Saturday, June 27, 2009

And Now a Fibery Post

First, for those of you who might be wondering, the ewe with the prolapse seems to be doing fine. I kept her in the barn in her own pen for about a week, removing the retainer after about 5 days. Another big dose of LA-200 and I sent her back out with the rest of her flock. And, although the weather has been very hot and humid, she seems OK.

Now, on to other, more fibery news. I knit a 12 inch square that I mailed off to another Ravelry member to be added to a blanket that he is putting together for one of the Paul Newman camps for kids. I forgot to take a picture of it, but it was a nice waffle weave done in Caron Simply Soft in a nice dark jade color. Very soft, but I'm afraid I'm a wool snob. It is just so much nicer to knit with wool.

I have also been working on a lace scarf - my first real lace project. I did do a dishcloth with a lace pattern and have done a few swatches, but this feels like my first lace. It is a great "first lace" project. The design comes from the book Luxury Yarn One Skein Wonders - the Nancy Pygora-Merino Lace Scarf - a Myrna Stahman design, no wonder it is so pretty (I just read the fine print to see the designer's name) - well, the design is pretty, I'm not trying to brag about my first lace! It knits up very quickly - although since I don't spend huge blocks of time on it, it will take me awhile. But I'm not getting bogged down in endless rows and when I do work on it for a bit, the length actually seems to change - the nice thing about scarves, I guess. But for those of you who hate to purl, all wrong side rows are purled. But I don't mind purling, it's just the switching back and forth, like when knitting ribbing, that I'm not fond of.

I am using a Fleece Artist yarn - their basic merino sock yarn in a colorway I can't remember the name of, but it is various shades of brown, with a few reddish highlights in spots. Obviously not blocked, so it looks kind of rumply - and I always seem to be trying to take pictures in the dark - some of the other blogs I read - well, you take such pretty pictures, in natural light, draping your knitting decoratively over a bush or a fence or some such. I grab a white mattress pad to stick under it, to highlight the holes! Anyway, here it is in all it's rumpled, artificially lighted glory . . . . .

And I got the rest of my birthday present from my folks today. A nice package from The Loopy Ewe, one of my favorite online yarn shops. (I must say, they have VERY fast service - I ordered some knitting accessories from two other online stores at the same time that I ordered the yarn from The Loopy Ewe - this past Thursday, yes two days ago - and I got the yarn today. The other two vendors - well, I'm still waiting on them!) I give you Creatively Dyed's Calypso yarn in the Coconut colorway and Dream in Color Smooshy in Some Summer Sky. The Calypso colors seem to be showing up quite well - mostly natural shades - beiges, browns with some dark purples, dark greens and bits of rosy colors. The Smooshy is showing up as mostly blue, but there is quite a bit of purple highlighting. Both yarns are superwash merino - see, I'm a wool snob - of course, seeing as we have about 200 sheep on the farm at the moment, maybe rightfully so!

The Calypso will probably become a garter stitch stole, the Smooshy is going into the stash for the time being.

Well, the weather forecast shows slightly lower temperatures for the next few days, so maybe I can start getting a few things done again. These last few days we have spent a lot of time in front of the fan and the TV. And speaking of the TV, a "new to me" Doctor Who is on in half an hour and I intend to be firmly situated on the couch by then. Not to be insensitive, but the news that David Tennant was being replaced as the Doctor was more shocking to me than the news of the death of Michael Jackson. I guess we all have our priorities!

Friday, June 12, 2009

It's Always Something!

Today our first cutting hay was being baled and wrapped and it will be stacked in various places around the farm tomorrow. We try to plan ahead and put the hay in the most convenient spots relative to where the sheep will be this coming winter. Lazy farmers (which I most certainly am one of!) are also usually quite efficient! Let's try to do things in the easiest way possible - that's my motto!

Yesterday I worked a little harder. If you're squeamish, skip down past this part.

OK, let's back up one day before yesterday. We had a Shetland ewe who delivered a stillborn lamb - just as well, as a portion of the lamb's intestines were outside of the body. The birth was assisted, but when I went to bed, the ewe seemed tired but fine. Not true, though, as when I got up yesterday morning, I discovered she had prolapsed (uterine prolapse - meaning she kept on pushing and having contractions, until her uterus was turned inside out and was now outside of her insides - no pictures for this part of the blog!). So I went back inside and had my breakfast and coffee and contemplated my next move.

I got together some supplies - antiseptic lube, prolapse retainer, gambrel restrainer, deer sled (boy, that sled comes in handy for hauling sheep around!). The gambrel restrainer is a nifty little device that sort of traps their front feet up near their head so they can't get away from you - which came in handy, so I could contain her (she was still up and fairly mobile) in the pasture while I went to the barn to get the sled. I then dragged her (in the sled) up through her pasture into our backyard - I thought it might be cleaner working there than in the barn or barnyard. That and I had been dragging her uphill and I was tired at that point and found it a convenient place to rest.

Then came the fun part - washing off the uterus and stuffing it back inside of her. Fortunately a Shetland uterus is only about the size of two of my fists and Shetland ewes don't weigh much. Keep in mind that while you are trying to replace her uterus, she thinks she is still in labor and continues to push against you. So you hoist up her back end a bit, with the idea that gravity will aid you in your efforts - then you have to get this organ (is a uterus an organ?) back inside of her and turned right side in (a prolapsed uterus is inside out in more ways than one, so you really are up to your elbows in it, so to speak, when you replace it and turn it back the right way) Then, the grateful ewe urinates all over your arm, because you have just freed up her urethra, which had been blocked by the offending organ. So while you hold everything back in place, you grab for the retainer (which is almost out of reach, but not quite), get that inserted and, in this instance, tied to the wool to hold it in place.

I thought of having a beer at this point, but didn't think it would be kind of me to leave her trussed up and lying in the backyard. So I put her back in the deer sled and dragged her the rest of the way to the barn (still slightly uphill). I got her settled into her private quarters in the barn, gave her a big shot of antibiotics, some hay and water and then I went in for my beer. Well, not really - as it was still morning, I had another cup of coffee.

Tonight she is eating hay and seems to be doing OK. My biggest concern now is infection. While I try to be clean and use antibacterial stuff, I don't have a sterile operating theatre. So now we wait. But, as we used to say in college (hi, Lynn!), it was a "learning experience". I learned that I can put a uterus back into a ewe (whether or not successfully, we have yet to see). I learned how to use the gambrel restrainer (never used that before). I also learned that if this had been one of our Polypays, who are quite a bit heavier than Shetlands and have larger internal organs, I probably would have needed help.

Not all has been so gruesome here. I moved the Shetlands into fresh pasture the other day and the lambs, being the children that they are - and you parents out there know how kids sometimes don't pay attention - weren't listening, and they didn't go through the gate that their moms went through. They ended up on the wrong side of the fence. You can see they are all looking to the left wondering why they are all alone:

Well, there their moms are, on the far side of the fence, grazing on lush, new pasture while they are not:

And the newest lamb - Athena and her ram lamb, who looks a lot like her - his markings have just not faded with age yet:
I do have knitting on the needles, for those of you who are more interested in the "fiber" part of "Farm and Fiber", just no pictures at the moment. Maybe next post. I am knitting a lace scarf and am doing some charity knitting - a blanket square. And I only have to bind off "loosely" the stole that I have been working on for a couple of years. It's that "loosely" part that worries me. Oh, and I am spinning some Coopworth roving in the hopes of someday having enough yarn to knit a sweater or a vest (depending on how much yarn I actually get in the end!). I'll try to get some pictures of all of that for the next post!
And now, after reliving my exploits as a sheep vet pretender, I am exhausted. I think I will call it a day!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Latest Lambs

Sparx finally had her lambs! But being the good mom that she is, she was making it very difficult for me to get a good picture, even though by this point they were already a couple of days old! She kept herself between her lambs and me the entire time. But I thought this pic kind of cute - looks like the lambs are kissing, while Sparx keeps her focus on me. The lamb to the left is the ewe and the spotted katmoget on the right, the ram. Total lamb count is now 117 - 15 of them being Shetlands, the others, BWS. I believe the breakdown is 60 ewe lambs and 57 ram lambs, including 6 sets of triplets, which we don't really breed for, as I prefer twins. With triplets, I always worry, often supplementing one or more of them. Too costly. Twins are normally no problem, moms provide all their nutrition - after all, the ewe only has two faucets - why in the world would anyone want triplets?
Not a lot going on here - well, not a lot to blog about anyway - always way too much work to do. We are down to the last two weeks of school for Nicholas. The Science Fair is over, the last band concert has been presented. Lambing is over for all intents and purposes, although I do have a Shetland or two with a bit of an udder, so should have a couple of summer lambs. I must get back to skirting the rest of the fleeces, maybe try my hand at a little dying. I did finish a pair of socks for Mother's Day, but forgot to take a picture of them before giving them to my mom! I am about to finish a stole that I started a couple of years ago and am working on a lace scarf, but no pictures of those to show you - maybe next time. So, in lieu of fiber pictures, I leave you with a picture of Fuzzball, sleeping, for a change, on a couch pillow, instead of on whatever I happen to be knitting at the moment!