Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Cordelia's Lambs

Here's a shot of Cordelia's lambs taken shortly after their birth this morning. Their fleeces are on the longer side, but if they are anything like her previous lambs, they should have nice fleeces in adulthood, especially with Harrison's crimp added in.

Cordelia threw her Ag to both her lambs. It will be interesting to see how the Ag affects the gulmoget. We have two moorit ewes bred to Harrison also, but they don't look very close to lambing yet.

We had to run up to the auction for hay at noon. I bought orchard grass hay this time instead of alfalfa - no cheap hay this time, I paid $2.60/bale and it started to rain right after we bid. So we had to scramble to get it home before it got too wet.

I'm going to see if I can get in 5 hours of work today.

Our First Purebred Shetland Lambs of 2009!

This is what I found when I went out to feed the sheep this morning.
Woo-hoo, both are EWE lambs! Well-fed sturdy ewe lambs. :-))) Sired by polled gulmoget Kimberwood Harrison. Dam is River Oaks Hattie, an F2 Holly.

Ten year old Bramble Cordelia (F1 Minder) is in labor now too....

I just came back in for towels to help wipe off Cordelia's lambs. I went back to see Cordelia licking off an Ag grey ram lamb (with flat spots where the horn buds would be) and then she turned around and delivered a black gulmoget EWE lamb right in front of me.

The ewe lamb count is finally catching up with the ram lambs...7 boys and 6 girls!

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Mental Health Day

I took a mental health day today. Working 7 days a week has been too much for me with lambing at the same time. Cordelia is due tomorrow and Hattie is due on Saturday.

No, I didn't spend my day cleaning house, quite the opposite in fact.

I decided to stay home and work on a felt piece commissioned by a friend. I got out all my fibers and bubble wrap (actually pool liner), set up my tables, etc. I started in on the commission peice, but I soon realized I was being called to do a portrait of Lena (a Shetland Mule) using the wet felting technique I learned in Ewa Kuniczak's class last year at the Midwest Felting Symposium.

First I laid out the black background. One layer horizontal, one vertical. Wet it down with warm soapy water and added two more layers, horizontal and vertical. Then I wet them down and was ready to do my "painting"with wool roving...

I used only natural colored wool from own Shetland sheep. It is a very limited color palette.

Next it needed to be rolled up in the pool liner and worked back and forth about 50 times from all sides.

Then I rubbed it and used the cordless Ryobi sander that I got for my birthday this year. I didn't use it too much, so can't really say if it was a big help or not, but I can say the felting went pretty quickly, so it must have helped.

I rolled it up in a towel absorb the excess water and I couldn't resist pinning it up on the back of chair to see how it looked.
I guess I'll need to crop some the excess off the right and the top... I will needle felt the details as the last step before matting and framing.

But that was not all I did today. This morning I fired up the incubator and put in 8 goose eggs. I've been itching to incubate waterfowl and the geese had 16 eggs in their nest. I'd like to check for fertility anyway. The geese didn't seem interested in setting yet, so I guess it's up to me. I'll probably bring the goslings up to the sales barn when they hatch.

And this afternoon when I collected the chicken eggs -- whoa! Look at that big brown double yolker, it's bigger than the mud-stained goose egg I took out of the incubator for comparison. Ouch, that must have hurt! I was thinking I would try and hatch it too. Last time I tried to hatch a double yolk egg, the chicks died at the hatch. I wasn't home to assist them. I thought maybe this time might turn out differently, but then I realized I don't have a rooster, so there will be no chicks. Duh!

Then I got the mail and found an acceptance letter for an art festival in Nisswa, MN this summer. I really have to get more felting done!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Catching up

Thursday was so warm, I let Lanora and her newborn lamb out of the jug at about 2:00 p.m. He weighed 13 lbs. So it was another big single for Lanora this year and she did it all on her own. Whew!

Mabeline and her lambs got to come out of their jug earlier in the day.
I saw that Delia was in labor so I decided to postpone the rest of my workday until after the lambs arrived. Delia chose the same spot that her mother, Mabeline, had lambed in just 24 hours earlier.

Mom checked in on her as things started progressing. Oh-oh, I noticed there was only a nose, no hooves. So I went in to check for them; they weren't far back. Delia swiftly delivered this 10 pound 3/4 BFL ram lamb (our 6th this year!).

I snapped a few photos as she licked him off. Then she hunched up and pushed for a second. I checked for a twin and this is was I saw...
I snapped the photo without really looking, from the shape of things I was thinking the lamb was breech and that I needed to open the membranes quickly before it took a breath. I broke open the sack and wiped the gunk away from her nose. I knew this one was really small. But she sputtered and let out a little baby baa! Delia came over and started licking her.

But not for long. Delia went back to big brother...
Well, Little Diamond didn't think that was a great idea, and she told me so.
Once I got organized, I put them into Lanora's empty jug and made sure the lambs found both faucets and they were working. Little Diamond can actually stand up under her mom to nurse!

What a size difference in these two! Diamond weighed only 5 lbs. at birth. But both are doing fine, running and jumping with the other lambs. I've got to rethink this whole idea of working two jobs and lambing. I just can't keep up!
I love the census job, it's fun to cruise around going to all the houses, meeting LOTS of dogs, people, cats, chickens, and geese. There's something kind of exciting about a goose coming after you -- as long as you get back to the car fast enough.

BUT, I don't get a chance to enjoy the lambs, or clean my house, or do my laundry and hang it out on the line. I couldn't even make it to the opening reception of an art exhibit I'm in until the last 15 minutes. It was a good thing there was still a crowd and plenty of wine and d'oerves (sp?) left.

And I didn't get a chance to make additional pieces to put in the show. I've got to get myself on a work schedule for producing art!

Delia and her twins left the jug this morning (Saturday). I banded them at that time and they didn't show distress at all. Usually we band tails in the evening, but this was a better time because they were so enthralled with the big beautiful world.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Mabeline and Lanora's Lambs!

Well, something finally gave! I noticed Mabeline was in labor just as I was about to head out for my afternoon of census work yesterday. I decided to stick around in case she needed any help. But I just got to watch and take photos.

In labor about 1:30 p.m....

Two hooves and a nose, perfect!
I keep old towels on hand to help wipe away the gunk.

This 9 lb. boy was ready to nurse even before he learned to stand!

And here comes twin sister...

Out of the wind and into the jug, both lambs prefer the right milk faucet. Sister is in the yellow.
Five hours later, all dried off and well fed... Both babies were vigorous and good size. I think the ewe lamb is a little bigger than the ram lamb.


And now, Lanora's story!
This morning I awoke to the voice of a sheep - not unusual at all, but it reminded me that Lanora is due anytime. After last year and my BFL girls not being interested in their newborns until hours later, I've been vigilantly keeping an eye on Lanora. Thankfully, Rhyn lambed while I was away. I have to admit it was a bit of a relief when I found her baby up and about, calling to his mom during the chaos of grain feeding time. And even more of a relief that she talked back to him.

So anyway, 5:45 a.m. this morning and it's not real light out yet. I check the barn cam and see Lanora in the lambing corner, but she's standing up and I can't tell if she's just eating something on the ground or what. I can't see any little eyeballs reflecting in the night vision camera. I wondered what if she lambed during the night and is just now getting interested in her baby. I'd better just run out and take a quick look. Out I go in my pajamas and robe with the muck boots and jacket thrown on.

And there in the corner is Lanora standing over a big orange lump. It's a white BFL lamb, I ran in and saw his ear twitch. Oh good, he's still alive! I cupped his head and he was definitely alive, just a little tuckered out. And Lanora was right there, talking to him. Yes! I ran into the house for a towel to help wipe him off. I also mixed up a little supplement, just in case he was weak, and put it in a bottle for him.
He was not weak at all, just exhausted. The BFL lambs sometimes just lay around recouperating after birth. He didn't want the supplement, he was determined to find the real thing. Lanora is a little protective of her bag, so I'll keep an eye on them until I make sure he's nursing well. With the large size BFL lambs, they have more reserves to fall back on so immediate nursing isn't as critical as it is with smaller Shetland lambs.

I clipped and dipped his navel, but I haven't weighed him yet. When Stan comes home for lunch we'll see if we can weigh him and make sure he's nursing okay.

Just one more ewe to go with BFL-sired lambs. That's Mabeline's 2007 daughter, Delia. I was hoping for some spotted lambs again this year from Mabeline, but didn't get them. Maybe Delia will come through with some for me. :-)

Next week the purebred Shetland lambs out of Kimberwood Harrison should start arriving!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Something's gotta give one of these days!

I've been watching for Mabeline to lamb for days. You may recall that I had her marked on the calendar for Easter lambs. She did the same thing to me last year, she's as big as a house and appears very dropped. She was the only ewe bred to produce Mule lambs for me this year. (The 3/4 BFL lambs we've had born here aren't Mules, they are just crosses.)

If Mabeline doesn't lamb this week, she may have been bred to Kimberwood Harrison. Same story with Mabeline's daughter, Delia, who looks ready to go any minute.

Our BFL ewe, Lanora, should lamb anytime, Saturday will be 147 days from when we took the ram out. She's getting quite a bag.

Poor Hattie isn't due until May 2nd.

No new lambs for days now, so here are some photos of the last two that were born.

Above are Lavender (in back) and Devlyn (foreground). Lavender weighed 11 pounds at 24 hours. She and Devlyn are pals, but he has to be careful of her overprotective mother who butts him away pretty soundly. Devlyn is taller than Lavender but not as wide. They are so cute together.

Here's a nicer shot of Devlyn, he's such a cutie and so full of energy! I can't wait to see what Lanora has.

I am enjoying my new job. It has taken me into some interesting places. Yesterday I had to drive through a herd of longhorn cattle in my little RED van -- TWICE. They were docile enough, and MOST of them willingly got out of my way, but I kept imagining those 2' long horns breaking through my window or bashing the van if there was a bull or a new mom in the crowd. Yes, it is an exciting job!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Finally a Ewe lamb! And some new worries...

Meet Lavender, she's a strapping ewe lamb born last night as my neighbor and I were dividing up our essential oils order and raving about the scent of Hungarian Lavender. Thankfully Stan let us know that one of the ewes was pushing. I helped to pull her out after the head was delivered. I was amazed that lamb just kept coming and coming. I haven't weighed her yet, since the neighbor was witnessing the whole event and we needed to get back the oils, but I would say she was at least 10 pounds. She was up and nursing quickly and Dot was a perfect mother. I was pretty sure Dot was only going to single, I'm just very glad it was a colored ewe lamb. We're at 3 rams, and one ewe so far.
Lavender is out of Dot is my finest fleeced Shetland Mule, and Granite, our finest fleeced BFL ram. So she is 3/4 BFL, 1/4 Shetland. I may keep her.

Devlyn's fleece is really different, it's very short and feels like suede. So maybe he was more licked off when I first found him than I thought. Sorry the photo below is dark. If you biggify the photo you can see his fleece better.
And now the worries:
Tuesday night just as I was going out to check on the sheep for the night, our neighbor called to let me know that a cougar was spotted just north of us - only about 1/2 a mile or so. Yikes! Right while we're lambing... I didn't sleep well at all. It didn't help that the same night Ozzie got sprayed by a skunk, so the whole house reeked (even though he had to stay out in the garage).
I don't know how one can keep their flock safe from cougars, right now they are penned up tight to the pole building. But once they get out on grass, it could be dangerous for them.
I just hope the cougar was moving through the area and not sticking around to raise a family.

Ozzie still stinks, I think he needs another bath.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Out of the Jug

Rhyn and her lamb were able to leave the jug and enjoy the wonderful sunshine today. I need to figure out a name for this little guy. His sire is Dougal, so I want a "D" name.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Bright New Day and a Bouncy BFL lamb

Last night I was pretty worried about Rhyn's little guy. He wolfed down 2 oz. of colostrum and 2 oz. of supplement. He was pretty noisy when I turned out the barn lights and headed in for bed.

This morning I got Stan to hold Rhyn again so her lamb could nurse. By this time her bag was fuller and it must have felt better once the pressure was relieved. She relaxed while the lamb worked on both sides. Stan had to get to work, but I stayed a little longer and watched as the little ram nursed while Rhyn munched on hay. Oh, what a relief that was! I still gave him a 2 oz bottle of supplement to make sure he'd get through until we could check in on him again at lunch time.

We only had a half hour lunch break today and thankfully the little guy would only take about an ounce of his lunchtime bottle. Now tonight after work I see that he's gotten those bouncy lamb feet. Thank heavens! And check out his alert upright ears. I'll wait until tomorrow night to dock his tail.

Rhyn is a two year old and she lambed as a yearling. It took a while to get used to that lamb too. My BFL ewes are different than my Shetlands when it comes to lambing, that's for sure. I was spoiled with the easy care Shetland ewes all these years. But I was happy that Rhyn was an attentive mother to lamb yesterday, and now that her milk is in, she's doing just fine.

One more BFL ewe to lamb here. Lanora looks like she will single too. I'm hoping for a white one and I'd like to be home when it arrives.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Our First BFL Lamb of 2009

Well I had my first day of training for the 2010 Census job today. I'm in training all week from 8-4:30. Thankfully we had an hour lunch today so I ran home to check on Delia (a Shetland mule). She looked dropped to me this morning and her bag is pretty full.

Everyone looked fine, so I tossed in some hay and topped off their water before heading back to training about 12:45. When I got home at 4:45 I went out to feed the ewes their grain. Things get really chaotic when I dish up the grain and distribute it -- certainly no place for a newborn lamb to be.
As I brought grain outside for 10-year-old Cordelia and the two bred ewe lambs, I thought to myself that Derra's lambs sounded really upset. Then I saw Derra's lambs quietly frolicking outside. That's when I realized we had a newborn lamb.

I raced back inside and saw a little black lamb standing there bawling, quite a set of lungs on that one! He was dry, but he hadn't been licked clean. I looked for Delia. Oh-oh, her bum was clean, it wasn't hers. Then I saw Rhyn turn around to talk to the lamb and sure enough, it was hers.
Unfortunately she was way too occupied with the food and didn't follow me as I put the poor little fellow in the jug.

He's a little guy only 8.5 pounds. I thought there had to be a twin around somewhere. I searched outside but only found the placenta out in the paddock.

His mouth was cold, so I knew he hadn't nursed yet. I tried to strip her teats, but she's very sensitive and I had to get Stan to hold her. We let the lamb nurse for a bit, and I gave him 4 ounces of a lamb supplement too. She's definitely claiming him, that's good. But she's not ready to let him nurse yet. I checked his teeth for sharp points, none that I could feel. She's not engorged at all, so that shouldn't the problem. I'm going to give him some colostrum from the freezer tonight before I go to bed and hope that by morning, she's letting him nurse.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Easter! Happy Spring!

Derra's black lamb is very laid back. He doesn't get too excited when mom gets lost in the shuffle.
Derra's twins have been out enjoying the sunny afternoons...We've been getting lots of visitors lately...here's a shot from this morning-
Elsie and Emmy, our yearling Shetland Mules, are always the first to greet visitors. Below is a shot from Thursday,
I'm sorry to say I didn't get a photo of Tom and Debbie who visited the flock yesterday (Friday). It's been so fun to meet prospective shepherds and see the flock enjoying all the attention.

On the wool front, our latest shipment of combed top came back from Zeilinger's on Thursday. I had a batch of black with shaela done and a batch of long, silky moorit with fawn. I can't say enough good things about the turn around time for Zeilinger's and the quality of work they do. There is NO VM in the combed top, it's really nice! I got in on the 25% prepaid discount too.
Rhyn is definitely looking pregnant these days. I had her marked on the calendar to deliver today, but there's no telling when she and Lanora will lamb, except that it has to be by around April 25th.
Mabeline (on the right below) is marked down for tomorrow, but I'm sure she'll keep me guessing again this year too.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Our First Lambs of 2009

Yesterday was Derra's due date. In the morning I noticed she had a bit of discharge and she looked smaller - not so much like a hot air balloon. I headed off to work thinking for sure there would be lambs when I got home. Nope.

This afternoon she hung back and didn't get up when I went out there. I noticed a little more mucous discharge. But when I fed the flock she got right in there to eat.

After supper I checked the barn cam and noticed her digging in the corner of the barn - finally! She didn't lay down though, she went back outside. So I gathered the lambing bucket supplies: the scissors, iodine, towel, camera and sheep book.

Then the door bell rang. It was Jeannine, a gal I used to work with at the orthodontist office. She was out on her evening walk and decided to stop in and see if we had any lambs yet - her granddaughter has been talking about seeing lambs when she comes to Mora for Easter.

Talk about perfect timing! Sure enough, by the time we got out there, a white ram lamb was being licked off. We watched as ram lamb number two arrived, this one was black (English Blue pattern) and smaller than the first. Derra was pretty focused on the white one and Hattie came along to lick off the black one. It was time for me to set up the jug and move the family inside the barn.
Thankfully Jeannine stuck around to help me weigh the newborns after clipping and dipping and stripping. The white one was 9 pounds, and the black one was 6 pounds. They are 3/4 BFL, 1/4 Shetland.
I would say Jeannine would make a fine shepherdess, the sheep really liked her!