Well, with the power back up and running Monday morning, so were we! There was a lot of rain in the forecast for this week, and with Roy off from work to get chores done this week, we knew we needed to start with the outdoor ones while it was still dry.
One annual chore here at Morning Star Meadows is tagging and tatooing the lambs. Yes, they have already been preliminarily tagged as newborns. Now it is time for their official tag for the voluntary scrapie program and tatoo their registration information on their little ears.
Here’s the lineup of supplies for the tagging and tatooing, all ready to go:
Our farm is certified free from the Scrapie virus that infects sheep and goats and causes a high morbidity and eventual mortality of animals. It is contagious through the placenta, as well as from other infected animals, many of which are not even showing signs of the disease. Early signs of the disease involve the animal scraping itself against things, as if it is very itchy, hence the name “Scrapie.” The government is trying to eradicate this disease by flock monitoring on a volunteer basis by shepherds/goatherds. All of the animals we purchased last year were from a Scrapie-free flock, and so as long as we maintain a closed flock, or only add from scrapie free flocks, we will maintain that scrapie free status.
Scrapie is a virus somewhat similar to the Mad Cow disease virus. This virus is VERY difficult to destroy, and we can’t be sure that it cannot be transmitted to humans. Since we eventually plan to raise meat animals, we’re very happy to know that our flock does not harbor this virus!
Each year a federal veterinarian comes to inspect our flock – to account for new animals, and those that have left the flock. She will be arriving tomorrow morning, so we needed to have everyone tagged and paperwork completed.
The other part of our task on Monday was identifying the lambs for their registration with the Canadian Livestock Records Corporation. There is no American registry for Icelandics, so all registered Icelandic sheep are registered through Canada, the original North American country of importation from Iceland. The people up at CLRC are so helpful, and we can actually register the animals online (another task for this week!) They do, though, require all US Icelandics to be tatooed with their registration numbers and our flock code, which happens to be AUS (that’s what happens when the chief shepherd is an Aussie!) We’ve corresponded their registry numbers with their scrapie tag numbers, which helps considerably. And each animal will have a letter following their 3 digit number that corresponds to the year. This year is “Y.” All lambs born this year in every registered flock will have a Y at the end of their number, which is quite handy. Their full registration information will also include their color, whether they are spotted or not, their pattern and whether they are horned or not.
So our poor little lambs were put through the ringer a bit, and now all have green ears from the tatoo ink!
Here’s the tatooing instrument in action on Laverne:
Luckily they already had their ear pierced from their original tag. We bought a special tool to remove the old tag, then it was just a matter of lining up the 2 parts of the official scrapie tags with the hole and joining them together with the tagging tool. Somehow we missed snapping pictures of that…probably because the battery in the camera was dead…probably because we had no power for 5 days last week(!)
SPEAKING of having no power…just to bring back that nostalgic feeling from last week, we were again hit with an outage all day yesterday! No phone, no internet, no nothin’! Now, though, we are getting so good to dealing with it, that everyone swung into action: colllecting water from the well and from the kitchen tap, setting up the generator, moving food around in the fridges and freezer and breaking out the paper plates and disposable cups and utensils!
As we awaited the return of lights last night, we enjoyed a couple of games of Scrabble. My children were giving me a run for my money!