Saturday, March 23, 2013

Shepherding takes passion, dedication and a support network

Spring is a busy time on any farm. Here at Havencroft, where we raise Jacob sheep, dairy goats and angora goats, we know we won't get much sleep the end of March. But even planning on that, this week was a little extreme.
First time mom Greta does a great job with her little ram lamb.

During lambing season, we check everyone well at evening feeding. If no one seems to be in labor, we only do a two a.m. check on everybody. But, if a ewe or doe is close, then we check every two hours, especially with the first-time moms. Lena and I switch off on these checks, which helps.
Greta, a two-year-old Jacob sheep ewe labored hard to have her rather large ram lamb (by Canoe Lake Sonic Boom) about 10 p.m. Sunday night. He did fine and is now debating with Hocus's Incantation about who rules the sheep pen.

Then, Tuesday evening, Lena's very special Demi sheep, (and the sheep who grows those incredible dark gray, silver tipped fleeces for my best Fleecyful Wool Rugs), went into labor. By 9:00 it was obvious she needed help and by 10:30, I knew that I couldn't handle the problems. We found our new vet in the middle of the night. Dr. Jill Baird in Clinton is a god-send!
Dr. Jill Baird of Van Buren County Vet Clinic labored for more than two hours in the middle of the night Tuesday to save Demi and her lamb.
She labored more than two hard, physical hours to save Demi and one of her beautiful lambs. Lena and I had driven Demi over to the vet in Lena's car. Clinton is more than an hours drive, over some pretty twisty roads, so we made it back home with Demi and baby by 3:00 a.m. for a bit of sleep for all of us.

At the 6:00 a.m. check, Demi was in trouble. I tried our local vets, hoping to save Demi and lamb the stress of the drive, but by 10:00 a.m., I was headed back to Clinton, after arranging for many wonderful friends to cover things for me at work!

Dr. Jill gave Demi IV fluids and did surgery to patch things up inside. The wonderful staff at the clinic helped hold the lamb, who cried if she was put in a crate. After all was finished, we tucked momma and lamb together to wake up. Demi was so happy to see her lamb when she came to.

Demi and baby resting after surgery on Wednesday.
 In an hour or so, she was up and wanting to know where they kept the food in this joint. Demi does love her feed. She helped clear the chickweek and a weed tree out of the livestock yard at the Clinic. I tried to thank Dr. Jill, and we were on our way!

Demi after surgery, ready to head home with her ewe lamb.

Demi and Ipswich (Jill) home after Demi's surgery.
 Then, after Spring came dancing in last weekend, it blew back out with a big snow storm Thursday night. We got about 6" of snow here at Havencroft, before it started raining on top of it at 3:00 a.m. Luckily it was just warm enough that the rain cleared the roads, instead of icing them. It also washed away some, but not all of the snow.

The sheep and goats were all tucked in their shelters, except for Henna, one of our Lamancha dairy goat yearlings, who was in labor and insisted on being outside. Every two hours, I went out and put her back in the barn. I tried to move her to the milk shelter, but the entire herd broke out of the gate I hadn't locked tight (at 2 a.m.) and so I did good just to get everybody back in the goat pen.

The goat kids playing in the barn after Thursday night's snow.

Spring in the Ozarks

Mouse, Bones and Dapper Dan want breakfast.

Our mountain, shrouded in fog on Friday morning.
 Finally, at 8:07 a.m., when I had called in late to work for the 2nd time this week, Henna had a lovely little doe - in the snow bank. Lena and I penned her in the barn and I went to work. When I got back home at lunch to check on everyone, I found the second little doe. Mom and both babies are fine.

Henna, our Lamancha dairy goat yearling and her twins, born Friday morning about 8 a.m. (after I checked her every 2 hours all night long!)

Shepherding takes passion, dedication and a whole village of folks to support the effort. I want to thank Dr. Jill and Dr. Ben; Lena; Shawn; Missy Epperson; Josh; Melody and the whole rest of everybody who helped out this week!
We have 2 more angora goats and 6 more jacob sheep left to have babies. Last year, two of them had lambs at our Shearing Day open house. Who knows what will happen this year? This year's Shearing Days Open House here at Havencroft Farm is March 30 from 10 a.m to 4 p.m. Leave a comment if you need more details.

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