Thursday, April 29, 2010

Shetland Geese, Shachah, lambs

Shachah likes to sleep on his back.  He no longer stays inside our fences. Here he has decided to sleep in the driveway.  I guess we'll have to get some invisible fencing to run along the front of our property so he won't go to the neighbors.  I like him to be able to guard our whole property, including my birds and the rams during the night, so I'm not sure about penning him up with ewes again after lambing is over.
Here Shachah tries to get to know the geese. I had let them out earlier to graze freely, but I was afraid they might give Shachah some grief and who knows how he would react to that. I didn't want anyone getting hurt, so I quickly set up this little pen and pulled out their pool.

I noticed the Shetland goose egg was missing the other day.  I'm not sure if the geese are breaking their own eggs, or if something is getting in there during the night. I gave them more bedding to cover up the eggs that are laid.  And I figured their swimming pool would give them something better to do.  They love their pool!

I sat down a watched while they got themselves all cleaned up. I was able to determine two that are a mating pair, so I now I can separate the pairs.  I think I will offer the mating pair for sale, I'm not sure if that goose is laying yet.  I know the other one is.  I'm going to swap the eggs  out for sandfilled plastic eggs and when I get a few collected I'll fire up the incubator to see if they are fertile.  From what I've read, the ganders aren't very fertile their first year.

As far as temperament, the Shetland geese are very Shetland-like and typical geese.  The ganders are protective of their space.  If a gander tries to attack my foot, I just pick him up and hold him a while.  He's small enough to handle easily and he's always happy to be put down again. I've only had to do this three times this spring. They still remember me as their caretaker and I was surprised when I let them out that they still wanted to follow me around the yard.  The geese are still their inquisitive selves.

Ebony's safe spot for when the ewes eat their grain.

Lanora's ram lamb is so big compared to Hannah's twins. This is their safe spot at graining time.  Rhisa, being a week older is now in with the ewes trying to nibble on the grain too.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Lana's lamb - her name came to me this morning - she will be Ebony.


Rhisa sleeping

Life has been so busy around here this week! In addition to lambing, we had a stock pond dug out in the 20 acre pasture of our Ogilvie land on Thursday.  I haven't seen it yet.  Hopefully I can get over there this afternoon. We'll need lots of rain to fill it up. Then on Friday we had some fill brought in to level out the paddock south of pole barn here.  We used all of our precious aged compost as topsoil over the fill - I should have saved some for my planters.

As long as we had all the big machinery here, we also had the pole barn cleaned out.   So that meant booting all the sheep out for the day. And it was a beautiful sunny day.
Hannah found that a twin can come in handy as a pillow when mom's tired. She did a good job of keeping her babies out of the wind. They had a great time later joining in the lamb races.

The sheep waste a lot of hay over the course of the year and it really builds up.  Here is a shot of the barn prior to the excavation work. That's my California White hen, she's so independent. She has a nest spot on the hay pile and sometimes even spends the night in the ewe's barn.  None of the other chickens go over there but her.  It's so funny how she always comes running up to me whenever I go outside. She knows I'll let her back in the little barn with the other hens -- and the chicken feed.

Shachah has to take 10 pills a day for 28 days to treat the anaplasmosis. I bought these pill pockets from the vet and they work great! Worth every penny.  I need to get another package to finish out the last two weeks of treatment.  I just put the 5 pills inside and seal it up and he eats it up.  They must taste great because the cat has tried to eat them and Ozzie swooped in and stole one before Shachah got to eat it.  I was worried Ozzie would get sick, but he was just fine.  I have to give Shachah his second Lyme vaccination and distemper too. Not looking forward to that...
And yesterday afternoon was my last day working in the deli!  I will miss all my friends there, but I will NOT miss wearing that awful black beret -- how unflattering can you get?  I will spend more time on my felting and fiber and hopefully lose some weight.  I never realized how good all that deli food tastes until I started working there and buying it.

Oops, I almost forgot, I found the first Shetland goose egg this morning!  It was laying in the mud, and I put it in the nest. I hope that means more to come.  Maybe I should separate my pairs. Although I can't tell the ganders apart, so I don't know who should go with who...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Twin Ewe lambs from Hannah


After a long night and an equally long day of watching and checking on poor hugely pregnant Hannah, twin ewe lambs were born last evening. One was born about 6:15 (about 15 minutes after talking with a vet on the phone) and the other about 8:45 (again about 15 minutes after talking with the vet).

The worry watch started when I saw that suddenly Hannah's bag had swelled up like a water balloon and was very warm.  I checked on her through the night every 2 hours.  She stayed inside the pole building so I knew she was close. 

Yesterday morning she was noisy and uncomfortable, bellowing from inside the barn. Not a happy girl at all.  I kept watching her and although she was quite uncomfortable, I couldn't see any regular contractions starting up and no water bag.  One or two possible contractions, but nothing definite.  Usually my girls lave their lambs out within an hour of acting this way. By late afternoon with still no sign of a water bag, I started worrying that a lamb could be laying crossways and keeping her from going into 2nd stage labor. So that's when I called the vet. He said to give her more time as long as I wasn't seeing any bloody discharge.

I went in to make chili for supper and when I checked the barn cam, there was Hannah licking off a lamb!  I never did see her have contractions.
I am happy to say that Hannah filled my order for a moorit lamb, and she even made it a ewe lamb and added a krunet!  This little lamb was normal sized, and there was no placental cord hanging out from Hannah so I was sure there would be at least one more lamb to come.  Hannah licked and licked the moorit, fed her and didn't have any more contractions for over two hours.  The moorit was cleaned off, well fed, jumping and frolicking and still no sign of baby number two. Hannah decided to eat a little hay and get a drink of water, so that's when I called the vet back.  He said that Hannah just seemed to be taking things slow this time around and to just let her be, not to go in looking for number two, which was fine by me.  So within minutes of getting that advice, I see a big clear water bag emerge and eventually some hooves.  Then Hannah laid down and a BIG twin sister was born.  I had to help get her shoulders and body out.

It is totally amazing to me that those lambs are so programmed to nurse immediately on exit from the womb. This big girl connected with the teat before even standing up for the first time.  Hannah has a lot of milk.  I had to get a flashlight to make sure it was another ewe lamb.  It was dark in the barn by time she was born and being black didn't help much.

This morning all is well, but my camera batteries died after I got this shot. I've still got to weigh them.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Lana's Ewe Lamb and Lanora's Boy


River Oaks Lana had a ewe lamb all dried off and fed when I went out to feed the sheep on Sunday morning.  I think she may be modified, her skin looks rather brownish, but her fleece is black. 
She weighed 7 lbs.  Only half as much as Lanora's ram lamb who was born Saturday morning.

I'm trying to think of a name for him. His sire is Granite, so I was thinking of maybe Slate, but then I thought maybe Glacier... Still thinking.  He was quick to nurse after birth and his was a trouble free BFL lambing except for that spurting cord.

Here he is Sunday morning, with his mom a full sister behind him on the left and yearling Shetland ewes, Freya, Cleo, and Freida on the right. He went out on pasture with mom and old sister Rhisa that day.
I had to band their tails tonight, I just hate doing that.  Glad it's over now.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Another BFL Lamb


Just a quick post to say that our white BFL ewe, Beechtree Lanora, had her lamb this morning. It's a beautiful white ram lamb with a very blue head.  Look at those ears!  He's certainly not a pinkie.  :-)

His cord was pretty thick and when I clipped it, the blood just spurted out.  How scary!  I held it clamped tight for a while and then dipped it in some really thick and fast coagulating Iodine I bought from Premier.  It quit spurting quickly and it looks good now.  But I hope he doesn't get it bleeding again while I'm gone at work this afternoon.
Lanora is being a very good mother, she licked him off and is agreeable to having her bag accessed.  I got both teats unplugged and ready for the lamb to find -- hopefully on his own this afternoon. :-)

This boy is white carrying color. And he is the last BFLlamb for us this year. Our two 2-year-old ewes didn't take last fall. I'm disappointed not to get any lambs out of Ward Harwell, he's a gorgeous ram.  Next year I'll leave my breeding groups together longer.

Overall with the BFLs lambing, we've had 50/50 rams and ewes, and 50/50 colored/white.  Now I can relax and wait for the Shetlands to start in with their lambs.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Out & About - What a Difference a Day Makes

River Oaks Rhisa 1 day old and weighing in at 13 pounds.



You can see by these photos we need rain.  We got some the other night, but we need more to get the grass growing.


And for the Shetland lovers, here are a couple shots of River Oaks Freya.  She is a yearling black gulmoget with solid sides. 



I'm noticing the rich brown facial stripes in the black gulmoget ewes right now.

This is a very pregnant River Oaks Lana, she was in the rise at shearing and she looks a little raggedy now, but she's also got solid sides. I don't know if she's homozygous black or not. I would love to get a moorit gulmoget lamb from her.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

First lamb of 2010

Rhyn was in labor when I got off work last evening. Good thing for me that she chose to labor right in front of the barn cam.

It was grain feeding time, so all the ewes were inside at the feeders.  Rhyn took a few bites, laid down to push and got up for a few more bites.  I decided to watch from in the house.  Suddenly I thought I'd better go check for two hooves and a nose. By the time I got to the barn, a newborn natural colored BFL ewe lamb was sprawled out on the hay in the narrow walkway between the feeder and the wall of the pole barn. 

Rhyn was licking her like crazy.  No Shetland lamb has ever had a more attentive mom than that!  I wiped off her face and sat back to watch the new mother and baby.

I've not been very excited about lambing this year, but there's something very special about witnessing those first quiet, gentle moments of life and the bonding of mother and baby.

While all the other sheep were busily eating their grain, old Bramble Cordelia came over checked out the newcomer real good. The yearling ewe lambs were afraid to go past and they had to jump as high as they could to get past her.  Not wanting anyone to get hurt,  I moved the baby out of the walkway and into one end of the barn and I set up a panel to separate them from the flock.

Then I went back to house to watch for another lamb's arrival.  I was hoping for twins this year out of Rhyn, she seemed so big. But when none came, I clipped and dipped the cord in iodine and went to strip the wax plugs from Rhyn's teats. Again this year I had to get Stan's help in holding her still for that. I tried to help the lamb find the teat, but she resisted.  So I gave her a little bottle of the colostrum I had milked out and a supplement I keep on hand for the BFL lambs. 

All seemed well as I turned out the lights and I was confident the lamb would figure things out overnight.  I checked them on the barn cam during the night and they seemed to be doing fine.

But this morning the lamb was noisy and skinny, and Rhyn's bag seemed pretty sensitive. So Stan set up our new homemade headgate and we managed to get Rhyn locked in it. I am the first to admit I absolutely HATE having to milk out a ewe.  I have an Udderly EZ milker which I eventually employed, but I am just not good at milking sheep even with good equipment. And Rhyn wasn't too happy about it either. The lamb got another bottle of colostrum and I got very frustrated with the whole situation.  It really wasn't Rhyn's fault this time, it was that STUPID lamb's fault. 

I wrote about it on the BLU Board group this morning and got some very reassuring advice from longtime Shetland and BFL breeder Judy Colvin.  She said just stay out of there and don't bother relieving pressure on the mom's bag. And don't try to help that dumb lamb unless she's humped up.  Just let them be. So that's what I did.  I gave Rhyn a shot of Banamine just in case she had pain issues and I released her from the headgate which was making her pretty upset.

And now from the looks of things on the barn cam, the ewe lamb has figured it out! At least for one side of her bag - the sensitive side - it's completely shrunk up!  So the lamb is getting all that good colostrum.  Oh what a relief!  Suddenly the sun is out and the rain that fell overnight makes the grass look green.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Getting ready for Lambing and Easter

River Oaks Lana and Freida before shearing - rich black color from their Holly genetics.
Lambing seems to have sneaked up on me this year. I've been going a mile a minute for weeks now and suddenly I realize our first BFL lambs are due in only a week!  I've got to put in an order to Premiere from some Kolostral, tags, Nutri-drench and a new battery for the electronet.

This is the time of year I do daily bag checks.  I'm comparing bag shots from last year with actual delivery dates.  And according to last year's photos, Rhyn should deliver pretty close to her due date of April 10th.  I'm hoping for my first sets of BFL twins this year.  But I will be plenty happy with healthy singles and attentive mothers.  We've got two BFLs that I'm pretty sure are bred, but they could still prove me wrong.  Not much for bags on them yet.

I had the vet out yesterday to look at Cordelia's eye and give Shachah his shots. Cordelia seems to have scratched her cornea. I got a new tube of antibiotic eye ointment (my old tube was expired) and gave her a shot of Banamine which I had on hand.

Shachah got his rabies, distemper and Lyme vaccinations and was tested for heartworm and tick borne diseases.  He came up positive for anaplasmosis, so now we have to start him on doxycycline for four weeks.  He'll need five pills a day.  He only eats once a day, so I'm going to have to get him to take a little snack laced with pills in the mornings in addition to the same at his evening meal.  I suppose I'll have to put the pills in venison burger...

Zeilinger's got my 32 pounds of washed wool in time for me to get the 23% discount on processing - that discount covers the cost of shipping. In fact they've already gotten my white BFL roving done and will ship it back right away. The rest won't be done until late May-early June, they are so overwhelmed with orders.  I'm having a three-way swirl roving made from my longer-stapled black, moorit and mioget Shetland fleeces, and I'm having all the white Shetland Mule made into batts for felting (13 lbs).  The natural colored BFL is being processed into combed top - it was kind of felted after washing, so combed top was the way to go. I think the processing is worth every penny, Zeilinger's does such a nice job on everything.

Off to work this morning and then I'll be on a mission to clean this house in time for the big family Easter dinner here tomorrow. Last week we were fortunate to win $250 in gift cards from the grocery store we work at.  It really helps to cover the cost of groceries!  A couple years ago our youngest won it in cash and we split it with him since it was our groceries that won the prize (they pick an employee at random and then go check their cupboards for the store brand items,they pay $10 for each item up to 25 items).

Oh and I almost forgot, our youngest finished his schooling two weeks ago and has landed a full time job with benefits! He'll be a help desk operator for the Apple iPhone after he completes 5 weeks of paid training.  The bad thing is the training starts tomorrow, Easter Sunday!  Strange, huh? Oh well, we are just so happy he's got a job and will be able to make the payments on his student loans.  This is such a tough time to find a job.  He plans to continue to working as a freelance videographer which is what he went to school for. But he needs to invest in a good computer and camera now that he's done with school and won't be able to use their equipment any more.