Saturday, February 25, 2012

Wool Break

One afternoon in December I was out gathering eggs when I looked across one of the pastures to count heads as I always do.  Our sheep and goats are divided across the farm for various reasons.  Sometimes it feels more like we are running a nursery school as they must often be divided by size, temperament and ability to get along with others!  That afternoon I counted twice as I only saw Buddy, the larger of the Lincoln lambs.  Inky Dink, his little half-brother, was missing.  I put down my egg bucket and walked to that pasture to look to see if Inky was perhaps down the rise and out of sight.  As I approached the gate I called his name.  I immediately heard a very weak little cry.  Not twenty feet from the gate a scattered pile of hay was moving.  Inky was on his side and almost buried in the little bit of hay on the ground.  He was on a bit of a hill with his head lower than his feet so I lifted him up, brushed him off and assumed he would shake it off and get going as soon as he got his bearings.

I gave him a hug, let him go and he flopped back to the ground.  I noticed his neck was stiffly turning his head back toward his shoulder.  That was bad.  I hefted his 50 pound little body over my shoulder and hauled him into the stable.  I then ran back to the house, checked all my information on listeriosis, pulled out the penicillin and a few other meds and went to work.  Listeriosis is a bacterial infection of the brain which usually results in death in a matter of days.  I did not want to lose little Inky so got to work.  To make a long story short, after a month of nursing him he was up and around again.  My sweet husband even set an alarm and gave him his 1 a.m. injections for that first week.

Now Inky is showing the effects of that health crisis.  He is showing a wool break.  It was not unexpected and I first noticed it a week ago.  He seemed to be shedding out.  He had been going about his normal day and the shedding wool was tangling in itself and dragging behind him.

Rather than let all his pretty wool go to waste, we began harvesting handfuls as we petted on him.  He has a nice new healthy coat growing underneath.  We were saddened to see how thin he had become but considering that he was ill for nearly a month and had very little appetite we were not surprised.  In the time that he was down we watered him with a syringe, fed him grains by the handfuls and always had good hay with him but he had very little interest.  Now that he has been up and about for a month his appetite is improving.  He has learned that he will be rewarded with an extra treat when he follows us into the stable so meets us at the gate as soon as he sees us coming and trails behind us on the chance we are going toward the feed room.  He has continual access to hay and is pulled aside for an extra daily feeding as well.  It is just so good to see him up and on his feet even if he does look a little silly right now.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Odds and Ends

I have been loving my artist-in-residency task with 3rd through 5th graders.  I get the same small group of students from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. with just a brief lunch break.  The part that tickles me the most is their reaction when we do the math and they realize they've just spent a good 4 hours on a single project!  I don't know how this little man was working so well with his sleeves almost burying his hands but he was very proud of the finished project and well he should be!
Winter molt is over and the gals are laying again.   We do have a few breeds that lay throughout the winter but egg production drops dramatically as the birds go through their winter molt.  Now everyone is all feathered out again and ready to go.  As the hours of daylight increase so does the laying.  I am devoting a fair bit of my day to keeping up with eggs.
Everyone has been enjoying our mild winter.  Vincent Van Goat, our very old LaMancha wether, is stockpiling nap time.  Ravi, one of the Anatolian Shepherds, vigilantly keeps watch over Vincent as he sleeps. Or at least that is what we're supposed to believe!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Look who!

The temperature is surprisingly in the mid-60's today.  I decided to clean a few water troughs as long as I was out enjoying the spring like weather.  Look who was looking up at me as I flipped the first trough - an adorable surprise.  I am sure they are as confused about the weather as I have been.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Greeting

I noticed this blooming daffodil at the edge of the donkey pasture as I was out doing morning chores.  Our unseasonably warm winter has all of us confused.  Earlier in the week I'd found a few dandelions blooming.  Of course the sheep who were following me on my walk quickly gobbled up those surprises.

This has been a pleasant winter from the standpoint that we have not had to chip ice out of the water troughs each morning or drain hoses each night to keep them from freezing up.  We have not had to feed masses of extra hay.  Ordinarily in a cold winter we go through a lot of hay because a ruminant will eat extra hay so that its gut will act like a little furnace, heating the animal as digestion occurs.

The down side is that I have spent so much time outside on these mild days that I've not spent enough time at the spinning wheel.  For the next three weeks I am not in a school as artist-in-residence so I must discipline myself to wash a few fleeces, do some dyeing and get busy producing!

We are expecting the next few nights to be colder with temperatures predicted in the 20's but at this point there is little to complain about. I just don't know how many daffodils will greet me tomorrow morning.