Sunday, February 8, 2015

Just Another Day on the Farm

 Silkie, one of our dairy goats, had her kids on Friday. We decided to let her feed her own babies for a month, since we have two freezers full of mik. Saves us a lot of time, since there is so much else going on now.
 This mom is now looking like triplets. Any day now...
 We now have a playroom into which we are throwing the moms and kids so they can get used to each other and to be sure that they can recognize each other in a crowd. we let them out yesterday and today. The moms ran out. The kids took a little more coaxing. It was fun to watch them run and play. One of the white kid does is obviulsy going to be a ring leader.
 As I have been shearing, I have been putting the most recently sheared into the pen with the heater. Today, I finally moved the colored goats into one pen and left the white ones in the other. Amazing how much animosity there was in that pen. The walls were shaking!
 This is Holler with her mom being very protective. They  sharing a pen with two other does and their kids. The mom is afraid that they will try to steal her baby.
 These two does were posing beautifully for me today. They were the last two that I sheared today. All of the goats have now been shorn, so I will keep an eye on the sheep and start shearing them next. I won't tell you how many goats there were, but it was a lot.
 Life is not always fun on the farm. This afternoon, the above ewe gave birth to a lamb with no jaw. I suspect that it might be the result of worming medication or something that she ate out in the new pasture. Her second lamb is a perfectly healthy little ewe. They are both in a stall bonding.
This ewe was doing a walk about yesterday - in other words, she busted through a gate. This morning she had twins. One did not make it and her insides came out with it. I thank my friend Greta for her advice on fixing it. We managed to get everything back inside her and cleaned off while my sewing skills came in handy. Her stitches are holding and she is chewing her cud with her baby by her side. Good thing that I no longer hesitate to take action.

I always debate about sharing some of the horror stories that happen when you own animals. There are always people who criticise and see the animals as pets and not as livestock. You can't keep all of the animals and you should not breed, if you are not willing to do what has to be done. I can tell you that Marc and I were seeing this ewe as a goner when we saw her uterus laying by her side. You can't wait for a vet to show and most do not want to deal with livestock - horses, cats and dogs are much more lucrative. I am fortunate to have a network of breeders who are willing to help out - even long distance. I have pulled babies and treated all sorts of things. today was probably the worst that I have ever dealt with. I won't know whether what we did will have worked for a week, but I feel like she will be fine, since she is eating and caring for her lamb.

Every morning brings new surprises. Just pray that all of them tomorrow are happy!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Baby Season Going Strong

 Winter in Maryland is dreary and today was wickedly windy. I let the sheep and goats out about 10. The goats turned around and went right back in. The sheep hung out on the hill in front of the house. WhentThe wind became gusty around 4, even the sheep decided that it was a bit much. They decided they had had it and went back into the barn. All it took was the oldest ornery sheep to move in that direction and the rest followed.
 This lamb was born the other night. I thought he was dead when I picked him up, but he gave a gasp, so I spent the next two hours blow drying him and rubbing colostrum on the roof of his mouth till he was finally able to stand. I carried him into the house for the night after I was sure that he had bonded to his mother. He was raring to go the next morning, so he did not have to become a bottle baby. He was cold today, so I put a coat on him for a while. He got so tangled in it that I finally took it off. All of the onsies I have are too big for him, so I will have to visit a Goodwill store soon. I have named him Leggs for a type of Anchor.
 This mom was so busy messing with the other moms, that she got wrapped up in the sheets that I use to give the moms some privacy. She had her own baby an hour later, so she is now leaving the sheets alone.
 I thought I would share how I find some of the babies sleeping. There are two kid bucks sleeping with their heads in this bucket.
 The doe and buck kid, in the pen next to the ones in the bucket, are under a heat lamp and using each other to stay warm.
 This little buck is really cute. He was my first chocolate one born this year. His sister is taupe, but they are both called "red."
 This is Hollow. Her mother had her in the upper garage. We had just checked the mother for udders two days prior and she did not have any, so she stayed with the other does that were not imminent. Marc went to feed the garage crew, while I was feeding the barn crew that had already delivered. He found the mom having the baby and came to tell me. By the time we got there, the first time mom had already had the baby and walked away. Fortunately, Hollow is a howler because she let us know where she was and we brought her over to the barn. I was afraid that she would be a bottle baby, but we put the mother on the stand and I got her to nurse. This was after I sheared enough hair off so we could even find the teats. The mother is now super protective and they are both down in the lower part of the barn in the playroom.
 More sleeping babies. Siblings are still sleeping together in the playroom. The single kids are being guarded by their mothers in the playroom, except for dinner time. That is when the kids run all over the room hopping and skipping. I use that time to check for babies that are hanging back. There is usually an issue, when they are not playing.
These are a few of the Merino lambs. They have been moved to the lower garage now, so they can run out on pasture during the day. They have all had their onsies removed, tails docked, immunizations given and ears tagged. They are loving the freedom to run, but there is a lot of fussing when they get hungry and realize that their mothers are not standing there next to them waiting.

And now Marc is doing the final check for babies for the night. We have to go down every hour and a half to check. The goats are pretty good about vocalizing, so we know to watch for their babies. The sheep are another story entirely. They instantly freeze when we come in and pretend that nothing is happening. That is how I know who to watch, Those not in labor are looking for food, so they are moving around and instantly up on their feet. I have become wise to their tricks!

No call from Marc, so they must all be waiting till morning. Rarely are any babies born during the middle of the night. It usually means the mom is having problems.

This is a good time to wish you all good night. First morning check comes pretty early!