The ewe we still call Lamb lambed this evening while I wasn't looking. From her size I wasn't too surprised to find only one lamb which was already up and lively after having a good drink by the time I looked, but she does usually have twins.
About an hour later I checked again and found there was a twin: a tiny bag of bony mummified lamb. I cut open the quite thick-walled sac it was in and had a look with the torch, then put the body in a container in the fridge for later examination. It was a funny looking thing, having a hole in its face where there should have been a lower jaw. If the bones had been where they should have been, the skin would have grown over it as normal, but they weren't. Presumably there were some other holes in its genetic code to cause its early death. It's a wondrous thing that a lively, perfectly healthy lamb can be born to a ewe which has, for many weeks, been carrying around a dead baby as well.
There are pictures of the deformed lamb on a separate page, if you're interested. They're possibly a little on the unpleasant side for those of a squeamish nature.
One of Babette's lambs isn't looking so good: it seems that the other lamb gets in for the best feeds and by the time he's finished, Babette won't keep standing still for the other, which is losing the strength to keep up with her.
The other thing I've observed is that any time the weaker lamb does go in for a feed, his now-bigger brother comes along and shoves him out of the way, at which point the weak one just stands and waits and doesn't get any.
Later in the day we grabbed Babette and made sure the weak lamb had the opportunity for a good feed.
Lamb's lamb is very sweet.
The Putangitangi - Paradise ducklings - have hatched! I heard the duck making a racket under the big Puriri in which she always nests, which was unusual; and the drake had run out of the same area when I walked over in their direction, so I figured today might have been hatching day. A little later I spotted them out on the paddock and very naughtily chased them for a short distance to capture a picture!
The heifers are a bit intimidating when I'm walking across their paddocks! They bounce. There are three or four of them which are very brave and will gallop up and bounce around behind me and I'm never quite sure that any of them won't come just a little too close - either by her own volition or if pushed by any of the others as they play. Being landed on by 300kg of youthful beef would hurt!
They're lovely though, as well. Several have started eating Puriri leaves from my hands if I offer them and one will allow nose scratching - although that also makes her braver and bouncier than the others!
This is just a repeat of last week's page of cute lamb pictures. Dotty with her triplets again.
The "spare" lamb during any feed seems quite content to wait patiently until it sees a gap. I presume that means they're all getting fed adequately and that they're not constantly hungrier than lambs normally are.
Lamb, with her cute little lamb, again. I can't remember if this was before or after the five minutes during which we watched this lamb jumping backwards for the sheer pleasure of the movement - and perhaps having just too much energy to stay still! Lambs will spring into the air from all four feet and usually come back down onto their back ones, only to spring into the air again. They're a delight to watch.
Babette and her huge udder, only half of which produces milk.
We watched this morning, as we brought the little bulls in to the yards for a prospective buyer to see, the weak lamb standing hunched in the drizzling rain and I knew our next job would be to get it another feed and probably a cover. When I collected the lamb from the paddock it was pretty floppy, but we caught Babette and the lamb had a reasonable feed, but then stopped and went floppy again. I milked a bit more from Babette and brought the lamb in to feed it by bottle. Within an hour, even though it had appeared to rally, it died, lying in a box in the sunshine.
We had a lazy day, because nieces Sarah and Miriam came out for a visit, both being up from Auckland for a few days.
On Monday, when we moved the cow mob from one area to another, I noticed that Ingrid's udder had suddenly developed some bulk - I watch udders pretty closely at this time of year, for any change, now that we're within a month of calving starting. She was also quite slow moving, which concerned me.
When I went to check them today, her udder was more developed and I realise that she's only three weeks from her expected calving date and that if there's anything going to happen a bit early, I'd better keep a close eye on her.
I brought her and Demelza (because she's in need of a bit of extra care, being the youngest in the mob) in to join the ewes in the House paddock, since there's some extra grass here at the moment, and I can supply her with molasses and Magnesium and do my best to make sure she regains her usual energy levels.
We had to pop out for a couple of hours this afternoon to collect the ute from repairs in town and when I arrived back home I wondered why I couldn't see any sheep in the Pig Paddock. Eventually I spotted Bendy, making funny little noises, and Damian, all wrapped up in the broken fence wire from when the Puriri fell and wrecked the fence, but no sign of the four remaining hoggets. I untangled Damian and then walked up and down the river bank and couldn't see any sign nor hear anything, so I checked out at the gate for tracks of either odd vehicles or sheep having run away and there was nothing. I went around into the chicken paddock which is just over the river, to see if for some reason they'd taken it into their heads to cross back to where they'd been last week and still couldn't find anything. Back in the bottom of the Pig Paddock I found the footprints of a dog. On closer inspection I also found the footprints of at least one person and they weren't mine or Stephan's.
The combination of dog and human prints meant somebody had been there to retrieve their dog from chasing my sheep.
I ran up to have a look in the lambing paddock, to see if any of the hoggets had gone there and there was the one remaining ewe hogget grazing with those sheep, but no sign of the others anywhere.
Back in the Chicken paddock I started a closer search along the river banks and eventually caught sight of a bit of white: a wether hogget was huddled against the bank on the side he'd gone in from, down a steep bit of bank behind the fallen Puriri. I went home and phoned Stephan to return immediately from where he'd gone to do some work for someone, because it would be almost impossible for me to get that sheep up the bank on my own.
By the time Stephan returned it was dark, so we had to work with torches. He jumped into the river up to his thighs and lifted the sheep up for me to hold by the ears, then we pulled and pushed until it was up on the bank and we could guide it through the fallen tree's branches back to where Bendy and Damian were waiting.
Sheep eyes fortunately reflect bright white back at torches, so finding live sheep in the dark is often easier than during the day - as long as we were looking for live ones still and not dead mauled or drowned ones.
Eventually, as I walked across the bridge, I spotted the little ram, huddled beside the bank where he'd found some shallow water after swimming downstream from where he would have been chased in. He must have swum through the culvert which forms the bridge. So in went Stephan again and pushed him up onto the bank and I put him back into the paddock with the other three sheep.
We spent another three hours then and later in the night looking for the last hogget: up and down both sides of all the river banks, shining the torch out into the bush on either side, but there was no sign of him and we had to retire knowing that he was either dead, or quite possibly spending the night in cold water, which he might, or might not, survive.
Between two lots of searching I phoned both the Council's Animal Control people and the people who I'm pretty sure are the owners of the dog and the footprints I found. I just can't prove it.
We've been having some problems with a particular dog owner lately and we've attempted to very reasonably educate them on their responsibilities toward us as nearby farmers and they've been argumentatively deaf to our efforts. I predicted just this situation after watching their stupidity in letting their dog "play" with their own stock; but there's no pleasure in being right like this.
Stephan went out the gate this morning to let the chickens out and Bendy baa-ed at him, as he usually does and in response to that another sheep called from somewhere on the bush peninsula nearby. We let the sheep back into the Chicken paddock so they'd attract the other hogget to them and went to find him.
I'm not sure how he got here, since it's unlikely he'd have voluntarily re-entered the river to cross it a second time. He probably managed to get out somewhere upstream from where he was chased in, then made his way around through the bush toward where the rest of the sheep spent the night.
Between us we cornered the hogget and Stephan partly carried him back across the river to the others. On my way back across, fortunately without the camera strapped to me, I accidentally slid into the river up to my hips!
My companion, predictably, laughed, although he made a very feeble attempt to hide it. I suppose it could have been worse - he could have started singing that der-dum, der-dum theme from Jaws (the movie) as I stood there thinking of the enormousness of some of the eels in the river! I must have fallen through some sharp plant on my way in, because I've been terribly disfigured by two nasty scratches across my nose! There goes the modelling career again.
One of the council dog control guys arrived at 9am as arranged and talked with us about what to do about all this. Without having actually seen the people and their dog yesterday, I can't prove it was them, despite all the footprints, dog and human, coming and going from a particular and obvious source.
We set the provided dog trap and kept an ear out for any disturbance. Later in the day we found it set off, with marks in the bait and the door closed: it appeared that someone had let our prey out of the trap, although it later occurred to me that we may have temporarily caught a Pukeko.
We're quite anxious for the sheep. There's not enough grass anywhere to move them to a better paddock at present, so we're just going to have to hope that the two visits made to the probable source of the dog yesterday by the dog ranger will result in its having already made its last visit to us and our animals.
Ingrid with her now-daily treat of Molasses with some Magnesium Oxide powder mixed in.
From behind, Ingrid is quite slab-sided, but there's a surprising amount of activity going on inside whenever I stand with my hands pressed against her. At the moment, with her early udder development, I'm getting twin-suspicious again. She's not due until the 21st, and twins would cause her to calve a bit early. I'm watching her closely. Her mating date was the 19th of December.