Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Surprise Arrivals

If you read my last post, you might remember I said the lambs were staying snug and warm in their mamas and we were not expecting any babies until the first part of February?
Apparently, Salty had a secret and somebody was sneaking around on the wrong side of the fence last summer! She had two nice, healthy, full-term ram lambs this afternoon. Come to think of it, Salty seems to be the early lamber every year . . .
Salty is the sweetest ewe in the flock. She was raised on a bottle as a bummer lamb, and, like many of our animals, spent her first summer providing therapy to special needs kids at Western Trails Therapeutic Riding Center. Last Christmas, she performed at our church's Living Nativity, only to pop out a nice set of twins about 2 weeks later. Again, with no warning and unexpectedly early. Many of the ewes grunt and groan and look as if they are going to pop for weeks ahead of time, but Salty has always just snuck her birthing time in when we aren't looking. By the time we have found she has lambed, she has them cleaned and dried off and they have been up and had a bit of rich, nourishing milk. She has never needed any help with her babies, always knowing exactly what to do. Tonight I was watching her for a few minutes after I put her in the barn. The white lamb appears to have been born first and is figuring out the dinner thing pretty well, while the black lamb hasn't quite gotten it down yet. Salty kept talking to him and nudging him in the right direction until he found the dinner table. Oh, did his little tail wag in satisfaction as the rich, creamy milk warmed and strengthened his little body!
I remember my father-in-law routinely tipping over every ewe and squirting a few drops of the rich colostrum into the baby lambs as that swallow or two would often make all the difference and determine if the baby would live or not in the harsh Wyoming cold. I am glad Salty is a good mama and I don't have to take her on in a wrestling match! Even though Salty takes great care of her babies, even wrapping them in a sheep hug by snuggling her large, wooly body as close as possible if it is cold out, all ewes should be penned up to bond with their little ones for a few days to eliminate any confusion as other lambs are born. Sheep are notorious for stealing other ewes' lambs, then forgetting their own. They also need a bit of molasses shortly after the birth to ensure their calorie count stays high enough to keep them healthy as they produce the extremely rich milk the newborns need to build their fat reserves.

Hey, you don't suppose Salty got word of my last post and wanted to get in a good practical joke, do you? Or maybe she was just jealous of the cows with all of their new little bundles of joy?

Regardless of the reason, somebody was still doing a little bit of slipping around last summer, and sneaking in the dark will always catch up with you eventually!

Until next time, I hope your sneaking always turns out as a nice surprise!!

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Blessed Season

The ice sparkled and glowed, adding extra cheer to Christmas this year. A white Christmas seems to be so much sweeter than does a brown. We often make do with brown over white, living in the Columbia Basin of Eastern Oregon, but have been blessed with two weeks of winter this year.

We had lows down as far as -10 and it snowed nearly every single day. Roads were closed, schools shut down as the drifts piled ever higher. The frantic pace of our everyday lives was suddenly interrupted. Mothers with young children played out in the snow instead of bundling babies off to daycares. The snow angel population grew by leaps and bounds. The squeak of the snow underfoot tinkled like tiny enchanted bells. Gallons of rich, creamy hot cholcolate were consumed, toasting tummies from the inside out. The woodstove in our living room puffed and chugged along, warming many a backside and drying out snow pants and work boots.

Deer and antelope moved down from the higher country to eat alongside the cows.

While the new lambs stayed warm and snug inside their mamas, not quite ready to be born yet, flurries of calves arrived along with the snow squalls.

The goats enjoyed their daily snow walks, but enjoyed more returning to their deep straw beds in the barn!

KP and Roland found a little time to play in the snow. Roland is KP's Unimog, easily plowing through the chest deep snow they ran into back up the canyon, with never a slip due to being born out on the range to a wild and free mama Mustang.

Roland and Jordan also got to help move cows down from the upper pasture a couple days after the canyon jaunt. I was unable to capture any photos as I rode Roland part of the way, then helped via 4-wheeler after I traded Jordan as riding bareback with the leg brace was proving to be a bit much. I have resigned myself to using the saddle next time as I can't get enough grip with the silly brace in the way. Pooh!

Elmer and Sebastian were content to much hay while Roland was off adventuring.

Roxy had snowballs all over her body after following KP and Roland. Adventuring is great, but I do beleive she hears the call of the rug in front of the crackling woodstove!

All of the wise banty chickens moved into the barn to cozy up, but the silly Barred Rock roosters adamantly remained at their post, roosting on the fence rail in the front yard. For several days, we dilligently moved them over under the shelter of the the huge Douglas Fir tree, but, realizing they would not get down during the day, pity was taken upon them and they were moved onto the front porch along with feed and water until the storms abated. They soon found a favorite chair, but every couple of days would wade through the snow and roost again upon the freezing fence rail. Their combs are damaged from the cold, and one of the boys has lost some weight, but they have survived this round. Now to wean them from roosting on the front porch . . .

We awoke Saturday morning to warm winds and dripping eaves as a Chinook blew in, bringing spring in the middle of winter.

By Monday morning, most of the snow had turned to mud on the ground, but had freshened the trees up nicely.

And the roosters were ecstatic to be freshening up with a good dirt bath. This guy kept turning around, throwing dirt up on himself, then would snuggle down into the good, brown earth as if he thought he may never see it again.

Hmmm . . should we let him in on the forecast? Possibility of snow showers again on Thursday. We'll just let him enjoy his bit of springtime for now!

Until next time, may all your seasons be blessed.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Snow Trophies

It has been snowing nearly every day for two weeks now and has really dumped a lot on our litle banana belt of Oregon. Jordan has a new pickup which he has just been itching to try out in the snow, so it seemed like the perfect time to see what it could do. He, of course, was alone here on the farm that afternoon when he headed up the canyon behind the house. He followed the Rhino tracks for a ways, but even they soon ran out and still his pickup was plowing forward, albeit, somewhat slower than at the lower elevations. Before he knew it, he was just pushing too much snow and could no longer move forward. So he tried backing up, but, hmmm . . . Too late. He walked back to the house in the dark and the next morning, he and KP headed up to unstick him. KP was able to get him out with his pickup, but in the process, the deep snow pulled off both bumpers. My reaction would have been - OH No, my truck is broken! But the boys see it as an opportunity to make new bumpers!
Until next time, may you be blessed with the ability to see the opportunity in adversity.