Monthly Happenings- February

Mjolnir, son of Shata, bouncing around like a happy lamb

Lambing Time Begins

The last month started out with our first newborn lamb, but also sadly she passed away. Her mother gave birth to her just as the 5 inches of snow fell on Abilene, and the following two days were extremely cold. The baby and mom seemed fine, the baby walking, moving, calling out, and displaying she was getting adequate feed and warmth upon each check-up. Her mother was very attentive and had milk coming out (check by manual milking) and seemed fine herself. But on the second day, mid-morning, we went to do our hourly check-ups and found her huddled and shivering with cold ear tips and mouth.

We brought her and mom ewe to the garage, warmed the baby up in our arms. We made a box to place her in and warmed her with a heat lamp overhead to keep a steady environment. The first day she was getting weaker, but still able to suckle and was drinking colostrum-milk replacer; honestly, we thought she would not survive the first night. She progressed to not even being able to lift her head or stand that day. It was touch-and-go with the drinking and treatments given until the third day where she seemed to be responding to treatments, and on that night before we went to sleep for a few hours, she was at her most energetic and able to hold her head up again on her own power and even made calls. But when we woke up, she had passed away in the night.

Mom ewe was with her the entire time, refusing to leave her baby’s side even when the baby had stopped drinking from her udder. She’s always been a very attentive mother, so we value her highly for that ability. Her health and behavior was normal during this time. After we properly disposed of the baby, we brought her mother back to the herd.

It is frustrating and sad when despite efforts the baby lamb makes improvements but still dies. Honestly, if we had skipped the hourly check-up at the barn, it is likely we would have found her too late and she would have died sooner. The question then for us is, was there anything in the treatments we could have done differently? What kind of learning can we take from this to improve next time? During the treatment process we kept notes on behavior, observations, amounts of milk-replacer drank, treatments given, and anything else we found relevant. We do believe this will be good information to keep in the future and with some time we hope to find something else we can improve upon.

Since that unfortunate incident we have had another lamb be born, a single ram lamb named Mjolnir. His mother, Shata, is a first-time mother and is doing very well with her baby. He’s been very active and chipper, running at high speeds from his mom to the other sheep with them. He’s even been spotting play-butting heads with the other ewes. He’s been very strong and active, as seen in the video above. We still have at least two ewes still pregnant, each of their udders are growing by the day!

*Edit as of 2/9: Another ram lamb born to Sahara, her first boy born on the farm!

Gardening and Litter Clean-up Time Also Begins!

Aside from the extremely cold, snowy event, the weather has been getting warmer, albeit slowly. The snow was good for the field to help get the moisture ready for spring growth especially in an other-wise dry winter due to La Nina. We’re now out of “Abnormally Dry” over on Drought Monitor. The sheep are not yet out on the field though, the average height is still under 4 inches. At the current rate, it may be until mid-February for the sheep to be outside once more!

For those in the Abilene area, it is time for some garden plantings; the soil temperatures are trending around 50F in the last couple weeks, enough to plant cold-and-frost tolerant crops such as spinach, carrots, and some leafy greens. We are experimenting with barley this year and have had some sprout already. Thus far we have planted many carrot seeds (which will take a bit longer to sprout due to the still-colder ground), spinach, and Maruba Santoh cabbage. Also planted-indoors for later transplanting in March/April are tomatoes, eggplants, and bell peppers.

Fair warning though, seed companies are being swamped with orders again this year! Buy early and only what you need to so more people can explore gardening this year.

With the warmer weather, it was time to pick up our new habit, litter clean-up. We did litter clean-up last spring until summer, when the heat was just too much. It was a long couple months cleaning up the street then. We go and gather up litter until one garbage bag was full, which at first, did not take long to do. This year however, it’s going more smoothly, there’s already less litter overall being picked up. We go out and do our part twice-a-week for now.

What’s planned this month

Lastly, this month will be our second sheep slaughter, Tanngrisnir (seen below post getting his ear-tag on) will be brought to the processing facility in Santa Anna. COVID-19 delayed our expected time-frame, pushing it until February. He was a good sheep, and we did enjoy raising him. His mother, Komuji, and father, Thor, are still here on the farm.

We’re still working on the lagman recipe, so there will be some time yet to posting a suitable recipe for the website. While that’s happening, we’re going to be experimenting with miso-butter. Hopefully the lamb roast we plan for it will come out good! We’re also been making tvorog goose feet cookies, a dessert recipe given to us by a friend from Russia. We’ve changed some things around and working out the kinks before we post that sometime. Happy Black History Month and may this February do us all well!

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  1. Pingback: Is Raising your own Sheep for meat worth the Cost? – Amestris Mars Ranch

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