Saturday we had a very relaxing day. Our friend Chris came over and we had some fun time with the lambs, and then just sat and chatted for awhile before going over to Hatchtown Farm‘s ram shearing late in the afternoon. That was a wonderful time, handling those gorgeous and incredibly large fleeces! Then we all went out to the Thai restaurant in town and relaxed and had a good laugh.
That night we kept our eye on Fuzzy Lumpkin as I had seen her checking out every corner of the paddock and greenhouse. She wasn’t pawing the ground, but it looked like she was setting the scene. Sunday morning I hopped out of bed at 6 or so, and headed straight up to the paddock. All the girls were milling around the feeders except for Fuzzy. She was in the greenhouse, way at the back, licking something off. I was trying to see what was going on without disturbing her, so I checked out the other pregnant ewes in the yard and then went in to see her. She was working very hard on a very small, dead ewe lamb. I doubt that she had much trouble giving birth, the lamb was only 5 pounds, and had been dead for at least a week if not more, in my opinion. Fuzzy was also pawing at the ground and had a nice waterbag out, so I started milking the goats and getting everyone else their feed. It became clear that Fuzzy was having difficulty by the time I got finished with chores and I realized there was no feet or nose presenting themselves. I couldn’t even feel a head or a butt or a tail. So I called our friend Pam and she came over and helped us get to the bottom of it. We really thought there were two front feet coming out, but then Pam saw the tail and she turned him pulled him. A beautiful, 14 lb 10 oz white ram. We spent a long time making sure he could get going and got a bellyfull of colostrum, and then Fuzzy decided it was time to have the next lamb. And that one wasn’t happening either. It was another breech boy and again! We have never seen that before. And we are very grateful that Pam isn’t lambing yet at her farm and that she had the time to come and help us out!
Both of the boys are doing well and are very sturdy rams. We couldn’t tell the difference between number 1 ram and number 2 ram so we marked one’s rear end with some iodine and then later I went out and put a dab of indelible blue magic marker on the bottom of his tail. Tomorrow we will dock and tag them and then hopefully no one will lose a tag. We are very pleased with Fuzzy’s boys. She is a great mother, just like her mother Sophie!
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.
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! The 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.
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 :*)
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!)
It was summer all of a sudden today. I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. Chloe and I got into the greenhouse mid-morning and got to work on Fuzzy’s ewe lamb and Norma’s lambs. It was so warm already that the sheep were quite warm in there and we really needed to get eartags on the babies as well as banding their tails. So we took care of that and got some great pictures of Chloe with the babies.
We gave them an hour or two to get over the eartag adventure, and then we let them out into the sunshine to join their ewe cohort on the hill. We have had 19 lambs this year, and we had a total of 12 ewe lambs and 7 ram lambs. What a great year! Even with the loss of one ewe lamb, we still have 11 ewes and 7 rams. The girls did a great job this year, yay ewes :*)
The day was so inviting that John and I decided to actually put on some decent clothes and head down to the Pemaquid Lighthouse at the bottom of our peninsula, about 10 miles down the road. It was spectacular! The tide was coming in and the waves were rough enough to make a good show on the rocks. It was a very restful and pleasant way to spend a few hours.
We are lucky to live so close to such a beautiful spot. When we got home, it was back to work with the sheep. I even got to put on a pair of shorts today!
Fuzzy’s turn today. She picked the nicest day of the year so far. John called me at work to say that she had a ewe lamb and was waiting for more. Fuzzy had triplets last year as a first-timer, so this year I guess she decided to take it easy. Her ewe lamb is gorgeous and very alert and lively. What a cutie! Chloe and Kali helped out while John babysat for our grandson and got her settled in with her new girl. When I got home I gave them a new, cleaner space, and tonight they are bedded down in the clean straw, taking it easy.
Fuzzy’s ewe is lamb #100 born on the farm, counting from the beginning. Wow! I never thought we would see that day.
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!