Monday, March 8, 2010

Why mules keep looking better and better!!!

Let's recap the past 48 hours (grab some tea or coffee!):

Sheltering Pines Morovia aka 'Ears' (BFL ewe) gave birth to twin white ram lambs between 7 and 8 am. Both were up nursing and she was being the greatest mom ever! My bad luck lambing BFLs was over! Both lambs were dried off and she was being the most attentive mother, letting them nurse, and laying next to them when they fell asleep. They have the bluest pigment. Having her only be my third BFL to lamb here ever, they were my first white lambs, and my first good mother.
Proud papa of these boys is Beechtree Kirkdale (F2 Titan, F2 Titus) I believe...

I spent the rest of the morning sweeping barn alleys, organizing troughs and buckets I wasn't using, cleaning the feed room, stacking hale bales, liming jugs etc. Around 1pm, Jerry came up to visit and talk sheep. I 'knew' Jerry from years ago when he had pigeons and we corresponded via email for quite a few years. Fast forward now and he has his first Shetlands. He came and reserved six ewes from me that will be going to his place once lambs are weaned, sometime after July 1st.

What was probably closet to two hours spent with Jerry in the barn, going over sheep and such was quite enjoyable. After he left I quickly checked in on the pups in the house and came back outside. Lo and behold, the prolapsed BFL ewe, ShelteringPines Nubia, was in labor, contracting. I had to quickly undo her strings that were tied shut, and upon undoing them, she water bag came flying out and the blood bag. I reached in and found two feet, no head. * le sigh *

I had to let her dilate somewhat longer but she was pushing heavily and contracting every few minutes. I ended up having to push the lamb back and find the head, bring it forward and pulled. A smaller 7 pounds natural colored ram with a 'krunet' came out. I went in to find more feet and a head and out came a 9 pound white ram lamb. Both were ALIVE but Nubia was in shock. Unable to move her hind end (I can't blame her), she called to the babies as I dried them off with clean towels and put them by her head. She sniffed them briefly and proceeded to go into shock further. A call to the vet and explanation, I gave her some electrolytes with a drencher, some penicillin for infection and some oxytocin to have her expel the placenta. Within minutes she was up but was refusing to let the lambs nurse. Realizing that her udder must be swollen and sore, and her back end was extremely tender, I tried to bottle the lambs with some Kolostrum from Premier. They each ate a few ounces but were calling for mom.
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"Ears" who was in the next jug was calling to the babies, so I ended up putting a tarp between the jugs so she would stop calling to them. Nubia had to be haltered and stripped out and eventually tied up so the lambs could get something to eat. I cut sleeves out of my hoodie and put them on the babies as jackets. Up until that point I refused to coat any lambs. If they can't make it, they shouldn't. Brutal farm mentality. Hardy animals win.

I was surprised at my midnight check to find both lambs looking MUCH happier, fuller and dried off under the heat lamp. I released the ewe this morning from her halter and tied position, and she denied the lambs nursing. I then got into the pen, haltered Nubia, but just stood with her, scratching her brisket and she calmly stood for the lambs to get their fill. I did this numerous times and she seemed to give in to the lambs nursing and I took the halter off and stood in the pen with her while she nibble on her hay. I don't expect this to be the end of it, but she is getting better, but still not calling to the lambs.These are also sired by Kirkdale.

More cleaning in the barn in the morning and then took the puppies in for dewclaw removal. When I got home with them and from running errands, it had started to RAIN. Since the shearer is coming on Friday morning, I didn't want sheep to be wet.

So i gathered up the Shetland girls and brought them in. I soon realized that the Shetlands bred to the BFL for mules AND the purebred Shetland ground breedings were due on the 6th of March or after. Whoops! I separated out the Mule ewes and AI Shetland ewes and ewe lambs into one group (they aren't due until April 5th or later) and the early group into another pen closer to the jugs. Once everyone was separated (yes I did this all alone) and fed/watered and mineral tubs refilled, I went to get the yearling rams in from their winter paddock furthest from the barn. What sissies!! They wouldn't walk through the many mini creeks that were in their paddock and I had to take them on a hike around the far pastures to get them into the barn. Buggers.

Then the four mature Shetland rams from their far winter paddock were brought in and reintroduced to the Texel ram and the two BFL rams. The Shetlands, although 1/3 or 1/2 of the size of the three polled boys were molesting and bashing the bigger boys incessantly. I was extremely irritated! Its MARCH boys! No breeding for four months! Get over it! Get over yourselves! After flipping several Shetland rams into submissive stances, I ended up squeezing them all into a corner. Those poor polled boys stared at me like "dad what did WE do!??!!" I truly was sad for them, but I am limited in pens in the barn, especially during lambing and when its raining before shearing.

Thus far, four BFL ewes have lambed here. Three with issues and rejecting lambs initially. I think they need to be bred for better mothering abilities, ease of lambing and parasite resistance. While I can understand if they had lambing problems or lots of pain, but hey let's work on this!

I have had mature Shetland rams and they are always fighting with each other and on buildings, fence posts and feeders.Year round. Bored. Today was a day I could say I hated Shetland rams and BFL ewes.

Mule production keeps sounding better!! I love the docility of BFL rams, their easy going nature, ease of handling, ability to breed smaller ewes with ease and their fleece. I love Shetland ewes for their wonderful fleece, array of colors, smaller size, SPECTACULAR lambing abilities, mothering instincts, milk, and ability to lamb either pure or cross bred lambs.

If only Shetland rams were more like BFLs in their personalities and the BFL ewes could be like Shetland ewes in the mothering department.

Yep. Pretty sure mule production seems more and more my thing.

Then again I've had little sleep (every 2 hour barn checks, leaves for little deep sleep) between lambing and whelping and with the rest of the month supposed to be in the upper 30's and lower 40's for temps, snow removal business is going to SUCK this month. Maybe I'm a bit crabby too....

that can happen with no sleep....

DEEP BREATHS...tomorrow is another day. I can change my mind too.....


Michelle said...

Oh yes, sleep deprivation. I have learned NEVER to make any decisions -- or say much at all -- in such a state, because I will live to regret it. I hope you get some quality sleep soon!

This and That at Qwaynt Cardigans said...

it would be cheaper to go to a second hand store and buy used kid sweat shirt to cover the
lambs with innstaed of to your jacket sleeves

Kara said...

Sleep or no sleep Garrett your reasoning makes a lot of sense on several levels. Hope the rest of laming goes better for you, hang in there you are going a great job.

Cynthia said...

Geesh Garrett, what a run of lousy experiences. Nubia is doubtless in pain and wants nothing to do with the cause. Did you try some Rescue Remedy or some allopathic pain meds? Some ewes just will not pull out of it without some extra help and it sounds like you had to do enough fiddling with her that she has some reason not to want to pull out of it.

Hang tight, your big girls will be over soon.

Ginny McMurrough said...

Hang in there mate, you're a champ. Praying for easier lambing for you. :o) Those lil ram lambs look great! And good job 'Ears'!

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