Thursday, March 31, 2011

Buford- A Work in Progress

I'll start off by showing a picture of the world's best dog. Scooter, of course. He may look a little past his prime, but he still makes sure to keep everyone in line. If you step out of line, look out, he'll give you the business. Just ask Buford. Buford is a work in progress. He's got great potential, but right now there's a little struggle going on to unlock the potential. That sounds deep, doesn't it? Buford is about 9 months old and definitely acts like a puppy. He really tries hard to obey the rules, but sometimes he just can't help himself. We've been working with him a lot more lately in order to whip him into shape. And no, we don't whip him. ;-) I am going to start walking him every day to make sure he gets enough exercise. Oh yeah, and to make sure I get enough exercise too. He has started coming outside with me every day to do chores. Milking is his favorite chore. ;-)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wanda

Wanda is a hen that was born to be a mom. She thinks it is her job to solely repopulate our yard with more cute little chicks. She went broody several months ago. Every day I'd collect all the eggs and she'd wait in the nest, ready to sit on the next day's eggs. A friend of mine ordered some Barred Rock pullets, so I asked him if I could have a couple to see if Wanda would raise them. He gave me 3 chicks, so one night I crept out to the coop to put them under Wanda. I was a little nervous to see if she'd accept them or not. I put 2 under her and set one in front of her. I waited to see what she'd do, and was relieved to see her gently tuck the third chick under her in the nest. Success! Unfortunately one chick disappeared the first day she brought them outside, and one chick had a tragic accident in a water bowl yesterday. She still has one chick left, and she's being a great mom. Hopefully this last chick will be able to survive the dangers of the big world!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Three Weeks Old

The ram lambs are three weeks old now and they're really looking good. This is probably my favorite age for lambs, because they're not all bony like when they're first born. They've filled out, their fleece has grown a good bit, and they're very soft and cuddly.



The boys are eating a good bit of hay now.


I've given them names. I love the series Victorian Farm and Edwardian Farm on BBC (available for viewing on Youtube), so I named the boys after Peter Ginn and Alex Langlands, the two men on the series. I love Peter, by the way. Total crush on him! One lamb is slightly fuzzier and has a fuller face, so he's Peter (the one standing on the feeder below).


This is Alex.


Alex again.


It's hard to believe it's already been 3 weeks since they were born!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Nip it in the Bud

Since I don't want horned goats, and since non-horned goats sell better than horned goats, I decided to disbud the kids. Disbudding is done by burning the horn buds when the goat kids are really young. It's best to do this before the horn buds break through the skin, which can be really early on buck kids. Brutus was born ready to disbud, but I wanted to wait a few days so I knew he was strong and healthy.

Yesterday David and I disbudded him. David is the holder and I am the burner. Here is the before picture.


I start out by shaving the hair around the buds because burning hair smells really bad, and the less hair there is to burn the better.


Swiss breed bucklings (like Oberhaslis) have large horn bases, so a figure-8 burn is commonly done to prevent scurs. If you look in the picture above, you can see the two horn buds, and the lines of the horn base extending toward the forehead.

Here is the after picture. There are the 2 normal burns around the horn buds, and there are the 2 extra burns that make up the figure-8. "They" say to burn until you get a copper ring. I do have some copper around the bud, but I felt like the iron had been on his head long enough. After I disbudded Brutus, I offered him a bottle and he drank, which comforted him. Baby animals always go nurse mom when they get stressed by something, and I feel like this mimics that and helps soothe them.


I haven't disbudded many kids. I did 4 last year and none of them ended up growing scurs. Hopefully I'll be that lucky with my 2 this year!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Another Hat



After I made the hat for Marc, his cousin saw one and wanted one like it. She wanted hot pink with a white stripe. I used the same pattern as before, but made it in the medium size. I used Caron Simply Soft yarn. I really am not a fan of acrylic yarn (I have been spoiled with my gifted stash of mostly wool yarn), but I figured it'd be helpful if the hat was washable.

I love knitting hats though, especially ones with plain ribbing or stockinette! They're quick knits.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Elmer Loves Babies



Elmer loves his baby goats. I had to watch the little buck, Brutus. He wanted to nurse on everything. I mean everything. Poor Elmer!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Kids!

*Heads up, there are pictures of a goat kidding. If you don't want to see the pictures, please don't read further!

When I fed the animals this afternoon, I noticed June's udder had definitely bagged up more than yesterday. I figured the kids would be born either tonight or tomorrow. (her udder looks whitish in the picture because I put powder on it to help keep her from chafing)


I went back out around 7pm to put June in the barn since it was supposed to rain tonight. I noticed she had bagged up even more and she had a considerable amount of discharge. That meant kids soon!


I stayed out in the barn with her and she started having contractions.


After a while she had the first amniotic bubble.


Then there were hooves...


Then a big buck kid!


Then more hooves (and a nose and tongue)...


And then a doe kid!


Aren't they great?


I had the easiest time picking out names for them. Since today is the Ides of March, I went with that theme. The doe kid is Ides of March (Ida) and the buck kid is Et Tu Brute (Brutus).

I have a really cute video to post tomorrow, but right now it's bedtime for me!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Busy Sunday

We took advantage of the sunshiney day yesterday and got some chores done outside. Let's start with June. She's due any day now, I had her due for today, the 14th, but it could be any time this week. I needed to clip her udder so it would be easier to see and easier to milk (you know, hairy milk isn't appetizing).



She doesn't really like her udder being clipped, but it looks so much better.


The lambs got their tails banded and the whole family got moved outside. Purl is now healing up beautifully from the stitches she got after she lambed. I have names for the lambs, but I'll do another post about that.


David and his dad tackled some of the brush that creeps into the yard every year.


Buford attacked Elmer.


And Scooter kept watch over everyone, making sure we were doing what we were supposed to do.


I cleaned out the chicken coop. I can't wait until it's warmer out so I can pressure wash the whole thing and paint the whole inside. I'm not sure why I only did the floor when we built it.


And I got a few new chickens. These are the too-small-to-process broilers from some new friends. They'll stay here for a few weeks until they're big enough.


I can't wait for the next sunny weekend day so I can cross more things off my list!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

More Pincushions

I made a few more needle felted pincushions recently. I made the first one back in January and got a few custom orders. I love how they're all so different.



I have learned that needle felting through raw wool (the center is raw wool and the outside layer is roving) is hard. And it breaks needles. :-)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Word-for-Silent-That-Begins-With-"M" Monday

(I didn't have any blue ribbon!)







Saturday, March 5, 2011

Baby Momma Drama



Yesterday was one of the hardest days I've had as a sheep raiser. A few weeks ago Purl prolapsed. The vet came out and stitched her vulva so she wouldn't prolapse again. Stitching is an alternative to using a prolapse spoon, but unlike the prolapse spoon stitching must be removed before lambing.

Every day for the past two weeks I've been worried about Purl lambing. I've checked 'round the clock and found excuses for leaving work once a day to drive home and check on her. Unfortunately, yesterday I was unable to leave work to check on her. Thanks to Murphy's Law, Purl decided to lamb yesterday afternoon. I got home and immediately went to the barn to check on Purl and I heard a lamb bleat. My heart sank. I think I even said a few choice cuss words. Since I wasn't there to remove the stitch, Purl's vulva tore when she pushed the lambs out. It wasn't pretty.

She was acting ok, more concerned with her 2 new ram lambs than anything else. I once again put in a call to our vet. He came out pretty quickly, since he happened to be at another sheep farm down the road a few miles. He was able to put in stitches to pull everything back together. Purl got a dose of Banamine (a pain reliever, fever reducer, and anti-inflammatory) and is on a weeklong round of penicillin.

Purl settled in for the night and everyone was ok. Except me. I was a mess. I felt horribly guilty for not being there. What was I supposed to do? I have to work. My life has revolved around Purl for the last 2 weeks. I was afraid to go anywhere because I thought I might miss it. I never guessed that she'd pick the one day I couldn't check to lamb. Mainly I was upset because this sealed Purl's fate. I definitely could not breed her again. The vet assured me that her vulva tearing didn't change that fact. When animals prolapse there's such a good chance they'll do it again, and I was fooling myself to think it was a freak thing for her and she'd be ok if I bred her again.

I've mentioned before how I have a small property and only a few animals, so I can't afford to keep one around that can't pull his/her own weight. I don't just want pets, I want to produce things. If I can only comfortably fit 2 ewes and a doe on my place full time, then I need 3 productive animals. Purl simply can't stay if she can't produce lambs for me. I still have a hard time making decisions like these because I get attached. It's especially easy to get attached when I only have a handful of animals.

Shortly after David and I met, I had to sell my flock of 10 sheep and a goat. I had hauled these sheep (not all 10) around from my parents' house to Vermont after I graduated college, then back to Maryland and from borrowed space to borrowed space. I finally knew I couldn't hang on to them anymore and sold them. I cried and cried, and I told myself that when I got animals again I would not get so attached and I would be able to cull problem animals for better ones. It's easier said than done. I cried last night for Purl, because of what she went through and because even though she's alive, it's a loss for me. A loss of a breeding animal that I've become fond of. I plan on finding a pet home for her, somewhere with someone who wants sheep but has no intention of breeding them.

Just when I am getting more comfortable with the whole situation, I go out to feed this afternoon and what do I find? Purl was trying to prolapse again. Luckily nothing had protruded because the whole area is pretty stretched out, but it was puffed out and definitely not normal. I wanted to avoid a third vet visit, so I called my neighbor who has a flock of Border Leicesters. She came to the rescue with a prolapse spoon and harness. The two of us were able to prop her hind end up on a crate (so gravity would help everything fall into place) and I pushed the prolapse back in. Then we used the prolapse spoon and the harness to keep everything in. The harness is great, and I'll be ordering one in just a few minutes. If she were to hunch up to strain and push, the prolapse will get tighter against her hind end to keep everything in place. I'll keep checking on her throughout the night. Hopefully tomorrow things will still be in place and she'll be able to recover. Thank goodness for good neighbors too!

I'll keep you updated on the whole situation. Hopefully it will be drama free from here on out!

We've Got Lambs!

Purl had 2 ram lambs yesterday afternoon! They're all doing well. There was a little drama involved, but I will have to update you on that later today. David and I are going target shooting!






Wednesday, March 2, 2011

LHOTP



I'm in love with LHOTP, or Little House on the Prairie, if you're not down with the lingo. My sister read the books to her daughter, and got us hooked when she visited us and read a chapter or two while here.

I got LHOTP from the library and read a chapter or two a night to the kids. We really enjoyed it! In fact, I may have liked the book more than the kids liked it! We didn't realize there's actually a book before LHOTP, called Little House in the Big Woods, so we read the first two books out of order.

It is so fascinating to read about how they lived. They were true homesteaders! I'm amazed at the stuff Pa did, like build a cabin pretty much by himself. They really worked so hard for everything. Last night we finished reading Farmer Boy, which is about Almonzo Wilder, Laura Ingalls's future husband. Farmer Boy has by far been my favorite book. He lived in New York with his farming family. I loved hearing about their meals (they had apple pie for breakfast!), their non-stop farm and field work, and Almonzo's love of animals.

If you haven't read this series, I highly recommend you do! They're written for kids to enjoy, but they're definitely fun reads for adults as well. Here is the list of books in the series.
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