Thursday, April 30, 2009

Six lambs, 3 ewes, 4 hours. Done!

OMG, what a surprising finish-- Bluebell and both daughters lambed twins, a boy and girl to each-- all within 4 hours of each other. In fact, Bluebell and Yarrow were in two different shelters pushing out babies at exactly the same time, at dinnertime tonight.
I'd seen both Maple and Yarrow off by themselves today, nosing around-- and that is unusual. Those sheepies generally like to stay with the flock. And I thought I could see, on Yarrow, the hollow that forms below the hip bones when the babies "drop", right before lambing. Still, all ewes ate heartily at 9am this morning, and were resting in the lean-to when I checked them at noon.

I left at 2 and returned at 5:30. Emily went out to hold November's new lambs in her lambing pen (the "jug") and called me from the barn (ah-- cell phones!). She told me Yarrow was in labor-- pawing, laying down, groaning, getting up. I said, fine, thanks, come on in for dinner-- but Em wanted to stay. We ate and I went out, trading watch with Emily. I walked in to see Yarrow's first brown lamb on the ground.

Knowing a second baby could take a while, I went out to check the lean-to.
Maple was cozily tucked into the corner with two tiny, fluffy brown lambs curled up near her. June's, I thought. Tiny, perfect, solid brown-- but wait! She's looking at me like. . . they're hers!
And then, look again! Bluebell was 6 feet away, with two wet lambs on the ground!
A white one and a black and white (bersugget?) mottled lamb. OMG!

I called Howard (ah! cell phones!) and told him we needed all the troops, with towels, iodine, scissors for umbilical cords--
first we needed to clean out two lambing jugs for the new occupants, and what the heck, let's clean out the rest of the lambing barn!

And so we did. The four jugs are full, the maternity ward is abuzz for the last time this year.
Photos to follow, another day.

I leave you with this silly guy. Twin Brooks Palisade's son. Bersugget pattern? Simply a grey lamb whose mom is black smirslet? You decide.
Bluebell's got a new boy who looks a lot like him, only with wilder splashes (and pinch me, a white ewe, just like her!)

Twelve down, three to go

Ewes left to lamb, that is.
Every night, I go to bed at midnight or later, after feeding little orphan lambs & making one last barn check for late-night lamb-ers. Then I get up at 3 or 4 a.m. and do it again--every night since Easter. I know, I shouldn't whine. Some people have HUGE flocks, mine is tiny. I do get tired, though.
I lost two ewe lambs simply because I wasn't THERE at the birth, this year. It's made me hypervigilant. Last year I lost no lambs.

Bluebell and her two daughters are still holding out. Maple will wait a loonnng time, while Bluebell & Yarrow could go within a few days.

In the meantime, let's admire Minwawe Panda with her lookalike daughter and coal-black son:

And one of LRO April's little brown boys (April ALWAYS has perfect little brown lambs.)

And one of me in the barn, watching a ewe lamb, while Lily the orphan practiced jumping up on my bench.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

And more lambs

The orphan babies continue to amuse. Poppy here, with Papa's bootlace. Their bottle feedings went from every 3 hours to every 4 to 6, and both girls also started eating hay and drinking from a pail today, like big sheep. They are 2 weeks old now, and are just delightful. It looks like they may go to the county fair in August. Never before have we had the time or patience to teach lambs to lead on halter, but these are with us all the time-- a natural.

I like this photo Howard shot; I think of it as "Catnip, Spring Pastoral". Here, she has one lamb at her side, while the other is off playing somewhere. Her brown, curly-fleeced ewe lambs have white on their heads-- Splash and Smudge, I'm calling them. Click on the image to enlarge it-- the spring green on the budding trees is nice.

There are another dozen lambs-- only a few are rams (nature's making up for last year, my 14:8 ram year). Ten ewes done, 5 to go. I'm relaxing about this, now. Today, Bramble Elsie delivered a black and a white ewe lamb, which Howard and Emily got to watch up close. The lambs are up and doing fine.

More later!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Lambing LaLa Land

Whoo hoo!
Today I got to take a bath-- and clean a few places-- house, barn, porch--and bake bread--
because only one ewe lambed this morning, and the orphan babies can be left unattended for hours at a time now.
They went out to live in the barn on Sunday night.
The weekend went like this: the little, cold, Finn ewe lamb found 6pm Saturday, nursed through the night, died Sunday a.m. Howard gave her a grave in the pines, and we were all sad.
Also on Sunday a.m., we noticed that Catnip the friendly HST ewe (pictured a few blog posts ago, standing on Howard in the pasture)had hidden away at pen-in time the night before so she could lamb in private, elsewhere. She delivered two little brown ewes all by herself and we brought them to a lambing jug.
So we were down one ewe lamb, up two more. These two ewes are out of my smooth- polled ram, Kimberwood Leonardo.
On Monday, Minwawe Chicklet, the gray flecket, lambed a brown ram and a black ewe out of my LRO Shawn, the scurred mioget with beautiful wool.
So these babies begin the new wave of breeding at Little Red Oak: toward polled rams.
Tuesday morning, LRO April presented two brown ram lambs, also out of Leonardo. We can see what their horns or foreheads look like in coming weeks--
No more babies today, so I got caught up somewhat.

I sat in the barn for hours this morning, letting the orphan babies play all around, and I let Catnip and her babes out of the lambing jug.
Orphan Lily tried to play with Catnip's lambs but was not appreciated by their mother. She persists, though.
They'll be running together by tomorrow, I predict.
And about 3 more ewes will lamb within 48 hours.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Arrghhh, Lambing!

I know Nancy at Bluff Country reports annual anxiety at lambing time; maybe I will develop more. . . we have a lamb, tonight, that won't likely make it until morning.

Let me first tell you, the orphan babies are FINE. Kindergarten naughty monkeys, that's what they are. . . still living in luxury in the laundry room (that's 3 wash loads of floor quilts & towels this week). I'll end with their picture.

No, the little lamb that has our heart saddened tonight is our own first born lamb of the season, a Finn lamb out of my colored Finn ewe, Lassi.

I was in the Twin Cities all day with my family, doing good deeds for aged parents, sittin' in coffeeshops, visiting the Minnesota Textile Center and the Weavers' Guild-- while my child was in Cool Science at the U of M. I knew there was a risk we'd get our first lamb today, but no ewes looked "ready" when we left at 9am.

When we came home at 6, Lassi stood in the field over her barely moving, fawn flecket ewe lamb. Lassi's a first time mother-- anything could've gone wrong, or nothing.
All I know is, the lamb was chilled and sluggish. We gave up on Lassi, who was acting helpless about her lamb-- and brought it inside to warm and try to feed. We ended up trying to tube feed the baby-- and it surely doesn't seem to have worked.

More later, I'd better go hold her awhile.

So for now, here are the little laundry room rascals, Poppy and Easter Lily. Poppy's the favorite, in front.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Orphan HST ewes, oh my.

We helped Kim and Bob at Kimberwood with their shearing all day today. We workers were looking forward to hot baths, had changed out of filthy barn clothes, and then I checked the phone messages. Our neighbors, the ones who are new at raising Shetlands, had left a distress message on our answering machine telling us a ewe had died after lambing, as well as one lamb, and the caller feared for the second.

To make a long story short, guess who's living in our laundry room?

It was true, the ewe did die, a sad shame. Probably a retained placenta. But both lambs were alive and lively, and apparently a few days old. I guess one lamb was sleeping when they gave it up as dead. The other wasn't drinking, but soon came around to the bottle. Spotted moorit and musket ewe lambs. We offered to care for the lambs as our neighbors didn't think they could do it, so they told us they'd be ours if we would.
We fed them little bottles of milk replacer, gave them CDT shots and settled them into our laundry area for the night. I hope they make it, and that we don't go crazy taking care of them.

Tomorrow's Easter! We'll bring lambs to my folks for the afternoon in the city!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Wow-- wool!

This is Little Red Oak Maple before shearing:

And here she is, lithely leading the pack, the day after!

She's a musket (usually oatmeal color?)meaning a "grayed" brown sheep-- but she's
nearly white at the skin. A mioget golden base, I swear.
And a six and a half pound lamb fleece!
Just like her mother, Bluebell, her brother Mullein, her sister Yarrow.
Nice crimp, amazing length, sofffftt fleece.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The ewes are sheared, lambs on the way. . .

And our neighbor showed us "our grandchildren", twin ewe lambs born to Little Red Oak Mallow and Anders, sheep that we sold to them last fall. Anders and Mallow are both solid brown, and from them, he got this little HST and a solid brown ewe. All are healthy and doing fine!

At Little Red Oak today, we got our 15, apparently pregnant ewes sheared by Mike Anderson out of Frederick, WI-- the rams couldn't be kept dry for shearing and will have to wait. Mike and his nephew, the trainee, drove several hours to get here through an early morning snow.
What misery for them! I hope they got more out of the trip to Minnesota than the little check they got for shearing here-- but that seems to be a shearers' life.

I'll get some freshly-shorn sheep photos soon. My sister, as well as Handspinners/flockowner Kim and Angie and their husbands came to help me sort sheep and fleeces for the third year in a row, now. It is such a pleasure to work and share time with them.
I'm hoping to return the favor at Kim's Kimberwood Shetlands soon.

We found the Finn fleeces to be amazingly crimpy-- Angie wanted to spirit away the fawn colored one that is already promised, but she did get to take home the white Finn fleece. It'll be fun to see what she makes from it this year.

Okay, gotta go look at lamb photos on other blogs, now!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

April Fools!

April fools!
The weather turned back on us, with a coating of snow that's sure to make shearing, this Sunday, a wetter business. We'll keep our fingers crossed.
This past week, poor Minwawe PandaBear got an owie and some nice red vet-wrap to cover it while it healed. She caught it on the edge of a pallet while (I'm sure) running to join the ewe flock escaping out the lean-to back door. Wheee! We haven't been in THAT barnyard for a while!
But poor Panda, narrow ankle caught between two wooden slats on the pallet, went down, Whump! and laid there, in a dead sheep pose. I freed her foot. Still dead, by all appearances, except open eyes. Fear-frozen! That's our little Panda.
I rolled her completely over and away to convince her that the pallet didn't have her anymore. She found her feet, and limped away.
I freaked, thought she'd broken a bone-- 3 weeks before her lambs come--
But she's fine,now, and wearing her beautiful red bandaid until we shear on Sunday.

Dear Husand went out and laid in the field on Saturday, taking arty sheep pictures. There are a few overly friendly sheep, ahem, like this one, standing on him:

And then she and Mari the finn ewe fought over him:

Oh, fun news: My nearby neighbor, who bought a trio of my ewes and a ram to clear an old pasture (never mind what's happening to their lovely wool coats)let us know they have LAMBS! "One's black and one's black with white legs and face", she said. Now, I think they must be brown, but very dark, I'm sure: The ram and all 3 ewes were brown-based sheep. But it sounds like they got an HST-- and I wouldn't be surprised, as one of the ewes is. We want to go over and see them-- we won't have lambs for another two weeks!