Wednesday, April 27, 2011

With Livestock...

No pictures with this post. Just the facts, ma'am. In case there's ANYTHING to be learned.

I read early on, that if you have livestock, you should expect deadstock. Not meant to be funny, just a blunt reality check for the wanna-be. I have come to accept and appreciate the wisdom of that phrase. Sadly, this year's lambing began with a prime example.

Angel, a first-time Shetland mom, gave birth Sunday night to a stillborn ram lamb. Very large (for her) - at least a 10 lb. baby. We had her jugged, and were watching closely. In the morning, we saw a contraction. They came about every 5 minutes, but she didn't seem to be advancing, or in any discomfort, so we left for Easter dinner. We got back around 5, fully expecting a lamb. Nothing. And the contractions weren't any different. She was nibbling, drinking, and otherwise looked fine. Still, when we had no real action by 6 p.m., I called the vet. I was told she was probably a slow starter, and to be patient. One hour later she had mucus, but no real contractions. The vet said I was welcome to put my hand in and feel around, Angel said otherwise. So I opted to let her be. My hourly check at 10 finally showed some hoof (the lamb's) but the contractions were just not "there". I jumped in to help, and it was clear this guy was stuck. I pulled, massaged, eased, pulled, wriggled, pulled (all while DH was on the cell to the vet) and nothing. It was the hardest birth I could recall - she was just not dilated, and I was worried about prolapse. It took a half hour, but we finally got it out. I knew when the nose had presented that the lamb was stillborn (the tongue was blue and limp, when I reached fingers inside I got no reaction, etc.) I let her lick him off for a bit, since that helps to stimulate uterine contraction and ease passing of the placenta.

Today the vet is coming out to look her over, as she is running a fever. I believe she needs a good boost of penicillin, and perhaps something else - we'll see.

We buried the little guy in the woods, as we do. Luckily, with Spring finally here, it was possible to dig the grave. But I reflected on another important piece of the lesson - be prepared if an animal should die, especially in winter. If you do not have a large piece of property with equipment for heaving lifting/digging, you should plan ahead and have something ready. Just cover it with a piece of plywood. It's not grim - it's just prepared.

Now our hopes turn to our other ewe - who is showing few signs of being pregnant, but I really believe she is just being difficult. After all, who could resist the romantic advances of Barry White?

Update: Dr. Shelly (the good vet) came and administered Banamine (for pain) to be repeated daily for two more days, LA200 to be repeated in 48 hours, and her CDT booster. Temp was 104 degrees. Two small tears in outer muscle wall, nothing notable on internal exam. Udder is still full, but not painful or hot. She is back with the others and seems happier, if a little slow. Will have them all out on pasture today, close by, so I can monitor for behavior, eating, and rumen action.

Monday, April 18, 2011

A little OCD isn't a bad thing...right?

I worked most of my professional career in the Human Services, with the Emotionally Disturbed and Mentally Ill. Believe me, I know EXACTLY how close we all are to sliding into one of those DSM IV classifications...

I routinely find myself knocking on the OCD door. I can get caught up in the minutia and ritual of certain chores. Like picking the garbage pile. Not a garbage pile we started or contribute to - it was part of the package when we bought the place. Apparently, the former owners found it acceptable to toss all sorts of household, automobile, construction and farm trash over the hill. The fact that practically none of it was biodegradeable (forget safe) seemed not to matter.

We hauled 15 huge truckloads out of here when we first moved in. (Back when we had access to a dumpster.) Now, we have to take smaller runs to the local transfer station, or "go commando" and drop off bits and pieces in public trash cans. To mark our achievement and progress, we planted a border of daffodils back there, to mark the "edge" and to put something pretty and growing in a place that used to be dismal and trashy.

That doesn't stop the picking, though. Every few days, I find myself wandering back there to corral wayward chickens or dump some leaves and I catch the glint of metal, the sparkle of glass shards, or the garish color swatch of some plastic jug just peeking out of the soil. I can't leave it alone. I can't return to the homestead side of the daffodils and pretend it's not there. Nope. I'm too compulsive, or the urge to clean too strong, or something. I pick.

Today's haul:
It all started innocently enough with a walk back to take a photo for the header, and that tip of pipe just winked at me...and there you have it.

Better get back to my scheduled project - the one where I can't part with last Fall's decorations, and I sit and hand shuck 40 little ears of Indian corn for turkey feed.

I'm OK, really. I can walk away. Really. Just watch me. Here I go....walking away. Off to weed the potato patch. Or trim the rose briars. Or....pick some more trash?

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Breakfast with Alice

We got up early this morning to go visit the latest addition to the local farm family...

We had breakfast with the cutest calf in Rensselaer County.....ALICE!
Don't know which picture is better of the "proud momma"...either Sue, (above) or Jasmine (below).

(Wow! Dairy barns sure are steamy!)