Friday, January 23, 2015

The Bad with the Good

Frustration!! I lost a lamb this evening. No matter how hard I tried I was unable to save it. It had taken in too much fluids into it's lungs as it was being born. I had worked on it for over 5 hours. It is a roller-coaster of emotions when you think you have them saved then they die anyway. I would almost rather they were born dead then to go through this. Well on the other hand it's twin is doing well at mamma's side. 

And as for yesterday's mystery of which lamb belonged to which ewe. I am pretty sure only one ewe lambed, having twins. As for that other ewe in the pen trying to claim babies, I checked her out she has not lambed yet. She even went as far as to try and steel the lambs that were born today too. I am afraid this is going to be an on going problem since she does not look as far along in her pregnancy as some of the other ewes are.  This might end up being a very trying & long lambing season. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Keeping them Healthy

We have had a lot of wet weather, nothing unusual about that around here. For those folks that have to deal with wet, mucky weather you also have to deal with foot scald. Foot scald for those of you that don't know, is the beginning signs of foot rot. The animal will usually start limping because they get raw and sore between the toes of the hoof.

(The pictures with this post are not of our flock and
was borrowed from the internet for example purposes only. )
(The pictures with this post are not of our flock and 
was borrowed from the internet for example purposes only. )
It will have a very bad smell and the hoof it's self will be soft ( it is not suppose to be) and what looks like a white substance on it when you clean them. We see it primarily in our adult flock members, lambs rarely ever have hoof problems but should still receive regular hoof care non the less. Now foot scald is a lot easier to treat then foot rot and does not spread to the rest of your livestock as easily. We take steps to prevent it but sometimes no matter what we do we will get one or two out of the flock that still manages to get it. This is not just a sheep problem all hoofed animals can get this. To help prevent it we trim & clean hooves on a regular schedule at least twice a year if not more. Have a dry place for them to stand and get out of the weather. And if possible we have them go through a foot bath that has chemicals or minerals that will kill the bacteria causing rot. We also make sure our flock receives mineral supplements via a mineral block. Zinc is a very important mineral in the fight against foot rot. It adds to the health of hooves and helps keep the skin around and between the hooves from drying out and splitting causing open sores for the bacteria to grow in. When we see signs of potential scald with our livestock then we treat right away. Wearing hand protection, we first clean and trim the hoof. Being careful when we trim, if the hoof is soft it may tear causing more damage. We always use very sharp hoof trimmers. If it looks like we can not trim the hoof with out tearing it. We will leave it till it heals and hardens up more then go back in and trim later but, we make sure to clean it thoroughly. Once it is cleaned and trimmed, we lance any boil like sores if there is any. Drench the hoof with a topical hoof drench medication and keep the animal in a dry warm place away from the rest of our livestock. This must be repeated for about 3 to 4 days and there is signs of improvement. If the hoof is very bad or we see puss and what looks like infection. We follow the same steps but  we then consider giving at least 3 days of antibiotics and applying a jell or paste treatment that contains copper sulfate .  We will wrap the hoof with gauze and elastic wrap leaving that on for 3 - 4 days. This keeps the treatment where it needs to be and keeps the sheep from licking it. Since sheep are highly sensitive to copper when digested, it gives the treatment time to absorb before open to the air. When ever handling animals you should wash your hands thoroughly but even more so if handling infected hooves. You don't want to get shepherds disease. It is NASTY, just NASTY!!! I can honestly say we have never had to treat an animal for hoof rot or had scald spread through out our livestock. It is an added chore we must do for the welfare of our flock and for being able to raise GREAT TASTING LAMB in a great area like the Oregon Coast. One we are glad to do for that privilege.  
(The pictures with this post are not of our flock and was borrowed from the internet for example purposes only. We have never had a case of scald as bad as shown in these pictures and we have never had a case of hoof rot ever.)    

Friday, September 12, 2014

In search of Local Grown?

I  found a new site that I thought I'd share with those of you looking to buy local. We put our farm on their list as well. This is just an aid to find local grown products not to replace good times, good stories, laughs and the joy you get from following along here on our blog. Remember buying local is good but if you can't find what your looking for or just know that the quality is better here, we are always willing to work with you in getting our product to you no matter where you live. So check this site out & then come on back and join us on another adventure. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Joy & Frustration all in one week, Life of a Shepherd

Joy; the first of our yearling ewes lambed. She had no difficulties with delivering, did it all on her own which is a very good thing. She had twins, a little bit of a shocker considering she wasn't very big and it was her first time. But one of the lambs was dead I am not sure if it died before birth or she accidently stepped on it during delivery. The surviving lamb a male is healthy and lively, weighing in at 9 pounds an average size for a lamb. Good Job, Baby Girl! 
Baby Girl & her male lamb

Baby Girl's little boy, aka "Philip" according to my son's girl friend. 
Now for the frustration; I discovered that #6 aka: Broomhilda, has developed Mastitis. Ewes can get Mastitis a couple of different ways and there are two different kinds of Mastitis. Luckily she has the kind that is treatable. But, I am not sure I can save her whole bag, one side is effected and further along then the other. I have been treating it aggressively and see results. But this also means I had to pull her lambs off her and start bottle feeding them. Though this seems very cute to non-farm people it is not what we want to happen. A baby does best when they are able to stay on Mamma. Plus it is a greater expense and takes more of our time to manage bottle lambs. Bottle lambs do not usually grow as well as those that stay on their mothers. Both lambs are doing well on the bottle though, one of them does not know how to suckle it appears. This can also explain why #6 has Mastitis. The lamb wants to bite at the nipple instead of suck. Their little teeth are sharp if it did this to #6 and she received cuts from the lamb then Bacteria could easily get into her bag causing the Mastitis. I did find abrasions on her teats and bag but was not sure if it was the cause or happened afterwards from the bag swelling so tight. The lambs have been placed in a pen insider her pen. This way they stay close to each other and do not get as upset as they would being placed in pens further away inside the barn. 
The challenge has been for us to get to the lambs past her. She is not happy with us for handling her when she hurts, she is not happy with us for taking her lambs away, she is just down right not happy with us at all! She is a BIG sheep with horns. She is not and has never been a friendly sheep either. But she is a good mother and a good producer, I hope I can save at least one side of her bag. I do not want to have to cull her out of the herd.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A Marriage of Carriers .... one to allow the other.

As a lot of you know growing a business takes time especially if it has any thing to do with farming/ranching. Even more so if the product is unusual for the area you are in. Like ours - market sheep in the middle of dairy cow country.
What is Where?

Excuse Me!!
So I have taken a part time job to bring a little money in on the side for now. This first two to three weeks is training so it is full time, taking up a lot of my time.
 Luckily we only have a few ewes who had not lambed already. Leaving me the capability to mange home life,4-H duties, sheep and job at the same time. I had an ewe who was getting close to lambing so to be able to mange things better, at the end of last week I put her in a lambing pen. This morning when I arrived at the barn two little ewe lambs were standing at her side. Healthy and lively.

I have 2 more older ewes left to lamb and 3 yearly ewes. They are the ones I have to worry about. The chances of having to pull lambs are greater and the fact that they may not know what to do after the lamb is born is higher. It is not always clear to new mothers, sometimes we have to help them out a little, like directing the lamb in what direction it needs to go to find the teat. The older ewes know how to do that them selves. I was not going to breed them till they were 2 years old but the ram got loose and in with them. I was hoping they hadn't taken but no luck there. What is lucky is the fact that they will be the last to lamb and do not look like they are due to lamb for a while yet. I am praying that all my training is done by then. The job I have taken is a Sub-Transit Bus driver, so I am able to say yes or no to jobs allowing me the time I need for 4-H, the sheep and home life.

Back to Bus Driving
I feel pretty lucky in finding a job like that. I love my family, I love being a 4-H leader, and I love working with the sheep and the business of raising sheep and their products. I feel this is a good marriage of carriers.

                            Life is GOOD! 

Some photos copied from internet: Thank you to those I borrowed photos from to express my thoughts on this post.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Here's whats been happening at the Sheep Camp

Boy, so much has happened this Winter and I have not had the time to sit down and post about each event separately, so here is just a "little catch up" on events post, from the Sheep Camp. We lost my son Jacob's black Suffolk ewe in January, after she had given birth to two still born lambs. We think it was septic shock. Her name was Lily, she was 7 years old and had quite the personality. He had her since she was 8 weeks old, she was one of his first 4-H project lambs. She was the only full black sheep we had and was built the way you would want a show animal to be built for the show ring. But, unfortunately my son was never able to show her because she was just to wild and bull headed to tame down enough to show. In turn it made her the perfect farm breeding ewe. She had beautiful built lambs, was very protective of them, and her body confirmation held up over the years. I wish I could say the same for myself. You would of never known how old she was by looking at her just grazing in the field. She will truly be missed.
Lily, taken 2013

This was a picture of Lily and her lamb from February 2013
My other son Tanner's luck during lambing season was not any better. His main ewe Jasmine had delivered freckled twins. They were beautiful lambs but a short time afterwards Jasmine accidently laid on one of them and it died.
Jasmine and her 2014 freckled lambs

A freckled lamb is the result of breeding a
white faced sheep with a black face sheep.
In this case - Jasmine (ewe) who is a Hampshire
was bread to McRamsey (ram) who is a North Country Cheviot. 

The other lamb grew nicely and was looking great then when we were docking tails and castrating it went into shock and died as well. I have heard of lambs doing this but we had never had it happen in all our years of raising sheep. We tried hard to save it but there was nothing that would work. The rest of the sheep flourished and lambing season hit into full gear.
We have 12 lambs so far all doing well. We are expecting 3 to 6 ewes to still lamb. I say expecting because 3 of them are yearling ewe lambs that were not suppose to get bread this last year but the ram snuck in with them. So we are not sure of the results. We do not do pregnancy test on our ewes just because of the extra cost and we are not that large of an outfit to justify the procedure, YET! 
Out of the 12 lambs there are 5 cross bread ewe lambs, the big question will be - "Do we keep them to add to the flock or do we sell them to add to the bank?"

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

When The Sun Comes Out .... So does A Little Fun!

Saturday was a bright sunny day, unlike today how fast the weather changes around here. When I arrived that day to feed the Rams and Wethers, the sunshine was causing them to feel their oats. Apparently I disturbed a game of king-of-the-hill that had been taking place on top of the flatbed trailer.

This guy took the opportunity of me showing up to declare himself winner since he was not afraid to stay on top of the trailer while everyone else scrambled off upon the sight of my presents.

Our little Ram Lamb walked over to greet me as he so often does. I usually talk to him but not much else just because I don't want him to get to friendly. A tamed down, friendly Ram can be dangerous. When they go into rut and are no longer scared of you they are more apt to charge or butt you to protect what they feel is theirs.

He is not very big yet but, someday he will weigh in close to 300 pounds. As you can see those horns are getting very thick and large. By the time he reaches two years old he should have a full curl and a half on them.

I have seen a ram of that age shear off a 4 inch wooden fence post with one blow. I don't want to find out if it only takes one blow for my legs. You want the rams to be calm and manageable but not pet friendly. Learning little things like not to rub their foreheads helps keep everyone on good terms with each other and safe. This is a sign they use to challenge each other to a fight. They put their heads together and slightly press or rub foreheads then back up, putting weight on their hindquarters for more power and butt or ram heads together. So we will just stay on speaking terms for now.