Lambing / Steamed Pud / Fencing / Pig PrepRSS feed

Posted: Monday 9 April, 2018

by Rosemary at 3:10pm in Smallholding Comments closed

Monday 2nd April

Dry and sunny start, but getting colder and windier, with a stiff east wind. Sleety showers by evening feeds.

Came out this morning to a surprise – No. 8 had lambed in the field. Not sure what had happened – she had one black lamb with her and there was a white lamb about 3m behind her, not licked and very cold.

She’s a first-timer and I guess she had the black one, had the white one and the black one’s wandered off and she’s followed him.

Scooped them all up and into the byre; good rub with a towel and wrapped up with a warm hot water bottle while I milked mum. Mum has loads of milk and loves the black boy. Just not so in love with her white girl.

The lamb, now called Elsa because she was almost frozen, had perked up a bit and had a bit of a suck response so I fed her with the syringe, letting her suck and swallow.

Feeding ElsaFeeding Elsa.

Gave her 60ml of colostrum. Left her wrapped in her towel and hottie. An hour later, she was able to latch on with help – mum’s happy to let her feed and she’s now out of danger, I think.

Elsa mum and broElsa, mum and brother.

Unless something untoward happens, like her mammy standing or lying on her, of course. I’ve been getting her to feed every hour and she can do it standing up now, which is progress. And mum seems to like her now.

The biggest surprise though was when I started to update my spreadsheet – the ewes are listed in expected lambing date order – and No. 8 was right at the bottom. She was one of my Tail-end-Charlies, due 23rd April!!!

She must have held to her first service, although she did have a nice green bum. Desperately hoping that the other green bum also held to first service – or she’ll be in on her own from about 15th to 27th April.

With the forecast of bad weather, we bought No. 15 and her lamb in. He’d probably be fine, but we can, so why wouldn’t we? And now he’ll have playmates when he goes out again. And we brought the other six ewes into the new pen, leaving Urquhart and Teddy in Home. A bit of snow will do those guys no harm – might burn off a few calories as well.

Dan started to paint the “Felix wall” in our bedroom last week – this is the wall behind the headboard, on which Felix used to sneeze. Messily. You’d think that “Magnolia” was “Magnolia”, but no.

Dan did the one wall, then touched in a couple of marks on another wall – and had to paint that as well. And “White” isn’t “White” either – he’s had to do the whole ceiling, after touching up a mark on there too.

Still, done now, and I’ll be able to get our bedroom back together again now. Then we can do the guest room.

I finished pressure washing the ladder from the green hen house and the rollaway nest boxes – the cardboard ones seem to be a hit!

Weeded the two flowerbeds at the front of the house. Picked and pressed some flowers for card making.

Tuesday 3rd April

Miserable night – cold and sleety. Glad all the sheep are in (apart from the boys, who have to tough it). Ordered sheep tags.

Wednesday 4th April

Another horrible day – cold, windy, sleety.

Went for hay. Started doing the year-ends for our businesses. Always a fun time.

Annie’s been lame in her offside hind for a couple of days so got the vet out; probably an open abscess where she had the injury previously, so she’s had an antibiotic.

No. 11 had a white tup. Wee Elsa is looking very chipper, which is a relief.

Thursday 5th April

Beautiful morning and a lovely day so turned out No. 15 with her boy and No. 8 with Elsa and her brother.

Made a steamed syrup sponge at early o’clock – just fancied some comfort food.

Steamed syrup puddingSteamed syrup pudding, perfect lambing food!

Friday 6th April

Overcast but dry; decided not to put No. 11 and her lamb out, but tailed him and dosed and trimmed her, ready for tomorrow morning. Her face was so wooly – I think this was the first time she’d seen her lamb properly.

No. 6 was due to lamb yesterday, as was Winter. No. 5 was due tomorrow. No. 6 and No. 5 are twin sisters – so they decided to try synchronized lambing.

Conspiring sheepNos 5 & 6 & Niamh conspiring.

And that lead to a bit of an “oops” moment.

No. 6 started first; then it was like a love in. They were both chuntering away, licking each other’s faces, licking the bedding, making beds. So I went for breakfast, came back and there was a wee white ewe lamb. No. 6’s, I assumed, so built a pen for them and left them to get on with it.

No. 5 then produced a white tup – head only presentation, but I managed to get the legs out quickly. Penned her and waited for her to have her second.

No. 6, meanwhile, has a big white ewe lamb. So I’m waiting for No. 5 to have her second lamb. And waiting. Then No. 6 shoves out a big black tup lamb – now my scanner is never wrong and the penny dropped – the first lamb was actually No. 5’s. Cue rapid swapping of lambs between pens.

To be honest, neither is very keen on their lambs yet. Not knocking them off, but just don’t care. I’m keeping a close eye on them and have syringed two lots of colostrum into the black tup lamb.

Meanwhile, Winter looks like her waters have broken but she’s still eating, no straining, no bed making. So I’m watching her and waiting, thinking, “ah, well, she’s just a gimmer”. Goes for lunch, comes back, catches her and has a wee exam. Hmm, I can feel something but it’s far back and feels like the top of a head – so decided discretion was the better part of valour and called the vet.

Turned out it was a ringwomb, although quite a soft one – but the presentation behind it was the crown of a head, with the legs back and the second lamb coming at the same time – so nothing to cone through the cervix.

My wonderful vet sorted it out in a jif and Winter has two lovely lambs – a black ewe and a white tup. It was the tup that was blocking and you can see the mark of the cervix in his head – I think he might have a bit of a headache.

Winter and her lambsWinter and her lambs.

So six lambs today – that’s six ewes lambed ten lambs and we’re past the halfway mark.

I’m not sure today’s six are out of the woods – I seem to have a scary combination of fairly inept gimmers and dopey lambs. I’ve administered several squirts of Lamb KickStart – maybe I should have given some to the lambs, eh?

I spent a very frustrating hour making sure they all had colostrum – which included a bit of a meltdown from me, where I had to walk away. So I’m having two hours away from the shed, a shower and something to eat. Then I’ll be ready to do it all again.

No. 6’s black lamb is giving some cause for concern. He’s still wet, he’s wobbly on his legs and seems to have a problem getting to his feet and he’s cold. I’ve tried giving him a hot water bottle, but he squirms away. This afternoon, I had him tucked inside my fleece for a while, after a brisk toweling.

I was going to make him a jacket out of an old towel than had a lightbulb moment – and borrowed Mickey’s (Dan’s folk’s Yorkie) coat – it’s fleece lined and weather proof, with a high collar. And it fits the lamb perfectly. I’ve syringed colostrum into him every two hours and will do so over night – some milked from his mum and some artificial. Fingers crossed.

And Winter’s white boy is a bit of a worry – he’s just a bit dopey. Keeping an eye on him too.

Saturday 7th April

Lovely day but rain forecast for evening. Turned out No. 11 and her lamb then brought the four ewes-in-waiting from the barn into the byre, to join No. 10, who is also “waiting”. I’ve kept the barn pen though, either as a halfway house to outside or as a retreat, if the weather gets bad.

No. 6’s black boy seems to have turned a corner. This morning, he was dry and toasty and was able to feed from his mum with only a wee bit help from me and I’ve seen him feeding through the day. No. 5’s wee lambs are fine. Winter’s black girl is OK but the white boy is a bit thin. When I checked Winter this evening, she didn’t seem to have a lot of milk, so I’m going to top the white lamb up.

Weighed Bryn and Gwenna – he’s 16.85kg and she’s 13.4kg. He’s lost a bit – he was up to about 18kg – and looks better for it. She seems weeny but she’s still only 9 months and her mum is only 14kg.

Picked up the knapsack sprayer from friends and disinfected the green hen house with “Poultry Shield”. It’s now pretty much ready for the new hens, whenever they come.

Popped to EP with keys – the steers were disappointed not to be fed.

Built a makeshift lamb shelter. Quite pleased with it.

Makeshift lamb shelterMakeshift lamb shelter.

Dan repaired the pig ark, I bedded it and built a wee hurdle pen round it, so that they learn where their bed is.

Pig pen prepPig ark prep.

Pigs are coming tomorrow. Exciting.

Fertlized the strawberries with comfrey liquid and filled some bottles from the comfrey barrel. John’s sowed cucumber, courgettes, tomatoes and sweetcorn. Our peach tree is in blossom! We won't let any fruit develop this year, as it's only a year old and needs to get a bit bigger yet.

Peach tree blossomPeach tree in blossom.

Dan’s been fencing the veg garden. He’s got the strainers, the bottom wire and the posts in, so he should get it finished tomorrow.

Veg garden fenceVeg garden fence progress.

There’s one section to do still – but it requires a bit of thought and another strainer, so is on hold. He also chook-proofed the gate into where the caravan is – there were hens everywhere today. I hope they’ve all made it safely back home.

And a quick One-eyed Tom update; he’s coming on great. His tolerance of the dogs, especially Gwenna, has grown very well. And they’re better with him, too.

Dan, Tom and GwennaTom, Dan and Gwenna (L to R in case there was any doubt).

He’s really an awful nice cat. I wish he could tell me how he ended up in the shelter.

Sunday 8th April

Cloudy start but lovely by 9am – not full sun but bright and mild with a very light breeze. Moved No. 5 and No. 6 and their lambs to the barn pen as a halfway house to going outside.

Lambs in halfway houseThe halfway house for ewes and lambs.

Kept Winter and her two in – not very happy with the wee white boy. He’s really dim – she’s plenty milk but he seems to sook anything but the tit.

Pigs didn’t arrive but I finished the green henhouse so we’re ready for new hens whenever. Andy arrived to cut wood.

Dan’s cracked on with the fencing in the veg garden, even though his back is sore. The long east side is done and the posts and wires are in on the south side; the north side will take some thought but anything will be an improvement.

Rickety fenceNext bit of veg garden fence to be replaced.

I’m not planting anything until the hens are excluded.

Saw a bit of opportunistic feeding tonight by Elsa and her brother. No. 15 and No. 11 have singles; No. 8 has twins – Elsa and sibling. When I fed the ewes tonight, the twins took the chance of an extra feed from the two ewes with singles.

Opportunistic lambOpportunistic feeding.

No. 8 isn’t short of milk but why miss a free feed?

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