Gentle Giants

DSC04312Kaytla, the ewe who had triplets, one still born, looks like she is developing mastitis. I noticed that one teat was twice the size of the other, and that both lambs were nursing on the other side. I asked on the ISBONA list to make sure I should intervene, and milked her out by hand until my EZ-Milker was delivered. My review of that device is mixed. It isn’t particularly “easy” to use, and Valerie never was able to make it work. I haven’t given her antibiotics yet — I think I’m on top of it, and have seen the lambs on both sides now. (Now I have that ear worm in my head! I’ve looked at life from both sides now … share my pain.)

DSC04326 DSC04327 Early Friday morning, just as we were getting ready to leave to go get the horses, Naomi, a first time mama, delivered two little lambs. We’d had a lull for days, and just as we had to turn the place over to Valerie, lambs. Of course! She had them cleaned off and claimed, but the bigger one seemed confused about the right end to nurse on, so I made a quick jug with a cattle panel and a tarp. I made sure they both would latch, did a quick check on sex and decided there was one of each, so finally a ewe lamb.

It turns out I was wrong, though, they are both boys, so we are six for six, ram lambs. What the heck? I’m really disappointed, not sure what we did wrong last year. They were on the best pasture (borrowed) that they’ve ever had, in the best condition. I have to sort of steel myself to not get attached to all these boys. There’s no way we can keep any of them this year, and it will sure be hard to grow to a milking dairy size if I keep up this ratio. Bummer. They sure are cute and friendly, wouldn’t you know? I still have 8 ewes to lamb, so there is still hope of some girls. C’mon, ladies!

We finally got out of here about midday on Friday, after driving by the stables where I found to board the horses. It took us 10 hours to make an 8 hour drive, in the truck, pulling the (empty) trailer. That made for a long day, and we were up early on Saturday to go learn to work with these guys.

DSC04331 We learned so much in one day. Frank seems to “get it” better than I do, and him, with no horse experience at all. He doesn’t have to think to say “gee” and “haw”, and these horses are English trained, which makes sense to him. I’m having to unlearn my western riding, and I think I am going to write the words on my hands. I rode bareback so much growing up that I didn’t even speak out loud most of the time, and these horses are used to a male voice, didn’t register my voice at first.

We are starting to learn the personalities of the horses, and really, they are both gentle giants. They are huge, being draft horses at all, but fairly easy to handle. They know a lot of words and obey really well, but they are also really, really strong. Several times I had to step on a lead to get Pearl to listen to me and not just follow the boys, but I could do it, and she learned that I meant it. I am going to really have to stay very assertive, and spend as much time as I can working them. I hope we get them up here soon. Please, rain, stop. Ground: dry out now. Bugs: go away. (MegaCatch: Hurry up and deliver.)

DSC04337We are exhausted today. It was another ten hour drive home. Lots of third gear on hills in New York and Vermont, with the poor F-150 truck huffing and puffing. We traded our trailer for a larger one that we found near the horses, because they were going to barely fit, and it was a long drive. We hated to do that to them. They are so big that every time that moved from side to side, we really felt it in the truck, especially if we were going downhill at the time. Fishtailing on steep Vermont rainy roads … whee!

I’ve got to figure out how to move the chicks outside. They aren’t staying in the wading pool at all now, so that room is getting pretty awful. It is still cold at night, though, getting down to the upper 20s, and only into the 50s during the day this week, plus rain. I’m wondering if we can just put a heat lamp out in the coop, and how badly the big chickens will pick on all these wee ones.

My brain hurts today.

1 thought on “Gentle Giants”

  1. Hi there– we are just starting out across the Mass border.

    Just put our 6 week old chicks out in the barn. But kept them in the brooder box with a heavy screen lid and heatlamp. So nice to have them out of the basement! That “chick dust” is awful. I think the coop would be fine if you can rig up a dog crate or enclosure for them. The older chickens might hurt them.



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