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Archive for the ‘Loki’ Category

Anticipation

I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a while. Usually, this time of year anyway, is kind of slow time for shepherds. We’re waiting for our “Christmas”. We’re waiting for the lambs to be born.

Most of us plan our breedings carefully. I do have friends who have experienced a few “oops” this year – mainly when a ram with other ideas than cooling his heals jumps a fence and parties with the ladies he finds in the next field. Most of us know who was in with whom and in approximately 147 days or so, the results will make an entrance to the World.

This is the first year I have used a ram lamb – ever. I like older rams. They know their job, the main reason for them to be around anyway, and take their work very seriously. Skittles was that way…just show him the girls, turn him in with them, and be prepared to remove him a couple of weeks later. “Nuf said. The older guys show confidence and smoothness which the ladies seem to like. You can almost hear the Barry White music in the background.

Loki, on the other hand, is a young punk. I say that lovingly as I do enjoy watching him bounce around the pasture for the pure joy of life, nothing more. He was too young at fall breeding season to have an agenda. The world is/was his oyster, so to speak. Then he gets put in with a bunch of girls. Most are old enough to be his mother, too. What the heck is that shepherdess thinking? Why am I in here?

Then it hit him. Hmm. Maybe there is something to like about girls after all. Clumsy and not assured enough of himself to make things go smoothly, he courted the girls one-by-one. I remember the looks on the girls’ faces back then, looking at me as if to say, “You’ve got to be kidding, right? This punk?”

So, now we wait. Approximately 145 days ago, Loki was seen to, ahem, cover one of the girls. Almost two weeks now, it was obvious after shearing that apparently Loki did both figure out which end was which and huge fleeces (even back last fall) not-withstanding, did figure out what this Ewe Dance business was all about.

Right now the Waiting Game is going on with the shepherdess. The girls are playing their cards very close to the vest even though they look like water balloons on toothpicks. When they lie down, bellies spread out on the ground around them. Ripples can be seen if you watch long enough – babies trying to move around or find room in cramped spaces. And as the girls move about, you’ll see one suddenly stop, mid-stride, lower her head and wag her tail furiously. Those darned kids are kicking me again. Quiet down in there!

But just let me get the barn ready for the new arrivals and we get a day of horrific winds as well as the chance of snow again. The high temperature for tomorrow is supposed to be in the 30s F. I was just getting used to the 60+ F weather, too, darn it.

But spring is the shepherd’s Christmas. We hope everyone does fine through the lambing and moms and babies all are healthy…

…this is when we get to see what colors, patterns, and “flavor” our best laid plans have made. We only hope Mother Nature will give her approval. C’mon, Amanda…I’ll take three little girls this year instead of the two bruiser boys you usually have. Please? I’d really like to show my granddaughter what a lamb is.

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An Update…

Thank you all so much for your supportive and helpful comments on the recent mauling incident here. I wanted to give you a quick update on the boys:

So far, everyone is healing slowly but continually. There are a few puncture wounds I am keeping a very close eye on. Most wounds are healing…or at least the physical wounds are healing. I’m not sure if the boys minds will ever heal mentally from this attack.

Sven’s eye is making good progress. I thought at first he had lost the whole eye, but upon closer inspection by the vet, it was the upper lid itself that was damaged. I have ointment to place in the eye a few times a day. At first Sven, well…all the boys really, did not fight my fussing over them. They stood patiently while I bathed wounds and dressed them, or wrapped hot, moist towels around sore legs with puncture wounds. Now, they try to run or refuse to stand for my efforts. This is a good sign. They are healing and feeling better.

It’s as if they are saying, “It’s OK , Mom. We’re feeling much better. You can go now.” I’ve been dismissed. ๐Ÿ™‚

Oh, I will still watch them very closely. And next week they are due for a second Draxxin injection to be on the safe side. But I can tell it’s time for me to let them be and heal on their own for the most part.

…and I am so very grateful this did not happen during fly season.

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Horrified

This past Monday, as my DH was off for the holdiay, we decided to have a late lunch in town as well as pick up a needed part for the ’53 Merc he’s working on. We left the wethers and Loki in the pasture area that had been cleared of snow, eating breakfast, and the girls had the run of the area around the barn. Both groups had plenty of hay to nibble on to keep them happy.

But when we came home, we were not prepared for what was going on down towards the barn. Two loose dogs had walked across the fencingย  on the property line we share with the county, on top of the snow, and were attacking the sheep!

I flew down towards the barn to find the boys standing between the dogs and the ewes. Somehow the gate to the corral at the barn was open and they were keeping the dogs from even getting close to the girls. But the price the dogs were extracting from the boys was terrifying.

The first thing was to get the dogs away from the sheep. The larger dog was a black and tan medium dog of maybe 40-45 lbs. That dog saw me and stopped his attack. The smaller dog which looked to me like a cross between a terrier of some sort and some kind of bulldog was still attacking poor Shaun who was struggling, brought down in the mud and melting snow. I had to pull the smaller dog off Shaun, then chased them out the gate to a now waiting husband.

We were lucky in that both dogs had collars with tags and owner’s phone number. Ralph took control of the dogs and calling the owner and 911 while I got the sheep penned inside the barn and started to assess the damages. I ran to the house after penning all the sheep and called our sheeps’ vet, Dr. Rob to come on an emergency. I grabbed B-vitamins, ProBios, towels and some warm water and went straight back the barn to do what I could until Rob got there.

Loki had very little damage – a couple of facial wounds where it looked like one of the dogs might have tried to get him, as well as a superficial gash on one leg. He was the least hurt of all the sheep.

Sven had all the wool from the back of his head and a shoulder torn out by the roots. His ears were both torn but the worst for him was a bite to his right eye. At first I thought the dog had taken his eye completely, but when Rob examined him, he found it to be the lid that was very damaged. We’ll know more when the swelling subsides.

My buddy and rock, Colin, had quite a bit of the wool on his hindquarters torn out and had gashes and puncture wounds to his back legs. He was/is limping as his right hock was nailed pretty well. He, too, had the ears torn a bit and a gash above an eye.

The worst one was Shaun. His wool from the middle of his back to and including his tail was ripped out and he sustained many, many gashes to his haunches. His skin is just raw from all the wool being torn out. Some of the wounds had mud in them from his being downed by the dogs. We got most of the dirt out of the wounds, but Dr. Rob felt it would take time for the body to push the remaining dirt out. It was too deep and would have caused Shaun even more pain to scrub them out.

Both Shaun and Colin were in shock by the time the vet got there.

Had we not gotten home when we did, I’m sure we would have found one or more of the sheep dead, or at the least, way more torn up. I’m certain Shaun would have been dead if I hadn’t gotten to him when I did. Every day since I have been treating each sheep. At first we did massive supportive care with injections of B-vitamins and dosing each with ProBios to support their rumens and keep them from shutting down. Injections of banamine for pain and Draxxin for it’s awesome antibiotic support were given as well.

Right now, the boys have improved to the point of not requiring the banamine but will get another Draxxin injection 14 days after the first one. Draxxin is wonderful and the fact that it works for fourteen days just means less stress for the boys – and me. I still have to watch for wool falling off the sheep due to stress as well as to keep observing the pregnant ewes for signs of stress or abortion of their lambs. I may not know all the answers until April when the girls are due top lamb.

We’re not out of the woods yet, by any means, but I’m hoping that with good supportive care the boys’ bodies will heal. Their mental wounds may not heal so easily. Every time I look into their faces I remember the terror I saw in Shaun’s eyes as I pulled the vicious dog off of him. My mind knows I did all I could for them and there was virtually no way I could have kept loose dogs, walking on top of the 4+ ft. of snow at the fence along the swampy are of the pasture, from walking over the top of the fence onto our property – but my heart is torn over seeing the boys in pain and hurt,…and terrorized. And I am so angry at loose dogs and their owners.

The owner was cited by our animal control officer. On March 8th, he will have to appear in court to please guilty or not guilty. Here in Arizona, the law is on the side of the livestock owner. I really can’t say too much here, for the reason that this will all be decided through the courts. But, I can say that I am so glad we caught the dogs and they had collars with tags on which were active phone and contact information.

The boys are heroes in my eyes. They put themselves between those dogs and the ewes. And I thank God these are Shetlands – sweet, gentle, tough-as-nails Shetlands. And a part of me hopes they gave as good as they got.

This attack did something else as well. No loose dog will be tolerated on this property any longer…ever.

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It’s that time of year again. Or rather it’s been that way for a while here. Time for turning the ram (or ram lamb in our case) in with the girls and let Nature take its course.

“What the heck is going on at the barn? And most importantly, why aren’t we wethers invited?”

And here he is himself, Jehovah-Jireh’s Loki. This youngster is the sire for next year’s lamb crop – er, um…provided he figured out what he’s supposed to actually do with the girls. I have seen him try to court the girls off and on, but not I haven’t actually witnessed Loki and any of the ladies “in action”, so to speak.
Loki is the result of AI breeding. (Artificial Insemination) His sire, Island Skeld, is quite a nice looking and very well-bred ram. All of Skeld’s F1 lambs (the first offspring resulting from an AI breeding) are white, like Loki. But when I started looking at the F2 generation, I saw lots of spots and colors showing up. We may have white, or some very interesting colors this spring. As most shepherds will tell you, lambing is very much like Christmas morning…you can be very surprised at the outcome as well as excited in anticipation of what you might get.

Three of the girls in the Breeding Group: Loretta, Amanda, and Ailee.

Lacey must be gone walkabout or in the barn finishing up what everyone else left in the feed pans this morning. Lacey was the first ewe I placed in with Loki. I’ll need to start watching her next month for signs of impending birth if she settled soon after they were penned together.
I’m not really used to having breeding spread out this way – a ewe every week until they were all in with the ram. Loki was supposed to come with another ram lamb his age, but for some reason that didn’t happen. I needed to put him in with other sheep for company but the wethers would have really bashed him as he was so young and small at the time. Lacey is the sweetest ewe I have as well as the smallest so I decided she should be the first to meet Loki. She’s both protected him as if he was her lamb and also become smitten with him as her paramour. She thinks I was looking at something else, but I saw her batting those big brown eyes at this little Hunk-O-Ram. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Lacey early last year after shearing.

So, c’mon guys and gals…I’ve missed having lambs around and I know you girls have too. Who knows what we’ll get? I’m not sure, but I can hardly wait for spring and lambing. ๐Ÿ™‚
…and we have a growing list of people wanting Sheep Thrills Farm sheep. Time to get to work, Loki!

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Hmm…that new Shepherdess said I might find another sheep in here. She said it might be a girl sheep. Is that like my mother? I miss my mother and sister.

OK…there’s hay in here, but I sure don’t see any other sheep!

Maybe over here? Nope. No sheep on this wall either.

I guess I’ll just have to stand here and look cute. Boy, this being a flock ram isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.
Wait a minute! I smell something vaguely familiar. And someone is sticking their head through that little door the chickens go in and out of.

This might get interesting after all!

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Subtraction and Addition

Skittles left yesterday. His new home is with Jared Lloyd in Colorado. Jared has a bevy of beautiful ladies just waiting for Skit! And yes, I had a few tears in my eyes when Jared walked him into the trailer. Skittles was my first Shetland love. Oh, I loved the girls when they came with their babies, but it was Skit who turned my head and heart the Shetland direction.

What made it easier letting him go was knowing that his genes will have more of an opportunity to be best utilized at Jared’s place. The fact that Jared is interested in collecting and saving Skittles genetics (for AI) showed me that he really appreciates all Skit’s attributes. The fact was that I needed some new genes in the flock and Jared had a young up-and-comer I was interested in.

Meet soon to be named, Jehovah’s Loki. Jared had wanted me to pick out a name for this youngster and after seeing that impish look on his face, “Loki” seemed like a fit. His sire is Skeld, a top ram on the Shetland Isles. No, Skeld didn’t visit Colorado…except in a little tube. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Loki is the result of an AI breeding.

All the lambs we get from Loik will probably be white. White is a color that has been lacking in my flock. I am hoping to use Loki for a few years, then he may have to do some traveling as well. When you have a very small operation, you have to make hard decisions as to whom to keep and whom not to. It’s the one aspect of this sheepy-business I really don’t like. But I do not have the luxury of having different fields in which to stockpile sheep I want to keep. We have limited space. I would never want more than two rams on this place at any one time. The fact is, it’s easier to replace the rams than the ewes, so most rams do not get to spend their lives on one farm. sigh.
Loki’s fleece feels just like soft clouds. I realize that this is his “lamb fleece”, which is always the softest fleece any sheep has, but his fleece is softer to the hand than some of the others we’ve had here. I can hardly wait to see what he throws next spring.
Normally, I don’t like using ram lambs for breeding. In fact, this will be the first time I’ve ever done it this way. We’ll just have to see how it goes. I am a believer in letting a sheep mature before breeding, usually not using them until they are a year old at least. Since we did not breed last year, and I have a growing list of people wanting lambs from us, I think this year we’ll just have to see what Loki can do.


Bye, bye, Skit, my love. I will miss you and always cherish you in my heart. I know you’ll make us proud.

Welcome aboard, Mr. Loki. Just in case you didn’t know it, you’ve got some mighty big hooves to fill.

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