Would you rather be with them or without them? Or as another neighbor puts it, Only them that's got'em can lose'em.
I have been too dispirited to post.
I have lost at least seven lambs so far. At least it seems to have stopped.
My young guard dog got killed. For all I know it was him that was killing the sheep. Or it could have been worms. David Pugh, one of the vets who taught me at Auburn, says there's only two things that kill sheep: worms and dawgs. I suspect I've had some of both.
My fences are still down. I did at least get the sheep out of James' tobacco. For those not in Kentucky, tobacco is the major cash crop around here. Having livestock in your neighbor's tobacco is the worst offense you can commit.
I don't have the plans back from Frank Kipe yet. The utility contractor (Jim Shaw) can't go forward til I get those for him to take to the power company. And the fencing contractor (Bill Hatton) can't get started til the utility contractor finishes. Looking forward I see lambing in six weeks, without fence. Fabulous.
And I'm faced with working them without fence. Makes getting them up into the barn a challenge.
I need to work them to give them all a dose of dewormer, in case it's parasites that have caused some of the recent deaths. Resistance of parasites to dewormers is a major problem for most sheep producers in the south anymore. I still use the same one I've always used, because it still works. I use it infrequently, and when I do I give a big dose of it. Mostly I cull any ewe who fails to wean a lamb, which can happen if she is heavily parasitized and subsequently having a hard time regaining weight and coming into heat. Over time you end up with a population that genetically tolerates the worms present while maintaining production.
Losing this many lambs I can't afford to cull so many ewes, so it's deworming time, fence or no fence. Unfortunately the dewormer I use also can induce birth defects in the first trimester of pregnancy. The ram's only been out five weeks; sheep pregnancy is 21 weeks so....I also need to castrate one of the ram lambs. How did I manage to miss cutting the biggest one?!? He's distinctively marked, there's no way I just overlooked him. So undoubtedly some of the ewes that lost lambs have gotten rebred- and will lose the pregnancy if the dewormer induces malformations in the developing lambs, meaning another six months of feeding her without a lamb to sell. Anything that doesn't abort- will be another round of lambs coming at odd times out of synch with the rest of the flock.
Looking forward- I'll email Frank tonight, see how he's coming on the plans. Call Chris to see when his dad might haul the last load of DGA for the road. Call Billand tell him the him the wire is here. Tomorrow I'll put a better patch over the two holes I know of in the fence. The sheep have been hanging around the barn, maybe I'll luck up and they'll go in the barn for shade tomorrow midday and I'll get them dewormed tomorrow night. I have my new ram, from Blackberry Farm in Walland. I have a new dog, Phoebe, actually a pup out of my best dog who no longer had sheep to guard where she was- so they agreed to let me have her back. And my neighbor Joe Pasley said I could have a foal out of his jenny (female donkey) if I can come up with a jack to breed her. The donkeys have worked well for him; I just never thought I'd have one. The state fair is coming up, maybe the jack and mule show will be going on the day we can go and I'll get some leads on a jack.
As my mother and grandmother used to say, Sufficient unto the day is the evil therof. So I am going to bed, so I can get up tomorrow and see what progress I can make. It's surprising how far you can get if you just keep going. Proceed, go forth, onward, advance.