Monday, June 22, 2015

Stresses and Joys

Keeping livestock is undoubtedly a joy. But it can also be stressful when animals are ill. Nobody is super sick, so no worries, but I just can't seem to keep poor Amber in tip-top shape. Maybe pregnancy has made her less able to fight off the usual stuff, or maybe it's just her in general. As you know, she had meningeal worm in January. A few weeks ago, I did some fecal tests on the herd since lush spring pastures usually means a rise in parasites. Amber tested positive for nematodirus, so I had to dose her with Panacur again for a few days. And now, this:
I'm not sure exactly what this is or what happened here. It could be a laceration from a stick or something (they do love to scratch themselves on the pine trees!). Whatever it is, I'm treating it with triple antibiotic ointment twice a day. I also sprayed that leg with fly spray. I'm generally against using such strong, harsh chemicals. But I've also seen hover flies in the pasture (they are like imitation wasps--they have wasp coloring, but fly bodies and wings), and I DO NOT want anyone to get fly strike. For those who don't keep animals, fly strike is a horrible condition caused when then fly lays its eggs in an open wound. The maggots then hatch and eat the flesh in/around the wound. This is usually more of a problem in the UK and Australia and with long-tailed sheep, but it can and does happen here with any livestock. I am so mad and paranoid about those stupid flies! I never saw any last year, and it's not even peak fly season yet, so I'm concerned it's going to be an extra bad year for all the horrible biting insects.

I'm especially paranoid since Amber is due to give birth very soon (as is Emmy Lou). Fingers crossed for easy births and healthy crias!

But even when the animals are the source of some (or a lot!) anxiety (see previous post for minor sheep stresses lately!), they are such a balm to my soul. Nothing is more peaceful for me than watching happy animals grazing. Nothing makes me feel more connected to the earth, nature, the seasons. Even when the days are long and hard and the battles seem uphill, in the end it's all worth it to me for bucolic scenes like this:
Which brings me to some more joys. First, warm weather means shower time for the alpacas! (It was actually during shower time yesterday that I discovered Amber's wound). When it gets hot and humid out, the alpacas absolutely adore being hosed down. It's a fun time for me too, watching them all clamor for their turn in front of the hose. It also gives me a good excuse to really get my hands on each animal for a bit of an external health inspection. Alpacas for the most part shy away from human touch, and some are very sensitive about their legs, especially the back ones. But they don't really seem to notice my manual inspections during shower time. 

In case you don't follow the farm on Facebook or Instagram (and you should, because I not only post more often in both places, but I post mostly different content in each too!), here's a fun snippet of a recent shower time:
Some farmers put out sprinklers for their alpacas, but Emmy Lou is such a water hog that I know she'd just sit on it. Plus, I really like having my hands-on time!

In other news, the lambs are getting YOOGE! I'm kind of always doing a mental headcount when I'm in the pasture, and lately I often think "wait, there's a lamb missing," only to realize a second later that I totally glossed over Eliot, thinking she was one of the adults. Here she is with her mama:
They're also way independent now. They spend most of their time in their own little group far from mamas. They also continue to be super curious! They now readily approach me when I'm near. Eliot and Moxie are brave enough to sniff my clothing and do battle with my boots. If I'm really sneaky, I can sneak in some quick neck scratches while they do this. I'm hoping this means they will be tamer than their mamas and will eventually let me sort of cuddle them. Or at least pet them more regularly. A girl can dream!
From left to right: Olive, Moxie (Rose and Dorrie in back), Eliot, Daisy (Dawn mostly hidden behind Daisy)
Is this commentary on my fashion choices?
Watching these girls grow has definitely been the highlight of the year so far. They are such healthy, happy lambs! 

And for those who have been wondering, I do have fiber and I do plan to sell it yet this year. I also plan to write a blog post about shearing and all the fiber prep when I get around to actually skirting and weighing all the fiber! Hopefully the skirting will start this week yet. Always so much to do this time of year!

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