Elsie picked it up, as if to make sure it was all gone.
We still feed Elsie a bottle, only now it's 3 times a day. Michele had just finished feeding her, and put the empty bottle on the ground.
Elsie picked it up, as if to make sure it was all gone.
Last night Shauna-Marie showed signs of labour.
Today, she was in full labour when I went to work. Michele and I were beside ourselves with excitement, to see the little cria that we had been waiting so eagerly for.
Michele called me around 10 to say that the cria had been stillborn.
It's impossible to believe. Dr. Sherry says it can happen - the mom gets jostled and the placenta detaches. I worry that I'm doing something wrong. It's just been the worst spring ever for birthing.
The cria was a female. Shauna-Marie stayed with her all day, and at night we buried her beside Buckwheat.
Shauna-Marie and Daisy keep crying for her. It's just so sad.
We have been trying to decide what to do about the males. The barn isn't really set up to accomodate males and females - they live in too close proximity for either group to be completely relaxed. And we have 1 yearling male that has been living with the females as he hasn't gone through puberty yet. Or so we thought.
Last week he started to try to mount a few of the females. Dr. Sherry examined him when she came out for Buckwheat, and thought that perhaps he might be on the cusp of puberty. He is still too little to live with the males, who are not only much bigger than him but are also quick to get into spitting contests with each other over the females. His fleece seems quite good (not that we know for certain since the results of our first shearing are still in the garage!) so we didn't want to sell him, but we didn't want to risk him with the males. And we certainly couldn't have him living with the females. So we got him neutered. It seemed the best solution - he has a good personality and is comfortable with humans. He should grow into a good sized male, which will be good in terms of the amount of fleece he grows. And neutering him should only improve the fleece itself.
Dr. Sherry and her vet student did it outside today on the grass by the paddock. He was sedated and then Michele said it was a quick procedure (I was at work, of course). He came to shortly after and by the end of the day showed no ill-effects. He gets a couple of sprays of blu-kote a day, to protect the incision from the flies and dirt but otherwise it seemed pretty straightforward. We are both really relieved that one potential problem has been eliminated.
The lambs that we ordered in the spring were ready for pick up a week or so ago but we didn't want to pick them up until after Buckwheat was gone.
We had chosen 6 lambs - 3 Romney and 3 Icelandic. When we got to Willow Farm we swamped out a few of the choices - in the interim between choosing and picking up a few of them hadn't really grown a lot - which Josslyn supported. We actually added a 7th - a Merino/Romney cross which I couldn't help but take.
I haven't even gone through my first season of sheep shearing, and already I am a fleece hoarder! I am so curious to see the result of her crossing those two types of wool.
Introducing the lambs to the ewe's wasn't as stressful as I had imagined. There was a bit of position asserting, but for the most part the sheep accepted one another and kept on grazing. And the alpacas completely accepted the sheep. There was a bit of running on the part of the smaller lambs, but generally speaking the whole thing was very smooth and easy.
We are hoping that Elsie makes friends with the other lambs and has some companionship - sometimes her mom and the other 2 ewes leave her alone while they go off together.
A freak storm hit us around 6 pm. Thankfully, Michele was home to close up the barn and the coop - I was at work and had watched it coming up over the mountain towards us.
It was a brutal storm in places and not having lived through a tornado, I haven't seen a more ominous sky. By the time we were both home, the storm had passed for the most part with only a few pop-up cells going through. The poor pullets were huddled under the coop - they hadn't known to go through the pop door instead of the man door. Of course I had to lie in the mud pulling them out from under the coop and hand them to Michele to put inside the coop. And of course some of them tried to take off. Teenagers.
The sheep and alpacas were snug and calm, which was a relief.
But the next morning we could see the damage. Our garden was tossed and ragged but most everything survived - only our sunflowers and raspberries seemed beaten. But the corn crops in the area had taken a huge hit - there were pockets where giant circles of crop were just lying down on the ground, pushed over by the wind.
It seems horribly unfair that the crop farmers should get hit like this when the spring was so wet and after a year like last. Before I knew farmers it was all an academic concern - " oh poor farmers, climate change must be really impacting them" - but now it seems so much harsher. Now these are people that I see at community functions and at the fair. These are the people that I buy produce from, whose family I know.
They say that freak storms like this will only become more common as the effects of climate change become more pronounced. Its bad enough for urban folks who have flooded basements and tree-damaged roofs. But the rural folks have the floods and the tree damage but their livelihoods are also at risk. And our food supply is most definitely at risk. Just think about how much apples cost last year after the frost.
Dr. Sherry put Buckwheat to sleep today. Last night and this morning I made sure he had lots of pellets and grain to eat, and then today I went to work. Poor Michele had to help Dr. Sherry do it, and then she buried him at the back of the paddock. I thought that was nice - his spirit could still be running with his girls.
I realized we didn't have a good picture of him, so I didn't add any here.
The vet called and the ewes (including Elsie) are O.P.P free. So they can go out into the paddock with the alpacas.
The ewes are still incredibly skittish, but Elsie is calm enough that the alpacas have been able to get to know her to to accept her as part of their herd.
It's such a pleasure to let them get outside! I feel for Buckwheat, though - he is in his stall, watching them run. We can't let him out for fear he will infect the girls. It's no way for him to live, always watching from behind the gate. Dr. Sherry is coming on Wednesday to put him down. I dread it.
We have begun to breed the alpacas. It's a lot more challenging than one would think - the females are induced ovulators as opposed to having a distinct breeding season where they are in heat. Their proximity to and the behaviour of the males induces them to ovulate and so breeding is actually part of a whole courtship it seems.
We think it will take may tries for us to learn the trick of it- and even experience doesn't guarantee conception. After the first breeding, the females are reintroduced to the males every few days to see if they show interest. If they do, then the mating takes place again. Then the whole "test / remate" thing goes on again.
Once they have conceived, the females carry the baby for 11.5 months, which is a long time for a girl to wait!
Shauna-Marie is getting so big, we are really excited to see her baby (which is called a cria).
We went to feed the barn chickens - Hudson, Beatrice, and their 2 chicks. One chick is missing. There is no sign of a predator which must mean a cat jumped over the fence into the run. And all along I've been a supporter of the barn cats - catching the mice that always seem to be everywhere. But I had stupidly thought they would leave the BARN CHICKENS alone! Like the house cat George leaves the chickens alone - she knows they are not hers to eat. Yet it seems the barn cats don't know that rule. I am going to have to rethink their place in our happy family.
RIP little chicken - you were guaranteed to be a very cute hen.
We added 40 more broilers to our barn. The learning curve continues. This time we moved the brooder into a stall in the barn so the chicks would be warmer and safer from predators (not that we have had problems with them yet, but why take a chance) and it would leave room for hay.
There are more white ones than red coloured ones... it will be interesting to see how different they are than the first batch. This is another group of "Frey Special Dual Purpose". The brochure says the white ones are male and the red one's female, but we didn't have any white in our first run. I will have to watch for fighting, I think. With smaller flocks in each tractor, hopefully they will have more distraction and the fighting will be kept to a minimum.
A sheep farmer meets an urban gardener. Fleece ensues.
The Reading List
*Animal, Vegetable, Miracle