Monday, April 27, 2009

Where Have I Been?

Looking back at the last day that I posted to the blog, March 30...we started lambing the next day...and started out with a bang, with four ewes lambing throughout the day, each with a nice set of twins. This continued for the next two weeks, usually one or two ewes lambing each day...sometimes three or four ((grin)).

Its hard to get good photos of new lambs without spending the entire day in the barn (hey, come to think of it, I DO spend a good bit of the day in the barn, but I am usually working!) Here are just a couple of quick snaps I managed to get ~ not the best, but you can see some of our more colorful babies:

Our flock is not nearly as large as some of you have and our ewes do not generally need any assistance to lamb (we have selected and culled carefully for these characteristics!) but it is still a lot of work for me, and time. Ewe gives birth, lambs are fine and trying to nurse but in the flock mob and with other ewes sometimes giving birth at the same time it is important to get the new mama's into a little quiet area (lambing jugs) to just do their business and get those babies off to a good and quiet start! Dip the navels in iodine, strip the teats on the ewe to make sure milk is flowing and try not to stress mom to much at that critical bonding period. Give her a little fresh water and soft green hay (she's just done a big job and hasn't been able to fill herself up much for the past few months!) and then leave them alone. Tiring, but very rewarding.

As on any farm there were a few tragedies, but thankfully only a few. One of them was more a sadness than a tragedy. You have heard me talk of one of favorite old ewes, Eve, on this site many times. You have seen her fleece and her offspring. Well, this year Eve delivered us with yet another set of twin ewe lambs (Eve has never had a ram lamb for us, unlike our other matron, her flockmate Mary who has only given us ram lambs!) Anyway, sneaky Eve delivered her twins in a half hour window when I was not in the barn and on one of the coldest, windiest days we had in March. Although Eve was in good condition her lambs were very fact one was only about three pounds though fully developed. Second baby was a little bigger, maybe six or seven pounds and very lively. I quickly brought the tiny lamb to the house, ran back to the barn to get Eve and number Two in a jug and much to Eve's displeasure milked some colostrum from her to take back to the house with me. Bill tube fed the tiny baby and we started warming her up. I won't go into all of the details, but baby number One did not survive despite our efforts. And for whatever reason after two days Eve's milk quit flowing and when that happened Eve decided she no longer needed to mother her lamb. There are lots of reasons why this might have happened, but here I was with a hungry little ewe lamb who was growing weak and it was still very, very cold. To the house she came.

Now, we are not much on bottle raising lambs and have folks waiting to take bottle babies from us if we should have one. So usually we would get the bottle baby going and deliver them to new homes. But I couldn't do that with this little girl....what will be Eve's last contribution to our flock. She is such an adorable little badgerface girl and with a will to survive. Mason, my grandson, has named her "Francie" after a story he had in kindergarten this year (it is an "F" year for lamb names for us). Here is Francie asleep on her pink blanket, and then asleep on my feet (yes, like most bottle lambs she is often under foot!)

She goes every where around the farm with do chores, out to pasture, to hang clothes on the line. She even helps me sort fleeces (another job I have been working on during the past month):

Will it tug at your heartstrings as much as it does mine if I tell you that the fleece in the photo belongs to her mama, Eve? I was working on fleeces when I looked down and saw her curled up there. Do you think that she knew? I like to think that she did.

Along with keeping up with lambing, skirting fleeces and trying to keep up with orders, shipping, etc, there has been some spinning and some knitting...

One of the knitting projects was that I finished my long-suffering pair of Eclectic Aquarian Jaywalkers socks from the STR mediumweight yarn that my daughter bought me for my birthday a while back. I wasn't sure I was going to have quite enough yarn, so added the bright green Regia as a contrast. I love them ;D

The spinning is a special project for my friend Cheryl at Painted Rock Farm and is of her Jacob wool. I am spinning sock yarn to make her a pair of socks. I have actually started the socks, but won't show a picture as they are to be a surprise for her. I will say that the roving is truly lovely (and I am pretty sure she has more for should be able to click on the farm name to link to her website). Also in that photo is some washed Jacob from a fleece I purchased from her, equally lovely and with very little vm.

Of course there is lots more work and knitting and spinning going on, but for now I think I have given you enough of an update ;D Hope to post a bit more often, but spring is springing around the farm and there are still two more ewes to lamb and a few more fleeces to ship off and gardening and....and...well, you fill in the blanks!