Tuesday, October 26, 2010

In Memoriam

Bluff Country Skittles Bluff Country Skittles - May 7, 2003 to Summer, 2010

It is with deep regret that I inform long-time readers of this blog about the passing of one of the great Shetland rams. Bluff Country Skittles passed away in the high pastures of Colorado this past summer. Skit was a young ram, just 7 when he died, but he left a large impact, as big as he was, on many hearts during his life.

Skittles had gone up to Jared Lloyd's ranch the summer about this time last fall. I needed new bloodlines for my small operation and Jared was very keen on adding Skittles genetics to his flock as well as "collecting" him for posterity and keeping his genetics available to future generations. Sadly, that was not to be.

One morning this summer, Jared said he walked into the sheep shed to find Skit lying down, front legs crossed and his chin resting on them the way he slept many times. But he didn't move. When Jared went over to rouse him from his sleep, he discovered that Skit had passed on. There was no sign of trauma or markings in the dirt of a struggle or thrashing. Just Skit, asleep.

I know I will miss him. He was one of my first Shetland loves and a truly majestic ram in so very many ways. He had almost perfect conformation, was large but well-built and had personality to spare. I couldn't have asked for a better ram to begin earnest breeding with. He had it all.

I will miss our walks around the place, Skit...and how you would gently sway me towards the apple tree for a snack of leaves if you could get away with it. You left some mighty big hooves to fill, Buddy...

...and I will miss you.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Where does your Vitamin D3 comes from?

So, you take your Vitamin D3 geltab each day, but do you know where that vitamin might come from? Guess. Go on...just take a guess. Fish liver oil? Well, maybe. But read the label on the bottle. Does it actually state "fish liver oil"? No?
If it states "cholecalciferol", you may just have a sheep to thank for your health.

"There are two commercial sources of natural vitamin D3: fish liver oil and an oil extracted from wool. "If a label lists 'vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol)' then it is from wool oil. This is considered a vegetarian source (the animal is not harmed, just sheared), but not vegan. Fish liver oil will be in parentheses if it is the source." (6) Animals can obtain vitamin D from licking their fur, and in humans, rickets can be successfully treated by rubbing cod liver oil into the skin."

(from: http://www.doctoryourself.com/dvitamin.htm)

Recently, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's Disease. One of the markers used in determining a thyroid problem is the level of vitamin D in the patient. Even though I work outside, in the high-altitude sun we have here at Oleo Acres, I was way below the bottom of the range of this essential vitamin in my system. Most folks in this area can work outside for about 15 minutes in the sun and get more than their daily need of this vitamin. It is essential for a number of reasons. I guess I just have to be different, don't I?
As I did more and more research on the need for vitamin D, especially in the D3 form, one item kept popping up in the sites I searched. Much of the D3 supplements are made from wool fat in the fleece of sheep.

It seems we shepherds have been on the healthy track and not known it. ;-) Just another reason to thank those four-footed creatures we have come to enjoy, love, and respect, eh?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

He's Back Again!

Yes, indeed-y do! I had someone show up at the barn this morning who has been missing this summer. You guessed it - Bran (pronounced "brawn") is back!
No sooner had I finished feeding the sheep and headed for the water hose to water the flower beds when I heard a very familiar squawking at the barn. There he was.
He was chatting away in what I can only assume was an account of his summer travels - I've been here, here, and here and ate this, this and that. And while I was there I saw this, this and that other thing. He honestly rattled on and on much the same as a second-grader returning from a summer away and making sure all his friends knew every-little-thing he did that summer. It was the same for Bran.
The only thing was, after telling him it did my heart good to see him again, was he switched to the "Where's my egg?" mode towards the end of his conversation with me.
So, like a friend, I did what anyone would have done...

...I went and got him an egg! Welcome back, dear friend!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Trying To Keep Cool (In More Than One Way) -or- Caution: Venting Ahead

As you have noticed, I have been spending time doing all sorts of things this Summer - things other than sitting at a computer writing.
We have had family visits from New Zealand, growing lambs, book reading, learning to knit socks, gardening, shepherdess-ing, and trying to keep cool in our hotter-than-usual summer, and fighting the reoccurring sinus-infection-from-hell.
One of the problems I have been having is accessing my photos to be able to post to this blog or even to access lamb photos to place on my sales list. I have been using Picasa, which I loved until I updated it and now can't find anything...or I have multiple files showing up.
It's frustrating and, in short, I hate it. Photos I have downloaded from my camera disappear. I'm not sure this is Picasa's fault, or someone tinkering in my photos when they shouldn't be. All our home computers share a home server unit and I suspect things are going on I have no inkling of.
Yup. Frustrating. Period. I had just taken lamb-for-sale photos, downloaded them into Picasa with the intent of getting them online as a few of you have expressed wanting lambs from me this year. I cannot find them anywhere at all. I will have to really give thought to a replacement program and educate myself as to how to remove Picasa while retaining the photographs I do have on that program to a safe place. It's just been very aggravating.
Other than the "Photo Conundrum", the summer is going by quickly here. We had Val & Hugo, our son-in-law's parents, visit us and included them in a trip to Oregon and Black Sheep Gathering. Other than car problems, it was a nice trip. (I did get sick on the way home...) Oregon was beautiful! We managed to stop at Crater Lake before heading cross-country to Eugene.
Black Sheep Gathering was wonderful! I got to visit with friends as well as see more Shetland sheep from other breeders, look at vendors' wares in the vendor tents, and I even got to help show my friend, Lois', sheep in the show ring. I had a ball! That said, I found out I don't get up and down in a show ring that well any longer, but it was a ball nonetheless. :)
It's finally time to get some lambs moved into others' flocks. Every one of them is a keeper, but that is a luxury a person on a small farm can't afford, due to space availability. I have picked out three or four to keep in my ewe flock as replacements for their mums. Hard decisions, but decisions nonetheless.
I promise...I will try to write more as we start into Fall. And I do hope to have some photos to go with the entries as soon as I can find them....

...wherever it is they are hiding...

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Soon, I Promise

It's been an uber-busy month here with family visiting from New Zealand, going to Oregon to attend the NASSA (Shetland breeders) annual meeting at Black Sheep Gathering, as well as day trips and shopping and eating and...
Well, you get it.
But today, if you have a moment, please stop in at Rascal's World (http://welcometorascalsworld.blogspot.com) and give Leigh a hug. Rascal crossed the Rainbow Bridge this afternoon, leaving a hole in many people's hearts, especially Leigh's.
There is a new star in the heavens this evening...

Thursday, June 03, 2010

OK, OK...

Yes, I've been bad. I've been "living life" and not blogging. There's actually so much that has been going on I've gotten to the point when I sit down in my chair I think I'll just "rest my eyes" for a bit, and well...you know how that old chestnut goes. I think it just gets worse with age. ;)
The lambs are growing like weeds. The winds have finally stopped. It was hard getting good photos of bouncing lambs running 110 mph in winds of 40+ mph. I either had blurs or nose-prints. Or, was pelted with volcanic cinders being thrown about in those winds. I actually had places on my face where the stinging cinders drew blood as they hit me down by the barn. I will try to get some photos up soon...but life just might get in the way.
We are expecting relatives from New Zealand in about a week and a half. And we are delighted they are coming. Both of us can hardly wait!
When your family is an ocean away, you start to cherish visits much more so than if they were a mere two hour flight away. I envy people who talk about visiting family "all the way back East!". Let them try a 14 to 16 hour flight and see if they still have exuberance in their voices. ;) For those of us who don't take sitting in one place for too long very well, long flights can be torture. I think airlines should install treadmills in those big jets for those of use who need "to move". We'd get our moving and the people sleeping with their feet in the aisles wouldn't be bothered. Hmm...if there were enough of us moving on treadmills, could we make it Down Under by using "Human Gerbil Power?" I wonder.
And I have fallen into doing research on my ancestry. What started out as a simple look-see to find out more information has turned into a captivating journey for me. I have run across incredible ancestors and find the history behind them absolutely fascinating. My DH, the Hired-Hand-With-Benefits, has been cheering me on - almost as gobsmacked as I am. This journey has explained a few things both in my mind and soul, as well as educating me more about history I glossed over during educational endeavors. Now, I am enthralled in to wanting to know what lies behind the next turn...and beyond.
I suppose this all encourages the old investigator that I once was. That, and the deeply-instilled training from my father of wanting to see "what happens if we do this!??"
I will try to get back on the farm-track, dear Readers...just bear with me a bit longer. It's getting way hot during the days now. I think we had, maybe, three days of Spring in here somewhere? But, as I mentioned, the winds have died down immensely so I don't fret about having my Nikon outside any more.

Now, if I can just get over this darned cold...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Blog Has Moved

Hi, Everyone!

This quick post is just a reminder to those of you wanting to know where we are. I have moved the blog to our website. We're now a one-stop-shopping-place! So mosey on over to:

www.sheepthrillsfarm.com

While you're there, sign up for notices of new content on the sight, including new blog posts. You'll notice we not only have the farm there, but there's a tab for sheep sales as well.

Some of you haven't noticed we've moved. We'd love to see you again! And you can find us on Facebook as well under Sheep Thrills Farm. Ya'll come!

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Few More Pictures -or- They're Off!

Here are a few more pictures taken last week. Upon looking at the lambs this morning, I have realized just how fast they are growing...not only in their bodies, but in their behavior and minds as well. The lambs have started eating more and more solid foods while the moms have shortened nursing times dramatically. I find this funny as the lambs simply run a circuit of "Lamb Races" only to head back to Mama for a quick drink before heading out again. They may not be nursing as long but what they lack of in time they make up for in quantity.

Sugar (white/gray with spot) and her sister, Candy, were a few days behind the other lambs. These are Ailee's girls who were born by c-section. They are two of the sweetest sheep I have ever seen - hence the names.

This little charmer is one of Amanda's triplets. I haven't named her as yet. Her sisters are darker but she's got some interesting markings - or is it pheomelanin coming through the white? Wikipedia has a nice simple definition for we mere mortals: "Another common form of melanin is pheomelanin, a red-brown polymer of benzothiazine units largely responsible for red hair and freckles." Hmm...maybe I should name her "Freckles"???

Here's Loretta with her two. We've tentatively named her ram lamb "Rory", after the little sheep of The Barn comic strip. I need to get a nice photo of Rory to send to the cartoonist who does the strip. He is so very nice and really gives us a chuckle each morning.

Candy and Sugar taking a bit of a siesta in Ailee's feeder.

Candy, being sweet. Normally she's jumping all over me wanting a scratch or a brisket rub. We're working on "minding our manners" this week.

And finally, They're Off!!! The Lamb Races have begun in earnest here at Sheep Thrills Farm!
So...whose YOUR money on?

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The Newbies

It's been a very busy few weeks around Oleo Acres (one of the cheaper spreads). The lambs are growing so fast now and the Lamb Races have officially begun! A few times a day the girls and their babies are turned out into the pasture area for some noshing grass and running excess energy off. It's funny to see the moms running after the speed demons the lambs are - huge udders weighing them down from joining in fully.
It's amazing to me to see each ewe taking turns as the "babysitter". The sitter watches the lambs while the others enjoy the grass or have a long drink of water at the trough. One will spell the other and the process begins again.
While I sit and watch the goings-on I have noticed the boys in their pen. At times I see the wethers and Loki running the fenceline just begging to be let in with those babies to show them what running is really all about. Then I will see Loki, his head gently resting on one of the wires of fencing and looking my direction, batting his eyes. What a ham. "No one's paying any attention to me and I should come first!" I go over and scratch his chin through the fenceline. "Later, Lok-ster. I promise."

Here are a few photos our friend Lois, from Stonehaven Farm, took as she came through on her way to the hospital on the reservation. More will follow...I have finally figured out a better way to load them to the blog.


A kiss for the shepherdess

Lacey and her two, ewe and ram, lambs

Lacey's pretty ewe lamb

Ring around our Mum! (Amanda and her triplets)


Oooo.....wht's inside here?

Proud father, Jehovah's Skeld Loki

These are just a few photos. It seems when I take my camera down to the barn I either have nose prints on the lens or the lambs are running so fast it's hard to get good shots in even with the "Sports" setting.

And, if you get a chance, please stop by my sheep-friend Michelle's blog. Michelle lost the ewe to a beautiful little ram this morning. I know her heart is hurting very much over the loss of her Brava - one of her first Shetland sheep. She could use some "hugs" right now. Thanks.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Quick Update

I just wanted to post a very quick, short update on Ailee and her lambs.

For those new to this year's lambing, Ailee (one of our ewes and fleece producer par excellence), could not deliver her lambs normally and was rushed into the vet's office a week ago for an emergency c-section delivery of two beautiful ewe lambs.
Due to the drugs and stress she had undergone, Ailee was taking care and nursing only one of the lambs. I had taken over and was bottle feeding the other girl as Ailee kept pushing her away. I named her "Sugar", for the sweet little girl she is.
I had been feeding Sugar until about three days ago. It seemed when I showed up with the bottle, Sugar was more intent on just wanting to be with me as well as sucking on the seams of my jeans. I had a sneaking suspicion as to why but it wasn't confirmed until today.
Ailee has indeed taken over mothering Sugar as well as continuing on with her other daughter's care! It seems all she needed was some time and space as well as a round of pain meds and care. Today we saw Ailee actually nursing both girls at the same time, one on each side.
I feel relieved. Sugar is getting the care she needs from her own mother. I don't mind being a substitute, but this wee lassie needs to grow up with sheep and learn all things "sheepy". While part of me would have loved to bring her in the house (diapers, please) and have a "house lamb", I know, deep in my heart, that our house is not where she's meant to be. That said, she still stays very close to me when she's out in the pasture. Or she'll run with her sister and the other lambs...but as soon as she's tired she's right at my side...still my shadow.
Thank you all for your kind words, suggestions, and encouragement as we have dealt with this situation. It has not only helped me, but also Ailee. I see her getting stronger each day and more of the mother ewe I know she can be.
The only sad thing is that Ailee will have to find a spinner's flock to live in instead of a breeder's flock. And these two beautiful ewe lambs will be her last babies.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Our 2010 Lambs Have Arrived! -or- Boy, Am I Tired...

Last Wednesday, lambing began here at Sheep Thrills Farm. While not totally a surprise, from the size of all the ewes we had suspected they might "pop" well before last Wednesday. It became apparent the girls were having twins at the very least with all of them being very "wide loads" as they ambled around the pasture.
Lacey lambed first on Wednesday morning. She always seems to be the first ewe to lamb - which makes me wonder about her outward composed behavior. I think I know who our "Flock Floozy" is. ;-) Out first was a beautiful little spotted girl, then a handsome young lad made his appearance right on her heels. Beautiful twin lambs. The little girl is a spotted gray and her brother has some color (browns) to his legs.
Amanda, being know for the huge boys she normally has, kept wanting scratches and brisket rubs as her time approached. I would whisper in her ear, "No boys this time, Amanda. No two big boys...I want three little girls, please." Amanda must have been listening to me.
My friend, Melanie, being a nurse and interested in all things medical (and a godsend with all the help she gave), came to witness the births and assist me by handing me necessary items I needed to help the moms and clean up the babies. While we watched Amanda having more intense, but unproductive, contractions, Mel asked what that was hanging out Amanda's bum. It was a tail! I gloved up and went in - and found a lamb's rear-end where a head should be! I tried working my way down to find legs to correct the lamb's position, but there was no room at all in there. After trying to find the other back leg without success I decided to get a good purchase on the hipbones of the lamb and pull along wit Amanda's contractions. Out popped a beautiful brown and white spotted lamb. And it was a girl!
No sooner did the one lamb get out and breathing when another lamb was sliding out of Amanda right next to her sister -- another girl!! While Amanda was frantically trying to clean up the twins, I heard a groan and looked to see another lamb hanging out of Amanda's backside. I thought "My gosh! What's she got in there, a litter?" As a matter of fact, she had three girls in there! Yes, Amanda have me three beautiful little girls...just like I asked her. :) Good girl, Amanda!

[caption id="attachment_681" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Amanda's Triplets"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_682" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Lacey's Little Girl"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_683" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Lacey's Little Boy"][/caption]

After Amanda's triple-play I thought I was done for that day. Mel went home late in the afternoon leaving me word that if either of the two remaining ewes lambed to please call her. OK. I'll keep an eye on them in the monitor in the office.
I checked about 9 p.m. to find Loretta digging furiously trying to make a nest for herself. "Don't tell me she's going to have her lambs now!" I thought, promising myself to check on her later. So, I stayed up checking Loretta at 10, then watched TV for a bit, heading back to the monitor at a little after 11 p.m. But wait a minute...what's that with Loretta??? OMG! She's got two lambs and they're both white! Loretta is a iset (forsted looking) black Shetland ewe so having white lambs was astounding to me. (They are actually very, very light gray). Twins again and one of each, a ram and a ewe lamb.
Things settled down quite a bit but I did notice that our last ewe to lamb, Ailee, was starting to act as if she was going into labor. Oh, great! Geez-Louise! But Ailee never progressed along as she should have. The next day I had Rob, Sheep-Vet-Par-Excel-lance, come out to check poor Ailee. Yes, she was in labor. No, she isn't progressing. Let's try some calcium gluconate and oxytocin to speed things up a bit. Nothing. She went on all day in fits of activity as if she was going to lamb any minute, then nothing for hours.
Melanie had come back later Friday to see how Ailee was doing and if I needed any help. By now it was past midnight and into Saturday morning. I gloved up and :went in" finding that Ailee's cervix not dilated at all but a lamb's head behind the membranes just wanting out. I called Rob from the barn. After telling apprising him of the situation, he decided she should come in to the clinic. He'd meet us there. If we let it go longer we'd lose her and the lambs as well. She needed a c-section.
So, my DH, Ralph, got the truck ready and we hefted Ailee the Rotund into the back of the truck. At Rob's office, he too did an exam showing how tight the cervix was. He tried to open the cervix. Nothing. Before we knew it Ailee was shaved and prepped for surgery.
Ralph passed the gas as Rob had shown him...Rob opened Ailee's side...and then Rob dropped a huge lamb in the towel I had waiting in my arms. "I think this one's dead.", he said to me. I took the lamb, toweled it off and suctioned the fluids out of the mouth and nose. And it was alive! A beautiful spotted lamb! And it was a girl!!!
Rob called me back saying to bring a towel...that he'd found a second lamb. Soon I had another lamb to care for - and it was another ewe lamb as well. As he was closing her incision, Rob said he thought this should be it for Ailee - and that she never would have been able to deliver those huge lambs in any normal way. The next pregnancy could kill her.

I don't have pictures yet of Loretta's lambs or Ailee's two girls. As Ailee was out of it for most of the bonding time she really needed to have, we fed the lambs colostrum and dried them off. So far, she's bonded with the second ewe lamb, a lamb born brown but with a definite gray underneath that coat of brown. But she hasn't bonded well with the first.
As of this writing, Ailee continues to push the spotted lamb away from her and refuses to let her nurse. So, I step in. Ailee still sleeps with the lambs and does some other motherly actions, but it's clear - "I like this one, not that one!" I bottle feed the spotted lamb I have taken to calling "Sugar". The jury is out, though, on whether or not Ailee will take on her full duties. In any case, it's become clear that Ailee should be going to a new home as soon as she weans these girls. And isn't it the way that she's got some of the best fleece in the flock? But Rob and I agreed. No more lambs for Ailee, ever. She needs to be in a flock without any chance of becoming bred. She's had two pregnancies with problems both times. Sorry, Ailee...it's a spinner's flock for you.

So...for the ending totals we have the following: 7 ewe lambs, 2 ram lambs! Not bad, Loki. Not bad at all. Ya done good, kid!

*Note: Today is the birthday of Miss Sinda, the Cat, who shares her life with my friend, Tina. She turned 20 today! Not bad, Sinda...not bad at all. :) Please stop by her home at Marietta Shetlands and wish her a Happy Birthday.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Today's the Day...Maybe

Today should be the start of lambing season for Sheep Thrills Farm. The girls are uber-pregnant right now, with two showing signs that labor may be beginning soon. The first photo below is one I took about a month ago, right after shearing. It was obvious then the girls were all "with lamb".  Loki did manage to figure out what breeding season was all about.

[caption id="attachment_674" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Udderly Pregnant "][/caption]

I am really looking forward to seeing what we get with this breeding from Loki. When I was researching his pedigree I noticed all his sire's first generation (called F1 generation when using artificial breeding) were white, but when I looked farther into the F2 generations offspring, all sorts of colors and spotting showed up. I know Loki carries spotting as he does have a mottled nose of black and pink as well as some sports, although small, on his face and ears. I am really hoping for a multitude of colors this year. That said I also realize Mother Nature has the final word no matter how I plot and plan.

Ewes live to be moms. They excel at mothering above any other creature I've known, humans too. They're OK with skipping a year, but give them the choice and they'd have litters of babies if they could. (Not unlike the Finn-sheep who do have litters) I can see in the girls' eyes that while they are at the very uncomfortable stage, each one is hoping for lambs to mother. I have to be on my toes that one ewe won't steal another's lambs, which has been known to happen. They just love those babies!

As soon as we get some lambs I will post a few "baby" pictures. The lambs haven't even hit the ground and I ready for lambing to be over with. As I wasn't sure if Loki could handle the job (I've always used full-grown rams before), and with the stress of the dog mauling attack in February, I wasn't sure we'd have any lambs here at all. But where there's a will, there's a way - and Loki most definitely found "the way".

[caption id="attachment_676" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Rascal, the Gardener's Helper"][/caption]

Rascal, on the other hand...could care less about lambs and more about sunshine.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Anticipation

I'm sorry I haven't posted in a while. Usually, this time of year anyway, is kind of slow time for shepherds. We're waiting for our "Christmas". We're waiting for the lambs to be born.

Most of us plan our breedings carefully. I do have friends who have experienced a few "oops" this year - mainly when a ram with other ideas than cooling his heals jumps a fence and parties with the ladies he finds in the next field. Most of us know who was in with whom and in approximately 147 days or so, the results will make an entrance to the World.

This is the first year I have used a ram lamb - ever. I like older rams. They know their job, the main reason for them to be around anyway, and take their work very seriously. Skittles was that way...just show him the girls, turn him in with them, and be prepared to remove him a couple of weeks later. "Nuf said. The older guys show confidence and smoothness which the ladies seem to like. You can almost hear the Barry White music in the background.

Loki, on the other hand, is a young punk. I say that lovingly as I do enjoy watching him bounce around the pasture for the pure joy of life, nothing more. He was too young at fall breeding season to have an agenda. The world is/was his oyster, so to speak. Then he gets put in with a bunch of girls. Most are old enough to be his mother, too. What the heck is that shepherdess thinking? Why am I in here?

Then it hit him. Hmm. Maybe there is something to like about girls after all. Clumsy and not assured enough of himself to make things go smoothly, he courted the girls one-by-one. I remember the looks on the girls' faces back then, looking at me as if to say, "You've got to be kidding, right? This punk?"

So, now we wait. Approximately 145 days ago, Loki was seen to, ahem, cover one of the girls. Almost two weeks now, it was obvious after shearing that apparently Loki did both figure out which end was which and huge fleeces (even back last fall) not-withstanding, did figure out what this Ewe Dance business was all about.

Right now the Waiting Game is going on with the shepherdess. The girls are playing their cards very close to the vest even though they look like water balloons on toothpicks. When they lie down, bellies spread out on the ground around them. Ripples can be seen if you watch long enough - babies trying to move around or find room in cramped spaces. And as the girls move about, you'll see one suddenly stop, mid-stride, lower her head and wag her tail furiously. Those darned kids are kicking me again. Quiet down in there!

But just let me get the barn ready for the new arrivals and we get a day of horrific winds as well as the chance of snow again. The high temperature for tomorrow is supposed to be in the 30s F. I was just getting used to the 60+ F weather, too, darn it.

But spring is the shepherd's Christmas. We hope everyone does fine through the lambing and moms and babies all are healthy...

...this is when we get to see what colors, patterns, and "flavor" our best laid plans have made. We only hope Mother Nature will give her approval. C'mon, Amanda...I'll take three little girls this year instead of the two bruiser boys you usually have. Please? I'd really like to show my granddaughter what a lamb is.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Status Quo

I thought I would share a few photos from around the place, taken in the past two months. They'll give you an idea as to the amount of snow we I had to deal with this winter. Oh, my DH was help, but he had to be very limited due to the surgery he had in the Fall. He was the one who called the guys to get the driveway plowed out after the Big Snows.

The first photo is of the barn roof during the snowstorm. All we could see was the weather-vane.

The Barn Roof in the Big Snow

[caption id="attachment_653" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Loki, complete with purple oil on his horns where he scraped them playing with the wethers."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_656" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Too much snow!"][/caption]





The boys before the attack. Little do they know the shearer will be here Sunday.
Things are getting back to a sort of normalcy here. The boys are healing, slowly, but making progress. The girls seem to be fine although we won't really know until next month if the stress of the dog attack had any effect on the lambs they carry. Two of the girls, Ailee and her mother, Amanda, have porked up to where I will have to shorten their rations a bit or get them moving more. I may have been working hard during the snows, but the ewes had The Good Life in the barn - eating bon-bons and laying around all day long.
I remember seeing a sort of treadmill for farm animals on one of those antique-finding shows on TV. Boy, could those girls use one. ;) I wonder if they have a YMCA for sheep???
And I have started getting ready for spring and summer activities. One thing is for sure...one can not wear one's self out shoveling snow, then do all sorts of housework and cooking. Now that snows are melting fast, the creek is running full-bore, it's time for me to start the projects I set aside during this winter.
I'm pretty sure the Hired-Hand-With-Benefits (aka the DH) will appreciate a cooked meal now and then. ;-)
NOTE: Thank you all for asking about the boys' recovery and the court proceedings. Unfortunately, as we are still going through the court proceedings I can not make a comment on them except to say everything is going well. The young man who owns the dogs has, so far, been making restitution for the veterinary expenses. We won't know the complete outcome until sometime in May.



Thursday, February 25, 2010

An Update...

Thank you all so much for your supportive and helpful comments on the recent mauling incident here. I wanted to give you a quick update on the boys:

So far, everyone is healing slowly but continually. There are a few puncture wounds I am keeping a very close eye on. Most wounds are healing...or at least the physical wounds are healing. I'm not sure if the boys minds will ever heal mentally from this attack.

Sven's eye is making good progress. I thought at first he had lost the whole eye, but upon closer inspection by the vet, it was the upper lid itself that was damaged. I have ointment to place in the eye a few times a day. At first Sven, well...all the boys really, did not fight my fussing over them. They stood patiently while I bathed wounds and dressed them, or wrapped hot, moist towels around sore legs with puncture wounds. Now, they try to run or refuse to stand for my efforts. This is a good sign. They are healing and feeling better.

It's as if they are saying, "It's OK , Mom. We're feeling much better. You can go now." I've been dismissed. :)

Oh, I will still watch them very closely. And next week they are due for a second Draxxin injection to be on the safe side. But I can tell it's time for me to let them be and heal on their own for the most part.

...and I am so very grateful this did not happen during fly season.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Horrified

This past Monday, as my DH was off for the holdiay, we decided to have a late lunch in town as well as pick up a needed part for the '53 Merc he's working on. We left the wethers and Loki in the pasture area that had been cleared of snow, eating breakfast, and the girls had the run of the area around the barn. Both groups had plenty of hay to nibble on to keep them happy.

But when we came home, we were not prepared for what was going on down towards the barn. Two loose dogs had walked across the fencing  on the property line we share with the county, on top of the snow, and were attacking the sheep!

I flew down towards the barn to find the boys standing between the dogs and the ewes. Somehow the gate to the corral at the barn was open and they were keeping the dogs from even getting close to the girls. But the price the dogs were extracting from the boys was terrifying.

The first thing was to get the dogs away from the sheep. The larger dog was a black and tan medium dog of maybe 40-45 lbs. That dog saw me and stopped his attack. The smaller dog which looked to me like a cross between a terrier of some sort and some kind of bulldog was still attacking poor Shaun who was struggling, brought down in the mud and melting snow. I had to pull the smaller dog off Shaun, then chased them out the gate to a now waiting husband.

We were lucky in that both dogs had collars with tags and owner's phone number. Ralph took control of the dogs and calling the owner and 911 while I got the sheep penned inside the barn and started to assess the damages. I ran to the house after penning all the sheep and called our sheeps' vet, Dr. Rob to come on an emergency. I grabbed B-vitamins, ProBios, towels and some warm water and went straight back the barn to do what I could until Rob got there.

Loki had very little damage - a couple of facial wounds where it looked like one of the dogs might have tried to get him, as well as a superficial gash on one leg. He was the least hurt of all the sheep.

Sven had all the wool from the back of his head and a shoulder torn out by the roots. His ears were both torn but the worst for him was a bite to his right eye. At first I thought the dog had taken his eye completely, but when Rob examined him, he found it to be the lid that was very damaged. We'll know more when the swelling subsides.

My buddy and rock, Colin, had quite a bit of the wool on his hindquarters torn out and had gashes and puncture wounds to his back legs. He was/is limping as his right hock was nailed pretty well. He, too, had the ears torn a bit and a gash above an eye.

The worst one was Shaun. His wool from the middle of his back to and including his tail was ripped out and he sustained many, many gashes to his haunches. His skin is just raw from all the wool being torn out. Some of the wounds had mud in them from his being downed by the dogs. We got most of the dirt out of the wounds, but Dr. Rob felt it would take time for the body to push the remaining dirt out. It was too deep and would have caused Shaun even more pain to scrub them out.

Both Shaun and Colin were in shock by the time the vet got there.

Had we not gotten home when we did, I'm sure we would have found one or more of the sheep dead, or at the least, way more torn up. I'm certain Shaun would have been dead if I hadn't gotten to him when I did. Every day since I have been treating each sheep. At first we did massive supportive care with injections of B-vitamins and dosing each with ProBios to support their rumens and keep them from shutting down. Injections of banamine for pain and Draxxin for it's awesome antibiotic support were given as well.

Right now, the boys have improved to the point of not requiring the banamine but will get another Draxxin injection 14 days after the first one. Draxxin is wonderful and the fact that it works for fourteen days just means less stress for the boys - and me. I still have to watch for wool falling off the sheep due to stress as well as to keep observing the pregnant ewes for signs of stress or abortion of their lambs. I may not know all the answers until April when the girls are due top lamb.

We're not out of the woods yet, by any means, but I'm hoping that with good supportive care the boys' bodies will heal. Their mental wounds may not heal so easily. Every time I look into their faces I remember the terror I saw in Shaun's eyes as I pulled the vicious dog off of him. My mind knows I did all I could for them and there was virtually no way I could have kept loose dogs, walking on top of the 4+ ft. of snow at the fence along the swampy are of the pasture, from walking over the top of the fence onto our property - but my heart is torn over seeing the boys in pain and hurt,...and terrorized. And I am so angry at loose dogs and their owners.

The owner was cited by our animal control officer. On March 8th, he will have to appear in court to please guilty or not guilty. Here in Arizona, the law is on the side of the livestock owner. I really can't say too much here, for the reason that this will all be decided through the courts. But, I can say that I am so glad we caught the dogs and they had collars with tags on which were active phone and contact information.

The boys are heroes in my eyes. They put themselves between those dogs and the ewes. And I thank God these are Shetlands - sweet, gentle, tough-as-nails Shetlands. And a part of me hopes they gave as good as they got.

This attack did something else as well. No loose dog will be tolerated on this property any longer...ever.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Thank Each And Every One Of You

I would like to thank all of you for the outpouring of love and kindness shown to us with our loss of Ziggy. You will never know or imagine how much that helped me get through this week. While I read each comment or note with leaky eyes, the pain in my heart was endured knowing I was not alone.

All of us have lost furr-friends. All of us have felt the gaping hole in our heart when it was their time to pass on. I got to thinking that most of my dear friends have lost animals recently. Yet, hurt as we do at their passing, we would endure the pain all over again knowing that we get much more out of our having these wonderful creatures in our lives than we would without them. Our four-legged friends enrich our lives and make us better people for it.

I would like to share something with you...something I found my first time visiting the small town of Jerome, Arizona. It was in a little shop with many "cat things" in it. While I brought a few cat-toys home for the gang, this I got for me.

For all of us who have lost our friends:

"Stray Cat"


"Oh, what unhappy twist of fate


Has brought you, homeless to my gate?


The gate where once another stood


To beg for shelter, warmth and food.


For from that day I ceased to be


The master of my destiny.


While he, with purr and velvet paw


Became within my house, The Law.


He scratched the furniture and shed


And claimed the middle of my bed.


He ruled in arrogance and pride


And broke the heart the day he died.


So if you really think, oh cat,


I'd willingly relive all that


Because you come, forlorn and thin


Well...don't just stand there...come on in!"


-Francis Witham-



To all of those we have loved, and lost...

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

A Sad Goodbye

Ziggy


1994 - 2 February 2010


Yesterday, we lost our gentle giant of a cat, Ziggy. While the day before he had shown some signs of a little improvement - talking more to me and eating more than he had been - by that night it was clear something else was going on. We found him in the morning, in the sunroom, unable to move and yowling in a tone I had never heard come from him. I picked him up and returned him to the chair in the office where he had been battling the pneumonia. How he made it to the sunroom I will never know. We never heard a sound throughout the night indicating his distress. It looked like a stroke.


I placed Zig on the heating pad to warm him back up, but by then he was yowling almost constantly. I also noticed his pupils dilated and the light that had been in his eyes the day before was gone. He was as comfortable as possible and I was there, petting his now unresponsive body, as he slipped from this world into the next. Softly, as he left, I thanked him for sharing his life with me and told him what a good friend he was.


It was in 1995 that Ziggy appeared at our house. My DD had come home from work to find a young cat wandering where we park our cars. He followed her down to the house, begging to come inside by sitting on a garden bench on the deck and staring at us through the sunroom windows. And stare he did. I have never seen a cat with such riveted eyes.


We tried placing him in the barn's feed room thinking that would satisfy him. At that time we not only had many housecats already, my father was living with us with his two small dogs. We really didn't have space for another cat. But as many times as I would put Zig in the barn, there he would be, at the sunroom windows, staring in at us. It wasn't long before my DH asked if we could at least bring him into the basement until we could find out whom he belonged to. OK. Will do. Once inside it became obvious. If no one claimed him, he at the very least claimed us.


I never saw a cat with such a penchant for playing fetch. Zig would drive us nuts each evening by insisting we throw a rabbit-fur mousie for him to retrieve. He would be satisfied for literally hours of this while we wore out. No matter how hard or where we threw his toy, it would be instantly brought back and dropped by our feet to please throw again.


That behavior remained until a couple of years later when Ziggy accidently fell out of the second-floor bathroom window. He seemed fine at the time but years later we would find out that he had in some way hurt his spine. The Mousie Game stopped and he started to lay around much more. We thought it was his getting older and outgrowing the game. It wasn't until later when an upward curve developed that it became apparent of the now way-past injury. While he didn't run after mousie any longer, it still didn't stop him from playing, eating, taking walks on a leash around the farm.


And he was huge! Not only big of frame, but he had gained weight up to 26 lbs. Our vet at the time would comment on his size, tempering the comments with the fact that he was in perfect health, and how the vet should be able to feel his ribs. My response would always be, "Press harder."


A little over a year ago, Zig started losing weight. It was determined that his thyroid was doing too good a job and he was placed on medication. This winter, though, there was something we just couldn't put our finger on. Something was different even if all the tests showed he was OK except for the thyroid. Then, about a month ago we had an upper respiratory bug hit some of the cats. Hindsight always being 20/20, now we know it was just too much for Zig's system. The round of antibiotics just didn't seem to work. There had also been some internal bleeding due, we believe, to a sinus infection which ruptured and may have also cause the pneumonia. Well, you know the rest...


I will miss my dear friend. My heart feels like part of it was torn out yesterday. I know that, with time, it will heal and the hole replaced with fond memories of my friend.


And I know one thing for certain: As much as the heart hurts at this time of loss, I would do it all over again. My life has been very blessed with good animal friends...like Ziggy.


Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Quick Ziggy Update

I am so sorry for not posting much this week. It's been a hard week for all of us. In short, Ziggy has pneumonia and is critical.

The night before last I was up late, watching TV and I noticed Zig's breathing was very labored. His poor rib cage was so expanded and his flanks were working hard to get oxygen. He was in distress. Yesterday morning I called and found out that Dr. Bill had space open in the afternoon to see Ziggy. Until then I would just have to make him as comfortable as I could.

Bill examined him, finding his temperature was very low. Not a good sign. Zig had decreased sounds on one lung and Bill tried tapping it to see if it was fluid. The tap was empty - a good sign that it wasn't fluid in the lung itself, but now what? He suggested xrays and I was right there with him. Yes, please, do. The xrays showed some fluid in the pleural lining of the lungs as well as pneumonia(?) in the bronchial passages.

Right now we're trying massive amounts of antibiotics hoping he rallies. This morning, Bill was gracious enough to bring his "Verminator Team", Iley and Seamus the Jack Russel Terriers, to the barn to rid it of voles that had moved in when the field flooded during the previous week's rain/snow/blizzards. We discussed Ziggy a bit while watching the dogs.  He said we are definitely not out of the woods yet. It may take a week before we see progress for Ziggy, if at all.

Yesterday, we prepared ourselves for the fact that we may not have our friend with us much longer. If the antibiotics and support don't work, we will not let our friend suffer on our account but rather ask Bill to let him go peacefully.

And I wanted to say "Thank You" to all of you who have sent me emails or comments about Ziggy. You will never know how much that support has meant this last week.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Quck Ziggy Update...

As of today, Ziggy is doing much better and seems to be on the mend! Our cat-vet Dr. Bill was able to make it first thing on Monday to give a good exam to, and assistance for, poor Zig.

We had to be dug out with a backhoe/skip loader on Saturday and Sunday with one of the big things being to make room for our vehicles at our parking area. So, there was room for Bill's mobile hospital for Ziggy's appointment on Monday.

Ziggy not only had something burst in his ear/sinus area, but somewhere had some internal bleeding. Bill suspected either bleeding from the sinus area or a possible ulcer in the stomach. Ziggy's bloodwork did show some anemia.  Now, with supportive meds, we're making slow progress to a recovery. At least we're very hopeful at this point. Zig's much more comfortable and each day sees some advance.

I have to admit that dealing with this was scary. I hate to see any animal in pain. I knew poor Zig wasn't feeling well, but during the snows all that could be done was supportive care like subcutaneous fluids, warmth, small meals of soft foods...even a vaporizer going to make his breathing a bit easier in this uber-dry air we have here.

And thank you all for your support, good thoughts and purrayers for Mr. Zig. You not only supported him, but me as well.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Very Sick Friend

We'd sure appreciate your sending good wishes and thoughts for our dearest cat, Ziggy. When I came in from shoveling snow this morning I noticed something just not right with Zig. He wasn't himself at all.

He'd been feeling poorly with an ear infection, but this is something else. It appears he may have had a stroke. I've given him subcutaneous fluids as well as the low-dose aspirin our vet, Bill, recommended. But it's obvious he's not himself. He's seeking odd places to hide, then will become himself for a bit and sit with me, purring while I brush him.

We are in the midst of one hell-of-a-snowstorm right now. I can't get out, and neither can the vet. I17 is closed so if I could get out, I can't get to town. The forecast is for anywhere between three and seven feet of snow between today and Saturday. Not a great time for a kitty to be sick or in need of medical care.

I will try my best to keep him warm and comfortable. He'll get his meds and all the love we can give him. But that's about all we can do right now, besides pray that he either get well, or gently slip away while he's sleeping by the fire.

He's been a great friend for the past 16 years.

Monday, January 18, 2010

We've Moved To....

www.sheepthrillsfarm.com

Eventually we will be closing this site. Please join us at our new site.

Snow, Snow, Snow

Well, it's started. We've been hearing about this series of storms coming for a few days but this evening it's started for real. Snow. Snow, snow, snow.

The weather forecasters have been waffling back and forth as to the amounts we'll get before this week is over, but it all adds up to way too much. At first we heard 3 to 5 ft. of snow. Now we've heard anywhere from over 3 ft. to 7 ft. of snow due in throughout the week in a series of systems moving in from off the California coast.

Bummer! Now don't get me wrong...I like snow. I like snow when I can view it from the sunroom windows while sipping my coffee or some hot chocolate...or even a nice glass of wine. But as I have gotten older (and my bones older still) snow and the cold temperatures that come with it are not as welcomed here as they were ten or fifteen years ago.  We really do need the moisture and snow really is the best way to get it as it absorbs softly into the ground and doesn't run off like the torrential rains of the summer monsoons. So, I guess I shouldn't really complain about this.

The sheep don't seem to mind the snow, or at least they don't mind it right now. I will reassess that statement after the end of the week. If we do get as much snow as expected (and if we weren't dug out by the guys with the backhoe/skip-loader) , the sheep could just walk over the fencing around the barn. I doubt they would get far. A few steps and a warm day and the crust will give way to even those tiny, light feet the sheep have and I will be digging them out of the snow. If I can get to them. ;) Later this week, if the snow does start piling up, I will make sure all the sheep and chickens are in the barn. They may not like it, but I will as I will know where they are and if they're OK.

I'm hoping that my enforced hibernation will give me the chance to figure out the ins-and-outs of this new blog/website set-up and I'll be able to get photos back up. It's just a learning curve right now. The past few days have been busy with stocking up supplies for this week and next. When you live in an area where you get these deep snows, it's not just the week of the snow arrival you worry about. It's also the week after when you're trying to negotiate parking lots in town that have no parking as space for piling snow had first priority.

So, there's plenty of feed in the barn, the fridge is full, gas in the vehicles and the guys who dig us out of big snows have been alerted. So, it'll be me, the cats and the DH if he stays home, my stack of books, spinning and knitting...

Gee...the more I list the things I could do if we're snowed in is starting to look pretty good! Throw in a few naps and it almost sounds perfect, eh?

And for my friends and family to the North and East of our little mountain town, please be on alert. We'll try to see if most of the moisture will linger here, but I don't think we have the last say in that. Forewarned is forearmed. It's headed your way.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Welcome!

I wanted to take this opportunity to re-welcome all of you to my blog. How do you like the "new digs"? I think it will work out wonderfully to have both the blog and the Sheep Thrills Farm website all in one place.

I do have to say that none of this would have been possible without the magic done by my daughter, Kelly. I don't know what I would do without her. Not only does she keep me and my computer on track, even from New Zealand, but she's so gracious to recognize that some days, when I'm having pain issues, she sees and takes the extra time to maybe repeat those things she might have said before but have become lost in the fuzziness of my brain. She'll never know just how much that means to me. She's a gem, although I have to say I'm a bit biased. :)

Soon, everything for the blog and farm will be here, in one place and easier to keep track of. If there's one thing I've learned it's that if you make something easy to use, it will get used...and used more often.

So...welcome, dear readers! Stop in, relax, feel free to kick back and put your feet up. We have some time before lambing craziness starts so let's enjoy ourselves while we can.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Moving Right Along -or- Pack Your Bags!

Due to some problems with Google and our Sheep Thrills Farm website...plus some wonderful work and suggestions from my DD, this blog and the www.SheepThrillsFarm.com website will be moving to the following address:

http://sheepthrillsfarm.wordpress.com


If you have signed up for alerts to new information on the website or now blog entries, please be sure to visit our new site and re-sign in. This goes for subscriptions to the blog as well.

I realize that this may pose some inconvenience to some of you and I apologize for it, however, this will make my life so much easier. When I last visited our website, I found it changed and in disarray from some changes Google had made. Having both sites blended into one just makes way more sense to me. Hopefully, we'll be able to keep up with our friends as well as keep updates on our sheep for sale as well as fibers and fiber products for sale as well.

The total change will occur in a few days, so please take some time to visit and sign up...and sign in! We'd love to see you there - no baggage required! :)



Loki: "Colin? Do we have to move too? The Shepherdess said she was moving the blog and farm to one site. What's a blog?"
Colin: "Don't worry about it, Squirt! We'll still be doing what we're supposed to be doing right here. It's just some of the business will be moving to a new website...whatever that means."



Colin, you always were the Wise One!