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Lambing Season 2017 – Part 2

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Perfect!  N-Kerry’s ewe lamb

So 3 ewes (out of 8) had lambed, with 4 babies on the ground so far. Next up was N-Kerry, who quietly presented me with a simply beautiful little white ewe. It was 2 days after Duna’s twins had arrived and I came out in the morning to find N-Kerry with the lamb up on her feet and obviously a couple hours old. N-Kerry is enamored of her baby, and has even settled down a bit (she is probably my wildest sheep, taking after her grandma, Cinnamon). She took to motherhood like she’s been waiting her whole life for it and it’s been wonderful to have an easy, attentive mother with a strong healthy baby.

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N-Kerry with her ewe lamb at about 4 weeks.

Later that day we had a storm roll in that all the weathermen were talking about – thunder and lightning and lots of rain expected. I began improvising shelter for the sheep. The shed was a maternity ward of 3 jugs (and 4 ewes and babies – Cinnamon and Nutmeg where sharing the big one with their singletons; Duna and her twins; C-Kerry and her premie twins) and now I needed a fourth for N-Kerry, plus some cover for the other sheep in the general pen. The storm came on like a freight train, with the rain pouring down in buckets while I was still nailing up tarps and plywood cover. I got everyone settled (two sets of clothing later) and went out later in the evening to check on the mamas and feed the premies. I looked over to see Trixie under my new corner shelter. Good girl for using the shelter…er…oh, sh**! She was in labor! It was 9 p.m. or so and the rain was still coming down in buckets. Water was running down the pen in sheets (it is on a slight incline – the corner where Trixie labored was in the lower end) – and the gutters were overflowing. I’d climbed up on a ladder during the afternoon rain to empty the leaves/blockage, only to have the French drain overwhelmed, and with the water flowing like a river, I realized Trixie’s thick straw bed wasn’t going to be thick enough.

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Amid thunder and lightning and torrents of rain, Trixie’s ewe lamb arrived.

At about 10 p.m. she produced a lovely little ewe lamb, and though I would normally prefer twins, on this night, and in this year, the singles are fine – I’ve got enough on my hands! I dug channels into the pen floor so the water would flow away from her and the lamb, and put up a temporary fence to keep her there and under cover, and (mainly) to keep the other sheep out. So at 11 p.m., with the light on in the shed and the pen’s spotlight on, I was out in the pouring rain digging and getting Trixie set up in her makeshift jug with her newborn lamb (hay, warm molasses water, more straw for bedding). Fortunately it was pretty warm, despite the monsoon drenching we were getting. Due to the crazy setup with the multiple jugs and my limited space, I had to be part monkey to move around in there, using the hay feeder to climb over the partitions and into the pen, over and over and over. I was exhausted by midnight, yet still had more to do. And still it rained.

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It wasn’t pretty, but it would do the trick for a day.

It was at this point that my water situation said, ‘hey, what about me?’ and crapped out.  With pouring rain outside, and I came in at one point to get some supplies and wash my hands and WTF, no water from the faucets.  I went outside to see if I’d left the yard hydrant on (I knew I didn’t but couldn’t think what was going on). I waited 10 or 15 minutes and had water again, and figured it was just something to do with the power in the lightning storm (though the house hadn’t lost power…grasping at straws). I still wonder at the timing on this.

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The next morning. A little muddy, but strong and healthy.

At about 3 a.m. I finally got things buttoned up enough so that I could go inside and sleep for a bit, admonishing the two remaining ewes, Pebbles and her daughter Minnie (who is Trixie’s mama), to wait until the weekend, when the weather was supposed to clear up a bit.  Thankfully, they did.

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Pebbles’ newborns.  Big brother watching as mama cleans up his new sister.

On Monday afternoon I came home from work to find Pebbles in labor. Pushing and struggling and half presented. I hadn’t even gone in the house yet (to change clothes, let the dogs out, etc.) and rolled up my sleeve and reached in as Pebbles labored to realize that there was one leg back. I pulled it forward gently and a fine ram lamb was born a few moments later. There was a little more fresh blood than I would have liked, but I watched Pebbles closely; thankfully it slowed and stopped. Within half an hour a ewe lamb was born. Pebbles took care of both of them expertly (this is her third lambing – twins every time) but the little ewe was definitely not as strong as she should have been.  I began tube feeding her as well. Her little ears were floppy and though she got up to nurse, I’m wasn’t sure how much she was getting. It was touch and go for a few days. I spoke with the vet and got some selenium to give her, and also tried to give her some vitamin B (injection). She just languished as her brother got strong and bouncy, and I worried. I made an appointment to bring her in, then spoke to the vet again in the meantime. She okayed another selenium injection and recommended the vitamin B injection, so I tried again. I don’t know how much got into the lamb, but the second selenium injection seemed to do the trick. She started to perk up and her little ears began to stick out straight, like they should. Both of these lambs are especially cute, with their mama’s big eyes and sweet expression. And both are very friendly. The little girl is a definite keeper (it looks like she’ll turn gray, too, just like Pebbles did).

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Minnie watching Pebbles with her new babies.  It won’t be long now.

The day Pebbles had her twins, Minnie was hanging around the activity with a decidedly funny look to her. So I wasn’t surprised when I came home from work the very next day to find her in labor. She was pushing hard with minimal results, and again, I reached in and found a leg back. I pulled it forward gently and in short order a nice little moorit ram lamb was born. Minnie didn’t get up and seemed a little distracted, so I pulled him forward so she could lick him, which she did readily. A few moments later, I realized why she was not fully engaged – a black ewe lamb slipped out of her so easily, and so quickly after the first that they must have been nose to bum in the birth canal.

And lambing season was officially over at MacFinn Farm, just two weeks after it started.

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Twins!  Born nearly simultaneously, and Minnie wasn’t sure who to lick first.

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Fall maintenance and repairs

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Autumn sky

It’s been busy month here at MacFinn Farm with some preparations for winter. First on the agenda was the garage/sheep shed roof replacement. When I got the sheep in 2010 I had a local fellow build the sheep shed, which was just a carport-sized extension off the garage roof with a confinement pen. It wasn’t perfect (among other things, the gutter always dripped – right onto the sheep eating at the feeder just inside the shed), but it worked. About 18 months ago I noticed some serious water damage to the edges of the plywood, and then, last winter, big dark spots of moldy rot in the middle. It wasn’t actively leaking, but it definitely needed repairing. I called a couple of roofers and got some quotes, both more than I expected or could afford because both recommended reroofing the entire garage (a 20-year comp at the end of its life span), and due to the condition neither would reroof just the shed portion and guarantee their work. Okay.

I picked the one with the better quote (or so I thought) and we got started. When I had the fellow out for the estimate, I’d asked specifically how long it would take. “One day.” He said confidently to my “Really?”  I thought this was a little ambitious, but hey, they did this for a living, and even if it took two days, I was on board. So the scheduled day came up. I’d planned a couple days off work so I could be home for the dogs. Though the garage is detached, and across the driveway, it’s still upsetting for them to have people on the property. The first day the “big noise” came: a trailer for dumping the old roofing material, and a pile of roofing material, three vehicles and three guys. Then everyone left except one fellow, who stripped the small side of the roof, put down some tar paper and left around lunchtime. The next day I was assured they would start earlier and get it done. The one fellow arrived a little after 10:00 (so one hour later than the previous day), stripped the old roofing off the shed side, put down tar paper and left around noon.

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Nice tar paper job, as the typhoon approached. 

I think I am cursed when it comes to roofing jobs. At this point the job was put on hold, as we had warnings of a storm of epic proportions bearing down on us – a real “batten down the hatches” storm, remnants of a typhoon that made its way across the Pacific and hitting our coastline. The weather reports were full of dire predictions. Great. I had a tarpaper garage roof and a major storm coming. We had some rain (goodly amounts at times) and some wind but nothing like the predictions, which, frankly, had a lot of us shaking in our boots. I found myself getting a little panicky at work, as I thought, and worried, about the coming storm. Thankfully most of the storm petered out and/or bypassed my area and we were spared “The Worst Storm Since The 1962 Thanksgiving Day Storm!”  Whew!

The following Monday I was assured the job would be finished that day. It wasn’t. The next day for sure. I came home to find the inside of my garage had gotten rained on. They were replacing some damaged portions of the plywood – a good thing – but evidently it was during a heavy rain. I got towels out and mopped up the floor as best I could, and cleaning and drying off items that had gotten covered with debris and rainwater. Sigh. Finally, a little over a week after they started, it was done. I am happy to say that despite the timing aggravation, they did a good job. The statement came a week later and I about choked. It was nearly double what I expected. I quickly got out the estimate and looked at it. And realized I misread it. “Option A,” about $1,100 more than just the single estimate, was in addition to the original quote (for doing just half the roof). I read it as a combination of the two–the original quoted amount plus the extra work, inclusive. It was misleading as written, but it was also right there in black and white. Time for a short-term loan. But its secure, looks good, and the gutter no longer drips all over the sheep as they eat.

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Soggy tree moss.  October turned out to be the wettest October on record, and the third or fourth wettest month ever (or something like that). All my whinging about rain felt less whiny after I learned this.

Later that week I had a plumber come out to fix my yard hydrant, which had been leaking for nearly a year. I was afraid it would break entirely and I’d have an emergency (would have to shut the water supply down, which means I’d have no water in the house). And I was afraid to tackle it myself. I dug the hole around the hydrant to about where it joins the pipe underground but didn’t know what to do beyond that. YouTube videos are helpful, but I didn’t feel confident. I saw a guy on Angie’s List that had lots of good reviews, contacted him and set it up for 2:00 p.m. I stayed home from work that day – I’ve had too many sweaty drives home trying to make it to meet a service worker, and figured I’d work from home as much as I could. So 2:00 came and went. Nothing. I finally called the guy at ~2:40 p.m. “Hello?” Did I call the right number? “Is this ____the plumber?” I asked. “Oh, I should have called.” He said, after I identified myself. “It’s going to be more like 4:00.”  At 4:20 he called and said it would be another half hour. Shortly after 5:00 he got here. Thankfully it was an easy job (and I had done most of the digging) and he was able to get it done before darkness descended on us at 6:00. So that’s done, and only cost me $135 more than it would if I’d done it myself (not counting the time lost off work).

Then, about 10 days ago I got in my car to go to work and got to the driveway gate (something didn’t feel right as I went down the drive) to find this.

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Poor Keh-li MissBeadle!  I’m a bad car-mom!

I decided I would be working from home that day. I put the spare on and that afternoon I drove to the tire store. New tires have been on my list for the past 4 months, and I really was for sure going to get it handled the coming weekend – Keh-li MissBeadle just got tired of waiting on me. I went to Costco – in my tire research of the past couple months they seemed to have the best deal. I missed the $70 off coupon by a week (they had a new one in place, but for a tire that wasn’t as good as what I wanted) but it was still a good price. It was a weekday, so I figured it wouldn’t be like a Saturday crazy-time. I was wrong. I re-upped my Costco membership, which I’d let lapse a couple years prior. The tire department talked to me about the tires, I made the purchase and learned it would be 3 hours before they were done. It was closer to 4 hours by the time I got out of there. I shopped for the first two hours, then waited inside, then waited outside. I think they gave my older car to the slow guy, who, as I watched, seemed to have no sense of urgency as he dawdled through the job.

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Keh-li waiting for her new shoon, about 3 hours in.  She looks so vulnerable like this.

Finally they were done. A fellow pulled up to where I was waiting and said “Here’re your new tires.” I looked at them. “Really?”  It was dusk by then and hard to see them well, but they looked like they’d already been up and down my driveway a dozen times or more. “That’s the film on them from the factory.” Or something. I think it was the Silverback Syndrome again, and the fact that Keh-li MissBeadle is obviously a farm car of a certain age – so why would I care that the tires looked all scuffed and smudged (and used)?  Ah well. She drives like a champ now with her new tires – they really feel a LOT better than the old tires, and we can zip around again like we like to.

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Gratuitous cuteness.  Daisy and Farley sharing a pillow.  Daisy is a Rottweiler b—- who doesn’t like “stinkyfarley” much – she resents the fact that he holds the spot she thinks she should have (I have him on a pedestal) and for her to share like this is huge! 

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