Last weekend, we gathered up the ewe flock for deworming and vaccinations before lambing. We do this every year at about the same time. Warmer weather and the stress of pregnancy and lambing can increase worm loads, so now is a good time to deworm. We also vaccinate the sheep for tetanus and clostridum. Vaccinating the ewes before they lamb will pass on some of the vaccine to the lamb.
We also planned to start shearing. We plan on doing a few sheep at a time, as we feel like doing them. The ewe flock was brought into the barn overnight so they would be dry. As I prepared the supplies, I noticed that Valient Valora was walking around with two hooves and a nose sticking out of her rear end. I waited patiently by while Valora gave us our first lamb of the year, a gulmoget ram lamb. I am guessing he will turn grey. I love watching lambs born, the novelty of it just never seems to wear off.
The sire is Shelteringpines Justinian, Stephen's scurred black gulmoget ram. I had bought Valora already bred from Carol Kelly a few months ago. Thank you Stephen and Carol, this guy is a cutie! We had converted two horse stalls into a 12' X 24' catch pen. We had purchased this headgate at the Jefferson show last year. It lifts out of the doorway when not in use. The ewes willingly stuck their heads through for a bit of shell corn, where they were captured one at a time. They did not fight once they realized they couldn't go anywhere. They were drenched and got their shots.
I got three ewes sheared before the shears started to run hot. Tom says my two ewes look like Jerry Lewis. Whatever. :) It is NOT as easy as it looks! The shears are heavy and they vibrate. I started out with a 13 tooth comb, but I was worried about cutting the ewe or my own fingers. I switched to a 20 tooth goat comb and it worked just as well in the dense shetland wool. Here I am shearing Dalmatica while the flock looks on.
The fleece was butchered beyond usefulness, but everybody has to start somewhere. I did not nick her at all, nor myself. Next time, I'll try starting at the tail and moving horizontally.
Tom was eager to try his hand. Here he is shearing BabyBee. She did turn out much nicer looking than my tries with Dalmatica and Twinkle.
Two days ago, I had to treat one of the Clun Forest ewes, Alice, for early ketosis. I noticed that while the rest of the flock was eating their hay, she was simply standing there with splayed legs, not eating. Her gait was uncoordinated. She was chewing and licking her lips.
If a ewe is off her feed near lambing, either she is in labor, or she is not feeling well and something is wrong. I know that Alice wasn't due yet, so I grabbed my sheep books and looked up "ketosis". Her symptoms were textbook. Ketosis is also known as "twin ewe disease" or "pregnancy toxemia". It can be a killer after the ewe is down. I am grateful I caught this early. After a drench of Power Punch, she began walking around and nibbling corn. I breathed a sigh of relief.
Alice will have to be monitored very closely until lambing.
Today, is day 146 for our own flock exposure. My lambing kit is put together, a small plastic bucket containing a roll of paper towels, iodine, ear tags, notebook & pen, and a rubber nasal suction thingy. I've rarely needed more than this to "do lambs". Stomach tubes, plastic lamb blankets, and my vet's phone number are on standby if needed.
I'll have to start frequent lamb checks, and get the jugs put together in anticipation of "Christmas in the spring", lambing here at Little Country Acres.