Friday, April 20, 2012

new moon babes

The first lamb of 2012, a spunky ewe lamb, is thriving. This past Wednesday night Jon Katz and his wife Maria came over to treat me to dinner, a rare occasion for me. (I don't go out to eat dinner often, maybe once every three or four months). So I was excited. But before we could load up into their car I needed to do some basic shepherd's work. The little lamb had been by her mother's side for 48 hours, but she needed to be cleaned up, her tail docked, and given a shot or two. I had a plastic bucket of soapy water and a towel ready, the syringe loaded, and the banding tool locked and loaded by the time Jon and Maria were in the driveway. 

Jon's an old hand at lambing, and I had one season under my belt. We went through the tasks easily and Jon took photos. Maria held the little girl while I cleaned her rump. She had gotten the runs from the rich milk, not uncommon, and had managed quite the mess on her rear end. In two shakes I had her clean and smelling of mint from the castile soap I used from Common Sense Farm's soap shop. Maria cooed and I gave her the tetanus shot right before I slid the band over her long tail. In a few weeks I would find it in the pasture, dead and pointless. She wouldn't miss it, none of them do. Her new docked tail will wag like a dogs while she drinks her mother's milk.

She is already going to join the flock at Common Sense, as are two more of her half sisters yet to be born. They were agreed to as part of a barter to pay off my debt owed for the sheep shed construction. And I have faith they will arrive because several of the sheep (my fingers are double crossed for Maude) are swinging huge udders and seem ready to lamb soon. Tonight is the new moon and seems like a good time to bring a babe into the world. The sheep shed is filled with new, clean, straw. The horse has been separated out from the flock in his own paddock. Everyone seems calm. If I were a sheep, I would go for it tonight. 

photo by jon katz

21 Comments:

Blogger JulieG said...

Why do you dock their tail?

April 20, 2012 at 10:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wanted to tell you I apreciate how frequently you post. It's why you are the top blog I read,,,, well no, there are tons of reasons. But folks who post 2 times a week, I'll not be hangin' around long.

April 20, 2012 at 10:13 PM  
Blogger Sue Steeves said...

Fingers and toes crossed for Maude and the others!!!!!

April 20, 2012 at 10:19 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

If the tails are left long on wool sheep they invite problems. They get sullied with feces (like hers was) attract flies, and can cause infections. It's pretty much a poo-covered stick of flesh if it stays on. Some hair sheep don't need their tails docked, but most humid-state living sheep do.

April 20, 2012 at 10:29 PM  
Blogger sco_oter said...

I am praying you have more babies. Can't wait to see them!!

April 20, 2012 at 10:57 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

Hi Jenna,

I just wanted to throw out a word of caution. Usually if I had to wash the little lambs goopy butts off, I just used warm water. One time I used soap, as this particular lamb was quite a mess. The ewe took one smell of it's back end after the clean-up, and refused to have anything to do with it. It took ten days of going out multiple times a day to hold the ewe still and hand feed her a tiny bit of grain to keep her occupied, while the lamb nursed. Then one day, all of a sudden she decided that she liked him once again, thank goodness. After that, I never used soap again.

April 20, 2012 at 11:05 PM  
Blogger Misty said...

I thought lambs were always born during crappy weather (LOL).

April 20, 2012 at 11:05 PM  
Blogger Karen C said...

Cool - I wondered about the docking too. Lots of fingers and toes crossed for healthy happy lambs!

April 20, 2012 at 11:22 PM  
Blogger Lara said...

This flock is so lucky to be your's...can tell you care 100% and more for them.

April 21, 2012 at 1:41 AM  
Blogger Kelpie and Collie said...

Jenna- why don't you just vaccinate your ewes before they lamb? Maternal antibodies will cover them and the lambs and by 6 weeks the lambs can then get their own vaccination. Also, you can worm the preg ewes when you vaccinate.

April 21, 2012 at 5:28 AM  
Blogger becky3086 said...

Interesting. I am glad you explained that because it was going to be my question too.

April 21, 2012 at 5:39 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Because it is a lot easier to catch the lambs!

If I had sheared them before lambing, I would have. But I did not. So at this farm the easier solution wins, due to time and other things going on.

April 21, 2012 at 6:15 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Karen, good advice! I think since it was 2+ days after they bonded up it was safer. I will keep that in mind!

April 21, 2012 at 6:16 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I can't help writing a lot of blog posts. I look forward to sharing things here, keeping you all updated. If I could only write a post a week I'd go nuts. I'd be writing on napkins and leaving them for people at cafes.

April 21, 2012 at 9:25 AM  
Blogger pawsfurme said...

A pregnant Maude?? A MAMA Maude...now THERE'S a scary thought. Good luck!!

April 21, 2012 at 9:34 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

Hi Jenna,

It would have been probably the third day when I washed that lamb, and I was very shocked when the ewe refused to have anything to do with it. Maybe she was extra fussy about smells!
And I was shocked, but thrilled when she decided to accept it the ten days later. Went out one morning and the lamb didn't charge at his mother like he usually did when I showed up (they learn FAST!),and they both looked at me like 'hey, what's up?'

April 21, 2012 at 10:16 AM  
Blogger Carissa Kennedy said...

As a total n00b, this may be a stupid question. Isn't tail docking painful for the animal? I was told (in comparison to pitbulls) that the pain the animal feels is similar to putting a rubber band around a humans finger and "waiting for it to fall off" due to a lack of circulation.
I'm not trying to be aggressive or start anything, I'm just curious if that's true? Feel free to email me directly if this isn't something you'd like as a comment.

April 21, 2012 at 12:56 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I'm sure it is painful for a short while, but I have been told by vets it goes numb in a few days and then simply dies and falls off. But a few days of pain as an infant sure beats having flies eat your flesh alive as a too-hot and too-wooly summer animal in the humid rains and days of summer. I don't pretend it isn't painful, but the lambs don't seem to be bothered by it. They just go about their lives, napping, playing, and so on.

April 21, 2012 at 1:05 PM  
Blogger Carissa Kennedy said...

Thank you for that!
I'm really against tail docking for dogs (why?) and am mushy in general around animals. I assumed farm animals are different so I appreciate the response.
But that brings up another question. I have no personal stance on this, it's just a curiosity from your response. If tail docking for sheep is a... requirement(?) to prevent a sheep from further suffering does that mean that the sheep are not indigenous to the area you live? Is there a breed with shorter tails?
Disclaimer: Not trying to start anything, I know zilch about sheep and your area so I might be making a fool outta myself!

April 21, 2012 at 7:10 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

sheep were first domesticated in the middle east, thousands of years ago. Over there, sheep don't have to deal with the dank, wet, weather of Europe and North America. When shepherds in early European countries started keeping sheep, they learned quick that a tail in the desert is not the same as a tail on the fells, and that wet, sticky, and fly-strike weather caused liquid feces to collect and cover the tail and bum wool. This was remedied by shortening the tails so they could not shit upon them. A docked tail could save a sheep from being eaten alive by maggots in a bad season.

there are breeds that do not need to be docked, but they are meat and milk breeds. I don't know of a wool sheep that keeps its tail in the north east.

It isn't like docking a tail for a breed standard, it is for medical reasons for an animal not adapted for our part of the world. Think of native sheep to North America, like Bighorn Sheep! They do not have long tails because evolution is a better system for adaption than human fuddlin'

I am not going to raise bighorn sheep, though! Even if they do have the right tails for the job. But I bet Maude could take them. She's a pistol.

Hope that helped.

April 21, 2012 at 9:23 PM  
Blogger Carissa Kennedy said...

Way helpful.

Thank you for replying so [quickly] and honestly to concerns.

April 22, 2012 at 12:40 AM  

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