Tag Archives: lambing

Oh so busy.

Last week I had to take a business trip. Kinda cool, but that meant being off the farm for a week. And unfortunately my company didn’t ask if any of my animals were giving birth at the time (why didnt they think to ask that before planning the trip?!) and as it happened several were scheduled to give birth. LUCKILY Blaze had hers Tuesday, and Monk had hers the night before I left. My mother came up to the farm to farm sit and was very worried we needed to intervene. little toes were sticking out of Monk and there was no progress. She was just standing and trying to eat everything in sight. I said, “she just needs to focus on the task at hand. Wait for a bit.” Finally she laid down.

Image

Out popped on lamb! She licked it right away, but wouldn’t let it get any milk. “do we need to do something?”

“No, she’s got another coming, wait until that one comes out and she’ll be so distracted licking the other lamb he’ll be able to nurse.”

Image

Sure enough, out came the other one and Monk started letting them nurse. There was some question as to the paternity of my lambs from these two ewes as their father jumped through the electric fence several times to reach them. I think, though, from the facial markings its pretty clear who dad is.

Image

Image

Mooney and Monk make pretty cute babies, though Blaze’s Princess is pretty pretty, too. And she knows it! She has a throne underneath the hay feeder. End count of lambs that survived the birthing process: 5 rams, 1 ewe. Guess my flock isn’t growing this year!

So after staying with Monk I had to get up at 3 am to get on my plane to NJ so I could fly back to Ohio. Lots of sense. 4 1/2 days training.Fly back to Oregon ViA Duram, SC. What?! In the meantime we were down to basically 2 jewelers in a shop that should have 5, so i did some farm work then went into my job for a few hours the day after i got home.

Rosie was scheduled to farrow on Thursday and mom swears she was nesting, but i came home and nothing yet. She finally farrowed on Sunday-my “day off.” (It wasnt really a day off, i tried to throw a spring party an only one person showed after i sent them one last “are you coming” text. Rosie was kind enough to add some guests)

Image

Lovely day to have babies.

Image

Ms.Rosie was very tired by the end. She hadn’t eaten for several days. By the time she had her last one she was too tired to be careful. I saw her try to lay down carefully, and halfway through was like, “aw, screw it. I weigh 700 lbs, its too hard to be careful!” and flopped down. She ended up crushing 3 piglets in the next 12 hours. I didn’t sleep well that night worrying about the piglets. Once Rosie got a good sleep, though, she went back to being oh so careful. No injuries after some rest.

So, as I mentioned we were down a few jewelers. I had to go in on Monday, my normal day off. In the morning Dot was looking wistfully at the woods. We werent going to have a repeat of last time so I built a fence around the lean-to before going to work so she had a private space and was forced to stay out of the woods. Came home and my mother was around. “Hows Dot doing?”

“Eh. Shes not doing much. Just walking around eating, laying down…walking around somemore.” I went to check on her anyway.

Image

 

Uh huh. not doing a darn thing. Okay, at that point she only had six running around dry and nursing. I called mom over and she got to witness her first pig births a few hours later when she unloaded the second batch of piglets. The last one took forever to come out. it was a never ending umbilical cord…everytime shed push more cord would come out…occationally slip back in, then more cord. Like, 3 feet of cord. FINALLY the big girl popped out, but the veil didn’t break. I broke it around her face and cleared her nose. It took her a while to start breathing, but she finally did. I think if I hadn’t been there she wouldn’t have made it.

Image

Dot looks pretty proud of herself. She did a great job. No losses, no stillbirths, no crushed piglets or injuries. 11 out of Dot, 8 surviving out of Rosie. Ive got more pigs than I know what to do with.

Image

 

Anyway, then I worked my full week. I’m going into official overtime today. But I’ve been busy. Very busy and tired.

 

Advertisements

Blazey Had A Little Lamb

I’ve been keeping a hawks eye on Blaze. She started balloning and I was worried there were triplets. She’s a little small, probably should have not bred her first year but I wanted to know how the breeding experiment of diary X heritage breed would go. So bred her I did with the knowledge I’d need to keep an eye on her during lambing. I’d started keeping her in a separate pasture from the main group with her sister so I could keep an eye on her.

Wednesday I came home and she greeted me, I noticed she had dropped, then walked me over to a pile of sawdust and plopped down to try and lamb.

Image

She was in the process, but I don’t know how long for.

Image

Two little feet were out. But the pushing didn’t seem to be making any progress.

Image

I don’t feel good…is it tool late for an epidural?

 

Since I didn’t know how long it had been going on I decided to wait for a bit longer before helping. I really want my animals to handle their lambing by themselves, and in my circle of farmer friends “helping” an animal is almost considered a sin as you help keep the weak alive. But, Blaze is young, so she gets a free pass. Eventually I had to pull the lamb. I’m not sure why it wasn’t coming out, it was positioned correctly, but it felt like possibly the next lamb was trying to come out at the same time. It was hard to pull out, even for me. I got it halfway out, but by the Blaze was so tired she didn’t want to finish pushing. So little lamb was hanging out squirming and Blaze was going in circles trying to see the lamb/whats going on back there. FINE DON’T DO THE FINAL PUSH.

Another lamb was on the way, but again I tried to let her do it. She had no interest in birthing anymore, just licking her little lamb. That one was huge, but freshly dead. Clearly, I should have assisted sooner. I figured I’d loose a lamb from Blaze, anyway, so I’m happy to have one girl.

Image

I believe “Princess” to be the right name for her. Blaze is a good momma. Her face looks a little different to me. A bit more grown up.

Next up we have Monk.

On the pig front Rosie is bagging up. She looks soon. Dot looks like shes a week or two behind, though that doesn’t make sense since they got bred I think at the same time.

Image

Image

I’ll be gone on a business trip next week. My mother is coming up to watch everyone. Shes praying everyone pops this weekend…I think they are going to wait until I’m gone and give her some fun. Wish my mother luck!

The Waiting Game

It was clear when Ash was bred. I went to work and the ram was chasing her and she was starting to stand. I came home from work and she was stiffly grazing, the ram was laying on the ground, resting his head on his horns, panting with his tongue out. I marked it on the calendar.

 

147 days later she should lamb…but sheep have a 5 day window of when they lamb and Ash seems determined to hold it in (like last time) Last year her udder was considerably bigger. She should have lambed Thursday. Its Saturday and we’re still waiting.

Image

She IS starting to act jumpy, so thats a good sign! Her udder is also filling up more. It will happen. Until then, I guess I just need to love on these two:

Image

Happy

 

Image

Daze

 

While I Was At Work

While I was at work yesterday Polly was apparently working, too.

Image

I came home and was greeted my two new members to the flock and a look on Polly’s face like, “what took you so long to come homme this evening? I did this all by myself!”

 

Good job, girly. Two ram lambs. I had hoped for a ewe from her, but so far she’s 3-0 on rams. They are cute and friendly, and looks like they are growing little horns, too! It will be fun to see how these guys grow up. I kept Polly in a “jug” all by herself (private pen, maternity ward, ect) and it worked out okay.

Image

Tonight when I came home Ash had some birthing something hanging from her bottom. Usually people leave ewes in the jugs for about 3 days, but Polly was begging to come out and Ash needed to go in so I made the switch. By the morning I expect lambs from Ash, too.

 

(that is if it survive. I think i inhaled a bug and can’t stop coughing. hopefully i don’t die in my sleep!! haha!)

Winter Lambing

I let my rams stay with the girls most of the year. Usually I’ve had late Feburary lambs (okay, out of the two years I’ve been doing this I have). Not going to be so this coming winter.

The rams been a psychotic ball of hormones lately. He mostly runs around licking his lips *trying* to fulfill his urges. He saw Polly rubbing against me and got all jelly. We had a small fight and he considered ramming me for a few seconds…..which might have resulted in a wood beam launched into his face.

 

Maybe.

 

Then Rosie and he have been challenging (and courting?!) each other through the fence. He somehow blasted through and got in a fight with her last night (I have GOT to finish the inside fencing!). I got them separate, but by golly, he has been a pill! It honestly looks like his testicles are a bit bigger these days.

 

Peppercorn, the pig, has been in standing heat for the last 2 days and she’s been running around screaming “GRAAAAAA!!!! I NEED A MAAAAAAAN!”  Okay, not quite, but she has been running around screaming, biting, and trying to tear the gate off its hinges. I’ve gone out and sat on her back and given her ear scratches for a minute to make her settle. (actually, it probably just makes her feel woozy, but whatever, she stops screaming for a while) I am pretty sure the ram his smelling her hormones and getting excited (he has tried mounting the pigs many times before).

So while I was at work I moved the ewes and ram to a temporary pen far away from Rosie and the other pigs so i didn’t have to worry about him busting through the fence to reach the pigs. I got home and let them back in there normal pen and got to doing my evening chores when lo and behold the cause of all the strife may be passing: Polly was coming into heat the last few days. I figured as much as she kept trying to rub against me whenever she saw me.

So they went about doing their thing and must have been for most of the day: Polly is walking rather stiffly. Well, so is the ram. I would assume, then, that this will be a successful mating and I will have lambs in 145 days. That means…

 

January. January 26th. The middle of winter. Oh great. That means I *need* alfalfa and good hay and then a good, warm set up for milking, and a warm safe place to lamb should the weather be too terrible for pasture lambing. But! I will get a nice long lactation period! And I have a date for at least one lambing.

I assume that Ash is bred already…I have not seen them do anything, but the ram has stopped chasing her around all day and she has a funny look in her eyes. The ewe lambs I do not believe are bred yet. In my experience they should take another month or two to come into heat though Friar Tuck is certainly large enough to breed safely. Blaze is probably okay-ish? I think overall she is going to end up a very small sheep. The ram lamb is certainly ready to do his job, but he has yet to express interest in Blaze so I assume she is not near cycling yet, He has expressed interest in Tuck, but to no avail that I’ve seen.

So winter lambs it is! This should hopefully give me the drive to finish the barn. And even more hopefully the ram will settle the heck down or he is moving away. 

Polly Had a Little Lamb

I noticed on Wednesday morning Polly was looking pretty ripe. I asked my neighbour to keep a eye on her while i was at work. I didn’t get any frantic calls at work so i figured either it happened and all was good or nothing had happen yet. I got home and fed the pigs and looked out to the sheep pasture and saw Polly with something hanging from her bottom: he water had just broken.

I was excited and thankful she waited until I came home. Good sheepie! So I got the other sheep fed and checked up on her. She was trying…sort of. I don’t think I’ll ever witness another birth where the mother is more interested in food than birthing! She was taking a while to make any progress. We had feet sticking out for a long time (i have pictures, but you probably don’t want to see)…then finally a nose. I couldn’t remember if it was when the nose was out the umbilical chord was broken….or later? since she was taking forever to make any progress i wiped the nostrils clear soon as I could and waited.

and waited. Clearly we had a big lamb coming out.  Mind you Polly is one of my smaller sheep and only a year old. She is very calm so i figured no emotional drama, but wasn’t totally sure about how her body would handle the birthing process.

Finally with all her straining I decided to help *juuuuust* a little. I carefully tried to guide her vagina around the very large forehead where she had been stuck for almost an hour? She pushed and we got the head partly out…then she stopped pushing and it slipped back in. *sigh* well, I figured once her vagina had streached once around the head it would be easy to do again. I stepped back and let her finish doing it herself.

Image

Sure enough, within a matter of minutes a little lamb was on the ground. She stood dazed and didn’t do anything but stand there for five minutes, but finally she turned around and started licking her lamb. Shortly thereafter he was trying to stand and suckling from mom.

Image

And what a pretty lamb! His wool is long, straight, silky and smooth! Nothing like my other sheep. He looks like a Jacob but is actually part Shetland (dad) and East Friesian-Lacaune. This is great, too, because I can breed him to Ash’s lambs and I will get to see how my breeding project will turn out sooner.

Image

Ash was very interested in the new lamb: she announced to everyone there was a new comer.

 

Image

photobomb!

 

Poor Blaze, though. We expected her to have someone smaller that would look up to her. And yet he came out nearly the same size as Blaze is at three weeks! He is very strong already. Two days old and already headbutting the other lambs! Boys.

Blaze is doing well, though. Still got mild scours, but she is acting fine. I am hoping to get her weaned soon. She still loooves her milk. She drinks it so fast she gets a foamy mouth and looks like a rabid lamb. Image

My little goof-ball.

Lambing isn’t Easy: The Story of Blaze

I knew Ash was due anytime: her udders where full and huge. I was trying to keep her in a lambing jug, but it became clear to me she was holding off on lambing until she could get somewhere “safe.” Why didn’t she feel safe in the jug?

Well, I’m still not set up that well so the pigs and sheep share the same space. This is normally fine, but for lambing it was just too scary for Ash to have a hungry, breast feeding sow walking by the jug. Rosie is very polite to the sheep (unless they try to steal her food), but she does open the door to the pen and welcome herself in. Just a little intimidating. . I finally let her out of the jug and she waddled away to the woods calling for the other sheep to come. Normally sheep like to be alone, but for some reason Ash wanted the other two to join her. I let her go figuring I could find them and rather her just get  it over and done with.

Image

Yes, these woods. Up the logging road.

So up she goes with her posse and i let them be alone for about 45 minutes. I finally decide to go find them carefully slipping by the pig and her brood. On my way up I realized: CRAP! there are 3 main paths they could take on this mountain side…..if  were a sheep I’d go…..this way! I took the middle road and walked for a few minutes. I finally called out to the sheepie sheep and *viola* sheep heads pop out of the bushes.

It almost seemed Ash wanted me there. As soon as I joined the party she flopped down and started breathing heavy. Then we heard something snap in the woods….coyote? what? Ash looked concerned wondering if she needed to hide again.

*oink oink HUUCKHUCK* Yes, it was Rosie. She decided to follow to see what was up. …. luckily she just walked past not noticing the sheep. She turned around and went back down the hill after a few minutes and Ash went back into contractions.

She choose a flat hidden spot to lamb….but it was cold, damp and covered in rocks. Not a good place for a wet lamb. I decided since i knew where everyone was I would go down and get some lambing supplies (warm molasses water, towel, lambing emergency supplies) and by the time I was back Ash was licking a *tiny* little lamb.

But it was tiny. maybe 3 and a half pounds? It started to move but mom went back into contractions before it could get up and nurse. The ram, in the meantime, decided that this whole thing was really HOT and he kept trying to mount Ash nearly stepping on the lamb in the meantime. I finally intervened and put the cold baby in my jacket. The ground up there was so cold it had sucked away all her body heat and she was getting cold fast. My jacket wasn’t enough so I took her back down the hill (tripping over the rocks) and gave her to the neighbors to warm up while I went back up the hill to see what happened with the next lamb. This one was a normal size, but it too started off strong and the ground started sucking away its body heat. Plus, there was no way a newborn lamb could stumble down the hillside with all those rocks, so i would need to take everyone down. Once again the ram was harassing Ash and I grabbed the lamb and got Ash to start following me down the hill. Halfway down Ash realized she lost her other lamb and ran back to look for it. I rushed the cold baby down the hill to warm up with her sister, then grabbed a leash and went looking for Ash. I ran into her, she was screaming in terror about her lost babies, and I convinced her to some down the hill with me. She was sobbing and moaning the whole way as i put her back in the lambing jug.  I went and grabbed her little ones who had warmed up by then and happy reunion, right?

ImageaWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW (MY DOG ADDED THAT. I suppose that’s her feeling on the subject.)

Wrong. Ash loved them. She licked them. She cared for them…but wouldn’t let them nurse. First time momma jitters we thought, so the neighbors and I held Ash and hooked the babies up to her teats….but she just didn’t get it. So little one was not doing great so i gave her emergency lamb food just to give her some energy, but we finally had to milk some colostrum out of mom to get little lamb some. So I was resigned to hooking babies up to mom until she figured it out. I got up twice that evening to feed the lambs, and they both seemed like they were doing ok.

In the morning momma was still moaning and seemed to not want the lambs to nurse still, so I decided to milk her out. No wonder she didn’t want them to nurse! 1/2 gallon out of just one teat! I caught some of the milk, but poured most on the ground just to get her empty. That seemed to help her moaning….but by then little one wasn’t doing well again. I tried hooking her up to mom but she didn’t do anything. I stuck my finger in her mouth and it was cold, no suck reflex. She was hypothermic.

I took little lamb inside and started warming her up with a hair dryer, but decided to give her a warm bath because nothing warms the body up like water. Washed her, dried her, started feeding her a few drops of mom’s milk to give her some energy.

She seemed to teeter on the edge of life and death when I finally gave her a name: Blaze. Oddly enough once I named her and started talking to her by her name she started perking up. A little more food, a little more awake. She was so skinny she had nothing to keep the heat in. So I made her a jacket with a scrap of Pendelton wool to keep her warm. Cute little bugger started standing.

 

Image

Then I noticed: her legs were jankey. poor girl had a hard time walking and standing. :/ I saved a sickly little thing. 

She was finally strong enough I could take her out of the warm bathroom, but not strong enough to spend the night outside in the barn. Since mom was having trouble feeding this one, but the other one was starting to get the hang of it i decided to keep Blaze in for the night. We sat by the fire that evening and I made her a little crib in a laundry basket with a heater nearby to sleep in.

Image

That probably saved her life (along with the bath) but it spelled doom for her relationship with her mom. In the morning when I returned Blaze Ash would have nothing to do with her.

I tried for days to get her to accept Blaze as her lamb, but she wont. at one point she started attacking Blaze. Poor baby.

I weighed her a day or two after she was born and had grown. She weighed only 4.1 lbs by then. Her sister was a more normal size and weight and doing just fine. Blaze needed all the help she could get. I bottle fed her mothers milk for the first several days, kept her in the jacket for a couple.She was starting to attach herself to me, but I kept trying to keep her with her mom so she would know she was a sheep. Unfortunately, all the grown up sheep knocked her around a few times, but I was there to grab her each time.

All in all, Blaze has a good attitude. She’s been rejected by her mom, but still tries to hang out with her. Its easier since her sister likes her still and the like to sleep together. She’s attached to me, so when I leave her with the sheep she gets kind of depressed. Its hard not to break down when I hear those cries of loneliness

Thats why she’s earned a place on the couch.Image

What? Everyone needs a place for an afternoon nap.

**happy birthday lambs! you made it one week!**