Millie’s keeping us guessing

OK, now that Millie seems WAY past her due date, we’re starting to wonder if she was bred later on in the winter. As soon as we put the ram in with her and Roxanne, we saw Millie bred — then 2 weeks later we saw her bred a second time (sheep estrous cycles last 13-19 days, and their heat cycle lasts only about 28hrs)…meaning she didn’t conceive the first time, and so we shifted her due date to sometime last weekend. Had she been bred the second time around, she should have lambed by now (unless something has gone awry!) SO, now we’re wondering if perhaps she wasn’t bred until her third heat, which probably should have occurred around Christmas eve…which would shift her due date to next weekend – May 14-16. So that’s my theory…either something’s not right, and she may still lamb this weekend, or we’re looking at a due date of next weekend, and so only time will tell!

I’m thinking that all of this may seem incredibly boring to you, but for those who are wondering, that’s my theory! I think I’ll sleep a little sounder tonight, and might enjoy a bit of a sleep-in for Mother’s Day, hoping for Millie’s lambs next weekend!

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you Mothers!

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Lamb frolicking

The lambs are really having fun these days!  They’re even playing with each other now  – and here, Molly’s twins are using poor Millie as a trampoline!  Sometimes you see them leap off, up in the air with a twist, land on the ground and take off!  The ewes are getting a little less protective, though they always try to keep an eye on their lambs!

Bindi’s twins’ debut

Bindi and her twins were raring to go join the rest of the flock on this beautiful sunny morning!

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The ram is so gorgeous. He’s all legs! He’s all black with a little bit of “flashing” on his right side. Flashing is white fleece that looks like it was basically spray painted on:

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The ewe is going to be quite a striking addition to our flock. She’s almost definitely a spotted moorit (that’s “brown” for Icelandics). Her first fleece is going to be incredible this fall (we’re taking orders!)

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ewe obstetrics 101

Well, after viewing the birth video, we all decided to spare you the drama (even I was on the edge of my seat watching it, and I knew the outcome!) — that, and the fact that my son turned the camera off before the lamb was actually born!!  ANYWAY, when I went down to check on Bindi this afternoon, I noticed she was in active labor…

I kept seeing a nose peeking out and encouraged her (not sure if that helps the ewe, but it sure makes me feel better to cheer her on!).  And then my brain kicked in…a nose…no feet…problem!  There has to be at least ONE front hoof sticking out in front of, beside or on top of that nose somewhere if she’s going to get this lamb out on her own!  I rushed up and checked out Barbara Webb’s (Jager Farm) awesome article on lambing and tried to get my head together – made a quick call to Roy for one last pep talk — sent the kids to get son number 1 — trimmed my fingernails on my right hand and donned an obstetrical sleeve and lube, ready to assist.  In my head I kept going over the steps that I would ideally perform:  get hold of a foot and bring it forward (both feet, if possible), then help pull that lamb out.  Well of course that sounds easier than it is!  I’m used to pulling out calves and foals!  Sheep are little!  It was like delivering a big puppy!!  Anyway, long story short, I managed to get the left front foot (no room to get in and grab the right one), extend the elbow and pull that leg up through where it should have been.  Then I had to push the right shoulder back so that the right leg would be extended out to the back.  In the meantime the lamb is starting to shake it’s head and lick its lips – it’s alive! Then I pulled…down and out…It definitely took at least 5 minutes all together…which seemed like 30.  I don’t know who was more relieved to see that lamb on the ground – me or Bindi!  I gave the lamb a bit of a swing to use centrifugal force to try to get the fluid out of his airways, which resulted in my spattering poor Bindi’s back with guck, but it seemed to help.  I also suctioned his nose a bit, but it was pretty dry.  I offered him to Bindi and she immediately bonded…but then suddenly stood up and within 10 minutes from the first birth, I saw 2 white feet…then a black and white nose…soon a sweet baby girl was on the ground, too!  She came so quickly that I ended up cleaning up her nose and mouth, swinging her a bit and suctioning before presenting her to Bindi, who was too tired to stand.  I was concerned that it would be a bit much for Bindi to deal with both twins, but by then the black one was up on his feet so we got him wiped off and weighed, then did the same with the ewe.  Bindi has been a great mom so far, thank goodness!

 

Only one more ewe to go…

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C’mon,  Millie, don’t fail me!  You’re my seasoned ewe – this should be a breeze for you!  

Hopefully she’ll give us twins tomorrow!

Another set of twins!

And wow – what a story we have to tell about THIS lambing!  But that will have to wait until the battery charges on my camera so I can get the video from it…in the meantime, here’s a little clip from one of the girl’s cameras for now.  The black one is a ram –he came first and already has horn buds on top of his head!  The smaller black moorit (brown) and white lamb is another ewe!  She was a full pound and a half less than him!  I think she’s actually going to be a lovely moorit color, which is what brown is called in Icelandics.  We’ll have to wait a month or so to be sure, but she’s much lighter than her brother, especially around her eyes. 

We are grateful to Sts. Francis and Isidore the Farmer for getting us through this lambing…in daylight…on a warm, dry day!

Bindi’s turn!

Woke up this morning to find our two “mothers-to-be” resting near the hay pile. I wasn’t in too big of a hurry to rush down, but the kids couldn’t help themselves and wanted to visit the lambs.

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But then one of them came up to say that something was hanging out of the back of Bindi, so I walked down to find that she was losing her mucus plug. Now from what I’ve read, this can mean an impending delivery in anywhere from 2 to 24 hours! Not much of a help as a finding on its own, however combining that with the fact that she was now lying far from the hay pile and not very interested in eating, we decided that perhaps she’s getting close!

Our first task was to turn Roxanne and her lamb out with the others. She happily accommodated our request:

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After the lamb had a bit of a bop from Molly, they seemed to fit in just fine with the rest of the flock, thankfully!

Next we had to somehow get Bindi into the labor and delivery pen. Since I’m on my own today (Roy’s at work), I wanted to have her somewhat confined in case she needed some help, as this is her first lambing. Bindi loves to stick close to Millie, so unfortunately it wasn’t that easy to try to herd her into the confined area, and we didn’t want to chase massively pregnant ewes around the field all morning – so out came the grain bucket. That was enough to lure her close enough to grab a horn and slip on a halter and lead her into the pen.

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So, now we begin the wait, hoping for another set of gorgeous twins! We’ll keep you posted!

Roxanne

Another white ewe born at Morningstar Meadows Farm this morning! Roxanne and Clancy are very young parents, being only about a year old each themselves! Roxanne did great delivering the lamb, which Roy and I were privileged to witness:

Here’s the nose and front hooves!

New life at dawn!

Our yearling, Roxanne, gave us yet another surprise, beating Millie and Bindi to the punch!  She gave birth to a beautiful single white ewe lamb at 6:40am!  Here’s the video, from birth to standing…

Sheep and Wool Festival, 2011!

We had a great day yesterday at the Sheep and Wool Festival at the Tolland Agricultural Center in Vernon, CT.  We were fortunate enough to meet some other Icelandic sheep lovers from Three Dog Farm in MA.  They had some very beautiful yarn for sale, and an amazing poster with all of the varieties of phenotypes of Icelandic Sheep.  

When we arrived, we dropped off our fleeces at the consignment sale:

Lace making:

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and weaving:

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and a little bit of Celtic/bluegrass fun with The Fiddleheads!

We met so many good people…we hope that some of you have stopped by and are reading this blog now!  

Can’t wait for next year’s festival!