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Author Archives: Denise

Sad Little Lambs

That’s right. It’s weaning time. Yesterday afternoon I locked the seven little lambikins into one of the alleyways, away from their mothers. No more sheep milk for them!

For the first few hours their mothers weren’t the least upset about this. After checking on their little guys from the other side of the handy panel, they acted like they were having a “girls’ day out.” When I opened the gate leading to the orchard, they shot through it and spent more than an hour grazing on thick green grass, nibbling on newly set on winter squash and, for some ungodly reason, eating my Serrano pepper plants. What animal (other than idiot humans) eats whole Serranos?  As they grazed, they’d occasionally respond to their crying babies, doing so without even lifting their heads from the grass. It’s as they were saying “Sorry, kids! Sink or swim!”  Even Mari, the best mom of the bunch, turned her back on her babies.

It wasn’t until time for the usual evening feeding rolled around that the ewes paused to consider that they no longer had access to their babies. They returned to the front pasture without having to be chased. I had the gate to the next pasture open for them, but– as I expected–they stopped in front of the alley in which I had imprisoned their babies.

Of course by now, even Tiny’s three little guys are crying at being separated from Mama. Tiny has already pretty much weaned her three. I wasn’t surprised by that, not with three and not with The Albino (that’s sort of become his name) now half her size. That makes The Albino the same size as Milly’s giganto-lamb, Blackleg.  Mari was the only ewe who was still consistently nursing her babies, Rosie having always been slapdash about her little girl. But then, Mari’s Mr. Headbutts and his sister are the smallest of the seven.

As you can see, even when I forbid myself from naming my critters, they end up with names. This includes the free replacement bunnie/buck that the breeder very nicely and unexpectedly sent to replace the rabbit who died from stress last week. His name explains it all: Scaredy Bunny.

Moving Scaredy Bunny from the cat carrier to his new cage resulted in my arm being seriously scratched. He then huddled at the back of his cage for the remainder of the day. That had me worried that, like his brother, he wouldn’t last the night. Instead, he was still alive the next morning. But when I opened his cage to feed and water him, he panicked and tore around the cage in frantic circles. I started to slam the cage door closed but he was through it before the latch clicked.  As he hit the ground I figured he was done for. I was back there with Moosie and there’s nothing that dog likes better than to chase rabbits–they’re fast and unpredictable. Luckily for Scaredy Bunny, he sat on the ground and looked around him in complete confusion. Perhaps because never seen the world except through rabbit wire? I was incredibly grateful that, this time, when I picked him up all he did was scream like he was being killed.

There hasn’t been another escape attempt since and, as of today, we seem to have achieved a rapprochement. He touched his nose to my finger this morning and stood quietly as I opened the door to add hay to his cage.

lambs separated from their mothersBack to my upset lambs. The mamas considered their trapped babies for a bit, then walked into the next pasture where they began to call. The babies called back. And so the evening went, mamas calling, babies answering. It’s always startling when I realize how unique each animal is. Each of these lambs has a distinctive voice. Blackleg is especially identifiable. If he were human, I’d say he’d grow into a man with a profundo basso voice.

As night fell, the calling become even more urgent. I moved the moms into the alley next to their babies, thinking they might snuggle up to the fence to be close to their babies. Only Mari spent any time near the fence line. Tiny, Rosie, and Milly went where the grass took them, still calling to their babies. It was as if they were saying, “I’m right here, darlings. You’ll be fine.”

Oh, yeah. It was definitely time to wean.

For the little ram lambs, this separation is permanent. Since I refuse to castrate due to the possibility of Tetanus, they won’t be going back in with their mothers. The two little girls will eventually rejoin my ewes, but only after I find a ram to borrow and am certain my four ewes are pregnant once again. That means at least a month apart. Here’s hoping that it doesn’t stay as noisy as it is now for the next thirty days, otherwise earplugs may be required.

 

Rabbits

The time has come the Walrus said to speak of many things, Of ships and string and sealing wax, of cabbages and Chins… Yes, I’m borrowing from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, but that snippet is the only piece of poetry (if that’s poetry) that I know, and I kept repeating it today, “Chins” being… Continue Reading

Dog Food

These days I make a lot of dog food. I guess that’s what happens when you have four dogs and are committed to feeding them unprocessed raw food, otherwise known as the BARF (bones and raw food) diet. Why would I go to all the trouble of such an inconvenience when there are hundreds of… Continue Reading

A Paralyzed Chicken

Well this has certainly been a bad year for my chickens. First the bald eagle harvested a few. Then Radha has taken (she got another one today while I wasn’t looking) a few more. But the other evening I ran into the strangest thing I’ve ever seen since I started keeping chickens. She was one… Continue Reading

Miracle Moosie

As usual you need to catch up before I can move forward. I swear, it’s no longer life in the slow lane out here on the farm. Nowadays, the days whip by so fast my head spins. Mr. Headbutts– because he’s no longer the only headbutt buddy, he’s become “Mister Headbutts”, signifying that’s he’s the… Continue Reading

My Headbutt Buddy

Once again, I’m going to offer a couple of updates before I start talking ram lambs. That’s because in my last post I mentioned that Moosie was hurting again. Well, after I posted that his hurt clearly became unbearable, and he turned back into a three-legged dog. So we went to the vet for another… Continue Reading

House Chicken

First an update on my last two stories. We had a gully-whomper of a rainstorm the other day and the turkey hen did not choose wisely. Rather than hunker down under the porch, which would have kept her and her babies dry, she sat in the Elderberry patch. All three of her chicks drowned when… Continue Reading

Dog Days and Dies Mali

Here on the farm, I am officially suffering the Dog Days of summer.  Not because we haven’t had one worthwhile Monsoon storm, not one decent roll of thunder or cooling spate of rain. And not just because we’re in the 30 to 60-odd day stretch that has been known as the Dog Days almost since… Continue Reading

New Fences

I know, I know. I mentioned I was installing new fences last week, but with the chaos of that day, I didn’t really appreciate what I’d managed to make happen. Now that a week has passed, I think…I hope…no, I’m certain this was exactly what I always wanted. The fence appears to be tight enough… Continue Reading

What a day!

It’s 7 PM and I’m just now getting to the computer. My head is aching and my leg is throbbing. Once again, one of those big red ants climbed up the inside of my pants leg and decided it wasn’t where it wanted to be, so it bit me at my knee. If not for… Continue Reading