Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The rest of the day - report 5 days later.

Well, its been a busy weekend. After my last post, things continued pretty much as expected. As it turned out, the events with the ewes were , indeed, prophetical. The black yearling who tried to claim the lambs was Ruby - the first born black lamb last year - and she now has a daughter, born later that day. And, the crossbred ewe finally has twins of her own to care for, also born later the same day.

In a sad, but real form, the twins didn't fare as well. Their mother never had any interest in them. Despite all efforts, mothering instinct just sometimes isnt there. I could go into a rant on the similarities of yearling ewes to teenage human mothers, but I won't waste the time. One twin didn't make it, and the other is struggling. Or maybe it was a bad day to be born. Ruby's little one is not well either. She appears to be premature. Very small, with hardly any wool, which is a usual sign they were born too early. She's weak, but holding on. Some sunshine and warmer, dryer weather has been ordered by the flock master. Some of the other lambs could use it too.

However, the older lambs seem to be doing well. Count is now around 75, with 4 or 5 yet to lamb. Now we are hoping for regular rains and sun to make the grass grow.

Baby shower - as requested, a picture of the cake. Keep in mind that my cake philosophy is make it cute, but make it quick. They're just going to eat it. It was good. And Baby Girl McClure has lots of cute things to welcome her home - two months from tomorrow!

So that's it for now. Have much to do before an art show May 1. And the yard and garden are beginning to beckon.

Here's to blue skies and sunshine.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Its April 15th

Well, here it is. April is half over, and I am behind again. At least mainly just on my blog posts, and not everything else. But I have missed some prime subject matter, so I'll have to try to catch up.

April 1, we had2 sets of triplets. No fooling. And, one of the six was black. As of today, we have 68 lambs on the ground, 14 of them colored. More than one visiting child/former resident has now looked out toward the barn and exclaimed 'Man there are a lot of lambs out there." True, we have never had this many before, but thats what you hope for when you neglect to cull the flock the summer before.

As any seasoned shepherd knows, the one predictable thing about sheep is their unpredictability. Proved right again. We haven't had any lambs in several days. It's been one of those times when you start resenting having to drag yourself out to the barn at inconvenient times to find nothing new yet again. The days have been warm, although often gray, but good lambing weather. But of course, the girls prefer to hang on to their little ones until they can be presented with drama and surprise.

Sure, there have been some that looked 'close' for weeks now. We've been watching. Especially the old crossbred ewe who has tried to claim others lambs every time one drops. We've watched as the bellies and bags continue to grow. But the only thing popping out are the peas and potatoes, and the spinach and the lettuce and beets out in the garden.

Last night, the wind was wicked, and it turned colder. Rain poured a good part of the night, and again this morning. New lambs yet? of course not.

Only the large limb left damaged by last summers storm was dangling from the tree. I have been nervous, listening to it creaking in even a light wind, knowing it was likely to fall. At least when it did, it fell away from the house, so the only thing it hit was the lilac bush.

So, I ventured out this morning thinking surely there would be lambs. Wrong. And at noon, still no signs of any action. 'What are they waiting for?' I voiced yet again. But no one heard me but Dolly.

- Oh and Dolly! An update - Good news. Today she got to go naked for the first time since the event. I stripped off her blue jacket, (you can add the velcro sound effects here) and she looked suspiciously at me when I didnt put another directly back on. I threw them both in the wash, and since she would be with me in the house all day, I let her go bare. I only had to admonish her once to cease with the licking. The wound has closed except for an inch or two, and that is scabbed over, almost ready to release. She has a wicked scar, but in time it should mostly cover with hair. We are happy for her, and we will all be glad when she can wear nothing but her own coat, and return to respectable Border Collie fashion, in natural black and white.

And the rain changed to snow. Still no lambs.

So, I decided while I was house bound, I would commence with the baking of cake. Cake for the Baby Shower on Sunday. But I had to change plans slightly. I was going to make the main cake pink and black and white, since it was the first 'Pink' themed shower. But alas my one strawberry cake mix was bad. So I changed to the Butter pecan instead. (I doubt anyone is going to complain, as I have a cake reputation).

I had just slid the pans into the oven and set the timer, and something out the window caught my eye. Sure enough, it was a newborn lamb staggering through the mud. I grabbed my coat and hat, and headed snatch the little fellow from the muck.

There was a din of bawling and bleating in the barn. The ewes were all excited, and were milling around inside and out. Only the crossbred ewe was paying any attention to the lambs - there were actually two, one hiding behind the open end of the barn door. A quick look told me they were not hers. A little thin ewe trailed evidence of motherhood, but she was oblivious. I carried the twins in to a jug, and a black yearling and the crossbred followed. This was going to take some sorting. And of course, the clock was ticking down on the cake in the oven.

No one was cooperating with me. (except the nurse ewes, who were alternately munching on straw and licking the lambs that were not theirs). I set up a panel, and tried to be patient to sift off the new mother in the direction of one of the lambs which I had placed in the corner. I dearly hoped that the burning cake I smelled was only my imagination. Finally, as the bellering quieted, the mother heard her lamb, and she moved closer. I jumped at the chance, and soon mother and babies were reunited, and the nurse ewes dismissed. I sped to the house.

Time is seldom percieved accurately in its passing, and thankfully this was the case. While the buzzer had sounded, and END glowed in red, the cake was fine. It is now cooling, black and white and tan colored goodness nestled together in the same pan.

And, although its still snowing, at least we don't have the closed roads and 5 ft drifts they have to the west. And, we need the moisture. Especially with all these lambs. The grass will hold just a little bit longer for all these mouths we feed.

April is half over. The taxes are filed. The temporary drought of lambs is over. On to spring. And new grand babies, and showers. And cake.

Sorry, no pictures today. A cake is enough.