Friday, March 25, 2011

Catching up ... again

Once again I suffered from blogunattentionitis. A truly serious disease where one forgets to do blog posts on a regular basis. This tends to happen to me over the winter. Anyone else have this horrible affliction which not only has the unintentional disadvantage of making others kept in the dark about farm happenings?

Many things have happened and so once again, into the breech to fill in the happenings on the farm.

November started breeding season for us. A tad later than normal, but what's one week among friends? I kept my breeding groups notoriously small to try to keep an eye on our flock numbers. Here's the rundown of the breeding groups:

SheltrgPines Uber (shown above enjoying a lovely pumpkin thanks to Riverview Farm) was given three lovely ladies: LaughingRiver Rosemary, Contented Darby, and Contented Helle

Contented Fimtan (being ever so gentlemanly and sharing his pumpkin with Mildri) was given four lovely ladies: Contented Brisingamen, Contented Rotinn, Contented Mildri and Contented Thyme.

December came and Brisingamen was still in the breeding group but acting very funky and looking bloated. So, out she was pulled and put in with last years lambs. I consulted the vet via the phone and we gave her some therabloat, because we were thinking it was a frothy bloat. She responded well and so we kept her with the lambs; her breeding group having come to a premature end.

Since the sheep were starting to get fuzzy looking, we called the shearer, Gwen Hinman, to schedule a time to shear. We picked an early January day that surprisingly was nice and not freezing! We, and when I say that I mean she, sheared a total of 33 sheep (four from Missing Mountain Farm aka the Rice family). First on deck was Sabrina shown below.
Then we continue down the color continuum from light to dark until we're done.

The lower picture you can see Gwen getting ready to shear one of our smallest sheep, Contented Ingrid (from Underhill Mulan and Underhill Bach). Got to love those tiny Underhill sheep! Although, I'm sure she was cursing them under her breath!

Here's a better shot of more of the gang working away. It was funny because we had a 4 year old who when he saw that a sheep had been nicked kept saying that she sheep had and owwie. Gwen, jokingly said "That kid has got to go!" After that, they left because he was getting bored, she didn't see them go and got concerned that they took her seriously!
All shearing pictures are courtesy of Missing Mountain Farm, specifically Pam Rice. Thanks a bunch for sharing them with me.

Once all the sheep were sheared, I noticed that Brisingamen (the one pulled early from the breeding group) looked fairly skinny. I made a mental note to start supplementing her with extra feed. Unfortunately, within five days she was looking extremely bloated again and was down, not wanting to get up. Once again we sequestered her and tried to get her back on track again with another therabloat dose. The next day, she was still down, so we called our vet. They came out to look at her and said that something more was wrong since she was trying to bring up a cud and when she couldn't she would grind her teeth. I opted for euthanasia since she was "on the chopping block" since lambing last year. Her lamb last year lasted for a few days and then with no warning died. We were re-breeding her to see if this was a chronic issue with her. We necropsied her and found that her rumen was 3 times the normal size. All other organs looked normal. Once everything else was examined, the rumen was opened and we found it was full of dry foodstuffs. There was no liquid in there, nor the fiber mat that separates the liquid from the dry. It seems as if she lost her bacteria a while ago and I never noticed. Some of the contents included pumpkin seeds that we had stopped feeding about a month prior. She had approximately 20 pounds of food in her stomach and was essentially starving to death. On top of it all, when necropsied, the vet noticed that she had become pregnant (with how many I didn't want to know). More than likely, had I decided to try to fix her, the fetus would have been reabsorbed to concentrate her energy on living. That day I felt like a failure.

Nothing new with the sheep, but the chickens were slowly starting to lay more eggs. We also received our seed order from FEDCO seeds, so thoughts of spring were abound!

Now we're more or less up to date. The ewes that took are looking nice and pregnant. There's at least one that has twins in her as she's looking very saddlebaggy. The black pussy willow is out and crocus are trying to peek their heads out of the snow. The promise of spring is coming!