Thursday, May 29, 2008

Lady, Get Your Act...

Together, will ya? We kittens have enough to worry about instead of watching you come and go! You're in here, then you're not here. What's going on?

Don't worry, Baby Kitten...I've just been busy getting ready for a Wool Festival in town. Things will calm down by Tuesday. I promise. But be sure to take care of your mom. She wasn't feeling too well after her first shots yesterday. She's sniffling and wheezing and just doesn't have her normal energy to play with you.

You Little Guys are so cute I could just stuff you in my pockets and carry you around all day...well, maybe not with those tiny razors ya'll have for claws.
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Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Cat Chronicles, Part 2

First and foremost, I want to thank all of you for your encouraging comments and emails. I think I'm still quite numb at finding SIX kittens along with the Momma Cat! Keep the good thoughts coming that we can find all the kittens homes when they're weaned!

Here you see where the little family had taken up residence under the front deck. Momma couldn't have chosen a better spot. No coyote, skunk or other predator would have ever been able to get back up into where she had stashed her six Treasures.

Above is the little mob of kittens, sleeping. I will need to find a bigger box or use the bottom of the large carrier I used last night to house the little family in the barn. We wanted to be sure we didn't bring any disease into the house to affect our older cats. Dr. Bill came out this morning and christened the group as disease free, so they now reside in the Guest Bathroom. There are three girls and three boys. Seems I have better luck with cats than I do with sheep! LOL!

And here is the little momma. Bill said she was under a year old. She is a tiny little thing. But she is so sweet! When Bill was drawing blood for the tests she was purring and kneading his hands while he had the needle in her leg. What a little trooper she was!
She's had a bit of the "runs" today. I'm sure this is due to a change in her diet and the worming shot Bill gave her to rid her of a certain tapeworm found in a mouse-based diet. That was the only thing wrong with her. That and she was caring, and feeding, six hungry, well-behaved kittens.
I did go into town to get some kitten food and a cat box the kittens could negotiate. They are already using it! Of course, while I was there I got a few balls and mice for them to play with. Our older cats have their noses out of joint enough by these "intruders", lest I take their toys too! Shame on me!

Sleep well, Little Family. It's snowing and nasty outside, but you shouldn't have to worry about that at all...ever. (From my lips to God's ear!) May you all be safe and warm, and most of all loved, for the rest of your long lives.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Kitten Cronicles, Part 1

No...I didn't get photos as it would have scared the kittens out of their little, bitty wits, but today after a long day at work, Hizzoner the DH rescued 6 kittens from under the front deck! I had trapped their Momma when she came for food this evening. My poor husband had quite the job removing the boards from the decking - they were very long, thick and with old BIG nails and screws. It was a tough job for him! But he persevered and voila! Kittens!
I have removed the family to a large cat carrier in the feed room of the barn. Tomorrow I will have the mother tested for anything communicable. If she tests negative, we'll fix a place in a bathroom where they can have space to themselves to grow until it's time to wean and be fixed. Then we'll try to find new homes for everyone. (I hope by that time the DH considers the possibility of keeping Momma - It's so very hard to find homes for animals here right now)
We thought very hard about rescuing this wee family. The shelters here in Northern Arizona are bursting at the seams with mothers and their litter of kittens. We usually get a surge about the time all the college students leave for the summer. It makes me so mad to think of people who want animals, only to toss them out when they become inconvenient!

Rest well, Momma...the Love of My Life made sure he got everyone out from that corner before the snow comes on Friday. And we will try to take the best of care of the lives we were intrusted with!

Kitten/Cat Update

I wish I could report that we have caught everyone, but we're still working on it. This morning I'm meeting a representative of the Animal Defense League of Arizona to get a cat-trap and packet of information about trapping moms with kittens.
The problem is you can catch one or the other, but usually not both. So, if you catch the Momma, you better know where the kittens are or you risk losing them. If you catch the kittens, then Momma runs off and you've missed the chance there.
It seems the idea is to catch the Momma with food in the trap (after finding where she's hiding the kittens), then go after the little ones.
The ADLAz will also be giving me a voucher to have Momma spayed and everyone gets tested for disease and shots when they're due - free. That takes a load off my mind!

So, please Everyone...please say a prayer and keep positive vibes headed this way. I need all the help I can get to make sure no kitten gets left behind. I'm also trying to get everyone before we have snow on Friday. Let's hope there's a few angels around to lend a hand - or paw.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Is that a Dust Bunny? No Wait! It's Invaders!

It's been a busy week around Oleo Acres. Hizzoner, my DH, was out of town, so naturally we had 6" of snow Tuesday morning! Then rain and wind set in...followed by more wind just to make sure the Weather had my attention. There were times the roof sounded like it was going to blow off. I kept watch of the shingles on the barn roof - watching them flap up and down, waiting for one or two to fly up, up and away.
As if that weren't enough, by Saturday the weather had turned from nasty to nice to awful again. Today saw us in the 80s! I would say this is bizarre, but the fact of the matter is that here in the mountains we can have snows in June, frosts in July, or hot weather in April. So, none of that weather is particularly earth-shattering. What IS unusual is that it all occurred within a week's time.
To top things off, as I was coming down from the mailbox on Saturday I noticed something odd under the front deck by the door. We get a lot of leaves blown up again the deck making it look like the deck hits the ground when in reality there is a space between the ground and the wood. But to the left of the front door, a bit of a hole had been dug and there were two kitten heads sticking out of said hole, eyes closed enjoying the sunshine! What the ....???
We have had a very smallish young cat hanging out around our place and our neighbor, Pam's. When I told Pam I had started putting out some food for "her", Pam said she had been doing the same, knowing that the little cat would sometimes spend time burrowing under her house as well. It should have sunk in...young cat, burrowing, using two houses, hungry all the time...
Well, duh!
So, now I have a semi-feral cat complete with kittens living under the front deck for now. Tomorrow I shall start making plans to extract and capture said Mother Cat, complete with family. The plans already include the vet, shots, ear mite meds, and when she's able - spaying. Homes will be found for kittens. I will try to not do this through the shelters here as we've heard they are bursting at the seams with litters of kittens right now. I think we'll just have to take it one step at a time. I will keep feeding Mama good food so she can have the energy to feed her growing family. The kittens eyes were open. They looked to be maybe 4 weeks old, but I'm not sure. It's been years since I've had a kitten. Now I assume all cats come in at 10 lbs. or better and insist on lap time each day.
We already have five cats now. I really didn't want to deal with a Mama and her brood. Then again, I've never really been one to run away from things like this either. We'll just do what's right and hope for the best for everyone.

So, no pictures today. Sorry. But as soon as I can get a good picture of the little family without scaring Mama or the little ones I'll post it.
Now if I can only keep reminding the DH not to start any motors without checking under hoods first - and to keep noise levels low and sweet. Half the battle is going to be where Mama stashes the kids....

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Introducing...

{We've had a few nice days here in the High Country, so I have been doing things outside and around the house that needed attention (instead of being in front of a computer). Here are just a few pictures I snapped last week:}

Sheep Thrills Trooper! Trooper is going to be a musket (greyed brown) ram. He and all his brothers will be for sale when they get a bit older.

Introductions to Dad Skittles are in order. Every one of the ewes did this - they made sure the Ole Man got to see his offsprings.

Then there's always Sheep Thrills Shaun for a little excitement around the barnyard. Shaun loves the taste of this upright honeysuckle. OK, Shaun...you just wait 'til you get a mouthful of bees when it blooms! Don't you come cryin' to me then!

And the proud Pop, Bluff Country Skittles. Gee, Skit...I dunno...it looks like everyone of them might pass muster this year. It looks like they all may be good looking rams for flocks of their own.

Skit? What the heck are you grinning about? As if I didn't know...
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Monday, May 05, 2008

Calling All Doctors (PhD, that is!)

It is with great parental proudness that I announce that my Beautiful, Talented, Smart, Hard-Working, (oh, I could go on and on) daughter, Kelly, JUST PASSED THE DEFENSE OF HER DOCTORAL THESIS!!!!!!! YAY!!!!!
We just got the call from Herself letting us know that she passed her oral defense and accomplishing something very rare - she received a "Pass Without Corrections" which is a very rare accomplishment! Can you tell we're proud? I am actually typing this upside-down as I am on the ceiling I'm so delighted for her. I know just how hard she's worked to get this doctorate. In a couple of weeks, when the thesis is printed and bound (published) she can be called "Dr." at that point. But I'm going to call her Dr. starting right now.
I can hardly think of what to write in this blog entry 'cause I'm so excited for my Darling Daughter. I don't know whether to cry or shout it out! Right now I'm doing both! WA-HOO!!!!!

Congratulations, Dr. Atkinson! I only wish I were there to give you the biggest hug a mother could give her daughter. You deserve this. Your Dad and I know just how hard you've worked for this! And we also know how glad the other Dr. Atkinson is to have his wife back again instead of writing all the time!

I love you, Kelly! YOU GO, GIRL! The Sky is the limit! And the World is yours!



NOTE: Kelly's official "title" is she's a "Protein Biochemist". Her Thesis is titled: Proteomic Biomarker Discovery for Preeclampsia.

If you'd like to visit her blog, click on the link at the side.

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Ailee and the Night Visitors

Friday night, instead of sleeping and bonding with her son, Ailee was in need of a visit. She hadn't passed her placenta in a "normal" time frame. So, after talking with our sheep vet, Dr. Rob, over the phone, I made the decision for him to come out to give her the once over just to be safe.
It was 11 p.m. when the doctor arrived. His girlfriend had come with him as she's always wanted to see the Shetlands but Rob is afraid once she sees them, she'll want one. After checking Ailee over Rob decided she needed to be "flushed out" - a procedure I will not go into detail about here. Just use your imagination.
I could tell he was a bit disappointed in that the placenta still wouldn't budge. So, he gave her a shot of oxytocin to get some "action" going again, hoping it would do the trick. He left another dose of the medication with me to administer at 1:30 a.m. then left.
I decided to stay up knowing that if I did go to sleep it would be twice as hard waking up than just staying up 'til then. Good decision on my part. I was hoping to walk out and find that everything had passed. Nope. Nothing.
I gave her the shot and tried to get her to eat a bit of hay. I knew she was so tired. She must've had a long, difficult birth. It shown in her face and demeanor. She was worn out and no matter how many shots she got, until she had her energy back it was clear that nothing would happen.
Even feeling so badly she allowed her little (Heck, he was as big as the week-old in the jug next to them!)boy to nurse and kept him clean. She just didn't have much energy left for anything else.
Saturday the vet called and when told that the placenta still had not passed decided to have me come in and get a few more injections of oxytocin plus an antibiotic. He just didn't want her to have any infection. Probably, she would have done just as well on her own devices. Ewes who retain placenta usually only have it happen once and go on to be productive flock members. So no worries there.
Sunday in the late morning she finally expelled the nasty hanger-on and since then has been doing just fine. It's amazing to me how sometimes giving someone "time" is all that is really needed. I think she would have passed it anyway even without the oxytocin injections. Good Girl, Ailee!

There was a really odd thing that happen to me on my way back from the barn at 2 a.m. I was admiring the night sky and the stillness of the night. There even wasn't any traffic making noise on I17. You could have heard a pin drop. And the night sky was just gorgeous - something I wouldn't have witnessed had I been asleep in bed. It was then I heard a very soft noise just over my head. No...it wasn't aliens come to take me to the "Home World"...but what I did see astounded me. Above me, just out of arms reach was Bran! It is not normal for a raven to be out in the night, but here he was - seeing that I got home safely. He gently flew just above me until I got to the back door to go in. It was then he uttered a soft "caw-cluck" and he took off for home and his Mrs.
Had I not been up at that hour I would not have seen the beautiful stars...nor would I have realized how good a friend I have. Thanks, Bran!

PS: As of this entry, Ailee and her son are doing just fine. :)

Friday, May 02, 2008

Ailee's Surprise! -or- Boy! Am I Ever Glad We're Done!

I went out to feed this morning a bit on the late side. It was a little after 8 a.m. with a definite chill in the air. I fed the wethers, Skit and the older ewes with their brood, turning them out into the pasture for some exercise as well. I was just taking Loretta a bit of hay to shut her up as she was hollering at me all the while I was feeding the other sheep. I dropped it off in her pen then turned to check Ailee and Blessa.
It was then I noticed a dark brown pile in the pen where Ailee and Blessa were for the night. Blessa was standing there just looking at it with eyes as big as saucers. Then, it moved! It sunk in - Ailee had lambed sometime during the wee hours of the early morning!
What shocked me was not that she had lambed, but that she had shown no outward signs of even being in labor yesterday or last evening when I checked on them. Nothing. Her lamb hadn't even dropped much, no super-swelling of her udder, no pacing or not eating, no digging to China to make a nest - nothing. If I had seen any sign at all, even an inkling, I would have jugged her straight away. Maybe I should change her name to Sneaky Pete.
Here is Ailee with her baby BOY. Yes, you saw correctly - a ram lamb. This season we have had a 100% ram lamb year!
At first I was very disappointed in the ram lambs...but then I started thinking...each one of them shows promise of being herd-sires. They all have good conformation, have rich coloring, two have spots with the others carrying spotting genetics. Can a shepherd really be bummed about having quality rams? After all, the ram is 50% of the genetic material of a flock. So what's wrong with breeding quality rams for other flocks? Not a darned thing! :)
"Hey, Ma! Lay down so I can stand on you and see over this thing to look at my brother/cousin! Come on, Ma! I need help!" Poor Loretta...

At the end of this lambing season, even will 100% ram lambs, I am proud. Any shepherd would be to breed quality rams who should go on to be flock sires themselves. I think all the ewes and Skittles deserve a "Well done"! And maybe next season will be a ewe season...
One can only hope... :)
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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Breaks in the Wind...

We have had a very windy week! The wind coupled with the dryness have ushered in an early fire season for us. I noticed that yesterday, our relative humidity at 7 a.m. was 8%! No wonder I'm starting to feel like a dried fruit!
We did have occasional breaks in the pounding gusts allowing me to run out and try to get a few photos of the happenings around here.
In the spring, we're in the flyway for these brown cattle egrets. When they show up it almost looks like a sea of ravens in the wetlands, but then you realize what "they" are, working the shallow waters for their dinners. Just as long as they leave a few crayfish for me I'm happy to share!
The above photo is of one of these busy birds in take off - I should have had the camera set for "Sports" and action shots, but he was moving so fast I didn't have time to think. Of course the reason he took flight was that I was stalking him.
Amanda: "Hey! I thought I only had two this year! Where did you other lambs come from? Where's your mother? Lacey, darn it...come and get your own children. I have enough to worry about with these two bruisers draining me dry every two minutes!"
Lacey: "Who? Me? See? I have my own lamb right here. Now where did I put that Jerry Lee?"
Pearl - Queen of the Sheep Beans!
And then there is Himself, you know. Always there. Always watching. I like to think Bran is watching over me, but I suspect it's more of a "What's Its got in it's pockets?" sort of thing.
And finally, a snap of my DH installing a new covering on the steering wheel of his Most Beloved 1953 Mercury he's been restoring. This car has been in his family since it came off the showroom floor. He's restoring it close to "original" to be a daily-driver. I know he can't wait until he can actually drive it to work someday. I just wish we had a garage or big barn so he could work inside out of the weather. He's dedicated to this vehicle to the point where I have seen him work in sun, wind, rain and snow. It makes me so thankful that my spinning and weaving/knitting/whatever equipment fit nicely in a house...by a warm fire or furnace...out of the rain....
Of course I know that I do have to weather the elements to feed and care for the sheep, but I'm not outside all day doing that if the weather is bad. :) And I'm so glad he has something he loves doing. Honey-Do lists are one thing, but I am a firm believer in each person should have something they are passionate about in life. Something of their own.
I'm just very happy there's no room in the bed for Betty the Merc, or I'd have to move over and share!