Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sick again....

So I became sick again with a cold and bad cough on Friday before our 3 day weekend off of work when we were supposed to visit with my grandparents.  As I did not want to make them sick we had a sudden change in plans.  We desperately wanted to get out of town (so to speak) so we headed south- because I-90 was a mess and Tom had never seen Mount St. Helens.  We decided to drive through parts of Lewis county to see how they were faring after the devastating floods of December and still found plenty of damage and work to be done:

Damaged barn

Condemned house (reminded me of New Orleans)

Silted land

Debris covering barbed wire fence

Log jam with a fridge

Destroyed bridge on river bank

Debris in tree about 30 feet above current high river level

Tore apart asphalt and guard rail

Silted yard

Then we proceeded to Mount St. Helens.  28 years later you can still see the mud flow damage and where the side of the mountain blew out, as well as the large crater.  The lava dome is still growing and there's steam evident.  I realized our trip seemed to be focused on the destructive powers of nature.

Downed trees from the blast still evident

Columbia gorge (showing the effects of the river on bringing down the Cascade Range)

The raging Naches River

Since I am still coughing near constantly I couldn't work today.  I did get more of my wool roving back from Z-wool fiber mill.  On Friday I received roving from our brown llama Fancy, mioget (golden-brown) roving from our Shetland ewes Wink and Wilma, and dark grey Mohair roving from several years of shearing our Angora goat.  Today I received grey roving from 5 of our Shetland sheep- Suzette, Monette, Darwin, Reuben and Jenny.  It's pictured below.  I'll sell some of this and our light brown roving but keep the rest for my own projects.  Next for fiber processing I'll go through the wool I skirted out, pull out the worst of the contaminated and felted wool and have quilt battings made- hopefully by Gretchen's Mill.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

More HST lamb photos (Sorry I can't resist!)

Katarina photos:

Josefina photos:

Josefina isn't quite HST (head, sock, tail) because her tail isn't white.  I would consider them both smirslet, flecket, sokket (in Shetland lingo).  What do you guys think?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Lambing season appears to end with a bang! And getting kids ready for their new homes.

At 3:30 this morning I did my barn check and found Wilma in labor.  Her water had broke and she was pushing hard.  Partly because of my recent bad experiences I went ahead and helped pull the lamb out.  A moorit (brown) ram lamb with impressive horn buds.  I decided to call him Bambam (in my sleep-deprived state).  Then she delivered another brown ram lamb.  This one had meconium but did well.  He seems to have a modified color, and I am hoping he may be mioget.  I named him Barney.  All three are doing quite well.

Then at 7:00 Tom did the barn check and found these little cuteys below.  Mona had produced some wonderful, almost identical ewe lambs.  From the butt view you can tell them have different tail colors, and one has a black spot on her nose.  After thinking about it I decided to call them Josefina and Katarina.  They are also all three doing quite well.

This may be the end of lambing season for us.  Sheila, the last remaining exposed ewe, doesn't seem to be widening, and her udder is not enlarging at all.  This is disappointing since she had triplets last year, but she is getting older too.  There's  a chance she impregnated on the second cycle so we'll see.

As new lambs are being born it's time to get the goat kids ready to go to their new homes.  Yesterday I started their last round of coccidiosis prevention medication.  Today they were wormed, were given copper injections, had their hooves trimmed, and had their ears tattooed.  You can see them looking at me nervously, if I have any other bad plans for them.  It will be sad to see them go, but they all have very nice new homes to go to.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Difficult lambing

So today did not go so well.  I knew Suzette was close to lambing since she's been separating herself from the flock.  So I stayed home today while Tom went to a swap meet and watched her.  I did some gardening in the morning and then at 11:00 noticed she was scratching at the bedding and seemed to be getting closer to laboring.  So I held off of eating breakfast and did barn chores so I could watch her more closely.  

Around 11:30 she starting having contractions- they were pretty rare and she wasn't pushing. Still no water bag so I decided to shear the old thin sheep that I was holding off on until the weather got warm.  Since it was above 90 degrees I figured it was warm enough.  Between each shearing I checked on Suzette- no change.  I consulted Laura Lawson's book "Managing your Ewe and her Newborn Lamb" and so after 2 hours I did an internal check on Suzette.  Her cervix wasn't completely dilated, and I couldn't feel the lamb to check position.  So I waiting another 1/2 hour and check her again- her cervix had dilated more and I could feel a hoof and an ear so I knew the lamb wasn't breech and Suzette was still making progress.  The bag was still intact so I decided to eat something- it was past 1:00 now.  

And then went back to check her.  This time I felt her and the bag broke and meconium came out.  So then I knew we were in trouble.  I found the two front legs and pulled put no head.  So I found the head was upside down from the position it should be in.  I tried several times to reposition it- but no luck.  I ran to make a lamb puller and came back.  I then was able to grab the head, partially reposition it and pull it and the feet.  It was a tight fit but finally I was able to deliver the lamb.  It wasn't breathing.  I tried to stimulate it and swing it.  No breaths.  I tried to give it mouth to mouth no response.  I tried swinging it more vigorously and then brought it into the feed shed.  I listened with my old stethoscope and found a heart beat so kept trying mouth to mouth.  I cleared the mouth with the suction bulb tried again.  I tried drying and stimulating nothing.  Then I listened again- still a heart beat.  Then I  listened to my arm- same heart beat.  I was hearing my own rapid pulse.  I tried to feel a beat in the chest, in the rectum and umbilical cord-none.  Then I noticed the umbilical cord as really short.  At this point I gave up.  

The lamb was a white and black spotted ewe lamb.  She was pretty too but kind of big.  Suzette had problems delivering in the past where we had to pull and the lamb came out dead (although there was no malpositioning last time).  But last year she delivered Comet without assistance.  If she lives I won't be breeding her again.

My other problem is that one of Lily's teats is still huge to the point where her twin lamb can't nurse off of it.  While I was waiting for Suzette I had milked her udder out into a bottle and bottle fed her twins.  They took it avidly and their tummies didn't seem very full before hand.  I watched them try to nurse off her right side but can't.

Right after I gave up on Suzette's lamb Tom came home.  I explained the situation.  I then got the bright idea of taking one of Lily's lambs, smearing Suzette's amniotic fluid on it and seeing if she would accept it.  I thought it would help the lamb as it could nurse well, and it would help Suzette have a lamb to take care of, and it would help her deliver the afterbirth.  The plan seemed to work OK- Suzette licked the lamb off and let it nurse.  However Lily keeps crying looking for her lamb, the lamb Huey keeps crying for Lily, and Dewey doesn't have a twin brother to cuddle up with anymore.  So then I thought I made a mistake and tried to put Huey back.  Lily sniffed it and wouldn't accept it; Huey tried to nurse but wasn't allowed to. Suzette seemed mildly upset when I took Huey away.  So I gave up and put Huey back in with Suzette.  I hope it all works out.  

Thursday, May 15, 2008

LAMBS! (finally!)

Lily finally lambed today but not without drama.  I was up every hour last night because her udder was huge and she was off in the far fence line sniffing the ground.  I had to go to work though, and she still hadn't gone into labor.  I had a meeting today at lunch so I asked Tom to check on her then.  He found her with an intact bag but looking exhausted like she had pushed for a while.  He called me just before I was going into my meeting so I gave him some general advice and told him where the problems with newborn lambs and ewes book was.  He then called me (during the meeting) on my cell- the lamb had it's neck and head twisted back.  He was able to correct it despite his large hands with a lot of lubricant, and the lamb came out fine. It was trying to stand up when he had to leave to go back to work- after he moved them into a pen.  When he got home from work Lily had a second almost identical ram lamb, and both lambs are doing fine.  When I came home I nursed out one huge udder, but both lambs have obviously eaten off of the other side. We're calling them Huey and Dewey- Tom got to name them since he saved their lives.  We already have a Louie- he's Lily's half brother.  All is well (except the selfish fact that I wanted a ewe lamb out of Lily).  Now Suzette is acting like she's in early labor.  Should be another long and sleepless (not sheepless) night.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Local human rights issues

Bloggers Unite

So I am going to digress from my normal blogging about our farm and it's animals and plants and talk about my "day job" and its implications.

I am a pediatrician and can speak English and Spanish.  Because of this I have attracted a lot of Spanish speaking families into my practice to the point where it is now about 90% in Spanish.  I really enjoy this.  People really seem to appreciate being able to talk their native language that they are more comfortable in.  I feel good helping these children with their health issues.

I do know that there is a lot of racism and classism regarding immigration now and probably always has been.  I feel it's detrimental for these American born children to be subjected to this as I sometimes see them lose self esteem and then develop risky behaviors as they grow older because of this.  I want to remind people that most of us are from immigrants in this country, and many of our immigrant ancestors were poor, illiterate and didn't speak English.  Many of them took low wage jobs to support their families and were looking for a better life.  Many of them found this better life.  I know this is all true in my family.  

I just people to stop being hateful and stereotypical.  I am seeing very hard working families that care about their children and their future.  I also see a wonderful cultural diversity here and would love to see more tolerance.  I'll get off my soap box now, but this is my local human rights issue.


Today my plan was to shear our Satin Angora rabbits.  But first I decided to check the fence to make sure the sheep hadn't found another way out.  So I went out back and walked the fence-line and didn't notice any breaches, but when I went back toward the gate noticed that there were only 12 sheep, and I hadn't noticed any in the wood where I was walking- there are supposed to be 19.  So I walked the entire back again- still no sheep but when I came back the missing sheep had appeared.  Not sure where they were but hopefully not at the neighbors!

I then decided to do a little gardening since I was near the garden anyway.  I pulled up some nettles and covered the potato plants coming up.  Besides potatoes we have carrots, peas, onions and beets sprouting.  It is cool and raining so I still cannot plant the other veggies.

I then decided to make a place in the feed shed for our brown Leghorn hen and her chick.  She stopped setting on the rest of the eggs so it looks like just one chick this year.  The pheasant eggs in the incubator aren't hatching either.  So I also tried to make some nests for the melanistic mutant pheasant hens in hopes they might start setting on their eggs.  I also made a duck nest that perhaps a duck will start setting, and we can slip some pheasant eggs under her. Maybe I can even slip some under the setting geese.  We sure don't need any more goslings or ducklings though!

After dilly dallying I finally got to the rabbits.  I sheared our four Satin Angora rabbits- Pepe, Louise, Susan and Geena.  Geena is in the photo- she has a gorgeous grey and red wool that I cannot wait to play with.  I usually blend the angora with my Shetland wool since Angora is so warm to wear.  I also sheared our black Jersey Wooly rabbit Rocky and trimmed all of the rabbits toe nails, including Foo- the mini- Rex we inherited when my adult step daughter found out that rabbits chew electrical cords.

I then did the rest of the animal chores.  Still no lambs- just 5 fat, lazy ewes.  I am quite sleep deprived at his point with the middle of the night barn checks and wishing lambing would get under way.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Marauding sheep

Yesterday was unplanned fencing day.  Friday evening we got a call from one neighbor that another neighbor had three sheep in their yard.  It was dark, but Tom and I put on boots and headlamps and wen tout and counted sheep.  None were missing. 

The next morning we walked the perimeter fence around the back area of tree, blackberries, brush and patches of grass where the sheep and goats have been grazing recently.  We found two areas where large branches had fallen on the fence and another area where the fence had been lifted up and there was telltale wool on it.  There was also sheep prints all around outside the fence.  This area of fence was older and had been so overgrown the sheep (and us) were not able to access it.  The sheep changed all of that.

So we ate breakfast, gathered up tools, put them on the quad and trailer and headed out and did some fencing.  This involved clearing the brush around the fence, removing the attached wire from rotten wood posts and pulling up the woven wire fencing.  The fencing was remarkably intact- just one hole that had to be patched and the metal posts were all in good shape except one that had to be straightened.  We put in one new wood post and attached the fence to two living trees along the line.  I know you are not supposed to do that, but two of these are eight inch diameter tree that some of the fence strands were embedded right through the middle.

  Then we collected our supplies, headed back and let the sheep and goats out.  The sheep (with Lou in the lead) headed immediately for the area we were fixing.  He went right to where the hole was and started baaing loudly.  So we guess that our fencing worked!

Tom found the neighbor's number in the phone book and called.  We apologized for our sheep getting out.  Apparently they had been seen in the lower pastures next to ours for 3 days and then Friday had been in these neighbors back yard- this is three properties away!  Again we apologized and gave them our number to call if they ever spot any sheep again.  We told them we fixed the problem, and it shouldn't happen again.  So hopefully this is the end to our escaping, marauding sheep!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Spring babies

Spring is definitely the time for babies here.  We are expecting lambs any time.  I've been getting up at night for a week doing barn checks- nothing yet- that is except the unexpected surprise of last month- Jet.  She's doing quite well despite her aged and thin mother and is quite friendly.  No idea who the father is though.  Five ewes (that we had planned to breed) do look pregnant and two have developing udders.  Today is the first official due date- I've been checking in case one went early.

Our brown leghorn hen is a great setter.  She's hatched a couple of chicks this week- an araucana mix and a leghorn mix.  She's still setting on eggs- some chicken and some pheasant.  I moved her from the nest box into this kennel so I can provide food and water to the chicks while she is confined to continue to set on the eggs.  Hopefully this will work out.

Lastly the kids born 2 months ago and doing well.  They are getting bigger and playful.  They've finished their shots but will still need one more coccidiosis treatment and copper injection before they go to their new homes at the end of the month.  I'm trying to spend some more time with them with animal cracker and grain treats to get them friendly- made good progress today.  I took new photos of all of them and posted them on the goat web page at:

Monday, May 5, 2008


We had bought Roscoe, our Dexter bull as a calf in November 2005.  We wanted to breed our 2 Highland cows with him for small, more docile cows.  He bred our cow Hana twice and our other cow Dana once to produce a total of 4 calves- 3 bulls and 1 heifer (free martin).  In recent months he has become ornery so we decided to butcher him and keep the last bull calf intact as a potential future breeder.  So today was the day he was butchered.

Now you have to understand that I am a vegetarian, but my husband Tom is almost a complete carnivore.  So I have mixed feeling about this.  If Tom is going to eat meat I would much prefer it be from humanely and healthfully raised cattle.  But I still have issues with butchering, especially when it's an animal I know and like.  So I helped Tom catch Roscoe with the help of a bucket of grain and then I took off.  When the going gets tough the tough go shopping- so I headed to La Conner for breakfast and shopping while Tom and two butchers did the deed.  Tom called me when the coast was clear, and he had cleaned up the driveway.  So that's how I deal with it.  I'm not sure how mature it is, but it is more so than I used to be in my self-righteous teen years.

Roscoe will make really good beef though- he was gorgeous to look at and even bigger than when this photo was taken last year.  The butcher was even impressed by him and estimates he will make a 750 pound carcass.  So Tom will get healthier meat, our food bill will go down, we'll have some surplus meat for friends and family, and there will be more grass for the remaining 2 calves and cows.  All's well that ends well, I guess.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Skein Winder!

Guess what my wonderful husband did for me?!?  I was having a crappy day at work yesterday, and he called to leave me a voice mail that he was at an estate sale and saw a spinning wheel and did I want it.  I have two wonderful spinning wheels and limited room so I called him back expecting to tell him no.  But when he described it to me it sounded like a skein winder which I don't have.  So far I use the back of the rocking chair to wind my skeins from my spun yarn- not much fun.  They were asking $45 so I told him I'd like it but see if he could get it cheaper.  Well he got it for half that price, and when I came home from work was thrilled.  I couldn't figure out what all the wooden gears were for but had to do chores so didn't have time to check it out completely.  So this evening after work I got to look at it.  It looks antique with iron square headed nails, wooden pegs and wooden homemade gears.  I looked on the web and found a similar one in Norway at http://www.lowlandslegacy.com/afbeeldingen/photos/wheels3/jpg that has a counter attached to it.  Then we fixed one of the gears which had come loose, spun it for a while, and a thin strip of wood on the side slapped.  So I have a yardage counter!  I am so thrilled by this skein winder- we glued some loose pieces and cleaned it up.  Nothing is missing, and it's perfectly functional.  And most importantly I have the best husband in the whole wide world (sorry to other husbands out there) and am a very happy spinner woman!

Shaun the Sheep "Off the Baa"

Shaun the Sheep clip "Save the Tree"