HoneyBea gets into the act

HoneyBea greets her lambs

HoneyBea had her lambs this evening.  A ram and a ewe, just like last year.  The ram was over 12 pounds and I think he was giving her a little bit of a hard time.  I thought we were going to have to help him out.  But she was a canny girl:  when I went back to the house to get the OB lube and towels, she popped them both out.  It’s nice not to have too late an evening.  I just checked on them and they have such full bellies that they looked like they were in a sugar coma!  HoneyBea is a fantastic mother and she makes sure to get those babies up when it’s time for a feeding.  She’s not really gentle about it, either!  They are looking good, and the ram has the white “teardrops” that show he has the blue gene.  Real beauties.

HoneyBea's ram has his first meal

Mae and Rhubarb

Mae and her boys

Mae is finally up and looking quite a bit better today.  Her ears are not drooping and she has been eating steadily all morning.  We will have to keep treating her for the milk fever, but I hope she is as on the mend as she seems to be.

We let Lupine and her gigundas lamb out this morning as well as Bonbel and her two petite twin does.  They frolicked in the sun and then each of the doelings cozied up with some lambs. That was a surprise!

Rosie's ram lambs are cozy with one of Bonbel's doelings

After I fed everyone breakfast this morning I couldn’t find Rhubarb.  She was off in the corner in labor.  So we moved her into her own pen and she proceeded to have triplets!  The last one was breach which I couldn’t see until she pretty much had her out under her own steam.  I only had to help a little.  Two white doelings and a brown buck.  She did a great job as usual.  Wow.  What a day!  And it’s only a little after noon.  First two are out and dry

Brother and sister wait for the next one
All triplets are accounted for

Coming down the homestretch

Lambs playing in the greenhouse door

It certainly has been a challenging week.  I have not had a minute to update the last few days.  The jugs continue to be full of spunky new babies.  Yesterday morning Shlomit, our second first time mom, had a single ram lamb (11.5 lbs) and then just walked away from him.  I didn’t see it happen, but I think that Persimmon interfered because she was standing over him when I got in there.   We penned the new mother with her not-so-little guy and proceeded to torture her by holding her head and making her let the lamb on for a meal.  I don’t think that she has changed her mind about him yet, so he gets his meals when she is up and busy with food.  I guess I am going to have to watch him closely to see if he gets enough milk.  She has a nice udder, so technically he should grow like hot cakes!

Then of course our old girl, Mae, is not in such great shape.  She just had to go and give us triplets.  We are treating her for milk fever and supplementing her smallest ram lamb with a bottle, but I don’t know how she will progress.  Day 2 of the treatment with calcium gluconate and propylene glycol (to give her energy, appetite, and also to replace some of the calcium that she lost making those triplets and the milk for them).  Along with vitamins I am hoping she can do enough healing to get through.  Poor girl.  She has been one of the most difficult ewes to handle through the years (she is big and strong and has taken more than one of us on a ride) but also one of the most self-reliant and hardy, and she has made us a lot of beautiful lambs.

Fuzzy thinks she is ready for the big event

This morning when I went out to feed the multitude I saw that Fuzzy Lumpkin had totally dropped and her backside was looking very droopy and pink.  As I was finishing up with feeding all the moms in the pens, giving everyone water, admiring the playful lambs and goat kids, she walked away from the feeder and lay down in the greenhouse.  So I made her get up and I penned her.  She didn’t have a waterbag out, nor did she appear to be in true labor, so I came back to the house to get things ready and get warm.  That was 9:30…  and at 10:40 I went out to check on her and she had had both her lambs!  Fuzzy's 14 pound ewe lamb #1The white ewe (14 lbs) was all cleaned off and she was working on the black ewe.  They are beauties!  No problem getting them to nurse and the black ewe had a lovely nice poop to prove that all systems were working a little while later.

Fuzzy's 12 pound ewe lamb #2

It’s nice and sunny today, so hunkering down in the greenhouse is a pretty nice place to be.  If the wind would die down it would be almost warm.

I like seeing Fuzzy and Lupine together in their jugs, side by side.  They have been best buddies since they were born and they are still two of the best mothers we have.  As for the rest of the crew,  we have HoneyBea and Kate for the still expectant ewes and Rhubarb and SnowPea for the does.  I think Rhubarb and the two ewes will birth their bunch over the weekend.  Not sure about SnowPea.  She got re-bred a few times, but her belly is sure looking big enough!  If she waits a little bit it would definitely be better for our overcrowded greenhouse :*)

More babies

Lupine's 17 pounder!

I had a really tough day with my eye, but we did have another set of triplets from Mae (who wasn’t supposed to be bred this year she is so old!) and then we had an adventure with Lupine, one of our crossbred white ewes.  John had to pull her 17 pound ewe (that may be a record for us).  Lupine had the head out before we even knew what had happened as we were busy with Mae and her boys.  When we realized what was going on we knew that the big ewe’s legs were either back or elbow-locked, but she was so big I couldn’t even reach and find a shoulder.  John finally followed one of her legs back and was able to pull it forward.  It took forever to get that beauty out, and I was afraid we had lost her, but she is doing well tonight.  The bottle boys are on the loose with the first goat kids and both of their moms.  The jugs are full and we are really hoping for a quiet night tonight!  More pictures tomorrow…

Meadow has triplets and Bonbel surprises us all

Meadow's triplets

And so it goes… I was on my way out to feed our little bottle boys on Monday evening and I found that Meadow had had her lambs (I had her penned, just in case).  Triplets!  So we have two more white rams, and an absolutely gorgeous black ewe.  I am really psyched to have a Meadow ewe lamb.  (Last year’s Meadow ewe got crushed in a ewe stampede).  As Meadow is getting older, this may be her last year.  So I am very excited!  And this ewe definitely has her father’s fleece.  Large crimp and very dark!  Wow!  Meadow is a good mama and makes sure that her babies are all getting their share of her milk, but I will have to keep my eye on them to make sure.

Today my husband called me at work to tell me that when he was going out to feed Rosie’s bottle lambs, he found our yearling doe, Bonbel, with two little white does.  They are beautiful!  She doesn’t have much of an udder on her either, so I am going to decide tonight whether or not to pull the babies in and just bottle feed them.  It’s nice to have bottle fed milkers as they are easier to handle in the future, but I love to let their mom mother them up as well.  Oh well, we shall see what happens.  If the two girls lose body temperature, I will haul them in.  And I would love to know what the deal is with the goat colors:  we get gorgeous bucks of all different patterns and colors, and all the does end up being white!

Bonbel's does

Rosie and her twins update

Rosie's boys are helping themselves to some hay!

Things are progressing along fairly well as far as lambing and kidding goes, although I have been laid up again with my eyeball problems.  My corneal abrasion has totally opened up again and I have spent the last 36 hours with the Niagara Falls of tears leaking out of my right eye, and not a lot of vision to speak of :*(    My poor eye just can’t seem to totally heal.  Big sigh!

First Bottle feeding with one of Rosie's boys (sorry about the wardrobe malfunctioning!)

After stocking up on lamb milk replacer on Sunday morning we kept checking on Rosie’s beautiful boys, but by nightfall we realized that all of their nursing on mom wasn’t getting them full tummies, so we decided to go to outsourcing.  In my experience, when lambs have bellied up to their mother’s lamb bar, it’s very difficult to get them to accept a bottle.  In fact, it’s a struggle.  And once they get onto the bottle they frequently won’t go back on their dam.  So I went out on Sunday evening expecting to have to tube the lambs with the milk replacer just to get them full enough not to lose their body temps into the night (hypothermia would mean moving them into the house).    You could have knocked me down with a feather, as they say, when they both latched right onto the bottles and their milk was drained in minutes!  One of the boys is getting a little more than his brother from Rosie, and he doesn’t always finish, but his brother is all about the bottle.  At least I know they are getting what they need: they each gained about a pound between Sunday night and Tuesday afternoon, which is really good.  And even more amazing is the fact that when they have finished their bottles, they get right back on their mom who welcomes them to her udder.  They are already nibbling on their mom’s hay!

Lambing and kidding begins

Saturday morning, after a gloriously lovely week!

Yesterday we got up to some heavy snow flurries.  That was kind of a surprise.  Grey and yucky.  But it was quickly over, and by late morning we were getting ready to run to the grocery… of course, that’s always how it begins!  I ran up to the paddock to check on everyone, and there was Pippi, cleaning off buck kid #2 :*)

Pippi's boys

The first buck kid was dry and fed, sitting on the side taking a little cat nap, and his brother was staggering around getting his bearings.  Very sweet.  The second kid is jet black, and #1 is multicolored light browns and beautiful, with a black stripe down his spine.  They are cute as buttons!  Pippi is a good mama and we got her into a pen and settled with her boys, got her a bucket of warm molasses water, gave the boys their BoSe shots, weighed them and snugged them in.  I can hardly believe that Pippi, who is 2 years old, had two 8 lb. kids in her second kidding!

Rosie and her boys

Last night we had some friends over, and so I went out to check on the girls after to find that Rosie, one of our crossbred first timers, had two white ram lambs on the ground.  (She was the only one that got bred to Willow, a crossbred white yearling.  Everyone else was bred to Lucky).  They were both fed, so we tried to get them dried off a little better, gave them their shots and found that they are both 10 lb. boys!  They knew how to belly up to the lamb bar and were warm, so we bedded them down in their own little pen, and about 1 a.m. got to bed.  Rosie is a very attentive mother, but she’s a first timer, and does not seem to have as much milk as the boys really need.  The hay we have fed out this fall and winter is second cut and very nice (and the girls have been in really excellent condition), so we did not begin feeding them grain until shearing time, which was undoubtedly later than we should have.  I hope we can help Rosie build up her resources and make more milk quickly.  Just to be on the safe side, however, I did run up to the feed store today to get a bag of lamb milk replacer.  I hate to do it, but sometimes you just can’t help it :*(

Update on oven-dyed yarn

The yarn that I dyed on Sunday is dry and as such, is much easier on the camera. Wet in the sink it made a definite reflection on the camera!  I am ready to do a test swatch on it tonight if I can stay awake long enough.  It’s been a really busy week at work as well as at home on the farm.  No lambs or kids yet… as always, we are waiting anxiously!  And if today wasn’t the most perfect of spring days, I don’t know what was.  Big sigh.  Wish I had been out in it.

One of the first skeins I dyed with 5 dyes


Second yarn I dyed with two colors. Eye popping!

Oven dyeing Sunday

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I have been trying to get to some yarn dyeing.  And I have been afraid that if I didn’t get it done before lambing and kidding that it wouldn’t happen.  (And it wouldn’t).  Our son and grandson were out for the day, so I cleared the decks and got to work.  I have been reading instructions for oven dyeing on the internet, most recently on Woolly Wormhead’s blog.  I dye my yarn on the propane lobster cooker out in the driveway, but I wanted to learn how to do this so that I could be a little more productive in the winter.  (The lobster cooker has been lost beneath the snow for quite awhile… it has re-appeared, but I really wanted to give this a try). I usually wrap my skeins in heavy-duty clear plastic wrap and steam them in “packages,” so I was not quite sure that Woolly’s instructions were for me.  I called Hatchtown Pam, and she gave me excellent instructions, so I got to work with my usual plastic wrap, but instead of just putting the yarn in the pan, I put a rack in the bottom so there would be water to help with the steaming process.

I love space-dyeing yarn.  Usually the yarn that I dye is silver or even a darker grey-brown and the colors are fairly subtle.  This time I am dyeing white handspun skeins which are destined for a very particular project.  A good friend of mine has been wanting some dyed yarn in “wild, bright colors” (direct quote).  She was then going to have someone else knit a hat for her out of the yarn.  I decided that I really wanted to do the whole project, so I have been working away on the yarn, spinning it into a worsted singles and then two-plying it.  It doesn’t have as much twist as I would want, but it’s lovely yarn.  Our girls Lupine and Fuzzy Lumpkin donated the wool last year and I have been spinning it off and on for awhile.  The two girls are best buddies, so I thought it would be fun to use their yarn for my friend.  Corny, but fun.  Fuzzy and Lupine are crossbred Border Leicester/Coopworths and they have spectacular long, lustrous locks.  Lots of fun to spin.  Beautiful  yarn!

The two batches of yarn are wearing two different color series.  The first two skeins were dyed with 5 colors, the second two skeins were dyed with two, with a very tiny touch of a third color.  Each batch stayed in a 350F oven for 20 minutes.  When I took the first two packages out, I kept them in the plastic wrap and just put them into the sink to cool as slowly as possible.  The second two came out and I just left them in the pan until they were almost cold to the touch.  I rinsed them with some warm water and a little bit of Dawn detergent, and then rinsed them until the water was clear, as I always do.  Then I put them in one last pan of water with some white vinegar for the final rinse.  They are drying now.  When I re-skein them I will decide which colorway to use for the gift :*)  I am looking forward to knitting with these colors!

(Fuzzy Lumpkin and Lupine are in the last picture.  They are definitely BFFs!)

Mountain of poo and more shearing

We can see most of the compost pile and a good part of the driveway now!

Another beautiful day.  It’s been getting steadily warmer and the snow is actually retreating dramatically now.  The mud that’s left underneath is tricky, as there is still a pretty thick layer of ice under that, so I am afraid of hitting a patch and falling.  Which of course is what I did this morning while I was out feeding the hungry, hungry ewes.  They mobbed me (a yellow bucket must mean goodies in the form of grain) and it just took a little push for me to lose my footing on the ice under the muddy mess, and I was down.  It happened in slow motion, as all the sheepie bodies kind of cushioned my fall a bit, but my hip ended up in one of the portable hard plastic troughs, and a few advil later, I am stiff and sore.  A new approach is definitely needed.  I may have to close the greenhouse up, put the feed in there, and then open the gate for them.  That might be a bit safer all around :*)

But the day was incredibly spectacular, and we were off to another friend’s shearing, so how bad could the day be?  We got to run our fingers through the beautiful fleeces of the Bridge Farm sheep.  Romney/CVM/Columbia crosses for the most part.

Emily shears at Bridge Farm in Dresden, Maine

Really very different than our sheep.  It’s nice to experience raw fleeces from different breeds, and their fleeces are beautiful.  And a perk to going there is that I get to visit with one of the rams that used to make nice babies for us, Mr. Big, as well as some of the goaties that now live at Bridge Farm (who came from our farm).  One of the does had her first kids yesterday, two gorgeous little doelings, so I got to have a peek at them as well.  Elf, the older of the two does, looked like she was getting into the labor mode, but she refused to get her babies to make an appearance before we had to leave.  It was truly a lovely day.  Got to meet new people as well as spend some time with Kathy and Bob, Erin, Mike, Amara and the new baby Anya!

I got back this afternoon around 3:30 and decided to do chores early, so I could take my time and enjoy the sun as well as the sheep.  I had a peek around at all the expectant moms’ hind ends, and then looked over to the side of the paddock and saw the mountain of llama poo!  It always surprises me that Zorro the llama knows where his favorite bathroom spot is, even when there is snow covering it.

Gold mine of llama poo

It’s a gold mine.  We use it on our asparagus as well as in the holes of most of our tomato plants.  There is no reason not to get a good garden growing this year…  between the compost in our piles and the llama piles in the paddocks, I don’t think we can go wrong.  I think I officially have spring fever!