and to the flock, the entire group will move out to the hayfield and then to the woods pastures for a summer of grazing fresh green grass (accompanied of course by their vigilant guardians, the Great Pyrenees dogs.)

March 6, 2004
Annual Shearing Day

2 Pyrenees & ewes wait for shearing

Shearing and skirting 60 fleeces makes for a long but exhilarating day . . .

Martin takes great care with fleeces

: Early in the morning before the shearer arrives, the first ewes to be shorn wait expectantly in the barn. The guard dogs know that today is special too, and will stick close to their sheep throughout the day.

Left: Long-time professional shearer Martin Dibble takes his time when he gives the SkyLines sheep their annual haircuts. He's extra careful to avoid second cuts in the fleeces (short pieces of fiber that don't spin well), while also being as gentle as possible with these pampered mothers-to-be.

Below: Tired and a little chilly without their winter coats, the newly-shorn ewes spend the evening resting quietly in the warm and dry barn. It looks like these four girls might be having a private party . . . I wonder what they're whispering about?

Ewes party after shearing

January 21, 2004

Brownie the cashmere goat

Five-year-old Brownie, one of my favorites of the new SkyLines cashmere goats, sports a rather exotic set of horns. All 11 of the goats have horns, and when the herd arrived here last fall I confess that I was just a teeny bit apprehensive about those wicked-looking appendages.

I knew that I wanted to raise cashmere in addition to wool, but I'd never known a goat before, much less a horned one. All of the SkyLines sheep are polled (hornless). Considering the amount of time I spend hands on and close up with my animals, did I really want to keep critters with these serious weapons growing out of their heads?

Well, not to worry. I quickly learned that these goats are just as gentle and easygoing as the sheep! They only use their horns with each other, banging heads regularly in the goat's way of reaffirming herd status. And those horns have turned out to be not lethal weapons at all, but convenient handles (in a pinch), as well as highly precise back scratching tools (note the cashmere on the tip of Brownie's horn).


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SkyLines Farm 4551 Highway 6 Harvard, ID 83834 208.875.8747
Purebred Romney and Romney-Cross Sheep