Friday, 16 March 2018

Bo, Luke and Daisy which I update you on a lot of exciting live-stock stuff including ewe 'Rosie' going sick and needing the vet, we collect this years pigs and the grey hen, 'Crate Lady' comes off the nest with 5 new babies. It's all go, for sure. We have left the slow-news days and short posts behind but I daren't give you too much detail on these stories or we'll all be here hours.

Towser tries to work out what flavour of dog this is.
The bottle feeding of the rejected ewe-lamb is going really well and she is thriving. She is also coming to love being indoors and socialising with the dogs, who have also now got used to her and we are not living on our nerves worried that they might turn on her and attack her. Indoor "sheep worrying" is definitely not needed. She is filling out and growing visibly before our eyes, so much so that she is leaving her "breast fed" brother behind, but more of that in a while.

Indoor sheep worrying?
I woke up to a worrying sight on Weds 14th, the new Mum, 'Rosie' standing miserably in her pen, facing away from me, showing no interest that breakfast might have arrived. She was also "scouring" (diarrhoea) badly and also passing some bloody remnants of after-birth from her vulva. A bucket of part-eaten food sat in the pen from the day before. All was not well. I needed to phone our wonderful vet, mentioned several times in this blog, "Aoife (rhymes with Deefer)". We tried taking her temperature (rectally) using our first aid kit mercury-in-glass and could not read it. We did not know then that 'normal' for a sheep is 38 to 39ºC, and our patient, who was at 41.5ºC pushed the mercury so far up the (human) thermometer that all you could see was mercury.

Baby-formula for lambs. The green tub is
"Survivor" brand colostrum. 
Armed with this knowledge, Aoife turned up in an impressive hurry. Hurry is her style, and when she talks to you it feels like a machine gun blast of information, symptoms and medicines to solve the thing. I find myself thinking "Whoa! I need to write this down". Sheep-folk here would generally do a lot of their own 'vetting', though possibly with 'prescription' meds which you can only get from the vet, so Aoife tends to do that day's injections but leaves you stuff for any treatments over the following days, making sure to show you how to do a subcuteneous jab or an intra-muscular one and that you are happy doing them.

Sheep meds and my scrappy notes of instruction.
To cut a long story short (well, shortER) our girl had a rake of issues. She was exhausted and still off her food from the labour and the lack of roughage (she was ignoring the hay) had stalled her rumen. She was also possibly in early stage liver-fluke attack. Her temperature was up, making her feel uncomfortable inside all that fleece. Aoife showed me that the inside of her eyelids was salmon pink rather than red, and that you could pull small tufts of fleece away with a little force - it was not falling away easily in hanks. Red eyes and fleece falling out are symptoms of advanced fluke infection.

The ram lamb gets a go at the formula milk.
She got injections of anti-biotics, a vitamin to stimulate the gut and anti-inflammatory to get her temperature down. I also had to take her off the 'crunch' (meusli with molasses) and put her on hay and water (plus small amounts of ivy) while she stopped scouring. Later that day and over the following days I had to mix up some 'by mouth' antibiotic from a sachet and do her two injections. If her temperature came down I needed to get her out on the grass. Under this regime (Thanks Aoife!) she perked up really quickly, got her appetite back and has stopped scouring. Everybody is out on the lawn during the days, even the bottle fed lass, who is now named 'Bábóg' (Irish for female baby or doll, say it 'bab' and the the og as in 'bogus').

First hatch for Crate Lady, our grey hen. 
My little comment about Bábóg out-performing her brother on the formula milk had us worrying today that her brother was looking a bit weedy, thin and 'meh'. We wondered whether Rosie's sickness might have also involved her drying up a bit and the lad not getting enough milk. Elizabeth took him in hand and tried him on a bit of Bábóg's bottled milk, which he sucked well enough, all be it nothing like as well as Bábóg. He will learn. We will offer him more 'little and often' over the next few days to supplement the real stuff. If Mum starts up again, he will presumably ignore the offered bottle.

Sorry about the rubbish photo - the grey hen comes off the nest
with 5 babies but into a small sunbeam in a dark shed. I will get
better pics when I can get her out into the sunshine.
The grey hen we call 'Crate Lady' came good at the end of the last post, with a first hatch on the Tuesday and she climbed off the nest on Thursday with 5 new babies. As she was famously down in a foot-deep crate, this meant me having to lift her down off her shelf and tilt the family carefully over  so that the little ones could get out of the crate - they were never going to be able to climb out. They are now all thriving and Crate Lady is bringing them out of the shed, our first new family of 2018.

Rather a lot of pig for one small car and two dodgy looking crates.
You may be able to see a snout at ground level in the left hand crate
down between the feet of the standing pig. 
Biggest news today was our collecting of this years piglets from our breeder in Boyle (Co. Roscommon). It was lovely to be able to go see our breeder (Adrian) again, see all his piglets and talk breeding and blood lines. I was slightly worried because he sells such big pigs. Last year's were 10 weeks old and we could barely fit 2 in the crate - I had asked for smaller, 8 weekers this year. However even though these were 8 and a half weeks old, the litter was only 3 pigs, so the babies had had so much milk that they were nearly as big as last year's. Adrian struggled to do that lift-them-by-the-back-legs; they must be 15-20 kgs already.

Landed safely.
We got them to the car (they got wheeled in a wheelie bin!) and loaded into my worryingly flimsy looking crates. I was definitely having second thoughts and it was an anxious journey home (at least to start with), as I could see in my rear view mirror, the two in the wire crate fidgeting about, trying to turn round, climbing over each other and sometimes pushing (inadvertently, I'm sure) against the sides and doors of the crate, looking like they might well burst the crate and I'd have loose pigs in the passenger seat.

Settling in and straight down to nose-based exploration, 
I knew that if I pressed on, a) I'd get home quicker and reduce the length of the risk and also b) pigs tend to be unhappy passengers and the movement and vibration of the car makes them go all quiet and subdued. I still sent Mrs C a text pleading with her to be ready in gloves and wellies as I might need to make an emergency landing!

No such worries in the end. The subdued pigs just lay in the bottoms of their crates, no more thoughts of bursting out, while we wheel-barrowed them round to their paddock and landed them outside the ark doorway. Another long story gets cut short here, as they are now settling in and looking very happy and they have even received 2 visitors. Everyone wants to see the new pigs.

Working on a suggestion from 'Sparks', I was trying to name them some combination of the characters from the old American TV comedy, "The Dukes of Hazzard" which has crooked and corrupt county commissioner Boss Hogg. But these pigs are 2 'bonhams' (males) and one gilt (female), so Elizabeth decided they should be the main Dukes of Hazzard characters, cousins Bo, Luke and Daisy. I now need to make the name plate.

What ever the case, they are here and we are very happy with them. Only one resident is not happy. The black hen we call 'Beeblebrox' had been, unbeknownst to me, laying her eggs in the ark, walking in to the pen each day. She had accumulated a clutch of 13 eggs, so may have been about to go broody. I found the eggs when I went to bed down the pigs. Beeb was in there when we landed the pigs and shut the gate. She does not know how to fly out (apparently) so we had to release her after she'd been chased a few times by the playful newcomers. Her eggs come to the kitchen but we don't know the exact age of them, so they get labelled 'With Care'. That way we know not to use them as hard-boiled and to always open them into a empty bowl before adding them to baking or scrambling them in case they are off.

Small...... Far away. 
As I said, there is a lot going on. Neither of us will need anyone to sing us a lullaby tonight. We will sleep like new hatched chicks, belly-full lambs or travel-exhausted piglets.

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