Sunday, March 18, 2012

Barnyard Surprises

I am always surprised at the activities of my sheep.  Here, is one creative girl who thought the bottom of the barrel held a promise for her.  I must remind myself to never leave a feeding bucket anywhere a sheep might find it.  The good thing about this situation was the ease with which I could walk up and remove the bucket, a relief for the two of us.

I am on udder watch, waiting for the first lambs to be born.  Shearing the sheep allows the shepherd to watch the slow swelling of the udder.  As the sheep get closer and closer to birthing, the udder gets bigger and bigger.  The first time moms don't have much of an udder, but the older girls get a nice full udder.

Shearing also allows me to watch the progression of the pregnancy.  Here is a first time mom, and I am thinking by the look of a valise on each side of her, that she will have twins.

 Living on the farm is the Jersey cow Daisy with her grafted calf, Cowboy. Daisy adopts any calf she can, and Cowboy came to us from a neighbor when he was about four days old. As you can see, Daisy has a big udder, but what you can't see is that her udder has four teats.  Sheep have only two teats, and  I hope for twins to take full advantage of those duel faucets.  Triplets and oh heavens, quadruplets make trouble for the farmer, as usually, the smallest doesn't get quite enough milk, and that means bottles for the baby and a bit of extra trouble for the farmer.  

The result

Daisy at work
 Daisy likes to come in and clean out the feeders after the sheep have finished, and you can see she is good at what she does.  Of course, if she had a choice, she would come in before the sheep had finished.

Daisy hasn't had a calf of her own for about four years, but with modern milk cow breeding, she just keeps on producing that nutritious white stuff.  As you know, humans can do the same thing.

When I first started lambing, I went out every couple of hours during the night to check on everyone. Now, I check just before I go to bed, and first thing in the morning.  I rotate the older ewes out of breeding, hoping to keep just the young and hardy sheep in lambing.  The older the ewes, the greater the possibility of trouble, and as I don't spare the expense of vet care with my sheep, the larger the vet bills.

Often, the sheep lamb during rainstorms, nature's way of assuring a greater possibility of survival, with the hope that the predators would be holed up nice and dry in their dens.  I am leaving the barn open at night, for often, the sheep will lamb inside if given the opportunity. Once the babies start, they really start, so I am on tenterhooks, waiting for the first one, and hopefully two, to arrive.

Any day now, I hope.

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