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Farm Newsletter 2005

  This newsletter is dedicated to Icelandic Dairy Shepherd Jim Londagin who was tragically killed when a large hay bale rolled over on him in November 2004. Jim was developing a dairy flock using mostly ewes leased from our Tongue River Farm. Most of his milkiest bloodlines came from our ewes and rams. This is a great loss to the dairy world as Jim was a wealth of knowledge on Icelandic dairy ewe and sheep dairying in general. We will miss his enthusiasm and optimism and courage.

  It has been 2 years since I sent out a newsletter and I have missed doing it. There have been a lot of changes for us in the past two years. Rex and I decided to go in different directions. I wanted to be closer to my kids and continue my sheep business. Rex wanted to retire and go traveling. We sold the Montana farm and I bought a run down 343 acre Ozark farm that was 1/3 pasture and 2/3 rough wooded hilly land divided in the middle by the beautiful West Fork of the Black River and backed up to National Forest near Bunker MO. This is the playground for folks from St Louis with its wild and scenic rivers and horse trails where 2000 horses show up for rides in the Mark Twain National Forest. Hunting and fishing and recreation are big here. The flora and fauna is fabulous and quite varied. The wild flowers, butterflies and birds are numerous and colorful. My favorites are the indigo bunting and the Piliated woodpecker. The daisies and the black eyed Susan’s are also favorites. Dogwoods and redbuds are also everywhere and are a delight in the spring. With a long growing season gardens do well. The soil here is clay, well mixed with limestone rocks, which dissolve slowly and form caves and springs and crystal geodes everywhere.

  My first challenge after the heroic effort moving of all of the sheep and equipment and household goods in the middle of winter was to start building fence in the spring. The sheep endured a “too small” pen that was alternately frozen and lumpy or wet and sodden. Feeding and caring for the flock was difficult in this situation. The sheep’s hearty constitutions met the challenge of difficult confinement with little shelter and none got sick. I love this breed!

  All summer my daughter and I fought briers, chiggers and ticks to put up electric fencing in order to be able to keep the flock in forage. The sheep did a great job of clearing out the brambles as soon as they got access to the new pastures. The transformation was amazing. Brush so dense that you couldn’t walk thru

was reduced to sticks. The sheep ate the wild flowers, weeds and grasses and tree leaves. I did have quite a few lambs killed this spring in spite of 2 guard dogs. The dogs were afraid of something and often refused to go with the sheep. I found out later that a Mountain Lion was snacking on lambs. The coyotes also got a few. I hired a fencer to build woven wire perimeter fence so that the sheep would not wander into the national forest. As the lambs grew the Lion predation eased. I have 2 more dogs coming to help with the guarding duties.

I was scheduled for AI this year. I had missed last year because of the move so I was looking forward to using the semen of many new bloodlines brought in from Iceland. The tech forgot to send the sponges and hormone the first time and we had to reschedule. A month later we were 3 days away from AI when I was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogentic Leukemia (bone marrow cancer). I had been feeling tired and losing weight rapidly and now I knew why. AI was canceled and I was started on chemotherapy. The good news in all of this is that what was once a very fatal disease is now being taken into remission indefinitely with a new drug called Gleevec. Dr. said not to sell the sheep or the farm and that I could continue my life with sheep. I am hopeful and thankful for all of the family and friends that rallied to help me. I am now feeling better (feistier) and am able to do my sheep work. I am hoping that this year will be a bit easier and more fun.

  I managed to perimeter fence 64 acres of rough country and put up a small barn. With this I will be able to work the sheep more easily. The fields were neglected for years and so this year I will be cost sharing with the state and federal governments to fertilize, lime and reseed the pastures and put in water lines. This should unlock the fertility that is tied up in aluminum compounds with the very acid soils (PH of 4). Lime is essential on these eastern farm soils. I will seed orchard grass as well as red clover. There is already white Dutch clover in the pastures. I take great joy in slowly bringing this poor farm back to

health. Lots of work but lots of fun too. My family has pitched in with the hard work of fencing and clearing out dead trees. I am living my dream of being a shepherd and will continue as long as I am able. In spite of the challenges that 2004 brought I have gotten over that “Mountain” and feel like it will be smoother sailing from here on out. The sheep performed admirably and I have a lot of fabulous lambs to offer as bred ewes. Luckily I had several AI rams that I had never used and this was their chance to shine. In all I used 8 AI rams and 2 rams as clean up that are of high % AI breeding. They are sons of Haengur, Bambi, Flotti, Flekkur,  Sonor and Austri and Kanij. As Clean up I used a Dalur grandson “Navaho” and a Grandson of Bambi. Most of the sale ewes are bred to AI colored rams so have a good chance of having colored lambs for you. Many of the ewes on the bred ewe list are of the highest quality that I have ever produced coming from AI daughters of Blaevar, Peli, Hunn, Stubbur, Faldur, Dalur, Haengur, Glaer, Hnykill, Sveppur, Skreppur, Askur, Austir, Bambi, Horvi, Bassi, Stirmir, Buri, and Kongur. Many of my sheep are line bred to old Saddleback through her son STS3D and several of her daughters and her full sister STS8A. In addition many are related to another very productive and important foundation ewe Golsa STS37Z. These lines have excellent production, fabulous fleeces, excellent conformation and are very milky. They are also very healthy and long lived. The lambs from these dams have grown out well and I offer them for your consideration.

I had to assist only 3 ewes this spring (thank goodness as I was busy fencing) and this shows that my selection for ease of lambing is working well. If you want easy lambing sheep of the highest quality to add to your flock I have an excellent selection. Most all of the white ewes are carrying color and patterns. I require 1/3 down and the rest before the sheep is shipped. I can arrange delivery or better yet come to the farm and spend the day with me and pick up your sheep. I would love to meet you and talk sheep. The ewes were not fall sheared as we couldn't keep the sheep dry enough to shear so they are in full fleece.

Tongue River Farm 

Newsletter Summer 2003

“There is only one success….to be able to spend your life in your own way” Christopher Morley

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HOUDINI RAM This lambing season was a joy. There were surprises like the AI Dalur son that jumped every fence on our place and was in with the ewe flock for a week before I discovered him. He managed to breed 24 ewes that were slated for breeding to other rams. Luckily SRX60M-AI by Dalur was a spectacular ram that carried moorit, a fabulous spotting pattern, high phaeomelanin, very fine lustrous fleece and grey. He successfully scaled a 6-foot high excellent board corral fence that no ram has ever been able to do before as well as get out of a locked camper shell. We had no choice but to butcher him as we had nothing that would hold him unless we wanted him to breed everything on the place!! It is unfortunate as his lambs are spectacular! We are keeping many of them for the flock and will use his fabulous spotted moorit triplet son as a herd sire this fall. Many of his offspring were born a rich ginger color with extra orange phaeomelanin. The color will fade with time but the fleeces will remain a beautiful buttermilk color that spinners covet.

50 RAMS USED. We used over 50 rams this past Fall for breeding the flock including over 30 different AI rams and AI offspring. This guarantees us the widest genetics for our flock when and for our customers. We have culled hard and brought up the quality in our flock quickly. Because of this our flock is very young. Our  high expectations are being realized with better, higher tighter udders with small lamb friendly teats, easy lambing (we rarely pull a lamb), high productivity, high milk production, excellent square conformation and well muscled bodies, heat tolerance, award winning fleeces (our fleeces were sold out in 3 months from the website for up to $35/lb), wide trouble free horns (or clear polled), calm dispositions, excellent spotting patterns, keeping the solid pattern and lots of moorit in the flock, strong feet that need no trimming, strong mothering instincts.

WHITE SHEEP! With much AI semen being from white rams in Iceland, we struggle to keep color in our flock. However almost all of our ewes carry color and pattern. Although colored and patterned ewes are attractive, without the traits previously named a colored sheep may be a disappointment to its owner. If I took you on a walk through the flock, your eyes would go to the spectacular whites with their luminous thick long curly fleeces and chunky deep bodies. They are spectacular!! Some of our best bloodlines are for sale packaged in lustrous bright summer white fleeces. Most have 2 AI sires in their pedigrees and are bred for quality and not just for color. This year consider a fabulous white for your flock!!!

AI 2002 RESULTS  The other surprise was that Our AI tech tried a pig hormone on our ewes to stimulate egg release. It had negative results on the ewes and we got a 56% take, one of our lowest ever. We were lucky however as many breeders got even lower takes. Not only was the number of the ewes that settled to the AI low, but the number of lambs that resulted was low also. Some of the ewes that didn’t settle didn’t even breed with the clean-up ram so the hormone may have had lingering negative effects. However of the lambs that resulted from AI were many colored lambs including 3 from the moorit mouflon KANI a black mouflon, moorit grey and black grey horned rams. We also got spectacularly spotted lambs from Prestur and a set of moorit badgerface lambs from Bambi. And twin dark grey ewes from Vestri. For the complete results of this years AI see our website.

END OF DROUGHT? The other surprise was the weather. Rain came in small slow drizzles all during the lambing period effectively ending the 4-year drought at least for now. It was wonderful to see the grass explode in response as if it has been in hibernation for 4 years and had pent up energy. We are hoping that the drought will be ended for the whole west. We are very thankful for at least this respite. The sheep lambed right through this rainy weather on pasture with little effect. The lambs are weather proof if their tummies are full of warm ewe milk. The lambs hunker down in the grass in a little ball to conserve body warmth in the wind and rain and look like they are bedraggled and suffering. However they are not shivering and just as soon as the rain lets up they spring up and start running and playing, soaking wet! The only problem we had was from a few twins from ewe lamb mothers whose milk had not come in fully. Their lambs had little milk onboard and were chilled in the worst rain/wind. The ones that got space in the shelters were fine but the older more dominate ewes commandeered the shelters and effectively kept out the younger ewes and their lambs. Never-the-less we had only 3 lambs lost and treated for cold and chills out of about 200 lambs!!

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LIVESTOCK GUARDIAN DOG UPDATE Our Livestock guardian dogs are working out well. They gave us an unexpected bonus of 8 pups of which we still have 2. We will probably keep one so if you need a good pup to guard your flock let us know. The female whelped in the coldest part of winter in mid February and we didn’t know if they would even survive the cold. But Olga chose a spot deep in the haystack and the pups thrived. Olga did very little guarding after she had the pups. Now as they are about 3 months of age she is gradually going back to guarding the flock. Our male Mac, that we bought as a pup last summer is now fully grown and guarding the flock well. We are very happy with their work. The pups are penned with some sheep now and will graduate to guarding some ewe lambs as soon as the lambs are weaned in the Fall.

EWE LAMB TWINS Another surprise was the high rate of twins from ewe lamb mothers. 34% have twinned so far and we also had a set of triplets from a ewe lamb mother. Her sire is a Hunn son so most probably carries the Thoka gene. With the tripleting ewe I grafted out 2 of her lambs to older ewes and left her with one to raise. The ewe was a late lamb last year, a twin from a ewe lamb Mom and not a big ewe so this was really a surprise!!

     Our Thoka gene ewe, also a Hunn daughter who has a lambing record of (3,3) decided to take a break this year and had a single. We will look forward to next year and see what she will do.

FLOCK STARS SRX158G Sprout a Mocum daughter (Saddleback son) who has a fabulous udder and stellar milk production was settled by the “Houdini” SRX60M-AI ram and produced triplets again!! Her lambing record is (2,2,1,3,3,3) 14 lambs in 6 years and all stellar!

STS650F Rita continued her perfect record of twins so has a lambing record of (2,2,2,2,2,2,2) by producing 2 huge twins. I will keep her moorit mouflon ewe lamb as a replacement and sell Rita. In fact I have several adult ewes that are wonderful reliable producers with excellent lambing records, including SRX70F (1,2,2,2,2,2) ; STS869G (1,2,3,3,2,3);;; BLW23F ((1,2,2,1,4,3,3,2). This is your chance to buy excellent producing ewes in their prime. They will make room for younger ewe lamb, rising stars, coming into the flock.

AI EWES FOR SELL I also have several AI ewes for sale. I am getting a good collection of AI ewes in the flock and have a few to offer this year. Although many of them are white most of them carry color and pattern and will throw it if bred to colored rams.

 Included are 2 leader ewe daughters of ARI SRX339J-AI (2,2,2,2) very easy lamber and very productive and definitely showing her leader traits. I will keep her ewe lamb by Prestur that is a ¾ leader as a replacement.

SELLING THE FARM We have been working on selling our farm. We are not going out of the sheep business but just planning to move closer to family in Missouri. This location is within a days drive of most of our family. We have been missing seeing out kids and grandkids grow and being part of their lives. If you know of anyone that wants a good farm let them know about this one. It is one of the most beautiful and productive farms in Eastern Montana. We can set you up in the sheep business in a turn-key operation if you wish and mentor you in getting started right if you wish. To learn more about the farm see www.tongueriverfarm.com


PRESS ON: Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men (or women) with talent. Genius will not: unrealized genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.


WOMEN THAT INSPIRE US Two young women who have taken Icelandic fiber and are working miracles.

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       Maggie is a nurse in WV who works 12 to 16 hour shifts in the intensive unit at a hospital near by. She is burning out and desperately wants to work toward an alternative income source that is not part of the rat race. She inquired about Icelandic sheep and bought a starter flock. She took to felting like a duck to water and started making purses to sell. This spring her purses were accepted to the exclusive craft outlet for mountain crafts in the WV area. This is a great honor for a first time crafter. She received her first big order. Maggie is on her way to a full time on-to-farm job that is saner and slower paced and just what she had in mind!!. Good work Maggie. See some of her work at our booth at Estes Park and Rhinebeck in our booth.

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     Loree lee Harper is a new felting guru who was introduced to Icelandic fiber and needle felting in February at Stitches West when she bought a felting book and fiber from us. This stunningly beautiful and talented woman has taken felting to new levels. Her first creations are marvels of craftsmanship. She started with bunnies that are so real that they make you laugh. She is now exploring polar bears. Her pieces are museum quality!! She has a bright future in felting!! In her “other” life Loree does aerial stunt work. See her website at www.StuntFX.com


“It is by imitation that I innovate.”

SUCCESS CONTINUES TRF sheep continue their successes for their new owners. Lyle Behl that bought our high selling ewe at the Rhinebeck Fiberfest in 2001 and  took her home. The next spring she produced twins and was shown  that summer in 2002 and won her class at Michigan and then went on to win the top honors over all ewes at the same show. She went home and this spring again produced twins!! As a 2 year old she has a 200% lambing record and many wins in the show ring. Lyle says that he has a waiting list for offspring from this ewe! 

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ESTES PARK SHOW AND SALE Tongue River Farm will again be offering for sale some of our top breeding ewes and rams at auction at the Estes Park Show on June 12th through the 15th 2003 in conjunction with the ISBONA annual meeting. Don’t miss this opportunity to buy outstanding breeding ewes and rams at the price you want to pay. Among the stock to be offered will be SRX765K-AI by Buri. He is a polled triplet whose dam has a lambing record of (1,2,2,1,3,2,2). (The singles were AI offspring and the process can either increase or decrease the ewes natural prolificacy. SRX765K-AI has outstanding lambs on the ground and his first daughters have offspring that are outstanding. He sheared a 7lb fleece of excellent quality and uniformity. His conformation is excellent, He is well muscled and square on his feet. He is a black badgerface carrying solid and a nice leopard-spotting pattern.

We will also be bringing at least 2 other excellent ewes for this show and sale. SEE OUR WEBPAGE FOR AN UPDATE (on what ewes will be in the sale) CLOSER TO THE SHOW DATE.

If you attend Estes Park please come by our booth and introduce yourself! We are looking forward to meeting you. J

ECONOMICS OF RAISING ICELANDIC SHEEP Consider the economics of raising sheep. 2 good acres of grass pasture in a moderate rainfall area will support 1 cow and her calf for the year. That cow will produce a 500 lb calf. With cattle you get only one chance a year for a saleable offspring from that cow. If something happens to the calf either during birth or if that calf gets sick and dies there is no more saleable product for a whole year.

     Compare this to sheep where you can support 5 to 7 sheep and their lambs on the same 2 acres. Lets use 6 as an average. These 6 sheep will average 170 to 180% live weaned lambs (10.2) that average 90# lambs or better or 918 lbs of meat. In addition the ewes and lambs will each produce a fleece that averages 3 to 4 lbs of usable fiber. Using 3.5 lbs for the 6 ewes and 10.2 lambs that is #56.7 lbs of wool. I average more than $15./lb for my wool so this yields $850. in profit just from the wool not counting the meat or sale of breeding stock. Your risk of illness is spread over many animals and not just one like the calf. Ewe lambs will sell for $500 to $600. Meat averages about $3.00./Lb Each lamb will have about a 40 to 45 lb carcass. Of this you will receive about 30 lbs of cut and wrapped meat. At $3.00/lb that is $90/lamb times 10.2 lambs equals $918 worth of meat. Total of  $1767 from 6 ewes compared to about $450 from one calf on the same acreage. That is a gain of  $1317 just selling meat and wool. This does not count breeding stock sales. This is the potential for Icelandic sheep.

     My banker once told me “If you don’t like sheep you don’t like money!” he also went on to explain that sheep make money 8 out of ten years while cattle only makes money 3 out of ten years. He told us that it was sheep that bought and paid for most of the ranches in this area. He stated that most of the sheep ranchers in this area could “buy and sell” any cattleman any day of the week.

“Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from poor judgment”


SHEEP MILK SOAP Want to make some extra income from your sheep? Try milking them and marketing that milk in the form of sheep’s milk soap. Send us a SASE for the recipe. It is easy to do and homemade soap sells well. Use a fancy mold with a sheep motif. These are available from us for $12.00 each for a 4 bar flexible mold. This is a profitable way to market sheep’s milk as the product is not perishable and sells well. Customers report that sheep milk soap heals many skin conditions such as Rosacea and Eczema. It is also wonderful for sensitive skin, customers report.


    Some of the elements that determine the SUCCESS of a fiber
artist/worker are:
        LOVE WHAT YOU DO! This is a very subjective idea and sounds “woo-woo" except that you'll know in your heart if  you love it or not. If you don't love it don't do it.
        PROFESSIONALISM is a choice you must make in order to succeed. Making money from your fiber may start off part-time but it will work for you as a motivator that will "keep you hungry" for new things.
        COLOR is the number one factor that sells textiles, any textiles. Natural colors are nice and interesting but you're going to need dyed colors to really "grab" your customers' eyes. It is unexplainable how color affects people, but it IS well known that color sells.
        KEEP LEARNING all that you can. No need to worry about someday "knowing-it-all" because this fiber world is virtually unlimited. The more you learn the better you'll accomplish everything else.
        WORK HARD. If you've got the attitude that work is somehow dirty, demeaning, or beneath you, find another career, like banking. This industry is what the Buddhists call "Right Livelihood".
    6.Some of the elements that determine the FAILURE of a fiber artist/worker are:
        GREED. This might seem obvious but it's something you must be continually aware of. Unfortunately this industry like the rest of the world is NOT a greed-free zone.
        LAZINESS in all respects is dangerous. Not learning new stuff or trying new sales venues or new designs or fibers is the mark of a failure.
        POOR BUSINESS ACUMEN can grind all your positive attributes to dust. If you don't know how to be in business then hire a professional to help you. If you spend too much time "at the books" then you need help.
        SPECIALIZATION to such an extent that you forget the fact that we work in a BUYER'S MARKET and they make the ultimate choice to give you money.
        NOT KNOWING THE FIBER-PRODUCT RELATIONSHIP. For example, a rug yarn from Merino or a fingering yarn from Churro.

OUR HELP DOES NOT STOP WITH THE SALE: We offer continuing help until you feel confident and no longer need our help. I am easy to reach and don’t screen my calls. If we are not in and you leave a message we will get back to you ASAP.

WE OFFER FREE DELIVERY TO AN AREA CLOSE TO YOU. This is a big help for busy shepherds that have jobs and kids and can’t drive long distances to buy and haul sheep.

WE OFFER SHEEP THAT HAVE BEEN SELECTED FOR EASE MANAGEMENT: Our Aim is for you to have a maximum of enjoyment from your sheep and a minimum of problems.

WE OFFER A DISCOUNT ON MULTIPLE PURCHASES: If you buy 3 or more ewes you will receive a 10% discount on the ewes and your ram at ½ price.


ICELANDIC/ENGLISH WORD TRANSLATION ONLINE:http://www.icelandichorse.is/translation.htm
This is the URL to the Icelandic Word Bank...it should give you the
translations for the word??? Under the word TUNGUMÁL there is a drop down...you need to use the word

ENSKA which means English. Then on the LEFT side under the words SLÁÐU INN LEITARORÐ type in the word
that you want...like BLACK and hit ENTER on your keyboard...You will then get all the words in Icelandic
black [íslenska] svartur [Bílorð]
black [íslenska] svartur [sænska] svart [þýska] schwarz [Málmiðnaður]
other URLS that are really great too for other words that you might use to describe your lambs....like HJÖRTUR in Icelandic means "deer"http://www.behindthename.com/nmc/ice.html
UR that ends some of the words is in the Male tense. Like Surtur or Petur and words ending with
an A are the feminine.

MORE INSPIRATION from Peter Hillary the son of Sir Edmund Hillary the guy who first climbed Everest he's a motivational speaker and he also climbs Everest, goes to the South Pole and stuff like that. Here are his 10 steps to "the summit of the world"---

Hillary’s 10 Steps to the Summit of the World

1.      Nothing ventured; nothing gained

2.      Challenge = uncertainty = excitement

3.      Fear makes you focus

4.      Passion gives you confidence

5.      Fun makes for a great team

6.      Make sure you have more than one thing to live for

7.      Resist the “flock factor”

8.      “You are all you have”

9.      Great challenges result in powerful experiences

10.  A View from the Summit..to new horizons

NEW PRODUCTS: If you haven’t looked at our website recently you might be surprised to see the many new sheep related products we now carry including cookie cutters, silk roving dyed and natural, tote bags, fine kid mohair blend yarns, patterns that work well with Icelandic yarns, felting books by Pat Spark and the new one from Anne Vickery, ram horn buttons, lopi pattern books, dyed Lopi yarns from Iceland, drop spindles from Bolivia, felting needle sample kits. Visit our website for a look or visit our booth at Estes Park to see these items.

ICELANDIC HORSES FOR SALE We are planning a move as soon as we sell this farm. In order to lessen our moving ordeal we are offering 3 of our Icelandic horses at a drastically reduced price. All of these 3 horses are purebred Icelandic horses but not registered. Icelandic horses are sweet, personable and make excellent family riding horses. They don’t have a mean bone in their bodies and don’t buck rear or kick. They are easy to train and have very smooth gaits. We have one filly 3 years old and ready to train and ride. We also have a 2-year-old filly. Lastly we have a yearling colt. All are chestnut and friendly and will make great riding horses.



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Tongue River Farm
Tongue River Farm
  5000 CR 4910
 Pomona, MO 65789
  (417) 469-1151 

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  © Copyright Tongue River Farm, 2002













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