Friday, March 30, 2007
Are these not the cutest little things? They look so much like their momma, Tabitha, that its funny! I don't think that Tabitha had the white splashes, but she has the lighter colored eyes that these little gals---yes ewe lambs--have. These girls should be moorit, but there is a possibility they might be mioget. They look a bit like bookends!
Lambing is now finished I think. Last possible date for lambing would be this week and after I got Duckie down the other night (or she got me down, depending on how you look at it), it was apparent she has no udder development. Since I've not sheared its impossible for me to tell any further than that. This would have been her first year lambing, but even the first time mums have some udder development. I had my suspicions when she had been seen participating in rather wild and unruly 'teenage races' these past few weeks. I'm a bit disappointed in this, since I would have liked to see what she produced and perhaps what hidden genetics she might have, but I'm very, very happy with the uneventful lambing season this year.
With lambing finished, here are the totals: 11 Lambs---7 ewes and 4 rams!
Color wise: 2 White ewe lambs (crossbred), 3 moorit ewe lambs, 1 musket ewe lamb (she might be moorit-I'm back and forth on her), 1 grey flecket ewe lamb, 2 grey flecket ram lambs, 1 musket ram with white head markings, and 1 black ram. All of the moorit/musket ewe lambs have small white splashes on or around their heads, so its going to be a bit of a challenge to tell them apart as they grow this summer. I'll likely be wethering the boys and will sell them as fiber pets. I don't really have allot of space to grow ram lambs, so unless someone wants one right off and will put a deposit on them, I go ahead and band them.
Now for the hard part.... deciding who w
Shearing is set for this weekend--the weather is suppose to cool off pretty dramatically but so far no rain in the forecast. Sure hope it holds so this chore can be finished. Everyone looks quite hot and bothered and a bit scruffy.
I'm still a bit surprised lambing season is over. For some reason it caught me quite unawares this year and was over before I realized I wasn't worrying enough! ha Now if we can get the girls in their summer 'do's' it'll seem more like spring.
Have a great week!
Thursday, March 29, 2007
I stopped at the bank on the way to work, and about 15 minutes later, I was back at work, with the check being processed and promises of it being delivered to me at work. (It really helps to know one of the VP's personally! ;-) I ended up getting an unsecured loan since I have a good credit rating and my own home. This way I could make the payments I could afford each month. So, now I pray the truck is a good one and outlasts its payments!! With check in hand I left work at quitting time and arranged to meet my folks back at the town where the dealership was, to pick up the truck and have them drive the other vehicle home.
It was an exhausting day, but it felt right, and I'm glad its done. Oh, and have I mentioned that my favorite color is.....GREEN! :-)
Sunday, March 25, 2007
So shearing was cancelled, after much angst and worry and decision making. This is a chore that needs to be over. The sheep are hot, the shepherd is tired of worrying about it. All week 'they' called for rain. Tuesday it rained, Wednesday was great, Thursday was nice.....calling for scattered showers on Friday. I get off work at noon on Fridays, so while at the grocery store it started raining. It kept raining. I got home and got all the girls up--some were quite wet, some weren't. The boys pretty much stayed out in it and got soaked. I went ahead and put them up later that night. It was still raining--hard. I don't know how many inches we got but it was wet. The sheep were wet, water was standing everywhere. I had visions of taking every towel I own out to the barn and sponging off wet sheep. I didn't, but it did cross my mind. After dark I finally got the shearer and we discussed it, and I prevailed to his much vaster knowledge about the shearing of wet sheep. SO, we rescheduled for April 7...two more weeks. The positive aspect of that is that most of the girls should have lambed by then. Oh well......this is only the second time we've had to reschedule in 7 years. (The other time we rescheduled twice...argh...once due to rain and the second time due to massive area destruction from tornadoes...)
I still have a few more hooves and vaccinations to give, so I'll do a few here and there. No pressure now. With the rain, the hooves will be softer to clip.
Now on to the good parts of the weekend! Early Saturday morning before 6 a.m. Rouen lambed. She had been trying to seclude herself since Friday afternoon. Bless her heart she was not happy to be shut in the barn with the others. Rouen has a long history of taking a day or so to seclude herself and 'think' about lambing. It used to worry me sick, but now I know her pattern so I just accept it and not worry. She was very happy when I went and released the captives around 9:30 that night, after I called the shearer! When I went out around 6:00 a.m. she had a nice little black lamb, nearly dry and quite spry. Rouen's rams always have huge horn patches and buds, so it was easy to tell the little guy was a ram. He didn't have the normal huge buds, but the patches were very distinctive where his horns will be. I left her alone, aside from shutting the gate into the barn to give her privacy. When I came back out at 8:00 a.m., Rouen had produced a lovely little Moorit, with some small white krunet markings--and even better an ewe! Rouen quickly produced her afterbirth, which I removed. Then a little later, as I bedded and set up the stall for her, I noticed that she had another water bag dangling. Uh oh......I sure didn't want Rouen to have triplets--she has always raised twins, but its difficult as one side of her udder dries up quickly. I'm not sure what happened but it was obvious a couple of years ago that 'something' had. Before I could finish getting her settled she had passed a second afterbirth! That was a surprise.
Later in the morning I went out to do a head count and check the babies, and I saw Willow standing in the barn, with a small black shape next to her. What the heck? Willow isn't due until Tuesday, but she definitely was standing over this baby. I went up there and quickly saw that it was Rouen's baby that had slipped out of the stall. It was unusual that Willow would take such an interest in it, and that Rouen would be calm about it. These two have a 'history' of fueding. I moved Rouen into a more secure stall and all was well. Willow was obviously secluding herself the rest of the day.
This morning, when I went out around 6:00 a.m. Willow had produced two lovely, little ram lambs! Both are Ag I think--one is moorit based and the other black based. The musket has some nice head markings and the black has an interesting mix of splashes of white and black with extra cute face markings. These two boys are very brave and bold. They come running right up to me, and I even caught one standing right by the fence nose to nose with Boone the French Mastiff! Now Boone's face can make most dogs run! He is very fierce looking, but this tiny mite was not a bit afraid.
4 Rams--Grey Flecket, Black, Musket Krunet, Grey Flecket
5 Ewes---Moorit Krunet, Grey Flecket, 2 White, Moorit Krunet
Two more ewes to go!
Caught up in the pressures of life, trying to get it all done, its so easy to not appreciate the beauty that surrounds us. After a long, harsh winter, we longed for Spring. Then suddenly, we woke up in a whole new world. The browns that clothed the land, now show a tinge of green. A little rain, and overnight the pastures are a glittering emerald green. Ah.... SPRING. Then the next moment the green is splashed with yellow dandelions. The air is heavy with the powerful sweet scent of hyacinths, flowering plum, cherry and apple trees. Color is suddenly everywhere---the grape of the hyacinths, white cherry blossoms, pink redbuds, the brash yellow of jonquils. Like a paint by number picture, slowly and lovingly the vibrant colors are filled in.
Take time to look and see! Spring is so very busy, I know, especially if you are a shepherd and the new babes are filling the stalls and pastures. The season is busy and brief, but take a moment to sit out there amongst the newborn lambs, smell the heavy sweet aroma of spring and enjoy the glorious color of Spring that God extravagantly blesses us with.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
The problem is, I have several smaller sheds and one medium shed--which I call 'the main barn'. So even getting them under shelter for the night is a challenge. Shearing is done outside--with many prayers for fair weather said. The 'game plan' is to get the balance of the Shetland, Dorset, and Merino girls into the 'main barn'--with many wires and latches in place to keep them captive. Inside this barn, there will be separate pens that will house mothers and lambs. Within the flock (the Shetlands) there is an ongoing feud between certain family lines, so I have to make sure that those particular beasts aren't penned together. The Shetland barn--which is actually a long skinny 3-sided shed that has three stalls, will have Rain and her babies and any one else that lambs this week. Blue, the Merino ram and his buddy wether, Lanny have a 'hoop house' that I will attempt to lock them in. For those that wonder, a 'hoop house' is made from a sixteen foot cattle panel that is bent into an arc, attached to a square wooden frame on the ground and covered with a tarp. It has worked wonderfully for these two. I will have to put a divider in there as Blue likes to beat Lanny up, if they are confined. The two Shetland rams and the wether will have to be lured into their tiny three sided shed and barricaded in--and I'll worry all night that they will kill each other. A big barn would be lovely, but won't soon be in the picture, so making do until then! ;-)
Anyway, I'd love to have this done and over with, but the weather isn't shaping up well, with rain predicted every day. Its just hard to say at this point. The sheepies will have to be dry to be sheared, which makes it tricky.
So, I continue my last minute scramble to get every one's feet trimmed, wormed and vaccinated. Six sheep checked off in the last two nights! And I lived to tell about it. Gracie, who is one of my first sheep and is a very mild mannered dog-like Dorset who follows everyone around and generally loves people. That is until it comes to getting her down to toe trim. Then she becomes this wild stallion who bucks and rears and thrashes and kicks. I have come to dread Gracie's turn. One year I even made her wait to have her pedicure on the shearing table. (which I want to point out, she acted like a perfect saint for the shearer!) So this year, I decided to halter her. Once I had her on the ground, I gave her a chance to be good. She thrashed her hind legs, she tried to roll on her back. I tied her up. First one leg, then two and before we were done all four. Worked like a charm. She lay there quietly in humiliation, but it was the easiest I've ever trimmed her hooves! Of course the minute we were done and I let her up and loose, she came running back over for cookies. Next was Rocky, the crippled wether. Rocky is quite handicapped but sometime over the last year, I think he has been working out. His neck muscles were incredibly strong so that I really struggled getting his head turned (crucial to getting them off their feet). In the melee of struggle, I got off balance so that when Rocky went down, so did I, with my leg trapped under him. Well, we were laying on soft hay piles, and I wasn't hurting, so after we calmed down a bit, I managed to work my leg out from under him. Once down he was a champ, except he had half of the lead rope on the halter eaten and down his throat before I realized what he was doing. (Why? I have no idea!) Then it was June, the big Dorset girl. She was really the easiest of all--her size works against her and she went down fairly easily. She's a very tame and reasonable girl.
Last night, it was three more--this time Shetlands. I decided to do the two mothers and any other victim that came close enough. Rain protested some, but really she was very good--considering her past record. Her babies were a bit alarmed about it. After I got Rain done, I fed her and got her in her stall for the night---at that point her babies went nutso and wouldn't come in. I easily caught the ram lamb, but the ewe lamb went thru the panel fence and was running amuck with the other sheep. It took awhile, but she finally went into the main barn where I nabbed her. Rain pretended at the last minute that she was all concerned about her (this coincided with Rain finishing her grain!). Next was Blackberry. I got her in her big roomy stall with her baby. All was going well. Then when I went to sit Blackberry on her butt, it went downhill. Those short Shetlands are very difficult to topple without just physically lifting them off the ground--and they may be small but they are still heavy! Finally after a short rodeo she was sitting against my legs--both of us gasping for breath. Her baby was very concerned about it all and was bleating and running around. However, once I tucked Blackberry's head over to the side, the little thing just went ballistic--screaming and dashing herself against the wire, finally busting thru the gate that I hadn't latched and running to the other sheep. I'm sure what she thought she saw was her mother being attacked, killed and then be-headed. She ran and attached herself to first her Auntie then her Grandma. She was not going back to the bloody scene of the crime. Poor baby. I finally got her in the barn and reunited with her perfectly fine and still alive mom. Her little heart was beating like crazy and she will probably hate me forever!
Lastly I passed out cookies and got sweet little Selena to fall for some cookies and chest scratches. She had her eyes closed and tail wagging when I reeled her in! She did very well and it was all over in a couple of minutes. Whew. I felt like I'd run a marathon!
Soon, they will all be done and I can heave a huge and happy sigh of relief!
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Rain and her week old twins
The shepherd thinks that the new girls will function as twins and that eventually they will share freely between their moms! But the shepherd knows that everyday is a new day and one never knows for sure what might happen.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
At 2:00 a.m. I got my act together, staggered out of bed, ignored all the animals (if you say something to them, then they think its time to get up and play or something!), and went out to see what was going on. I could see a shiny white blob up between the hay bale and the barn. Suzy had delivered! She was engaged with the wee one, and things seemed to be going fine. I wasn't sure she was finished, so I didn't go to close. Now with most of the others, I will get up close and not worry about it. But these two (Suzy and Melody) are rather silly girls and a bit on the wild side, and since this is their first lambing, I sure didn't want to interfere with the bonding process.
So back into the house I went, flopped into the bed and tried to sleep. I dozed off and on, and worried for a couple of hours, then finally got up at 4:30, so I could see how things were going and get them settled in their jug. It takes a little bit to get them set up in the jugs---fresh bedding, fresh water for momma, and after the baby(ies) are dry and things are relaxed a good flake of hay for the ewe. When I put them in the jugs, that is when I also dip the lamb(s) navel in iodine, give it a couple ccs of Nutri-drench orally, and check the ewes udder, making sure she has milk and that the teats aren't still blocked with the wax plugs. I also make sure that the lambs have found the 'milk bar' and are nursing well.
Suzy is a bit ditsy about standing for the baby to nurse, although she seems to be an attentive, interested mom. I spent some time working to get them 'connected' and making sure the little one had nursed. Hopefully Suzy will settle down during the day.
Then it was off to find the afterbirth (quite difficult in the dark!) and dispose of that. I fed the other sheep earlier than normal, just to get them to quit yelling at me.
I ended up coming to work a little early, since I was ahead of schedule and its possible I might have to leave early, if any lambing problems come up.
Melody should be due anytime now. Suzy and Melody are always together--so after I got Suzy in the jug with her little girl, I fixed it so Melody could come in and eat her grain in the stall next to them. I've been feeding these two together separate from the others for several weeks. Sounded like a good plan--but when I called them in---Melody wasn't having anything to do with going near her sister! Uh uh. I guess there was some unspoken rule that she couldn't go near her and possibly be accused of lamb-napping.
Three ewes done and five to go!
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
As I was playing, er, working to get Rain and her new babies settled in, I knew the other natives were restless. Unfair treatment! Unfair distribution of treats! No scratches, no attention! I could feel their resentment, but I could also feel---something watching me. I had been taking some pictures of the babies, when I finally couldn't stand it any more and turned around to...this....
Annalea was slumped against the fence, head propped on the wire, lower lip hanging out. It looks like she is baa-ing, but she isn't--just standing there in full pout mode. She wants a special stall too, and treats and royal treatment. Perhaps I read too much into the actions and expressions of my sheepie, but really--what else could you call this?
I snapped a picture, laughed hysterically and smuggled her a cookie.
Such an endless supply of free entertainment, and no cable fees required. :-)
Monday, March 12, 2007
Well, it was an interesting weekend, and lambing seems to be in full swing now. Another of the Shetlands lambed on Sunday and two of the crossbred girls are due this week. And there is still a question on when Duckie the black Shetland will lamb as well.
Blackberry Winter went into seclusion early Sunday morning during chore time. I decided to go on to church as these things usually take time, as she had not started active labor yet.
By the time I got back from church (two hours later), Blackberry had already lambed and the baby was mostly dry. So, things obviously progressed quicker than I thought they would! I was sure she was going to have another, but a little later, she passed the afterbirth and that was that. Blackberry singled last year, so I figured twins this year-evidently she didn't think along the same lines! :-) She had a beautiful little black (ag grey) ewe lamb with some white splashing. This little gal thinks she is pretty hot stuff. I agree she is quite the cutie. For those interested in genetics---Blackberry was bred to the same ram last year (Minwawe Redford--who is a moorit, smirslet-sokket) and they produced a lovely moorit (possibly mioget) ewe lamb, with a largish krunet type marking.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
I visited with my wood-guy while he unloaded. He works for one of the Hwy Depts. so he had some useful information about the ditch cleanup that will be happening sometime. He was quite sick, (with this junk that is going around), but had stayed home from work yesterday and was tired of 'resting'. :-) I know how he feels. Sometimes I think, if I could just sleep all day...and then when I get sick and don't feel up to doing anything, 'resting' gets old really, really quick!
After my wood-guy left, I did a load of laundry--trying to get all my bed covers washed up and ridded of any left over sick-cooties. I'll hang them on the line shortly.
Then I made some coffee, added some more ingredients to some crock-pot soup I've got cooking and headed for the computer. About that time my Dad showed up on his tractor to try and pull some of the 'hangers' (limbs that broke but are still attached and are dangling down) off. He didn't really need my help, but I went out and held the chain and hooked it up a couple of times. I also took some pictures of the action. The wind had really picked up by then, so I didn't stay out long with my head uncovered.
Then back into the house, and working on the blog and website. Then Boone barked and a horn honked and I went outside and it was my Mom. She was headed to town to pick up some meds for her suddenly very sick cat. (The vet couldn't work him in, but would let her get some meds). Mom wanted to know if I needed anything from town, which I didn't. For some reason my cell phone wasn't working, so she had just driven up to ask me.
Back to the computer...... lots of frustration with the thing kicking off and losing data and pictures. Boone barks..... I look out the window and its my hay-guy!!! Yippee!
So I save what I'm working on, and go outside to talk to them. (Him and his son). By the way, my 'hay-guy' and my 'wood-guy' are brothers! :-) They are very good honest people. I thought it quite funny that they almost were here at the same time. The hay guy was laughing about how precise the wood guy (his brother) is--but I hate to tell the hay-guy--his hay is equally as precise and perfect as the wood! :-) His son was with him and when they were done, I took them around to show them the new lambs. His son dabbles in goats and other farming avenues and I figured he'd get a kick out of the 'huge livestock' I'm raising.
So, back to the computer, way too much time spent, and I still need to head out and get the barns cleaned, limed and stalls set up. SO, off I go!
When I got home from work yesterday (we get off early on Friday's now), I parked in front of the house, and unloaded groceries from my truck. Then I pulled it around to the garage. As I was moseying to the back yard gate, I noticed that Rain was still in the shetland barn (she had been there when I left, but it had been raining so I didn't think much about it). Hmmm... the entire flock of chickens was gathered next to her in the adjoining stall. Then I saw it, tiny black legs standing next to Rain! She had probably finished up only 15-20 minutes before I got there, as the little ram was still wet. Everything looked great, so I left her to it, while I went inside and put away groceries and changed clothes. Then I couldn't stand it any longer and had to go out and check them out! :-) I soon found that Rain had had a little moorit (maybe musket) ewe lamb and a black (Ag grey) ram lamb. They are so incrediably sweet when they are first born. Very trusting. The little ewe lamb has a splash of white on the very top of her head and a tiny white spot on her face. The ram lamb has the flashy (ag) flecket markings that Rain's babies often have. He looks a bit like a little panda bear as his head is mostly white (he is not a yuglet however).
After awhile, I bedded the stall with fresh straw, fixed Rain a bucket of water with a dab of molasses in it, and then got them settled in the stall. I dipped the babies navels in iodine, gave them each two ccs orally of nutri-drench and checked Rain's udder to make sure she was producing milk etc. and then got Rain some hay. I usually don't grain the new moms for the first day, but always make sure they have good hay and fresh water. Rain passed her after birth a short time later. I left the new family alone most of the time, only to interupt to check and see if they were nursing and to take some pictures!
The new little family seems to be doing great. Rain is hyper alert to everything, and would like to rip some dog heads off. I'll keep them penned up for a few days--at first in the jug and then in a larger pen. After that I'll introduce them to the rest of the flock. The first babies always cause the biggest commotion it seems. Rain however is a hothead, so I don't think anyone will mess with her babies!
I can't post pictures here at home, (I know, I know!) so I'm going to try and link you to my website lamb page. The pictures are small but can be clicked on to see a bigger view. I will have lots more to post on the blog Monday!! Okay, I can't get the links to work either, so if you want to see the pictures, you can go to Fairlightfarm.com and click on the Spring lambs 2007 link!
I've had a terrible time posting this and trying to put up pictures on the website. I have dial up and its in a particualary cranky mood today, so will quit before I lose everything...again.
Thursday, March 08, 2007
I abide by the laws, I'm honest mostly to a fault, I don't cheat... but I've found myself thinking about hijacking hay trucks that are driving through....wondering how hard it would be to drift into that lonely field in the middle of the night and take a bale or two. :-) Trust me in that I would never do this, but its surprising the thoughts you have when you've got 23 hungry sheep mouths to fill.
I've called all my regular hay guys, I've followed elusive leads here and there. No hay. I can and have bought some from the local feed stores...but its unbelievably expensive and extremely poor in quality. The hay situation in this part of the country is desperate. Drama and secretiveness abound. I was sworn to not tell anyone that I got my original hay from my good neighbors...as there were 'others' that were pestering them to spare a few bales. A week or so ago I was told that a certain party would sell me two bales at an honest price, but it was top secret. At a meeting a few nights earlier he had told me he didn't have any---but only because there were 'witnesses' that might hear! :-) Its two year old hay, and the price is very good. It remains to be seen how decent it will be. These are the really large rounds, so two will give the girls quite a bit to pick at as the grass starts coming on. This guy will bring it, eventually, although he usually comes through in the end, sometimes it takes him awhile.
Then last night---a beautiful miracle happened! :-) I was already in bed, still feeling a bit yucky from this cold/sinus thing---I'd also taken some dentist prescribed pain reliever for my teeth---when the phone rang. As usual I let the machine pick it up....until I heard my 'hay guy' talking. I quickly snatched it up and answered it! It seems that since the grass is greening up, and he was able to rent some pasture to 'strip graze' he isn't going to need the rest of his square bales. He feeds primarily round bales, but since we've had such a terrible winter with all the dramatic storms, he was afraid to not keep the squares, in case of another ice storm etc. Anyway, I said I was very, very happy! I asked him how many he had and he has around 200! This is the GOOD stuff too, not nasty pretend hay. This will be more of the lespedeza that the sheep so love. Of course its more expensive than normal (at 4.50 per bale) but its loads cheaper than the fake stuff I've been buying at the feed store. In the course of the conversation, we were trying to match up a time for me to come and get the bales. It wasn't working, (mostly I think because he didn't want to have to pin down a particular time to be home.) so he said, well, it'll probably be easier if I just throw them on the truck and bring them over! I had originally thought I'd get 23 bales (as that is what my truck will haul), but when he said that, I immediately upped it to 40 bales! :-) Although he couldn't see it, I was doing a little dance around the house---in celebration of getting some lovely hay---DELIVERED! Being the nice guy he is, he isn't even charging extra for the delivery. Bless him.
Being still inspired the next morning, I got up extra early before going to work and worked in the barn, moving the 10 questionable bales of hay that I had accumulated from various places over to the side on a pallet. I still have around 20-25 bales of good hay from this guy, but there is plenty of space for him to now stack another 40. Happy, happy, happy! :-) This should see me through, with the round bales I have and the other two that are coming, until late spring.
With all the moisture and warmer temps, the pastures are starting to revive, so the farmers with cattle and lots of pasture are now being able to reduce hay feeding--which helps us little squirt farmers in the hay crisis! I noticed quite a few more ads for hay in the paper this week.