Monday, March 31, 2014


Big-as-a barn Sarai? Still large and in charge.

Too-petite-to-look-pregnant Marta? She's a mama!!!

Meet Blaise, Marta's black gulmoget daughter (HALLELUJAH!):
Blaise was born tonight at 10:00, after 48 hours of suspicion, watching, and worry. Sadly, a stillborn black ewe lamb arrived after her, but at least Marta and I have one girl.

Oh – and the race? I'd say it was a tie. ;-)

That's it for March from . . .

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Still waiting

Perhaps Sarai intends to make me an April Fool? Getting up the last two nights to check on her, on top of other sleep disruptions, has made me a bit of a March lion. Grrrrr….

Which will pop first? Cherry buds or pregnant ewe?

That's it for today from . . .

Friday, March 28, 2014


Yesterday when I turned the ewes out during a break in the showers, Sarai went off by herself and stood under a tree, and wanted to stay out in the pasture by herself when it was time to go back in; very odd. Her gait had definitely turned to a waddle as well. Aha, I thought; she's going to lamb soon! It made sense, too; a front with heavy rain and wind was supposed to move in overnight, and big weather changes seem to precipitate birthing. I got up at 3:30 a.m. to check on her; nothing. When I took Benny his first morning bottle; nothing. (In the lambing department, that is. My Houdini horse let himself out of his stall and trashed the barn, though.) Now it's really blustery out; maybe there will be news to report later today!

Anyway, while the ewes and lambs were out yesterday, I was trapped at the barn. There was no way to go back to the house without Benny seeing me – and seeing is following. Might as well enjoy the entertainment!

The lambs slipped under the gate to investigate the chickens (who look bigger than the two-week-old twins!). Then they found their way back into the pasture, where Benny exercised his springs:

I also got in a 15-minute walk on Lance (without incident, thankfully) before the rain started again; then I put all the animals back under cover.

There has been knitting, including a mystery KAL for one of Romi's new designs (I won a free pattern and chose this one):

It's a two-color small shawl, and I would love yarn in the color of the budding lilacs for my contrasting yarn:
I am planning on using white as my contrast color, but I do have a sunny yellow skein reminiscent of this daffodil that might be pretty. Time to go dig in the stash and make a decision!
I'm hoping that's NOT it for today at . . .

Thursday, March 27, 2014


Poor Annabelle was feeling fleeced. Without wool OR fat, she had nothing to keep her warm when the weather turned damp and chilly Tuesday. What could I do to help? Wait; maybe the large, warm dog coat from our Doberman years ago would fit her!
I didn't get a photo of her in just the dog coat; I put the sheep suit over it to add a bit more insulation and full coverage since the dog coat doesn't extend to her tail head or as far down her sides. But you can see its neck extension (on the rest of the coat the patterned fleece is next-to-skin) and the broad belly band. This arrangement has made her more comfortable – and provides some protection against pointy little lambie feet!

Next I moved my ram Blake and his companion Browning into Breezy's old make-shift stall so they could dry off and stay dry for shearing on Wednesday. This made it convenient to snip a side sample from Blake to send in for micron testing; I also got samples from Marta and Sarai. All three look and feel wonderfully, spinnably soft (albeit compressed from wearing coats) – and amazingly enough, no one has spoken for either Marta's or Sarai's fleeces yet! (Browning's is still available, too.)

My shearer doubled-booked himself, so our Wednesday morning appointment shifted to Wednesday afternoon. I was hoping that would give the weather time to get a little friendlier, but it was as wet and chilly later as it was earlier. And the 10-day forecast doesn't show any change! Oh well, it shouldn't bother any of the five fatties that got defleeced.  ;-)
Above, it's Bittersweet's turn (he's more of a hot chocolate color now). I didn't take any other photos, as I was doing my best to keep up with Troy and not make him wait. I was mostly successful, too, with Brian's help!

Three of my sheep – Sarai, Bramble and Bing – proved to be pretty "sticky" yet when Troy started on their bellies, so I opted to pull them from the shearing line-up in order to maximize fleece quality. I'll scissor-shear them later, and am grateful to have the bellies done!

Now I have three fleeces to skirt, invoice, and ship; two fleeces to skirt and advertise; three sheep to scissor-shear; and two ewes to lamb. Without all her wool, petite Marta doesn't even look pregnant, but for a little developing udder that gives her away. I suspect she will have another single like Bing – but a ewe lamb this time, right?

That's it for now from . . .

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Monday in nursery rhymes

"Baa baa, black sheep; have you any room? No sir, no sir; I'm caught firm."

"Michelle had a little lamb whose fleece was white as snow, and everywhere that Michelle went that lamb was sure to go."

"Lancelot is falling down, falling down, falling down; Lancelot is falling down, my fair lady."

"All the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Lance's bridle together again."

Monday was a beautiful day, our warmest this year. I turned the ewes and lambs out on pasture for their daily dose of rich grass. For some reason, I was particularly concerned about the big coyote Brian said he saw running along our north pasture fence not too long ago; the neighbor says it's a female with pups – think "HUNGRY." After watching the sheep through the windows for awhile, I decided I could as easily keep an eye on the sheep from horseback, and went down to tack up Lance. (Rick has said he could be ridden at the walk for 15-20 minutes a day now.)

At the beginning of my ride, Benny and Jet were bopping back and forth under the gate separating their pasture from the one bordering the arena. Then Jet stopped bopping. I halted Lance to take a closer look (and a blurry photo) –

Jet was hiplocked between the gate and the post! I watched and waited, hoping he'd figure out that he could back up, but no. I sighed, dismounted, looped Lance's reins over a post, and went to rescue the silly sheep. Of course, as soon as Benny saw me, he raced to my feet and attached himself like Velcro. After disengaging Jet, I tried to evade Benny – turning back to the arena to see Lance rolling on my saddle in the sand! I raced towards him, yelling, to get him back on his feet, nearly tripping over my little white shadow. I scooped up Benny so he couldn't be trampled by human OR horse, shortened Lance's connection to the post so he wouldn't have room to roll again, and tried again to lose a lamb. Hearing something I looked towards the arena to see Lance sitting back and struggling to get free – and felt Benny bump my leg. AHHHHHHHHhhhhhhhhggggggg!!! I couldn't do a thing but watch as my beautiful bridle gave way under the tremendous strain – that, and resist the powerful urge to perform animal sacrifices on the spot!

Life on a farm is NOT laid back, at . . .

Monday, March 24, 2014

Roo, roo, roo your ewe...

...'til she's completely bare!

Yesterday was beautiful – just barely warm, absolutely still. I set up shop outside, and started relieving Annabelle of her beautiful fleece. Even with an even rise, Annabelle wasn't thrilled with the process, so I went slowly. Without her fleece, she looks, unfortunately, like a dairy cow – all bony frame and pendulous udder – and even a few black spots!
Almost finished
Done and resuited
(I feel badly for removing the wool that cushioned her from her lambs' pointy little hooves; she was shivering this morning, too.)

After rooing Annabelle, I turned the girls and lambs out for some pasture time. But it was also Benny's mealtime, so I went and warmed his bottle and brought it down to the pasture.

Even though Benny lives with the sheep and still latches on to suckle mom, albeit very briefly, he looks to people to have his belly filled. As much as I had hoped to keep this arrangement very businesslike for the sake of keeping his future options open, I'm afraid he's doomed:

Yep, doomed to be a fiber pet – which is probably is a better long-term option for a sheep anyway!

Sitting in the sunshine feeding Benny gave me a chance to get a good photo of Jet, too:
Mr. Suave is still keeping his future options open. ;-)

The future for these buds is perfuming the air with the delightful aroma of lilacs; mmmm!

That's it for today from . . .

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Beached whales, and a breakthrough

Sarai and Marta are at the uncomfortable stage of pregnancy – Sarai, especially. When she lays down, her breathing comes in grunts. When she stands up, she often has a distant, preoccupied look. She frequently uses the overturned mineral feeder to pose like a circus elephant; I'm sure doing so eases the pressure on her lungs and other organs. Friday night for the first time I noticed Marta standing on it, too.

The shearer will be here Wednesday morning, and I'm nervous about having them manhandled. I know, I know; it's done all the time, but miscarriages do occur. Sarai is looking a little ragged; I need to pull her coat off and check her for roo-ability. Last year her fleece didn't roo easily and I felt badly afterwards for persevering, but every year is different. Take Annabelle, for example! Her fleece is so loose – all over – I'm surprised it hasn't come flying off when she gives a good shake!
 No point in paying the shearer to relieve her of her fleece or having the old girl endure the shearing process; stayed tuned for rooing.

Here's the other new development:
After three and a half years living here, Annabelle has discovered the pleasures of being scratched by her shepherd! This makes the shepherd pretty happy.  :-)

Edited to add LAMBS – as promised in the last post!
I don't think the milk is going through Benny's head and out his ear to Jet!

That's it for now from . . .

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Spring: Lambless edition

Artsy-fartsy photos of flower in vase enabled by my son, who picked the daffodil for me – by shooting through its stem with the BB gun. Doesn't that just scream "adolescent boy"? Oy!

Back to lambs and sheep tomorrow, at . . .

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

If I can make it through March….

Oh, who am I kidding? Life has its challenges every month of the year; I just don't want to think about the next challenges coming down the pike. I'll just keep repeating Mark Lowry's favorite verse:

(You'll hear the verse at 1:50 in the video. Hey, watching that again just made me feel better!)

March has seen my horse sidelined with an injury just before show season starts (I'm waiting for my husband to recheck him to know if I can start riding again); me sidelined (as much as a country girl can be sidelined; ha!) with an increasingly painful knee culminating in a wrenching stumble that put me on crutches for nearly a week; the arrival of the season's first lambs from a ewe who only has enough milk for one; a week of sleep deprivation, which set me up for the worst cold I've had in years/decades; and my first screening colonoscopy (oh joy). But this, too, shall pass, and the sunny side is there for the seeing. My screening results this morning were good so I don't have to do that again for ten years (and my low blood sugar headache has got to go away eventually – right?); Mr. Brownjeans got some attention while I was indisposed;
not that he's terribly exciting at this point

Benny made it through last night just fine without an o'dark thirty feeding (and ate better for Rick than he has for me!); my knee is feeling MUCH better; I have a half a case of Costco kleenex so I shouldn't run out; we get to help a 99-year-old friend celebrate his birthday this Saturday even if I have to wear a mask (I'm making German Chocolate Cake); and next week three girlfriends and I are going to see Menopause The Musical. Oh, and thanks to Laura and Sue who stopped by yesterday, I am far better prepared to handle any future lambie emergencies (thanks so much, ladies!). Using Benny, they showed me how to pass and use a feeding tube; I fretted about "torturing" him but it didn't seem to bother him at all. He's little Mr. Sunshine himself:
That's it for today from . . .

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The sunny side of life

"Clouds and storms will, in time, pass away
The sun again will shine bright and clear
Let us greet with the song of hope each day
Tho' the moment be cloudy or fair
Let us trust in our Savior away
Who keepeth everyone in His care."

Enjoying the sunny side of life at . . .

Monday, March 17, 2014

Resurrection No. 3

We had another crash. No, not Benny – he's on the top of the world!
He's an answer to prayers, that one (although his dam may disagree!). And now we have another answer to prayers.

At the 4 a.m. feeding this morning, I was greeted by Benny, maaa-ing loudly for his bottle as soon as he saw me. But Jet stayed curled up in the straw instead of popping up to try for a teat. That surprised me; then Annabelle's actions concerned me. She was talking to him, telling him in an urgent murmur to "Get up and eat," something I hadn't heard her do since the day the lambs were born. Then she walked over and pawed at Jet. He did get up, but just stood there. I thought back to Benny's midnight feeding. I vaguely remembered Jet not nursing and thinking that for once he was full….

What could be wrong? What should I do about it? I called Rick on my cell phone, and he didn't think any immediate action needed to be taken . . . but then again he was groggy from sleep. At least Jet wasn't shivering, and his expression was still bright. I finished feeding Benny and went back to bed, praying earnestly that God would intervene in a little lamb's life once again.

There was no change in Jet at Benny's first daylight feeding. Rick tried to pass a feeding tube on Jet before leaving for his first appointment; that didn't go well. Based on his rattly breathing afterwards I was pretty sure we got some milk replacer in Jet's lungs. I spent some time swinging him vigorously, and then scrounged up some Vetrimycin 200 and gave him a sub-q shot of that. He wouldn't suck on the bottle; he wouldn't swallow any NutriDrench; he showed no interest in approaching Annabelle. There was no change at Benny's next two bottle feedings, except that I got Jet to swallow a tiny bit of NutriDrench at the second one. Swallowing seemed to be uncomfortable; his breathing had cleared up but he was shivering a little. I left him curled up in a sunbeam, thankful for the sun's assistance and praying that it would last awhile.

When we got back from Brian's violin lesson I warmed Benny's bottle and headed down, wondering what I would find.
Thank-you, Lord, for both my lambs!
That's it for today from . . .