30 April 2008

Win some, Lose some

Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.

We lost 109 Daron today. She went into labor and I couldn't get the lamb out. It felt weird. I talked to the vet about options, a C-section would be a minimum of $300 if there were no complications but more realistically $500+. It's not economically viable to spend that much money on a 9 year old ewe. I had several options, none good. I tried and tried but I could not shift the lamb, positively identify the parts I was feeling as belonged to the same lamb or have any hope of getting those parts out. We worked for quite a while but Daron went into shock and was losing blood. Per vet instructions we shot her and then I quickly cut her open in hopes we had a live lamb behind the mess I was feeling.

The deformed lamb weighed 31 pounds. Daron was perhaps 75 on a good day. There was no way to have gotten that mass out without a C-section and it was dead a while ago. There was no live lamb behind that one.

But while we were dealing with this disaster 322 Gwenda successfully lambed a set of twins, a ram and a ewe. She had them out, up, dry and nursed before we were done with Daron. Gwenda's lambs are doing fine in spite of our horrendous winds.

We are expecting snow tonight and tomorrow so we loaded six bales of hay into the pasture both as extra food for the ewes and shelter for the lambs. We have two ewes looking close but I think they will wait until tomorrow.

27 April 2008


Well I spoke too soon. At this morning's sheep check at 6:00 am we found a ewe, 298 Caridwen, with 3 lambs. All three were out, dry and had nursed. 2 ewes and a ram lamb. Unfortunately Caridwen can only for sure count to two so we put her in a jug on pasture until she learns she has three to care for. She gets good mom points for getting them all out and cleaned off and not tangled. I just wish she'd only had 2 though. I'm not sure she will have enough milk to feed all three. I sure hope the rest of the wooly beach balls are not hiding three lambs inside!

Burning Brush & More Lambs

Yesterday we burned the big brush pile in our field. We have to call the Sheriff to get permission now. In years past agricultural burning was allowed with no restrictions. It's a bit of a hassle but I guess so many urban folks moved in, saw burning and didn't understand the reasons that they had to institute some sort of system so the dispatcher can tell people who call in fires that it's allowed. We burn brush and prunings because there is really no other way to dispose of them. We don't have a chipper and even if we did we can't use that many wood chips. Most of it is not any good for firewood, we salvage what can be used in the fireplace and still have more wood than we or our neighbors can use in years.

With the brush pile gone the only thing left to do to be able to get the front field plowed and planted is to move the sheep and take down the electric fencing. We'd like to remove the small white shed that is in the way but if that doesn't happen we can still plow and plant the field.

We also had another ewe lamb a set of twins. That makes a total of 3 so far. She had triplets last year and I was really glad not to have 3 again this year even though she was able to count to three.

22 April 2008

First Lamb!

Our first lamb of the year.

A lovely little ewe lamb 6 pounds 7 ounces at 6 am this morning. The new mother is 716 Bron and this is her first lamb. Papa is Hervey, who was sold to Canada last year. Bron had her new baby out, cleaned off, dry and nursed when we found them this morning.

Now if the remaining 56 ewes will do it just like that we'd be very, very happy.

New Sign & Fence

Yesterday Larry and Ken got the new sign holder welded onto the corner of the fence and the sign up and installed. We still have to paint the holder but it looks great!

Larry and his crew also finished installing the short section of fence below our open field on the west side. It also looks great and will keep the sheep safe.

18 April 2008

On Pasture

The pregnant ewes got out on pasture today. As you can see the grass is thin, so we pre-loaded hay into the pasture and some ewes were eating it after testing the grasses.

From the looks of these udders, this is a typical one, it's none too soon. I expect lambs anytime now.

17 April 2008

Sheep Dewormer

The pregnant ewes got their dewormer yesterday. One of the ways we reduce the parasite load in the pastures is to be sure to deworm the ewes 24-48 hours before they go out for the summer. That combined with our hard winters mean that we rarely have to deworm lambs until late summer when we start getting nose bot problems. So yesterday was a run through of all the pregnant girls into the sweep for a dose of dewormer. They all thought they were going to the pasture and were eager to get out. We had a lot of irate sheep when they had to go back to dry hay for breakfast.

We are still really short of grass. The long exceptionally cold winter means our pastures are running several weeks behind in grass growth so the yearlings and rams will all stay in winter corrals until the pastures catch up. We need to get the lambing ewes out before they start popping. It's much more sanitary to lamb on pasture.

The official due date is tomorrow.

Linoleum & Finish Electric

The upstairs linoleum for the shop got installed and it looks lovely.

Jake came back to start the final electric installation. One note to self. Do not take a picture that requires a flash when the electrician is working on the main electrical box. Poor Jake thought the box was hot because the flash went off just as he was connecting some wires. Never mind that we both knew it was not, the initial reaction was one of panic.

13 April 2008

Major Milestone

The farm had a major milestone today. This old travel trailer has been here for at least 10 years. It was used as a temporary guest house on occasion and Oogie stayed in it when she first got here in the fall of 2000 with the sheep. It was not in great shape, wasps had started to build nests and we had no use for it.

We thought about selling it but that seemed like a lot of trouble. The effort to sell it or make it road worthy was just too much. So we just left it. Last week in the local paper was an ad for a person wanting an old used travel trailer to make into an eggmobile for chickens on pasture. This seemed like a perfect recycling use to us. So today the trailer has been given away and moved off the property to go be turned into a portable laying house for chickens.

I hope it makes a great place for the chickens to lay tasty true free ranged eggs and be protected by predators at night.


We got the ewe yearlings out to graze the little bits of grass coming up around the guest house. Why get out a lawnmower when you have sheep! But the grass must be too young still, it doesn't taste good yet and they didn't like it. They did have a wonderful time racing all over and checking out the shop porch but we need some more sun for the grass to get sweet enough that it's fit food for sheep.

Of course with real grazing going to happen soon it was time to get out all the electric nets that had been stored for the winter in the barn and make sure they were all ok. We really should check them before we put them in storage but somehow we never manage to get it done. So the first task of the grazing year is to check all the nets and repair any broken wires. We already checked the fence chargers and batteries and they are ok. So here we are stretching out each net and inspecting it. Ken repairs any broken bits with hot melt glue and wire as needed. We got all the stored nets checked and repaired. The only ones we did not check are the ones being used to keep the dogs in. We'll check those and repair them when we move the dogs around for grazing guard duty.

Shop Painting!

West McKee is back this weekend painting the shop. We were never able to get the painting contractor to even give a call back so West is coming through to get it done before the linoleum is installed.

He's doing a great job and we really appreciate it.

11 April 2008

Shop and Sign Progress

The new sign hanger is done. We still have to paint it black but it is finished. We're going to have it welded onto the big elk fence at the corner. It will be visible from both sides of the road there.
In the shop news the garage door got installed and painting is starting inside. Next week the linoleum upstairs will get installed and the base boards painted and installed. Shelving will be the next major project to finish.

Spring then Winter Again

Well we thought spring was coming. The snow had melted and things were starting to green up. The grass was just getting going and the guard dogs looked ready to start the lambing protection job.

Then we got this...

More snow leading to again more mud when it melted the next day. Last year we had sheep out grazing on 28 March. It's already 11 April and there is not enough grass to put anyone out yet. We're due to start lambing next weekend and we are not set up to have ewes lambing in the winter hay feeding corrals and barns so I sure hope the weather warms up and the grass starts to grow soon. We still have a lot of hay left so we can afford to keep the sheep in for a while longer but the lambing ewes have got to get out on pasture before they lamb.

We're at least several weeks behind in terms of bud growth on the orchard too. Now that may be a good thing, last year we started early and when the trees were in flower we got a major frost and snow storm in May that killed all the fruit for the year. At lest with the trees running behind schedule we may have some apples this year.

03 April 2008

Federal Flock Inspection & Vaccinations

Yesterday was the yearly Federal Flock inspection. We are in the Scrapie Flock Certification program and are certified scrapie free. One of the things we have to do is have our flock inspected once a year. The inspector comes out and we run every single sheep through and he checks the ear tag numbers against the inventory. I also provide data on every single sheep that was born or on the place at any time during the last year. This year we also had to give shots so as they went through we gave them their yearly vaccination. We use Covexin 8 vaccine as we have all the clostridial diseases in our area and it protects the lambs to come. Some bobbles, we used the shearing sweep and sheep did not want to go in but we got them all done. Ken sprained his ankle and I fell over a root trying to move sheep from one pen to another but am ok.

Once we had checked every sheep and verified the federal ear tag we went inside to do paperwork. I had the lists of all the sheep that had been on the place last year. I provided the documentation of whether they were sold, butchered, died or stillborn. For any that were sold I have to provide the addresses of who they were sold to. Butcher animals have to have the age at slaughter listed and the sheep that died have to have documentation of what caused the death. Dates of all the events are also required. Our final numbers for 2007 80 sheep butchered, 32 sold, 3 died and 5 stillborns. For 2008 so far we have butchered 4 more sheep. We have 120 sheep alive on this date. There are a few questions to answer, no sheep have had nose to nose contact with our sheep in the last year, we have not grazed them on any other property, any show sheep have been isolated from nose to nose contact while at the show and so on.

Most of this record keeping is also required for all sheep and goat breeders in the US. But people not in the certification program do not have to tag all sheep until sold whereas I have to tag everything over 12 months of age with an approved tamper evident tag with our flock ID and an individual number.

We finished our paperwork and called it good for the day.

Next job is try to figure out how to get the toes trimmed on the ewes before they go on pasture and do their wormer. But with Ken injured I'm not sure how to do it as he usually holds the sheep while I trim toes.