As we rode up to the sheep shed this morning at 6 am, dark and 2 degrees, outside near the hay feeder sat Candy the Great Pyr (not unusual) guarding the pregnant due to deliver ewe 1214 laying beside her(unusual). All of the other sheep were inside the barn. Any time a pregnant ewe separates themselves from the herd, something is about to happen. Sure enough, when she stood up, it was obvious she was in labor and trying to deliver. We herded her into one of the lambing pens in the barn and watched while we finished our chores. Nothing happened, so, learning from earlier experience, we knew it was time to intervene. The first lamb (brown with white spot on her head) was breech and had to be pulled feet first. She was limp and not breathing at first, but after clearing her airway, she started breathing. It took nearly an hour for her to stand on all four feet. We waited, allowing mama to clean and warm the first baby hoping the second would come on its own. The ewe tried, but something still wasn't right. The second lamb was head first, with one leg forward and one leg backward, preventing her from being born. So, once again we helped. This baby came out wide awake and alert, and was on its feet within minutes. This evening, mama and both babies were doing well.
As if that wasn't enough excitement for the day, we have had no water in the township. It was gone Sunday, back for a few hours Monday, then gone again Monday evening. Today the water company gave away bottled water, and fire trucks delivered water to farms for livestock. Two wonderful volunteer firemen from Windsor township showed up in my driveway to deliver water. I had to smile when one of them said, "ma'am I cant get this fire truck up that hill." I told him I would take it up on the gator in a barrel. He looked up the hill, shook his head and said, "I'm not going with you." They filled a 55 gallon barrel plus some 5 gallon buckets with water. It wasn't a moment too soon, because the sheep's tank was nearly empty. I really think developing a natural water source on the hill will be a priority this year.
For the first time, we could not get the gator to go up the hill today. The icy rain and snow from yesterday created a sloppy, slushy, icy mess, and coupled with the 35 degree temperatures and melting snow, the steepest part of the road was too slick to climb. It didn't help that we had a 50 gallon tank of water in the back.
And so, we walked...
I'm glad someone was having fun.
Winter finally came, and it looks like he wants to settle in for a few days. At least that's what the 10 day forecast says. I suppose old man winter thought he had been too kind to us this year, so he had to make up for lost time. Last week, my garlic ws starting to peek through the ground, and my blueberry bushes had little baby leaf buds. Tricks! So, here we are, back to winter.
After snowy Monday and a treacherous drive home, it was my turn this morning to check on the animals. I'm not sure what inspired me, maybe the sunshine, or maybe I was afraid of sliding off the hill in the gator, but I decided to walk up the hill.
The chickens and goats were all going fine. Ember is showing more signs that kids are coming soon. I really hope it isn't when the temperature is -15, but that is probably my luck. I wouldn't be surprised if it happens in the next 24 hours. Her udder looks bigger, and I think I see a little mucus discharge. (Ok I'll spare you the butt pic :-)
The snow was dry and powdery, and had some pretty big deer tracks.
I'm glad I came early, 1118 decided to (finally) have her twins. One boy and one girl. She's the sheep with the prolapse problem. The lambs were out, and everything else stayed in. The little lambs were still moist and learning to walk. They'll go in a lambing pen with a heat lamp for a while.
The horses must like winter. Their backs were covered in ice and snow. Later in the afternoon the sun had melted most of it off, but they still got a nice brisk brushing. I didn't hear any complaints.
Ready for more snow tonight!
We moved the horse feeder inside their barn, hoping they will use it during these frigid days and nights. Doing our best to keep everyone watered, breaking ice several times a day now. It's amazing how fast and thick it froze today. Thank goodness we have some electric water heaters for the chickens and goats. All I can say is, every day is one day closer to spring!
Tangle Ridge Farm fresh eggs, now featured on Sundays at Wedge!
1302, one of our registered ewes, gave us a healthy little red ram Saturday. This was her first time lambing. We have three more that should be ready any day.
Alita's girls are 7 weeks old and learning how to nibble on hay and grain.
I am sorry to say I have sad news to report. When we checked on the ewe (1233) this morning, there was still no lamb. Worried, but not realizing what was happening, we went off to work. I checked with some experts, and John called the vet. Both confirmed, this was a serious situation and time was of the essence. Once labor begins and the amniotic sac presents, birth should take place within 2 hours. Something was wrong. John went to check on her and was unable to get through the cervix. She was not dilated. We learned this is a condition sheep people call RING WOMB. She went into labor, her cervix did not open, and the lamb did not proceed into the birth canal. Therefore, she did not push or appear in distress. The vet arrived and tried to pull the lamb. After much effort to save her, he could not get the lamb out. Her uterus ruptured, and we had to put her down. He said the lamb had probably been dead for 24 to 36 hours. I think our biggest lesson is, act quickly. We were fooled by the fact that she was in no distress and not pushing. This is our second lambing season, and first time to have a birthing difficulty. Unfortunately, these things happen and when they do, all we can do is try our best to save them, learn from our mistakes and hope it turns out better next time. Every season is a new learning experience. Thank you all for your questions and concern today.
The first ewe of the season has gone into labor. She is well into the process, because the amniotic sac has appeared and her water has broken. The lamb should be coming soon. For the moment, she's up and eating and appears to be in no distress. She is safely tucked into a lambing pen with plenty of clean bedding, hay and water, now watching for the event. This will be her first. Hoping all goes well.
My name is Christy Franklin.