Jack Schmidling Productions, Inc.
MOST RECENT PHOTOS
18016 Church Road ~ Marengo IL 60152
This week was our big Christmas party and I had little time for anything clever other than my other hobby, gourmet cooking. The good news is that Santa brought me a Canon Digital Rebel and I could not resist using it for this week's photo and the best subjects I could think of were my new wool factories.
Every once in awhile, I get these wierd urges and do something my wife thinks is really nuts and "My Boys" are just the latest.
They are, from left to right, #41, Gordy and #43. The numbers are off their ear tags and the idea is that not giving them names makes it easier to have them made into mutton chops. Turns out that they are all pretty lovable and will probably outlive me.
The sheep are Dorset (sort of) rams and Gordy is Boer buck who had his bucks removed so he will be a permanent fixture for sure. The antenna on his head was put on to keep him from getting his head stuck in the fence. He has back facing horns and everytime I turned around, he was hung up on the fence.
As an alternative to mutton chops, I am studying up on spinning and weaving. Stand by for the next episode.
THE BOY'S FIRST HAIRCUT
I knew they would not be a pretty sight after shearing but I never expected this!
In case it isn't obvious what they are staring at, it's the man with the clippers and #43 is not real interested in being next.
It was fun to watch and help but I certainly would not want to shear sheep for a living.
For those unfamiliar with sheep, they must be sheared every year whether or not one wants the wool. They can not survive Summer heat with that heavy coat on.
This is the fleece from one of the sheep. It rained the day before so we had to dry it in the sun for a few hours.
We ended up with about 8 lbs from each animal and after picking out the really grungy stuff, we sent off about 14 lbs to be machine carded so we can spin it into yarn for weaving and knitting.
For the rest of the story see....
We find it very hard to get good help in the country so we try to make do with what is available.
We finally got Beersheepa to bring out a beer without spilling it but he just doesn't understand that a butler should not eat while serving drinks.
It became obvious after bruises and sprained wrists from trying to lead Gordy around on a leash that he is pretty strong. One goat power, I guess. It occurred to me that he could be strong enough to pull a cart of some sort.
After a bit of Googling, I learned that it is not only possible but quite common and a regular feature of small town parades. All it takes is a year or so of training and a cart. I bought a halter and a set of reins and started training. The halter made a great difference as it allows me to control him instead of the other way around and he no longer tries to jerk my arms off. I am spending about an hour, twice a day on this which includes drilling on the commands; giddyup, whoa, gee, haw, etc.
In the meantime, I researched what a typical cart is supposed to look like and started working on it.
This is what I came up with after buying the wheels and two broom sticks. Everything else was stuff on hand.
After wheeling it into Gordy's yard to see what he would make of it, he went right to it but seems a little confused as to which end is his.
Meanwhile, Marilyn had her own idea of another old goat for the job.
For more info on the white shirt on the old goat see...FIBER CRAFTS
For anyone interested, the construction details can be seen in this photo. The wheels have built in bearings that fit a 3/4" shaft which is mounted to the aluminum angle with U-bolts.
The lower 6" of the chair legs were sawed off and bolted to the frame. The wood cross member in front provides rigidity and a foot rest and the one in back is for rigidity and a small child can stand on it to hitch a ride.
Here we see Gordy pulling the "queen" around.
At this point, I have to lead him around but he has really adapted to the cart.
The harness is my own design which requires only putting his head through the breast strap and pulling the butt strap over his butt.
Neither rain nor sleet nor snow will deter Gordy from a chance to pull his cart around.
This time it's my grandson Sam.
Note my coat and hat: the former compliments of #41 now known as Galute and the hat compliments of Condi.
After two years with The Boys, I decided to get a little adventurous and find a girlfriend for Mr. G and see what happens.
I also was interested in blending dark wool with his white wool for a touch of color in my tailoring. This lead me to learning about fine wool and coarse wool breeds which ultimately lead me to Mme G.
She is a bit intimidated by Gordy the Goat and getting a good group photo has been a real challenge. This one is the best so far.
Not to be confused with Mme Secretary, Connie is a Merino-Corriedale cross which produces a very fine (and in this case), dark wool.
She was the gift of a neighbor, Toni Neil, proprieter of
who, in addition to being a great resource for everthing related to fiber, raises them and was glad to find a good home for one.
When we first introduced her, the boys chased her all over and butted her down as though she were another ram that needed to be put in its place. After a few hours separation on opposite sides of the fence, we tried again and this time he sniffed her butt and it was love at first sniff.
He is totally smitten now and they spend hours playing ring around the rosy circling trees and sniffing. Gordy's status went from inseparable pal to a garden gnome from Mars.
This marvelous tool:
Does a great job,
Is independant of evil foreign oil,
Needs no green card,
Has built in wood chipper,
Disposes of the trimmings in a very eco-friendly maner.
Condi's a Mom
Went out for our morning walk and heard a strange sound. A crow? Marilyn screams "oh no!" I wonder what calamity now? Walk around the barn and there is Condi with her lamb, Galute (father) sniffing her butt and Gordy (goat) looking on.
Marilyn goes crazy. I do my best to calm her down but I am a little nervous too. She calls everyone she knows that has ever heard of a sheep.
After taking a few photos, I picked up the lamb and put it in Condi's shed and she followed us in. Got "The Boys" isolated though I thought Galute was going to knock down the gate but he calmed down after awhile. They have never been separated before and I guess he didn't like it.
I still don't know what sex it is but we were concerned about the long thing hanging from the rear (not to be confused with the umbilical cord in the picture) which turned out to be a tail. Had no idea they were that long.
Marilyn came in panicking again but it turned out the be the afterbirth.
Needless to say, this is our first lamb.
It is now feeding, Condi is eating and cleaning the lamb and all's right with the world.
Best news is the lamb is white or at least mostly white with a light tan overcoating. This is exactly what I wanted with the Merino Dorset cross.
What an exciting day!
If it seems like we are "milking" our newborn lamb for all it's worth with pics two weeks in a row, so be it.
We are pretty proud of George the First. Our first lamb and born on New Years Day.
LAMBING DAY, AGAIN
(Next Year, 2008)
After days of watching and waiting, we are grandparents again.
As with our first lamb last year, we clearly did not know what we were doing.
This sad sight was enough to make us want to just give up.
Moments later, older (2 minutes) brother came over to check out Sis who was doing just fine,
This seems to be the first learning experience.
Where's the food?
And here once again, I am proving that we have no business raising sheep. After pulling and tugging
on Mom's milk things, we became totally convinced that she was dry. We drove to a neighbor to borrow
a nipple and get stuff to make a milk replacer and putzed around till Midnight trying to get them to
Things did not get any better by morning and the vet sent us off on a 2 hour trip to get goat milk
from a not so nearby neighbor. We also went to town to get baby nipples and bottles but we still
couldn't get them to take more than small samples.
The vet showed up around Noon, picked up one of the lambs and said, "belly is full of milk". He than reached
under Condi and came up with a hand full of milk.
This is Gordy all dressed up for Oktoberfest
We take our gang for a walk just about every day but getting a picture of all of them
at the same time, in a nice neat line has escaped us for years. It goes without saying
that having new lambs every year does not make it any easier.
Today we got lucky.
The line up is:
The "Old Goat" in the lead, followed by Gordy the young goat, Galute (Dad), Bamy (short for Obama),
George the First, Condi (Mom) and Hillery.
It's not that we are political junkies but the names just seemed appropriate.
The lineup is also with Hillary way behind Bamy.
Now that we found out where the lambs were coming from, we decided to put Mom and Dad up for adoption.
We found a nice couple in Friendship, Wisconsin who picked them up this week and took them to their new home.
We received an email saying they were adjusting just fine and it took only two days for the lambs to get used to
life on their own.
What started out as an effort to produce our own mutton has resolved itself down to 3 loveable furballs
that produce (or will) wonderful wool for my new-found hobby of tailoring.
Leading we have George the First from last year and this year's twins, Hillary and Obama.
Marilyn looks like someone is threatening to take him to the packing plant.
For more....THE BOYS
Actually, she saw sheep being lead around at the fair on halters and is geting an
early start on Bamy's training.
For the record, Marilyn's friend Carol Thomas took both of these pics
and Marilyn said she gets a dollar a click.
So please don't tell your friends how cute they are.