This winter has kept me trapped inside quite a bit. Things are thawing out, the ice is slowly melting away, the sheep are lambing and I'm able to escape out the back door
for a little bit now and again. Tuesday Rosemary was looking lamby, the top of her hips looking a bit peaked and she had the 'mama wiggle'. I managed to get her to follow me to the lambing shed where I got the closed circuit camera plugged back in for the
occasion. Randy said she'd be at least another week, but I said I thought she might go Wednesday. We got chores done and I turned the monitor and settled in to watch a night's worth of "Ewe-tube". She had a nice little ewe lamb we named "Thyme" the next day.
No intervention required. I just had to help by holding Rosemary still so the baby could get some colostrum as the new mama was so excited about licking the baby she wouldn't allow her to nurse. It didn't take long before they both caught on and everything
went like clockwork after that. They did so well, in fact, I turned them out with the rest of the flock the next day.
EmmaLou and SushiMoo love their tent. We had hurricane force winds again and it held fast although it's a bit mishapen now. Sandwiching the tarps between cattle panels
didn't hurt. I'm glad EmmaLou had company to ride out this storm with, instead of being alone like last year, when she was so frightened. Having your baby with you tends to bring out the mama bear in us all and makes us braver.
It has been my goal for awhile to get some kind of gadget on SushiMoo so she cannot nurse. I’ve been wanting to turn her back in with EmmaLouMoo as they did not like
being separated much. After multiple failures trying to get a weaning ring in her nose, myself hanging on and Randyman applying, as well as the reverse scenerio, she just slung us around so we gave up on that particular method. I made a few suggestions about
how it could be more easily accomplished, but received a condescending snort instead of support for it so I declined.
Our next attempt was to make a weaning halter, like one I'd seen on the Family Cow forum. It was merely a piece of rubber attached to the halter so she couldn’t get anything
in her mouth from above. Randy put it together, but he added nose holes WAAAAY down towards the bottom. In other words, nowhere even close to where her nostrils are. So much for measurements.The two of us got her in the lambing shed and after slinging
us around we got the modified halter on her. After bouncing around bucking and shaking her head trying to dislodge it, she went to trying, unsuccessfully, to nurse as Emma kicked at her, trying to refuse her access. Sadly, it would appear that Emma is not
preganant again, as Sushi was 'bulling' all day long and Em stood quietly for it, so I guess Benni the bull didn’t get the job done. That is a huge disappointment, but I trust that God knows best.
A bit later in the day, I noticed Sushi STILL trying to nurse. I walked outside and as I did, I saw Emma ‘let down’ and her milk started flowing everywhere. Sushi moved
her halter around until one of the streams went thru the ‘nose hole’ and then pushed the teat thru and grabbed on with her lips. Arrrrrrgggh!
I located one of the weaning rings we had been unsuccessful applying. It's just a stiff plastic "c" shaped clamp with points on the bottom that theoretically poke
her lips and tongue if she tries to nurse, and a wing nut to tighten it a bit so it doesn't easily fall out. It lifts when she eats hay, grain or grass headdown and only applies itself when she pushes on something above her, like an udder.
I boiled some water and tossed it in. After a few minutes, I tucked it into my shirt to keep it warm and with grim determination, headed out to capture the unmanageable Sushi. I cornered her in the lambing
shed, got a lead rope on her, dragged her back to the corral, yanked her head through the outside stanchion and tied her head around tightly to one side. I stepped through the bars to the other side and grabbed her head, stuffing the ring in her nose.
Angrily, she pulled back, broke the halter, sat down and managed to pop the ring out. With superhuman strength, normally seen only when lifting cars off of small children
and placing weaning rings in calf noses, I captured her, wrassled her back down to the ground with some very unsavory comments and replaced the ring, this time tightening the screw so it would stay in, before letting her regain her feet. The same heifer that
tossed Randy and I around like rag dolls last month, stood astonished at my superhuman strength and tenacity. I replaced her halter after removing the useless ‘mask’ using the only hole left on her halter to fasten it, as she busted off most of the top strap
and I turned her out with Emma.
So far so good. I got 2 gallons last nite, so was only down by a gallon and I believe Em was holding up, figuring Sushi was gonna try and score some, with her normal abusive
response when none was forthcoming. Not so. Sushi might be hard on her mother, but she doesn’t like to abuse her own lips. She settled for eating hay and grain instead. Score one for me! ..I think.
The morning had been pretty painful, but today painkillers and movement did help. I used my ‘new’ cheese sink to make a cheddar. It is really quite amazing how much easier
things went just having another spot to do this in. As the milk refrigerator is next to the cheese sink, it saved wear and tear on my back skimming the cream there and pouring the resulting skimmed milk into the canning pot. Four gallons later, the jars were
in the dishwasher, the sink was full of hot water and the cheese was in production. Because it was not in the middle of everything for a change, it allowed me to clean the kitchen, including mopping the floor. I was also able to put together some dough for
sourdough cinnamon rolls, something I could not do before as you can’t rise bread and make cheese in the same room as the yeast brings a bacteria to the cheese that does not do good things.
A lot was accomplished, the cheese-making went more smoothly than ever before. Only two more months and we shall see if I was more successful or not. Cheddar has been
my greatest challenge.
The night brought hurricane force winds and snow. The Maremmas showed up at the backdoor at midnite begging to come in. This isn’t normal for them so I assumed it must
be really ugly out. I was right. Their porch was covered in snow and the wind was coming from a direction that sent it swirling everywhere. Clearly if they weren’t willing to be out in it, likely no predators would either, so I let them in for the rest of
The following day I went to move Em, Sushi, and Up-chuck and check the sheeple whom I had let out earlier with the dogs. Emma’s bag looked strangely empty in one quarter.
Sushi looked at me innocently, her weaning ring still in place. Somehow she’d managed, but at least she didn’t get it all. I hoped it was a miserable enough experience she would eventually give it up.I let Up-chuck out the back gate to join Sushi, Emma
and the sheeple, minus Rosemary and Thyme who were AWOL. He promptly went over to butt heads with EmmaLou, drawing her wrath, then losing, attacked my sheeple. He literally CHASED them down and tried to crush them with his ugly face. He can’t find his way
to the freezer quick enough to suit me.
He wheeled around and charged at Thing1who still doesn’t get around as quickly as the others due to his crooked leg. I jumped in between them waving my arms and
growling. Luckily for me, Chuck came to a screeching stop, glared at me and reversed his direction. Sushi must have told him how dangerous I am if I get my back up enough.
I hiked down below the trees. I had seen Bruno race off that direction and out of the pasture and Cletus had gone halfway to keep an eye on things closer to the stock
while Bruno dealt with whatever tresspasser happened to be out there. Cletus was gazing to the east, where Bruno had disappeared. I muttered, more to myself than to him, “Where did Rosemary and her lamb go?”
Cletus slowly swiveled his head my direction and made eye contact. Then he turned it furthur so he was almost looking over his right shoulder. I stepped out and followed
his line of sight, and sure enough, there napping in a dry ditch, was Thyme, with her mama watching over. Amazed, I made eye contact with Cletus again who blinked at me and returned his gaze back to where Bruno had gone.
This sort of thing happens much too often and too consistently to be coincidence. Unnerved I started toward Rosemary. Suddenly there was a piercing shriek up by the corrals.
Perhaps one of the cowdogs had been stepped on, I never found out. At any rate, both Maremmas flashed by me on the way to the rescue, ignoring my commands, entreaties and begging them to come back, as I knew they would. They are guardians, not obedience dogs.
No amount of cajoling will take their attention off of their job, if they perceive something needs to be done. As they reached the top of the pasture I saw them stop and look through the boards. Apparently all was well because they consulted with one another
and headed back slowly towards me. I started walking up to the corral, Rosemary following and Cletus went around behind us, Bruno above and to rear of us, following the rest of the flock who followed me...at least that is how it looked. I know better. The
dogs instructed them to go back home and that is what they did. It doesn't take long to find out who is really in charge around here. LGD's are so different than herding dogs. They either lead, or quietly ask the stock to go somewhere, never barking, nipping
or coercing. Babe the pig worked more like an LGD than a Border Collie.
A pipe broke last nite so there was NO water at the house all day. That meant no coffee, no laundry, no dishes, no cheesemaking, no washing of hands, no watering stock,
no boiling 3 minute eggs, no potty, no canning...so I took my sorry self outside to do some remodeling. Today, little Annie, who thinks she is a sheep, goes on 'kid watch' as she is 150 days pregnant tomorrow. She's looking pretty close, although she still
has some control of her tail, which normally disappears right before kidding. The inside of the lambing shed is kept dry with another 'tent' as the roof still has not been replaced. Annie likes to climb on it and knock it down, even in her advanced stage of
gestation, so I unwired and dragged an 8 foot panel inside to wire up so she can't get on the tent. As I was diligently setting Annie up to kid in the shelter, Salty went to the sheep tent and delivered herself a little ram lamb. It wasn't long before I discovered
her missing and went to look in there on a hunch.
Again, a perfect lambing and Salty was a good mama, already letting him nurse. I headed back to get some straw and some iodine to dip his navel, particularly
as he was born in about the dirtiest spot she could find. The rest of the sheep saw my armful of straw and decided it might be lunch. They mobbed me and I set it behind the shelter so they could see it was bedding, as I snuk a flake at a time inside for the
baby. Shortly after, they got wise to me and they all headed into the shelter. Poor Salty and her baby were beside themselves. They got separated with sheep all in between them and the older sheep picking on the new guy until there was suddenly a mighty ROAR.
Bruno'd had enough of their ill manners. He ran them all out except for Salty and her new ramlet. I was surprised as I didn't think the dogs would interfere in a sheep-on-sheep altercation, but he did. Relieved, the new mama and baby got back together, he
did a little comfort nursing, I attended to his navel and left them be. I opened the main gate so the others could go out to pasture while these two bonded for the day. I think they will be okay with the flock with no need to separate them. Cletus accompanied
the main group out and Bruno remained with the newborn. There is only 1 sheep left to lamb now and we are done for the winter.
Meantime, back to Annie.
I dragged the panel in so she couldn't climb the tent, filled it with clean straw and some feed for her. She was pretty comfy. Water would have to come later, when Randy and the guys got the repairs done. I
settled down and was just about to take a shower at 8 that night, when Annie went into action. I went out to attend her, armed with gloves, lube, iodine, etc. in the case she needed help. She delivered an ENORMOUS doe baby practically on her own. She was instantly
changed from a mischevious little goat to a loving, nurturing adult in moments. She tenderly cleaned off her baby and without any coaching whatsoever, she helped the baby to nurse. I can tell, she's a keeper and most likely, her little one will be too. Providing
something can be done about the horns. Dehorning is not my greatest skill.