Archive for February, 2013

More Miracles

February 15, 2013

Navid is doing well. Conformation wise, he is a hot mess (leg issues), but I am hopeful that many of them are caused by his mother’s lack of movement during her pregnancy. I have seen some improvements during the last week, but even if I wasn’t going to wether him, he would never be a show stopper.

Last Sunday was scheduled for a spin-in at Correy’s house. She had texted me on Saturday, saying that the yearling Nubian/Nigerian doe had kidded, but the kid wasn’t viable. When walking the doe across one of her pens, her bottle lamb had nursed on the doe and the doe had seemed to accept it. Correy wanted the goat gone and offered her to me. I figured I had nothing to lose. Even if she wouldn’t accept Navid (or visa-versa, since he had never nursed on anything but the bottle), I could at least milk her and add that to his bottles. So Sunday, she came home with me. Meet Myrtle (she didn’t really have a name before coming here, and she strikes me as a “Myrtle”):

Myrtle

She got put in the barn with Ashe, and Maeve got released from barn duty. You would have thought that Maeve had been locked up for months instead of just a few days; she totally ignored the hay and proceeded to spend an hour or more bouncing around the pen. Even the lambs stopped their races to watch her. I started a routine of milking Myrtle twice a day. She hadn’t been hand milked before, so I wasn’t getting a ton out of her. The few times I tried putting Navid on her, he didn’t get the idea that there was anything good under there, and spent so much time fighting me that it was frustrating for all of us.

Then, late Thursday night, I quit thinking like a person, and started thinking like a lamb. I started feeding him his bottle under the goat. I placed the bottle between her back legs, so he was nursing on it right next to her udder. The 3rd time we did this, he slipped off the bottle briefly and found a teat. He didn’t suck long (nursing off a bottle is much easier than the real thing), but it was something. This morning, I helped him find the udder before I offered him the bottle. He chugged away on one side, then wanted the bottle (but only took about 3 ounces, instead of the 6-8 that he has been taking).

This afternoon, when I went out for his noon bottle, both Myrtle and Navid were out of the barn. I caught her, intending to put her back in. Instead, I tied her to the barn and showed him where to go again. This time he nursed on both sides, and when I let her loose he followed her. I sat on the edge of the tub and she came over to see me. I pushed him back towards her and he latched on and nursed a couple of more times. Success! Two hours later when I went out to check, they were laying next to each other in the sun, and he followed her over when she came to see if I had anything good. I provided a little direction again, and made sure he nursed.

Navid and Myrtle

When I went out to feed this evening, he somehow ended up next door in the boys pen, much to Puff (the alpaca)’s consternation. He started crying, since he couldn’t figure out how to get back, and she ran over, calling to him. While I sat in with Ashe letting her eat her grain and hay pellets, I saw him figure things out on his own. A bottle baby no more! This is huge; no more round the clock feedings. Of course, I just bought a new bag of milk replacer, but that will store until the next time I need it. Of course, with at least one cooperative goat, I hopefully will not need it (but it’s good to have on hand, in case).

And in more good news, Ashe is working on getting her feet back under herself. She got her rear end up briefly yesterday (trying to avoid her antibiotic shot). Keeping my fingers crossed for her too. Her new companion in the barn is Millie (one of last year’s lambs), who is not impressed with this whole idea. She is the least friendly of the ewe lambs last year, so the confinement will give me a chance to give her some special treats and see if the way to her heart is through her stomach.

All in all, a good couple of days! Pictures of weaving next time, I promise.

Miracle Child

February 7, 2013

Ashe is the last of Kid the Younger’s flock, and as such is special. She is also a nice ewe, has a lovely white fleece and an even better disposition. Unfortunately, she has been down (as in unable to stand) since mid-November. This is a big deal for an animal that is firmly of the opinion that it is on everyone’s dinner menu. Fortunately, she has maintained a very good attitude in the almost 3 months that she has been sequestered in the barn. She has not been alone, since most sheep regard being alone as a signal that they should die. I have rotated several other ewes through “Ashe duty”; currently it is one of the yearlings, Maeve.

Imagine my surprise to discover when moving her early last month that she was starting to bag up (develop an udder)! This poor girl is pregnant! I was not sure that she could survive long-term, let alone deliver a healthy lamb (something she has not managed when healthy, by the way). Not only could she, she did! Last night I skipped my late evening tour of the pen and barn, since everyone else was doing good when I fed and she was not showing any signs of being that far along. Since the ram was in with the ewes for 2 months, there was a big window of possible delivery dates. She ate like a horse yesterday afternoon, drank well, and was settling down to chew cud when I left her.

When I checked on her at 11:30, there was afterbirth behind her. Searching the barn, I found a lump of lamb, chilled to the bone and not moving at all. It had been cleaned off a bit, but was still wet, which wasn’t helping things at all. I grabbed a towel that was in the barn and started rubbing vigorously. My reward, after several minutes, was a very weak little cry. Into the house we rushed. A quick feel led me to believe I was carrying a little girl. Warmed up enough to tube feed an hour later, I discovered that I was wrong. That’s how cold he had been!

Ahes lamb Luckily, I had some colostrum frozen from a few years ago. It is very important that the lamb receive this within 12 hours of birth, to help boost their immune system. You can get generic colostrum from the feed store, but it’s better if you can use the real thing. I wish I’d saved some from the ewes as they lambed this year, but most of what I got was going into little Nellie to keep her going until she figured out nursing.

He got to spend the night in the house (a rare occurrence here), but by this afternoon he had mostly figured out how to suck on the bottle  Ashes lamb up

and had a good nap. Navid napping in the house

So, about 1 pm, we went out to the barn and had a bottle there. He isn’t drinking much yet, which means I will be checking on him every couple of hours and offering him the bottle again. He ate well after I fed everyone else, and when I checked on him about a half hour ago, he was just waking up from another nap and ate again. Like most newborns, this will be his main focus for the next couple of days: eat, sleep and poop. So far, he’s a champ at all three. Kid the Younger has named him Navid, which he says is Persian for “Good News”. I think Ashe did a great job delivering her Good News.

Navid back out in the barn

I will be raising him as a bottle baby, since Ashe is in no condition to nurse a lamb. Hopefully, her condition will improve and she will get up soon, and Navid will do well enough to get to stay out in the barn. I know that some folks will disagree with my decision to put him outside. It is cold out there, but in my experience well fed lambs do better learning as soon as possible that they are sheep. If he gets chilled, I can always bring him back in to warm up. But at some point, he needs to learn how to get along in the flock, just as the other lambs do. Once he is more mobile, I hope that he will learn to steal a little milk from the ewes (as Norma Jean is currently doing, not that she needs it at all). They will show him how to eat hay and grain, and playing with the other lambs will make him stronger. While it is a special feeling to have a bottle baby come running to you, I prefer it when they would rather hang with their buddies once their belly is full. Most of this year’s lambs are very cuddly already (more so than last year’s lambs), and I enjoy spending time out there, sitting on the ground scratching ears and necks. That, to me, is more special than just being able to bond with one that needs a bottle.