Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Learning to Flock

Basement Floor

The contractor came today and set up to pour the basement floor today. They framed out the area for the stone section for the root cellar and leveled off the dirt floor, then installed plastic. Tomorrow they are back to pour the concrete. It's been a long time coming and we will be very happy to say good-bye to the old dirt floor in that section of the basement.
The cats aren't too happy about the work going on in the basement. They get fed in the basement and their litter boxes are down there. Their little kitty door is blocked off and their bowls and one litter box is upstairs. They caught on to using the litter box but were more upset about getting fed upstairs. Well kitties, only one more day.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Way To Go Hazel!

I was so worried about Hazel's lambing after the mess with Ruthie. Thankfully, she did it all on her own about 10 minutes before I went out Tuesday morning to give the bottle lambs their 5AM feeding.
 Two beautiful ram lambs! Apart from the white on the tips of their ears and a little on their faces they are completely black. Such beautiful fleeces they will have. But what to do with all these boys!

Monday, March 6, 2017

A New Creep

Alan built a creep the first year we had lambs, but we rapidly outgrew its approximately 12 square feet size. Last year I used the long side of the creep in front of the door to the smaller stall. That worked great, but we lambed nearly a month later and it never got too cold at night necessitating the doors needing to be closed. This year we have had some frigid nights in the teens with the winds blowing right in the doors. We needed to come up with a creep plan that would allow the doors to be closed and still let the lambs come and go in the creep.
We were able to use some of the support structure on the barn wall from the old creep set up, a gate that I needed to move anyway, and the end panel for the original creep. The lambs are figuring it out. The older ones are happy to be able to eat grain without having to jostle with the big ewes.The lambs now have 32 square feet to get away from the commotion of the ewes and eat in peace.

Sunday, March 5, 2017


This post about Ruthie's lambing has taken me a while to write. I feel such a sense of failure and questioning after her ordeal. I have no idea when she began labor or when her water broke. Her 150 day mark was on Feb 16th, but she showed no signs of anything until she began having occasional dripping from her back end around day 155. She was huge and the fluid was clear and I thought she must be a little incontinent of urine since she was acting normally and eating well. But by day 157 she was only nibbling at food and seemed listless. She drank a bucket of warm molasses water and would eat grain if I hand fed her. Her temp was normal. On a vaginal exam I could feel a lamb nose but there was a rather thickish membranous something stopping my fingers from going into the lamb's mouth. I have often felt a very thin lower uterine segment that it was possible to feel baby parts through in laboring women. Was this Ruthie's lower uterine segment or very thin cervix I was feeling? Since nothing seemed to be changing I called the vet to come out and help me figure out what was going on.

The vet arrived about an hour and a half later and found Ruthie to be fully dilated with a dead lamb presenting with nose forward but legs back. This lamb had stopped everything. As the vet was getting the first lamb out I saw the membrane that I had felt. At first I thought the cervix was coming out with the lamb but then I realized it was a thicker than usual and opaque membrane. Had I realized what I was feeling would I have been able to save this lamb? The second lamb was also born dead but thankfully we were able to revive the third lamb. Triplets again. But only one ram lamb living. At least Ruthie has a lamb to mother. Judging from the smell of the lambs Ruthie must have had her water break at least a day or two prior.
The other lambs, a ewe and ram lamb, looked just like this little guy. All the lambs weighed between 9 and 10 pounds. These were the first full blood Coopworth lambs we had from our newer ram Mercer.  I always learn when the vet comes out and this time was no exception. I can't be afraid to do a vaginal exam if I am not certain of something. Can a sheep even be incontinent of urine? I am petrified I will have similar problems with Hazel, who is right now at day 148. She at least loves my attention and is enjoying all the scratches and rubs.

121 Hay Bales

This is what 121 hay bales dumped into your driveway look like.
We are blessed to have a hay auction less than 5 miles from our farm. We were running low on hay and Saturday was a frigid, blustery day, perfect for the auction. Our last adventure at the auction was in a small snow storm and the prices were good. Saturday was equally good. The only buyers were serious and people, like me, with small stock and deep wallets were mostly missing. We bought a beautiful load of 2nd cutting mixed grass hay that the sheep love. And it came out to $3.50 a bale. I can't touch this kind of hay in the retail market for under $5.50 to $6. Hopefully this load will last us until we can start grazing.