Thursday, April 29, 2010

Spring Shedding

This little gal is shedding her winter curls. She is part Angora and part dairy goat. The beautiful curls are the influence of her Angora goat side - the same breed of goat that produces our mohair. Her father was a dairy goat so that her beautiful fleece sheds out in the spring and she looks like a dairy goat all summer long. Unfortunately, she has a few week period where she just looks ratty. We have several crossed goats that do this and there are times when I find big chunks of fiber in the pastures. It is not great for spinning but makes an interesting texture addition to a weaving project once it is thoroughly washed.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Saturday Market Brings Country To The City - Greenville News Story - WYFF Greenville

Saturday Market Brings Country To The City - Greenville News Story - WYFF Greenville
There is a video that goes with the story but I have not been able to link it. If you search "Saturday Market" on WYFF4's home page it will show you the video option.

I had no idea that Channel 4 would want to come out to film the farm but they did a fabulous job. It was totally impromptu but all the animals behaved well & we had a great time.
So now I am finishing last minute details for the Market while trying to keep up with the daily egg washing and lamb bottling.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


It seems all I am doing right now is keeping up with bottle babies. I have two in the kitchen. Carl is a true orphan whose mother died, perhaps of milk fever, the day after he was born. The other one was born to our oldest ewe who birthed her, licked her head almost clean so that she could breathe and then walked away. So for all practical purposes April is orphaned. She is tiny and fragile. Her mother is Naomi, the ewe I found almost dead in an ice storm and who managed to recover with lots of attention. We had no clue she was pregnant and apparently she prefers to pretend she wasn't either.

Our first bottle baby of the year, Bert, is a goat kid who is growing beautifully. He just needs a few nips of a bottle a day now as his mother does produce some milk and he has already moved on to eating hay and grain. Then we have Phil and Lil. They both have attentive mothers who really did not want to nurse them. Phil is the fellow who had to be pulled. He was a large lamb, especially considering that his mother is a petite Shetland ewe. Once she got him out and cleaned up, she would have nothing more to do with him being near to her. We held her several times a day for the first week so that he could nurse but mama was not happy. We transitioned him to a bottle. She still keeps an eye on him and stands at my side as I give him a bottle every three or four hours but will not allow him to nurse. Lil's birth was not traumatic but again she has a mother who kicked and carried on whenever Lil tried to nurse so we held mother long enough for Lil to get a good dose of her mother's colostrum and then moved her on to a bottle. Phil and Lil act like brother and sister which makes sense as I believe they think I am now their mother.

So I have been negligent about much of my routine. I am either making formula, bottling or cleaning up much of the day.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Ravi Climbs

Ravi has decided that climbing on the round bales is his new delight. He is only up about five feet high but I know he thinks there is something special about being able to peer down on us. For the last few weeks, just as the sun is going down, Ravi climbs up on the tarped round bales and simply romps. He is one happy boy!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Twins

These twin sisters have learned that there is food all around them, they just need to look. The kids are eating more and nursing less. Not only are they big fans of the daily grain, they are mouthing a little of everything to see what it is. These two definitely have an advantage over the lambs who are not born climbers.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Showing Off

This is Little Oliver showing off. He is a year old and is the spitting image of his father, Oliver. Oliver is a Coopworth ram with beautiful white fiber which, looking at this years crop of lambs, is beginning to show its influence on our farm. Little Oliver was just passing time yesterday butting his head on a pine tree. He seemed to have no reason and was not particularly aggressive about it, it was apparently just one of those things that needed to be done. He is growing into such a handsome fellow so we'll humor his quirks.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Kitchen Lambs

April, the little gray speckled lamb born on Easter, and Carl, the little red lamb whose mother died of milk fever, are mostly living in the kitchen. We do take them out during the day to visit the other lambs. So here is a picture of them napping while I make my morning coffee. They are content because they've already gotten me up for their 4 a.m. bottle. The other picture is of some of the other lambs with their mothers in the early morning. They did not have to wake me in the night. Fortunately, as babies age they need their bottles less frequently so before long I should be back to sleeping all the way through the night.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Loving Mothers

The mothers are settling into their routine of having babies now. For larger parts of the day the mothers will wander off to graze apart from the kids but always find plenty of time to curl up and snuggle with their babies. We have mothers with babies who are five or six years old that still snuggle up when they nap. They have quite a bond.
I still cannot get my favorite picture which is of Marie, a little Angora kid, standing or sleeping on her mother's back. She settles her self there after dark each night but if I try to sneak up on her for a picture her very alert mother hops up to see what I am doing.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Phil, the lamb, working,,,,

There is a saying among goat farmers that if a fence won't hold water, it won't hold a goat. Each year as the babies arrive, we discover the weak points in our fencing. This time it was a gate that had the cross pieces set far enough apart that babies were sliding through so Al decided to tie a smaller gauge wire along it to slow them down some.

Phil, the bottle baby who is currently living in the kitchen, was outside getting a little fresh air. As soon as he realized he was missing out on something, he jumped right in to help. Most of his help consisted of wrapping himself around Al's legs and trying to suck at his fingers. It was obviously much appreciated.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

What a Whirlwind

These last few days have been busy, busy! We have a few babies who need some extra attention. April is the little lamb born on Easter. Her mother was kind enough to clean her little face so that she could breathe when born but that was the end of mother's interest. It is hard to blame Naomi as she is our oldest Shetland. We didn't even realize that she was pregnant as she had no swelling udder to indicate she was carrying a lamb. She had almost died a few weeks ago when she went down in a sleet storm and then spent a few weeks being treated for pneumonia. Her tiny lamb was hypothermic and just pitiful when we found her. After much fussing and nursing she is much improved. In fact, even as I write she is flying up and down the hallway with Carl, our other bottle baby in the house.

Carl's mother is the only ewe we've lost this season. She had a routine delivery and was doing well. Early Thursday when we checked she and her lamb were fine. Two hours later she tried to stand and staggered. I quickly checked her and realized she had what is called milk fever which is a dramatic and sudden drain of calcium due to pregnancy, stress and nursing. I ran for the appropriate medications in the house and quickly injected her. Unfortunately, she was too far gone and she died within the hour. That left us with a little red ram lamb to feed. He has taken to the bottle nicely and boldly romps around the kitchen.

I am also supplementing two outside babies with bottles as their mothers love them but are not nursing them well. Phil is a little guy that has a mother who is producing little milk and does not want to stand for him to nurse. We've held her repeatedly so that he received colostrum in his first few meals but are also giving him a bottle six or so times a day. Phil is thriving - I posted a video of him romping with Ravi, our Anatolian Shepherd, on the farm Facebook page. He is the very first lamb we've ever had that did not need to be taught to use a bottle. I leaned over to pick him up and show him the bottle. Before I could lift him he ran up, grabbed the rubbery red nipple and went right to work. He is a cutie but also a nuisance. I have to drag my feet when I walk by him so that I don't step on him as he wraps himself around my legs, butting against me for more milk.

I am also still supplementing Bert, the white kid. Again, his mother loves and cares for him but just was not producing much milk. He gets an extra bottle three or four times a day. He is easy to care for as he comes when I call, drinks his bottle and bounds off to rejoin his mother or the other babies he was playing with before I came out.

So, all that to say I haven't been good about blogging and I haven't been good about downloading pictures to today's blog - but once I clean the days eggs and get a few cat toys felted I may be caught up again.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

April on a Grand Tour

April, the little lamb whose mother doesn't want her, needs frequent breaks from the house so I carry her outside and let her visit while I do chores. These are some of her adventures that she had on the celebration of her third day of life.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

We've Lost a Sweetheart

When we moved here in the Fall of 1998, we anxiously awaited springtime so that we could begin a chicken yard. We handed the children the Murray McMurray catalog and let them pick whatever they wanted. One of their choices was a Golden Seabright Bantum. Little did we know that Mrs. Seabright would live to be 11 years old.

She was a feisty little thing who held her own among the standard and heavy breeds. We laughed at her when we came into the nesting house to find her perched atop a huge pile of "big" eggs, setting proudly as if to let us know that was all her work. We've watched her age through the years and have wondered these last few if each winter would be her last. As she aged, she became more and more old-lady-like in her behavior. She would perch herself in the corner of the chicken house for bed an hour or two before anyone else turned in. She also began to nap more during the day.

Monday morning Al mentioned that she just wasn't looking like herself when he fed before daylight. I came out an hour later to find her huddled on the ground. She looked up at me but when I picked her up I noticed that her body temperature was low. I carried her into the stable and placed her under a heat lamp with some water and a bit of feed. I was able to dip her beak in the water and then she tilted her own head back to swallow. She was not interested in the food. She spent the rest of the day going about her business of dying. She moved herself into a corner of the stall and became less and less aware of me. At bedtime she was still alive but barely. I was not surprised to find her tiny dead body this morning. She seems to have died peacefully in the night. I miss her already.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Lamb

Early Easter morning Al went out to feed the chickens. I followed closely behind as I wanted to give Amy, our oldest Anatolian Shepherd, her thyroid medicine. As I started to cross the barnyard, Al called out to let me know that we had a new baby. I was rather surprised to discover that Naomi, our oldest Shetland sheep, had given birth. We hadn't a clue that she was pregnant. She had not developed an udder and was not wiggling restlessly as most of the mothers do before birth.

Apparently, Naomi was not expecting this big event either. She had only half-heartedly cleaned her newborn lamb and then sat herself down. We shuffled them both into the barn. The first thing I did was to check that Naomi's teats were open as the little lamb was energetic and trying to stand up to begin its search for a first meal. Naomi was completely dry. We put a heat lamp on the little one as it was chilled from not being thoroughly cleaned at birth. I knew that somewhere in the freezer I had frozen goat colostrum which we save for such a predicament as this. I found a two year old bottle and put it in warm tap water to thaw.

We fed and watered Naomi who was still exhausted from her birthing experience. She had no interest in the lamb or what we were doing to it. She preferred to stay on her own side of the stall, busy with some corn.

To make a long story short, we spent the rest of the day fooling with the new lamb. It was tiny and just shook even under the heat lamp. But it was trying so very hard to live. Our day was made up of lamb and ewe visits probably every twenty minutes. The little one took a bottle well with some initial coaching and grew stronger as the day passed. Naomi also recovered but continued to show no interest in her lamb.

By the end of the day, I took the little lamb out for a walk. I wanted her to be up and about rather than laying in a box under a heat lamp. Ravi, one of the Anatolians, was quite interested in her and looked after her for a bit while I planted a little more in the garden.

I continued to check on Naomi. Most new mothers would have panicked if their lamb had disappeared but she was not concerned. At one point I thought she was searching the stable for her lamb but she was looking for bits of dropped grain.

By the end of the day it was obvious that this little one was to be our lamb. She spent the night in a box by the bed so that I did not have to go far to give her a bottle. She ate once in the night and went right back to sleep. By morning she was visiting with the house cats and prancing around the kitchen. Guess we have a baby in the house for a bit.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Katy's Tulips

Aggie's Little Fellow

Late Saturday afternoon I was standing at the kitchen sink washing eggs when I noticed that Aggie had something small standing next to her. Not only was it small, but it made quite a contrast against her black fleece. It was a little ram lamb who she managed to have and get almost cleaned up before we realized what was going on. She is a seasoned mother who always does a great job with her lambs.

This morning, Aggie's little boy was up and about and just as strong as could be. We'll let them out of the stable shortly so that he can play with the other lambs. It has gotten to where I could spend much too long watching the babies play. They even climb up onto the huge round bales, jumping from bale to bale and playing tag at the very edges. Luckily they roll well when they tumble.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Chester Enjoying the Sunshine

Chester, our African Spurred Tortoise, lives much of the time in his cage in the house. As soon as the temperature gets above 65 degrees he can graze outside. He has grown from hold-in-my-palm size five years ago to where he is almost too big for the dishpan I use to carry him in.

He spends the day grazing in the grass around my garden where he is safely fenced. At the end of the day he burrows under a railroad tie at a raised bed. Since it is too cool at night for him to be out right now, I lug him back in the house shortly after dinner. There have been a few nights where I've almost forgotten him and have ended up hunting for him in the dark with a flashlight. Luckily, he has only a few favorite end of day hiding places.