Saturday, March 31, 2012


This is Sadie, one of our Anatolian Shepherds, tending to little Ralphie.  Ralphie was born prematurely last season.  He had a twin brother who died hours after birth.  Mother delivered them, walked away and never looked back.  Ralphie was so premature that he didn't even have hoofs on his little feet.  Somehow we managed to save him.  I attribute much of the success to the constant love and attention that Sadie showed him.

Ralphie has grown into a very spoiled young man.  He has decided that he cannot be content unless he is looking for trouble.  We feed very nice hay, all of our pastures are growing well and there is no reason to want to go anywhere else.  Unless you are Ralphie.  He has a tendency to get into trouble and needs rescuing at least once a day.
After having to rescue him often, we moved him to another pasture without the woven wire fencing.  He still managed to find a way to get into trouble but at least he wasn't constantly stuck.
But I am sure the whole "stick your head somewhere it barely fits" is a goat thing.  Here's last week's rescue:
All this grief for a tiny tuft of grass that had sprouted after a recent rainstorm.  The goat was rescued, the roll of fence removed and the chickens quickly snatched up the clump of grass.  This is why I walk the entire farm several times each day.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

An Explosion

This is what I was greeted by when I returned from a school yesterday afternoon.
This mother had suddenly started to blow her coat.  She'd obviously been using her lovely horns to scratch those funny little itchy spots as she was shedding out.
I chased her around for a bit and gleaned some lovely curls.  This goat's father was a Nubian X Angora buck and her mother was an Angora doe so she has an odd coat which consists of silky curls mixed with coarse hair.  I have plenty of animals producing great fiber so I just let her shed out rather than try to shear and save a few curls.  I'll be interested to see how long it takes her to get back to her spring coat.  I will also be watching to see if her adorable little doeling keeps a smooth coat or eventually shows us a few curls.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Twins having Twins

Bitsy and Betsy are the twin ewes we acquired a year and a half ago. They came with their names and a bit of a problem.  Their owner was losing her farm and had apparently been struggling as she was not able to feed them properly.  They were both grossly overweight when we got them.  We put them on good pasture, lots of hay and only an occasional bit of grain so that they each lost about 75 pounds.  We also quarantined them from the rams the first season we had them as we feared for their health should they become pregnant.  We did let them do their own thing last fall and have since been rewarded with two sets of twins!

Neither sister were what we would consider natural mothers.  Bitsy was the first to lamb.  She had twins, a ewe and a buck.  She seemed confused and had stopped trying to clean up her newborns.  Both were chilled and lethargic when we found them.  We rushed the little family into the stable, put them on heat, milked out Bitsy and tube fed the lambs to get them going.  After a few hours and plenty of fussing on our part they rallied.  Long story but Bitsy was not too concerned with them.  We spent the first few days having to hold her and help the lambs get at her udder to nurse.  We also had to clean their bottoms as mama was lacking in that skill as well.  Bitsy was just getting the hang of things five days later when Betsy, her sister, lambed.

Betsy shared her lack of maternal instinct with her sister.  She barely cleaned up her lambs but they were up and trying so hard to nurse. We had to hold her so that the lambs could get at her udder without her kicking them away.  It took about three days before she seemed ready to tolerate them.

Because of their minimal maternal behavior, we have kept the mothers and lambs safe in the stable for about a week longer than we would with a new mother and lamb.  Yesterday I let them out to see the world.  There was some confusion at first as the mothers tried to sort their lambs or just walked off without them.  Both mothers gently butt away the "wrong" babies so that added to the confusion. Thankfully by the afternoon things were beginning to sort themselves out.  I even found Betsy minding the whole crew while Bitsy had a little me-time on the other side of the barn.  Through it all Baloo, our Pyr X Kangal Livestock Guardian Dog, kept a watchful eye.  He loves baby and has finally learned not to steal them but just to love them from a distance.  He is very trustworthy so I felt comfortable letting him quietly be in charge.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Little Imp

Our first baby of the season was a little doeling.  The next was a ram lamb. The two have become close friends as they were the only babies for a few days.  And they have become the closest of friends.  Yesterday I watched as the little doe started to play, looked over to where her buddy was napping, woke him up and proceeded to show off just for him.  He is usually a busy little man but was not interested in playing her game.  Mo, the ewe she is playing with/on is the mother of the little ram lamb who hid himself in the nesting box.  Someone needs an award for the most patient mama of the year!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Good Heavens.

Mo birthed this delightful little man sometime in the night.

Al found him first thing this morning all up, fed and happy.  Mo is an experienced mother and it is a pretty day so we thought we'd leave them outside for a bit.  We snuck a little extra grain to her and soon discovered what a nosy little fellow she has.

We've checked on them every time we've gone outside and all seemed well.  Mo had him around the back of an old barn so that he was protected from the wind.  On the latest visit out, though, I was not able to find him.  Mo was still at the back of the barn along with Oliver, the lamb's father.  Both Mo and Oliver stood up as I walked up but no lamb appeared.  After a bit of searching we found him.
I imagine the back of the barn wall did not provide enough shelter to suit him so he found his own.
It seems mama Mo knew where he was as she wasn't concerned.
Looks like we may need more than Baloo, the LGD, to keep an eye on this little man!

Friday, March 9, 2012

The First Ewe Lamb

~ ~ ~Caution: birthing pictures below ~ ~ ~

So far we've had a doe kid and a ram lamb.  On Thursday I did a walk around and saw a doe who was a little restless. Just as the sun was setting I walked back out to check on her, thinking perhaps she would be going into labor soon.  Instead I found a ewe wallowing around on the ground in the middle of a nice labor.  In about fifteen minutes I saw a little nose and two nice hooves.  Mama laid down for one last good push and delivered a healthy black ewe lamb.

Baloo, our Great Pyr X Kangal, kept watch patiently from about ten feet away the entire labor.  Once mama had the baby fairly well cleaned up and ready to go he finally let down his guard.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Baby Pictures

I spent the day in Spartanburg with students.  I got home, checked e-mail, scrambled some eggs for the dogs and then headed out to feed and to gather the day's eggs.  As I approached the pasture gate I noticed a little lamb strutting around with the adult sheep and goats.  Gwen and Ravi, two of the Anatolian Shepherds were quietly laying nearby watching.  I put down my empty egg bucket, turned back to the house and got my camera. I just sat and enjoyed taking pictures of the little guy on a lovely mild March day.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Season's First Baby

Friday night we had thunderstorms with heavy rain.  Saturday morning when Al was doing chores he found this doe and her little doe kid high and dry on the porch of the stable.
We put the two of them into a stall so that mama could have grain, fresh water and hay all to herself.  The doe kid is strong and healthy. This morning she was busy practicing standing on three legs as she scratched her ear.

This is mama's first year to kid.  She is obviously a sweet and very capable mother who adores her little doe.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Too Cute

I was walking in from gathering eggs and glanced through a fence to see some of the goats staring at Regina, one of the Anatolian Shepherds, eating her dinner.  They are obviously well-fed enough that they were not trying to get her food.  They were just watching the old gal enthusiastically enjoy her dinner.
These two does were just resting their chins on Kermit, their buck.  He is the funniest fellow.  His father was one of our Angora bucks and his mother was a petite precious Nubian doe.  He is a big pushy fellow who keeps his own harem in a pasture with some of the cattle.  He is very sweet to his ladies but he can be a pushy pig around any other male animals.  The girls seem to think he is just a doll!