A typical homestead day.
February 11: Stars, our Thoroughbred mare, is due to foal. She's bred to a quarter horse in Washington state, and there are four years of planning in this foal, so there are some anxious nights waiting up. Dwayne (my husband) is available tonight and tomorrow to sit up on relief. He works at Simmons Industries, a chicken processing plant, on night shift, which makes for an interesting schedule.
February 13: Still no foal. Typical activities of the place involve feeding, working with stock and working on spring improvements.
February 15: Still no foal. Between chores and activities during the day and sitting up nights with Stars it makes for an interesting time of a couple of hours of napping each night ... definitely not enough! We set up a stall for her where she can be observed from the house and hung a lamp in the stall to provide a bit of light to see. This allows her to be watched and yet not disturbed. Fortunately, it's been a clear, rain-free week for the most part. I don't watch much television, so to help stay awake I listen to music. This is a good time to dig out those seldom listened to tapes and records.
February 16: No foal but she's dripping milk, surely a sign of baby on the way. Eleven P.M.: She's totally unconcerned and snoozing in the corner of the stall. I go out and wrap her tail to keep the hairs out of the way. Stars is more interested in "Did you bring anything to eat!" Midnight: Passing time with (listening to) Paul McCartney, the Bay City Rollers and Vince Gill and wondering if foaling mares is some experiment designed to study the effects of sleep deprivation!
February 17, 1:30 A.M.: She's restless, walking a bit in the stall. Two A.M.: Change the Elton John tape to side two, glance out the window-suddenly she's in labor. Grab the iodine and a jacket. Fifteen minutes later, feet showing, a long-legged bay filly nickers and raises her head. Much has been made of imprint training, so I handle the foal's head and face, gently rubbing her face and ears. Spray the navel, watch until foal gets to her feet and nurses. Four A.M. -- sleep at last! Back up by 7:45 to get Ryan off to school, feed, call vet to have Stars and baby checked. Both are happy and healthy.
February 19: Our "definitely not pregnant" 22-year-old quarter horse mare had a buckskin colt by our stallion this morning... the cord was twisted and baby was dead. Vet check revealed no blood transfer, baby never drew a breath. Sissy is fine, but spent most of the day where her dead baby had been born. Evening brought a severe thunderstorm -- high winds shredded Stars, shelter and driving rain was pounding. A neighbor offered a shed for shelter for the pair until things dried out.
February 20: The ground is saturated after the storm -- reports are the winds were up to 65 miles per hour in some areas. Storm damage throughout the area included trees down and flooding. We didn't lose any livestock in the storm.
February 24: Stars, filly got her nickname today. After the "imprint training" at birth I expected a fairly easy time handling her face, but she isn't real thrilled with being touched anywhere, much less on the face and hates having her ears touched. I was soothing her with my voice and said, "Did you not read that book or are you just a rebel?" The name seemed to fit, so Rebel it is. Picked out registered names also -- from the parents of "Mr. Show Biz," and "Seek the Stars." I came up with: 1) I Still Believe In You, 2) Shoorah for Hollywood, 3) Once Upon a Star. Those are the names submitted to the registry.
March 2: "Trisha," our December 1992 Dorset ewe, delivered a purebred ram lamb about 4:00 P.M. She had some complications -- a foot back. This was a first time for us too, and fortunately our stock is handled enough to not be wild. I managed to get the lamb pushed back and foot position corrected. Thanks to Paula Simmons, book Raising Sheep the Modern Way, we didn't have a vet call on it. Mama cleaned it fine and the lamb is healthy.
March 4: Weather is clear and things are finally drying up -- brought Stars and Rebel home.
March 6: On returning from a trip to town we found our Hampshire ewe, "Leah," cleaning off twin lambs. This pair, a ewe and a ram, are crossbreds, sired by our Barbados Blackbelly ram, "George." The ram lamb is white with chocolate points and the ewe is dark chocolate with a trace of white. Both good strong lambs born about 3:00 P.M. "George" met an early demise last fall due to an attitude -- bad temperament but good eating! Saddled up for an afternoon ride on "Red" (our quarter horse stallion) and put some time in on "Macho," our POA colt who is just two years old. The neighbors who kept Star wouldn't take any payment for keeping them there but mentioned their boy wanted a lamb if we got any bum lambs.
March 7: 3:00 P.M. -- "Lady B," our senior Barbados ewe had triplets sired by our Dorset "Dusty." Two ewes and a ram -- a ram lamb was given to our neighbor for keeping Star. Nice day -- warm and sunny.
March 9: Storm -- complete with nasty east winds and snow. Lambs brought in for the night because of the wind chill -- Lady B not looking too bright. The combination of the storm and babies is taking a lot out of her; ewe lambs brought in and started on bottles.
March 10: "Tornado" -- Barbados ewe -- had twin ewe lambs this afternoon. Weather cleared up, snow is melting, temperature back to "normal." We're wondering if there's something substantial to the idea of feeding late in the morning to induce ewes into lambing during daylight hours-our sheep are fed grain in the evening to get them back in the pen -- and out of predators, temptation. So far all of our ewes have lambed in the afternoon -- on pasture, as they're turned out in the morning.
March 13: Went to a sale and bought cages and four doe rabbits. One is supposed to be due any day, another due in a couple of weeks.
March 16: No bunnies, content doe. Wormed all horses except Sissy, who will not let anyone even in her vicinity with a paste tube!
March 18: Doe died, other three does content in their new home.
March 19: Spent the morning at a poultry swap in Goodman, Missouri, where I bought a buck rabbit. Hampshire ewe "Mary" had twin chocolate colored half-Barbados ewe lambs this afternoon.
March 20: Took some roosters, a couple of ducks, a goat and a few extra hens to Afton poultry swap to sell for extra cash. Sold all but two roosters. Bought some Dominique, Araucana and Buff Orpington straight run chicks. Evening brought phone conversation from a good friend in Canada, whom we're hoping to be able to meet this summer.
March 23: There's gotta be one in every bunch -- a nonconformist! "Holly," the Barbados ewe, had a half-Dorset ewe lamb at her side when I went out to feed this morning. A big healthy single lamb.
March 24: Mary accidentally stepped on one of her lambs, breaking the lamb's leg. Took it to vet for possible repair. The lamb was scheduled for surgery, pin put in the leg, and wrapped -- which is to stay on for five days; shots for seven days.
March 25: Suzi had twin Barbados lambs, a ewe and a ram; rejected both. I'm now bottle feeding five lambs.
March 29: Trip to Tulsa to take Ryan to counseling appointment. Combined trip with a stop to pick up Source (a supplement for the horses) and a pelleted wormer for Sissy.
March 30: One of the lambs from the triplets died. Wormed Sissy.
April 1: Our Border Collie, Jake, fell out of the truck while it was moving. His feet are torn up and he'll spend the night at the vet's but will recover. Jake is a son of Scottish imported parents -- his sire, Craig, was a top trial dog in Scotland Because I'm usually alone during the day, I rely pretty heavily on him to help with the stock, as well as Ina, who is nine years old. (She's a granddaughter of Scottish imports, as her sire was out of Scottish dogs.) Wormed Rebel, Red, Angel (donkey bought to guard sheep). Bred Bronc (POA) to Red.
April 3: Holiday swap -- sold rooster, Suzi's twins, buck rabbit and California doe. Splurged on meals out at a buffet serving Easter dinner.
April 6: Stars in season -- bred back to Red.
April 7: Our last ewe, Tanya (Dorset), had a ewe lamb this afternoon sired by Ricky -- a son of George we kept for replacement. This half-Barbados lamb, like the other Barbados-Dorset crosses, is white with brown on the neck and legs. The lamb with the broken leg not feeling quite right -- ate well. They're being turned out in a fenced run during the day when the weather is decent. Lamb died during the night.
April 8: Normal morning routine -- remaining bottle baby, from triplets, followed me while I fed the chickens. I left her in with grain, eating contentedly at 11:00. Trip to Southwest City, Missouri to the bank and got feed. Lamb died that afternoon-unknown cause.
April 9/11: Bred Stars to Red.
April 15: Morning chores held another accident -- Stars kicked Jake after he tried to move her. Excess bleeding warranted another trip to the vet. Signs indicate he took the kick on the end of the nose, shots were given to control bleeding and swelling. Met with attorney at 1:00 regarding accident in July in which one of our horses was hit by a squad car -- Oklahoma City insurance company wants us to pay for the car even though there was no fault and the horses aren't habitually out. Attorney advised he'd write a letter to the company advising them he's representing us and we don't feel liable for the car, especially after losing the horse.
April 17: Afton poultry swap-sold two roosters and several of the "straight run" chicks (which were likely mostly roosters). Bought pair of guineas, four spotted bunnies (two does, two bucks). After the swap we went to a benefit auction and team roping for an area rancher who shot at and accidentally killed one of two men he saw attempting to steal some of his calves. He'd recently had several calves stolen and this time found the thieves in the act of stalking his cattle, but he's facing charges for the death of one of the thieves. The other guy claimed their truck overheated and they were after water but so far no explanation how they were going to get water with a rope.
April 18: Wormed adult sheep-that can turn into quite a rodeo! Ordered Dominique chicks. Bred Sissy to Red. African goose killed by ??
April 20: Spent most of the day trying to get insurance for the place and for the booth we're planning for GroveFest -- to be held the first weekend in May. We're taking up some of the sheep and poultry to try to create a market for our stock and maybe even orders for some custom raised stock. No place in town will cover the booth with the animals, but one company gave a quote of $2S0 for two days of $100,000 liability coverage. I asked her how on earth a sheep can do $100,000 damage to make a claim. No answer except "that's what the rate is." As to property insurance, all local companies refused either because the house was moved onto the land, they didn't want to cover a place with horses, they've never covered sheep but would cattle. How do other people get insurance? The main concern is getting coverage for the house in case of a fire. Equally aggravating is no concern for safety measure (the stallion they objected to is about 100 feet from any public contact inside a metal stall which is inside a fenced field) and yet not one company cited a reason having anything to do with being under the flyway of the local airport!
April 21: Took a pig to the butcher -- we don't really have the facilities to do it here. Set some Brahma eggs to hatch, my first attempt.
April 22: Wormed lambs, trimmed feet on Dorsets, which seem to grow faster than the other breeds. Water pump went out on the Ranchero so we had to juggle bills to cove repairs.
April 23: Set bigger batch of eggs to hatch, ducks and chickens. Being novices at this, I'm not sure how it will turn out, so we've been reading up on it. Lost two spotted does -- rabbits don't seem to work for us.
April 24: Wormed goats. We spent the afternoon working on a raised bed on the front side of the house and planted sweet peppers, basil and some flowers and small ornamental plants.
April 25: Worked on another raised bed -- this one on the south side for tomatoes and onions. Eventually will be expanded to include an herb garden. Corn planted some time ago is coming up.
This is just a snip of the routine -- naturally there's time involved in feeding, watering, working the horses, gathering eggs, etc. Things are never boring or dull! There are on-going things to come in getting mares bred, hatching eggs (if we succeed), tilling and planting the garden, weaning and selling lambs, and lots more. We're trying to coordinate things so as to companion plant by the signs... it can't hurt and sure breaks up the chores.
We welcome correspondence about the horses or sheep.