Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Sheep Weight Loss Program?

All of my sheep have had their lambs for 2012, Mrs Dark Brown Barbado was the last.  She had triplets last year, and was huge, so I was expecting a set of three lambs.  Here she is only a few days ago, I thought for sure she was going to lamb that day, if not.. that hour!

Her udder was also huge, but sneaking up behind her to take a picture was a but more difficult.

As you can see in this picture, Mrs Dark Brown Barbado is huge.  She is also a hair sheep if you are puzzled by her unusual look.  Her breed is Barbado, or at least that is the name they have in my area, in other areas they are called American Blackbelly, the rams have large curled horns.  These sheep do not need shearing, and shed like dogs.

A few days after taking her photo she had lambs, twin boys.

The father of the lambs is a Katahdin Dorper, also a hair sheep.  He is mostly white wtih only a black head and black saddle, but amazingly a large number of his lambs have been mostly black, with white, like this cute pair.

Some people are not familiar with Barbado sheep and often say they are wild, and prone to be mean, but we have never found this.  Even when we did have Barbado rams (they have huge horns) they were never mean.  The ewes were never more nervous than any of our other ewes, and this ewe in particular is very friendly.  As such if you are interested in getting Barbado sheep and have heard that they are crazy, disregard it.  When handled with kindness they respond.  I can approach this ewe in the pasture and pat her as though she were a dog.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Last Night Twins, Today Sleepy Lambs

Last night when we went to bring the sheep into the barn one ewe was missing.  We only had 2 ewes left to lamb but the missing one, whom we call White Katahdin (although she is really a light brown) was not big at all so it was a but of a surprise when my husband found her next to the barn with two lambs.

We got the lambs into the barn, one was larger, black and white, and the smaller one was orange and white.  I guessed the bigger lamb was male, and yup... that is what is was, the smaller one being a girl.  Momma followed close behind.

I did not want to walk to the house to get the camera, so we left them for the night and took pictures in the morning.  Here are the two lambs.

What I found most interesting is that their mother was particularly friendly with me.  She normally is quite nervous, and most mothers are especially nervous, but she was really good.

I kept them inside today, along with Favorite sheep who had her twins earlier yesterday, and put all the other moms and lambs out to play in the sun.  We still have snow on the ground but today was a bit cooler, temperatures hovering around zero. 

All the outside lambs seemed to have enjoyed running, jumping, and playing!  There are actually 10 lambs in this picture.

I am amazed that Dark Brown Barbado has not had her lambs yet, she is huge... perhaps tonight!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Favorites New Twins

Favorite sheep is an interesting gal.  She got her name because out of the four ewes we originally bought, she was the friendliest, so even though we agreed not to name them, my daughter soon referred to her as her "Favorite".  She had a small marking, a spot on her back, and was always friendly even when some of the other ewes were scared.

A few years ago she had a stroke, as a result she does not eat well and tends to drool.  We have to feed her a bit extra, but since she was called "Favorite" we could not really sell her (or... you know...), as most real farmers would have done.

Anyhow... this morning when I went out to the barn there she was just inside the barn door with two new lambs, twin girls, both white, with black around their eyes.  One even has a little spot on her back too!
As Favorite is a wool sheep, and the father is a hair sheep it is interesting to note that one lamb has tight curly wool (laying down in the picture), and the other has what looks more like hair (standing and still a bit wet in the picture).  Favorite has broke the trend this year, so far every ewe has had at least one black (or black and white) lamb.  Favorite was the first who did not.

I put her in the smaller stall with her lambs, while the other ewes and lambs went out for the day.  Temperatures are just above freezing in the day, and just below at night.  Things are melting - Yeah!

So that leaves just two more ewes left to have their lambs...

As a note - one of Girlie's lambs still needs a bottle, but only twice a day.  Diamonds triplets born a few days ago,  had fetlocks that really curled under.  I have been straightening their legs out and they look just fine now.

In this picture we see Girlie with her triplets, the black one is hard to see, and the smaller white one is the one that gets the bottle.  Behind her is the ram (you cannot see his head).  To the right is Patsy and her twins - not a good picture I realize, and of course Crystal the llama watching all.

Best Features in a Proper Farmhouse Kitchen

I had to laugh the other day when I came across a blog showcasing a "Farmhouse kitchen".   It was all wrong.  Where was the dog hair?  Why was the floor so clean?  How come no fencing tools could be seen on the counters, not even a hammer!  Why didn't they have a Farmers Almanac?  I am pretty sure the apples in the crystal bowl on the table were either plastic or store bought.  There was not even a coat hanging off the back of a chair.  What kind of farm house kitchen have you ever seen that looks picture perfect?

I thought I would make a point by taking a photo of my farmhouse kitchen table.  My husband pointed out I should have staged the photo better and added a fencing tool and nails, as well as a pair of gloves.  I should have even placed our bidding card from the auction market on the table too!  As it stands you can see the container holding milk replacement formula that we have to give one of the triplets, the bottle we use to give it in, and the nipple, a bag of cat food, a bucket - we have no running water in the barn so I have to take water out by hand.

At least in a few weeks I can put away the boots piled up in the background, and some of the coats can go away too.  It is finally melting! 

Anyhow folks, this is what a real country kitchen looks like, this is real farmhouse decor.  Stop by a livestock feed and supply store if you want to replicate it in your home, and pick up your supplies.  

Speaking of supplies, as I did not include it in the picture above, and my husband had mentioned it, I want to show you a fencing tool which is a real "must have" item on any farm.  It pulls nails with ease in addition to working as a hammer and has other uses.

Diamond Fence Tool Diamond Fence Tool
For wood and steel posts on ranch or farm Heavy-duty lock-joint construction with oval faced jaws Start and pull point on one jaw with corrugated hammer head on the other Pulls staples, lifts lugs, and splices wires-wire strecher behind joint Solid drop forged carbon steel blades Heat treated, milled face design Non-slip coated green handles

Happy decorating!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Okay, Everyone Go Play in the Snow

Over the weekend we had a lot of snow, more snow I think than we had all winter. 

Today the temperatures were expected to be above freezing, and it was not windy so I thought this would be a great day to get some of the new lambs outside.

I put Blackie, her two lambs, Dark Brown Katahdin, and her twins, as well as Patsy sheep and her twins,  outside in the morning at feeding time.  This would have been a good time for pictures as Crystal the llama especially loves seeing the new lambs.  Aggie the donkey likes them okay too, but Crystal really adores them.  However as I was very busy getting everyone sorted out I did not plan for photos.

Here they are later in the day.

I kept Girlie and her triplets in the barn.  Although they are a week old now they are much smaller than the other lambs and the one needs bottle feeding.  It is pretty hard for the sheep to keep track of two lambs when outside, and three is much harder.  Because the temperatures were not great, it is simply better not to risk putting them out.  Besides, they were able to keep Diamond and her two-day-old triplets company, as they are also still in the barn.

Two of Diamond's triplets have fetlocks that are still a bit bent, a likely result of being cramped before birth, so, although they can walk, they need to let their legs stretch out before they would be able to keep up outside in the snow.  I am trying to spend a few minutes every day with the lambs stretching out their joints a bit to make them stronger.  This problem does occur from time to time although I have not had a lamb with it prior, and it ususally corrects itself in a few days to a week.

Patsy must have wanted to be alone because she took her twins away from the group.

Anyhow the moms and lambs that were out in the snow were probably glad to get out of the barn, and I have been checking to make sure they are doing well.  The show is about 20 cm (8 inches) deep in most places but deeper in areas where it has drifted. 

The sheep walk on the same path and actually pack it down so well that when the other snow melts the path of packed snow often remains as ice and is the last to go.

Not a great day for photos, I took more picutres of them in the shed but they all turned out too dark to show off.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Diamond has Triplet Lambs

This morning I went out to the barn to find another set of triplets.  Diamond had given birth over night and was standing at the back of the barn when I entered.  I had hoped to put the other moms and their lambs outside today, but it had snowed over night, at least 20 cm (8 inches) and more falling - and blowing!  As such I put the sheep outside that did not have lambs and left everyone else in the barn.  Diamond did not even try to get out.
I spent most of the day shoveling, and shoveling, and shoveling.

I have had to bottle feed one of the triplets born a few days earlier, but with Diamond I doubt this will be a concern, she is a great mom with a large udder and has had triplets in the past and always had plenty of milk for all.

My biggest concern is that one of the lambs (pictured in the lower left) seems to have curled fetlocks on the front legs.

I have been reading up on this and it is very likely related to being one of many lambs, kept tightly inside the ewe.  They should straighten out, but I will keep an eye on her. 

Tomorrow is expected to be cold again, hopefully warmer the next day. 

To keep track so far 5 ewes have had their lambs, only 3 more to go.  We have 2 sets of triplets and 3 sets of twins, for a total of 12 lambs.  Plus the ram of course!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Lambing Makes Me Worry so Much

With triplets born only days ago, and the ewes actually not due for another day, I was a bit surprised by today's events.

As you may know from reading earlier blog posts I live in Alberta, Canada, it is winter, so the ewes are in the barn at night and out in the day.  I opened the barn door this morning to find one ewe, Mrs Brown Katahdin, with twins.

She would need to stay in, as the ewes with new lambs are kept in the barn for a while to bond with their lambs and so  the lambs get stronger before going out (after all there is snow on the ground). 

I went outside to throw the hay over the fence and noticed one ewe, Blackie, wandering off to the old barn.  It was pretty clear at that point that Blackie would be lambing today too.

I checked on Blackie several times throughout the day.  At one point, just before lunch, I found her with one lamb.  That make it easier to get her back into the other barn - I just picked her lamb up and she followed me.  I put her in a stall by herself. 
Blackie and the lamb I found her with.
I had lunch and went out a little later to check.  I am now feeling terrible for not going out sooner.  I found a dead lamb in the stall, a black and white lamb.  I noticed yet another standing with her, as well as the earlier lamb.  She had given birth to triplets, and somehow lost one.  Was it born dead?  Did she not clean its nose off in time?  Could I have saved it?  What happened?  I tend to beat myself up mentally in these situations.  Poor thing.

As if that was not enough, later in the day when it was time to bring the other sheep into the barn, one ewe was missing.  It took a bit of searching (it was getting dark by this time) but I found Patsy standing with two new lambs.

And there's more.  When I got Patsy and her lambs back into the barn, I checked on everyone again, and decided that one of the triplets born days earlier was not looking too good, I would have to bottle feed it.  She drank good but this is an expensive thing to do, not to mention a lot more work added to the day.

Good thing I am unemployed!