(This is a re-run post from 2010. Thank you, CS, for bringing it to mind again.)
A warm day....
Three sets of prints in the snow: sharptail grouse, man, and tractor.
I spent quite a bit of time at the lambing shed today. A ewe had
triplets. One lamb came at 5:00 a.m. Her lamb was small and that
generally tells us there will be at least one more. If the lamb is
quite large, it's usually a single lamb. She didn't have a lamb later
on in the morning either which seemed odd. Finally one of the men
decided to check her. Yes, there was another lamb inside. No. Two
more. So they helped her by pushing them in, finding the feet, and
pulling them out, one at a time. These lambs were born at 9:00 a.m.,
four hours after the first. The guys thought they'd be dead, but they
turned them upside down to drain any fluids that might be in the lungs
and they began to breath.
A while later, we checked on the lambs and Hubs decided we ought to try
feeding them by bottle because he wasn't sure if the ewe had enough milk
for the three of them. At our house, there is one deep freeze that is
mostly full of cow's colostrum. I took a pint out and began to thaw it
to feed these little lambies whose mother didn't even lick them off. I
wondered if she didn't feel very well? When I got to the barn, I
found one of the triplets dead and the other two cold and wet and quite
hungry. It usually takes some doing to get newborn lambs to suck a
bottle. They would rather have the teat, but in this case, mama ewe
wasn't "mothering up" very well so they had little choice.
I pulled up a five gallon bucket and turned it upside down for a chair,
grabbed a wet lamb and put it between my legs with it's head facing
away, and I proceeded to force the nipple into it's mouth, maneuvering
the jaw to open and then allowing it to close down. From here on, there
was a lot of sitting and waiting and fiddling to get the lamb to
suck. These things take time and patience. The big barn door was slid
open today since it was very warm -- 50 degrees by noon. The roof was
dripping and I was staring off out the door. There wasn't much to look
at except for the snow, but I could see the top of the hill where the
county road goes by and I saw the mailman stop at the boxes. Other than
that, I just sat there thinking, "Here I am, sitting on a bucket in the
barn, trying to get a scrawny lamb to suck a bottle. Nobody knows I'm
here and it really doesn't matter much in the scope of global
economics. But I'm here, and I want this lil fella to make it." Then I
thought of the shepherds back in Jesus' day, watching their flocks by
night, and I wondered what they might have been thinking way back
then. "Here we are, out here with a bunch of stupid sheep, watching
them sleep and watching for coyotes and waiting for morning to come.
Why are we out here anyway? Who cares? I wonder if there will be
anything for breakfast at home?" And what happened next? A heavenly
host of angels appeared announcing the birth of the Savior of the World
to them. They were to be the first to see Him, and the first to spread
the Good News!
Well, no heavenly host of angels came down from the clouds today, but a
simple revelation did. I have been meditating on the verse from Matthew
6 which says, "Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow, neither
do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds
them. Are you not worth much more than they?" If God cares for the
hungry sparrows and if He set me to feeding the hungry lambies, well
then, He cares for me too and all those people that I love and care
about. He's watching over us all, thinking of us all. We don't have to
worry or be afraid because He is with us right where we are whether we
are in a lambing barn or a sky scraper, in a ship in the middle of the
ocean or in the middle of a hard situation we don't know how to handle.
He knows our needs; we can trust Him. I know this sounds simple, but
when you are out in the middle of nowhere feeding lambs, you think about
things like why you are here on this earth. Some folks wouldn't think
that taking care of sheep is very glorifying, but if it's His work and
He sets me to it, then it glorifies Him somehow. That's good enough for
me. I draw near to Him and He draws near to me and that, I think, is
what matters at the end of the day.
I had a little time to go for a walk today too. I just had to spend
some of this gorgeous day appreciating the things around me and walking
out in the midst of a warm dripping day because I know the next few days
are going to be cold again and the snow will come again, so I intended
to enjoy the day God gave. I noticed that many of the ewes were lying
on their sides with their full lamb-bellies sticking up, bulls were
stretched out soaking up every bit of sunshine they could. The cats
were sitting on fence posts and lying on hay bales soaking up the
warmth. I let the chickens out of the coop so they could go scratch and
pick through the straw and the manure piles. I noticed the tracks in the
snow and the comings and goings of the sharptail grouse and the gray
partridge. Every beast and bird was all about soaking in the sunshine
today and so were all of us human creatures too.
All things bright and beautiful, All creatures, great and small, All things wise and wonderful, The Lord God made them all. He gave us eyes to see them, And lips that we might tell How great is God Almighty, Who has made all things well! Maker of Heaven and Earth by Cecil Frances Alexander
(overflow from creek and from the pond. this is below our backyard)
(the first bunch of lambs we docked today)
'Twas a beautiful day in the neighborhood today! Warm temps and melting ice and snow sent creeks rushing down and circling round our house. I feel like we are surrounded by a moat! It's funny to hear a gurgling creek in these parts. It happens here rarely, but it does mainly when there is a great run-off of snow-melt or a fast or long rainfall. This meltdown will fill lots of creeks and reservoirs and rivers. The Little Missouri is coming out of its banks.
We docked our first bunch of lambs today. My parents came out because they like to help with docking, and the little neighbor girls enjoyed playing in a big pen full of baby lambs.
The great thaw has commenced! The temperatures are rising above zero and even up into the 50s one day this week! Wow, what a change -- a 75 degree swing in just a few short days. We've had fog, frost, melting snow and icicles, and last night a pouring rain. A big melt down of snow has run off into puddles, gullies, creeks and rivers. The reservoirs are filled to overflowing and some are spilling out of culverts or over their banks. Low areas of hay fields and pastures are covered in water. There are even places where the ground has heaved due to the constant thawing and freezing we've had over the past few months. The next couple of days the weatherman promises even warmer days that will really have the water running down creeks and low lying areas.
Our first calves were born this week. So far, three babies are on the ground and there's a pasture full of heifers who will soon have their very first calves. The ewes are all done lambing and have been turned out to pastures with sheds so they can be gathered up and sheltered if the weather should change to cold, snow, or rain. It's a busy and exciting season.
Here's the beautiful dried alfalfa "salad" that I've been feeding my hens. The girls are wishing for spring as much as I am, and their dissatisfaction with a lack of green to nibble or some bugs to spear and gobble down has them frustrated says me, the Mother Hen. There's been nothing but snow and cold most of the winter, and the hens have been literally cooped up. I like to think of my hens as "free range" because most of the time they are out grazing and eating a natural hen's diet, but this winter they've been cooped up more days than not. The egg supply began to drop due partly to the cold, but I think also due to the desire for a change of diet. The past couple weeks or so I began to feed them a slab of alfalfa hay every day along with their corn, wheat, and layer pellet, and I'm seeing the results in increased egg production. Yay!
(the girls picking through yummy green alfalfa)
Hens + Alfalfa = Eggs (aka: happy hens)
We're getting a new layer of snow once again and the temperatures are going sub-zero tonight. We're all growing weary of this especially cold winter weather, but we know -- yes we do -- that spring will come. It's getting closer every day. Look what I did -- I bought some seeds! It's far too early to really think about planting seeds, but hey -- a girl can dream.
The drop bunch is getting smaller and smaller -- only a few ewes left to have lambs. We've had 4 sets of triplets this past day so that means more bum lambs. The goat mama's cannot take in any more "kids," but Dr. Liz, the vet, says she can take ten bottle lambs.
We sorted heifers yesterday and the girls who are closest to calving are being put in the sheds at night just in case a baby calf comes. Night checks continue at both barns now -- sheep and cows. We expect to get a calf or two this weekend. Stay tuned.
"No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn." ~Hal Borland
Look at these Boston Brown Bread Muffins. My bloggy friend, Anna from Thimbleanna shared the recipe, and let me tell you, these babies are scrumptious! I could eat a whole panful by myself. If you like a good bran muffin, you will love these. The sweet, whole grain buns pair nicely with a savory meal or can be eaten as a breakfast muffin or snack. I reduced the sugar and molasses to 1/4 cup each and they were still plenty sweet enough. I didn't have rye flour, but just used more whole wheat flour instead. I'm going to be making this recipe quite often. They are easy, quick, and nutritious.
Boston Brown Bread Muffins
1/2 cup (2 0z/60 g) rye flour
1/2 cup (3 oz/90 g) yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup (2 oz/60 g) whole-wheat (wholemeal) flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) buttermilk
1/3 cup (2 oz/60 g) firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup (3 fl oz/80 ml) vegetable oil
1/3 cup (4 oz/125g) molasses
1 cup (5 0z/155 g) raisins (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Butter standard muffin tins.
In a medium bowl stir and toss together the rye flour, cornmeal,
whole-wheat flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a small bowl
whisk together the buttermilk, sugar, oil, molasses and egg until
smooth. Add to the combined dry ingredients and stir just until blended.
Stir in the raisins, if desired.
Spoon into the prepared muffin tins, filling each cup about
two-thirds full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a
muffin comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Cool in the tins for a moment,
then remove. Makes about 12 standard muffins.
I calculated the nutrition info as follows:
176 calories, 8.2 g fat, 8.9 g sugar, 3.4 g protein, 23.8 g carb.
Weight Watchers points: 2
OnlyDaughter and her two girls came for a few days while their Daddy was out of town. We had a good time together and the girls loved going to the lambing barn and fiddling with the newly acquired bum lamb. This one lived in our mudroom for a few days before getting a goat mama in town. It's been very cold and the weatherman says there are even colder days and snow yet to come. We're almost done lambing (30 head left) but these next days might be challenging with the deep cold we're going to experience. Poor babies in the cold barns. We're doing our best to keep the barns well-strawed and warm. It sounds like many of us in the USA are going to get another cold blast. I hope you'll all be cozily tucked in your warm homes. Take care!
Little people visiting us.
Us visiting little people.
Playing with hot wheels.
Painting on paper and on walls.
(I'm painting a bedroom.)
Lots of lambs.
Singles, twins, triplets.
Mucking jugs and middle of the night checks.
Bummies to feed,
Bummies who now have goat mamas. (Yay!)
Wet gloves and muddy boots.
Alfalfa hay and water buckets.
Naps on the couch, sleeping hard, waking early.
Hubby's birthday - 52 years.
It's all good.
First, let me reintroduce my everyday helper, Sue. She always accompanies me to the lambing shed. She knows when to sit and stay and when to help me get the sheep in the shed. Today I had Peach and Toodles too, but I promised their mom and dad that I wouldn't put their photos on my blog. (sorry)
These are the ladies in waiting....waiting for their lambs to come. In the meantime, they're enjoying a good helping of ground hay to pass the time.
Here's the first ewe to lamb. She had twins. She especially liked the lamb in the foreground, but the lamb in the back she mostly neglected. After a couple of hours of checking on the little thing, I decided to take her out and bring her home to warm her up and see if I could get her to take some milk. She was one chilled lambie pie.
Each year we try to save a little colostrum from some of the old ewes who have lots of milk. I pour their milk into ice cube trays and save them for days like this when I have a chilled lamb who needs a little extra help. I warmed a couple cubes of colostrum milk up in a glass jar and then fed her by using a syringe until she had a little down her throat and in her tummy. She really perked up after about a half hour and began bleating for more milk and she took milk from a bottle. Yay! The girls and I took her back to her mama at the shed, but Mama Ewe wouldn't have anything to do with her. If Mama Ewe had lambed by herself on the prairie, there's no doubt she would have walked off with the first-born lamb and left this one to die. That's how nature is sometimes, and that's why our life's work is called animal husbandry. So tonight this li'l girl lamb whom Peach named Anna Lamba, will spend the night in my mudroom. We'll bottle feed her with hopes that eventually we'll find a new mama for her when another ewe gives birth and has just a single lamb. I hope that's how it works, anyway!
It's still cold here. We had 12* for a high today and then some blasted wind which made it feel much colder. The little girls really wanted to go ice skating so I gave up saying "we'll see" and took them to the pond bundled up in snow pants, coats, mittens, hats and skates. They were walking puff balls. Papa scraped the snow off the pond with the tractor (God bless him!) and we slid around for a few minutes and then decided it was just too stinkin' cold and went home for hot cocoa and a cookie. I'm hoping that you are staying warm where ever you are!