Monday, March 14, 2011

Lambing Jugs and Other Happenings

Lots of things going on here at Bachar Farms.  Getting ready for our first lambing season! We still can't believe that it finally going to happen.  A dream of old finally come to fruition.  We plan and pray.  We build and pray some more. 

This is the latest project going on.  Building our lambing jugs.  Our good friend Doug, who does so much for me and the sheep, especially when I am not at the farm to keep an eye on the flock, is building our lambing jugs.  He is amazing! Bachar farms would not be if it were not for Doug's help.

Our lambing plan is not to have the ewes lamb in the barn in jugs (unless they choose too) but to have them lamb in the pasture if that tends to be their natural instinct and desire.  But we do want them to have a warm and covered environment in which to lamb readily available, especially for our first time moms. 

The plan is that they lamb on pasture (since our flock is so small it should be easy to manage) and then take them into the barn for a day or two to spend quality bonding time in the jugs.  Once in the jugs, we will check out that the lambs are doing well (especially if there are twins or triplets).  Give the ewes some nice fresh hay and some fresh water.  Meanwhile we'll weigh the lambs and take care of clipping and dipping navels.  Drench the babies with Nutri Drench for a nice boost to their system and check mama's udder.  If all looks as it should we'll leave them in the jugs with plenty of hay and water and a heat lamp to make everyone comfy and cozy for the next day or so.

This is the frame for one of the jugs.  Each will measure 4x6.

We added two windows on the North wall for air circulation.

And we added a small door so the sheep and their lambs have access to the pasture behind the barn.
Oh and in case you didn't guess it...this is the AMAZING Doug!

The plan is to have three lambing jugs with access from the main pasture that will then be closed off so that the boys can't come in and bother the girls.  The ewes and lambs will be turned out to the pasture behind the barn for a day or so until we are sure that everyone is healthy and bonding just right!  Once that is done we will turn them out to the paddocks with the boys who will be happy to see the babies!!!

So these are the happenings at the farm right now.  We keep praying that the snows are gone.  After last weeks 22 inch storm I think I'm done with winter! But in the meantime we are so excited and expect only good things to come from this our first lambing season at Bachar Farm.  I am sure "our" plan will be changed a bunch of times as things involving nature often do.  We pray to be flexible and will bow down to the will of the sheep for who it is our privilege to share this glorious time with.

I pray the same for you!!


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Apple Cider Vinegar Your Flock

With lambing season just around the corner, we are getting our checklists checked and ready to go. So I am reading and reading everything I can on lambing (for the 15th time). It's funny you start to recognize sheep farms online the minute you begin reading an article. You just know you've read it before, probably printed it and hole punched it and slipped it into your "sheep" binder. But still, you read it again, on the off chance there was something you missed, and just because your pushover for anything about your fluffy Icelandic sheep!

But every once in a while you run into something new, something so cool that you just can't wait to try it and you sure can't wait to share what you've just found. Now I know most of you have heard about the health benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar in humans, and maybe even some have heard of the benefits of it on sheep but I didn't know to what extent.

My first experience with ACV was last fall after our sheep were delivered. We'd had them about 6 weeks and we ran into obvious parasite troubles. Being new to the sheep thing I was doing what I could but it wasn't helping. Their eye membranes were pale, runny poop, all the signs were there. The vet couldn't get out to us for a few days to take a stool sample so I gave them Safeguard (a dewormer) on there recommendation.

As luck would have it, Margaret Flowers from Trinity Farms was delivering a Shetland wether to us and I asked her opinion. That my friends was a loaded question. When she saw their eyes she said rather alarmed "you've got a severe barpol parasite situation here and Safeguard won't begin to touch it"!

The following are the ingredients for the ACV Drench Margaret recommended.  I don't have the exact recipe right now (its in the "sheep" binder).

Apple Cider Vinegar
Garlic Powder (a generous amount...don't be shy)
Sheep Nutri-Drench

In two days time their eyes were pink and fresh and the runs were a thing of the past!  I did give them a dose of  Ivermectin three days later for good measure.  But truly I think the quick treatment with the ACV had alot to do with their speedy recovery.

Now there are many varied opinions on whether the vinegar should be " or pasteurized and some say it is not necessary, while others say any ol' brand will do.  I for one used Heinz brand and like I said, it worked like a charm!

Some shepherds have reported that once they began a routine of administering the ACV to their flocks in their drinking water beginning at three weeks before lambing who had previous problematic births, the problems all but disappeared.  And others swear that their fleeces have improved by repeated use of the ACV.  One thing most agree on is that alone or combined with garlic and other ingredients, it can act as a natural antibiotic and barrier to diseases. 

Every flock is different as are the shepherds, but as the saying goes, everything in moderation.  I for one will be trying this ACV beginning at three weeks before lambing at a rate of 3-4 ml per week per head and see how it goes.  I will also use it as the first line of defense in future parasite situations especially during the hot months.

Hope this tidbit of information helps.  We are always on the look out for anything that can help us better care for our wonderful breed of sheep.  Remember, do your own research and make your own determination if ACV is something you would like to use with your flock.

To Ply or Not to Ply

These were the pictures I took of the first attempts to ply my single spun yan.  It was amazing, even if the end result was not exactly knittable.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Snow and Spin

The days are getting longer and the sure signs of spring can be seen, yet mother nature won't let us off the hook just yet!
Another snow storm is upon us. We rose early to see a whirlwind of tiny snowflakes falling from a white gray sky.
I have finally succumbed to the flu everyone else has had a turn with here and my head is heavy as I try to write this post. I sent DH on to Mass without us. An extra Rosary will have to take it's place for today.
But as I wondered through my congested fog I felt the urge to spin. And though I'd missed my last class I wanted to try and ply some single yarns I'd already made.
I can't seem to upload pictures for some reason I will try at a later date.
The result was a lovely (yet not balanced)kaleidoscope of colors blending into the white of the Icelandic single I'd already spun.
The joy that I felt at seeing this is more than I could truly describe. Suffice it to say that it encouraged me to look at my own wheel (I'd been using the one borrowed from the guild)and attempt to figure out what was wrong with it.
In short order I realized that it was the break band that needed to be set and though I still don't know for sure if I did it properly it worked like a charm!
I had been afraid that I wouldn't like using my wheel, a Kromski Prelude after having been taught on a Louet I quickly discovered that "my" wheel that my DH so lovingly bought form me is THE spinning wheel for me!
Well, it seems we will be snowbound for the next couple of days. Fortunately for me I have plenty of wool to spin.
Sorry for the squirly post as I am using my phone to post because the computer doesn't seem to be in the mood this cold winter day.

If you stop by please leave a comment! I would love to hear about your early spinning days or of your dreams to one day spin or knit.

Shepherdess and (wool Spinner) hee hee