SleepingLambI’m finally getting around to totaling up my 2017 lamb crop numbers. Partly because I’m about to order vaccine for the 2018 crop already, and I need to know what to buy! Here’s how the season turned out, and what changes I’ll make this year to continue to try to knock out sources of loss.

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MySplintThis year, I bought a used Sydell sheep sorter from a friend who retired from sheep. It holds promise of being able to do all sorts of chores- sorting, vaccinating, hoof trimming, weighing and the like, all in Temple Grandin gentle style… But it will take some fine-tuning and training before we achieve the desired level of graceful flow. I’ll write more about my lessons-learned on the overall design. But here is the short-term cost of the long-term benefit of this gorgeous and expensive system.

One component of the system is the “Spin Doctor”, which squeezes the sheep and allows “spinning” them on their sides to work on their feet or do other operations. The older version of the Spin Doctor has openings on the side. Ideally, if the exit of the Doctor is a narrow chute, this would not be an issue. But I had a too-wide chute there, leading to a sort gate, which the sheep found visually aversive. So, they would tend to turn around in that chute, attempting to return in the direction of the herd by jamming into the side of the Doctor.

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HappyDogLast spring, I had first noticed that Moses had a mass on his elbow. Fearing another case of osteosarcoma, I took him to the vet right away to diagnose it. My vet said that bone cancer rarely shows up in the elbow, it’s almost always lower on the limb. And sure enough, x-ray and biopsy confirmed it was just a fatty tumor, like a lot of dogs get. Those are benign as far as risk of metastasis goes. But, this was an “infiltrative” lipoma, meaning it was entangling around the joint.

The picture to the left is from last May when we shaved him, it was pretty large at that point. You can see how it was pushing his whole elbow joint out away from his body. It continued to grow over the summer. It altered his gait some, but didn’t seem to be bothering him much. Until all of a sudden, when it did. I think it must have grown such that it started pressing on a nerve, causing significant pain. Within a matter of a couple of weeks, he went from mildly lame to basically refusing to walk. I hustled to make plans for surgery and got him into the barn since he could not walk well enough to shelter and drink in the pasture.

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Barf

Going through photos from the crazy days of lambing, I found this thing I wanted to post about. This is sheep vomit. Which I have never seen before. Sheep rarely barf. Walking through the pasture where the sheep were grazing, it caught my eye instantly. The only time I see this material is when rumens are emptied on the grass at the end of the butchering process, by people who plan to take the rumen lining home for tripe recipes. It is unmistakable in contents, smell and texture. It was spread out in multiple piles. I instantly knew who it belonged to.

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MosesWithCoat

Having grown up in the dog show world, I’ve always objected to coated breeds being shaved down. It’s kind of a pet peeve of mine. Why buy a coated breed if you are not going to care for the coat, and are just going to brutally buzz-cut it into a miserable-looking hack job? IMO, shaved dogs look terrible, no matter how skilled the groomer. Not to mention, there is a lot of theorizing about whether shaving coated dogs is bad for them. That it’s stressful for them to go from coated to nearly bald and feeling vulnerable. That they are vulnerable to sunburn, and overheating, since coat can actually insulate them from the sun. That the blunted hair coat ends will grow back matted and harder to groom.

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SanJuanFerry

Here is the only picture I captured from Saturday. I went to the Washington State Sheep Producers (WSSP) Sheep School. There were several sessions held. This was the last one, and the only one I could swing schedule-wise. It was on a farm in Friday Harbor, on San Juan Island. So a bit of a travel effort to get there. Mostly a hardship in catching the 6:20am ferry in Anacortes, Freezingwhich is an hour away. The ferry trip is 80 minutes, but I was able to work on my computer the whole time, so it didn’t feel like travel time. Not to mention, the San Juan ferry route is beautiful. This view was from my seat on the ferry on the return trip. Sometimes I think of ferry travel as a pain, and it is. But, it’s also such a lovely aspect of our region, how can you not adore an excuse to ride on a big boat through gorgeous waters to an island destination? The enthusiasm of all the tourists on the ship reminded me of how lucky we are to consider ferries mundane…

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GeneIn December, our thirteen year old border collie, Gene, was diagnosed with cancer. I had noticed an egg-sized lump on the back of her left thigh a while earlier, and decided to ask the vet to look at it. It was almost like a typical fatty lump seen in older dogs, and she already has some fatty lumps. But this one did feel a bit more “rooted” and it had grown faster than I’m used to seeing in benign fatty tumors. A biopsy identified it as a mast cell tumor, which is common in dogs. So, it was removed after Christmas.

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