Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Shepherd's Delight......

is the three little lambs that arrived on Monday morning in an orderly manner.  No scrambling to get out all at once; a nice gentlemanly entrance into the world.    Yes indeed folks Pepsi FINALLY decided to get with the program and stop carrying the lads around with her.  Through the night on Sunday we visited periodically at which point she would sigh deeply, roll a little.......and bring up yet another cud!  At last about 6 a.m. she began to excavate.  She dug, and pondered, and dug some more.  When two little feet appeared (pointing in the right direction and belonging to the same lamb whose nose followed closely, the Shepherdess was quite relieved. 

After meet and greet was  well started I milked Pepsi out and gave the lad his first meal in a bottle.  He downed two ounces in nuthin' flat.  Two more boys followed with a comfortable interval between. 
Each got their first meal of colostrum to give them a good start in life just in case they had navigational challenges in locating the lunch counter.

 All was going well until Pepsi made it clear that the middle child was not to her liking.  Visions of a bummer came to mind and I quickly ushered him over to Lyric who had also just presented us with a handsome little boy.  She thought this other one was fine and she liked him (had previously tried to snitch him actually) and then he nursed a bit and ..she gave him back.  Ah HAH!  I felt his teeth and discovered some sharp little points.  The DH was enlisted to hold the young man for his first dental appointment.  An emery board rounded the little daggers and his mouth was declared 'comfortable'. 

Pepsi however was not willing to take our word for it and had to be restrained and comforted by DH while we proved that he had been to the shop and came back better for it.  From experience I knew this procedure had to be done on both sides so the little man got a full tummy and was ready for a nap.  I tucked him in next to his brothers and gave Pepsi some nice soothing alfalfa to calm her.

An hour or so later the boys woke up hungry and ran to the snack bar.  I held my breath.  Pepsi nuzzled each little tush without exception.  Whew!  It worked again.  I often wonder at this time of year how many rejected lambs are due to snaggleteeth?

It's late and so I'll close for the night but I know many of you were wondering how many lambs were in there!  The petite pois weighed in at 7#, 6# and 5.5#.  Yup 18.5 pounds of babies she had been carting around!  No wonder she was hungry enough to snarf up an egg! 

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Lambs and more lambs! Oh MY!

The neighbors are ALWAYS giving advice!   The Japanese bantams love to hang out in the barn and kibbitz with the girls.  Trifle is not amused by Bert (or is it Harry?) commenting on her physique.  Trifle has about two weeks to go before her babies arrive.  She is probably thinking its going to be a long two weeks with these nosy darn neighbors popping in all the time.  

So far in addition to Charity;  Aileen, Whimsy, Coco and Gale have lambed with a ram and ewe lamb each.   Liam and Calbaut our two herd sires for this lambing have proven their ability be the Prince Charming for their lovely girls.   So far we are seeing luster, curls and terrific structure from all the lambs.  A few will be dark grey, a couple light grey and several  moorits.  

Around the 20th we will have several more girls due along with the long awaited GOTLAND BABIES!  The Gotties are going to be a lovely enhancement to the farm.  Their Moms have all been champs in the show ring and are good producers of stunning lambs.  We'll see what they can do with these handsome Swedish guys that arrived via  New Zealand!

Pepsi is the girl to watch at this point and we have been watching.....a LOT.    Pepsi normally takes her time getting into the mood for lambing.  Making sure they are all 100% finished and ready for their debut.  But really, COME ON PEPSI!!!  There is a limit!  You can't hang on to them forever; not unless Sheepmom can find you a roller skate for your tummy!   

Pepsi had triplets as a first time lamber and that was an eyeopener.  After she produced 18 pounds of lambs from her 85 pound frame it became abundantly clear that she was nothing but skin and bone.  There was no room to eat for four so she donated her share to the three lambs. 

Yesterday she had claimed her lambing space so I built her a jug and in she went.  She was looking weary and I was a bit concerned.  The chickens went in too convinced that a hole in the straw was a perfect nest for egg laying.  She chased them out a number of times before giving up.  The little hen was desperate at this point to lay her egg so she popped it out with Pepsi's nose resting on her head.  I started to move around to the gate to fetch the egg when the hen stepped away but much to my surprise Pepsi POUNCED on it!   She vacuumed it up in a flash and licked the egg yolk off her face and dug around in the straw to see if there was another! Yup! Shell and all. After I picked my jaw up off the floor I thought...DUH!  THAT GIRL IS HUNGRY!  So off I went to get some alfalfa and a high carb snack to sustain her until dinner.  That got vacuumed up just like the egg and polished off with a swig of molasses water. 

 Ok,,,this shepherdess got the message.  Pepsi gets her own room service with occasional forays out and about to take a little exercise.  Hopefully she will get with the delivery process pretty soon.  I don't think there is much stretch left in this girl!

Stay tuned for the arrival announcement which we hope will be SOON!

You have GOT to be kidding!

Maggie followed Charity with  the elan of an overachiever.  She popped out three flashy little kids, two handsome bucklings and a precious doeling the DH has already named Cricket because she loves to hop into his lap for loves.  Yes my George is a goat guy, he loves his little Nigies and they love him right back. 

Maggie was more than her normal wide-as-can-be and my Goat Guru,  Debbie assured me that triplets at the very least were perking in that vast tummy. This picture was taken about 11 days before the blessed event took place.  Not only deep but wide as well!

 Maggie came through with flying colors once again blessing us with babies that have her stylish stance and dairy character.  She enjoys the special jug made for her in the hay room complete with heat lamp for her kids and her very own hay and grain (not that she is THAT good at sharing anyway!).  

The little family got out today into Maggie's palace.  She has a calftel with heat lamp and fresh bedding.  Tomorrow we will add toys for the little ones to play on.    It would be great photo ops but they move to darn fast!   They had a lovely play time and then moved inside under the heat lamp for a snooze.

Then it was off to the races!  Sideways skitters and leaps into the air!  With tiny springs in their feet the kids feel just how good it is to run and jump in the real world.   Mom is probably happy they are outside to play too <>>>

The two second freshener does are due on the 18th or a bit sooner.  They are only partially amused by the antics of Maggies trio of fun.  They look a bit dubious don't they?   Perhaps they are remembering their kids from last year and how much trouble they could get into.
It should be a very bounciful summer around here!

Lambing and kidding oh my!

The season of blessed events got started with Charity a first time lamber.  All was well until the 10 pm barncheck when a very confused Charity was excavating with determination but no understanding of the impending event.  The bad part was she was exactly a week ahead of schedule.  I knew there had been an altercation in the morning about feeding space arrangements but didn't realize how serious the dispute was.   Of course since it was a week early I had to leap into collecting all the lambing gear for the "what if" situations that can sometimes develop.  

 A week early is right on the edge of survivability for preemie lambs so I was not optimistic about the outcome of this endeavor.  Charity was confused until I let her smell the fluids from her waterbag and the lightbulb came on with a vengance.  Its a BABY!!!  She proceeded to push and a tiny 2 pound lamb arrived cold and confused, gasping in the chilly air.  She licked it and I suctioned the airway and the tiny heart continued to beat like a hummingbird.  I milked out some of the lifegiving colostrum and got a bit down the little fellow by dribbling it into his mouth.  He lacked the sucking reflex but got enough colostrum to keep him warm until he adjusted a bit. 

His sibling must have been the one that got whacked in the fray as it teetered on the edge of survival and then slipped over.    I distracted Charity and covered the little body with a towel and moved it off to the side.  

To help keep the little one warm I filled several bottles with hot water and placed them under the straw in his box.  Nestled between them he slept soundly without shivering; his young mother watching his every breath.

Charity is a superb mother to this fragile infant, gentle and comforting.  She was so cooperative when I was milking her out I had a feeling she knew this was the only way her little man could get nourishment right now.  Several times that night we worked together to get colostrum into the baby.  In the morning I knew I would have to tube him if he didn't start to suck but I hesitate to do that until there is no option.  Before work I gave it one more try and SUCCESS!   That lightbulb reappeared and what took 15 minutes to get down him earlier disappeared in a flash!  He never looked back after that!   

With a full tummy and a loving mom he started to bounce.  Two bounces and a nap at first.  Then a few more and another nap.  He curls up in his box of straw and grows.  Now he is bouncing with the best of them and looking forward to meeting the other lambs.  He is still a tiny little guy but he is catching up fast.  He has a great future ahead of him I think.  He has presence and he has already won his first place in mom's heart.

Catching up continued!

Hello again between lambings!   I started out lambing this year somewhat sleep deprived due to the arrival of Miss Hanna Mae a charming English Shepherd puppy.   SaraJane our current farm dog is doubtful about the charming part,  After a few squabbles Sara has realized that:   A. the puppy is here to stay and B.  She might as well step in and start training her properly.  This includes guarding the farm from marauding flocks of avians,  keeping the barn cats in line, washing sheep faces and being underfoot. 

Hanna has stepped into the role of ingenue farm dog with grace and her own distinctive style.  She naps in the barn in a feeder she has claimed as her own.  The chickens are to be herded gently to bed as dusk falls and the cats, well they ARE cats after all.  Cats have to be reminded WHO is in charge.  Fortunately the cats have a sense of humor and let her think that she has the upper hand. 

She and Sara did have one misunderstanding regarding possession of a treasure early on.  She didn't move quite fast enough and Sara nipped her.  Since this little nip involved an eyelid Hanna got to meet her personal physician, Dr. Kris.  She neatly applied three tiny stitches and sent her home in a lovely dress.  Sara was dismayed to hear how long her allowance would be docked but she couldn't help be amused by the little urchin's attire.   A slow wag and a big doggie grin but she didn't laugh out loud. 

When I go off to work each weekday the puppy hangs out with big sister on the back porch.  They both help George with all the stuff he does in the shop and around the farm.  

I had hoped that by gaining a new puppy to housetrain before lambing would get me geared up for all the running back and forth to the barn at all hours.  Unfortunately sleep deprivation doesn't quite work that way!   It has been a challenge and there are times when you wonder how one conveys to a puppy how grand it is that she barks when she has to out.  Now if we could just get the bark, "Let me out" request to happen BEFORE the incident!    One step at a time.......

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Catching up on the farm news! Issue 1

Hello out there!   Bet you thought I had dropped off the face of the earth or the farm had submerged like Atlantis?    Still here and paddling like a madwoman to keep ahead of the "must-do" list. 

I will bring the blog up to date in sections starting with the great transformation!   My DH George wirebrushed all the ancient flaking paint off the original barn and painted it to match the new sheep barn.  It looked so good the man went wild and painted the compost building and the ram barn. 

In between these endeavors he built the "Palazzo de Poulet" and painted it too!  The chicken house is a marvel of clever design and architectural genious.  Its a darn nice chicken house too!    The girls moved in without a squawk and settled down to some serious egg laying. 

We also finished the compost building which took much longer than expected.  (Doesn't Everything?)  The composter has greatly improved the management of the barn cleaning and it works beautifully.  We will most likely have to add some water to our next turning of the heap and with that we should have finished compost in 3 months from start to finish.  If it takes longer no problem since we can't get out on the field anyway and there is lots of room to start the next batches.  The girls are also really appreciating the dry rocked in 'sacrifice' are we built for them.  During the wettest part of the winter rains they have a dry place to hang out without getting their tootsies muddy!

So that was what we were up to just before the rains arrived.   Then along came breeding season and even that was an adventure with with sheep and goats and GOTLANDS!   Yup, we have some Gottie babies perking away right now.  They are due around the 21st of March to four of our lovely ladies.  More on that in the next post though!

Stay tuned for the next installment of Blog Catch UP from Sheepmom at Shady Oaks!

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Every year in August I stand in the pastures and wonder if it will EVER be green again.    Here in the southern end of the Willamette valley we have a 'mediterranean' climate.   Cool wet winters and warm dry summers.  The climatologists certainly have the 'dry' part down in spades!
The crispness of late summer is one of sounds; crunchy grass underfoot and cranky critters complaining to the management that their food is overcooked.
The September rains came right on time this year.  There was a deep sigh from the entire farm as the first drops began to fall.  I always fancy I can here the cracks in the earth "snap!" shut and the grass begin squeakily pushing out new growth.

The sheep visibly relax with the first rain.  Their demeanor here is probably the same as the sheep in colder climes welcoming the first taste of spring.   The hard days of summer or winter are about to change for the better. 

We have water issues on the farm.  A low producing well requires strict conservation measures in the depth of summer.   Trees are coaxed to be optimistic and stay alive til the rain starts.  The garden is watered with the bare minimum to keep things going.  

Fussy plants don't last long here-they get voted out of the raised garden beds at the first hint of wimpiness.   As a result of this 'tough love' method and the head gardener's penchant for letting survivors procreate by reseeding themselves we have some interesting combinations of plants. 

The snapdragons are multicolored, tall and prolific.  Dahlias which I believe are supposed to be fussbudgets do just fine here with minimal supervision.  Lavender, parsley, tarragon, thyme, chives, the occasional potato and black eyed Susans share a bed with wild abandon.

The head gardener works on the basis that Mother Nature hates a vacuum.  So if a bare spot shows up she ( the H.G.) will drop a seed head from somewhere else or poke a tiny potato into the dirt.  Its like a treasure hunt at times....you never know when you will find a nest of potatos when foraging for dinner.

The bounty that comes with the close of summer will soon be overwhelming.  The little pear tree has once more out done itself and produced three bushels of pears.  Dried pears, Ginger Pear Jam, Vanilla Pear Jam and maybe this year some Pear butter waits in the kitchen for processing.

The apple trees are drowning in fruit much to the delight of neighbors and the critters.   One cannot pick up the mail or walk down the driveway without a ram chorus begging for a few more windfalls.  The chickens are fat and sassy as they cruise under the trees munching fruit with a bug chaser.

So...here is your 'point to ponder' for the day.   When the sheep eat apples do their cuds taste like applesauce?  or hard cider?     No wonder they are so happy this time of year!