Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spring = happiness!

Miss Hannah happy to be out in the pasture
Pink not happy about being at Ag Field Day
First blooming flowers at the farm
These sheep like their green pastures so much they turn their nose up at hay now

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Feeding Time

Hampshire Ewe Lamb
Hampshire Ram Lambs
Growing Like a Dandelion
Feeding Time

The Peeps Have Arrived!

Oh my goodness gracious are these little guys cute! They arrived at our post office on Sunday and I could hear them as soon as I walked in.  They peep a lot when they're cold and who could blame them? 

My son raises all 125 for 8 weeks and then we sell them and people eat them and it's the best chicken I've ever tasted!  From here on out they will grow so fast their feathers can't keep up with them and they look a bit naked at times.  They eat a lot and poop a lot too.  It's a hard work keeping them happy but it's worth every bite.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Almost Done Lambing

Last week, 9015 delivered a single ram lamb all on her own. He's had a difficult time finding the mother's teet to nurse so they spent a few extra days in the lambing pen. Then #14 delivered a single ewe lamb last night just before feeding. I found the lamb and the mother in the back stall near the creep pen. It was also past Ned's feeding time which thoroughly confused #14. He was right in the middle of the three of us bleating for attention. I attempted to lure the mother to a pen by carrying her ewe lamb, but Ned was underfoot and the ewe lost interest part way there.  After a few attempts, I opted to just created a pen with the panels against the wall. 

We had an opportunity to visit the neighbor's Dorset lambs. They were easy to photograph and the lighting was great in their old red barn. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Good News, Bad News

It was a busy weekend, two sets of triplets and a set of twins had arrived. Unfortunately all three ewes are raising one lamb a piece. We lost four lambs in 48 hours and frustration was setting in on both of us. Monday we found #140, "Curl" as I like to call her because she has a curled ear, who was raising two of her triplets after losing one after birth (Her mothering skills are in question looking back at her track record)had stepped on the back legs of one lamb. It was unable to stand even after splinting so it was moved into our heated tack room. Then #5, who was the most recent ewe to deliver, only had half an udder and one of her lambs appeared to go downhill later in the day showing symptoms of lethargy and a cold mouth so it was moved inside too. #4's triplets seemed to be doing well until...Tuesday morning. Upon hearing this after S. had done the feeding, I spent the day trying to save them but in the end it was all for nothing. They died that night. 
S. spent some time reading up on this issue that appeared to be plaguing our lambs. During the cold spell over half of this years lambs were born and not one died! Now with the temperature in the 30's and 40's, we were losing lambs right and left. As it turns out, with the warmer weather bacteria was the culprit. We learned how to prevent it and now we know how to prevent this from happening again. I call it learning the hard way through trial and error. Some might ask why not go to the vet and we have done that in the past only to find inconclusive answers after the cost of time, transportation and vet bills to receive very little information.  Most shepherds network whether it be on the phone or online but they have better luck finding the information they need and save money. I'm headed back to the barn to check on a the latest newborn and feed Ned.
The good news is my sister received her socks AND she wears them! Unlike my other sister who I knitted socks for who LOOKS at her socks!!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Rooster

Friday afternoon, Ewe #26 delivered twins, a ram and ewe.  All went smoothly and they were released from their pen today to live with the big group of mothers and lambs. 
Saturday afternoon, #4, a Piglet daughter, had triplets which is unusual for the first pregnancy. #4 is a huge, deep bodied ewe and when you look into her eyes it's like looking into the eyes of an elephant.  She has excellent milk production and mothering capabilities like her mother (#133) and aunt (#134). However, this was a challenging first time delivery with lambs 2 & 3 breech.  This ewe was so good to her lambs constantly talking to them as I milked her with my handpump. We tube each new born lamb with 6 oz. of colostrum to warm them up and help start the milk flowing.
After everyone was fed, S. returned to the house to start dinner. J., our son, was out in front of the barn working on his trailer. As I was tubing the last of the three triplets, I noticed the lamb that was born the day before was watching the Rooster just outside the pen. Turns out the Rooster was watching him too, and before you know it all calamity breaks loose. Somehow the lamb stepped up into the tray feeder and the Rooster is aggressively attacking the lamb trying to spur him with his claws! I start yelling, "j.,J.,J.!!!" who hears nothing. I can hardly move with this newborn lamb on my lap with a full tube of milk draining into his tummy. The lamb under attack now has his wedged between a loose board from the feeder and the railing. So I pinch the tube and pull it out dumping milk all over. By this time, the Rooster has now entered the pen and the mother is circling him trying to protect her lambs. I'm still yelling for J. with no response. I climb out of one pen and into the next to get the Rooster who flies out. I lift the board off the lambs neck and return him gently to his mother.
Now mind you, it's hard for me to put any animal down but at this point the Rooster was asking for it and it was "NOT his lucky day". I took a few steps toward him sitting on the feeder and caught his back leg as he was flying off. He's flapping his wings hanging upside down and I attempted to ring him by the neck but I have no experience with this. I gave him a good smack and a spin like a State Fair ride and let him fly. Needless to say in 15 minutes, he was hiding behind the chicken pen. I believe that was his 5th offense attacking another animal. I'm not sure he has too many chances left. Free Rooster, any takers?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Weaving Woolen Yarns

Yesterday I started my first Zapotec weaving since attending a workshop 6 years ago in Mexcio with my sister.  It seems like only last year that we met in Oaxaca and traveled to the village of Teotitlan to learn to how to weave and dye with natural dyes.  Master Weaver and Dyer Demetrio Bautista Lazo hosted my sister and I for the 10 day workshop in his home (or what Americans might call a Bed and Breakfast).  We enjoyed a week of delicious meals made by Maribel, Demetrio's wife, collecting moss, chamomile and tree bark for natural dying, visiting local markets, and weaving -the best part!

The two yellow yarns in my weaving were dyed in Mexico from Bejuco, a parasitic moss native to Oaxaca and Chamomile (Wild Tarragon) also native to Oaxaca. The brown yarns are from our colored Angora goats blended with natural colored wool fleeces from an Indiana sheep farmer.

Ned, the lamb is doing great by the way.  He's adjusting to being a lamb in a barn again and hanging out with his other bigger friends in the creep pen.  He has a hearty appetite and he's always vocal when he hears a human voice.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Back to the Barn

This is Ned the lamb.  He was born two weeks ago on one of the coldest nights of the winter.  His mother #4243, we call most of our sheep by their number, delivered triplet lambs on her own. Since Ned was the smallest, we elected to raise him on a bottle so his mother could raise his brother and sister. It's a stretch for her to raise all three although she has done it before. 
After two days, Ned went to live with E. in town. She took in a baby goat a few years ago and was itching for a bottle lamb. So Ned has been living the high life few of our lambs know about. His mother, E., has bathed, fed and snuggled him. She even knitted clothing for him and posted his photo on Facebook. He's quite the star...until last night when we took him back to the barn to live with the rest of the lambs. As we drove home, he let out the most pitiful cries for E. Thank you for taking such good care of Ned,E.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New Adventures

Attempting to capture life on the prairie from a farmgirl's perspective. Life is constantly changing on the farm just like the weather in Indiana. Currently, 26 lambs have been born this winter out of 28 ewes. We lost one brood ewe recently after giving birth to a large lamb. The snow has melted and our temperatures hover at 32 degrees. We have six ewes left to lamb and there is plenty of hay in the barn until the grass starts to grow again. The seeds have arrived for this year's garden. The planting has been plotted out. 
I'm starting on my second weaving project since I purchased a used loom in December. I've learned to warp my loom in weaving class and I'm ready to start my first Zapotec weaving since my workshop in Mexico 6 years ago. Hope I can remember all those patterns.