Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Sunny Sheep

The new sheep have been enjoying these past few days of warm temps and sunny skies.
They love to sleep in the sun. The lambs snuggle up close to their mom and use her as a windbreak.
In the photo above you can see Chloe (front left) in her hugely pregnant self. Directly behind Chloe is Moose who is also pregnant, but not as large. Their udder development seems to be going at about the same rate so I think they will lamb around the same time. The sheep on the right is Leda. She is the leader of the pack and is always the first to check us out when we get anywhere near their pen. She should be bred too, but I have no idea when she might lamb. Probably on the coldest snowiest night in February.

The whole flock!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Greens in the Greenhouse

On this the 29th day of December the lettuce, spinach, red mustard and kale are slowly growing in the greenhouse....
amidst some weeds. They will provide a few meals this winter and then will take off sometime in the end of March and will be far ahead of anything I can plant next spring.
We were able to have a mixed greens salad on Christmas day along with our own leg of lamb, blue mashed potatoes, and roasted carrots and parsnips. That meal was in the works since at least February when I started the seeds for the onions in the salad; although I could count from the conception of the lambs in October 2013. Isn't meal planning fun when you have to start the year before!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Barn Water

I am loving my new water tank in the barn.  Eventually we will dig a trench and get a water line up to the barn, but for now we will be using this 275 gallons tank that was made for transporting a corn syrup product. Alan has figured out the secret to filling the tank and not running the well dry. And if we top it off every time the weather is nice we shouldn't have to haul too many buckets of water this winter.
It has been great not having to haul water up to the barn. The chickens are right outside the barn so their water is easy to carry and the goats are all down hill so that's not too bad either. The sheep have the biggest water need so having the water tank in the barn is a godsend.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Our First Vet Visit

Today was a big day for the new sheep, their first vet visit. The last three weeks with the new sheep have been a very steep learning curve for me. First we had the leg problems with the littlest lamb (learned all about joint ill) then we had the ewe with runny stools (maybe scours, changes in diet from the move, stress, etc) and then three of the sheep didn't want to eat. All the sheep seem to have gotten their appetites back, are eating lots of hay, devouring their grain, and nibbling on their minerals. But now we have two sheep with very itchy backs/shoulders. I was able to examine one of the sheep and found a crusty, scabby area which is intensely itchy for the sheep.

That brings us to our vet visit. Finding a vet was a chore in itself, but today Abby from Dr Hoshall's practice in Oley came for a visit. She was excellent; so calm with the animals and very willing to discuss and explain.  She diagnosed probable mites and gave all the sheep Ivermectin and the one sheep with the worst case a shot of antibiotic.  Even the little lambs got some Ivermectin just in case. She also recommended an Ivermectin pour on treatment. Hopefully, we will see improvement and then we can finally let the sheep and goats meet each other 3-4 weeks after the sheep are better.

The other reason I had the vet come out was to trim the sheeps' hooves. The new mama ewe had very overgrown hooves and took the most trimming. The sheep with the worst dermatitis also got her hooves trimmed, although she wasn't quite as bad.  The other two sheep we left alone, except for their shots.  The vet thinks they are too close to lambing to stress out with hoof trimming and I was thankful for that. I don't need us inducing early labor.  She recommended trimming their hooves about 2-3 weeks after they deliver.  And she thinks they will lamb in about a week. Maybe we'll have Christmas lambs!

All in all I was very happy with this vet visit. I have never had a large animal vet come out to the house and was nervous about how it would go, but Abby was great!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Another Barn Door

Alan put in the second barn stall door so now we can have two different stalls with separate access to the barn paddock.
We also got some nice hardware for the latches and cut the doors into their two parts, like Dutch doors.
We have had the sheep for three weeks now but I am not ready to let them even come close to our goats yet. Two of the sheep have had loose stools and have been off their feed and two have been scratching between their shoulders and the one who will let me touch her has some weird crusty lumps on her back. Finding a large animal veterinarian has proven a lot harder than I thought it would be, but I think I found one. Hopefully I can get someone out this week to check them all out.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Finished Fence

It always amazes me how fast a crew of guys who do something all the time can be. Our fence took less than two full days. Unfortunately, the snow that fell on the first day make for a muddy mess that probably won't be repaired until spring. But the fence looks great!
They even put in supports for a livestock bridge that Alan will build next year so we can access the pasture on the other side of the stream.
We spent Saturday rebuilding the sheep paddock outside the barn. The sheep were very happy to be able to go outside again. They did not seem to appreciate being stuck in the barn for two days.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

New Fence!

Today the fencing crew came to start the new fence. Despite the snow, forecasted as snow showers but in reality became 3-4 inches, the crew got all of the posts in and a little over half of the fencing up. Tomorrow they will finish putting up the wire fencing, add the electrified wire along the top of the fence and install five gates. They think they may be done by noon.
These pictures were taken early in the day so the snow fall is minimal.
The crew was interesting to watch. They brought quite a bit of equipment and supplies with them.

This is the post pounder. I wonder how many fingers the guy at the post has lost. He kept putting his hand on the post as it was being pounded into the ground.
Of course the sheep were stuck in the barn all day, but the lambs kept active.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Hayloft

There is something very reassuring in knowing your hayloft is full.
Alan surprised me and took last Friday off so we hitched up the wagon and got two loads of hay and straw, 52 bales in total. We already had about 20 bales up there so I am hoping that lasts us through winter and into spring.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Lambs' Big Day

Today was the first day the lambs went outside here.  The smaller lamb was not doing well; having trouble walking, wasn't gaining weight or eating as well as his brother, and generally not looking so good.  Trying to find a vet for sheep has proven difficult, so I gave him a five day course of antibiotics and the tincture of time and he seems to have, hopefully, turned the corner. He has a long way to go to catch up to his brother though!
He's the one in the blue jacket. I am hoping I will be comfortable enough to take the jacket off soon. It may not be apparent in the photo, but he is about 75% the size of his brother.
The other sheep didn't seem to mind the little guys, even though the lambs tried nursing on everyone. But I think the other sheep were relieved when the mother sheep and her lambs went back in the barn.
That's our very pregnant ewe in the foreground above. Her udder hasn't bagged up yet so it will be a bit yet. Maybe Christmas babies?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

And Some of the Sheep Get to Go Outside!

This past weekend we worked hard to make an outside run off the barn and cut in a barn door for the sheep. We finally heard that the fence guys are coming on the 11th, but we needed to let the sheep out before then. So we made a temporary pen with more cattle panel (one of these days I need to count how many of those we have bought over the years) and cut one of the planned doors from the stalls.
After we had the pen in place and the door ready to be hung it was time to cut the opening.
Needless to say, the sheep weren't very pleased with the noise of the saw and stayed as far away as possible.
They weren't quite sure what to do with the new opening.

Maddy had to coax them outside with some delicious grain.
And then they noticed the neighbors farther up the hill.
The door is hung and functional. We still need to cut the door into the traditional barn door with separate top and bottom doors, and we need latches. But it works and the sheep are now happy to go outside.