Monday, December 27, 2010

Lamb's first snow

Winter snow arrived last night with a vengence although we are always ready for it in New England. We got about 18" of snow overnight so getting to the barns this morning was a knee deep excursion. The wind was howling and the snow still swirling when we met our cheerful greeters at the winter barn this morning.
Due to the storm's wind direction we shut the flock into the open barn last night to reduce the blowing snow load inside this morning. Prudent decision. But in order to get the flock out for loafing Jack had to remove the snow from their area.

While cleaning and feeding I realized the spring lambs hadn't seen snow before as they were born in April so upon opening the barn door what a surprise they found!

From their side they faced a flat wall of snow keeping them inside the barn.
While they licked snow and gazed out upon the morning's wonder, we cleared away an area for them to roam about...they love the snowfall. Shown here are Wetherby and Maggie.

Here is Della with one of her lambs, Maggie. Striking genetic resemblance.

Welcome winter!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas enters....

and the celebration begins!

Blessings, love and joy to you as the season unfolds!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Three's company

Things come in threes, they say. And number two was a surprise.
We have had a long period of cold weather this month. Daytime highs in the teens, moderate winds and no snow cover to temper the edge. One day this week we decided to leave the hens in their house for the day, with the option for a small outer fenced area. They have pretty nice digs really but I suspect it was a bit tight for a full day. I actually don't know what happened but when I closed the hens in for the night our beloved Bianca was bloodied up. During the day something got to her (probably literal hen pecking) and the rest of the hens took to the blood, which is their wont, and she was a bit of a mess in the head area by 5pm. Although the damage doesn't show, this was her after I got her to the big barn (now known as the infirmary!)

I wisked her straight away to join Peach and Crystal for some recovery time. I set her up so she could rest and recoup. She is able to get into a pen for her food and water but still be able to come out to hang with the ewes and mill about.

Peach is doing a bit better as of today. Your prayers are helping. Last Friday I called our favorite vet supply, Pipestone Vet Supply, who have, in addition to the best inventory of sheep supplies, a phone line connection to large animal veterinarians. It is the darned best connnection for livestock questions ever. When Pipestone answered the phone, as usual, they forwarded me on to a vet who happened to be Dr. Kennedy, Pipestone's best (and all the docs are darned good). I have called them for about 6 years now and never had the honor of speaking directly with Dr. Kennedy. He's a sheep vet and a sheep owner. He has raised more head than I could ever imagine running. He's encountered it all and he just plain loves sheep farming. I told him about Peach's predicament. I described the place in her leg where the injury is. I explained what course I had taken with injections, meds and x-rays. To make a long story short, he offered a one week course of another anti-inflammatory and the assurance that, knowing the leg wasn't broken, that in due time and limited movement, she would heal. Perhaps this won't be true... but on that backside of a cold day I was given hope that, in time, she would recover. I felt elated.

Peach's course now is for another 8 weeks in the big barn with the company of Crystal and perhaps Bianca! The barn space is large and as healing permits, the area provides enough space to move about for the winter. She is putting actual weight on her hoof now as she ambles about.
While Peach rests, Crystal chooses to have an inquest with Bianca.
Meanwhile at the winter barn Friday night, during chore time, I found one of the wethers had an abcess. Nothing serious...we rounded him up, did a bit of cleaning and flushing and all is healing nicely.
That's farming, that's three and that's it!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Peach's predicament

Peach's injury has me concerned. After confining her and Crystal Tuesday to the big barn for an unforeseen period I hoped that giving her an anti-inflammatory and "hay rest" would start the healing process. But by Friday morning she was no better. As you can see, she held her right rear leg up off the floor and hobbled on the other three legs to get about. There is a limited course for the drugs to be safely given before other problematic symptoms might set in so I felt a vet visit was in order. The doc was here by 10AM. She checked every possible issue, as we had before. The leg is just so darn swollen above the fetlock.

With no clear answer, I bit the bullet (with Peach) and opted to x-ray the leg to be sure there wasn't a fracture. At least it would rule something out. After a mild sedative we got Peach on her side and I held her, although she was quite peaceful, for the films.

The doc took 4 films, different angles.

Later Friday afternoon the doc called to say nothing was broken. So it must be a torn ligament or tendon. A slow heal if at all. But she did suggest a 5 day course of steroids, one injection per day, with a continued half dose of the anti-inflammatory. I gave Peach her first shot yesterday. This morning no improvement. But she has an appetite and is calm...seemingly accepting her plight with her chum Crystal. We are having a miserable rain storm today and I suspect they are sharing sheep smiles in their high and dry digs despite the confinement. Tonight at chore time, Peach was up and putting ever so little pressure on that hoof. I am looking for any improvement and it was ever so small but perhaps a ray of hope. I know most farmers would cull Peach at this point. It's too expensive and time consuming to treat. But I have to see it through. If she heals, awesome! If she doesn't I have already accepted that reality. For now she is calm, eating, perhaps healing.

If you say prayers, please include Peach. She's a lovely ewe and a special friend.

Meanwhile back at the winter barn Griffin is holding court at the hay racks....

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Breakfast of champions

We're having a serious cold snap for so early in December. Not that the sheep mind. Northern New Hampshire is now blanketed in snow as winter blows on into New England. Our farm ground is frozen and any hope of a snaggle of grass is gone. Hay is now the daily menu, plus we had a few pumpkins left over and put them out this morning after feeding. And a few carrots, too. Mila asks..."what's up doc?"

and tells stories with that tongue...

while sharing a breakfast bowl with Memphis...

but as the flock enjoyed breakfast we had to move Peach to the big barn for some rest and recuperation. A few weeks back I wrote about her having a lame rear leg. It got better but then she must have done something to re-injure it and this morning I decided it was imperative to remove her from the flock with one roomie for company until she heals for sure. After swift and careful consideration, Crystal was nominated the lucky one to live the good life in the big barn with Peach. It is not an easy transition to separate sheep from their flock. They don't like change at all. Seen later today Crystal and Peach having a snack of their own....

There was a lot of baaing tonight as they all sorted out the separation...but Peach is in recuperation, on some anti-inflammatories and limited movement until she heals. Thank you Crystal for carrying the torch with her.