Sunday, May 5, 2013

Kirby's First Lamb

On Tuesday, April 30 (which also happens to be the birthday of one of my older brothers), Miss Kirby delivered a beautiful white ewe lamb.

Here's the birth story:

After I did the evening feeding I realized that Kirby was still in the hut - totally uninterested in food (a sure sign that a ewe is in labor), so I hung around and kept an eye on her. At 6:00 p.m. her water broke. I kept my distance for about an hour...until it became apparent that she needed help. At first I was really scared because I was home alone. Also, I felt really crummy from a GI bug and urinary tract infection. Fortunately, though, Kirby is one of my calmer ewes and she let me approach her without freaking out and running away. She wasn't too thrilled with the idea of me messing around with her hind end, but I managed to get her pinned up against the side of the hut. Imagine my relief when I discovered that the lamb was properly aligned! I just needed to pull the hooves out a little and apply steady downward pressure on them as Kirby pushed.

At first the lamb was limp and lifeless. However, after I swept my finger into her mouth and gave her a vigorous rub she snorted and came to life. I promptly laid her in front of Kirby - who proceeded to give her a good cleaning. I left them alone to bond for about 30 minutes, then I scooped the lamb into a carrier and coaxed Kirby to follow us to the jug. She had to pause for a mouthful of grass (hey, can you blame a girl?), but Kirby plodded along behind me in pursuit of her lamb. I could not have asked for it to go any more smoothly!! Thank you, Lord! :)

Family Portrait



Saturday, April 27, 2013

First Lamb of 2013

During lambing season I stay home as much as possible and keep my eye on the ewes throughout the day. If I have first time moms (and this year I have several) I want to make sure that I am around to assist (if necessary) and to put mom and babies into the jug as soon as possible.

Yesterday, as I observed the ewes I noticed that Kaia didn't eat much breakfast and spent most of the day in the back of the hut away from the other girls. It was clear to me that she was in the early stages of labor. Around 4:15 her water broke. At 5:00 p.m. she delivered a beautiful black ram lamb. She immediately started licking the baby and nickering to him. I stayed away from the pen until she had most of the sac cleared off. Then I moved mom and baby to the jug.

Unfortunately, about an hour before Kaia's water broke I started coming down with a virus that Kirk brought home from work. I became very dizzy and started cramping. After I got Kaia into the jug I hung around for about an hour to make sure everything was okay. Then the illness hit me full force and I spent the rest of the night running between the bathroom and my bed.

Kaia is such a good mommy. She talks to her baby frequently, licks and nuzzles him, and will put herself between the baby and any perceived danger (i.e. dogs and humans). It is such a blessing to start out the lambing season on a positive note!

As you can see in the following pics, I ended up having to use shavings because the ground was so muddy and I couldn't find straw. Talk about a huge mess! Never again will I use shavings. Wood chips, maybe...but never shavings. I am a happy camper now because my wonderful hubby found some straw this afternoon. He even put the bales in the back of his FJ (and subsequently spent a lot of time vacuuming the heck out of it). What a guy!! :)

Wake up, buddy...the strange lady is getting too close!
What a nice wooly wood chip coat you have there little guy
What a handsome fellow!
Well, we do live in Amish country...


Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Little Help from my Friends

Yesterday was beautiful here in Black River Falls. The sun was shining and the weather was in the 50's. It was a perfect day to be outside doing farm chores.

I am still working on getting the ewe pen mucked. At first I was hauling out slop...heavy, wet muck that resembled chocolate pudding (but didn't smell as nice). It didn't help that I couldn't get the wheelbarrow into the pen and had to sling every nasty shovel load over the fence. As the slop hit the wheelbarrow it would splatter me from head to toe. Needless to say, I had to shower and wash my clothes as soon as I was finished! Yesterday the pen had dried out considerably, so it wasn't quite as nasty of a job.

From the time she was a tiny lamb, Maggie has followed me closely around the pen as I work. It is quite endearing, but maneuvering around her squat little body can be a bit difficult. I do not have the heart to shoo her away, though. When she gazes up at me with her liquid brown eyes my heart just melts, and I have to pause throughout my mucking to scratch her chubby chin.

Keilah and Kaia are really shy and timid. They will only approach me if I have cookies. However, Kida, Kirby and Ariel will watch Maggie and follow her lead; coming close to me to get scratchies from time to time. Yesterday they were feeling particularly friendly and hovered about me as I worked. They looked so cute that I had to whip out my cell phone and take some pics.

Aren't I blessed to have such wonderful helpers?

Hey there, about some scratchies?
Ahhh...that feels wonderful!
My wheelbarrow helper, Kida
Ariel wants to know if I need help raking


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Lambing Jugs

For the most part, the weather here in Wisconsin has been far from spring-like. However, we have had a few nice days in the past two weeks. On one of these nice days I decided to build the lambing jugs. I'd rather have them up well in advance...instead of scrambling to build them when lambs are on the ground.

The jugs are made up of Premier 1 "PowerBilt" panels. They can be found here: These panels go together really quickly with connector hinges (also from Premier) and are nice and sturdy. My wonderful hubby came up with the idea to attach wood boards to the tops of one end and add heavy duty vinyl to the ends exposed to north winds. The boards and the vinyl are attached with zip ties. I am a huge fan of zip ties. A farmer can never have too many of these excellent fasteners! They are strong, yet are easily snipped for removal.

Some shepherds do not believe in using lambing jugs. However, I have found them to be essential in getting moms (especially first timers) to bond with their lambs. They also provide a nice safe environment for lambs during their first days of life - when they are most vulnerable to the elements and predators.

Here at Kellane Farm we dock tails and apply ear tags on the third day of life. If the lamb is not thriving then we wait a little bit longer. However, so far we have not had to do these things past the first week of life. Lambs and their mothers are turned out into the big pen on day four or five of the lamb's life.

Below are some photos of the lambing jugs. My smart hubby came up with the idea of building them outside my studio - on the eastern side of the house. This provides protection, as well as allows me to view the lambs and ewes frequently throughout the day without having to go outside. This location also allows the ewes to see their buddies in the larger pen so they don't feel as isolated.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Nera 4/22/2009 - 4/19/2013

This morning when I went out to feed the animals I found Nera dead in the hut. She was on her back with her feet in the air. Although she was pregnant, it did not appear that she had been laboring. She was not due to deliver until the end of the month. My first thought was that she rolled onto her back and could not get up. I've heard other shepherds say that this has happened to them. I prayed that it would never happen to me, but unfortunately it did.

To make matters worse, the ground is still frozen and there is no way to bury her. As I called around trying to find out what to do with a livestock carcass I was getting very discouraged because several people said "well, most farmers just drag the carcass into woods for coyotes." That is NOT an option where I live. Sure, we have woods, but they are very close to our house and the last thing I need is for predators to develop a taste for sheep.

Fortunately, someone gave me the number for Countryside Hides of Alma Center, Wisconsin. They are willing to pick her up for $25. I told them I would happily pay twice that much if they could come today. For those of you in the area who might need this service, the number is 715-964-5021.

I'm so stunned and devastated. I've lost sheep before, but never a pregnant ewe. My vet told me that it is actually pretty common for sheep and cows to get on their backs and suffocate. She said it only takes two minutes for a sheep to die if they get on their back and can't get up. Makes me feel a tiny bit better to have this information...but it is still hard nonetheless.

Rest in peace, Nera. I'm going to miss your beautiful squinchy face.

Friday, March 15, 2013


This has been a wonderful winter for Wisconsin. Lots and lots of snow...glorious snow! My hubby and I bought snowshoes in December 2011. Unfortunately, last winter we didn't get much snow, so the shoes got very little use. This year we have been snowshoeing together several times. Here are some pics from one of our adventures:

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2013 Babydoll Southdown Sheep Calendar Giveaway - Take Two

The previously announced winners did not contact me with their mailing information.  Therefore, I entered the remaining contestants into the random number generator.  The winners of this round are:
Coon Hollow
The current winners need to contact me with their mailing information by January 13.  This is the final opportunity to win the calendars.