25 December 2009

Primary ram out

Got the primary ram Desert Weyr Kai out from the ewes pen late today. He is the first ram for the control group of ewes. There will be no rams in for 2 weeks and then we'll put 2 new rams in as backups for the AI group and the control group.

21 December 2009

Winter Solstice

Farms mark the year by the solar calendar.

The solstice, the traditional mid winter festival when the sun starts to return. For us too the solstice is turn-around time. The days when the sun seems to stand still are our time to do a yearly reflection on the past year. We evaluate the goals accomplished and plans for next year.

Chores are delivering food and water to the critters. I spend my mornings watching fluffy sheep get fat and play in the snow. They make sheep nests in the bedding pack for warmth. I watch the breeding ram to be sure he is doing his job. The current one in with my control group of ewes may be a candidate for baatwurst. He seems to be butting the ewes more than he is breeding them. The ewes will get another ram in January so they should get pregnant. We'll know when they lamb who the daddy is and if Kai failed to breed ewes he's sausage.

Chickens are all hunkered down, snug in the coop but in jail and they are not happy so I take hay and chicken treats to them and talk to them when I gather the eggs. Chickens are actually quite social and like to be talked to so I cluck at them and pet a few friendly ones.

The dogs also make their own nests in the hay and the old dog snuggles in between warm sheep when it gets cold. The horses frisk in the snow in the warm sun but stand huddled neighing for breakfast when it's cold. I have a lot more time in winter so I am doing some hobby things that never get worked on in summer: knitting, spinning, doing a puzzle, reading. Winter is a time of reflection, more thinking and planning than doing on a farm. It's a good balance.

I hope you all have an enjoyable winter solstice.

08 December 2009

Big Snow Storm

We woke up to a lot of snow today.

The ram lambs are covered with snow.

A couple were just resting comfortably in their sheep nests.

Cwningwn AKA Bunny was staying in her private house. She is getting alfalfa pellets because she doesn't have many teeth left so she is by herself so the other sheep don't steal her food.

Ken shoveled a path to the chicken barn.

No heat from the solar system today. No sun and the panels have snow on them.

03 December 2009

Sheep AI Experiment 2009 Part 4 - Inseminate the Ewes

Next day is the ewe insemination day.

this is the insemination pipette. It's a modified pig insemination device. It is carefully threaded into the ewe.

Ken had to hold all the ewes in the chute. Without a squeeze this time it was the only way to control them. It worked fairly well all things considered.

Threading the pipette into the ewe.

Insemination is simple.

We discovered that a maximum of 2 straws can be used or there is too big a volume of semen plus extender.

The live cover ewes are being bred by the ram Kai. We won't put a ram in with the AI group for 5 weeks.

02 December 2009

Sheep AI Experiment 2009 Part 3 - More Ram Collections

With the USDA folks back we collected semen again. This time it will be a slightly different freezing protocol.
Here are the rams in the sweep ready to go. They are not happy, they know what's coming.

One ram Desert Weyr Kai got to go in with the ewes. He is in a bit early so we can see if our ewes come into heat sooner than the average.