It was a wonderful week full of renewal. In the space of just a few days my little flock of sheep all lambed and Annie, the goat, had her baby. They were all doing so well together I decided to turn Annie and ‘Sugars’ out when Sug was just a day old. All the animals were enjoying going out to the pasture and wandering around looking for weeds, while the Maremmas watched over them. There have been a couple of nice days in between storms. This particular day there was intermittent wind and hail but the animals could access their normal pasture with its protective shelter if they needed to, so I didn’t worry.
Bruno helping midwife Thing1&Thing2
Rosemary and Thyme
Sugars and Bruno
I neglected to remember the different habits of sheep and goats, however.
Ewes tend to keep their babies very close. If the lamb cannot keep up, the ewe remains back with it. Cows will usually find a babysitter cow and leave their calves with her. Goats...well, goats tend to hide their kids somewhere and then take off for the day. Annie was bred very young and it was a concern for me how she would do having her baby and what kind of mother she would be. The wind was blowing terribly and hail was coming down and actually hurt as I wandered down to check on everyone, finding all the sheep and lambs together with Annie. Just Annie. No Sugars. She could have hidden her ANYWHERE! She didn’t seem the least bit concerned, although of course, I was. It’s just my nature.
I trekked thru the weeds...LOTS of thistle, downed trees, branches, all to no avail, while Annie followed me! I was worried she had forgotten all about her kid. The sheep fell in behind me and everyone went to their night pasture. I checked around in there, in each tire that sits around a sprinkler. In all the trees and brush piles. Every depression that Cletapotamus has dug. No goat baby. It was getting cold and dark. I was worried she was out somewhere in the pasture alone where she would starve or freeze. At least predators would not be a likely demise with the Maremmas around. The cold made my back spasm and ache. I desperately needed to sit down somewhere. There is a large plastic 2 step mounting block I have out there for just such a purpose. I settle down on it, praying about this poor little goat and appalled that Annie would leave her. Annie stood by me, sniffing me and nibbling on my clothing.
I turned away from her and reached down to pull some leaves that were sticking out of the hole. That is a cut out in the back of the step for storing hoof picks, brushes....
...and apparently baby goats. Sugar was inside, snug and dry. She was, however, unable to get back out. There wasn’t enough room for her to get turned around. She began to cry and Annie got hysterical as she would not come out, so I lifted the block up onto a feeder where I could better reach her. Grabbing ahold of her back legs I struggled with her as she was now in a full blown panic, sure I was going to pull her out and eat her. After a few traumatic moments I extricated her. Trust me, it was easier to pull her out of Annie’s caboose then out of that mounting block.
The last ewe to lamb was my psycho ewe. She went into labor in the morning and I observed her out in the pasture. She wasn't making any progress at all. Hours later I decided something had to be wrong so I spent 2 hours trying to get her and her bad attitude into the lambing shed. I left for 20 minutes to see if she would settle down, relax and have her baby but she was clearly struggling. As she is very difficult to catch and hold, I grabbed my gloves, lube and other birthing tools and headed out to find help. My nephew, the ranch cowboss was breaking horses in the round pen and kindly came to assist. It still took a good long time to deliver her ramlet, as he had his head tipped back above the pelvic rim and one front leg all the way back. To add to that, he had a huge crowned forehead that wouldn't fit through her exit. Once I got his head positioned and was certain all the parts were his and I'd fixed all I could fix, she hollered and every time she pushed, I pulled. Eventually we got her boy into the world.The ewe had been traumatized by hours of discomfort and an agonizing delivery. She was breathless and fearful. I quickly cleaned all the stuff away from the lamb's face and set him in front of her. Everything that had transpired in the past several hours was totally forgotten as she excitedly licked her newborn and welcomed him to the world. I am always amazed at the miracle of life. It is something to behold and I never get tired of witnessing it or being a part of it.
The babies have all been spending time with the Maremmas, who are like their kindly ‘uncles’. They are all perfectly comfortable with them and the pups clearly adore them. They are never but a few feet away. There have been great horned owls hanging around the house lately and Randy has been afraid they might nab one of the lambs. I have seen them pick up a cat, so its not too much of a stretch to think they just might. The dogs have been working hard to try and discourage them from landing in any trees near the stock. Lately, Cletus has had to sleep inside with the sheep while Bruno patrols on his own. All in all, they stay pretty close to home and don’t really like the lambs out of their site unless they are on their ‘visiting hour’ in the house with us. They only agree to that when the stock is safely locked up in bed. Pretty amazing, these dogs.
I had a couple of glorious days where I was feeling strong enough to play with one of my horses. Mister seems to appreciate the attention as he’s had a lonely winter back in the pasture by himself. I can’t turn him out with the cavvy for a couple of reasons.
#1 They would eat him alive as he is a sissy stall potato horse from California
#2 He would freeze his caboose off as he is a sissy stall potato from California
#3 He has no social skills and no idea how to interact with a herd because he is a sissy stall potato from California
#4 I like having him in close where I can visit him whenever I want, instead of having to wait until the cowboys bring all the horses in, early, early, obscenely early in the morning to catch their mounts before turning them out again. This way I can ride when I am actually awake.
I did have a couple of truly horrible days too, where the autoimmune issues just kicked my butt. I cannot stand to let things go undone. On one morning when I was particularly indisposed with pain, I decided there WAS an activity I could manage. The seeds need to be started.
So I managed to gather up my trays, seeds, plastic spoons, tweezers (kept with the garden stuff for just this purpose, uni-brow be d@mned.)
I soaked the peat pots in the tray before moving. I then set it on a large metal tray and carried it to the ‘craft table’ which is a big plastic table that is in the back of my very small house to do things such as cutting out patterns and sowing seed. The biggest problem I have had in the past has not been getting the seed to germinate, but keeping track of what everything was. So now I put a sticky dot in front of each row of seeds labeling what it is, the row number and the date. Afterwards, I break part of the end off of plastic spoons and mark it again, placing the spoons INSIDE the cover, so everything is twice marked.
Once they germinate, they will go into the bathroom window, which is the only garden window I have. From their they will be put in the greenhouse...which at the moment is laying in a heap. I think I can salvage the cover and use cattle panels to rebuild one. Oh, what a woman can’t do with cattle panels, t-posts and baling wire. It has been the substance of all things sheltery in my life.
Anyway, I was able to just sit quietly and use my tweezers to poke seeds into the soil of the little peat pots and set them in their rows. So far there are San Marzano tomatoes, jalapenos, a chocolate colored hot pepper, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower. I have others I will do in a day or two. Other than the stiffness in my hands, it was a good activity for me in the current state I was in and it put me in a better frame of mind, dreaming about what will be when these seeds produce fruit. I stared at the little cabbage seeds in wonder. They are blue because they were treated but they are tiny. So tiny. I marveled at how something like these...
can produce this....
and help to sustain our lives. If that isn't a miracle I don't know what is.
That afternoon, the clouds lifted, the sun came back out and my pain levels went from an 8 to a 2 in a matter of minutes, as quickly as it had come on. So strange that the barometric pressure should be able to have such a powerful affect on a body when I have lived with it all my life! At any rate, I was so happy to feel good, yet again, I grabbed Mister, we had a good ride and Randy got a quick pot of spaghetti for dinner. Things are looking up!
Everyday miracles. They are all around us. Go forth and enjoy!