I vaccinated all the ewes with CD/T yesterday. I always shrink from this unpleasant task and am glad to have it over. Though I use 20-gauge, 1/2 inch needles (quite small as needles go) and the shot, which protects against clostridium infections and tetanus, can be lifesaving, I do not like to pinch my girls. Even worse is having to catch them and hold them down. The catching is more frightening to the sheep than the sting of the needle.
I use a crook, snag each ewe by a hind leg, pull her out of the flock, and put her down on the stall floor. Since the biggest ewes weigh almost as much as I do, this can be quite an athletic event — all while I’m holding a loaded syringe in my teeth! Someday I will have a handling system or homemade chute to make this easier. Vaccinating only eleven ewes took me an hour, and by the end I was sweating freely and had badly pulled my back.
However, I got a glimpse of all the girls’ udders. Counting from the date I put the ram in with the ewes, my first lambs can start arriving any time after February 5. From the look of her bag, Blossom will be first to lamb. When I set her on her bottom she let out an audible “Oof!”
Blossom is a big, white, woolly Lincoln/Romney cross and given her spherical appearance it looks as if she’s carrying twins again. I tried to crutch around her bag, trimming the worst of the wool tags with scissors to make her teats more accessible, but without another hand to steady her I wasn’t able to saw away as much as I wished. I foresee having to try again later — undoubtedly when the wool is soaked with blood and amniotic fluid. One of the many things I love about Clun Forest sheep is that their udders are wool-free.
The temperature was due to return to -25° F this week but a storm front is moving in rapidly and instead they’re predicting -15° and a blizzard dumping 8 to 16 inches of snow.
It doesn’t sound like lambing time, does it?
* * *
It has snowed an inch or two almost every day for the past ten days. I hadn’t really paid attention to the gradual accumulation and yesterday afternoon, when DH asked me to drive my truck out to his cabin to break a trail for him, I agreed. My back was seizing up and clearly my brain wasn’t firing on all cylinders either.
I drove blithely into the snow. Powder creamed back from both sides of the hood as if I were waterskiing… and then the truck stopped, fifty feet into the snowpack, buried up to its floorboards. I could barely open the truck door against the weight to climb out.
Luckily I had my cell phone. I called DH. DH called Mike, my trusty rescuer. Just the day before Mike had replaced a dead battery in the van. I was mucking the barn slowly and painfully when he drove in.
“Hey, Sis!” he called cheerfully. “Long time no see!”
He looked thoughtfully at my truck marooned far off in the snow. He smiled slightly and shook his head but said nothing. Like my friend Allen, Mike never seems surprised by the very stupid things I do.
Using my two chains, Mike’s chain, and his come-along, we made a fifty-foot length and pulled the truck out. As I bundled up the snowy chains, Mike put away his come-along neatly and waved goodbye.
“You tell your husband to put on his snowshoes, next time!”