Thrilling news…

It has been nearly 4 months since my last post…the summertime and early fall always seem to be busy, but this year, it has been especially so. I have had no time to sit and write, and none to sort photos so that the blog wouldn’t drone on with text alone.

My plan was to write about the projects (farming and otherwise) that have occupied us over this time, but all that seems so much less important now.

Yesterday our grandson was born! His name is Cameron Jacob and he is so beautiful! And so beloved.

Cameron was delivered a month early because the fluid that should surround him until the end of pregnancy was diminishing at an alarming rate. But the Caesarian delivery went smoothly, and Cameron came into the arms of his loving parents at 8:47 yesterday morning.

He is strong and in wonderful weight for a 36 week baby…6 pounds. But because of respiratory issues related to prematurity, Cameron has to be monitored in the newborn unit for few days. Happily he is improving quickly.

Of course, we grandparents have been drawn like bees to a flower!

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There and Back

I am home now for a while. The trip to the BSG was long and arduous, but being there, and seeing so many friends was worth it. I took lots of photos, but on the last day, I lost my camera! I am still hoping that it will turn up as I continue to unpack the truck.

BSG photos will have to wait, but for now a long overdue post:  joyful photos taken just before and during my last trip to AZ.

This beauty graced our dining room table in the week before I left for my last trip to AZ….one of my mother’s orchids, one that we bought together a few years ago. It sent up two flower spikes in early May, and opened the first blossom on my birthday. It was in full bloom on the anniversary of her death and on her birthday, perhaps so that I would know that she was still watching over it…and over me. There is also a bud growing on the old flower stem, so it plans a finale when the others are done.

When I got to AZ in late May, the desert was blooming…I took these photos driving north from Phoenix.

All of the Saguaro cacti were wearing crowns of flowers, so appropriate since they stand like royalty all through the desert and even along the highways.   One of them put flowers everywhere she could….

The prickly pears were just beginning to bloom…

These two beauties grew all along the roadside:

And lastly, my favorites…a penstemon variety that glows in the light.

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A Grey Day (can be bright)

Since I am committed to another 2 weeks in away working before the Black Sheep Gathering, I have been spending lots of time with sheep and in sheep-related passtimes. Halter training, tidying up yearling fleeces, studying lambs. I will make my decisions about who comes with me to the BSG at the eleventh hour, but always enjoy the time leading up to it.

This young lad is one of our Fantasie’s sons (by  Shady Oaks Spats); a real looker…he hasn’t  told me what his name is yet, but rams don’t get registered until they grow a bit more…so you have time little one.

If this his brother weren’t so flashy, Fantasie’s other son would fall more into the spotlight. I think that he is very handsome in his own right:

They get their big-boy ear-tags and CDTs and worming on Wednesday;  I won’t know for sure until then, but I am fairly certain that both will be greys.

While I am on the subject of greys, this little (to-be-grey) girl is Miss Molly, another Spats lamb, out of our lovely Sunniva (you saw her with her mother the last post). I am liking her more and more as she grows.

Her sister  Lucy (in-the-sky) will also be grey. This little minx started asking for attention when she was around 2 weeks old. It is very hard to capture her in a whole-sheep photo…we go from this:

To this:

One more grey sheep…this little cutie is Faith’s son by Matteus. He has Matteus’s personality and a super-soft fleece. I love his color right now. And I think that he has lots of potential and lots of presence…but time will tell if he makes the grade. (No, he doesn’t have a name yet either, but needs one desperately!)

Even if he isn’t grey, I can’t end without mentioning Jiggs….seven weeks old now, and we are beginning to wean him from the bottle. The feedings are less frequent, and the milk replacer is getting diluted to encourage him to graze…which he is more and more enthusiastic about.

But whenever he sees me, he looks longingly and hopefully. Very hard on my mother’s heart…

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Almost relaxed…

I finally had some time today just to BE out there in the pasture with the lambs…they are growing so fast! Granted this is NOT news to any other shepherds, but it always seems miraculous to me that they go from tiny little clinging-to-mom babies to self-sufficient grazing animals all in the space of six weeks.

Now I run the risk of moving mouths (cudding) in any photo…but I am thrilled to see that. More words another time…when I will tell you who is who; for now I will just share the sweetness with you.

As I was out in the paddock in the middle of the day…and the weather is warm at last…many of them were “shaded up”…mamas and babies.

I find them all so beautiful to my eye….it is grand to be home!

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Another Homecoming

My part-time work off the farm means that there are many sad leave-takings and many happy homecomings. This past trip happened just three weeks after lambing…by the time I left for AZ, Jiggs had spent his days with the mamas and lambs, but hadn’t spent any nights in the barn. He still thought that he was a dog or maybe a cat, but he was ready for the transition. So while I was away, he lived full-time with the flock.

By the time I came home this time, Jiggs had found his “inner sheep”. And thanks to Brook’s intelligent fostering (read: no shmoozing), Jiggs now comes for his bottle at feeding time, but immediately runs away to rejoin the other sheep…no snuggling, no interest in people at all…

I am happy to see that he is now as agile as the other lambs and that his little legs have grown straight and strong. I am sure that our friend and acupuncturist Karen made all the difference in the beginning. Karen is a shepherdess too, and this spring, when she had a lamb who was unable to stand up after birth, she used acupuncture, and almost immediately her lamb pulled up his hind legs and stood!

So I asked her if she thought she could help Jiggs and with the supervision of 3 Border Collies (Toby’s eyes are glowing by Jiggs’ head), Karen placed needles strategically to strengthen his legs. What a difference…what a blessing!

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The Camera’s Eye

I don’t have a lot to say today; too many clouds on my horizon, so I will show you what my camera saw yesterday….quite a few rams (!) but lots of exciting markings and loads of substance:

These are Sheltering Pines Plein Jeu’s lambs this year; both rams but….oh my! One of them is clearly a spotted katmoget; but by the color of the spots, I think that the lighter one may be a kat too. We hope that they grow up with perfect horns!

!

These little to-be-grey boys have just the greatest bodies…they came out bucking and by the time they left the jug, they looked a couple of weeks old!  They are out of our lovely Ilse…I can promise that you will be seeing more of them.

Sprite gave us two little gulmoget ewes….someone has asked which one would be for sale. How can we make THAT decision???

And for your amusement…this year’s llama walker: Pavane’s little gully girl.

Shortly after I took this photo, another lamb jumped up too. Amelia is fine with one lamb (actually seems to like it), but rolled them both off when the second one joined in. Enough is enough!

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The world according to Jiggs

My story: the really truly double life of a bottle lamb….

I sleep every night in the house with my human family; I wake up in my box in the dining room and as soon as I ask, my bottle is ready. I have to wear these things on my fanny when I am in the house; guess that it is OK, but they do annoy me….

After my breakfast, I take a nap on whichever dog-bed I like…there are three to choose from and I try them all:

Then I get to play in the house until chore-time; Lefty is my favorite cat. I follow him around, and I think that he likes me too, but sometimes he climbs up to this big high place…why is that?

Then when it is time to go out to the barn, I go along with my humans and my dogs:

All during the day, I stay with the other lambs and the big sheep…I have some favorite friends (all of them look like me except one). They know their way around, and so I follow them ; the little girl in front of me is my sister Maggie:

The other lambs run and play for a long time and it makes me tired…so I take little naps to rest up between the races. Soon I will be as big and strong as the rest of the lambs…

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Just a little breathing room…please?

The time since my last working trip to AZ in March, and the upcoming one (just one week away) has been filled with lambing and catchingup on farm chores. Lambing was intense this year (all of it happened in a week, and most of it in 5 days). I will put up some lamb photos soon, and give some lambing stats.

The lambs were pretty thrilling this year, except for the surfeit of boys (2 to 1 rams/ewes)!

There are lots of patterned lambs; to tease you a bit, these are Jiggs best friends in the lamb group (Flute Celeste’s and Spats’ ram/ewe twins):

And of course, next time, there will be more stories about Jiggs Himself.

Here is his namesake…a little look into the past for those of you who might remember the comic strip “Bringing up Father”.

After lambing was over and I had some rest time, I began getting ready to go away again…but not to AZ. We just got home from what proved to be a 5 day trip (one day traveling each way and 3 days there) to Central Oregon. After lambing, I had to organize roving and yarn and fleeces and sheep and all that was needed for a display at the Small Farmer’s Journal Auction & Swap-Meet.

This event occurs each April, and last year moved from Sisters, OR to the fairgrounds at Madras. The new site is perfect and the feeling was that of a country fair. We had a vendors’ booth again this year, having missed the past two years…but now we are committed to lambing early enough to be there every year.

We had a grand time! We chatted with spinners and knitters and weavers…saw some old friends, and met some new ones. I did my best to addict new spinners; sent them away with drop spindles and soft Shetland roving to spin. We fed knitters stashes with our yarn, and the trusty Schacht Matchless gave confidence to some folks who had wheels that they were struggling with for one reason or another.

This trip I got to see my dear Scout again (all grown up into a lovely young woman)…she came by each day (when she had time away from the auction) for a refresher on drop spindling and on knitting. It was amazing to see…she didn’t need much refreshing! Her body remembered both skills after a 3 years lapse! No telling what she will be doing by the time we come back next year….

And as a plus, I got in some good knitting time on Brook’s Gansey sweater…it has been a LONG process, but I am about one hour from finishing now. Woo hoo!!! I will post a photo of the Finished Object next time. Better get on with the knitting!

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In our wildest dreams…

2010 lambing is finished here at Stonehaven Farm….all the lambs were born in 5 days! The whole time was intense, but Thursday night was amazing (6 ewes lambed between 8:00 PM and 8:00 Friday morning). I can’t imagine how those who lamb out hundreds or even dozens of sheep manage to survive. We had no sleep and were running on empty.

But Friday morning brought a crisis (the only lambing problem this year, but it was a big one)…so sleep was not an option.

Solveig, a 2 year-old in her first pregnancy looked as though she would single and it didn’t seem as though the birth of her lamb was imminent. But early Friday morning, she lambed silently and without any real preliminaries. It was very cold and windy, and even though Brook had wrapped the barn in tarps, Solveig had chosen a cold spot against the outside barn wall, in the least protected place.

When we found her in labor, Solveig had just birthed a second lamb. These two seemed premature and were very weak and chilled. We moved them to a jug and although we gave them colostrum,  gave them sub-Q CMPK and all the usual support, and warmed them, the first-born didn’t survive.

To our amazement, a third lamb was born in the jug; this little ewe was the largest of the three, and seemed very strong. The little ram (second born) was unable to suckle, and so was tube fed for the first 24 hours of his life. Each time he was taken out of the jug, we rubbed him all over with the placental membranes and Solveig seemed to accept him back. But ultimately the lamb’s being taken out and put back so many times was too much for this first-time mom to accept…and she became very protective of her third lamb.

So the little ram came to the house where we could nurse him in the warmth. The next 48 hours were intense for him: still unable to suckle, he was fed with a syringe fitted out with a Pritchard nipple on the end every two hours. This went on for two more days; he didn’t learned to suck properly until he was 5 days old!

But now our little one is a going concern, and runs and leaps and bounces after humans and dogs….the cats draw the line though and stay clear of him.

His name is Jiggs….the first really truly bottle lamb that we have had in 12 years of lambing:

Jiggs gets stronger every day and more charming! Although he finds rugs the easiest to manage, today he learned to negotiate the bare floors….expanding his universe by at least 3 times.

He wears two diapers strategically placed…arrangements for rams are more difficult than for ewes!

Over the days since his birth, Jiggs has become friends with all three of the Border Collies…but it was our Toby (the middle BC) who adopted Jiggs,  He licked and nuzzled the little lamb from the beginning, and I think that Jiggs was comforted by it. Soon he was running through the house with the dogs…I began to wonder if he would be able to figure out his identity someday when he went back to live with the sheep.

We didn’t want to put it off too long and so on Thursday, Jiggs made his first trip outside, a short  supervised visit in which he was investigated by a barnyard delegation:

He is used to creatures that are taller and larger than he is, but the llamas were a bit overwhelming:

He quickly became frightened and Minden picked Jiggs up to comfort him….llamas weren’t so scary from this vantage point!

“Hmmm, maybe you aren’t SO dangerous after all.”

Yesterday Jiggs made two short trips to the barnyard, one with us there for comfort and another in which we left him for a little while on his own. He seemed to noodle around nibbling on this and chewing on that, and kept his distance from anything that moved….we hoped that he hadn’t been in the house for too long.

Today, after his late morning bottle, JIggs went out in the sunshine to be with the mamas and lambs. Mostly he hung out on his own, but when Brook went out to bring him in, he found Jiggs jumping and playing with some other lambs! What a relief…he WILL be a sheep after all!

More lambing posts to come…stay tuned.

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Getting there……

Lilka continues to try to eat, but she just isn’t consistently eating enough roughage. It is a difficult in-between time; she is too well to tolerate spending the day in her pen when the others are outside. Besides fretting and stressing herself, she is strong enough now to jump out and has tried almost successfully. I am still giving her thiamine and B-vitamins, and feeding her twice a day, helping her get enough hay into her mouth. I am also still giving her gruel made with oatmeal and the rumen/bloat remedy recipe  that Linda Doane gave me years ago. In case it will be useful to someone else with an ill sheep, I will put the recipe at the end of this post.

I am also giving her huge amounts of probiotics before she goes out in the morning and after she comes in and at bedtime, but I feel that there isn’t enough roughage going in all day to support the bacteria. Our USDA vet (who always is interested in talking sheep physiology with me) told me once that the 1/2 life of the rumen bacteria without nutritional support is 30 minutes! (just to be clear….every thirty minutes 1/2 of the bacterial culture dies if there isn’t enough material in the rumen for it to thrive on.)

This was a big ah-ha moment for me to say the least…I began to see the sheep as a walking bacterial culture. The rumen bacteria are not only necessary to break down their feed into useable nutrients, but to synthesize many of the vitamins (most particularly thiamine) that the sheep absolutely must have in order to survive. If the rumen is unhealthy, and it isn’t attended to, the sheep will die.

So I have developed a working relationship with Lilka’s rumen….and believe that I can stubbornly sustain her life until it finally kicks in. Please let today be the day that she keeps her mouth full just like this!

PS: Three hours later, now 10:00 AM….Lilka is lying in the sun chewing her cud!!!!

Rumen/Bloat Remedy…thanks to Linda Doane.

1 qt. warm water

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 cup Karo syrup

1/2 cup corn oil

1 raw egg

1/2 cup yogurt (or more)


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