Saturday, February 28, 2015

Greenhouse Work

Today was a lovely day to get a little work done in the greenhouse.

The ground ivy was taking over the spinach and lettuce. Usually the chickens won't eat ground ivy, but it's been so long since they had anything green I think they are desperate.
Too bad I can't stay in the greenhouse longer! This is what I return to:

Another Vet Visit

Thank goodness I have such great veterinarians. Ram 3 was doing much better Wednesday night and yesterday, but this morning he seemed to be going backwards. On the plus side he was passing a firmer stool, but seemed more listless and didn't seem to be eating as well.

So back out came the vet. Dr Dickerson was the vet on today and he was great. Ram 3's temp was normal, 102.3f. But he's looking a little dehydrated. The vet gave him an IV with an electrolyte solution and injections of Banamine, Vitamin C and Bo-Se (a selenium/Vitamin E supplement.) The Vitamin C was given to acidify the urine in case the ram has urine crystals. He left me 2 more injections to give for the next two days.

Watching Dr Dickerson giving the IV was very educational and very messy. Oh well, I wanted to wash my barn coat and pants again. It's very interesting to compare veterinary medicine to human medicine.  I learn so much each time the vets come to the barn.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Ram 3 Update

Since Sunday ram 3 has been on penicillin, had two enemas and two tube feedings. Yesterday and today we saw him drink water but he is still not nursing. He strains and appears to be uncomfortable. The vet came out this afternoon to see him. She took a stool sample to check for worms and examined him. His temp was 104.7 (normal is 102-103.) She gave him three injections-a longer acting antibiotic, some Banamine (an NSAID), and some B vitamins. She also told me my dose of 0.4 ml of penicillin was underdosing him and in the future the proper dose would be 0.5-1.0 ml.
He seems to already be feeling better this evening. When I went out to feed he was sacked out and seemed to be sleeping peacefully between his two pals.
He woke up while I was feeding and nibbled at some hay. He is also tasting the sheep mineral and continues to drink water. He has tried to nurse but I don't know if he doesn't have enough energy yet or if there is just too much commotion. I split the big stall like I did for a lambing jug and put ram 3 and his mom alone in there. Maybe they need some alone time to get the nursing going again.

The vet, Dr Orndorff from Oley has been great. This is the third time she has been out since I got the sheep and I always learn so much from her. She left three doses of Banamine for the next three days so we can keep his fever, pain and inflammation down. I hope he is feeling better soon.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Always Something to Worry About

I am finding with the sheep that as soon as I think things are going well something crops up. This morning ram3 was looking like he wasn't feeling well. He was laying down in the corner and was not interested when everyone else was eating.

He has no fever or diarrhea. I gave him a dose of penicillin in case he is brewing an infection and a drench of oil in case he has a bit of bloat (though his stomach is nice and soft but a little tender to palpation.) He has gone outside a few times today but the one time I saw him nurse he only sucked a second or two. His poor mama's udder is getting huge.
If he is not nursing by tomorrow morning I will have to milk her.

When Leda's udder became engorged right before lambing I noticed that her right teat was smaller than the left teat. Now I think I know why.

I didn't know if she had lambed before I bought her. I now think she did and she probably had mastitis in the right side of her udder. She obviously has no milk production going on in the right side. I guess it's a good thing she had a singleton. She may not be able to produce enough milk for more than one lamb.  Now I have to figure out if she will get culled. Her personality is good but she has this ongoing skin issue and now her udder problem.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Final Lambing Statistics

One function of record keeping is to help with future plans for each animal. When deciding which ewe to breed, when to breed, which ram to use, etc past performance can help.  I am not at the point where I need to make decisions about which ewes to keep/breed, but the records I keep now will help me years down the road. And I certainly can't rely on my memory!

So here we go:
Beyla-#112, came to us with 2 day old twin ram lambs. The smaller one, ram2, has never been as healthy as his bigger brother.  Ram2 needed antibiotics for probable joint ill, had problems with hair loss in the right front and back leg, also the legs affected by the joint ill. He has needed multiple treatments, both topical and injection, of ivermectin for mites. However, all the sheep probably had mites when we got them. Ram1 has been healthier than his brother since the first day we had them. He has consistently out weighed his brother.  When they were 66 days old ram1 weighed nearly 10 pounds more than his smaller brother, 35 vs 26 pounds. They are coming up on their 90 day/weaning weigh-ins. Beyla had an abscess on her nose which cultured Staph aureus, not casseous lympadenitis thankfully. Ram1 also had an abscess above his left eye which is healing nicely.

Moose-#102, delivered a huge singleton ram lamb on Jan 21st. I think this may have been her first lambing so I will give her allowance on her single lamb. She certainly has enough milk for this bruiser as he is nearly as large as ram2 while being two months younger. He is also a natural bob tail like his father. Moose did have trouble pushing this big fella out on her own and needed a little pull to help out.

Chloe-#45, delivered twins, a ram and a lamb, at decent weights, 9lbs and 7.5lbs with no assistance. She has been an attentive mother and they are growing well. We'll see how they do on their 60 days weights.

Leda-#105, delivered a singleton ram with a slight bit of assistance secondary to the left leg being pointed back instead of forward. He was an acceptable 10lbs and is growing nicely. Leda is the most attentive mother of our small flock of ewes.

The goal from lambing is a 200% rate. This season I had a 150% rate. I can live with that since I am not sure what nutritional status the ewes were in when they were bred. I am hoping next year I can get closer to 200% with flushing and just healthier conditions all around.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Penn State Sheep Home Study Course

I am taking an online course through Penn State's Ag extension program on improving sheep production. Each module is individualized to your specific situation, whether new or long time or future producer.  The modules themselves aren't offering much new info, it's the interaction with the instructor that is proving valuable.

The first module focused mainly on record keeping. I am woefully poor at record keeping for my property and needed this push to get organized. I know I need a system that is easy or I won't use it. The instructor sent me a link to a list of computerized farm/sheep record keeping programs that look interesting. I have downloaded trials of two programs and am giving them a little test drive.
The two I am looking at currently are FlockFiler and Ranch Manager.  FlockFiler is the cheapest program at $50,  but may not do all the things I might need. Ranch Manager has more options and is more comprehensive, but also more expensive, $149.

The sheep don't seem to care much for programming. They just want to know when they get to eat again.

The current module is on sheep reproduction. Again, not much new info but the Q&A with the instructor should be helpful. There was a picture of someone dipping an umbilical cord into a bottle of iodine and every nurse/midwife cell in my body recoiled with the thought of contaminating an entire bottle of iodine then using it over and over again! I think, I hope, most people pour a small amount of iodine into a smaller container to treat the cord of newborn lambs then dispose of the iodine remaining in the smaller container after use, keeping the labeled bottle clean and uncontaminated.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A Little Green on a Frigid Day!

On Feb 5th I planted my onion seeds, var "Ruby Ring" and "Pontiac". I grew both varieties last year and was very happy with them. They are also good keepers in my basement.  This is what they look like today.
They are almost ready for their first "hair cut."

My seed trays each have 120+ cells so I didn't have enough onion seed. Today I filled in some of the empty cells with leek seeds- var "American Flag." I think the onion/garlic family are some of my favorite veggies to grow.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Our Last Lambing of the Season

Leda's udder was huge this morning so we didn't think she would be pregnant for long. When we checked on her later in the morning she looked like she was having contractions, but nothing obvious was going on. I put up the fencing for the lambing jug and left her alone. When I checked on her about an hour later she had a big bag of water hanging out of her vagina. I had already brought my towels and tray of lambing supplies with me so only needed to call my husband and daughter up to the barn. Today is my husband's birthday so it was a nice little present.

Every lambing seems to have its little issues. With Leda it was the positioning of her lamb. The right leg and head were presenting but the left leg was no where to be seen. Despite that she seemed to be pushing well but I was watching the clock. Here you can see the lamb's head and neck but no left leg. The right leg is behind the lamb and not visible in this picture. At this point the lamb still had the membranes over it's head and began to jerk.
I was worried about the lamb trying to breath so went in to clean off the face.
At this point the left shoulder was out so I just helped Leda with the rest of the delivery. The lamb passed a lot of meconium during his delivery so he was stressed.
Just one ram lamb! I was so hoping Leda would have twins.
I was a little concerned that the lamb might have trouble with his left front leg, but he didn't seem to be bothered by it at all.

He took to nursing well. Leda has two very different teats, one is much smaller than the other, but he doesn't seem to be having any problems adjusting. A healthy 10 pounds of ram lamb. Ram5.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Future Plans for Livestock

With the weather so miserable it is fun to dream of spring. Soon it will be time to wean Ram1 and Ram2. We will have to separate them from the rest of the herd soon after that since they are not castrated.  We've been thinking about where to put a ram pen; a place we can have the growing meat rams and our new herd sire when he arrives in May.  We may even put Thor, our Nigerian Dwarf wether, in with the young boys to teach them some manners and keep the sire company after the other rams are butchered. This field, in the background, is across the stream and might make a nice area for growing rams and our sire.
I just need to figure out how much room I need for grazing four growing rams and a wether. We've also not been able to figure out how much of a barrier the stream is. Our goats have walked up to the edge but have not tried to walk on the ice yet. But then, they hate water and get upset when it's raining. I tend to think the stream would not stop a ram intent on getting to a ewe in heat. But would 3 rows of electric rope? Or should we use something stronger? Every day there is so much to learn!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Our Second Vet Visit

Our second vet visit this afternoon was another round of sheep wrestling. I do think it went better than the first time though. Ram1's abscess was looking a whole lot better. The swelling and redness have gone done tremendously and there is just a little scab.
 Beyla's abscess had begun to open and drain this morning. The vet lanced it and drained a lot of pus and blood, cleaned it up and gave her a shot of antibiotics. She still looks pretty pathetic! I had the vet take a sample for a culture just to make sure it's not Caseous Lymphadenitis, but she doesn't think it is. She thinks their immune systems are still down from their former home and everything should run its course. I hope she's right!
Moose and Chloe had their hooves trimmed. Moose's hooves were horrible, like elf shoes! Chloe was very good about having her hooves trimmed and the vet said they were much better than the others. Everyone got another shot of Ivermectin because we still have some itching/scratching going on.  Leda looks like she is due in about a week or two so she did not get treated. The vet left me with a dose to give her after she lambs. She thinks their intermittent runny noses are a virus that also needs to run its course and agrees that the occasional bloody noses are from irritation.  We are hoping Spring and grazing sets everything right.
Earlier this evening when I went to feed the goats Brigid was not eating and didn't look right. She was standing in the corner looking uncomfortable. She was very distended with her left side more so. I thought she might have bloat and sure enough all of her symptoms and physical findings agreed. Of course getting her to agree to the treatment was not so easy. I think I got enough olive oil into her and walked her around but she hasn't started passing gas yet. She didn't want me any where near her now so I figure if she's too good at getting away from me she must be improving. While I was giving Brigid her oil our other sheep, Mama Sadie, kept trying to get me to pay attention to her. She let me scratch her all over and asked for more. She has NEVER done that! Maybe she's finally getting tame.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Garage Attic Storage

Alan is just about finished with the storage area in the attic of the tractor/garage bay.
A couple of strips of lath to close up all the gaps on the common wall and to go around the vent hole are all that is needed up here. Well, maybe a light would be nice. Guess I'll have to bring that up. The storage area is a touch smaller than the old space but much nicer!

Monday, February 9, 2015


I noticed this abscess on Ram1 last week.
Then a day or two later, I noticed this lump on the side of his mother's nose.
The abscess above Ram1's eye opened up soon after I took these pictures. It was all pus and blood. I saved a sample of the pus for in case the vet wants to run a culture but it will have been in the fridge for 3 days so I'm not sure they will be able to culture it. Of course I am worried about caseous lymphadenitis but the location of these abscesses seems all wrong for CL from everything I've read. The vet is coming on Wednesday and we'll see what they think. We are due for hoof trimming anyway.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Poor Ram2

We were gone all day yesterday and the sheep were fine in the morning. When I went out to check on everyone when we got home I found Ram2 with blood on his ear. Apparently, he pulled ripped his ear tag out sometime during the day. He now has a two inch long slit in his left ear. It had stopped bleeding by the time we got home. I cleaned his ear and applied Blu-kote. Today his ear seems to be healing nicely and not bothering him at all.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Snow Off the Barn Roof

A dark metal roof facing mostly south east loses its snow pretty quickly. And all that snow ends up down on the ground, blocking the stall doors and the main door into the barn.
The snow we had on Sunday night was followed by rain then single digit temperatures the next night. Consequently, all the snow is now hard as a rock. Thankfully Maddy was able to clean up enough of the snow yesterday while I was at work so we could get into the barn and get one of the stall doors to the yard open.  Today it took quite a while to get everything open, and the use of a nice ice chopper too.

The sheep were happy to get outside today. And the boys love to check out anything you are working on anywhere near them.
We've been thinking about making a shed roof coming off the barn roof for a number of reasons, but the snow has added another reason.  It sure would be nice not to have to shovel snow away from all the doors. The shed roof would also allow us to keep the stall doors open in inclement weather and it would keep an area in the pen dry. Outside of the pen, the hill going up to the door gets very slippery in the snow and rain. If the shed roof goes along the entire length of the barn it would also protect the area outside the main door.  We will probably get an estimate from the contractor who built the barn. It would be great to have the roof in place before next winter.

Another Day Spent Working on the Garage/Tractor Bay

Alan spent Sunday working on his tractor bay again. It's coming along.  He got the plywood on the common garage wall.
He put down the flooring for the attic space and put the studs up for the back knee wall. My storage area got a little smaller and will now be 8x12 feet. But structurally it is a much stronger space. The little triangle at the top of the eave needs plywood and the ventilation hole gets screening. Lots of little odds and ends to finish up.

And once again we were expecting snow that night so Alan had to spend time battening down the hatches.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Lamb Update

All the lambs are doing well. They are eating, growing and not seeming to mind the cold much.  Our first rams, "Big Boy" and "Little Boy", continue to grow and are now 71 days old.  We'll have to start thinking about weaning them soon.
The lamb in the foreground is Big Boy and the lamb in the background is Little Boy. The lamb in the middle is ram3 and he is nearly the size of Little Boy and he is only 11 days old.  He loves to run around with the older rams and has perfected the four-legged hop. He continues to nurse well and his mom is very attentive.
The new lambs also don't seem to be minding the cold temps. I still have their lamb jackets on though. 
The ram lamb's tail is much longer than his sister's and he can really get that tail moving! Ram3's tail is much shorter than the rest of the lambs' tails.  I am not quite certain yet on a name for the ewe lamb, but we've been calling her Cora and that may end up sticking.  She loves attention!