Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Shamelessly Using Lamb Cuteness

....to make up for lack of narrative.  We've been occupied with finishing shearing the flock, sending wool out for processing, getting fleeces ready for the Maryland show and generally taking care of everyone.

Andy did finish building three creep feeders for a fellow shepherd.  These are free-standing and can be moved but are designed to stand against a wall.


They are deep enough to hold slices of hay and slanted at the front so the hay will continue to drop down as it's eaten (and also hampers little lamb feet from standing up against the grid and reaching over the top).


The bottom of each feeder is solid to catch hay fines or a grain ration and the lip in front will keep good stuff from being rooted out onto the floor.


The lambs here are growing well and doing all kinds of cute lamb things.  The gray one on the right was racing across the pen, accelerating into a blur like The Flash.


These two little boys were starting to play at head butting.


There's the 'bouncing around together in a group' event.......


About half way through, notice the white guy that jumps so hard he falls down.


Everybody chews on hay, either for real eating purposes or just for something to do.

And the older ones have started to chew a cud. (Sorry this is grainy - I tried the zoom function on the phone).

And we've finally had some sun and warm weather.  


If there were room and time I'd join them!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Less Work and More Work

Our 2015 lambing season has concluded with this hefty fifteen pound ewe lamb.  Isabelle is an experienced mom - she always has a single and it's always a ewe - and the lamb was scrambling up and looking for a meal in just a few minutes.



We ended with 48 lambs (from 27 ewes) of which 23 are girls and 25 are boys.  The sexes evened out toward the end - of the first ten lambs eight were rams.  I had expected many colored lambs but only got nine and of those five are boys.  We had quite a few ewes fail to conceive, also one aborted in February and another about two weeks prior to the first possible due date.  We lost one ewe to complications of pneumonia.  Despite a week of struggle on everyone's part she couldn't kick it and died leaving twin ram lambs.  Another ewe disowned one twin after a few hours which was very odd but she was adamant so there's a third bottle baby.  There are two sets of triplets and two ewes with twins who only have one teat working so several lambs are being supplemented.  Nobody risks going hungry around here.

One novel incident was a ewe with a uterine torsion.  Think of someone in a hammock that swings sideways until it flips all the way over, putting a twist in both ends. That's essentially the case here, and with everything twisted she couldn't deliver the lambs.  It happens in dairy cattle and we've seen it here in that regard but the vet said he'd never seen or even heard of it in sheep.  Oh, goody.  Every year we see some new, weird thing.  We were able to correct it by laying the ewe down, applying pressure to her abdomen to keep the uterus in place and then rolling her over - sort of rolling her around the lambs instead of trying to flip them over inside her.  Obviously we had to be super careful we were working in the proper direction!  We did it twice and it did work but the lambs had sadly expired, probably the day before.  We've been aggressive with pharmaceuticals on her and yesterday was the first day that she looked like she felt halfway decent.

So now that lambing is done I can sleep through the night again!  Woot!  All that remains is to band and tag the lambs and trim feet and deworm the ewes before turning them into mixing pens.  

In other news, we had a shearing day and got started on the fiber flock which wasn't bred to lamb this year.  Being under less physical stress really shows in the fleeces - they are all looking really nice this year.

Angel.......I think.  I don't recall exactly.

Taffy, a Border Leicester cross, with the belly wool already shorn away and set aside.

She has some gray fibers creeping into the black.

This is a really big lovely fleece and I have it earmarked to go to the FLFF fleece show and sale.

So now I have a good bit of work lined up....literally.  Thirty-eight fresh fleeces, many already reserved from the website for hand spinners and some destined for the fleece show and sale at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival in - gads - a hair over two weeks.


Tomorrow's job - assembling the multi-teat nurse bucket and getting the bottle lambs familiar with it.  Feeding time has turned into a crazed free-for-all with the greedy little thugs eager lambs literally leaping over each other, pawing and butting and trying to gnaw the plastic teat out of the other lambs' mouth.  There's no such thing as teaching them manners so we need to change the scenario to work better.

The little dickens grow up so fast!



Monday, April 13, 2015

The Bouncy House

Lambs just turned into the mixing pen have figured out that there is ROOM to stretch out.  No other description needed.




If we could all be this happy with life..........

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Lamb Pictures, Because.....Lambs!

Apologies for the wonky blue eyes - it's pouring rain and foggy.  Must. Use. Flash.

First time mom, Kandy, and her handsome boy.


"So you say you put your feet there and you're suddenly taller?  Amazing!"

Investigating what the moms eat.

"Don't know about eating it, but I'll chew on it!"

"Sittin' by my lonesome."

"It's better sittin' with mom."

"What are they DOING over there?"

Synchronized siblings!

Focus......


and ear tilt.....


and turn!

"Pssst.  Hey, she's watching us!"

Yes I am, because you're so darn cute!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter

A breath of spring in the (hopefully) last days of winter.



Rejoice!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Postcards From the Barn

Twelve days of lambing has passed at a remarkably sedate pace.

Marking time in relative comfort.

Thirteen moms have produced fifteen ram lambs and 9 ewe lambs.  A 'boy year' so far.  There is one set of triplets who are doing fine and not needing any supplementation (.....yet.  Have to hedge my bets.)

Triplet babies sleeping together

The middle lamb is sooo comfy and happy - that's gotta be a smile.


In fact, he was dreaming happy dreams of breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Watch his lips.


Only one colored Cotswold so far although to be fair none of the colored moms have lambed yet so that should certainly change.


"Why yes, this is my first lamb.  I think I did a rather good job."

I'm supplementing a pair of twins whose mom was slow on milk production due to the stress of a back injury that seemed bound to cripple her, but once she wasn't carrying those big boys she started to improve right away and looks to be on the way to taking full care of them soon.  The last three weeks of gestation was actually pretty miserable for her and she lost a lot of condition despite being penned in a small safe area where she wouldn't get jostled by the other ewes.  She always kept a good attitude and appreciated the daily pep talks we gave her. 

Heroic Maureen - thin but getting better - and one of her boys.

We also lost a ewe to complications of pneumonia.  We all struggled for a week, had the vet out twice, tried two different antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, calcium chloride and propylene glycol for the resultant ketosis from lack of eating, B12 supplemetation, rumen yeast, oral fluids, subQ fluids.....  she just couldn't kick it despite everything and died.  Her two boys had been on the bottle since she became ill and so they are doing fine.

Yesterday a ewe had twins and while we were having lunch decided that she didn't want the second one. That was very unusual but she was adamant and rather than risk him getting hurt while we tried to make her accept him I added him to the bottle lamb list.  Of course he's very sweet but not the brightest bulb in the marquee if you get my drift.  Maybe she knew he was a bit lacking in instinct but he'll do fine with the bottle.

We've started the first mixing pen and the lambs prefer to rest around the perimeter of the area so they have a wall to lean on and feel secure next to.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzz..........


And of course they have to investigate everything and everyone.

"Whatcha doin'?"

Holly is bored out of her mind the soul of patience and naps near the door in case I should develop a sudden urge to go walkies.


Kittin says....

"You feed the lambs, you walk the dog..... what about us cats?! The quantity of petting has been sub-standard lately!"

I better mend my ways before the quarterly performance reviews are made!



Sunday, March 22, 2015

Waiting on the.... Oh, They're Here!

Saturday was day 145 since putting the rams in with the ewes.  Gestation in sheep varies by a few days among breeds with 145 to 148 days being the accepted 'normal' range.  Everyone stayed quiet that day - yesterday - so I was able to get to my spinning guild meeting.  Thanks, sheepies!  The 2:30 AM check showed no activity, ditto the 5:30 check, but by 7:30 we had a nice pair of twins already born, mostly cleaned up and toddling around.

 
Mom is a Cotswold ewe named Jolly and the lambs are both rams.  Each weighs 9.5 lbs and are quite active and vocal.  The one on the right was quick to nurse but the other guy was a little slower.  He'd push hard on the udder and baa in a frustrated way but wouldn't. take. the. teat.  As it was only 15 degrees out this morning I figured that was too cold to fiddle around so I striped some colostrum from the ewe and fed him with a bottle.  Getting the stiff plastic teat into his mouth was no problem and once there he would suck - which proved he was capable - so he had a good meal.  He still didn't want to nurse an hour later so I gave him a bit of an enema with lots of "return" and five minutes later I had him latched onto a teat and sucking.  Getting a 'full' lamb to evacuate the bowel seems to trigger the "oh, I'm hungry" response.  I suppose that walking around might eventually stimulate him to 'go' but there was nothing good to be gained by waiting so I helped the issue along.


Mom is being very steady and diligent.  Sooo nice to work with animals that are calm and not concerned about the humans.


One of the two has especially fuzzy cheeks and looks chipmunk-esque.


The other ewes don't show immediate signs of lambing but then again one could decide to start anytime.  There are some pretty wide loads here.



Nibbles has a fun 'do going on - fringey ear wool.

"Good grief, I'm creating the miracle of life here and you think my ear wool is cool?!"

Lovey has cool hair going on.  She's still a ways off for lambing.


Gilly, on the left, appears to have not caught this year.  Since she is 9 this year I likely won't attempt to breed her again.  She'll stay on as a fiber ewe - she has a lovely fleece.


She's always had a strong chin and it makes me think of Chester the Cheetah from the Cheetos commercials.


Besides being barren this year she's showing some age in her eyes - both eyes have a bright white cataract showing in the center of the pupil. It doesn't seem to bother her, or else she's just so good at getting around that we don't see a deficit.


Isabelle is 7 this year.  She's the only ewe lamb I got from doing AI with a British ram.  


She still looks like she did as a lamb, at least to my eyes, but then I'm better with animal faces than people faces.


This ewe is carrying her lamb load lower - a sign that she's getting closer to The Day.


Luellen is still fairly symmetrical. 


Then there is the rest of the flock which I didn't breed.  We only exposed 35 ewes this year - down from my all time high of 79 (when I must have been temporarily out of my mind) - and of the 35 it looks like there will only be 29 or 30 who are actually carrying lambs.  It's OK - we're decreasing the lamb crop by design so I have more time to work. on. wool.  Which was the whole point of my having sheep in the first place!

"Didja hear that?  No multitasking - just grow da wool real good!  Woohoo!"

Large Marge - "Suits me.  I loved my babies but I don't neeeed to have more."

Alexi -

"I neeeed somebody to turn up the heat around here!  Sheesh!"

Yeah, me too!