Archive for February, 2010

Signs of Spring

Two weeks ago everything was buried under 30+ inches snow. We have slowly begun to thaw and today I noticed some of the first signs of Spring. It is nice to see color on the ground again!

For your viewing pleasure…


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Felicity, our Dorset ewe, gave birth to two lambs today. One ram and one ewe. Both are ever so cute and a bit different from most of the rest of the lambs born this year because of their breeding. I say “most” because the real surprise this week was one of Becky’s lambs. He has a crazy pattern going on while his brother is quite normal in appearance. (As a side note, Becky seems to be doing quite well after yesterday’s ordeal.)

I stopped in at work today to nab a few pictures. Subsequently, I think I was accused of having an obsession with the baby animals. Although this was an instance of the pot calling the kettle black.  I would like to mention the fact that my accuser wants to screen print the name and picture of one of our Heifers on every item he owns (clothing, his truck, etc…). At least I have the excuse of being a dedicated blogger. Yes, that is my story and I am sticking to it!

But enough of that. Without further ado… Felicity and her two lambs…

Felicity and her first lamb.

Felicity's second lamb.

Becky’s parti color lamb… (not an official term)

This little guy was not thrilled to be a target of the paparazzi.

Deciding to be shy.

For comparison here is the normal brother.

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We had a close call today. Bossman arrived at work to find two new lambs (boys) a bit weak with hunger. They had not started to nurse yet because their mom, Becky, had – to put it lightly – some difficulty. Thank goodness we bring our animals in to the barn for just this rare occasion because we can quickly figure out when something is wrong. In this instance Becky went in to labor during the early morning hours and toward the end she prolapsed her uterus. (I will spare everyone the details and for those of you who are curious then you can do a quick google search.) Thankfully Becky is a strong girl and was showing interest in her surroundings and getting up on her own.

While we waited for the vet Bossman milked Becky (whenever she was standing) so that the milk could then be bottle fed to her two lambs. This was extremely important to do because neither had started drinking the colostrum which has vital nutrients and antibodies. Finally the vet came out, delayed by another emergency at a nearby farm involving a cow and calf, reversed the prolapsed uterus and stitched Becky up – again, if you want the details do a search. Becky was fantastic and did not give the vet any trouble. Afterward, we offered Becky some grain and she ate which was a great sign. A healthy/strong sheep will always eat so that was the best thing that could happen!

Friday the vet will come out again. We are having blood pulled on all of our cows for a routine checkup as well as confirming the last of the pregnancies in our two goats and a few sheep. The vet will also check on Becky to make sure she is in good shape.

For now we just need to continue to encourage the lambs to nurse. The larger of the two boys has caught on but the other one is still having some trouble. We will work with him like we did with the smallest of Mae’s lambs. Wish us luck and hopefully this will be the only incident!

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After holding out for the warm weather Missy finally decided to give birth to a bull (boy) on Sunday at 4:30 in the morning. Clearly they wanted to get an early start on a new day. The little guy is a good size and pretty smart. He also drives his mom a little crazy because he will walk right up to us to investigate. She would prefer him to hide at the back of the stall. Definitely a great looking calf and I hope he stays so friendly!

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I appreciate the efforts by the sun to melt the snow but it is certainly killing my photography (and eyes)! Anyway, hope you enjoy some more snow shots…

The sheep are also done with all the snow. We plowed trails in all of our pastures to help everyone move around.

A wave of snow forming over the gutter of the barn.

Looking back from the gate to the front pasture where all of our dairy cows (plus two angus heifers) live.

Once again the pipes froze and we have been carrying many buckets throughout the day to fill water troughs. Dandy is inspecting my work.

Before we plowed a trail the young steers were attempting to make their own. Behind them is four board fencing which should give you an idea of how much snow we have.

"Give us more food, please!"

Sally has an obsession with my coveralls. If I stand still long enough she will continuously lick them. Very strange.

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Never think you can predict Mother Nature! Bossman and farm staff spent last fall recording breeding dates, rotating ewes with the ram and confirmed dates with the vet for all our sheep, cows, pigs and goats. The plan was perfect. We knew which ewes would come in to the barn at the beginning of February and by the time the next batch of ewes were ready to give birth we would be able to move the first group out of the heated barn.We planned room for the two cows and artificially inseminated our pigs at different intervals to make sure there would be room.

A specific phrase has been floating through my head over the past week… Even the best laid plans often go awry.

With all this cold weather the moms are holding on to their babies and, other than two ewes, no one wants to budge (even though they are in the nice warm barn under heat lamps!). It is getting down to crunch time and dates between the first two batches of ewes are starting to overlap. Of course we will adjust. That is the nature of farming. But it does make everyone squirm. Poor Bossman has been making late night stops in the barn to check on all the expecting mothers.

So now we play the waiting game. We are on their time. Mother Nature’s time. So far I have been around for almost every birth since last May and I am sure that luck is running out. Wednesday is the start of a certification program I am attending. Bossman and I are betting that this is when all the new babies will arrive. Right when I am stuck in a classroom. I will be  expecting photo updates via my cell phone!

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Digging Out

We made it! A little worse for wear and still digging portions of the farm out but we (animals included!) made it through the major snow storms. Looking back it is all just one white blur.

Tuesday was the start of a blizzard (on top of the 30+ inches we already had). By Wednesday morning all our plowed spots had 3 – 5 feet of snow that had drifted back. Unfortunately the truck was useless that day and so we did all our work (hauling water, feed and hay to the cows in the field and pigs in a separate barn) on the tractors. I suppose that is better than walking but conditions were bad and there were times we could not see where we were driving. By the time we fed and watered the field cows and turned to drive back to the main barn our path was gone.

Thursday we spent some time on top of a metal roof shoveling off snow. Let me tell you, that was a bit nerve-wrecking. Yours truly is not fond of heights, especially when the footing is slippery at best.

Work has been tiring and hard for everyone but we all put in the effort and have kept the place running smoothly. No baby animals yet! Though we have three sheep and a cow ready to pop for the last week. As much as I wanted babies it was probably better that they were not born during the storms.

One last thing, a bit off topic, congratulations to the Saints for pulling out a win last weekend. Now, who’s up for watching the Winter Olympics?

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