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.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Of Spring and Things.....

Gracie works the crowd for cookies on shearing day

 (I started this post probably close to a month ago...)

We've had a few days of really warm weather and a good, if somewhat violent, rain last night.  The grass is growing and the fruit trees are s-l-o-w-l-y flowering.  The sheep have been pretending to graze most days.  They are eager for those tender morsels of grass, even if they are on a pasture that hasn't any growth on it yet.  It gives them something to do and makes them happy.  Then they come back to the barn and pick through and mostly waste their hay at night.

I've been cutting them allot of slack lately.  Mostly out of guilt.  And because it looks like a geriatric hospital out there right now.

Patient Lanny Wilson gets his 10th 'haircut' --he is 11 this year

In case you haven't kept track lo these many years, I now have  have two sheep that are 12, two that are 11, several 10 and a whole host of 8 and 9 year olds.  Let's just say that sheep are like people--some age a whole lot more gracefully than others!

Shearing was a week ago last Thursday.  (perhaps a post about that soon?)  It turned out to be a good day in many ways.  However, it was also a bloody mess.  I don't know what the heck was up with the shearer and I don't know what the heck was up with me.  Scarcely did a sheep escape a nick this year and there were way to many that fell in the 'really nasty' range.  Something was certainly off.   Towards the end  I was just praying that they'd all live through it.   If that wasn't bad enough, the first several sheep I trimmed hooves on, I quicked.  One so severe that blood literally spurted out and splattered my shirt.  I've trimmed many a hoof in my day and sometimes I do misjudge, but what appeared to be overgrowth...wasn't on that day.   It was a mess.    My wondering mind blames the full moon.   I've had this shearer for 11 years--he is gentle with the sheep always.  He has nicked them, on one occasion bad enough to stitch up--but over that many years and that many sheep it seems small.  Until this year.   We have two shearers for this area.  Two.  I'll have him back next year, but I'm prepared to find out what the heck is going on if it goes this way again.   Something was certainly off.

Spring A Week Ago

One little yearling ewe lamb got off the shearing floor without me or apparently the shearer noticing she had a very deep cut where her shoulder and side join.  She is a light fawn moorit and truthfully sometimes it is hard to see cuts right away on the brownish background.  But I sure saw it when she was out walking around.  I kept thinking it can't be as bad as I think.....  It was.  There was a three to four inch triangle of flesh hanging down and it was deep.  Friday afternoon I tricked them up again, and caught her.  I fastened her in the stanchion and cleaned and stitched the wound.  It still doesn't look good, but she seems fine over a week later and it is slowly healing.

Spring Last Night---Flood! 

The day after it was like the walking wounded, when I gazed out upon my little flock.  I felt a little shell shocked, and they sure looked it.   However I must say they seemed to be in good spirits.  The ewe that I quicked so bad limped for a week.  Talk about guilt.

Back Gate -- stepping stones disappearing into the 'flood'

Another ewe did some super sheep hijinks while I was attempting to pen up and catch the little yearling ewe.  I think that ewe hurt her leg then --she limped for a few days.  There was allot of random limping it seemed there for a bit.

Sheep are unpredictable critters.  Do something that you think is relatively minor--like dose for worms or wear a skirt with big swirls on it--and they won't trust you for weeks.  Then again do something truly awful like catch them twice in two days,  once to shear and another to stitch them up and you become war buddies.  Go figure. 

Then the weather got colder and they looked so forlorn with their little nekkid shivery bodies.  Extra eats helped with that and fortunately the weather warmed back up within a few days. 

Finally when I thought they were getting better, Lanny Wilson, my big white Dorset/Merino wether started acting 'weird'.  He wouldn't lay down, and would stand looking depressed and shifting his hind legs back and forth.  His appetite seemed to be good...but he just wouldn't or couldn't lay down.  My first thought was urinary calculi.   It's always worst case scenario with me.  I consulted with the vet on Friday and decided to treat with pain reliever, muscle relaxer and something to break up urinary crystals.   After I gave him all his doses that evening (after a fairly moderate rodeo--he is a big boy) he urinated.  Well.  That was blockage.  He finally lay down Saturday evening.  He was very relaxed.   Another shot of muscle relaxer the next day and he has improved quite a bit--he is walking more normal and was waiting at the gate this morning.  We will see what happens when the drugs wear off!   We think 'since he is at the age where he could have back trouble' (vet's words--I think he was poking fun at me...) that might be the cause.  He possibly could have gotten it hurt during shearing, although I remember him being very quiet through the whole thing.  At eleven sheep years though, I expect one becomes more fragile.

The flooded back alleyway--I had to get the hay on the dolly through that mess.....the dogs were no help

Friday after I got home from work and the vet, I sat out and watched the sheep for awhile to see if Lanny could/would urinate.  While I'm watching him, I see Callum in the background going through his elaborate ritual of trying to find an easy way to lay down.  Cal had his back fractured (we think) many years ago in a ram fight.    While he has since them had an odd pacing gait, he always seemed to move and get around just fine, until a year or so ago.  Now he is stiffer and it takes him longer to get up and down.   Sitting with the sheep wasn't particularly restoring that afternoon.

And of course the sheep were high and dry in the barn awaiting their evening meal...thankyouverymuch...

I'm happy that shearing is behind us now.  I'll have to do some trimming on some that were in the rise, but the bulk of it is done.  I have 19 fleeces stored in the garage that I'll need to skirt for the second time, get weighed, labeled and sorted out into 'process' or 'raw fleece sales' .

For now though, I'm still spreading some seed on the pastures--only a little as it's very expensive--but there are bald places from the drought.  Most of the clover didn't make it.   Little jobs like that are keeping me busy in the evenings. 

A River Runs Through ....the Pasture
 Here it is a few days later and I still don't have this post completed.  Kinda the story of my life right now.  Anyway we got heavy rains yesterday--almost three inches-- so I'm pretty sure some of the latest seed I spread earlier in the week floated off to the river.  Little bitter about that.   The weather has also turned off much colder...again.  It's suppose to be in the 30s  tonight. Back to building fires in the stove.   Hope that beautiful growing grass doesn't get bit back. 

I'm pretty sure though after this spell of cold it is going to really be Spring. 

Sunset on the lake in my backyard.....

Hope Spring has sprung at your place!  


Jo's World said...

I wonder if your shearer had something wrong with his clippers to have so many "wounded soldiers".
Maybe his blade was bad but he couldn't get it replaced in time or just felt if he was careful he could manage. I am no sheep shearer but have clipped dogs and had an unintended nick or two.

Jo in Minnesota

Stephen Andrew said...

Crazy how different this spring and last spring are, isn't it?! I'm thankful for the ample rainfall this year! Oh the poor old girls! Must have been the moon.

Phyllis Oller said...

I know how you feel.The last time shearing the goats-we did it ourselves-Blackie got knicked bad,I felt unworthy of them,& said I couldn`t go through this anymore.He was fine,we glued the spot shut,but it started it in motion that we had to sell them-which as you know was God`s will for us at the time.
Then the hooves...& worrying about it being too wet for them to be in pasture if you knicked the hooves...but am I ever missing them,resisted the urge to buy "just 1" from steam valley farm where I got the others.
Wishing you some dry weather,don`t think the blades on the shears were dull,but maybe he didn`t have the guard set right.You are indeed taking wonderful care of them for as old as they are!phyllis

Michelle said...

Oh Tammy, I've never had an experience that awful; I'm afraid I'd end up scissor-shearing them all myself after something like that! It was bad enough to have Blake covered with LITTLE nicks, and three sheep that will need to be re-sheared because of being in the rise.

Kathy said...

I have a ewe that must've been injured along her spine and will have to be put to sleep soon, Tammy. I think it was one of the wethers last fall who thought when she came into heat that she should submit to his charms, even if he couldn't remember what those were. Apparently, she was injured in the area controlling her back legs and she's getting much worse as time goes on.
If the knotheads would just stop picking on each other. ;/
I am sorry you have the walking wounded, but know that with your care and time, things will right themselves. :)

Tina T-P said...

Yeouch - I always hate that part about shearing - get out the blucote - and this year, although our shearer was pretty careful, he was kind of unconcerned about the nicks - easy for him to say...

Glad the flooding didn't affect you any more than it did - 3" of rain in one day - wow - that would bring our creek up for sure. T.

Sue said...

I've often wondered about cuts while shearing. I know how easy it is to slip with a squirmy dog and I can't imagine sheep standing still. Glad it's over.