Lambing

Wednesday morning while they ate their grain, I inspected the nether regions of my 3 ewes and was stunned to find the bags of two of them filling up. They don’t look that pregnant yet and I was thinking we are still a month out (the ram runs with them all the time so due dates are a mystery). Back inside I researched and after seeing some pictures of pregnant ewes, I relaxed a little. The bags on mine looked about like the pictures of a ewe taken 18 days before her lambs were born. Plus, my ewes didn’t look nearly as big as that in the online photo. I also looked up my calendar where I had noted the first time I had seen the ram interested in the ewes and found my memory had been faulty. I had remembered it being mid-October but found it was actually Sept 19th, and when I looked it up on the chart, that would have put her due date as Tuesday. So I figured the first time didn’t take and she probably got impregnated on her following heat cycle, which made me even more relaxed about waiting another few weeks.

So that evening I went outside to do my evening chores and since it was the mildest evening we’d had for over a week, I puttered around enjoying my chickens and turkeys. Then I walked into the sheep pen and around the corner came a ewe followed by a still-wet, still-tottering lamb. Amazingly I had my phone in my pocket, which never happens, so I was able to snap this:
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See the umbilical cord still hanging down, and a little blood on the ewe’s back leg?  There followed some very hasty rearranging of things. As you can see, she (yes, I checked and she is a ewe lamb) was born out in the snow and was still tottering around in it. She had not yet nursed in this photo, but did start nuzzling under the forelegs looking. A little while later she figured it out and got her first meal. But though I’m glad she waited until our forecast consists of a slow warming trend, that night was supposed to get into the teens.

So I encouraged Mum to take her into our shelter, a 3-sided affair where she is surrounded by hay. The bedding layer is very deep now, and baby soon lay down and almost disappeared into a “nest” of hay. She looked very comfortable and wasn’t shivering at all.

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I also took the precaution of locking the rest of the flock into an area where they will have protection from all elements. Another ewe’s bag looked the same as this one this morning so now I’m afraid she’s going to give birth sometime soon as well, and I wanted her to be somewhere safe and relatively warm.

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I don’t typically name my sheep but a friend suggested I name this one “Snowball” because she was born out in the snow.  So, Snowball it is.  Snowball survived her first night just fine and next day was nursing well.  I even saw her give a little hop, as she gains confidence on those spindly little legs.

 

Newspaper Starter Pots

I’ve been busy lately, making newspaper starter pots in preparation for seed starting.  While I’m sure there are many options for items that can be purchased to use as starter pots, I made my first newspaper pots several years ago and will likely never again use anything else.   We don’t subscribe to a newspaper, but in our area a “freebie” containing local news and inserts is delivered each week and even if they stop doing that next week, I have enough newspaper stacked to last me several years.  The newspaper pots hold up remarkably well to being filled with damp potting mix, and when it is time to plant, all I have to do is dig the hole and pop the seedling in, newspaper pot and all – no need to disturb delicate roots and stems.  The roots of the plant easily penetrate the newspaper bottom of their pot, and over the course of the season, the newspaper is slowly broken down, adding organic material to my garden bed.

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In a little under an hour the other evening, I made about 50 pots.  I’ll need a total of around 200 but what I have so far will get me started on the first round of planting.  Once I got into a rhythm, it only took a minute or so to make each pot.

Start with a single page of newspaper, a pair of scissors, a roll of masking tape and something to use as a template.  I prefer a tomato paste can (the small one) but didn’t have one so in this case used a spice bottle.

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Now I cut (or tear) the newspaper into quarters

100_0413I line up the newspaper against my template, making sure there is enough overlap to be able to fold over and create a bottom for the pot.  In this case, I am going to start just below the lid of the spice bottle.

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Now I simply wrap the strip of newspaper around the bottle and secure the side seam with a small piece of masking tape.  (The paper should go around 2-3 times for stability and sturdiness.)

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At the bottom, the newspaper is folded over, ensuring a solid bottom to the pot.

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And secured with another small piece of masking tape.

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Now I pull the bottle out of my newly formed pot and voila!  Ready to be filled with potting mix.

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