Friday, April 23, 2010

* - next time

I know I said next time, but I forgot. And, now that I look back, many of these were dealt with earlier, so who cares, really?

We had 14 lambs* born, lost 5

We are closing the gap a tiny bit: 10 lambs on the ground, with one more ewe to lamb.

When I left, Liza looked like this (left) and when I returned, like this (right)

The lambs that were lost happened mostly while I was gone, but shortly after my return, we lost a very nice, big ram lamb. With some CSI work and a lot of reading, it looks like the flock had picked up listeria. Coincidence or am I jinxed? Anyway, we went on a 3-day innoculation program as per vet instructions, and so far (touch wood) have not had any others lost or ill.

Had 4 angora kids* born, lost 2

Phoebe and her baby Poppy were shown in February post. This month our aging Mint (the one who traveled in the motor home from Arizona) had triplets. Unfortunately, we were at the market, and when we got home one was dead (membranes over her head) and another was near death. She was very small, and I think was born in the sun and was unable to move into the shade. She made a valiant effort, but did not make it. The middle kid, however, had found a nice shady hole and was hiding there when we found her. She is small, but is very full of life.

Yollie and Mint's child Middy.

It is really cute the way the two angora kids (Poppy and Middy) hang out together, though they are several months and sizes apart. They are never too far from the moms, but if something really scary happens - like the Gator roaring down the drive - they run like crazy and stand by... Yollie!

Solved the mystery of who was eating all of our eggs*

Left is before - if we were lucky! Right is after the Tin Cat.

Ever since we tore down the old, mouse-infested chicken coop and put the hens in with the goats, someone or something has been eating all of the eggs. At first it was Yollie, so I rigged up a pen were the chickens could come and go but Yollie could not. That lasted for a few days, then the marauding began anew. It has been going on for months, and we were just about on the verge of setting up a camera, when I discovered the culprits. I went into the pen to feed a little earlier than usual one evening, and peered hopefully into the egg nest - whereupon at least 6 mice went leaping for their lives in all directions! It's hard to imagine that those little buggers could eat four or five eggs a day, but since I put a Tin Cat under their nest, we have more eggs than we can (and should) eat.

dead things in the bathtub*

While gone, I got an email from hubby with no message, just "Avoid taking a shower at night" in the subject line, and this image (left):

Sheba's Pets

Hubby was convinced that the cat was collecting pets in the tub, because she never ate them. Some of us know that lizards just aren't that tasty. She graduated from lizards to mice to ground squirrels, and finally rabbits. Her record is four rabbits in a 24 hour period, of which she ate pretty much all, including the toenails.

Now we try to wait each other out when it comes to taking a morning shower, because the first person has to clean out the tub, and the second gets in free, so to speak.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Last night, thinking about last night...

Hope no one minds if I borrow a phrase from the Traveling Wilburys' song. After a long day of the usual, plus digging thistles and putting our old dog down, I noticed one of the last ewes to lamb was showing signs of impending birth. But she, Ursula, is a rather small 2-year old, and this was her first lamb, so I knew nothing would happen soon.

I checked on her hourly, and not much was going on, but she sure was getting noisy. I moved dogs around so they wouldn't annoy her, and tried to get her into the catch pen, but to no avail. She wanted to stay with the flock, so I got a warm jacket and a hat and went down to sit in the enclosure. Eventually the whole group moved into the pen area, and I rushed up to close the gate. I let out all but a few, and then sat on the hill with a flashlight to keep an eye on her progress: 8 o'clock, nothing, 9 o'clock, nothing,10 o'clock went in for a cup of tea and came back to finally see a nose poking out. A really BIG nose, with no little toes. Damn.

Poor Ursula was restless and annoyed and in great distress, and it eventually became clear that she was going to need some help, and she was going to have to be caught.
Both of these activities were impossible in the dark, so I pulled my car up to overlook the pen and left the lights on. Worked great - for about 2 minutes. Then the lights politely went off. Back up the hill, start the car, back down the hill and try to catch the ewe. Back up the hill, start the car, back down the hill to the ewes. This game went on for a while. Ever try to catch one of three black sheep ... in the dark? Good luck with that!

By now she was in NO mood to be messed with AT all, and all I could do was hope that she would give out before I did. I finally went up to the house get a pail of warm water, iodine soap, towels, etc., all the while muttering, "I hate this, I hate this, I hate this!" Reaching into a laboring ewe is no fun for anyone, especially the ewe, and especially when it is cold and dark and late. I tried to cheer myself up by repeating "You've done this before, you know how to do it, you can do it and you will do it. Besides, look on the bright side: it's not raining ... yet."

When I returned with my paraphernalia, I set it on the ground while I fiddled with the gate latch. That was when I heard a little bleat. YAY - a lamb! She was a BIG, monster lamb, with legs like a colt, and she was wet, covered in membranes and mud, and totally ignored by her mother. It was as if the ewe had said, "Well, whew! That's over with, now let's get out of here!" She and her two cohorts were standing at the gate, ready to rejoin the flock. That white blob was no problem for them to worry about!

In another half hour or so I had dried the lamb off, set up a maze of panels to catch the ewe, let the other two out, and confined mom and lamb to a stall with water and peace. I staggered back to the car, drove back to the house, and collapsed into bed. I knew that I had at least 12 hours before the lamb went south, and hoped to spend at least half of them sleeping.

This morning I crept down to the pen to check on the night's outcome, to find a lovely little lamb bouncing quite happily around her little mum, who seemed none the worse for wear. Wish I could say the same!

Look at those legs!

Monday, April 19, 2010


Where have I been? What have I been doing? No, really: I’m asking YOU! (ggg)

Barely a week after my last post (in the middle of lambing) I got a call from my uber-pregnant daughter who had been quite ill, saying “Hi, Mom … guess you’d better get a ticket: they’re shaving me right now.” She had gone into early labor, necessitating a C-section (like her previous one). Less than 12 hours later the baby started running a high temp and was eventually diagnosed with listeria, which is probably what my daughter had, as well. Thus began two weeks of IV antibiotics and monitoring in various NICUs in the Bay area, depending on the severity of problems at any given time. I got to stay with the toddler, which was truly a bright spot, bringing her - along with dinner - for nightly visits with the rest of the clan. The good news is that we all survived, and the little family is home and healthy again.

Beautiful Baby Riyana Gramma's new girl

Exhausted daddy and daughter

But, poor Gramma, everything after that seems a blurr. I do know that a lot has happened.

In no particular order:

We had 14 lambs* born, lost 5

Had 4 angora kids* born, lost 2

Sheared all the goats and half the sheep

Had to cull two big rams (wolves were happy about that)

Celebrated some birthdays

Got a firetruck

Had several weeks of farmers' markets

Had family visits

Had lots of rain and cold

Solved the mystery of who was eating all of our eggs*

Had some warm, beautiful days

Spent time with friends

Were told one Kangal might have bone cancer (later ruled out with X-rays)

Had to put down our 20-year old farm dog

Then there were meals and sleeps, and spinning and TV shows, lots of dead things in the bathtub*, trips here and there, etc., etc., etc.

Then, one mild morning morning, as we let the ewes and lambs into the llama pen to eat some lush green weeds, a pair of bluebirds sailed by and landed on the fence just in front of us. There they sat, taking turns darting to the ground, snapping up little bugs, and returning to their posts. Today we saw a SECOND pair, gliding just above the driveway. Could be our bluebirds of happiness have returned.

* - next time