Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bad, Good, & Unexpected News

First the bad news: Beautiful Vyvyan Bloem died very early yesterday morning. The night before I discovered her "hiccuping" constantly. I feel she was either having a diaphragm spasm or had an obstruction to her breathing. After a long observance, I decided to give her a lamb sized "Heimlich" maneuver. It did not help. She was keeping to her self and seemed miserable. Sometimes I get a bad case of hiccups so I could imagine how she felt if that were the case. I put her by her resting lambie cousins and left her for the night. I knew she would probably be just fine or dead by morning. Unfortunately, she was gone by 6am chore time.

My dear neighbor, Gail, took my 6:30am call. Bless her. After a thorough discussion on all the possibilities, we determined it was probably not disease but a physical problem. Vyvy could have inhaled something that blocked her airway. She could have been kicked or butted by a ewe and had a lung collapse or her windpipe damaged. Or she could have had a birth defect that was just not able to be seen. Since she had been playing wild just three hours before I found her hiccuping, I really do feel something "happened" to her. She was a beautiful soft ewe lamb. I am very sorry to loose her.

Good news: Each time I go out with the bottle for Anna's lambs, they are less and less interested in it. This morning they sipped about an ounce-because I made them. Then they ran off to play. I think Anna's milk is finally coming in. This is a great relief.

My mother-in-law, Nancy, suggested I take a picture of the lambs next to something measurable-so people could see just how tiny they are. I haven't had a real opportunity to stage a photo yet, but I did find this one of Nhu standing in front of the water buckets. They are average 2.5 gallon buckets.

Unexpected news: Last week my youngest son said his classroom birds needed a new home and he wanted them. Clancy and I agreed to allow the new pets if Leif did all the work. So Monday I went to the school to pick them up. I had this idea that we were getting parakeets that twitter in a cage all day. The birds turned out to be cockatiels that were 10 years old and tired of the wild classroom life. (They were becoming a bit grouchy.) So now we have cockatiels.

Fortunately, the birds are enjoying the quieter pace of "family life." For unknown reasons, they seem to really like me. The first thing I learned is that cockatiels are very smart and emotionally demanding. I picked that up all on my own. Then I got on-line and found some great sites that told me all the ways I could instantly kill our cockatiels by being ignorant of their specific needs. This was the same day I lost Vyvy. After an hour of research, I had to just go take a nap. The responsibility was overwhelming.

So far, the birds are still alive. They seem to be fine actually. We are learning more about them each day, and hopefully we will provide them with a good home. They are beautiful and fascinating. They have distinct personalities and behaviors. We are falling in love with them. Their names are Bette and Greybird. I'll post a photo when I can borrow the camera again.

Monday, April 28, 2008

After the Snowstorm

Sunday morning the sun rose bright and clear. Almost two feet of snow blanketed the world around us. I let the sheep out of the barn for the first time since Friday afternoon. The ewes were dismayed by the heavy landscape. But the lambs made the best of it...

Bam takes a look around before he leaps across the threshhold.
Nadin thoroughly investigates the white stuff.
Vyvyan Bloem is a little snow angel.

Friday, April 25, 2008

I have this smart friend...

who moved to Florida.
Her name is, Kimberly. She has azaleas blooming in her back yard. Visit Echowood for a glimpse of Spring. It's apparently still Winter here.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


I started supplementing Anna Belle's twins with a bottle today. Usually it is a fight to get lambs to suck on a bottle. But they were hungry and took right to it. It seems that Anna's milk is not coming in. We can get milk from her, but it seems like she is fairly empty all the time-like she isn't keeping up with the babies.

Last night I had a vet come out. He arrived just after dark. I thought Anna might have retained placenta. But she was also depressed and shivering (fever?) She was running a fever and after a thorough internal exam, the vet felt she had an infection in her uterus. Clancy held her still, I held the flashlight, and the vet used a long pipette to flush her uterus with tetramyacin. Anna also got a shot of banamine to easy pain and help her let down milk.

I'm glad to report Anna looked 100% better this morning. She was bright-eyed and alert again. She was interested in her lambs too. I still don't think she's making much milk. But she's acting like a new mother again. I will continue to supplement the twins until Anna can keep up with them. If she can't, I suppose I'll have bottle lambs on my hands. We'll just have to see.

Considering the obvious Selenium and Vitamin E issues I'm having here, I do not fault Anna for having this trouble. Deficiencies can cause very hard births with subsequent tears, infections, retained placentas, etc. I'm just so grateful she bonded with the lambs in spite of her discomfort. Even if I end up feeding them, they are not orphans.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


After Anna Belle had a few hours in time-out yesterday, I decided to give her another chance to be out with the new moms and lambs. She made a bee-line for Sian and Vyvyan. Over and over she attacked Sian. She was so focused it was scary. I put her back in the jug and told her to just have her lambs and get it over with.
When I went out to feed grain at 7pm, I found twin lambs in Anna's pen! A small white lamb and a large black katmoget lamb (the very first EVER born here at this farm.) After I ran back to the house for BoSe shots, iodine, and Clancy, we discovered they were both ewe lambs. How could I be so lucky?!

Both of them have the type of fleece I have been trying to breed for. They are crimpy right down to the back of their legs. The white one looks like she is beaded with seed pearls. I am so happy. So..........introducing:

Boston Lake Nhu ("everything according to one's wishes")

Boston Lake Lyneth ("beautiful one")

And Dolce's lamb, Boston Lake Duvie ("small, black") Duvie turned to popcorn just hours after she was born. Like her nephew, Bam, she is ready to bounce into her new world. "One more day in the jug, Sweety." For the shepherd's sake.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Another Lamb

Dolce lambed early this morning. She gave me a single, black ewe lamb: Boston Lake Duvie. That makes three ewe lambs and one ram lamb. So far so good. The lamb was still a bit damp but running around the pasture this morning at 6am. Mom and baby have been jugged, given BoSe shots and Vitamin E capsules, and left to bond for a while. Oh, and the lamb has been nursing just fine-always a relief.

This year, in an attempt to have lambs born in the daylight, I had a strict schedule for when I fed grain. I fed their supplement between 7-8pm every night and so far all the lambs have been born at 5am. Delyth delivered at 11am-but that is still quite acceptable. I think I will stick to this routine in the years to come. I like finding wet lambs at 6am. If I was very concerned about a certain ewe, I could get up at 5am and probably intercept the birth.

Because I needed a jug for Dolce, I decided to let the older lambs out of their jugs for good. They are so happy to be free. And just today they discovered each other. There is suddenly more to life than just Mom now. Let the lamb races begin. I love this part.

Anna must be really close to lambing. This morning she singled out Sian and little Vyvy and attacked them again and again. I could not dissuade her into leaving them alone. Since Dolce was this aggressive to Rachel yesterday, (and she lambed this morning) I decide to jug Anna. Maybe she won't lamb today, but I feel Sian and her baby deserve a bit of time to eat outside without being pummeled. Anna is not happy in the nice clean jug. But she has food and water and it won't kill her to take a time-out. Maybe she'll surprise me with babies by lunch time. Well...I can dream.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Sunshine Lambs

Boston Lake Nadin enjoying the great outdoors for the first time.

It was so beautiful this afternoon I just had to let the three moms and their babies out of the barn for a while. I usually keep the families jugged for 5-7 days. I want the lambs to be able to run away from hostile ewes and to be able to handle the electronet shock they get. But for a few hours today I kept the fencer off and let the new moms and lambs into a paddock separate from the pregnant ewes. It went very well. Each ewe only had one lamb to keep up with. Everyone enjoyed the sunshine, fresh air, and space to walk (or hop) around.
Boston Lake Bam played hard as soon as little hooves crossed the barn thresh hold. What a zest for mischief and exertion he has. He's ALL ram. But even little boys have to stop to catch their breath. Here he is panting before he takes another lap around the pasture.
This little angel is Boston Lake Vyvyan Bloem. She is only two days old and so delicate that she almost seems transparent. Completely precious and sweet. Nadin has a sassy streak, but Vyvy is pure cotton candy.

Shearing Day

First of all: I have received so many nice comments lately and I haven't had time to answer. Thank you for reading my blog folks. Please know that I appreciate your comments, and I enjoy reading your blogs every week. Since I enjoy other people's stories too, I would like to recommend the links on the sidebar. Shepherds everywhere are having beautiful, unique lambs born and if you like lamby pictures, you really should visit these other blogs too. One can never drink in too many lamby photos! :)

Anna has not lambed. Nor does she seem to be the least bit inclined to do so. It is almost 60 degrees here and she is out there blandly chewing her cud. Next year, when she starts looking full term, I will simply count out another 30 days and then mark the calendar. I won't even pretend to think I know due dates anymore.

Yesterday was Shearing Day. Everything went very smoothly. Only a couple of sheep received very tiny nicks. I really appreciate how careful Byron is with the sheep and their underparts. He does swear a blue streak, but he does such a good job that I can handle it. Truthfully, Shetlands are very wiggly and not the least bit cooperative when set upon their rumps. At least mine are. I'm pretty sure they test his patience. I just feel very fortunate to have a good shearer close by.

I am always nervous to see what kind of condition the sheep are in under all that wool. This year I supplemented quite a bit because of our mineral deficiencies. The sheep finally look as good as I would like them too. The rams received no extra feeds, though, and they still look great. Rachel, who is built like a Holstein cow, was the only one that looked skinny. She always does. And I know she got her fair share of the grains this winter. So she either needs extra or she is just old and dairy cow shaped. Either way, she will continue to get supplements until she fills out a bit more.

As for the lambs on the ground, I am happy to say they all seem to be thriving now. Nadin is steady on her feet and likes to bounce around the jug. Asa named his ram lamb, Bam. He is such a confident little guy the name suits him very well. Isaac named his white ewe lamb, Vyvyan Bloem-which means "white flower." He came up with that all by himself! It's a pretty name for a pretty little ewe.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Please forgive the graphic photo. I do not honestly know when Anna Belle is due. I never saw her bred. But she has looked just like this for more than two weeks now. She bagged up long before Rachel even did-and Rachel always has a large bag. I cannot imagine how long she intends to wait. The weather is as mild, sunny and warm as it has been in a week.

I thought Dolce and Sian were due this coming Sunday. Now I don't really feel like I know anything about the due dates. The girls will lamb when they are ready. So far, Dolce seems unconcerned about lambing. And since I haven't even crutched her yet, I can't tell what's going on with her.

The shearer is scheduled to come tomorrow. I wanted a mid-May date, but he is going to work on a pipeline job by the first of May so I had to go earlier. The experience of not having shorn or crutched ewes this spring has been a good one. Now I have gone through all the different possibilities for lambing. I can honestly say it doesn't seem to bother the ewes or lambs to have a full fleece. But it sure is gross for me and Clancy. The wet tail thing is the worst. And it is hard to put a lamb on the teat when you can't even see anything. We crutched Rachel and Anna ahead of time because we were sure they would deliver first. But Delyth and Sian got crutched a couple hours after they lambed. It's not really any more awful of a job to do it then compared to doing it before lambing. And it really helps us when we collect colostrum.

We still haven't seen Sian nurse her lamb, but the lamb took two ounces out of a bottle with no trouble. And she was bouncing around a bit in the jug. It'll be nice when we have more confidence in Sian's mothering ability. She does have a nice milk supply to work with though. Time to have lunch with Clancy.

Another Lamb...

Sian delivered her ewe lamb this morning around 5am. At 6am I found this little gal outside running around in the freezing dawn, still half wet. Sian seemed very confused. She paid attention to the lamb, obviously, but she was nervous too-almost like she was frightened by this new thing.
I put mother and baby in a jug. Since the lamb was so strong, Clancy and I decided to get the kids on the school bus before we went back out to do all the newborn things with her. Unfortunately, when we returned to the barn, the lamb was much weaker, no more cleaned off than last time, and Sian still looked afraid of it.
So we brought the lamb in to warm up. I filled four mason jars with hot water and tucked them around her with a towel over the top. We got about two ounces of Rachel's colostrum in her and then left her to warm up. She went right to sleep with her little chin resting on a hot water bottle. She was still drowsy when we took her back out to the barn. Sian wanted her back but we haven't witnessed any nursing yet. We will work with her again at noon. I hope Sian settles down.
This ewe lamb was much hoped for: she is absolutely stunning. Sian has the best black fleece in my flock. Her lamb has uniform crimpy fleece right down to her tiny tail. And it is as silky as the sire's fleece. (Unicorn). I am sure things will get on track for mom and baby. I must admit, though, that first time mothers can be a handful. The only one I've ever dealt with prior to this spring was Zora, 3 years ago, and she was a wonderful mom from the first moment on. Sian has always been aloof, so maybe it is just her way. At least she hasn't rejected the lamb. She just seems nervous to be away from the rest of the flock-all by herself with this new creature. Wish her well.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Baby Love

Sorry no new pictures. This photo is from yesterday. Today is a dreary, rainy day and I didn't bring the camera out to the barn with me. Which turned out to be a good thing because I needed to take action as soon as I arrived...
As I walked out for the noon barn check, I noticed Anna was not with the rest of the flock. Stepping around the barn I saw a perfect white ram lamb curled up in the corner of the barn stall. He was so dry he must have been born right after morning chores. Then Anna came trotting out to barge her way into the molasses pan I was carrying. Only the one lamb?...and she was not worried about leaving him?
Stepping in to check on the two other moms I discovered Delyth's jug was missing a lamb. Her only lamb...
How that little ram escaped from his jug is beyond me. I mean I really can't imagine how he could have done it unless he meant to. And he was so unconcerned. He had went out one barn door and into the other portion of the barn and cuddled up to the slatted boards next to his mom's jug. Anna Belle was watching over him faithfully, probably with every intention of keeping him.
I returned him to Delyth and she kept moving away from him as he chased her around trying to eat. I finally just held her still and after the lamb latched on she seemed to remember who he was. I dipped his navel again and gave Delyth some Vitamin E and molasses. I also piled hay in front of the only possible crack he could have wiggled through. It must have been an accident, I thought.
A few minutes later I was in Rachel's jug loving up her and her lamby when I heard a pawing sound. There was that ram lamb trying to get out of his jug. He could see the other sheep and he intended to go exploring! He is a very bully little guy-but I am glad to say I have not seen him bash anything yet. He is willful and confident, but not a basher-thank goodness.
I took a little time this morning to assess Little Miss Hopeful. (I will probably register her as Nadin. (Scandinavian for hopeful)) She feels solid as a brick and I saw her nurse, so I know she is getting enough to eat. She also is inquisitive and bright eyed-such a relief.
I always try to spend time with my ewe lambs so they are not fearful, but Nadin wants to spend time with me. I've never had such a lovely lamb before. She blissed out on the full body massage and the ear scratches. And she leaned heavily toward whichever side I was rubbing. Just to check her balance-which has been improving-I quickly removed my hand as she was leaning a couple of times and she always caught herself and remained balanced. I am so proud of her. And I love the way she kept raising her tiny little head to my mouth so she could smell me. I am 100% smitten with this plain black ewe lamb. What a honey.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

At Last...

Little Miss Hopeful was born around 5am this morning to Rachel. I found her at 6am, mostly dried off and sprawled in the bedding unable to stand. White Muscle Disease for sure. Clancy came out to help me give her a BoSe shot and milk Rachel. She perked right up and sucked well on the bottle. But she was too wobbly to stand up. We brought her in and put her under some towels with some hot water bottles and within the hour she was trying to jump out of the tub. Hopeful also has a mighty set of lungs on her. She wanted her mama!
Rachel took her back like a good ewe and we witnessed Little Miss nursing on her own. She's still very unsteady on her legs. But she gets up and down like a lamb instead of a wet dishrag now. She pees and poops like a pro. And she doesn't want the bottle-she wants Mom. Only time will tell if this little black ewe lamb can make a full recovery. A shepherd friend that has brought thousands of lambs into this world said it could take up to a week for her to catch up. I hope she can. She is a lovey. Perfect tight crimp all the way down to her tiny tail. And Rachel's black lambs stay black-no iset. I would like to keep her in my flock if she can fully recover.
While Clancy and I rushed around this morning trying to take care of Rachel's daughter, I vaguely noticed that Delyth looked lackluster. I didn't have time to think about her-she wasn't due for a couple more days anyway. I ran to town to buy Vitamin E softgels and Delyth was missing when I got back at 12:30pm. Clancy had just come home for lunch at noon and found her out in the pasture, nervously trying to clean off her ram lamb and keep the rest of the ewe flock at bay. So he put her and the lamb in a jug. This little ram is all business. All he wants to do is eat, and he's very determined. We still treated him and his mom with BoSe and Vit E since they are likely to be very deficient too. But after all the worry of the morning it was lovely to see such vigor.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


Rachel and Anna Belle are torturing me. They are due! They are so huge. And yet they lounge in the sunshine. I swear they are waiting for better weather. It was 45 degrees and sunny today. But tomorrow it is supposed to be 59 degrees and sunny. How do they know that?
Clancy thinks I bother them so much that they are crossing their legs until I have to leave the farm. I have cut my trips to the barn down to every four hours. That's hardly bothering, in my opinion. But then again, a week ago I only visited them twice a day at feeding times.
What Clancy misinterprets as excitement for lambies is really annoyance at having to do barn checks in the middle of the night-yet again. It would be so nice to go to bed without setting the alarm for 2am.
To pass the time, I have begun using up my assorted small balls of Shetland yarn. I think I am making a hat. I won't really know for a while though. I don't read patterns yet so I just start knitting and see what happens. Eventually something starts to take form and then I get excited about guiding the project toward the finish. I know it sounds crazy. But so far I've created a beautiful scarf for a friend and a darling hat for a little girl at church. It's serendipity knitting.
I've been cleaning house and organizing clothes closets since the ski hill closed. One more trip to the Goodwill and I won't have a stitch of unnecessary clothing in the house. I truly feel liberated from a terrible bond. Being in charge of 5 people's clothes is a huge burden. Especially when everyone has too many clothes. In my enthusiasm for homekeeping, I even used some of my yarn to darn up some good wool socks. I felt so accomplished that I set off to patch some of the boys' jeans-by hand. Denim is tough and I languish. Holes at the knees are cool, right?
In true Lazy Sunday fashion, Clancy and I took a walk this afternoon. On the driveway we dug little trenches for the spring thaw to trickle toward the ditches. We got almost 20 inches of snow in the past week. School was closed Monday and Friday. The driveway was doing pretty good but it's mud again. Meggie came along for the walk and she looked like a dirty dish rag by the time we returned. She was exuberant in the mud.
Honestly, I have nothing more to write. I'm just trying to keep myself from yelling at the girls to hurry up and have their lambs. The sun is going down, the temperature is dropping. Even if they are smart enough to wait till tomorrow, I am still obligated to check on them during the night. My endurance for interrupted sleep means little to them.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Waiting on Lambs

I've never been less prepared for lambing than this spring. The CD&T shots were given just today-not 3 weeks ago like usual. Rachel and Anna Belle were just crutched this evening. I'm pretty sure they will lamb by Saturday. They are very close.
All the other years I fretted way more. Lambing is just around the corner and I feel like I should be more of a basket case by now. It's not that I don't care or that I'm confident everything will go just fine. But this year...I guess I have faith.
Faith that I will get what I need from this experience..Faith that I will love what I get...Faith that no matter how hard it is, I will learn something I need to know. Oh, and one more in my ewes...they know what to do.
This year I expect selenium deficiency problems. There might be weak lambs born here. I've prepared for it as best I can...BoSe shots ready to go...but I have to accept that this might not be an easy year. It might be another round of heartache. But I did what the vet and nutritionist told me to do. I also used my best judgement. Now I must sit back, pray, and rejoice. I'm fortunate! Some people long to be shepherds. I AM a shepherd. These are my sheep. I'm living my childhood dream. I am content.
Well, I'm not so content with the slushy ground around the farm. We had quite a bit of bare, dry ground up until the pastor dismissed us from church 10am Sunday morning. The snow came down fiercely and it just didn't stop. School was cancelled on Monday because there was 12 to 24 inches of heavy wet snow across the county and beyond. Now the ewe pen by the barn-supposedly the fresh paddock that I just moved the girls to last night-is a mess of slush and puddles. So unpleasant. The ground is too frozen to put electronet posts into, so I'm stuck with the slush until something warms up. At least the barn floor is dry and well bedded. The lambs will be fine as long as they stay in the jugs.
Well this tired farm girl is going up to sleep. Tomorrow night I think I will have to do a barn check or two so I might as well rest now and enjoy it. May all be well with you.

Sunday, April 6, 2008






Playful. (notice alfalfa cube mid-air)
Outta here.