Like a walk through the country side living on a small farm is full of daily surprises, sometimes wonderful and amazing, and other times puzzling and sad. I hope you will walk with me as I live out my dream of living on this tiny farm. You will come to know the dogs, cats, Shetland sheep and chickens that make up this farm and what goes into keeping them happy and healthy. Come and join the journey with me.
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Well, unfortunately I must say we have had a 'real' winter this year! For the past four-five years we have had pretty mild winters, with just a patch or two here and there of winter stuff. Not this year! It started with a icey/sleety storm in November, which at the time seemed quite severe. In hindsight, it wasn't that bad--not after surviving "The Big Ice Storm of 2007" (as they are now calling it) which hit a few weeks ago. Since then we've had another little snow, very cold single digit temps and again today its snowing like crazy...'flurries' gone wild from what I've heard. (I refuse to look out the window). Keeping the livestock....well, alive, well fed, watered and bedded for these temps and conditions is really wearing me down and I hate seeing the animals so cold. Yes, I might even be just a tad....bitter..... :-)
This morning I was a little late getting to work, because when I got in my truck, the door wouldn't shut! I've been having a bit of trouble with it on cold days (it was around 9 degrees this morning), but usually a little WD40 does the trick. So I tried that. Didn't work. My fingers were freezing...I decided to drive a little ways holding the door shut (yes I know, very stupid). I got about a mile or so down the road and pulled into the church driveway, got out and attacked the open/shut gizmo with a spoon and more WD40---didn't work, and I was getting tired of people driving by and staring at me, so I pulled up by the church. I then tried to think of something that would work, and ended up getting into my 'survival kit' and getting out the matches. The question was...would WD40 burn wildly? No it didn't, and trying to warm up the metal parts with matches didn't work either. Finally I got the little lock button to move up and down a some and that seemed to break it all loose and I was able to shut my door and get to work. At one point I was trying to think how to tie my neck scarf to the door and something else to hold it closed.... I think I was experiencing some kind of cold weather dementia.....
On a more positive note, my sick sheep June seems to have recovered well. I wasn't sure she was going to make it, as she totally quit eating for about two days. Now June is the biggest sheep I have, after the big Merino ram, Blue, and she is mostly Dorset with large dramatic eyes and a lovely fleece. She is also one of the bigger, uhmmm..pigs.. in the bunch and never misses a meal...ever. She is technically 'head sheep' although little Rain, the shetland burns to be in that spot. June eats everything. She had pnuemonia as a lamb and I think some lung damage. She is big, stout and healthy but moves at a slower pace than the others and we have to be careful on the shearing table as one year she nearly died (tongue, lips etc turned blue). I'm not sure what happened this time. She seemed to have some labored breathing, but nothing terribly overt. Slight temperature, a little watery around the nose. Mostly just a general sick look and refusing to eat. I gave it the shotgun approach as I typically do, since vet care for sheep around here is very minimal. By the third or fourth day, when she started resisting the shots, I knew she was doing better. Shortly thereafter she started wolfing down everything in sight and the final evidence of recovery was when she hopped out of her pen and joined the other ewes. I was very happy. I'm not sure what the problem was. The weather has been extreme, there was a change in watering and some water rationing (this was during the electricity outing), they had been nibbling bark and buds off numereous downed limbs and I had fed some rather awful looking alfalfa to try and make the big bale go further. I just hope she continues to improve and stay well. As a side note, its very difficult to hold a flashlight and give a shot!
Last night I made an appointment with the shearer and worked on tracking down some more hay. The hay picture is very bleak around here, but I'm hoping to get a few more round bales at least. I've enough for the moment, but I'm pretty sure I won't have enough to last until the grass comes on.
I am so ready for Spring!
Pictures from top to bottom: Redbird in snowstorm, Very hungry birds, Boone in the snow---he was very happy and excited when it snowed....