Thursday, April 25, 2024

A flood of five

Five lambs, that is, and lots of photos in an ongoing effort to get better ones!

Tuesday all the ewes and lambs got turned out on pasture together for the first time. Bethany's hind legs had stabilized, the novelty of tiny new flock members had worn off,  and it was warm and sunny. I sat down in the pasture to get pictures of the youngest lambs, which in turn attracted the attention of former 'supplemental bottle babies' Bridget and Bauble. Shepherding doesn't get much better than this!
Can you spot all five lambs?

The older lambs have reached that stage of independence that prompts slipping under the gate to explore, much to their mothers' distress. Bud and Blossom were first intrigued by Chuckie, then by the deck mower. This time, Bitsy watched from the right side of the gate, but she's done her share of 'skipping class.'

My pastures overfloweth; I will have get serious about compiling a sales list. Yes, I'd like to keep them ALL, but don't have the space or pasture for that.

I have been busy skirting reserved fleeces so they can be sent off. I have been disappointed to varying degrees in the professionally sheared fleeces; at least one of them may not be salable. This is why it is so hard to give up the backbreaking effort of harvesting fleeces myself; when I'm done, I know I have a premium product to offer. The jury is still out on whether I will hire a shearer again, or upgrade my equipment.

Even though lambs and fleeces are taking center stage right now, there are other characters, bookended by morning views from our deck:

there was only ONE egg after this four-hen traffic jam 🙄

like beautiful Energizer bunnies

Poppy got to play with her sister Penny twice in one week!

Penny's people gave us a bunch of the most wonderful asparagus; half of it went into this dish

That's it for now from . . .

Friday, April 19, 2024

The tortoise and the hare

That would be Broadway and Pony Jacobson, my last ewe to lamb and the shearer who was here Wednesday evening. One has been a watched pot for weeks; the other showed up early, worked quickly and efficiently, and was gone again before I would have managed to shear half of a sheep.

Shearing went like clockwork. The seven candidates were shut in for the day so they could be held off food and water (for comfort's sake). Just before Pony arrived I removed coats; while he was setting up in the barn aisle I caught and haltered the three boys so I could lead/drag them to the shearing station in turn without delay, followed by the girls. While he was shearing I wrote names on bags, then swapped a freshly shorn sheep for a woolly one. After Pony left I caught all seven again to put coats back on, so by the end I was pooped, but well satisfied with how quickly and smoothly it all went. Pony even brought his own help, although they weren't needed here. Here are the few photos I managed to take.

Helper #1
Helper #2 (the apprentice)
the three Musketeers, checking out their old coats

Thursday morning I turned out the girls, but Broadway hung around the gate and promptly went back into the fold by herself when I opened the gate for her. My ewes only do that when they are ready to deliver, so I was hopeful even though she still hadn't dropped through the flanks. But if I thought she'd get on with it so I could go to work and then agility class and a stop at Costco, I was soon corrected. I stayed close to home, checking in on my 'watched pot' every hour or two. She was where she wanted to be, but beyond that, not much happened. Eventually she laid down and pushed occasionally but without conviction, distress, or progress. I fretted; Broadway was, after all, my C-section lamb. When Rick finally got home well after dark, he gloved up (I was out of gloves at home) and checked to see if her cervix was dilated. It was (whew, so not ring womb then), so after a bit of discussion, we decided to give her an injection of the type of steroid lambs produce to stimulate birth when they are ready to be delivered. I checked on her one more time before falling into bed around 11:30, praying for the safety of my pretty ewe and her unborn babes.

I awoke around 2:15 and decided to check on Broadway again. She was busily cleaning up a dark lamb on the ground, with little hooves presenting under her tail. Relieved, I watched the miraculous process of newly minted mother bonding with a lamb that transformed before my eyes from helpless to teat-seeking quadruped. Not wanting to leave until lamb #2 was safely delivered and similarly transformed, I checked things out. The projecting hooves were upside down, no nose visible. I ran my fingers up the legs, feeling for knees or hocks. I found hocks – the lamb was coming hind legs first; time to intervene! I pulled gently but steadily, meeting significant resistance before getting the butt clear; the rest of the lamb came easily then. Given the amount of meconium staining, I was glad I acted when I did, but was concerned that I had done some damage because of the lamb's unstable hind limb joints. But even with them bending every which way, lamb #2 determinedly found its way to food, too. Two Ag grey ewe lambs and a very careful and attentive Broadway; wonderful answers to my prayers! I decided they needed Bible names, and after a few more hours of sleep and a little internet research, I settled on Bernice (darker) and Bethany (with the cloudy coat).

Sunday would have been 145 days from when I separated the breeding groups, so Broadway almost evaded getting bred – almost.

That's it for shearing and lambing this year at . . .

Monday, April 15, 2024


I've been trying to start a new post for days, but Blogger wasn't having it. Last night it decided to work; go figure.

Not that I was going to actually post again until Broadway lambed, but she continues to waddle around grazing with the rest of the girls, carrying her load high and wide with no sign of the drop of impending birth. Thursday night I thought (hoped) she was acting suspicious in spite of her looks, so Brian helped me fashion a dividing wall in the Sheep Sheraton so she could be safely sequestered. Bridget has been her frequent attendant (as she was with Boop) and I was concerned that she might try to steal a lamb(s) and precipitate confusion or rejection by Broadway. No dice, but at least things are ready.
Bridget 'attending' Broadway

Bridget 'attending' Brian

The two ewes with lambs are still sharing the divided barn stall at night; Blaise and Bitsy go out with the other girls during the day although they aren't that comfortable doing it and mostly stay off by themselves. Blossom and Bud are doing well in spite of Boop; she has not relaxed into the roll of motherhood yet. She definitely prefers Blossom, frequently butting Bud away. Sometimes I hold the witch Boop so Bud can nurse his fill, worried that he isn't getting enough; other times I see her letting both of them nurse. I'd love to get them outside to take better, updated photos, but I think Boop would be a poop....
an uncommonly integrated flock

this is more typical
these three photos were taken Thursday

My research into improving my shearing situation next year brought unexpected results: a professional shearer is coming Wednesday evening to finish shearing my flock! If I am happy with the results, I will continue to use him; if not, I'll likely order an adjustable shearing stand to make shearing easier for me.

Yesterday morning I had a good session with Stella. We warmed up and schooled in the arena, and then headed into the woods in search of my favorite spring flower, wild iris. When we got back I rinsed the sweat off her and turned both horses out for a timed grazing period.
beauty underneath and all around

How this tulip end up along a track in the woods among nettles?
lots of yellow; Oregon grape and Scotch broom
no iris yet, but there was a big patch of this blue flowering plant
Finally, my quest was rewarded! Couldn't get closer because of poison oak.
these were growing in the middle of our path

That's it for now from . . .