The Hole That Ate the Chicken

Subtitle: Or why I don’t get much done during lambing season.

I am so behind on blogging. I really do like my blogs to be in order. I have lots of photos and blog ideas that I want to post but at this point they will be all out of order. There are more cute grandkid photos, photos of my weekend trip to Ft. Bragg, photos of sheep, but the last two weeks was hectic. I wanted to spend as much time as I could with my daughter and grandkids but I also needed to work on my new website and get it mostly underway before lambing began.

So there is nothing very exciting about this morning but I was in the barn from about 6:30 until 11 when I could get in for breakfast and there was one incident, very minor as things go, that gave me the idea for this blog post.

At 6:30 I saw that Hallie had lambed with twins and they were clean and fed. I had put her in the night before thinking she might be ready. The other ewe I had guessed might lamb had not and was supremely annoyed. I let her out.

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I caught these two sheep. First I brought in the older ewe, Sophia, who I had been watching in the back. She didn’t go in with the others when I fed but got up as I approached. She has shown some lameness on a back foot and I haven’t had time to look at it. That could account for her not getting up but she just didn’t look right.

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The younger ewe, Alice, needed her eye treated. I had been putting ointment in it but stopped before I should have (or there is another problem I don’t know about–I never did find anything in it).

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As I looked in the back again I saw Jean (the sheep not at the feeder). This is an excellent photo of the sunken sides of a ewe ready to lamb. She appears gaunt after the lambs have moved into position. So I brought her into the lambing area.

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I took video of Jean during lambing which I will edit and post eventually. Here are the two healthy lambs.

I continued to watch Sophia because she didn’t look right. I spend a lot of time just watching sheep during lambing. To make that effective you have to spend time watching sheep that are not lambing as well. You need to know the difference to know when one of your sheep isn’t quite right. I left her in the lambing area while I worked on other things…like when the phone battery died just as I was doing more video. I went to the house for the cord and then spent some time rerouting the extension cord that is going to the scale so that I don’t trip over it. Why not spend time fixing the plug that doesn’t work which is why an extension cord is necessary? I can do extension cords. I can’t do electricity.

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Before I move lambs and ewes out of the lambing pens I tag each one, give BOSE (selenium and Vitamin E supplement), and place a tail band. I started with #1 and then realized that I made my first mistake. The real #1 died (triplets born while I was in Ft. Bragg but that’s another story) and this should have been #2 or #3. So I already messed up. But I messed up prior to this by buying tags a size larger than I usually buy for the lambs. I haven’t quite decided if I want to keep using these or get the right ones. They seem awfully big for little Jacob ears.

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My routine is to move 3 ewes with their lambs into a group pen for a few days. I can keep a better eye on them and the lambs learn to stick with their mamas and not annoy the other ewes, who are quite convincing to any lamb that gets near. In this case, Clover is with her two, Rosie is behind the bale with her single and Jillian is out of the photo behind a feeder with her twins. I have been trying to get all the ewes’ feet trimmed BEFORE they lamb because it’s much harder to do when they are worried about where their lambs are. Mistake #2 today. I forgot to trim Rosie’s feet. I’ll have to remember before she goes out.

I was still watching Sophia. She is a week from her due date but she is big and round…and fat. She stands like she is uncomfortable and her leg is bothering her. My feeling is that it is the hip, not the foot, that is the problem. We used to have cows that would be gimpy in late pregnancy because of the calf positioned on a nerve. She ate a little grain, but not a lot. As I watched I felt like she was a little quivery. That can be a sign of pregnancy toxemia or hypocalcemia. I got out the jug of propylene glycol that I hardly ever use. That meant a trip to the house to look up the dosage. It won’t hurt is she does not need it, but it will be interesting to know if it makes a difference.

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Back to work. I was cleaning pens as I went, moving water buckets, etc. Mistake #3 and what inspired the title of this post. This is looking down on a half wall that separates the lambing area from the main part of the barn. There is plywood on both sides of the 2×4’s. A chicken fell in there once and it required rescue. This is the story as Maggie told it. The end of those two 2×4’s on the right makes a convenient place to put things like hoof trimmer or gloves…one of which fell into the hole. That’s when I thought about all the little things that add up that are the reason you spend the whole day in the barn and you don’t really accomplish much.img_7719

This is the view that I use when I make a first check on the sheep. I can look out this window and they don’t all get up like they do if I go into where they are. Now that the weather has changed and the pasture has started to dry out I want to get them out but there is a break in the electric fence and I need to fix it before I can let anyone in the pasture.

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This is a closer shot of another ewe that looks suspiciously ready to lamb, but really a lot of them do.

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Here is where we are so far.

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Onyx isn’t even on the list for two weeks.

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According to the list Esmerelda still has a week to go.

The glove is still in the wall.

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