Tuesday, April 27, 2010

burning questions

To answer the burning question on everyone's lips these days:

Yes, the littlest lamb is still alive.

And to answer the other question that I am sure you all have in your minds:

Yes, I am still alive... but up to my eyeballs in preparation for Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival and the American Coopworth Registry's co-operative booth.

In addition to getting roving dyed, items packed and otherwise ready for the booth, I found out ten days ago that we also had the chance to do a sheep breed display, similar to what we already do for Rhinebeck. I thought it would be a simple thing to pull together based on what I had done in Rhinebeck. I thought wrong. I pulled out my boards and found they were destroyed, so I have been frantically reinventing the wheel, yet again.

In between dyeing and packing and otherwise panicking. Oh yeah, and a birthday party for 15 kindergartners on Saturday. My April sweater is dead in the water at this point.

It will probably be after this weekend that I finally get a regular post up. Hope to see you in Maryland, if not on the other side.

Friday, April 23, 2010

march in april

Despite it all -- and I will get further into it all as the week progresses, I promise -- I continue to pick away at my April sweater in the hope that I may yet finish it in time. I managed to cast off the sleeves tonight at our second baseball game.

It was quite a good one, and not just because our home team won.

Primo caught his first foul ball.


Secondo impersonated an elf, because it was quite chilly and no one listened when I pointed out that it would probably be too cool for shorts once the sun went down.


Terzo got his father to buy him some peanuts and crackerjack, because, well, he has his father wrapped around his little finger. Plus he's cute.


And I managed to weave in most of my ends prior to blocking and seaming the sweater, to give myself a little edge in getting the darn thing done. And do you see what I got to get a little more wear out of, because it was so chilly?


That's right. My March sweater, keeping me warm in (and while I work on) April.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

still kicking

The littlest lamb is still alive, but still hunched over. I feed her morning and night with the drenching syringe, as she still will not/cannot suck on the bottle. It is a fight every time. Unlike most starving lambs, who quickly figure out that scary human = food, she continues to resist the connection and I have to chase her down and feel her little heart pounding away in fear in her chest after I catch her.


Is her problem simply that she is dumb as a box of rocks?

I dunno.

I suspect that she probably would have died by now if I had not insisted on more food in her belly. It remains to be seen if she will die anyway. More likely than not, her growth will be stunted, because she is already so far behind her siblings at this point.


See how much I know? Not much.

What I do know is that she has gained one pound, I would like to think thanks to my help. I do know that I couldn't sit idly by and let her starve to death. I also know that she is a fighter; most lambs would have given up the ghost by now. She has already figured out how the creep area works (the lambs can get in to the food; their greedy mothers cannot) and she is constantly at the grain in there. I am going to try a trick my friend Laurie taught me, and sprinkle some milk replacer formula on the grain to give her a further nutritional boost.


It's one of those no-win situations that makes me, well, lose sleep. Should I be interfering in this one, or let nature take its course? Nothing I am doing seems to be making much of a difference, so I worry that there is something bigger going on that can't be fixed, but she's still there morning after morning, at least until now.


I know, we all know, I'll keep on interfering. I have had plenty of training as a parent, after all.

Monday, April 19, 2010


I have completely fallen off the blog posting wagon at this point, because several things in my world are happening all at once:

  • Preparation for Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival;
  • A lamb who is just not putting on weight;
  • A teenager who is pushing my buttons at every opportunity; and
  • The rest of my life.

All on one big collision course.

We went out to tag lamb ears yesterday (yes, we are very lucky that we can still tell all the lambs apart) and I noticed that the littlest white triplet was looking really peaked and hunched over, which is not a good sign in a lamb. Remember those perky pictures from last week? Well, they don't apply anymore.


I had the older boys weigh her while my LSH and I put in the last of the eartags, and my suspicions were confirmed. She hadn't gained any weight in several days. She is nursing off her mom; she is getting around just fine; but she is lagging way, way behind her brother and sister in terms of growth. There is no obvious reason for it, but she presents the classic picture of a starving lamb.

I immediately went into the house to break out a bottle. Thanks to my lax housekeeping, an empty (but clean!) one was still sitting behind the kitchen sink. Of course I had just tossed out the remainder of the last batch of milk replacer, but I mixed up a fresh batch and headed back out.

The problem (I think) is that she seems to have a very poor suck reflex. Her tongue hangs out the side of her mouth, on the roof of her mouth, who the heck knows where, but not sucking on the nipple as it should. As hungry as she obviously is, she should have devoured that bottle, but it was all I could do to coax two ounces into her, plus some Sheep Nutridrench (kinda like sheepy go-juice, made of molasses and vitamins and other beneficial things). I wonder if she is having the same problem getting milk from her dam?

Tonight I gave the bottle another try, but soon gave up in frustration and broke out the drench syringe. I slowly shot three ounces of milk replacer into the side of her mouth and she swallowed it all down. She wasn't super happy with me, but tough luck. Sometimes you gotta get 'em ticked off just to do what's best for them.

As I was pushing the liquid nutrition down her throat bit by bit, I had ample time to reflect on all the parallels between taking care of her and taking care of my teenager right now. Too bad there's no drench for the sustenance he needs. If only the solution was that easy. Then again, it would help to know what the problem was in the first place.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

space holder

Yes, I know. I was doing so well there with semi-regular posting but I have fallen off the wagon at the moment for various reasons not worth going into, because they are boring.

So I will just post another cute lamb picture compliments of Secondo, because that is the easy way out.


Doesn't it look like the black one is doing his best border collie impression? Wolf, wolf! (Points for naming that movie!)

Monday, April 12, 2010

lamby goodness

Just a taste, compliments of Secondo, to ease you back into the week.


(The littlest white triplet, who nearly didn't make it, is the one with her leg raised; you can see that she is catching up to her brother and sister!)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

my favorite age

Yesterday, my little guy turned six. I can't believe he is that old. Seems just yesterday that I was begging him to come into the world (he took his sweet time getting here). But what a joy he is! Can't imagine life without him.


I love this age; it is one of the sweet spots of childhood, at least for little boys. I begged him to stay five for just a little bit longer. I told him we would have a birthday party... he could get presents... but he would just stay five.


He took my teasing for a little while, and then finally had enough. "No, Mom. I have to get older so I can grow up."


And that is my objection, in a nutshell.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

i get to

I recently read a great article by Kristin Armstrong in the May Runner's World magazine about changing the way you think about every day events. Instead of coming at things with a at-the-end-of-my-tether-and-holding-on-by-a-thread attitude (which is 95% of my direction these days, it seems), the basic premise is that you use the phrase "I get to" to come at them with gratitude instead.

As today is my birthday, it seems as good a day as any for an attitude overhaul.

Instead of "rats, I really need to get back to running to get my fat butt in shape..."

..."I get to run myself breathless on a beautiful day with my dog and husband!"

Instead of "do those sheep need to be fed again?..."

... "I get to go out to the barn and see those little babies! And feed the sheep!"

Instead of "I really have to get working on my April sweater which requires ripping out the front of a sweater I started last year, for the third time..."

... "I get to rip out the front of my sweater for the third time!"

Instead of "I have to go to the vet's and get dewormer for my darn dogs who can't resist the taste of poop, and make special meals for them to mask the taste of the powder..."

... "I get to make special meals for my discerning dogs!"

Hmm, this is going to take some getting used to, I can see.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


I was up several times last night with the little girl... but she made a great turnaround, and started to pick up speed rather quickly once she had some food on board. As of her 7 pm feeding tonight, she was fighting the bottle and refusing to suck on it. Pretty feisty for a little runt, but then again she practically swandived out of her mom, so quick was her entrance into this world, and she was the first one on her feet after birth.


That (plus the scale, saying that she had gained weight) tells me that she is on the right track for now, but we will continue to closely monitor her and her siblings. Luckily her mom's udder closely resembles that of a dairy cow and seems to be up to feeding all three -- clearly, it got the memo about triplets.


The photos of the babies are compliments of Terzo. Yep, all three are white and cute as the dickens.


Monday, April 5, 2010

here we go again

Same story, different day.

Remember that ewe from April Fool's Day? She had her lambs today, finally.


A first, for her; always twins before this (and one giant single ram lamb one year, who was the bane of Primo's existence the year he showed him).

She is doing OK, and the lambs are doing OK, except the littlest one. She was having trouble finding the milk bar. She is teeny-tiny and quickly became so weak that she couldn't hold her head up a few hours after birth.

So yes, I am headed out to the barn in a few minutes with two bottles. And I hope to get pictures up tomorrow, but the sleep situation is looking a little dicey tonight.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

april's fool

Turns out the fool is me. I thought our last pregnant ewe passed her mucous plug last night -- not to be too gross -- which is supposed to indicate that labor will start within 12 to 14 hours. Well, I have spent the entire day staring at a sheep's nether regions with absolutely no lambs to show for it. I am certain that she is laughing her woolly butt off at me.


Even better, I got our truck stuck in our front yard -- right next to where the cop got stuck two weeks ago, and down the way from where a patient got stuck last week -- as I was not paying sufficient attention while backing out of our driveway.


I feel as if this blog is devolving into one long stuck-in-the-mud story but perhaps it means the blog has finally found its theme. Thank goodness for the kind-hearted truck and trailer repair guy on the corner. He graciously came right away, hooked up the tow rope properly, pulled me out, and then refused any payment -- and all before the next patient showed up and noticed that I was blocking the driveway.


Because this happened right in front of my LSH's office while they were in between patients, I was certain that he and his office manager Joan were inside laughing their pants off. I called them as soon as I had a chance (because of course I was rushing somewhere else), and found out that they were completely unaware of my predicament.


In fact, Joan was sure that I was playing an April Fool's joke on her. She didn't believe me until I presented her with Primo's corroborating testimony, the pictures he had taken for the blog, and the rut and muddy tire track.

I just wish I would have been clever enough to come up with that prank, instead of being not-so-clever enough to drive into my own treacherous front yard.