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.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Can you spell C.H.A.O.S? Or Duckie Lambs

Hello World!

New Little Family (Minus extra mom --Blackberry)

Well, as I'm sure you have all figured out by now, shearing is a stressful time around the little farm. This year seemed to be particularly so, but in the end it all worked out, as always.

Getting the sheep penned up at night is really the biggest headache. I start three days in advance acting nonchalant and feeding special hay in their barn, so I can pen them up the night before shearing is scheduled. They have to be dry to be sheared so must be under cover for the night. Of course there is always the worry it will rain the day before shearing or, horrors, shearing day itself. This year it rained two days before, but we had a stiff wind and sunshine to dry them out at the last minute.

Here he is...every little fleckty bit of him. His one eye patch is incomplete so he
doesn't get yuglet status.

This year was particularly difficult since it was in the middle of the week, and I took only the day of shearing off. This meant when I got home, I had lots of sheep trickery to accomplish before it got dark.

You can imagine my consternation when I got home and realized Duckie was thinking quite seriously about lambing...right in the middle of the barn. Well... I had other things to do first and surely she would get to it soon. When an ewe is lambing, the other sheep will try and avoid going around her, so I knew it could be a problem, but was trying to be optimistic.

Pretty Sister. This little gal really is nicely put together and sweet as a sugar.

Once I changed clothes I trotted up to the barn to check out the situation. No lambs yet, but Blackberry was very busy coaching Duckie and making little mommy sounds herself. Hmmm... Back to the house to do a few things. When I went back out there, Duckie had produced a very pretty little...solid black...ewe lamb. Very good. Except Blackberry was pretty sure it was hers and was also licking it and still making mommy noises. Well, this couldn't end well, so even though I was sure Duckie wasn't done, I decided to move her into the jug to keep Blackberry from adding to the 'chaos'. I had a feeling that Duckie would be slow to produce a second lamb anyway, since last year she did the same thing. I guess her philosophy is to get one lamb all up and dry then birth the second. So into the jug she went, with Blackberry screaming bloody murder that I had stolen her precious black baby!

Running out of time, I decided to try and get the ewes up. The balance of the ewes went right in, after they realized that Duckie was in a separate stall by herself. However there were two that didn't...Willow and Rouen. So I shut up the others, rearranged pens, tried to lure them in and on and on. Just when I thought I had them, I realized I hadn't shut one side of the panel pen, and they nonchalantly mosied out that end. Idiot! Argh. Finally I got Rouen up and eventually Willow gave in.

Sometime in there, I noticed Duckie was in labor again. I ran to the house to grab some latex gloves in case I needed to jump in and help, and by the time I got back, she had lambed a gorgeous black and white flecket lamb. I noticed the horn buds right away. Ah well..... He is still mighty purty. Blackberry (who had continued bellering and circling the lambing jug like a shark the whole time) liked this little flashy lamb even better. She wanted that one for sure! Her heart was breaking and she managed to confuse the little guy enough, by licking and talking to him through the panels that it took a little longer than it should have to find his 'right' mom.

Other side

If I didn't mention it Blackberry was very heavily in lamb, and I worried about her as she continued to pace and cry most of the night. She was panting heavily and clearly exhausted.

Whew..okay where was I?

Ewes all up, gate panels triple wired in place, now off to trick Cal (wether) and Jeff (ram) into their shed. Of course that didn't go well either. Jeff got in easily, but Cal wasn't going in there with wicked Jeff. Finally I called my Dad for reinforcements (he was coming up in a bit to help move Blue and Lanny anyway). So while Jeff tried to shove his way out, we fixed up a little catch area, got Cal in there and managed to drive him into the shed. Panels, tripled wired and tarp over the panel and another bunch done. Now only Blue and Lanny to go. Blue is a big ornery Merino ram and Lanny is his bigger and wilder wethered son. Their pasture is the farthest from the shearing area so I always move them to the garage the night before. In order to do that, we set up an alley way of panels and funnel them to the garage.

It was really almost dark and I was worried Blue wouldn't go in the shadowy garage. I needn't have worried. Those two boys were the best in the bunch and Blue charged down there as fast as he could for his pan of grain. Nothing to be sneezed at I might add. This is something they do once a year, and involves walking an alley, going around a corner and into a certain pen. But Blue had it memorized after all these years. I'm thinking he enjoys his 'vacation' in the garage and beauty treatment the next day? Lanny almost mowed me over getting into his pen, which was very brave for him.

Big sigh. Operation Sheep Roundup complete!

Back to the barn, where I made sure Duckie's sweet little lambs were up and nursing. I dipped navels, stripped her out and made sure she had passed the afterbirth. All was well, and dang but those are pretty little lambs!
Duckie was the ewe last year who produced Omen, the black smirslet ram and Chickie a black ewe lamb. Their sire, Griffen in essence looks almost exactly like Omen. For comparison purposes I thought I'd throw a picture in of them as well. Duckie is a 'plain black ewe' out of a plain black ewe and an Ag grey lightly flecket ram. The sire of this years lambs is the flashy moorit flecket ram Just Jack (formally none as Sprat). I'm pleased with Duckie's ability to produce color. She's a good one.

Whew....glad all that "chaos" is over so I can take a nap!


Shula said...

Congrats, the lambs are beautiful. I love your little flecket guy, what great markings!

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

So are you going to keep the flashy fellow to see if he can produce more like himself? I am in a stew over who to keep of my lambs. Rick is quite willing for us to keep Bronwen, but he's also amenable to me keeping Blackberry -- provided Braveheart goes sooner or later (not TOO much later). It would be so much easier to have the room to keep everyone at least a year to get a better handle on what you REALLY have in a lamb!

We ARE coming to MO again in June. The reunion is in Joplin; how far is that from you?

Kathy said...

Well done all! Gosh, Tammy...I don't see how you kept "cool" with all the lamb-birthing-lamb-stealing (or trying to) that was going on. :)

Beautiful babies. You did good! :)