Out Like A Lamb - Home on the Range Blog at Allrecipes.com - 298178

Home on the Range

Out Like A Lamb 
Feb. 25, 2013 10:22 am 
Updated: Mar. 1, 2013 5:28 am

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 night.

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.

Feb. 25, 2013 10:51 am
My goodness, you have been busy with all the new babies. Those precious dogs. If I lived on a ranch it would be a must that we have a pair of them.They amaze me. Hopefully this is the last blizzard for this winter that you will have to endure and no more broken pipes. That is a real bummer in so many ways.
Feb. 25, 2013 11:16 am
I am in love with all of your animals! You have such a way with words and convey their personalities in a way that makes me want to just come and visit you. This city girl would be completely out of place and not know what to do but you make it sounds like such a fun life. My favorite line is "The same heifer that tossed Randy and I around like rag dolls last month, stood astonished at my superhuman strength and tenacity." I also loved Cletus answering your question about where baby and mama were. Animals really do seem to understand us and communicate with us at times. I hope your cheddar cheese works out this time.
Feb. 25, 2013 11:41 am
char- The Maremmas are one of the greatest assets I have ever had. Bruno spent the entire night watching over the babies with total diligence. Usually they come in to visit for awhile, but not last nite. He has his priorities straight.
Feb. 25, 2013 11:54 am
thanks Iceemama. They never cease to amaze me. The Maremmas especially. Anytime you wanna visit, give me a holler! I can always use an extra pair of hands...or legs, depending on the day! :)
Feb. 25, 2013 12:11 pm
WOW,is all i can say,what a ride.Wonderful blog,you tell it in such a way it makes me think i'm right there.What a way you have with animals.These working dogs and pets we have are smarter then some people might think.Yours prove it.Once again petey,thank you for letting us share in your life.
Feb. 25, 2013 12:23 pm
I don't think there is anything sweeter than a baby lamb, but the baby goat is a very close second. You have all been busy. I heard a rumor that spring isn't far off.
Feb. 25, 2013 3:59 pm
good grief gal i wish i had you're energy! just another wonderful blog full of love and perservance! an amazing life...thanks for sharing.
Feb. 25, 2013 6:01 pm
petey, thank you for another great blog, sharing your life and love. Animals are such a gift and you have so many that share your enthusiasm and energy to get what needs done and at the right time. Bless you
Feb. 25, 2013 6:56 pm
BSM, I sure hope you are right! It was storming and snowing again today and I am rightly tired of it!
Feb. 25, 2013 6:56 pm
Thanks Gderr and Misty. It's a privilege to live and work here, for sure.
Feb. 25, 2013 8:47 pm
Petey, Petey.... you have done it again!! I am there walking the field with you and peering in the barns and sheds as you tend to the wonderful flocks you have. And the dogs... oh, the dogs. They are amazing. Our 2 Greyhounds are sweet, but they don't do anything but drag out all of their toys every day and provide me and my husband with some entertainment. Yours are obviously on the payroll. Another wonderful adventure. Bless you for sharing with us!!
Feb. 26, 2013 8:34 am
Another amazing blog.. oh how I love to read them. What a beautiful life :)
Feb. 26, 2013 10:07 am
I just adore your stories, Petey. I feel as if I am lost in a wonderful children's book where all the animals are "human". Kinda like Charlotte's Web but only Petey's Pasture... LOL You've a gift, dear lady, and am so happy you share it!
Feb. 26, 2013 11:54 am
Can I just say, "Ditto what Cindy in Pensacola and What's for dinner, mom said." I LOVE reading your blogs!
Feb. 26, 2013 1:02 pm
Thanks you guys. WFDM, that made me laugh! Petey's Pasture haha!
Feb. 26, 2013 4:26 pm
Hey petey, thanks for another great story time! It is so relaxing to read your posts. I have a question about your cheese making. Do you pasteurize the milk, or are all of your cheeses made with raw milk? Can a person use store bought milk for cheese making and get decent results? I'm not going to be able to have animals on our new property. It is in the city limits and absolutely no agricultural animals are allowed. I am going to talk to the city council to try and get that ruling loosened up a touch, but I'm not counting on anything.
Feb. 26, 2013 7:31 pm
mine are all made with fresh raw milk, but yes, you can use pasteurized as long as its not ultrapasteurized. Oh that is such a bummer about the animals. I'd push for hens, at least. No noise, bug control, fertilizer and fresh eggs!
Mar. 1, 2013 5:28 am
Oh Petey, I wish I could have you at my house for the next week or so, we took in a stray cat and she has gotten bigger and bigger and bigger, alas, she must be pregnant. As far as I can tell with my wonderful internet research she should be having her kittens this weekend or soon after. I am scared to death, I am making a box for her this afternoon. Reading your blog has however given me some confidence that both she and I will make it!!!!
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About Me
Kids are raised, we are ranchhands on a 250,000 acre working cattle ranch 110 miles from the nearest small town, so we raise a lot of our own food, vegetables, fruits, milk,eggs and meat. Love riding and working cattle, but find myself spending a lot more time in the kitchen, and the garden. forpeteysake.blogspot.com http://throughthedarkestvalleys.blogspot.com/
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Having 2 Jersey cows as well as milk goats, playing with fresh milk is a hobby, making our own butter, yogurt, sour cream, cheeses, soap and all the other great stuff you can do with fresh raw milk.
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Homemade from scratch...anything! All traditions are sort of gone by the wayside, as we live so far from family now
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Most things from this site, this has been the best thing the internet has had to offer!
My cooking tragedies
A layered Jello dessert...the middle layer never set, so it did the 'ooze-wiggle'...and...well..I liquified a couple of chickens on 2 different occasions, turning them into a black gel. Moral of that story is, don't start cooking then go clean barns!...and there was the time that my kids were helping me make Thanksgiving dinner and SOMEbody (who resembled my youngest son) forgot to put the sugar in the pie!!!
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