Archive for February 19, 2008

Update on the ol’ girl

Last night, I decided that the Ol’ Girl (whose name is actually Dolly) needed some closer surveillance because I felt that her time of lambing was near.  I wanted her closer to the house because I was worried about her advanced age.  I went into the barn where she was bedded down amongst her friends and daughters, put the halter on, and tried to lead her out.  Nothing doing.  She planted all 4 feet firmly on the ground and told me in no uncertain body language that she wasn’t goin’ NOWHERE, and I had better rethink my position unless I felt like carrying her.  Well.  This was not very becoming behavior in a former grand champion ewe, I told her sternly.  She didn’t show the slightest sign at all of being ashamed by her bad behavior.

With much tugging at the halter, I got her to the gate.  The rain earlier that day had left a muddy mess outside and planting her feet didn’t work.  I was able to pull her through and finally got her to where I wanted her, a place where there would be plenty of light available if help was needed during the lambing.  She pretended I did not exist as I took the halter off and set her free for some evening grazing.  She remained at the fence, looking longingly toward her barn filled with her flockmates that were calling her, especially her ol’ blind friend, Mon Ami. 

I checked her again at midnight.  She was still standing at the fence.  When I walked up to check her, she turned and walked a few steps away, then looked back at me.  I took a couple of steps in her direction.  She walked up to the gate and waited for me to open it.  “This is a really bad idea”, I told her.  “I know this will end in disaster.”  She didn’t seem at all concerned about my fears.  I opened the gate, and she took off toward “her” pasture, leaving me well behind dodging mud puddles, and halted again at the gate into “her” barn.  Well, she certainly didn’t act like she was about to lamb.  I opened the gate and let her back in the barn which as it turned out was the completely wrong thing to do.  I should have paid more attention to the uneasiness that led me to take her out to begin with, but I was worried that the stress of being away from the flock in a strange place at night might be worse than being nearer the house where I could check her more frequently. 

I woke at dawn (a little later than I had originally planned) to check her.  I heard the desperate high-pitched baaaaaa of a newborn that was lost or hungry.  Damnit!

A hungry smallish male lamb was crying for food, Dolly was stricken with obturator nerve paralysis and could not get up, and a large ewe lamb (the probable cause of the paralysis) was lying dead although lovingly licked clean by Dolly.

I was able to pull Dolly to her feet and she stood, back legs trembling and unsteady.  I was able to eventually get her to a well-padded pen.  Lamb was by this time frantic for food, and Dolly was in shock and not letting down her milk.  She did drink 1 and 1/2 gallons of water sweetened with molasses and with a tablespoon of baking soda as an acidosis preventative.  

It had been years since I needed to bottle feed a lamb.  I looked at the old lamb milk replacer in the freezer dubiously.  Ewwwwww.  I called some friends with sheep, only to find that they had no lamb milk replacer on hand, and it now cost $50 a bag plus shipping.  Ewwwww cubed.

I tried mixing up the old milk replacer and tasted it.  (Yeah, I know.  Ewwwww again.)  It didn’t taste bad but as I recall, milk replacer wasn’t orangish

At this point, I was 1/2 hour late for work.  I tried to bottle feed the lamb.  He wanted no part of it.  Well, then.  Nature would just have to take its course.  It was a shame, but I was sure when I got home, he’d be either starved or squashed underneath his momma when her hindquarters gave way again.

When I got home tonight, I could hear him squalling in the barn.  He wasn’t dead!  I went running out, and his momma was lying down and absolutely could not get those rear legs under her to stand.  He was butting and pawing her, and down on his knees nursing while she was lying down.  I helped her up and checked her udder.  Woohooo, a thick trickle of colostrum!  

So, the blogging is going to be light for the couple of days it will take for Dolly to completely recover the function of her back legs.  She can stand for a little while but her back end may suddenly give way, so I’ll be going out every couple hours tonight to help her up so she can urinate/defecate, and the lamb can nurse.  

There’s still the possibility that the lamb may be crushed.  I haven’t seen any meconium output from him as yet.  Lots of things could still go wrong/be wrong, but I never thought this morning that he’d survive until tonight.       

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No Change in Cuban Policy, US says

The Bush administration ruled out on Tuesday any immediate change in policy toward Cuba, deriding Fidel Castro’s most likely successor as the island’s president, his brother Raúl, as “Fidel-lite.”

”He is simply a continuation of the Castro regime, of the dictatorship,” State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey told reporters, according to the Associated Press. “There are some very clear indications out there that what this transition would potentially become . . . is a transfer of authority and power from one dictator to dictator-lite, from Fidel to Raúl.”

Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte said in Washington he could not even imagine the U.S. lifting the embargo ”any time soon”. The trade embargo against the island has been the centerpiece of American policy toward Cuba since it was first imposed in 1960 and strengthened in 1962.

Cubans on the island, on the other hand, hoped Fidel’s decision not to seek reelection may be just the break Raúl had been waiting for to make significant changes in the economy.

”I don’t think it will be more of the same,” dissident economist Oscar Espinosa Chepe said by phone from Havana. “It’s not what we in Cuba want — we want democracy and freedom — but this could be the time for some economic changes and maybe, long-term, some political changes.”

Although Raúl has been ruling Cuba for the 19 months that Castro has been ailing, Cuba watchers say he’s had his hands tied with the looming presence of his brother. And with Tuesday’s announcement that Cuba’s 81-year-old leader was stepping down after nearly 50 years in office, Raúl could use the opportunity to enact economic reforms that Cubans so desperately crave.

Castro announced in a letter to the Cuban people Tuesday that his health will not allow him to accept another term as president of the ruling Council of State. His move came five days before the National Assembly meets to elect the new Council of State and its president — Castro’s top official title since the council was established in 1976.

In his letter, Fidel acknowledged that his failing health means he was not up to the job.

”My wishes have always been to discharge my duties to my last breath,” Castro wrote in a letter published in Tuesday’s editions of Cuban newspapers. However, “it would be a betrayal to my conscience to accept a responsibility requiring more mobility and dedication than I am physically able to offer.”

”This I say devoid of all drama,” he wrote.

At Miami International Airport, scores of passengers arriving on flights from Camagüey and Havana Tuesday in the early afternoon said they saw nothing different on the streets or at the airport and were unaware of the significant development on the island. Most learned the news from reporters gathered outside the U.S. Customs waiting area at MIA.

”Everything seemed normal. There was nothing different as we headed for the airport. It looked like a normal day in Cuba,” said María Luisa Morales, 60, of West Palm Beach, who spent three weeks visiting relatives in Camagüey in central Cuba.

”I don’t think people know,” Morales said.

Rafael Almeida, 45, a trucker from Hialeah who was on the same flight, was stunned to hear of Castro’s resignation.

”Really? They didn’t say anything there. I noticed nothing different at the airport. Are you sure?,” Almeida queried reporters.

Read the rest in the Miami Herald.

I don’t think anybody really expected him to return to power.  The government has been in Raoul’s hands for the last 19 months.  The status quo suits the party and the military just fine.

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