Life on the farm
It appears we have ended the lambing season for 2013. There are 22 babies in the barn and it is busy. The animals have not been interested in grains and when we open the gates to a field, they stampede out the entrance. Some mothers return with huge stomachs as though someone has inflated them with a bicycle pump.
It has rained for several days and the grass grows like an adolescence during a growth spurt. I mow every two to three days. But the pastures and lawn are emerald green. Green as green can be. The gardens are lush and the ever persistent weeds are emerging too. Damn them to hell. The lilacs are ready to bloom and peonies are ready to burst.
Off to the barn to scoop poop.
Yesterday which was April 16, a ewe named Lois, lost a twin ram during the night. She called and cried for him all day. How do you explain to any mother that their child or offspring is dead? We had allowed all mothers and lambs in the big pasture and one ram lamb must have been too weak for the winds that developed during the afternoon hours. He was chilled so we took him to the basement for a warm bath. A bucket is filled with warm water and the animal is submerged up to its neck. After twenty minutes the animal is warmed. We take them out and dry them with towels that have warmed in the drier. Four shots of 2 cc's of dextrose in each leg also helps.
We returned the ram and he went directly for his mother's teat. Needless to say he had not survived the night. Hopefully the weather will warm slightly and we will have no more casualties.
It was suddenly remembered in bed one morning that one of the rams had broken through the fence and had his way with one of the ewes. Now that will entail a DNA test. Thanks Debbie. If this is confusing read the post before.
Opal delivered two kids and not knowing where they were located, by the time I found them, they were chilled. We did the car routine which is turning on the heat to high and the goat sits in the passenger seat until they are warmed. To help the process we injected 2cc's of glucose in each of the four legs to help the small creature. The kids were a male and female and sadly the female died several days later. The surviving male has been named Sam. For the past several days he has been running about on the open pastures with the pregnant ladies.
Today around eight thirty while in the barn i heard a loud cry and then another. There by Debbie were two small, white lambs. From our rude calculations we have another month to go and obliviously, Debbie writes her own script. She was only around 120 days into the pregers mood so she decided to stop the cycle. The lambs are cute and up and around looking for the teat with the treat.
Now I will go to the pastures a couple times during the day to see if there is another delivery we were not expecting. I will keep you posted.
Yesterday, March 2, Karl Kaufman and his grandson, Matt Beutmon, sheared 29 female sheep. We started around 8 and ended at 1:30. It was a cold, raw day that would get chiller and chiller. One ewe after another was dragged unwillingly to the tarp to be sheared. After the shearing we skirted the fleece, weighed it , and charted all necessary information. Needless to say, I was exhausted and I did mostly paper work.
Today we clipped hooves on the female sheep. Two sixty year olds wrestling with 200 pound ewes and some of them we had to lie across to keep from wiggling free. There must be a natural alternative to the steel clippers. My biggest fear is getting kicked in the mouth and having a tooth chipped. Just what I would need and then off to the dentist so I can swear some more at him. Never-the-less we both wearily walked the barn with no cuts, bruises or chipped teeth.
It is snowing as I write this and what a wonderland the landscape becomes as the snow falls on the pastures and gardens. It looks like a white coverlet. I forgot to mention that while the vet was here she had brought her sonogram machine to check and see if the ewes were pregnant. She plugged in the dusty machine and I chased a sampling of the herd. I would lead a ewe to her and she would lather the wand with something and place it under her womb. Then we could see tiny forms floating in the sack. Wonderful!!!!!
The ram lamb, Lenny, is making progress with his broken leg. The vet comes tomorrow as I am tempted to give him a friend. She suggested I wait. He is alert and knows the routine. At night when I turn on the lights to let the females in, he walks over to his stall and waits for me to lock him in for the night. In the morning when the girls leave the barn, he knows that it is his turn to spend the day in the hallway. Gotta love him.
Fred and I spent the weekend with the Bartons at Lake Glendale in Cabin 8 and yes, we had a great time. We went for walks, rode plastic sleds , and talked and ate too much. But while we were there our house sitter called because a ram lamb, Lenny, had had an accident. He was crossing a wooden bridge and a knot had fallen out. In the rush to get over to the hay, he stepped in the hole and broke his leg. Yesterday our vet came over and she made a splint for him. The air was a crisp 13 degrees and we had to lay him on a table and perform the medical attention that was needed. He did not have a clean break and this ram hopefully will make a complete recovery.
Today's inspection of him showed he had been lying down and chewing his cud. He needs to wear this splint for one month and I am sure when the vet comes on next Tuesday, she will arrive with a list of things for me to do. She never does them but I need to do them.
Yesterday when we went to lock and feed the animals, the set of twins, Maddie and Missy, had gone missing. They were located on the male side of the farm and they showed visible signs of having unprotected sex. They are old enough but we wanted to wait a year because they are still small in stature. There are enough of our so called 'barnyard tramps' and to add these beautiful creatures is tragic. i guess I need to have more sex talks with the girls and boys. The other observation of these animals is that their behavior changes from a frolicking kid to an amorous adult. The innocence of youth is gone.
I have not taken the time to write but is has been a very busy last two months. The holidays are over and so is the breeding season. We had six different groups of animals in different locations on the farm. There was a strategic method in feeding and putting the animals in different pastures. Once the pattern or habit was established, the moving of animals was easy. On the house side there were ten ewes and one ram and everyday around 4:30, i would take them out of the pasture and into the alfalfa field. For thirty minutes I would listen to the sheep chew and chomp. Every now and then a ewe would find an over grown dandelion plant and with one big bite, seize the plant with their teeth and hold their head up and basically swallow the plant. They must be delicious as they ate them with pride.
We have snow on the ground and the animals are hungry. They are used to eating all day whenever they want to eat. Now they wait for twice a day for hay.
Autumn has officially returned to the region. The trips to the markets are breathtaking for me. It makes the journey enjoyable and I sigh with an inner peace that I am able to enjoy the change in the environment for one more year. i would love to stop and photograph the colorful scenes but that is a dangerous idea.
I still have a barn to empty of last year's manure. My time allotment has not been very efficient. Any ideas?
I have finished reading an article about culling practices in rare breeds as not to jeopardize our breed's future genetic structure and viability. For me it means I will remove the animals from the reproduction cycle and still use the animals for wool. And by the way, we just received the most beautiful and soft yarn made from Bo, Terry, Susan, Maddy, and Deb. All goats except for the latter and what a skein it is!!!!