Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Day 3: Grain!!

Today started off great having awoken to an alarm instead of a cat! We started the day with morning feeding, while others fed I cleaned the floors. In the pregnant ewe house, we walk on either grates or slatted floors. The grates are more comfortable for the ewes, but get gummed up with feces, urine and wool easily. The plastic slats are harder for the ewes to walk on because they can get slippery, but are super easy to clean. We are all above a very large manure pit. Some ewes like to follow you while you clean and inspect your work and others do not acknowledge your existence.
This ewe was way too busy eating to take a few steps back so I could finish sweeping. 
What they do acknowledge is when Snædis brings out the grain. Much like our Witter flock, just the sound of the grain scoop starts a cacophony of baa-ing. They are climbing up panels searching for grain. Again, they either get grain in their hay or in the small lanes in the pens. 

Also, much like our Witter flock, they have an insatiable appetite for grain. Once they sucked down everything in the lane, they remembered... wasn't there a person in our pen cleaning? People usually have grain, let's pester her! 
Once my pockets were checked, I was deemed useless for not having grain. 
Once finished we checked in on our two orphan lambs. Once they have grown large enough they will be transferred to a ewe with a single lamb. Because our orphans are so small, and single lambs run on the larger side, we want to give them a good chance of competing for milk from mom. 
This little guy lost his mother to illness. 

This little girl was born ~10 days premature and lost her brother and mom, but has been very happy with new mom Jess.
Family Portrait!
We had a steady flow of ewes lambing and had to continue to transfer moms with older lambs out of jugs and into the adjacent barn. Before moving them, the lambs receive ear tags and notches in their ears. At 24 hours old they do not have fully innervated ears making this easy to do with little to no blood and pain for the lamb. The Hestur farm has traditional unique notches for their sheep and was traditionally used when the sheep came down from the mountains in the fall and they needed to be organized (now they mostly use their ear tags). With the steady flow we had some interesting lambings. One lambing that sticks out, in particular, was a polled ewe. (Yes, they have a few of those! See picture below) 
She was a very sweet girl that was having difficulties. Her first lamb only had one leg coming out so I had to push him back in and pull both legs forwards. I thought I was in the clear, but the second lamb never made it to the birth canal. For a long time, mom cleaned the first lamb and did not seem to realize that she had a second lamb. I went in to feel and what seemed like way in the back of the uterus was something pointy. All kinds of possibilities ran through my head and I got Snædis over to help me. Turns out the second lamb was, in fact, healthy and normal I was simply feeling the hocks which were trying to come out first. He required some major readjustment, and once repositioned came out fine. Dana and Jess also had some interesting lambings. Jess had taken on a yearling, who as a teen mom wanted nothing to do with labor. She was put into a jug and continued to complain. We named her Sixteen after the classic show "Sixteen and Pregnant". With lots of help, and someone holding her hoof, she finally had her single lamb and quieted down. Dana got to help a smaller ewe with her twins. Due to her small pelvis it took a lot of strength and the wire to pull both lambs out. Dana has mastered the technique of putting the loop around your foot, so while you pull the head with the wire you are able to guide the legs with your hands. Speaking of Dana, she did not develop a black eye from the ewe pictured below, however, the ewe will need to be moved out of her lambing jug at some point giving her a second chance at her nemesis, Dana. 
We finished the day with evening feeding. I got the pleasure of feeding the rams and ewes in the third barn. The rams are very outgoing and love attention (pictured below), but do not like to be touched, so I was not quite sure what they wanted.. they had food, water, all the amenities, so I gave them some compliments and took their picture. They seemed pleased with themselves after. 
Until tomorrow, goodnight!


  1. These are great Grace. I love reading about your experience. Anne

  2. Fabulous posts!! Keep them coming!!!

  3. You folks are having quite the experience there!