Sunday 5 January 2014

Hanging in

Thank you, to all the people who made nice comments about my "new years post".
I appreciate the comments, shares and likes!
It helps me to connect to you and sure makes blogging a little more interactive.

We have been very busy lately,
the weather in Canada and large parts of the USA have been brutal lately.
Snow storms,
frigid temperatures, 
arctic blasts,
high winds,
wind chill,
and even more snow.
Now, it can get really cold here in Alberta, but to have days and days on end  between -30 and -40 C
makes it tough.
A little global warming would be nice right now.

 Normally, the weather does keep us busy ,
 with things like snow plowing, keeping stock heaters heating, plugging in vehicles etc.
 Combine this winter with a 3 week lambing stint,
 then the work load increases exponentially.
I am not complaining,
as this is our choice to lamb now in the dead of winter.

When a lamb is born at these temperatures,
it freezes and becomes hypothermic in about 10 minutes.
This means we need to catch every single birth directly.
The minute these little lambs drop out of the ewe,
we scoop the baby up, and encourage the mom to follow us to the lambing jugs.

We have heated lambing boxes, that we place the ewe and lamb into for 24-48 hours.
Some of these boxes have an additional heat lamp, these are reserved for the weaker or colder lambs.
Following this, we usually will stomach tube each baby with 50-100ml colostrum,
 just to kick start them into action.

We take shifts in this lambing period,
as we need to be in the barn at all times,
not to assist the ewes but to get them into a jug.

Eric takes the first part of the night until about 2am.
My shift starts at about 2.30am.
This is also a feed and water round for the lambing boxes.
This year we have a student ( Pascal) here to help, he has been doing the 6am round.

At about 8.30am, Pascal and I start the feeding the "general population".

We feed and water all the lambing jugs, then grain the ewes, bottle feed some lambs, hay, feed and grain the 4-H steers, let out the collies, collect the eggs and feed the chickens, feed the big dogs and catch some lambs in between this.
Then we have a coffee break (and FB check..).

After this we hot wire the tractor into action, and do hay bales;
to the cows,
outside feeder lambs,
the non lambing ewes
and rams.

Lunch time

After lunch, we do another feeding and watering round, number, mark and castrate lambs.
We move lambs and ewes out of the boxes into a group pen.
After this, is the time to catch up on some other chores that got left behind such as house work, clearing snow, cleaning alley ways, going to town.

At 4pm, the whole routine starts again.
Make supper.
9pm feed, water, bottle.
I go to bed at 10pm.

At 2.30am my alarm goes off...
I fly out of bed because lying down for 5 minutes longer, means falling a sleep and not getting up at all.

At 3pm , I check and feed.
This is the quiet time.
The ewes are bedded down, the lambs are huddled together for warmth, the dogs are quiet,
the only sound is the sound of my winter boots crunching in the snow.

This year our ewes decided to be slow starting,
 we only had about 30 lambs in the first 2 weeks.
Now, with the end in sight,
they are coming fast and furious.
Putting additional pressure on us and the lambing jug space.

Another week and we should be done.

Many people ask us why we lamb at this time..
well the reasons for this are:
is divides the work load, instead of lambing a whole bunch in spring we have various smaller lambing times spread out over the year
lambing now, means we could hit the Easter market.

Other than those two reasons,
why else would you get out of bed at 3am
to appreciate the northern lights,
 if not for lambing?

Today, however was just one of those days that kind of stand out from all the others.
Not only did we do  all of the above,
but we also had to sort our cows (they were pregnancy tested last week)
and brand them.
Working in this extreme cold all day,
being tired from the lambing routine,
plus avoiding being killed by the angry cows
made it a little tough.

we are not as cordial to each other,
 as we know we should be.
However, we got her done.

My bed is calling my name.
Stay safe and warm.

if you have any questions or would like to know something more or extra,
don't be shy to ask!
I am happy to answer any questions you may have.
Leave a comment here or on Facebook
and I will do a question and answer blog sometime soon.

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