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04/30/09

Permalink 05:47:40 pm, by Karen Email , 370 words   English (US)
Categories: Journal

Number four!

One of my two-year-old first time mothers gave birth this morning to a single ewe lamb. I was so relieved to see nose and toes appearing normally after the other day when one lamb was head out with one leg folded and one leg all the way back. However, being a first-timer she was very tight and the skin just didn't want to stretch on its own. I had to keep her pinned down with my knee on her shoulder as she wanted to get up everytime I tried to help, and work the skin up and around the head while pulling on a leg (thanks again Elaine!). Once the head was out she realized the obstruction was removed, gave another strong push and out came the lamb! Then she got up and walked away. I think she was a bit confused or just wanted to get away from me. :-) Eventually she worked her way back around and found the lamb and started cleaning it.

The lamb was up on it's feet within 10 minutes and trying to suckle on anything it could find (my knees, mom's fleece, etc.). Mom is so in love with her baby though that every time the lamb heads towards the udder, she turns around to see where it went. Eventually, I tied mom to a post and got the lamb on a teat for her first drink.

I thought for sure this ewe was going to twin, as she was big as a house. However, this lamb weighs only 7lbs, and she was the only one. The ewe magically deflated.

I went out again a bit later and the lamb was trying to find the udder again, but the ewe kept turning around to see where she was going. So I pinned her against the fence and got the lamb on a teat. Then, I let them go, and they walked to the other side of the pen, and this time, the lamb found a teat on its own, and mom just turned her head to sniff the little wagging tail. Whew! She also started to pass the afterbirth, which nursing helps stimulate. So I hope they have got it all figured out now.

04/28/09

Permalink 07:06:05 pm, by Karen Email , 451 words   English (US)
Categories: Journal

Next lamb

Penny lambed on Sunday afternoon. She went into labor normally, and delivered fairly quickly a small ewe lamb which was up and about in short order. I went back to the house and came out about 15 minutes later and she was starting to deliver a second lamb.

This delivery seemed to be taking longer, and I could see from the size of the nose that the lamb was going to be bigger than the first. I think the lamb was alive at this point but I'm not sure. Eventually the head emerged, but I could not see any feet. Back inside to grab lambing supplies and a phone number and my husband with his cell phone. When we got back out, she was lying down again with the head of the lamb still out and with the first lamb up and bouncing around, and in fact the lamb had made it to the opposite side of the paddock where Onyx's lambs were playing. We called Elaine at Frelsi Farm and left messages at their home and cell numbers.

I got my hand in and the first thing I found was the left knee which was up against the side of the lamb's neck. I was able to straighten the leg and pull it out, and then with my other hand inside applying pressure on the opposite shoulder, and traction on the leg that was out, and a push from the ewe, the lamb slid out. You can deliver a lamb with one leg back if the lamb isn't too big. However, it had been dead for some minutes already if it wasn't in fact stillborn from the beginning. I cleared the mucus from its mouth and tried a few breaths, but it was not to be. It was a ram lamb and bigger than the ewe lamb, but not excessive, probably 8 lbs or so, with small horn buds.

Ken called Elaine back to let them know they didn't need to call us, and we got David on the phone, and then a few minutes later talked to Elaine. Both were very encouraging and helpful and many thanks go out to them.

I did decide to take the pelt from the dead lamb, and also saved meat for the dogs.

The upside is that we have a spunky 7lb ewe lamb bouncing around and getting lots of milk! This is probably our best ewe, so I'm glad that the lamb is doing well. The ewe is an experienced mother and has not had problems before, so we are looking at it as just one of those flukey things that can happen.

Three more to go, and crossed fingers for no more difficulties.

04/24/09

Permalink 06:23:21 pm, by Karen Email , 97 words   English (US)
Categories: Journal

First lambs for 2009

Onyx was born on our farm in NY in 2007, and now she has had two ewe lambs of her own. Yesterday morning I checked her over when feeding everyone, but she didn't look any different really than she had for the past week. However, when I went out just after 2pm for another look (not expecting anything), there she was with two new lambs, and they were both up and had already nursed.

This is Onyx in 2007. She is the black lamb. Her mother was Orange.

And this is Onyx and her own two black ewe lambs.

04/16/09

Permalink 08:26:31 pm, by Karen Email , 770 words   English (US)
Categories: Journal

Jake earns his keep

We lost a Muscovy duck the other night, sometime in the wee hours. For some reason, some of our ducks think that sleeping under the shed is best, and once they get under there, they go way back under and you can't really get them out. That evening three of them (the previously mentioned "delinquents") got themselves under there before we could get everyone herded into the poultry yard for the night. They'd slept under there before, these three, so we didn't think much of it.

Well, sometime around 3:30am Jake started barking his warning bark. I must have been in the middle of REM sleep or something, because when I woke up I had a minute of sleep amnesia - you know - "Where am I?" "What time is it?" "What's that noise?" So it took me a couple minutes to actually get downstairs. The skies were clear, but there was no moon, and it was really dark. I looked and listened out the back door and the front door, but couldn't hear anything. I have to admit, I don't always take Jake's barking seriously because so many times he will bark at nothing, or what seems like nothing. Or, one of us will inadvertently knock against something, or set an object down with a small *thud*, and even if Jake is right there in the room, he will jump up and bark and run towards the door. He's very alert. :-)

So I went back to bed. I don't know if the then-unknown predator had already done his dirty deed, or if he came back later, although Jake didn't bark anymore that night. But when I went out in the morning, there were a couple small patches of bloodied feathers, and another place where a whole clump of tail feathers was lying. The two remaining ducks that had slept out were at our "pond" which is really just a low area that collects several inches of water every spring, and is maybe 20 feet across. One of those ducks was the one that lost her tail feathers, but the missing duck was taken away bodily. I figured it was either fox or coyote.

So last night I decided to stay up and sleep downstairs because I figured whatever it was would be back to try another trip through the "drive-thru", except that yesterday I closed off all access to under the shed, and the ducks were all in the poultry yard for the night. Sometime around 11:30 I think it was, Jake started growling. I went outside with my flashlight and aimed it down the slope behind our house where I thought I could hear some leaves rustling. I couldn't see anything however and the noise stopped, and so I went back inside. Around 12:30 Jake started pacing and growling again. I went to the back door and could definitely hear something walking around down the slope. I left Jake inside because I wanted to see what it was first. Over to the edge of the slope I went with my trusty flashlight, aimed it down the hill, and caught a pair of eyes belonging to a fox. He was making his way diagonally up the slope. He didn't seem upset by the light, but kept coming up the slope. He would have come out of the woods directly behind the poultry yard. Just as he started to reach the top of the slope, I said in a low tone, "Psst! I wouldn't do that if I were you", and he jumped and then turned and took off. I went and let Jake out, and he knew something was out there. He tracked around sniffing the air and the ground, and did his growl-wuffs, and then suddenly just let out a quick succession of loud growly barks. We stayed out for a while longer, me with my flashlight and Jake with his nose. But I think the fox decided to go somewhere else for the night.

I still slept on the couch, and left a window cracked open even though it was cold out, so we could better hear, but the rest of the night was peaceful. So now I will pay more attention when Jake barks at night and do more thorough checks outside from now on.

My one question though is: HOW do they know? How can Jake hear something walking through the leaves 100 feet or more away *down* the hill behind our house, when Jake is in the house with all the doors and windows shut? It's amazing. But he knew something was out there.

Good boy Jake!

04/14/09

Permalink 10:56:52 pm, by Karen Email , 458 words   English (US)
Categories: Journal

Spring has finally sprung

Up until this week, it's been generally chilly, with just a couple warm days here and there to tease us. But this week it will be consistently up in the 50's and 60's with bright sunshine. I've been outside doing spring cleanup chores - things like raking the lawns to get rid of matted down and thatched dead grass, not to mention a winter's worth of dog poop (you wanted to know that, right?) :) The snowplows had thrown sand and gravel from the road 15 feet up onto the lawn so that all had to be raked out. In some places it was half an inch of sand covering the lawn.

Also, in the back where the woodpile is, there were the remains of all the wood chopping and splitting that was done last fall - bark slabs and chips of bark and small bits of wood. Then there were all the sticks and things that the dog dragged out of the woods or off the woodpile, or out of the scrap lumber pile and left lying all over the place. So I sorted out the good scrap lumber, threw the useless scraps into the kindling bin, and anything like small bits of plywood and paneling from the disassembly of the old kitchen cabinets into the garbage. Then I raked all the bark and dead leaves and dumped them into a pile to compost over time. I also cleaned out under the lean-to where we kept the working haystack, getting all the hay chaff and damp hay off the pallets and folding up the tarp that helped cover the hay.

Next I need to get the garden in shape and get a couple raised beds made. I have started some seeds indoors: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, broccoli, and cabbage. Peas need to be planted directly into the garden Real Soon Now, so I really need to get the garden area figured out and get that done. As usual, I probably have been too ambitious with my garden plans, but I'll do my best.

The poultry figured out pretty quickly how to get around the electronet I had been using to try to keep them towards the back of the property. They either went around it, or went through it and their feathers kept them insulated from the shock. So I rolled it all back up again and stored it away.

At least one duck has started laying, but the eggs end up in the poultry yard, having been kicked out or rolled out of the duck nestboxes we built. Twice I retrieved an egg and placed it back into the nestbox. I'm hoping once a clutch is laid that someone will start incubating and we'll have fluffy ducklings 35 days later!

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Sharing ideas from our small farm in NH, where we raise Icelandic sheep and assorted poultry. We are members of ISBONA (Icelandic Sheep Breeders of North America) and the CLRC (Canadian Livestock Records Corporation). We also participate in the Voluntary Scrapie Flock Certification Program (NH54). Contact us at karen [at] birchtreefarm [dot] com. Please also visit the farm website at Birchtree Farm.
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