Thursday, October 27, 2011

Accident or Mischief?

Twice this week when the Commander has come inside at night after closing up the chicken coop he has discovered the top half of the dutch doors on the ram shed open. There are several ways that this could have happened so we chalked it up to coincidence or mischance.

Last night my son called me after he left for town and reported that he had spotted the rams along the side of the road and was in the process of chasing them towards home. The Commander and I threw on our jackets, grabbed flashlights (it was pitch black outside), and bolted out the door. I grabbed a bucket and filled it with grain while the Commander ran down the driveway in time to see my son and the rams thunder by.

I gave the Commander the bucket and he began to call the "boys" and shook the magic bucket to get their attention. Fortunately they stopped running and my son was able to move them homeward in conjunction with the rams wanting to get to the grain in the bucket. The Commander was able to lead them back to their barn and once they were out of the road Sara picked up the tail end Charlie herding duties. We found the door to the ram shed wide did that happen? Is someone looking in (and freeing) on our rams at night? Was this another accident? How/why did the rams bypass all the grass and shrubs in the yard and make their way down the driveway and into the road?  We usually secure the doors with metal fasteners yet the one for the ram door was not in place, accident or mischief?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Eggs, What Eggs?

One egg today, one egg yesterday, and three eggs the day before....looks like egg production for the year is ending.

I started the year with eight laying hens and in June and July I would get six to eight eggs per day! Add to that two guinea hens who were laying one egg each per day and things around here were hopping. Like everything else in life at some point all good things come to and end and I guess this is it.

It started with the guineas. Juliette was the first to go broody and between her hatching one huge clutch and trying for two others the guinea egg production disappeared.

Next two of the chickens went broody. The first hens' clutch failed completely, fortunately she picked up eight of Juliette's keets to raise as her own. Honey was next and all her eggs failed but one, chicklet. So with those two hens not laying because they are busy being mama's and one hen dying I am down to five potential layers. By the shape and color of the eggs we are getting it looks like three of the hens are laying an egg around every other day and two have stopped laying completely.

(Mamma chicken and the guinea nuggets pictured above) I hope things pick up next Spring!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Worming Day

It was very nice outside yesterday and since it is getting close to breeding season I decided to break out the wormer and hoof trimming gear. Chip was excited because he loves to be held. The goats are easy to do because the just jump into your lap and eat up all the personal attention.

The girl sheep are a bit trickier to worm as they all panic and scatter at the very idea of being handled. We have to get them all into a stall and pull them out one by one, the biggest challenge is to avoid them hurting themselves in their panic.

Ava got an extra dose of a vitamin B oral drench to help keep her energy up, she is looking a lot better today. I'm not sure what got her sick but I'm still not sure she is totally out of the woods as of yet.

Taking care of the rams is always a bit tricky because of their strength and short tempers. The Commander went into the ram shed with a shepherds crook and pulled them out one by one for their treatments. Killarney was selected first to remove the leader of the pack from the others. He is always a bit protective of the others so the Commander thought he was less likely to get rammed once Killarney was finished.

Alder (Wildman) was next. Alder ALWAYS panics when handled and he didn't disappoint this time. Once the Commander got him hooked Alder went wild and the Commander ended up wrestling him for several moments before he got him under control. After a lot of huffing and puffing Alder was finished and set free.

That left Ironwood (who tried to jump out the window last time we tried this) and Albion. Ironwood was selected and wormed while he stood side by side with Albion. It took a bit of wrestling but no buildings were damaged in the process of worming Ironwood and then it was easy to finish Albion at the end of things.

The whole process needs to be completed again next week, hopefully the Commander will have recovered by then - I know the rams will be waiting for their rematch.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Avalon is Somewhat Better

Yesterday afternoon we took Avalon to the Vet to see if she could figure out what was wrong with her. The exam didn't reveal anything obvious so she needed to draw some blood to send off for testing.

I didn't know that the preferred place to draw blood from a sheep was from the neck! Ava has very thick wool and it was playing havoc with the needle placement and after several tries the Vet broke out the scissors and cut away a nice clear patch. The blood was finally drawn but Ava was not happy, I was afraid she may go into shock.

That night Ava wouldn't go anywhere near the barn and I had to catch her with the shepherds crook. Once again Kia had to be lured inside with grain, she is next to impossible to trick but so far bribes have worked.

Ava got a 3rd dose of LA200 and was running a temperature of 102.6F - normal! I put her to bed with high hopes. Today she looked much better but still not totally her self. At 1730 the Vet called with the blood work results and they were ..... inconclusive :( ..... Her liver and kidney enzymes were slightly elevated but nothing that was completely unexplainable. The only takeaway was that we should discontinue the antibiotics, so I decided to leave her hassle free once she entered the barn.  The break from treatments might do her nerves some good. Of course Kia wouldn't go into the barn at all, not even the bribes would work. She had to be captured with the shepherds crooks, we may have to break out the tranquilizer guns tomorrow!

If she is better tomorrow I will have to credit the LA200 and banamine for saving her while she was running a 106F fever. It is good to know that she doesn't have anything contagious or some owner induced malady.

Thanks to everyone for their prayers and well wishes!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Avalon is Sick

Two days ago the Commander noticed that Avalon wasn't keeping up with the flock, she has been sick ever since. I took her temperature on the first day and it was 106F, she was burning up. Since there are no local Vets who will take new clients I sent an e-mail to Pipestone Veterinary Clinic and they responded with the advice to use some LA200 if I had it. I was lucky that I actually had the LA200 (an antibiotic) so I gave her a shot along with a Vitamin B shot, a shot of Banimine (to bring down her fever), and some oral pro-biotics. She wasn't moving much and I was afraid for what the morning would bring.

The next day found her alive but moving very slowly. She was still eating and drinking, but just barely. When the Commander got home I took her temperature and she was still at 106F, things were not looking good. After looking through my 'taking care of sheep' books I thought she may have been suffering from Grass Tetany, this is caused by a magnesium deficiency. That night I gave her a LA200 shot, oral pro-biotics, and a liquid mixture that contained crushed magnesium, calcium, and a Vitamin B complex.

She was still with us this morning, but she was moving like her joints had stiffened up. I called all the Vets in the phone book this morning and not a single one called me back. Once again I fired off an e-mail to Pipestone with Avalon's symptoms and they helped me as best they could. What they really needed was to have some blood work done but with no local Vets to help there wasn't much they could do.

When the Commander got home it took quite a long time for us to get to the doctoring as Kia and Ava wouldn't go into the barn while we were around. That Kia is so smart and she knew what we were up to, I finally lured them into a stall using some grain. When I got to take Ava's temperature I was so relieved to note that it had dropped to 102.9F, much better! Pipestone recommended I keep up the same treatment so she got a LA200 shot, a Vitamin B shot, and some oral pro-biotics.

Maybe she was moving stiffly from the shots? The LA200 stings a lot at the point of the injection as well. I can tell Ava still isn't feeling too good as she is holding her head lower than normal and has a dull look about her.

When I got inside one of the local Vets actually called! They told me that if Ava made it through the night I could bring her first thing! This is an answer to my prayers as there are so few Vets that will see sheep and goats around here, I would love to get on her client list and would be happy to provide a retainer. C'mon Ava, you just have to hang on one more night!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fall Foul

Indian Summer is over and the nights are getting cold. The Commander lets the birds out every night when he gets home and he relies on Leopold to bring everyone home before it gets too dark.

The mini-guineas are growing fast and are almost as big momma chicken. They fly outside the coop area during the day and then pace back and forth trying to figure out how to get back in with momma. It is funny to see them all perching on branches or the fence while momma looks up at them with a disgusted look on her face.

The mini-guineas spent a few nights out in the trees before the cold hit, we now find them snuggled in close to momma when closing up the coop at night.

The chick-let is growing fast but still has fluff instead of feathers. I hope it can survive the cold nights. Honey still sits with it in a nesting box, not big enough or old enough to perch yet I guess.

I wonder if the chick-let is a boy or girl?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ram Shed Painted - Finally

The ram shed is finally painted, I think it looks pretty darn good. I love the dutch doors on the front and back, even if I don't need to use them very often.

They certainly won't be open now that the rams have started to "sniff the air", I don't want anyone tempted to jump out the top of the door to attempt some non sanctioned dating.

The ramp on the back is a bit steep, I have it covered with a rubber mat to cut down on the slipperiness. Note the "ham", I mean ram posing in the shot.

This picture appears to have been taken by the "Goat Barn Cleaning Faeries", I hope they visit soon!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Snowball Target

A few well aimed snowballs this Winter should take care of this problem.  I will make sure to send the Commander out on a 10 below or colder day to do the deed, just in case.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mothers and Daughters

One month from breeding time and look at Avalon (white), she is almost as big as her mother Kia.

Here is first time mother Gardenia (left) and Jeepers. Jeepers gave birth to twins last year. Since the weather was nice recently I broke out the electric netting again and let the girls graze on the grass and leaves in the yard.

Azalia is Gardenia's daughter, she is a plump one and is bigger than all the other ewes except for her mother.

Alma is a product of Jeepers and Kilarney, she is the smallest of all our sheep.

Kia and Ava, these two are smart and wary. All the sheep just love leaves, unfortunately I think I'm still going to have to rake.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Horny Boys

Just like most boys these fellows have their faces buried in their food.

Alder and Albion are in the middle. Alder has beautifully wide horns.

He is a handsome fellow with his wide horns, white wool, badger face, and an orange mane. He is a magnificent specimen and an excellent example of a Cascade Ram.

Killarney may not have as nice horns as Alder, but his aren't too shabby and he is the leader of the flock.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fall Colors

Don't the goats just blend in with the various Fall colors that the leaves are showing? I love how my goats all display unique color patterns.

I really like this picture of the goats with the last rays of a twilight sun at their backs. I just missed Addison sneezing, the air all around the goats showed a slight fog. If you look closely you can still notice a bit of mist in the air.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Garden, What Garden?

Last year we planted potatoes and when we harvested them they were tiny! We never got around to planting the garden this year.....

Guess what we found growing in the garden this year?

Turns out that the Commander probably missed harvesting a few potatoes last year. At least this years accidental crop of potatoes was above normal size!

Monday, October 3, 2011


Guinea girl somehow survived the night terrors, cold, and broken eggs to hatch out a clutch of eggs earlier this summer. The odds were against the little ones so I took the survivors and gave them to a broody chicken, those lucky 8 are still alive. The 4 that stayed with Juliet were taken by a fox.

It is late in the year but I found Juliet sitting on a new nest of 18 eggs!

It is way too late in the year and getting too cold at night for her to have any chance of hatching them out so one day while she was out foraging I took up her eggs and now they are on their way to International Falls. A woman I know there lost all her chickens to a dog attack and she wanted some eggs to hatch. She knows she will be getting guineas but I'm not sure she realizes how loud they can be. I did add 4 chicken eggs that were laid on the day she visited so hopefully she can have a mix emerge from the incubator.

Juliet is back spending her nights in the coop but she still disappears during the day, I hope she hasn't started another nest!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Prey at Night

I went out to the coop the other morning and saw guinea feathers on the ground and in the pine tree. I thought for sure one of the guinea boys were "taken".

Turns out the Diablo somehow survived the attack. I think he fell out of the tree into the coop, and whatever was after him couldn't get in. Note the big bare spot in the middle of his back where there used to be feathers.  The bare spot is a lot bigger than it looks in this picture, you can see bare skin!

The two guinea boys spend more nights outside than they do in the coop. The are teaching the little guineas to stay out with them...much to momma chickens chagrin. I hope whatever it was that attacked them has moved on. I have to pray for them every night.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


This is what I saw this morning......Oct 1st it is too way too early in the year for the outside water to be freezing!