First Cold Snap

The air is cold, and I have spent the past two days getting ready for the freeze that was coming our way. I do not care much for the cold. Where I live there is not frosty wonderland to see the morning of a freeze, everything covered with frosty crystals. Here when there is a freeze, it is ice covering everything.

To prep for the freeze I gave the dogs in the kennels a fresh bed of wool to help stay warm. I do raise hair sheep, but there are times that even this breed of sheep needs to be sheared. I shear the wool and hair from the top of the back on the show sheep and the first year sheep. First year sheep have a harder time shedding the lamb hair, so I give them some assistance by shearing them the first year. This wool I store in order to use for dog bedding in the cold, icy winter months.

The dogs enjoy their nice soft wool beds, except one. This year we have a young male Akbash cross pup, Bruno (We don’t talk about Bruno…lol). He is eight months old and doing his job protecting the sheep. The livestock guard dogs do not stay in the kennel, but they have a dog house to get out of the weather if needed. I put a nice bed in his house, the next morning all the wool was scattered around his dog house and in the sheep pen. I am not sure how much time he spends in his house for protection from the weather but it is there if he chooses to. The nice wool bed I provided for his sleeping comfort, he decided would be more fun to play with. I can try to help improve their lives, but ultimately it is up to the dog in making the choice to sleep in the shelter and on the bed provided.

I have shelters for the horses and sheep. My favorite mare, My Sweet Victoria, would not use a shelter for years. She would stand outside, and have everyone stand outside with her during the storms. It has only been the past three years she has decided it was ok to use a shelter during a storm. She has had the same shelter for twelve years, and only started using it three years ago. Her two pen mates are happy they are able to use the shelter. My Sweet Victoria is not happy while using the shelter, she is very nervous, but she has figured it is better to be dry than happy.

I have also been prepping the lambing barn. I am close to lambing time again. I do not like lambing in the cold months of the year as there is more work to do. I make sure the lambing pens have shavings for the floor and the heat lamps are working correctly. In the cold months, the newborn lambs need extra heat for a few days, especially at night. The mamas and babies stay in the lambing pens for about three days, then they rejoin the flock. The babies have learned who mama is, gained some strength and are good to return with their moms to the flock.

Last month I made sure the water lines and other areas are winterized for the cold months ahead. Since I do not have the ewes in the lambing barn until they are ready to lamb, I have to prepare it just before lambing and between ewes.

Today, we are set for the cold months ahead, except Bruno who scattered his bed. Ooops, we don’t talk about Bruno….lol

amtolle

Getting Ready

I raise sheep. I plan the months I want the lambs to be born in. February is not a month for lambs. The icy rain storms with frigid cold temperatures and high humidity are hard on lambs. The lambs get cold. When lambs get cold, they become lethargic and do not get up to eat. Unless the lambs eat, they will die. The work for keeping lambs alive in February is much more work and requires around the clock care in the cold. I do not like the cold.

I planned the lambing of a group of first time mothers to be in March. March is here and they are starting to make udders and getting ready for the process of labor and lambs.

A week or two before the scheduled time of lambing, I get my lambing kit ready. My lambing kit contains a digital scale with a sling for weighing the lambs after their born. I need their birth weight for my record keeping. Ear tags are included to mark the lambs so I know which lamb came from which ewe and to track weight gain. Probiotics are used to give their digestive system a jump start. The more milk they are able to digest, the stronger they are as newborn lambs. The last is iodine tincture to treat the umbilical cord to prevent infection. And my little book.

My little book records the date, ewe’s number, the lamb’s number, sex and the birth weight and weaning weight. The difference in the weaning weight and birth weight tell me if the ewe is producing good to excellent milk for her lambs. Milk production is important to having a healthy lamb.

I enjoy the lambing. I do not like the cold. I enjoy watching new life be born. The sight of the lamb is always a happy thought and will brighten my darkest days. This year, I am trying to remember my phone or the camera for lambing. I want to take more pictures to share my lambing joys with others. One of my faults is I get so into the moment of watching the new lambs stand, walk and nurse, I forget to take pictures to share.

I do not live with my phone attached to my body. My phone is not strong enough to survive the rigors I put it through. I used to have a really tough phone. That phone had a rough life. The phone went swimming in the water troughs twice, was ran over by the large tractor once and I do not know how many times the riding lawn mower abused it. And it kept working. Although the old phone handled the farm life well, it got to the point it could no longer handle the internet life. So I had to get a good internet capable phone that lacked the tough exterior of its predecessor.

Look forward to some lambing stories and pictures provided I remember the phone and remember to use it.

amtolle