Friday, February 25, 2011

New shepherding experience

Ms. Marj in the birthing room at Dr. Long's
I was supposed to be off from work today to work at the Guild Gallery.
but, since I'm now presenting at the NAI conference in Eureka Springs next week, I had to get interviews wrapped up at OFC. So I scheduled them to be done at 9:30, so I could get to the Gallery by 10:00. Luckily David Dahlsted said he could open for me.
At 11:00 I finally headed out of the office.
I ran home to check things before I went to the Gallery. Marj and Basil were very close to lambing and neither had felt well this morning.
I heard Marj hollering when I stepped out of the car. I check her and she seemed comfortable and pushing regularly.
I went to the Gallery, told David I may have to help an old ewe lamb and that I would be back in a hour.
I checked Marj when I got back. Her cervix was not dilated, but she was pushing. I offered her some molasses water, for energy and hydration which she didn't want.
I went in to have lunch and give her some space for her labor to progress. I made coffee. I drank and little and made myself eat some rice with cabbage.
I went back out. Marj was getting weaker.
I paced, I stressed. I called the local large animal vet. He was gone until tomorrow.
I called Dr. Long, the Mountain View small animal vet. Turns out he likes sheep! Just sheep, not goats.
He said if I brought her in, he'd work on her.
So, Lena and I carried large Marj to her PT Cruiser and loaded her up in the back. Lena had wanted the Cruiser because it would hold three sheep. It has, many times.
We got to the vet's office and they told us to wait a few minutes while they cleared out a room. We later found out it had been Dr. Long's office before it became the birthing room!
He checked Marj over in the car and agreed that her cervix was not dilated, but that she was ready to give birth. He palpated the lambs and said he heard heart beats. That was a relief. I had been worried we had lost them and that was why she wasn't dilating.
Four of us carried. led Marj into the room they had arranged with a nice soft mat and cover on the floor. Dr. Long hooked her up to an IV and spent time visiting with her.
He left for a while to let her relax. I just watched her. She had quit pushing.
I really didn't think. or move. I just watched. I counted her breaths and her occasional contraction.
I didn't call anybody or remember any of the important things I had to do today. This was life, right in front of me. And I hoped it wasn't the other side of the coin.
I realized, sitting there that I care far more for my sheep than I usually let myself know. Other people know that, I just don't usually admit it to myself. I consider myself pragmatic.

The vet checked her again and said she still wasn't dilating. He gave her a shot of oxytocin. She did seem stronger. He said her cervix had a lot of scar tissue.

Marj with George and newborn Grace
About half an hour later he came back and checked her. He gently massaged and coaxed the first stressed lamb forth. Curious George was walking almost as soon as he came out. He's a good sized boy, with beautiful markings. Dr. Long left mom and lamb for a while. I watched a bit and then helped George find the faucets. He was fine nursing on his recumbent mommy. She washed him and murmured.

About half-an-hour later Dr. Long pulled a beautiful little ewe lamb forth. She didn't really want to be here. She was little and very weak and breathing was more than she wanted to do. Doc worked on Marj while I rubbed and fluffed the little ewe. She finally started breathing and began holding her head up. Obviously, her brother had been getting most of the groceries.

Shawn and Lena brought a bottle of colostrum for the babies.

As the day wound down at the vet clinic, the children of the techs and vet came in the see the new lambs. We talked about the kids coming out to see some of the sheep at the farm. I invited them out to farm for shearing day on March 31st.

Grace the iSheep
About 5:30 we loaded Marj and the lambs back into the Cruiser. Shawn offered to let them stay in his shop for the night and we set them up with a sleeping back, some hay and a bucket of water. Shawn turned on the space heater.

Little Grace is still weak. She's currently curled up in the arm chair with Shawn. Marj and George are cuddled in the shop.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Shepherd reflexes

Sound asleep - to - out in the sheep pen, (wearing the classy ensemble of a terry cloth robe and wellies) carrying a flashlight, in less than 30 seconds.
Lambing season officially started at 2 a.m. this morning.

But what was a lamb doing in the alleyway between pens? Mental challenges like this are harder at 2 a.m.
However, because we did have everybody sorted (well, almost everybody - Bramble the angora doe had a crossbred dairy goat buck on Sunday) for breeding, it was easy enough to scoop this wandering little loud-mouthed lamb up and return him to his mum. The voice might have been enough to give him away.

Cowslip had twin rams. They are all fine and back together in their warm, well-bedded shelter. The boys have nursed and mom is washing them up and murmuring mom sounds.

They are of course, beautiful. And as soon as it is daylight, I'll post some pics. And probably write more about why we picked the self-reliant, wonderful Jacob Sheep that we raise.

but for now, I'm going back to bed.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Zero to shearo

Wednesday, I couldn't make it in to work, even though it is only 4 miles, the roads were too slick. By the end of the snowstorm on Thursday, we had about 10 inches of the white stuff in the driveway and I put on my long johns.
Stray kitty seems to be discussing the shearing process with Basil.
Friday morning, the thermometer said 0 when I was doing chores and I wore my long johns to work. Yesterday, I was so busy with teaching and managing craft classes and then working the valentine event at OFC, I don't have a clue what the weather was, I just know for sure that there was some.
Now, it's Sunday and Lena and I are out shearing the sheep in the lambing pen in tshirts and wellies.

Marj's fleece. One of my fav's to spin.
Many of you know my Marj hat and my Our Farm shawl.
Arkansas can quick change her weather with the best of 'em.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Sheep work

Jeannie's Cowslip
Today was a busy day on the farm. We vaccinated all the sheep and goats with cd&t and sorted the ewes that were close into the lambing pen next to the house.
The weather is supposed to be icky this week, so we didn't shear them. I want to make sure they are settled before stressing them more, but it is best to shear them before they lamb, for many reasons. The ewes take better care of their lambs if they get cold, too. They can share body heat with their babies if they aren't all bundled up in a long fleece and it's easier for the babies to nurse if they don't have to dig through all the wool. Plus the wool develops a break due to the hormone changes and stress of lambing, so it's best to go ahead and shear it off at that point.
So, hopefully next Sunday, we'll be shearing Cowslip, Basil and Marjoram. Cowslip's fleece is spoken for. She belongs to my aunt Jeannie. Basil is Thyme and Beetleguese's daughter. She has a nice, long, open fleece. And Miz Marj is one of our first ewes. Her soft fleece is fine and relatively short. It is springy and spongy. Those of you who are familiar with my "our farm shawl" or my Marj hat know what her fleece looks like spun up and crocheted or woven.

Miz Marjoram stretching her back

 If you are interested in Marj's fleece it will be $12 per lb. I'd be happy to email pics. Just let me know if you think you want it and I'll reserve it for you.

Basil's fleece is $12/lb and just either comment here, or send me an email to reserve.

They are due right around the 20th, so hopefully the weather will lighten up for a bit and we can get these girls sheared and ready for lambing.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Modern Communication

Shawn and I sat down across from each other at the breakfast bar that divides our kitchen and living room. He had his laptop open on the bar and his coffee next to him.
I set my cofffee down and opened my laptop.
I looked at him and smiled.
He smiled back.
"Ooh, now we can chat," I said.
And we both almost fell off our stools laughing.

We don't yet use computer chat when we are sitting face to face, but we sure do a lot, even from one room to the next. And we still forget to tell each other important things!

Modern communication.