News and blog
Hello all Farm Watchers,
It's raining here in Virginia - again. I guess we need it (or not). Here's the latest:
Easter means Easter Bunnies and lambs. We had both. I publicly humiliated myself at Church although Aida was her cute sweet self. The kids had a blast.
Saturday was shearing day at the farm. Rounding everyone up was no easy task. Plenty of complaints all around - before and after. I have a hard time identifying my own sheep after this event - you can imagine what the lambs went through finding their moms.
GIDEON NOT LOOKING REAL HAPPY ABOUT THIS
ZACH IN AN UNDIGNIFIED POSE
PEPPER'S FLEECE COMING OFF
ELIZABETH A MERE SHADOW OF HER FORMER SELF
JACOB WANTING TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED AND ELKA LOOKIING FOR HER BOYS
JACOB AND ISAAC LOOKING FOR ANSWERS
UPDATE ON BOTTLE BABY
Aida is doing great and she has managed to find a sometime substitute for mom. I have observed her nursing Hannah and Hannah doesn't seem to care. Of course her twin lambs are not happy about it. Good for Aida. Mom continues to allow her to hang out with her sisters and she sleeps with them each night.
It turns out that Suzannah - my miniature cheviot is pregnant. This will be my first from her and Zach. I'm thinking within 2 weeks. Stay tuned.
Springtime in Virginia - there is nothing quite like it. Lambing is finally done and we have 13 babies on the ground. Here is the breakdown 2 barbados ewes (retained), 1 Black Babydoll ewe (sold), 3 black Babydoll rams (for salle), 3 black barbados doll ewes (1 retained, 2 for sale), 2 Black Cheviot Doll rams (wethered and for sale), 2 black cheviot doll ewes (for sale). Photos are in the Gallery under Lamnbs2009.
A word about Babydoll cross size. Breed standard for a Babydoll is 24". All of my lambs will meet that standard and several will be smaller by 3-4". Babydolls will be registered (unless wethered) and crosses will not.
With all the babies it can get pretty noisy. Moms calling for babies, babies calling for mom. Of course when the babies call, they don't move - they expect mom to come to them. How the mom's tell them all apart I'll never know although its not uncommon to spot a lamb trying to sneak a snack from someone else's mom. Fortunatley the moms all have eyes in their teats so they know when there is an interloper.
Here are several photos of Springtime at the farm:
You'll recall that Simone had triplet ewes. One has become a bottle baby out of necessity - she was just too small to compete. Her name is Aida and here are a few pictures of her:
Most people look at a pasture with animals and see - a pasture with animals. I see something more - a real community doing well - real stuff. If you look closely you'll see the animals engaging in activities much the same as we do - especially when the weather turns nice. For example:
Lunching with friends....
Or grabbing a quick bite on the run....
Napping in the sun....
Hanging out with friends in the "hood"...
Or alone with mom....
Going to the playground...
Taking a stroll with mom in the park....
Watching a wrestling match....
And of course, family picnics....
Of course one of the favorite springtime activities for people and cats is bird watching. Unlike people, cats use creativity when attempting to "catch a glimpse - or maybe a feather or two..." Here are some photos of our barn kitties' bird watching techniques:
Go to where they live....
Go to where they play....
Post lookouts on the ground:
Gain entry into their sanctuary
Eventually the kitties give up and go back to playing with frogs and crickets and anything else that crosses their path.
I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter and a beautiful Spring. Stay tuned for more updates and hopefully a copy of an article soon to be published about the Farm in a local newspaper.
On Tuesday, March 31st, Elizabeth, our black Southdown Babydoll gave birth to a black ram. He appears healthy although I'm monitoring him as he doesn't seem to have the appetite that some of the other lambs have.
This morning - Hannah my white Southdown Babydoll gave birth to twin black rams. They appear to be very healthy and hungry.
Sadly, sometime last night or this morning my yearling Southdown Babydoll Shana gave birth to a stillborn black female. She was not supposed to be pregnant - once I have a few quiet moments I need to figure out how that happened. Well, I know HOW it happened but I thought I had kept her away from the rams - somewhere along the line I goofed. Anyway - she is obviously hurting (the baby weighed about 7 pounds) so I'm working to make her comfortable and hopefully get her back healthy before long. I'll bury the baby where we buried Sarah and her lambs.
This is the hardest part of raising any animals. Invariably there will be deaths but it never gets easier.
More pictures to follow in a couple of days.
On March 24, 2009 Simone - my black barbado - delivered triplets - our first at this farm. All solid black - all ewes. All are healthy but as is the problem with triplets - the smallest one (weighing in at 4.5 pounds) was not able to compete for milk from mom and so we now have a bottle baby. I've left her with her family and mom has not entirely rejected her but won't let her nurse. I let them out to pasture today.
On March 27th, Gracie - my white Cheviot Doll - gave birth to a single black ewe. She weighed in at 6 pounds and appears to be healthy. Mom is nursing. I let them out to pasture yesterday
Watching the lambs interract with each other and with their mom is facinating and great entertainment. The ewes communicate with their babies using a low gutteral sound that is unique to each one. The babies of course cry to get mom's attention. Whem the mom's eat they do not allow the babies to nurse. I guess having a meal in peace is important. The babies stick close to their moms while in pasture and as you will see from pictures to come, sometimes they lay on top of mom - not just next to her.
Even more fun is watching the lambs bounce around the pasture. Golda acts as the pasture manager for the babies. When they cry, Golda goes to investigate. All of the lambs eventually try to nurse Golda - she's getting used to that. Bongo is too dignified to engage in nursery activities. He just watches from afar.
It's getting difficult to pick out who's who. With 7 solid black lambs - I may have to tie colored ribbon around their necks to keep them straight.
I have not yet decided if I will sell the bottle baby, but the other 6 black lambs are for sale.
When it rains it pours. Miriam gave me twin black Cheviot Doll ewes. These will be sold.
Eve game me two beautiful black Cheviot Doll rams. These will be wethered and sold.
But the biggest surprise of all was Dinah. She and her mother Leah came to my farm with child (unknown to me of course). Leah gave us the first lamb of the season. Well Dinah has given us a lamb that resembles a holstein cow. A ewe no less. She is beautiful - a 9 pound baby too. I will keep her of course.
I hope I get a break for a few days! 5 more to go.
My prayers were answered last night and I woke up to about 6" of snow on the ground and still snowing. I knew we'd get at least one "real" snow this year. They call this a "mega storm" - oh please. We used to have blizzards in these parts. And the folks in Colorado and other snow destinations are laughing their heads off at the pandemonium this is causing. But oh well, beggars can't be choosers. This was at least a respectible snow fall. Here are some pictures to enjoy:
When you have as many animals as we do, there are endless opportunities for amusement. Here are some recent ones:
Rachel, our new lamb, is feeling her oats. She now likes to take off racing across the pasture and then back again. Poor Leah tries to follow her and after trying a few times has now decided to stand still and let Rachel come back to her. Smart mom. Rachel has also decided that Golda is fun and regularly engages her in play. I even saw her crawl over Golda's head and Golda just sat still.
The barn kitties are just about to turn 1 year old. Hard to believe. They have finally started to earn their keep. I've discovered a couple of carcasses laying around. Fortunately they eat what they kill - no waste. Good lesson for hunters around here!
Ruby and Jade are barely tolerating their new bunkmate Dude. Dude is ready, willing and able to "service" these ladies. Jade has shown interest but the last time they met for an intimate encounter, Ruby bit Dude in the butt while he was, well, engaged. May have to create romantic weekends by moving Ruby out of their way. Good news for Dude - he can now be haltered and led. Still won't let me fool with his feet though.
Opal has decided that she finds Faith and Hope offensive. Body odor? Not sure, but when I moved Faith and Hope over to Opal and Babe's pasture, Opal immediately gave chase and Hope ended up with a bloody nose. Now I have to keep Opal locked up when I allow the goats to pasture. I'm hoping she'll get over it. In the meantime I'm counseling both Hope and Faith in better hygiene :)
Jazz, one of our indoor cats, has confined herself to the house since moving to Virginia. This has been her choice as all of the cats freely used the cat door in California. We put a cat door in here and so far Joshua is the only one who uses it. Well, Jazz has taken a keen interest in going outdoors again and has run outside on several occassions. The other morning I found her at the back door where the cat door is located. I got down on my knees and swung the cat door flap open so she could see in. She started to come through it and half way in got stuck. She has put on a few pounds since moving to Va and lazing around all day. I had to pull her through. She now treats the cat door as whe would an angry dog - she avoids it.
That's it for today.
For those who actually read through the web site you know that our cat Lambchop brought us a white ringneck dove on 9/11/01. We were never really sure if it was male or female (and still don't know). We got her a mate but that did not produce babies. When I acquired 6 more tangerine pearl rinknecks - eggs started dropping from the sky. But none of them seemed to involve Hope - until now. I found her sitting on two eggs.
The catch is that it appears that 3 different doves are sitting on the same nest during the day and night. Hmmmm - maybe Hope is trying to hijack the eggs? Could there be two fathers? In a few weeks we may have the answer. Or not. If the babies are white - well, there you go.
Yesterday, Moses was very unceremoniously sent back to be with the rest of the rams. Once lambs come it is very dangerous to have a ram in the pasture with them. Poor Moses - it was worse than a fraternity hazing. All of the rams wanted to get a good "whiff" of him - I guess he still had traces of "eu de ewe" perfume on him. Then Isaac and Abraham decided he needed a bit of head butting to remind him that he was no longer king of the roost. To add insult to injury, Gideon was confused about whether Moses was male or female so decided to play it safe and take a shot at mating. Moses was not amused. Gideon is still confused.
Well, yesterday morning I went down to the barn to feed as usual but got the surprise of the year when I found Leah with a new lamb. You will recall that Leah came to the farm in November with her daughter Dinah. Apparently Leah had other company in her pasture. I'm thinking about asking for child support! Actually she'll make a nice breeder for a Barbados Doll next year.
Leah is a Barbados "mutt" - in other words she has something else in her. The father - well - at the moment he is unknown but he was a sheep and he was white. The lamb is adorable (have you ever seen a lamb that wasn't?) She's a big'un too - about 10 pounds. Healthy as can be. Leah is a good mom. Here a a few pictures from yesterday and this morning. Her name is RACHEL.