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Category: Live from the Ranch
Posted by Dawn M. on 05/23/2011

Monday, May 23, 2011
Category: Live from the Ranch
Posted by Dawn M. on 05/23/2011

Monday, Mar 21, 2011
Category: Live from the Ranch
On Saturday,  lambing season began.  We have 35 ewes, some of which are yearlings and not all of those are pregnant.  So, perhaps 30 ewes are.   Our little band is growing. 

Last year, breeding happened early by accident (uncastrated brothers / sons, oops!)  So, we were lambing by January.  I was dealing with sheep dropping lambs in the middle of the cold nights and not getting out there to help them in time. 

We planned it better this year.  We even sheared the sheep BEFORE lambing, which we've never done before.   So, the sheep look great and are happy to be lazing around in the sunshine.   All of the lambs so far have been born in daylight!   It is so nice.

Last year we had a 3 or 4 sets of triplets, but the third little runt one always died.   We have had 3 ewes give birth so far and 2 of them had triplets and they are all still living.  You don't know how exciting that is.  I hate crying over lambs I couldn't save. 

Saturday afternoon, a ewe was bleating very loudly, so I went to see what was up.  I almost walked away, when she stopped and I thought she was going to pee, but "Oh, that's a baby!"  One of our sons had some friends here, so we got all the kids over to watch her clean it up.  I knew there'd be at least one more, since she was huge.    As we watched, there came another.  It was so great.... they all thought it was gross, but no one could tear their eyes away and were so glad they got to see it.  Even had a few philosophical comments out of 13 year old boys.    Most of them left, but Ruth and Eli and I got to watch as a 3rd came along. 

Sunday, we came home from town to a big huge single in the pen with her mom.  A little later, the ewe that was Ruth's 4H lamb a couple of years ago started to labor, so I went to get Ruth and we watched as she birthed 3, also.   Since she is tame, we were able to be right next to her and actually got towels and helped her clean them up.  Last year, her lamb died, so this was her first experience mothering and wasn't sure about them wanting to nurse.

No more yet today.  A few are big as balloons ready to pop, though - both their bellies and their bags of milk.  So, there should be more in the next couple of days. 

Only have this one picture, but I'll post more when I take some.
Posted by Dawn M. on 03/21/2011

Saturday, Oct 02, 2010
Category: Live from the Ranch

I don't write much, except when I'm lambing, but I thought I'd post today.  What a great educational staff we have here on the ranch!  Our daughter, Ruth, is part of a group called the American Heritage Girls, in Co Spgs, and I invited them out to earn their Nature and Wildlife badge.  It entailed 3 levels of girls needing to focus on slightly different areas and it was very well attended - there were around 60 girls, 30 adults and 25 cars! 

It was a bit chaotic, so I really appreciated Caroline, Lee, Katie and Kerry going with the flow for us.  We started at the bird banding station, where Lee talked birds while Nancy and Steve banded, Caroline talked conservation and careers with the older girls, the migration game with the youngers and Katie talked bones and antlers, horns and nests and skins.   The girls walked around and picked up garbage at the station for a conservation project, before we headed back to Headquarters to eat lunch and do more activities. 

I decided that a walk down to the lake to pick up more garbage was going to be too much for the younger girls, so Caroline, Katie and Kerry graciously gave the younger girls a tour around HQ and the ranch side of things, while the 4th-6th grade girls and older girls did nature walks.   Lee was awesome, as usual, guiding the teenaged girls and then teaching the 4th-6th about edible plants.  The teenagers then helped the little girls on a "micro" nature hunt.  The girls were writing and drawing in nature journals they made throughout the day.

Like I said, it was sort of chaotic, since it wasn't quite as straightforward as our normal educational programs are, with a group of same aged kids getting the standard, awesome program.  I'm also a big proponent of guarding our staff's Saturday afternoons off (!), and yet I brought a group whose time seeped into the afternoon, so I really appreciate everyone's willingness to stay and help just a little longer. :)

So, come on out.  Our ed program really is great - great information, great activities, great people leading it all.

Posted by Dawn M. on 10/02/2010

We're lambing
Category: Live from the Ranch

We are lambing!  Last week, I thought we should go check on the sheep, so I went out with the kids and I couldn't believe it, but it looked like some of them were getting close.  On Thurs, I drove out past them on my way off the ranch and saw a baby on the ground.  The trip got delayed while I went back and changed and got help to bring them all in.  We got the pens all ready over the next couple of days. 

On Sunday, we were about to leave for church, when Aidan came in and told us there were lambs all over out there.  We had seven, two of which were already dead, 4 which we got mothered up, and this one.  She was baa-ing away and there was not even a head lifted by a mama.  So dumb, sheep can be.  It was pretty amazing, we could not tell at all, after really studying all of them, which one was her mom.  Maybe a first time mama and she just dropped her (or them if one of the dead ones was her twin), cleaned up and walked away, wondering "what just happened?... but oh, I'm hungry, I think I'll go eat."  

So, we have a bummer lamb.  After an initial dose of colostrum in the house, I tried to get her mothered up to another, and she ate a bit from that mom, but the next morning, she didn't look so great, so back to the house she came.  I haven't had any luck with bummers in the past two years, but she's doing alright so far.  I have taken her out to the sheep the last two days, since it's been so nice.  She just hangs out with the moms and other babies.  I am bringing her back in the house at night.  Our new Christmas puppy is just enthralled.  The hot water heater box provides a nice little window for them to study each other. 

A lot of the moms look ready, so we'll probably have another big batch here in the next couple of days.  Probably Sunday morning, since it's the only day we will be trying to leave the ranch early in the morning.  

It's  11:30, I didn't mean to stay up this late.... I'll go check once before I go to bed.  

Posted by Dawn M. on 01/14/2010

Category: Live from the Ranch

Well I guess I should have been updating throughout lambing, but at least Michael did a little  -  here is the last lamb born, just being cleaned up.

We had a much more successful time of it this year, though quite a few still didn't breed up.  We have 25 mamas out there, one of them Ruth's 4-H lamb from last year.   18 of them had lambs, 4 of which had twins, so 22 lambs were born.   4 died.  

All the deaths make me sad, but the last one really bummed me out.  We feed the sheep by placing a huge bale in a sort of pen made with panels, then we can fork the hay around the inside edges, the mamas stick their heads through to eat.   (Earlier we'd just put the bale in the middle of the pen, but they trampled it and wouldn't eat it after it was stomped and peed on.) 

The lambs, however, can climb through the panels and eat right off the bale.  A couple weeks ago, a very healthy lamb fell asleep next to the  bale and a flake fell on top of him, smothering him.   When I realized one was missing, I found him under it, still just curled up like he was asleep.  The heart ache of raising animals, this city born girl still hasn't gotten used to.  I cry every time.

It has been a good experience this year, though.  The lambs have grown really fast and are looking very healthy.  I love to watch them bounce around in the pen, playing and wrestling.  They are ready to go out in the pasture, but Michael is still trying to figure out where we should put them.  Everyone is so busy, so it is hard to find time to put up an electric fence somewhere to keep them close in.  

We don't want to lose any to coyotes at this point.  Tiana is the dog that we inherited from the people from whom we got the sheep.  She is very sweet (though dirty) and is a good watch dog - we hear her out around the perimeter barking during the night.   We will still probably bring the sheep into a pen at night and not take any chances.   Gives Aidan so...

Posted by Dawn M. on 05/02/2009

Category: Birding at the Chico
Bill, Were you here today to see the 2 Pelicans?  Think we saw a Wilson's Phalarope and what are the black head/dark almost black body and white beak birds?  We thought Coots.  It was hard for my friend and I to tell what a couple of the birds were - I kept looking around for your car - we needed help!   There are so many different birds on the HQ pond right now! 
Posted by Dawn M. on 05/02/2009

Bald Eagles
Category: Birding at the Chico


Have you seen the Bald Eagles at HQ?  We saw the adult today and thought we also saw a juvenile.  Do they travel together?  They were being surrounded by crows.  The kids (and mom :)  ) were very excited. 

We didn't take our camera.  :(


Posted by Dawn M. on 11/16/2007

Barn Owl by chicken coop
Category: Birding at the Chico

Hey Bill

Thanks for the thorough reply!  We may move the chickens closer to us, so hopefully we'll keep them safe.  Was the dead Barn Owl by our present chicken coop?  That's too bad.   We've had a barn owl in that hole in the tree that you can see from our back door - I wonder if that was it?

We're  learning about "Flying Creatures" in science this year, so hopefully we can be ready for May!  Please let me know if there is anything spectacular or rare we should get out and see.  We still don't know what we are looking at when we're out there.  :)



Posted by Dawn M. on 10/28/2007

Are our cats safe?
Category: Birding at the Chico

Bill said: "Great Horned Owls can eat prey as large as a skunk and one of its nicknames is the Smelly Owl"......

So, Bill, does this mean our kittens (almost full grown at this point) and cats are not in fact safe from the Great Horned guys?  We had heard cats were too big and they probably wouldn't eat them.   But, skunks are that big!  :)  Thanks for this journal, it's great!


Posted by Dawn M. on 10/18/2007

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