Today’s Guest blogger…Aidan

Our chickens are so hilarious! Recently when we put the chickens in the henhouse for the night, one of them was missing. Mom and Dad tried to look all over for it, but finally gave up, deciding that it must have been taken away by a fox or hawk. That night, everyone was talking about it and where it could be, and we were sad that we had one less chicken. The next morning we were getting ready to go to church and looked outside, hoping that, in the daylight, we might see the missing chicken more easily, but all we saw were sheep walking around like nothing was happening. All of a sudden, my dad called from upstairs, “Look who’s walking across the pasture!” We all jumped up, thinking it was the fox that had taken our chicken. You can imagine how surprised we were when we saw a little red speck walking across from the sheep barn towards the henhouse. It looked like she had just woken up and was wondering where all her friends were! It was so funny watching her run across the field! We were all so happy to have our chicken back! I guess she was hiding from us in the straw in the sheep barn! It was almost as funny watching Mom try to catch the chicken to put her back in the henhouse with the others!

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Help us name this little sweetie!

Matilda’s lamb is doing just great! Matilda is allowing her to nurse regularly – I just checked on her and she has a full tummy! She’s been crawling on top of Matilda, and I think Matilda is looking forward to taking her out for her debut in the field. We’ll probably wait until Friday, after the nasty storms predicted for tomorrow.

So…this little one needs a name. Initially the kids wanted to call her Daisy because she’s white and cute. But after spending so much time with her Saturday night and Easter Sunday, the name Lily came to me as seemingly appropriate. The girls suggested we do a poll, and they photoshopped this picture with the choices. Leave us a comment and cast your vote!

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Special News Bulletin!

We interrupt this blog for a very important message! This afternoon after lunch I moseyed on down to see Matilda, and quite happily discovered this lovely scene, which actually lasted long enough for me to take photos (thanks, Matilda!)

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YEAH!!!! OK – looks like she’s definitely accepting this lamb! We’ll keep her in here another day or so without distractions, then out to the “post-partum” ward, freshly cleaned today after Molly’s discharge. If all goes well, her lamb will be out there frolicking soon with the others! Guess it was all worth a few sleepless nights! Yeah Matilda!

Big day for the twins!

It was tag and release day for Molly and her as of yet unnamed twins! We will be tagging all of the lambs as a routine when they are just a couple of days old on the off chance that we can’t tell two apart. Later, in the same hole, we will place their official Scrapie ID tags when we tattoo their ears. Only the animals that will be sold or kept in our flock will be tagged and tattooed.

Here’s one of the lambs about to have her ear pierced! (thanks for blocking my face out with your thumb, Roy!)

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After their ear piercing and photo shoot (we document their coloration, as it is most distinct when they are young – we take photos of back/belly, face and both sides, Mom and babies were ready to leave their labor and delivery ward (they never made it to a post-partum area because we still had Matilda and her lamb there!) and head out to the pasture with the other expectant ewes.

First, Roy opened the gate:

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Molly made her way out first, of course:

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Oops! Forgetting someone?

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It’s ok, Roy can help with that:

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Out in the field, close at Mom’s side:

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Let me show you around the place, kids!

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And down this way you come to the most important place…

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the community hay pile!! YUMMY!

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And this is the barn that they said some day we’ll get to live in! And you keep away from those other sheep, kids. I don’t know why, but some of them have a dreadful habit of trying to steal other ewes’ lambs! Who me? I would NEVER think of doing anything like that!

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Anyway, all has gone well. Bindi once got a bit too close for Molly’s comfort, but a few head butts set the record straight. The lambs are enjoying today’s warmth and sunshine!

Update on Matilda

Well, just up from my third night of sleeping in the barn! Matilda is definitely making progress! The night before last, Matilda couldn’t stand it that she was in the stanchion and couldn’t see the lamb…GREAT SIGN! Her maternal behavior toward the lamb was budding! We couldn’t resist satisfying her urge, so we brought the lamb to her head end so that she could visit. That was it! When we put the lamb back in the pen where it could nurse when it wanted to, she called and called to it. We shut out the lights, hoping to get to sleep, but she only called all the louder! So I moved my bed to her head end and brought the lamb out for it to sleep there. Every time I heard them wake or the lamb cry, I’d bring it around to her udder to nurse. Sometimes I woke to see her actually putting her head gently right on the sleeping lamb.

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In the morning we decided to try them together in the stall, with Matilda freed from the stanchion.

 

 

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She was a bit nervous, and we were afraid that we jumped the gun, but throughout the day she seemed to get a bit more relaxed, and I thought perhaps I’d be sleeping in my own bed that night…wrong! NOW we had a new problem. She wouldn’t stand still for the lamb to nurse! Apparently this can be common in young ewes.

 

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Our great support group of ISBONA (Icelandic Sheep Breeders of North America) came to the rescue with lots of suggestions. One of them was to check for sharp little incisors poking through the gums which might hurt Matilda when the lamb nursed vigorously (having nursed babies myself, that made COMPLETE sense!) Sure enough, when I went down to take a feel, there were two little sharp areas where those first two incisors were poking through! Now, this is where the solution to this nursing problem in sheep and humans differs! With lambs, you can take a nail file and smooth off those sharp edges! I did my best (the lamb was not happy submitting), then checked the udder for any signs of mastitis (another potential source of pain). We also tried haltering Matilda to try to keep her standing in one place (I really wanted to avoid putting her back in the stanchion!) She took very well to the halter, and so I’ve been haltering her ever since whenever the lamb seemed to want to nurse — that’s what I spent last night doing, too. As the lamb gets stronger and faster and remembers where the udder is (sometimes she looks in the wrong place!), and as Matilda’s hormones kick in, she should do better and better. Already after last night I saw her stand once for the lamb without the halter, and when I do halter her, I try to hold her less and less tightly. Hopefully by days end everyone will get the hang of it!