Another week in the life. It’s getting warmer, slowly, and of course that means MUD! That will be the new complaint flavor of the day from now until June, I am sure.
I do feel as though we are ready for the goat kids. My birthing kit is waiting on the table with the clean towels, the molasses is at hand, and the clean jug in the greenhouse is all set. The waiting is truly the most difficult part. Waiting and watching those goatie bellies and woo woos morning, noon, afternoon and night for the signs of impending labor.
We have also sold our breeding sheep and are trying to make a date with the buyers for the pickup. It’s definitely one of those ‘my schedule doesn’t correspond at all’ with theirs. We are all so busy, it’s a little crazy. As much as I am going to miss those wonderful girls, it’s time to make more room for the goats :*) We are poised to streamline how things work on the farm and I am really looking forward to it! But for now, we wait.
It was a balmy 6F this morning when I went out to feed the hungry crowd (and it got up into the high 20s by this afternoon). It really did feel warm compared to the past few days, and it was good to get the girls fed out of the greenhouse. They have been cooped up and crunched in together, which the ewes do not normally tolerate. If the wind and the temperatures had not been so extreme, the ewes would not have taken shelter inside. And I have been very grateful that they have been. I hate to worry about pneumonia in the flock.
This morning everyone was out and about. Even after all the hay was out on the clean snow, 3 of the girls were having none of it. They were very concerned about re-negotiating who is the queen of the paddock (they can worry about this all they want, the goats are really the ones in control!). Esther and HoneyBea were the two biggest contenders, and Fern, the one and only white sheep, kept putting her two cents in as well. There was shoving from behind, and head butting galore. Every time they separated there was a lot of pawing at the ground to indicate their displeasure with the outcome of their negotiations! By the time I stopped taking video, they all just shrugged and found some hay and gave it up. This afternoon everyone was fine, all were lined up as usual at the feeder for grain, and each ewe and doe found their place at the flakes of hay like clockwork. You just never know. 7 ewes and 4 does in the paddock have their issues from time to time!
Tomorrow brings us 40 degree temperatures with heavy rain, and then by tomorrow night we are supposedly going into the deep freeze. Hopefully the YakTrax on my boots will keep my upright. Fingers crossed :*) I can hardly wait.
HoneyBea and her boy are doing well. The little guy had to have his left lower eyelid clipped because it was turned under, which was irritating his cornea. Luckily it’s not a difficult fix if it’s caught early. So Little Bertie is now hopping around the pen, even after his tail banding and eartag insertion yesterday afternoon. (The eartag is almost as big as his whole ear). He is gaining weight quickly, as expected, and John and I had some difficulty getting him folded into the bucket to weigh him yesterday! What a porkie. Cute as a very large button.
We are keeping a close eye on HoneyBea, but hopefully we will be able to spring the pair of them from their jug this afternoon. She got wormed this morning, so we will give her some time to slough off most of her parasites before she joins the main group.
Hopefully one or both of the other ewes will be having their lambs over the weekend. We can use some quality lambing time during daylight hours, hint hint girls! The weather is not totally cooperating as we are having a nice sunny day, but the wind is wicked and it’s gusting quite heavily. Can’t have it all, I guess!
Tomorrow is Hatchtown’s shearing day. We will be there if there is no lambing activity here :*)
A Crazy Night. Something we have never run into before: a lamb with it’s head turned all the way back, front feet coming out, but not straight up. So not only was this ram sideways, but his head was preventing him from being born. Not realizing any of this around 11:30 when I saw her waterbag, my husband and I got our equipment together and went out to put HoneyBea in a larger pen inside the greenhouse so she could do her thing in peace without interference from all the curious onlookers. It’s so difficult to know when to intervene and we usually take as much of a wait-and-see-what-she-can-do-herself approach, but after an hour and a half, we realized that her labor was not progressing. That’s when I found the feet but no head. Couldn’t reach the head, but I felt a head way down low underneath these feet. Was the lamb folded in half somehow? Couldn’t imagine that, but nothing I did seemed to help inform my mental image of this puzzle. At that point my husband took over, and he couldn’t put all the various bodyparts together in a coherent way either, and poor HoneyBea was just not even having any contractions at that point. We began to think it was a breach, but we couldn’t find a tail. Oh boy, not good.
So at 2:20 a.m. we were realizing that we might lose this wonderful ewe as well as her baby or babies. No vet contacts for nighttime emergencies that we know of, either. We ended up calling our friend Pam of Hatchtown Farm (yes, at 2:20 in the morning!) and she got over here really quickly (she said she was already awake. She must have heard the frantic cosmic screams). She has magic hands, and can visualize things much better than we can, doesn’t panic, but even so, this baby’s head did not want to come around and stay around long enough for her to get him out. I don’t remember all that happened, but eventually out he came, not breathing. Big boy, 11.25 lbs, but I was ever so grateful that he was out, and not permanently stuck. Pam then located his twin, another beautiful black ram, 12 lbs 2 oz. He fared better and must have been out of the way of all the poking and prodding. He landed making noise, and is loving his new world so far.
I can’t even imagine that HoneyBea would bounce back from this kind of messing around with her insides, being a 7 year old ewe. But she is looking really quite well, considering her ordeal. She got vitamin B and a hefty dose of antibiotics, her placenta came out beautifully, and her baby is taking advantage of being an ‘only’ and bellying up to both sides of the milk bar. Here’s to hoping that she will continue to have the resources to mother this beautiful boy, and that she will be around with us for another couple of years (although we definitely have already inscribed her name in permanent marker on the Not To Be Bred Again list, for sure.)
Needless to say, my husband and I are both hoping that this is the only assisted birthing we need to have this year!
More waiting again! HoneyBea and her ewe lamb BabyBea are doing really well. We docked and tagged the little one yesterday afternoon and found that she had gained over 2.25 lbs. since her birth. So she is doing well. All the other ewes are looking quite overloaded with lambs, but no one is showing any signs of being near to dropping them. And so it goes. We wait and check them every few hours and hope that things go well.
We got an easy one for the first birth of the year. HoneyBea surprised us with a beautfiul, large single ewe lamb last night (13.75 lbs). She must have been born in close to record time, as John was out there around 9 and nothing was brewing. I went out close to 11:30 and there they were. The ewe lamb was not dry, but she was all licked off and clean as a whistle; HoneyBea had passed her placenta; and best of all, the lambie had a full belly and milky mouth as added confirmation that she needed no help in that department.
After we got them jugged in a pen I made sure to open up the teat that our new girl had not found yet and I “borrowed” some colostrum from HoneyBea to put into the freezer for some lambs we have coming soon that are already facing something of a challenge. More on that later. For now I am just pleased as punch to have the first little one on the ground. I always feel that if the first lambing goes well, good karma is visiting with us, for a little while at least!
I will try and get some better pictures with our new baby after work today :*) And who knows, maybe Fuzzy Lumpkin will deem it a nice day for her big event!
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 decided to allow us to get some sleep last night, thank goodness! Went out to do chores at 5 last evening and she was cleaning off a ram lamb, with the hooves of her ewe lamb peeking out at us. She was determined not to let that second lamb get born until she was finished with #1. Very funny. Great mother!
The darker of the two, her ewe lamb isn’t much smaller than the ram and they are both doing beautifully.
Because of the torrential rains and the wind we were getting yesterday and last night, we locked all the ewes and lambs into the greenhouse with all the “jugged” mamas and babies. It was definitely a very busy place. If we had had any more lambs last night, there would have been standing room only on that bus! The lambs were hopping around getting in everyone’s way, but after all the hoopla died down, things got quiet, and they all settled in for a dry evening.
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!