Wednesday, July 1, 2015

2015 Whidbey Island Fair

With just a little over 4 weeks to go before the 2015 Whidbey Island Area Fair starts on Thursday, August 6th, here are a few things you might want to know:

  • Fair dates for 2015 are Thursday, August 6th - Sunday, August 9th.
  • Our sheep breed show and fleece/fiber show judge this year is Rick Reinlasoder from Seattle.  I met Rick this past winter at the WSU Country Expo in Stanwood where he was giving classes in how to show your sheep and evaluate fleeces.  He is an exciting, new judge for our fair and I am really looking forward to having him as our judge.
  • Vet check is TBA.  It will either be on Tuesday afternoon or evening, August 4th or Wednesday morning, August 5th.  Check back for more information in the next few weeks.
Questions:  Email me at - wendy@wendyjsundquist.com

Joanne Martinis at the 2014 fair

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Fair week will be off and running starting tomorrow morning.  The day before the fair opens all of the animals come to the fairgrounds.  Before they can be admitted to the barns all of our local veterinarians examine them for signs of contagious diseases.  In sheep that can included foot rot, sore mouth and keds (sheep lice).

A big thanks to all of these vets that volunteer their time at the fair every year. (The sheep would especially like to thank Dr. Robert Moody!)


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

2014 Lambing Season Begins!


Long time sheep barn exhibitor, Joanne Martinis, has just started lambing.  Joanne is in the Gotland upbreeding program (see Saturday, April 7, 2012 post).  Each year she artificially inseminates her ewes in this program with 100% Gotland semen in the fall brought in from Sweden.  Because she does this in early fall, her sheep start lambing in early February (sheep have a gestation period of about 5 months).





 So far, Joanne has had three sets of lambs...two are twins and the other set are triplets.  The twins are Joannes first lambs ever that are over 90% Gotland while the triplets are 84% Gotland.  Congratulations Joanne for getting this far in the upbreeding program!





 She also got a nice 50/50 mix of ewe lambs and ram lambs this year.  I'm looking forward to seeing them at the fair this summer.



Friday, July 26, 2013

Vet Check

Vet check for sheep that will be exhibited at the Whidbey Island Fair will be Wednesday, August 14th at 9:00am in front of the sheep barn. 

Dr. Robert Moody, DVM

Local large animal veterinarian, Dr. Robert Moody will be volunteering his time once again to help us out with this important aspect of the fair.  All sheep must be inspected by him before they will be allowed into the barn on Wednesday morning.  Inspection by a veterinarian helps us insure that all animals that come to the fair are healthy and won't pass on any contagious diseases to other exhibitors animals.

If you will be exhibiting sheep at the fair, please be on time to help us get Dr. Moody on his way to the next barn he will be inspecting!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Tansy Ragwort

Time to pull Tansy Ragwort ...


First year tansy ragwort

I walked through part of our pasture yesterday, only to discover that the tansy ragwort have gotten close to the flowering stage.  Due to our warm, early spring they seem to be ahead of schedule for blooming this year.  The  second year plants in the pasture ranged from one foot to five feet tall, depending on their location.

Tansy ready to bloom


Now is the time to get out and pull these plants out.  If the soil is not too dry, you can usually grab them firmly by the base of the stem and pull most of the root systems out (except for the big ones you broke off last year!)

Flower heads just starting to open

At this stage you can lay them in a hot area to dry and then burn them later.  Don't wait too long though, or the flowers will open and they will start to go to seed!

Tansy ragwort flower head just starting to open.

**For more about this invasive species and their impact on livestock go to my August 12, 2012 post.  Please help us control this plant**

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A Few Comments about Rams...


I got a new ram a few weeks ago.  He's a pure breed Shetland ram that came from a farm near Bow, WA.  We haven't had a ram on our farm for about a year and a half.  I'm looking forward to breeding him this fall to some of my ewes.  Most people that show in the Open classes at the fair probably have at least one ram in their flock unless they are breeding via artificial insemination.  Most 4-Her's buy their sheep as lambs and are not involved in breeding their sheep.


'DonnasSheep Shaun the Sheep' Shetland ram

Unfortunately, I'd forgotten about rams...he likes to rub his horns on the fenceline and has tried to test the strength of the fence with this head a few times as well.  As rams go, he's been really good.  But my fence has a few 'bulges' in it after only a few weeks - something you wouldn't see with a ewe.

During the fair you will probably have the chance to see a few rams on exhibit.  Rams from some breeds have horns while others do not.  Most of the time if an exhibitor brings a ram to the fair you will see a small sign on the pen that says something like, 'Please Do Not Pet Me on the Head'.

Sheep are animals that live in flocks.  Within the flock there is a hierarchy among the animals - some are the leaders and some are the followers.  All sheep determine dominance by butting each other with their heads.  Within the flock, rams are always on top. 

If you come up to a ram at the fair and pet him on the head, he assumes that you are showing your dominance over him, and his response is to try to butt you back with his head.  It may seem like all fun and games at the fair, but when a ram gets used to butting humans, it can be dangerous.  If a ram decides to charge you while you are in his pen, he may hit you with enough force to break your leg.


So far Shaun has been a very respectful fellow.  He has not been socialized to people...and at this point he likes to keep his distance when I come into his pen.  As the summer goes on, I'm hoping to work with him to get him used to contact with people.  I plan to give him a scratch under the chin when he lets me get close.  This is a great way to give him a pet and keep his head up so he won't butt. It's important that a ram always regards you as the dominant member of his flock...but just in case, I don't plan to turn my back on him! 

So, when you see that sign at the fair that says, 'Please Do Not Pet Me on the Head', remember to give the ram in that pen a scratch on the chin if he seems friendly!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

2013 Sheep Show Judge

Just a quick note to let everyone know that our judge for the 2013 Whidbey Island Fair Sheep and Fleece show will be Amy Wolf.

Amy Wolf judging during the 2011 Whidbey Island Fair
Amy judges on the national level and we are honored once again to have her come to judge our show.  Amy is unusual in that she knows both the qualities that make a good meat sheep as well as the characteristics of the various fiber breeds of sheep.

Along with judging sheep, Amy also runs her own fiber business and shears sheep.  Recently, she did a shearing demonstration at Kelsey Creek Farm Park in Bellevue that was written up in the Seattle times http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2020876377_sheepshearingxml.html .

I'm really looking forward to Amy's enthusiasm, knowledge and positive comments once again this year as she comes to judge at the fair!