Sunday, May 16, 2010

Cardinal vs. Mirror?

He's on a mission...

He WILL destroy the dude on the other side of that mirror who thinks he's prettier than he is!

"Day after day I have come back to face you. I will not give in, EVER!!!"

No animals were harmed during the making of this film.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Brownie's Lambs Have Arrived AT LAST!

Welcome to the world Brownie's twin ram lambs... yes, it IS an all boy year!
They were born one week and three hours after Pixie's boys, around 9pm last night. The first sign I caught of pending labor was Wednesday night. Brownie's belly had dropped a bit, hips hollowing out mildly, and vulva looking more red than pink. Oh ho ho, here we go... so all day yesterday we checked Brownie on the hour to see if there was any progress. Wouldn't you know that I had to drive a field trip for the high school varsity softball team (they won both games - woo hoo), that kept me away from home from 12:30 to 7:30! However, Troy was under strict instructions to check her and call me if any changes. Nothing happened while I was gone... yeah!!!!
When I came home it was time to round up Pixie & lambs, along with Brownie, into the maternity pen/lambing jugs for the night. When I approached Brownie she was standing by the fence, panting, vulva swollen, in obvious pain and slight confusion. However, she coasted right into the pen for me. I put Pixie and her boys to bed, for safety and to keep them out of Brownie's way, and went inside to have a late dinner with my hubby.
Afterwards, we played on the patio with the kids... it was a beautiful spring day to be outside. My husband heard Brownie's, with lack of a better way to describe it, cow grunts & groans first. I jumped up, ran into the house, threw on my 'I don't care if they get stains' clothes, grabbed the camera & flashlight and sprinted outside to the pen. Was that one really large hoof??? Brownie would lay down on her side and make terrible noises with a few contractions, then stand back up again and pant. This process repeated several times. The noises make it harder to bear witness. You feel so helpless watching, knowing she's in pain. I've been there, I know! I watched my best friend give birth to her first baby girl, and it was a similar feeling of helplessness... thank goodness sheep birthing is a blip on the radar compared to the length of some human births!
Alright, back to that hoof... I'm thinking a lot of things, "Oh no, what if this lamb's just too large? Will I need to push the leg back and pull the other one forward like it says in the book? Should I call the vet? Should I call Tammy? How long do I wait? Why was I thinking I was equipped to be a shepherdess?" I ran back into the house, did who-knows-what with the camera and grabbed a clean pair of socks, just in case I needed to assist with a slippery lamb. Back outside again, I find Brownie doing the real work of pushing her lamb's nose out. About that time, by flashlight mind you, I see the "one hoof" is actually two. Oh crap, where's my camera?! "Troy, help,!" Out slithered the baby. Phew! Enters Troy with the camera, thanks hon! Someone has to keep their cool, and it's not gonna be me. This is too exciting! :)
She promptly went to work, cleaning off lamb #1. Oh my, he looks just like Brownie as a lamb. This means we have a beautiful, err handsome, Ag lamb who will have the same gorgeous oatmeal colored fleece as his momma! Woo hoo!

In about 15 minutes or so, she laid down on her side. Gave about three pushes with a fair bit of noise, and voila! Baby #2 has arrived!

After a little bit of cleaning from Brownie, it looks as though we have a moorit ram lamb with a few white hairs on the top of his head. Awe, look at their positions... Walking and looking for that elusive first drink of milk is hard work!

Last picture before my batteries ran out. You can see Pixie and her twins witnessing Brownie's miracle. At some point I noticed Pixie "baahing" a fair bit. I'm not sure if it started before or after the new lambs starting mewling for Brownie. She was either coaching Brownie through it all or just getting maternal and trying to call them over to her. After all, new mothers know everything, don't they?

I waited awhile for Brownie's afterbirth to pass (or at least to be well on it's way) and for her and babies to bond without interference. Cleaned babies umbilical cords with Betadine, gave them two pumps of Nutri-Drench and checked for horn buds. Yep, that's what I thought! Sigh, no ewes this year. Then I gave Brownie warm molasses water and jugged them all up. I removed all soiled hay from pen and loaded fresh stuff in, so as not to attract predators with the blood scent. Off into the house to clean up.

At 11:45 I did a final check. Brownie's afterbirth was out, and she had already eaten it. Good girl! NOTE: For those not familiar with this process... it's a normal animal instinct to hide signs of lambs from predators. Plus it's full of nutrients for the mother. So, always give your animals a chance to clean it up, but if they don't, you should do it for them.

I still hadn't seen a successful nursing, but I was betting that Brownie would settle down and give the boys more time to find what they were looking for once I was out of her wool. With a big "Thank You" to God for helping Brownie safely deliver two healthy lambs, I went to bed for some much needed sleep.

At 2:45am... you didn't think I'd sleep all night, did you?.. I snuck outside to check on the new family. All was well, both lambs were standing up, and Brownie was nice and calm. My common sense says a weak unfed lamb wouldn't be standing, so I felt reassured they'd make it through the night and went back to sleep for another 3 hours before the alarm went off... time to run the school bus route. Yeehaw! Feelin' perky! Ha!

So this morning, here's what everybody looks like in the light of day. This boy looks a bit lighter than Pixie's lambs. Could be a lighter moorit or maybe a fawn down the road?? Only time will tell for sure. What a sweetie! All of Conway's boys have the cutest little heads, don't they?

This is Brownie's famous look. It means, "What are you up to now lady?" Brownie is just like her mother, Locksfield Willow, who's home is at Fairlight Farm. They're both very untrusting of those humans. Says Brownie, "Other than those delicious animal crackers and bits of bread (my favorite treats), what are they good for, really?" ...cue the sniff and wary eyed look of disdain.

Alright, check out the Brownie lamb pic from March 2008:
See any resemblance?

Here's another look from the new momma. I think she's saying, "Butt out already!"

Now, this post should be dedicated all to Brownie and her lambs. However, the camera was in my hands...

"Look Ma, neighbors!"

"Huh? What? You talkin' to me?"

"Really bro! She's taking my picture. Would you get your nose outta...! How embarrassing."

"Ha! Ha! Ha!"

"Why you eatin' that stuff Ma?"

"Say wa? Are you talkin' to me, again?"

Pose familiar? Fairlight Pixie lamb pic, March 2008:

"Wheeeee! Leap frog's the best!"

Alright y'all. I'm gonna stop here. More pics just might follow soon. :)

Happy Mother's Day to all you mommas out there, whether you have furry children, the human kind, or both. Be kind and gentle to YOU.

Peace & God Bless,

Kim & Family

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Just some quick updates while the kids are taking an afternoon rest...

Pixie and her lambs are doing very well. They were let out of the lamb jug after three days. However, once they were in the maternity/nursery corral with Brownie, our other pregnant ewe, things got a little dicey. Brownie would ram the lambs if they were within two feet of her. At first Pixie seemed o.k. with this, then she got ticked off. She started to ram Brownie on her side. Well, at this point I couldn't take anymore, and I corraled Pixie and her lambs back up. I promptly called Tammy @ Fairlight Farm, my constant resource for sheep advice. It turns out, this behavior is very normal for Shetlands. Of all the things I have read about sheep care, this never came up. Apparently, most reading material is geared toward other, milder mannered sheep! Ha. So, anyhow... Tammy says so long as the lambs are old enough to be able to run back to their mama, they aren't cornered by the aggressive ewe, they will learn to stay with their mother. After a few days, or less in this case, they will calm down. Well, I decided to keep the trio in their corral for a few days and try again. HOWEVER, when I came home from my afternoon bus route Pixie had busted out of the corral. Both ewes and lambs seemed relaxed. Everyone now knows their place, and all is well. Tammy was right about something else too... it's probably a good thing I wasn't here to witness the reunion. I think watching the lambs get rammed is simply too much for me, even though it's a normal behavior and nobody was hurt. Look at them all just chillin'. BIG SIGH from this shepardess!

Brim, aka Houdini, is doing well. He's sweet, mild tempered, doesn't complain... and WILL NOT stay put! Since his leg first broke he has broken out of a large dog kennel, a garage, a bathroom, and an extra large dog run (which we bought just for his recovery)! The only thing that keeps him contained, henceforth immobile, is our sheep trailer. In an effort to ward off coyotes, we moved the trailer right next to the ewe/lamb corral so he can bark away predators at night. Pleeeease let that be enough. Brim's leg is healing well, at least now that he's officially confined. :) In 4 or 5 weeks we will be taking him back to surgeon for follow-up x-rays. Keep your paws and toes crossed!

Brownie's just getting bigger. Really Brownie, is that a cow calf in there?! Look at that waistline... If it's not twins we might be in trouble. Isn't she a pretty girl? I can't wait to see what we get. I've always thought her beautiful head looked like that of a deer. Tammy and I agree that we'll get either moorit (like Conway) or oatmeal color, like Brownie... spots are a possibility. I'll be glad when her babies are here, healthy and hale!

We had our gas tank moved today. It came with our house, and it was apparently made in the 50's. The tank's still in good shape, but the ground had settled. The tank had sunk to the ground's surface then rolled onto it's side. (Not a good thing, if you want your propane stable and your tank not to rust.) I thought it was pretty cool how they did it. Check out the contraption... it was pretty simple to move it with that thing. AND, it's now up off of the ground on blocks AND we had them move it so it's now perpendicular to house instead of parallel. We were thinking it would be less of an eyesore that way. We'd like to put up a little fence and have plants or ivy growing, but the sheep have other ideas in mind. So, it's a big improvement, and maybe we'll come up with a better plan.... like painting the tank to look like a big white fluffy sheep. Ha ha!

Happy Wednesday to all! I was gonna say "Hump Day", but does everyone get that reference? If not, well, they just might misunderstand me altogether! :)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Can't Sleep, Want Some Eggs?

Well, dog gone it... just can't sleep. Go figure. The kids are sleeping, hubby's not snoring, and the animals are at peace... but can I sleep with all of this quiet?! Geesh! So, in my now 4 am stupor, I'm going to blog about chicken eggs. Yeah, that's right, EGGS.

These pics are egg comparisons, fascinating right? Well, for me it really is pretty cool. My longtime friends from high school, and my 18 year old nephew, are probably thinking, "OMG, Kim's life is sooo boring!" Tee hee... I really don't mind. There is a great peace in finding joy in such simple things. My Dad assures me that the older you get, happiness can be had from the simplest of things, such as the mailman showing up on time. :) O.k., so back to the egg comparisons...
This first pic shows eggs from different breeds. I could have a guessing contest, but what would be the prize and just who would really want to participate? :) Not to mention, I know those of you who read this might not be able to handle the suspense!

Top row, Left to Right: (1) blue green medium egg from 8 month old Americauna (Easter Egger type) hen, (2) green large egg from Easter Egger / Buff Orpington cross adult hen

Bottom row, Left to Right: (1) tan extra large egg from Buff Orpington / Black Australorp cross adult hen, (2) brown extra large egg from Bauvine adult hen, (3) brown GINORMOUS double yolker egg from Bauvine adult hen, (4) white small egg from Guinea - Ha! Didn't see that one coming, did you? , (5) dark brown & speckled medium egg from 8 month old Welsummer hen

This next pic is a pic of the same eggs in an extra large egg carton. Exciting because of the GINORMOUS double yolker egg. We couldn't even close the carton lid. Maybe it was really a migrating goose, using our barn for an hour? Hmmm. Either way, it tasted great!

Egg pic #3... Side by side comparison of store bought white egg with free range (that means bug eatin' to you city folk) chicken egg. Look at the yolk color, and oh, the taste! I was raised on the store bought, but I will never go back to them again... never! Side note: I do not have any white egg layers, aside from the guineas whose eggs I rarely can find. However, I tried some white from a neighboring farm once. It was from a leghorn free range hen, and it was just as delicious as the brown. Free range is what makes ALL the difference.

And here's another pic or two, or four, to show you why my life really, absolutely is NEVER boring, rarely quiet and oh so full...

While all is quiet, I'm going to tiptoe back to bed. I'm hoping for a few z's before the whole place comes back to life. Wish me luck! I hope no one reads this until daylight... sleep is a good thing. :)