Weather Obsessed

People make fun of me because I am really fixated on the weather. I have multiple  favorite internet weather sites on my browser bar set for 1 click viewing (don’t you just love the hour-by-hour breakdowns???), and I also have to admit that my biggest reason for even wanting to own a t.v. is that I love the local 5-7 a.m. news, particularly the weather report. It’s so much more area-specific than anything you can find elsewhere, even on the internet. I love knowing what Kevin Mannix has to say about our little part of the world, mid-coast Maine, because it’s usually pretty accurate! And let’s face it, my comfort is driven by the weather these days. If I go out to do chores at 5 a.m. dressed incorrectly, I pay for it in a big way. Once I am outside I usually push through no matter what, but being under-dressed or over-dressed is just a misery! And now that the black flies and mosquitoes have made their appearance, the challenge is that much greater. How to keep yourself covered without dying of the heat, now that’s a conundrum for the next few months!

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Broilers Have Landed!

Getting used to our new digs
Getting used to our new digs

The arrival may not have been at an airport with lots of people waving signs, but we look forward to this day with anticipation all year. Yay! And it’s been the perfect week to get them started, not too hot and not too cold. Those cute little yellow fuzzballs are enjoying their new home in the back of one of our greenhouses, pecking around and having some fun.  I bet they are glad to be out of that old delivery box!

We really enjoy watching these guys grow. It’s amazing to compare their growth with that of laying hens… no comparison! The Cornish X breed is definitely wired differently and it’s nice to know that they will be here and gone in 8 or 9 weeks total. It’s kind of like the pig thing: because we are not breeding them, we don’t have to worry about overwintering, feeding in the snow and bad weather, etc. They come, we enjoy them and their antics, they provide lots of good fertilizer, and then they provide us (and quite a few others) with a year’s great eating. Love it!

Once they get feathered out we will be able to let them run around behind the greenhouse in the grass and scrub, under the maple trees. Summer is coming, I can feel it :* )

Hamish the Lamb

Hamish has a rest in his favorite spot
Hamish has a rest in his favorite spot

The lambs are growing incredibly fast and having a great time playing follow-the-leader and Red Rover in the paddock.  Hamish, one of Kate’s boys, finds a congenial spot for a rest after a frolic with his friends.

Hamish and his brother Macbeth (named after one of my favorite literary detectives created by M.C. Beaton) are two of my favorite lambs.  They not only have a lot of personality, but their fleece type is so typically Coopworth that I can’t decide which one I might want to keep (if they continue growing well and looking as good as they do right now! ).   Oh the decisions!!

In the meantime, I will just spend as much time in the paddock as I can and enjoy the lambie antics!

Babies everywhere!

It’s been awhile since I have posted. I am listening to the rain pour down on the metal roof and the thunder and lightning are quite entertaining! The last few weeks have been totally insane. We had our final lambs two weeks ago today. Fuzzy Lumpkin had triplets as a first time mom and we lost the first one who was a breach… long story, difficult birthing. He was a ram lamb and quite small. The other two are a white ram and a black ewe. Beautiful! The white ram got his bottom jaw caught around his mother’s pelvic bone and it was very swollen, but he is fine now. It took 3 of us to get those poor lambs sorted, but they are doing well. We have been calling the white ram Willow, and his sister

Raven's boy Twig checks out Zoola
Raven's boy Twig checks out Zoola

Zoola :* ) We thought we were going to have to bottle feed Willow

Willow, Fuzzy's ram lamb
Willow, Fuzzy's ram lamb

but he is a fighter and Fuzzy is a great mom, just like Sophie!

We also have been waiting for our grandson to make his entrance.

Our grandson!
Our grandson!

He was born on the Monday after the last lambs, and is a gorgeous baby. 8.5 lbs and very laid back. His sister Abbie is thrilled with him (so far) and we are enjoying him immensely. It’s been a very emotional couple of weeks, exhausting but wonderful. I can’t believe our youngest son is a father. Time is really flying!

Our grandchildren
Our grandchildren

In the meantime the Maryland Sheep and Wool show took place and our American Coopworth Registry was there with a cooperative members’ booth, rain and all. They did great! It’s always an exciting show and a great time for members to meet up with each other.

Raven’s Morning Boy

Finally!  Raven's ram arrives to a sunny morning
Finally! Raven's ram arrives to a sunny morning

With only two more ewes to go we have doggedly continued the lamb watch… each night I try to keep myself up past 11 p.m. so that I can go out and make sure no one is in labor. Last night I waited until one of the hard rain showers had passed and headed up to the greenhouse to check. Everyone but Zorro the llama was inside under cover (Zorro doesn’t like being where he can’t see what’s going on, being a good guard animal). What a coup! I very sneakily pulled a green panel across the opening and locked them all in for the night. But before I left the paddock, I thought I should make sure that none of the lambs had gotten locked out and began to make a pass up on the hill with the flashlight, hoping that I would be able to pick out any stray black lambs. What I picked out wasn’t a lamb, it was Raven! She was on the other side of the upper feeder, just standing there looking uncomfortable. Nothing really new, but since everyone else was inside I wanted to make sure that she joined them. A handful of grain and a halter in my pocket did the trick and she went in with the group. I stayed for awhile and watched, but all was calm and Raven didn’t look like anything was going on. Sigh! I went off thankfully to bed and my husband went out to check around 3:30 or 4 a.m. and came right back in… nothing going on.

Being school vacation, I have been getting out to chores a little later in the morning than usual, and I didn’t really get a move-on too quickly this morning. I’m not used to these late hours! Went out about 8:15 and the girls were still locked in and at a glance I didn’t see anything going on, so I did my usual routine, which means giving the big boy group their hay first, or Jingle the donkey goes nuts and hee-haws so loud it could burst an eardrum. I walked into the back of the ewe’s greenhouse to put some hay out for the goat moms and across the expanse I saw a ewe licking off a little wet head. Yay! A group of older lambs were very intent on the new little one, standing around Raven and her baby in a semi-circle… wish I could have gotten a picture of that! I took a closer look to make sure everything seemed to be going well and it was. I think I was giving the boys their hay when she had her lamb and I missed it! She’s never liked an audience of humans, and she made sure my back was turned :*) I had to run up to the house to call our friend Chloe, as Raven is her sheep. What a thrilling morning. While Chloe guarded Raven and her rammie boy, Kali and I undid the green panel and let the stampede of hungry ewes out into the paddock. Phew! I didn’t want the new baby to get trampled. We jugged them and our boy got almost right down to business with his breakfast. All in all, a very wonderful morning!

Playtime @ the Rock

Lambs at play
Lambs have a break from play

So it finally stopped raining and it’s playtime! The big rock is again the center of activity in our winter paddock. The five oldest lambs are taking a break from their run-and-chase-game to find out what I am doing… their mothers are busy at the feeder, and the youngest two lambs are hanging in the greenhouse. They will get with the program soon!

Zach the Ram Lives On!

I finally think that we will have a few days’ break from lambing now. After last Sunday’s early morning twins we had an early flurry… seven lambs so far. 4 rams and 3 ewes.

My happiest moment came early on Tuesday morning when I arrived in the greenhouse at 5 a.m. to do chores and found that our first time mom, Lupine (a white Border Leicester X Coopworth cross) was lying with an enormous, black, wet and slimy ewe lamb behind her. She looked all done in, and hadn’t gotten up yet. I think I just missed the delivery, which was probably a good thing since I think it must have been a doozy. The ewe lamb had bloodshot eyes, which means that she was really tightly squeezed for a long time on her way out. For a 15 pound lamb with tall goofy legs, she got up and going remarkably well. Once I realized that she was going to be o.k., we tried to get her nursing. Jugged and snuggling with her mama, I did all my other chores and got back to find that she still wasn’t nursing yet. It was already an hour and a half after her birth and I was beginning to get anxious… about ready to tube her when we got her onto the teat and full. It’s always a very anxious time for me, since I do have to go off to work and do not like to leave before I know everything is proceeding normally.

I was worried enough about her that when I went off to work I asked our friend Pam from Hatchtown Farm to look in on Lupine and her girl.

Rosie with her milky mouth
Rosie with her milky mouth

She’s a very special ewe: her father is a black Border Leicester ram named Zach that I no longer have (story for another day) and I was afraid that none of the girls he bred would actually have lambs from him. (They were all re-bred by the Coopworth ram). But Lupine came through, with a ewe lamb at that! Phew! We have named her Rosie. And she is gorgeous :* )

Lambs at Last!

We had a wonderful day over at Hatchtown Farm’s shearing yesterday. It was a disappointing day since the sun never did come out and it was a bit misty, but the barn was dry and full of great people visiting and helping out! Emily the shearer put in a long day and Pam fed us a great meal :* ) And the fleeces are totally gorgeous!

I went home planning to get a really full night’s sleep, but Norma had other plans… it’s always the way! She looked quite uncomfortable at 10 o’clock

Norma warms up!
Norma warms up!

when I checked on her, and John came in after the 1:30 check to tell me that she “had a bag out!” The first signs that labor has progressed to the point of imminent arrivals, a sac of water makes an appearance and kind of hangs there on a ropey cord. Our friend Kali has been excited about the lambing so she joined us in the peanut gallery as well. We began the vigil and Norma did her pacing and her pushing for the better part of an hour.

It’s always very exciting to see two little hooves emerge with a black nose on top, and ordinarily things move along fairly smoothly at this point. Norma worked, and worked, and got nowhere. I really don’t like interfering with this process, but she lay down and appeared to give up so I gave a little inspection and found that both feet were there, but the head was so huge it just wouldn’t go any farther. I made sure the feet were out there and just got the head a little bit forward and she stood up and took care of the rest. It’s always startling to see the head emerging with a tongue lolling out the side, but he did, and arrived with a 13.5 lb. thunk at 2:55!

Norma cleans off her ram
Norma cleans off her ram

Norma went to work again, cleaning him off and pawing him to get up and belly up to the milk bar. He took some time getting onto those 4 long legs, but once he realized what was waiting for him he really got moving.

Norma is a great mother and she really takes time with her lambs. I was convinced that this ram was a single; she was expelling what looked like the beginning of the afterbirth and we all sighed and admired the beautiful silver ram, wished there were twins in the offing (with a ewe included!), dipped his navel in the iodine and prepared to get back to bed. But Norma was becoming frantic with her baby, pushing him to nurse more and more… and then we realized she was having more contractions and she wasn’t delivering the placenta: it was another lamb!

Waiting for the arrival of his sister!
Waiting for the arrival of his sister!

An hour after the ram lamb arrived, she had an 11.5 lb. black ewe lamb. She popped out with a good wail and was up very quickly. Yay Norma! Way to go :* )

We finally got a few hours of sleep, and when I got back out to do chores this morning, this is what I got to enjoy: Norma cuddled up with her babes… both with milky mouths!

The morning after!
The morning after!

Will She, or Won’t She???

It’s amazing me that Norma is still able to get around. She looks like she’s ready to blow! We calculated her due date at the 147-average mark which made her due date this past Wednesday. But she normally has her lambs on about the 150th day. Could be tonight :* ) Think I will head out and put her into the larger jug now.

Norma is on the ragged edge!
Norma is on the ragged edge!

Norma’s babies have dropped in the past 12 hours as we can see on her right side. She has to be close! She keeps flaring her nostrils and grinding her teeth when I stand near her… I think she thinks it’s about time!

She's ready!
She's ready!

Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!