Sunday, February 28, 2010

Lambing Olympics!

While others have been watching the Olympics, I have spent quite a bit of time in the barn with my sheeple. It has been a joyful & exuberant (although exhausting) period of time & I wouldn't trade it for the world. We have twelve new lambs – five ewes & seven rams, so far. One ewe, Pebbles, remains to deliver, and I am pretty sure that she is even more eager for that event than I am. It looks like there are at least twins in there. Big ones.

I am very grateful that the weather is so much more mild this year. While other parts of the country are under feet of snow, we are having an early spring. It makes up for last year's biting cold, wind & snow, which lasted way to long for my tastes. We are enjoying our daffodils already, and the little lambs are having a great time romping in the pasture.

I am posting a few photos which I hope you'll enjoy. First is our Anemarie with her newborn Malcolm. This is pretty much how they look at birth. There is a lot of cleaning involved, which Mom takes care of quite diligently, while murmuring to her newborn. It is a touching duet as the little one responds to Mommy with little "Ma-a-a-a-as". I trim the umbilical cord & treat with iodine to prevent infection.

During & after the cleanup period, the lamb stands up, finds teats & takes his first colostrum, a very important ingredient in a healthy lamb. Getting colostrum within the first few hours of life greatly increases the chance for the newborn's survival. After food & cleanup, Mom & lambs settle in together in the lambing jug or pen. They spend the first couple of days there, to have time to get acquainted & bond. This is Christiane with her lambs, Jethro & Keith.

After a couple of days in the lambing jug (pen), Mom & the lambs are ready to join the flock in the pasture. The lambs receive vaccines for Clostridium & Tetanus, and tails are banded. I place polar fleece jackets on the little ones for warmth, and they transition with Mom out to the pasture. The new lambs will take awhile to get acquainted with their flock but they make friends with the other lambs quickly, and within days are having lamb races & romping in the field.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Shearing Day

The girls are getting ready to lamb now, and we decided to shear them a bit earlier than we have done in previous years. Having wool removed will encourage the ladies to spend more time in the barn, and will also make it easier for the new lambies to find the teats when they're ready to eat. The ewes all have coats on, which provide a bit of warmth in addition to keeping fleeces clean.

We were very blessed that our friend, Rocky Long, who owns Little Orchard Farm in Bow WA, was able to come up to shear for us. It was very touching when he recognized one of our older girls, whom he had bottle fed as a lamb. Pebbles is one of the four sheep we bought from Rocky when we first started our little farm. She is now eight years old. Rocky spoke to her in such gentle tones, and he handles all the animals with such care & kindness that I am grateful that he can come up to help with this.

BFF Janice & I spent a lot of time going over fleeces after shearing. I'm a spinner, and I've gotten darned picky about how I like fleeces to be. This year, we separated the blanket (part underneath the coat) from the parts more exposed, which we are calling “seconds”. Those are not second cuts (very short bits that occur when the shearer goes over an area repeatedly) but rather areas that were exposed to more dirt than the covered parts. We carefully & thoroughly skirted each fleece & I'll be selling the seconds at a discounted rate. If you are interested, email me at yvonne(dot)m(at)comcast(dot)net

Smiling Animals

I just have to share a few photos. After having “livestock” (ours are more like pets) I have concluded that animals can smile. At least some of ours do. They have individual personalities (who knew?) and friendships within the flock & with some people.

Here we have Blossom, when she was a wee little lamb living in the house. She was one of triplets last year & was seriously ill with aspiration pneumonia. She spent five weeks recovering, and was adopted by our Boxer, Shaela. We celebrated Blossom's first birthday on shearing day. She is still my little buddy.

This is Teeger, one of our two alpacas. He is a funny, silly boy who likes to cavort around the field.

Here is Cosmo, who seemed very pleased with his many ribbons. His fleece is spectacular.