Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Ewe news

After last week's hay and goat-no goat debacle, I was feeling less than positive about my tasks for today: worm counts for horses, deliver bantam chicks to their new home, and get ewes scanned to see if they're in lamb. If the universe was still against me, today could be disheartening.

There are two ways to cope with worms in horses. You can administer an all-purpose, just-in-case wormer. Simply squeeze the anthelmintic paste into your horse's mouth, catch what falls out, try and push it back into the corners while your free hand maintains a death grip on the halter, give up when you're physically lifted off the ground and half of the paste has soaked into your sleeve. Experienced horse owners compensate by giving an extra third on top of the recommended dosage. Alternatively you can get a faecal sample to the vets that they will look at under a microscope to identify which, if any, worms are present.

More poop.

And it must be fresh poop. And, if you have more than one horse, you must be sure which horse produced the sample. A watched horse never poops. I spent 1 hour and 41 minutes waiting for Kitty and Alan to produce the goods while I sat in the Land Rover knitting, and Dakota laid under the Land Rover waiting for something more exciting to happen.

I dropped off the samples on the way to deliver our five bantam chicks to Nurse Chris, Mike's home help nurse. It was her twice-daily visits that allowed Mike to leave the hospital and recuperate at home. When she wants chickens, she gets first pick. I could only find an empty mineral lick bucket with lid to contain the flighty chicks for transport, so Nurse Chris got Chickens in a Bucket.

Her lone hen instantly gathered up the chicks and mothered them. When Chris's kitten got too close, the hen defended her new brood from the hairy interloper. Hormones are a funny thing.

By now I was running late. I still had to collect my trailer, hope I could gather up the sheep and separate just the pregnant ewes, and load those ewes into the trailer and drive to the mobile scanner guy, who was visiting a farm up the road. The trailer didn't have a flat, the sheep were semi-cooperative (even my grumpy ewe), the ewes fit into trailer and the breeze kept them cool, and I turned up just in time for my turn.

Scanner Guy only needed ten seconds per ewe. The farmer called out the ear tag number, Scanner Guy shouted out the number of lambs inside, the scribe wrote it down, and a helper marked the sheep appropriately: orange dot for singles, green dot for twins, purple dot for triplets, none if a ewe isn't in lamb.

We have: two purples, one green, and four oranges. One ewe is empty. That's potentially twelve lambs for eight ewes put to ram; a return of 150%. That's a great result. A good shepherd would be happy with that. I'm thrilled that we're expecting babies. You may remember N1125 (Gregor) who was on her back, too fat to roll out of a tractor rut? She's got a purple dot. No wonder she's so big, making room for three babies.

On my way home from the scan, the horse vets called to say that both horses were free from worms. So, a crop of new babies, a pair of worm-free horses, and a high pressure system over our part of England giving us dry and sun and ripe tomatoes at least for the next few days.

This week is definitely better than last week.


Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

Yay. And phew.

To have lots of lambs and no worms at all is the best of all possible worlds. My heart is glad for you.

Poppy Cottage said...

That accounts for Gregor feeling a bit out of sorts!


Off to St Ives for a couple of Days with jose x

Anonymous said...

Sounds like things are going great for you! Good luck with all the new babes coming your way!


Peruby said...

Okay then. I am gearing up for some great stories and pictures then! Still cheering you on from over here!