Monthly Archives: June 2013

Milk Production

I have two ewes I milk once a day. About 1 quart a day from each girl, every 2-3 days I get a gallon. I was under the impression I have low production and was considering shutting down for the season. After watch some videos of other sheep farmers I guess my girls are doing pretty good: some professional folks get 1 quart a day with twice a day milking!  Makes me feel better about my operation.

Now for my obligatory sheep picture:

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Blaze is looking quite sheepy, isn’t she? Next year she will prove to be a fine animal i believe.

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Ramming Around With the Step-Dad

Aww…this is why I like Khoresh: He is even sweet and gentle with the ram-lamb thats not his. They wrestle, but he is gentle in his training his young ward. Its good because big guy with horns vs. little guy with horns could be pretty bad, but its not! They posed together for me.

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I took a video, but i can’t seem to upload it to my blog so take a look here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KEmg0eaRZrU&feature=share&list=UUxVV8H09Safy0Y4-4NWhrjA

Mooney seems to love Khoresh, and Khoresh likes the little guy. They spend alot of time together…though Mooney likes being with the girl lambs, too.

Mooney tries to be tough with the dog

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We will see how much longer the gentleness lasts. I expect next year there will be bloodier battles.

 

The Result of Shearing a Ram as a Small Woman

Actually, it wasn’t the shearing, it was being stubborn and not letting go of the lead line that hurt me.

Remember when I said Khoresh was bucking? Well, the line on the halter was kind of short and Khoresh yanked my arm pretty bad, but I didn’t let go when it hurt. I ignored the pain and kept holding on then went on to shear him. The next day my shoulder started to hurt. Then it got worse. And worse. and then finally bad enough i was nearly in tears from the pain at work. I slept trying to heep it warm and supported only to wake up from the pain. My little kitty tried to help out: he laid over my sore shoulder and purred small warm vibriations into my shoulder. He made it feel better…but work only made it feel worse again.

There regular pain, then there is warning pain. I felt like what i was feeling in my shoulder was painful enough that there really WAS a problem.Frankly, there has always been a problem with my shoulders and the activity on Sunday coupled with bench work did not help, so i did something rare: I spent money on myself. If I went to the hospital they’d do an intake, take an xray, go, “gee, theres nothing wrong! Here, take some more pain killers” and the problem would not be resolved. So I went in for Eastern medicine and went to an acupuncturist. What he ended up doing was something called Gua Sha which involves using a hart blunt object (this time a ceramic spoon) to scrape out the old, nasty, coagulated blood and gunk and encourage clean circulation. This results in the old gunk rising out of the muscle onto the surface under the skin resulting in what looks like a nasty rash. It was a little painful when i had him do the tender spots on my neck, but paled in comparison to the pain i was having in my shoulders/neck. 

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I felt better immediately and a few hours later felt great! Then I had to polish a bunch of jewelery and the pain came back: the polishers are too high to be ergonomic. The redness doesn’t really hurt…a little tender to the touch, but its not like an actual bruise. Its sure been fun scaring people with my giant rash. I told one person i had a contagious disease and they nearly ran out the door, another person believed me when i told them my pigs and sheep developed and interspecies plot against me ganged up on me and beat me up. He kept asking, “But, it wasn’t like they were doing it mean, right? They were just playing rough, right? Mean, I’m just trying to understand.” *giggle* I have a few more people to freak out. Maybe L. will be at work and I can tell her of the freaky guy i met at the bar.

 

hopefully i can pay attention to my body better and stay in more ergonomic positions so my shoulder can heal. Next time i’ll be more careful ram wrestling.

Shearing a Ram as a Small Woman

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I’ve been doubting myself. After last years fiasco shearing the ram I was afraid to try by myself again, so the poor ram has just been getting fluffier and fluffier.The girls i was able to hold with the stanchion, but me doing New Zealand style shearing (rolling the animal on the ground) with a giant pair of scissors and a spooky ram sounded like a great way to either land in the hospital to get some lamb in my freezer. Then I was reading a sheep forum and someone mentioned how they used to tie up the ram and shear them by themselves. “Well, why not?” I said to myself. Sure, I only weigh 115 lbs and the ram is probably more….but I’ve wrestled with him a few times and won, so maybe i have a chance.

With the help of a can of grain I lured the sheep in the “chute” then the ram realized, “Oh crap! Something bad is about to happen” and he got all spooked and hit behind Ash. I used the neighbor kid to stand behind me in a “none shall pass!” sort of way. Ash and Khoresh got all tangled up as he wanted to bolt forward but Ash wanted to push back giving me enough time to grab his horns (handles) and lift up his face while my helper put on the sheep halter. This is a thing I use once every 6 months and always forget how to put it on right. We eventually got it some semblance of “on” and I let go his horns.

And so began the rodeo. I had one end of the leash and he started bucking and jumping, spinning and shaking trying to get the halter off his face. Think a bucking bronco with horns. He yanked me good a few times then finally he gave up and got on his knees to pray to God. Really. He crawled on his knees as if in prostration to the lord on high to spare his life. He’ll be a good ram from now on. No more sneaking around the fence to reach the forbidden grass. He’ll stop trying to steal food from the others. Just let him live! So as Khoresh is flopping on the ground like a good time at a rivial I’m standing there rolling my eyes at the drama. All I want to do is SHEAR him, and hes saying his last rites. Finally he submits to his fate and comes with me and i tie him up to a post on the back of my house. Again, antics for a minute or two and he flops on the ground like hes dead.

What a doofus. I used the opportunity to tie his hind leg to the other post and now he has limited mobility! haha! Now, my dog was no help in this thing, but she still posed next to him like she was the one who bagged the ram when the camera came out. Don’t be fooled by the picture above: she was just there to watch the ram get his.

So I had the ram reasonably secure. He could move a little, but not too much. I started by opening up his fleece by his tail. a few blind snips and i was able to part a little wool. I snipped up the spine with the blades flat against the back  parting the wool as i went.  Sometimes I had to take a few extra swipes to get the wool to open up, but eventually I was able to part the wool. Once I had the fleece opened up I started cutting across his body in solid “blows” keeping my blades as flat against the curves as his body as i could.

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Once I got the good wool off his ribcage I pulled  the fleece off and rolled it up clean to clean, dirty to dirty.  I still had alot of junk wool on his hid legs and around his neck  that I had to then remove. on the legs i had to try many different angles with the blades to see what worked. It was also difficult because that is stretchy skin, and i had to get the fleece tight enough to cut without pulling skin into the way.  Once i had his sides clear I moved onto his belly.

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Finally I got to his belly wool. Surprisingly he was calm while i trimmed his belly. Infact, during the whole thing he was calm, even eating food for a while. Then he got bored and started complaining, but i think he appreciated it overall.

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4th sheared animal and its looking better! His body condition is also much better than the sheep last year.

Listen: if you want to shear, or NEED to shear, your sheep you can do it. Really, YOU can. I’ve done it the New Zealand style and I like it but it take practice to get you animal to stay put.  low tech and less wrestling you can just tie the animal up, or get a stanchion and hold them. Don’t tell yourself you can’t do it, because you can. Its just cutting someones hair. Lots of it.

I expected the whole endeavor to make him more afraid of me, but judging from the close ups I got of him this evening hes less afraid. But he knows I’m boss, so hes back to respecting me.

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Skunked: It Finally Happened

We have a healthy skunk population here in Oregon. Back in Oregon City the was a road I had to take to get to the ex’s farm that would provide a new skunk roadkill/odor every two weeks. It was like it was scheduled: once the old skunks scent finally started fading a new fool would get hit by a car and stink up the road for another two weeks. There must have been 6 or 7 killed that summer. Peeyew! I actually spotted my first living skunk on the way to the farm. I didn’t realize it but skunks have a serious attitude when they walk: they exude this punk-assed “don’t mess with me” body language. That know they have power.

A friend was visiting me the other day and as we approached a freshly fallen ball of black and white striped fluff in the road my friend said, “AAWW!! KITTY!” Uh, no. Thats not a kitty.

Then there was the time that I had one welcome itself into the laundry room and help itself to the dog food….luckily he left peaceably by his own volition, too.

Anyway, point is we have lots of skunks around here. I have been impressed with my dog and her ability to avoid them for so long. She is frequently outside when its dark out, yet she’s avoided them. I think shes even gotten a few to spray and avoided it. Last night she was not so lucky. The poor pup got sprayed, I dragged her home and I tried whatever I could: washed her in flat hydrogen peroxide and baking soda, peed on her (okay, okay, I peed in the shower when i was washing her and accidently hit her then went “huh, this might work since its got ammonia…” and proceeded to pee all over her), vinegar and them a baking soda and soap mixture.

 

poor poor demeaned dog. first she got hit in the face with skunk (though luckily it missed for the most part), then a bath, then peed on then locked up in a room all by herself to sleep alone. The look on her face was sorrow: questioning life and why it bought here to this demoralized state! Questioning herself and what she does with her life. Was this karma for killing so many rats? Questioning God! She questioned God and its wisdom as she stood soaking in the shower. Why?! WHY?!

Luckily she doesn’t smell too bad. Don’t cuddle….but not bad.