Archive for February, 2011

Dang! That Got My Attention.

I looked down at my pocket as I was tucking away something the boy had thrown into the flowers when I informed him that we can’t take it into the cafeteria. We don’t allow our kids to carry toys of any kind (that can be thrown) and especially not long cords (in this case a shoelace) that can be used to strangle other students, teachers, or other innocent passers by that do not know to be wary of some of our children if they are not in a sunny mood. Then I repeated the instruction that we walk on the sidewalk, not in the grass. (Silly school rules, right?)

I broke an unwritten rule (mine!) about this boy–never, NEVER look away! He hit me hard enough to drive my glasses into the bridge of my nose, creating a cut that started bleeding pretty freely. I reeled backwards off balance, almost going down. I was taken completely by surprise. He immediately jumped at me, kicking, hitting (several more face hits) and attempting to bite simultaneously. I kept pushing him back. Frustrated at not tearing chunks outta me, he yanked his shoe off and whacked me across the nose again while I was fending off the teeth. *sigh* I’m gettin’ too slow at this! Shoes were taken away and tossed aside, and he was marched back to the classroom.

I don’t think I got injured in the military breaking up bar brawls with the kind of regularity that I do in the classroom. Self defense, I find, is a little more tricky when I absolutely cannot do any kind of damage to a child that would happily chew through my carotid or femoral artery and who was, in fact, making very spirited attempts to do so, along with a mastectomy by teeth. In the military I was issued a sidearm and a club and had carte blanche to use them on attackers. The military was better.

A lot of people were concerned about my injury (which looked worse than it was due to facial vascularity) but I had to tell them, like I told you, that it was my fault for not being sufficiently alert. I took my eyes off and I know better. Luckily this time none of the other children were injured, and I just have a *very* sore nose and the possibility of two black eyes tomorrow that will remind me to stay hyperalert.

I never did find the shoelace that I was pocketing when he whacked me. He probably retrieved it when I was reeling backwards off balance and will use it on me tomorrow.

Three and a half months until school break!

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Obama’s Foreign Policy

Obama’s foreign policy looks a lot like his domestic policy (except substitute forcible rape for the lovemaking part if you actually work for a living and/or run your own company).

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Stick a Fork in the Economy, Folks…

It’s done. I hope we can afford to give it a decent burial.

After a period of mourning, we need to go after the bastards in government that have put us in this position.

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Missing in Action…..

A lot of shit has been hitting the fan this past week, and I’ve been uncharacteristically silent about it, I know. KC E-mailed me to find out what the problem was. If it wouldn’t have been for SwampMan E-mailing me a list of my overdue books about the same time, I wouldn’t have even seen it!

Lambing is always the busiest time of the year for me. The place descends into even more chaos than usual as everyday maintenance (like vacuuming and washing dishes) get shoved to the bottom of the list of Things That Must Be Done while things like checking the ewes and lambs frequently goes to the top of the list. I’ve got predators decimating the ducks at night, and I need to jump up and run outside with a flashlight and a shotgun every time the dog barks in case something is after the lambs. I suppose that’s my night job. Then (grin) there’s the day job, the (very) quiet search for another day job, there’s the weekend doting grandmother and momma job, etc. etc. etc., which isn’t leaving a lot of time for blogging.

Having a new grandbaby born in the midst of the chaos put me even further behind, if that is humanly possible! How far behind? Well, SwampMan and I went out to dinner to celebrate my birthday last night, exactly two weeks after my birthday! (Well, he SAID it was for my birthday, but I *think* the real reason is that after I got the livestock fed, I would probably collapse and feed SwampMan leftovers. Plus he was tired and wanted to go to sleep at a relatively normal time.) I haven’t been to mom’s house in a month. Just need to move faster, I guess.

In a few weeks, things will be back to normal, and I’ll be my usual opinionated self again.

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Good Morning! Time to Feed the Livestock and Hit the Road to Daughter’s House

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Where’s Zoe’s Weenie?

Mommy was bathing Zoe while Dylan watched, fascinated, as I was cooking.

“What’s wrong with Zoe’s weenie?”

“That’s not a weenie. That’s her belly button!”

“Well…where is her weenie?”

“She doesn’t have a weenie. She’s a girl. Girls don’t have weenies.”

“Mommy, EVERYBODY has a weenie!”

“Okay, then where is it?” Mommy challenged.

“Is it inside her?” asked Dylan.

Mommy knew when to admit defeat. “Yes.”

“Is your weenie on the inside, Mommy?”

I was snickering in the kitchen, glad that I didn’t have to answer any of those questions. I wasn’t going to be completely left out of the conversation, though, however much I may have wanted to be.

“Meemaw! Do you know where Zoe’s weenie is?”

I could not help myself, particularly when it sounded like the weenie was wandering off getting into the cookie jar, so I replied. “No, precious, where is it?”

“It’s inside her butt!”

Oh, if only I would have had a camera ready to take a picture of Mommy’s face when he said that!

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Here’s a Question I’ve Been Asking Myself….

An article in the Rolling Stones asks Why Isn’t Wall Street in Jail? This is a question I’ve asked myself. If a nonpolitically-connected person had done such egregious crimes, they’d be looking at a life sentence. People that tried to do their jobs and investigate actual crimes were fired. I think that we’re going to have to get rid of the whole stinking mess in Washington before this gets better.

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So Did I Actually Hear It?

I startled awake out of a sound sleep, listening intently. The roosters were engaged in a raucous cacophony of crowing, each trying to outdo the other in greeting the approaching (in about two hours!) dawn. I could swear I heard a frantic lamb’s cry in all that noise. I went to the door and opened it….nothing. I settled back down into sleep, heard a frantic “BAAAAAAAAAAA AAAAAA AAAAAA” in my dreaming state and my eyes flew open again. No baaaaaa sounds that I could hear.

Back to the door. No sound but roosters. No calling of a ewe with a lost lamb. No calling of a lamb with a lost mommy. Puppy grabbed his new toy and brought it to the door hoping to entice me into a game of “throw the toy”. The mare’s outline was just visible in the porch light stretched out sleeping beyond the fence. The ducks were lifting their heads and looking at me questioningly, wondering whether it would be worth their time to waddle toward the house demanding breakfast.

Well, crap. No getting back to sleep until I checked the sheep, so might as well put on the jacket, find the flashlight, and head out to the barn, waking up all the animals in the process, and tossing Puppy’s new stuffed toy for him a couple times.

At the barn, the sheep were all lying down peacefully sleeping until I arrived and disturbed them. I got a lot of “WTF?” looks and sheep grumbling as they stood up and shifted around as I walked through the previously slumbering flock. All the lambs were lying quietly with their mom except for the little black lamb who is celebrating his 1-week birthday today. He was lying quietly with his neck and head jammed behind a post. Apparently he had his head and neck behind the post when he laid down. The gap between the fence and the barn post was about 4 inches when he was standing up, and narrowed to about 2 inches when he was lying down. His head was on the other side of the post but held quite securely, as if in a stanchion. He was not struggling or crying out, however, just peacefully resting. Hunh. I lifted him and freed him.

The mare walked me to the gate, shoving me with her nose occasionally to remind me that since I was up anyway and woke her up, I might as well bring the food. Now. HER food, not anybody else’s. Yeah, might as well. At dawn, she’s going to be standing at the gate demanding breakfast hoping that I will have forgotten that I fed her earlier.

Now I’m wondering whether I actually heard that trapped lamb crying through the racket of the roosters while I was asleep, or whether I just imagined it.

When we (daughter and I) first started keeping sheep, I had a dream that two lambs died because the ewe was in difficulty and I wasn’t there to assist. It disturbed me so much that I wasn’t able to sleep through the night and ran outside every couple hours to check. No lambs or lambing. Next night, same thing. Every night for a week, I checked ewes and lambs throughout the night and then throughout the day because at that time we had our own business, and I was financially able to take lambing time off. After a week of checking throughout the day and night and without more than two hours of sleep at a time, exhausted, I slept through the night. I woke up in the morning and raced to the barn, finding two dead lambs and an exhausted ewe, just as I had dreamed. Even “knowing” something is going to happen doesn’t prevent it!

The ewe that lost her lamb Friday night is still guarding the spot in the barn where her lamb’s body had been. She is, however, now leaving the barn with the rest of the flock to eat.

I have never had a Tunis ewe reject its lamb(s). Even if the mother does not have enough (or any!) milk and I end up bottle feeding the lamb, I do so through the fence because mom sheep still loves it, cares for it, and watches over the lamb while it is gamboling through the pasture. The lambs quickly learn to recognize their milk mom’s voice and race to the fence when I call.

So, if you ever drive down a rural road in Florida and happen to catch a glimpse of a woman in PJs with a baby bottle or two in hand yelling “baaaaaaaaa, damnit, I have to get ready for work!” to a pasture full of sheep, don’t be alarmed. It’s just me.

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Goodbye, Old Girl

Daughter’s last old grand champion ewe is dying. She was a magnificent animal in her day. She raised many lambs, mostly twins, nearly all kept by me because they were all outstanding examples of sheephood. Most were killed in the dog attack on my pregnant ewes a few years ago because they were heavily pregnant with twins and could not run fast enough or far enough to evade the neighborhood dogs that had dug under the fence. Old girl somehow survived.

Two years ago, however, I found her in the morning suffering from multiple leg and joint wounds where she had been bitten by something in the night. She never completely recovered and could only walk in an ambling shuffle. She came down with blue tongue virus last year and nearly died, wasting away to skin and bone before she rallied. Her poor little weak lamb did not survive.

She was able to gain enough weight back that I thought she might survive for a few more years as a pasture ornament, her only job being as head grasscropper out in the pasture. No more lambs for her!

Unfortunately, she suffered some sort of illness or injury the weekend I was so ill and sleeping drugged with cold medicine and narcotic cough medicine through the night when we had so much rain. I don’t know what happened but she was unable to rise, lying out in the wet pasture when I went out in the morning. When I found her, I half carried, half dragged her into the nearest shelter, the horse stall, in the cold rain, provided her with water and hay, and tended to the rest of the animals. Over the course of the next week, I checked her in the early morning before leaving for work and when I came home from work, giving her food and water. She would nibble the food occasionally, but she would drink. Then came the grandsons staying, lambing onset, granddaughter’s birth, chickens getting sick in the cold and rain, and my old bud Odie’s increasing problems with his arthritis in the cold and damp weather. I was not paying enough attention to the old girl until she was too weak to hold her head up by herself to drink.

While gently holding her head so that she could drink this evening, I was shocked at how her bones are jutting through her wool. She has no reserves left. She now refuses all food, hay or grain, even the tender spring greens that I’ve been searching out for her, and most offers of a drink. I can still tempt her to drink by offering her beer in her water but, even with that as an incentive, her fluid intake has dropped dramatically. She shows no signs of healing from whatever illness or injury she received that made her unable to walk. Broken hip? A fall and a spinal injury? I don’t know. She can move all her legs, she just can’t stand. She’s been treated with antibiotics in case she has any sort of bacterial infection, baking soda water in case she’s suffering from acidosis, and glucose in case she was suffering from ketosis (yeah, she went through a fence and sought out a ram and had been pregnant). It could still be ketosis and, if it is, she’s too far gone to survive. Too far gone to survive anyway, actually. Healthy young fat ewes that come down with ketosis often succumb before delivering the lambs that are causing their illness.

I was willing her to pull through at the last moment like she’s done so many times before but, if she lasts the night, I’m going to have to do the right thing and put her down. Would she have pulled through if I didn’t have other things going on at the same time and had more time to devote to her? *sigh* Hard to say. Probably not. I was still ill. I still had to go to work. Elderly humans that are immobilized from an illness or injury, even with around the clock care, often do not survive.

I was probably too short with the boys while they were here. While they were sleeping, I was out checking newborn lambs to make sure that they hadn’t gotten through the fence and separated from their mothers, and checking that ewes weren’t having trouble lambing. Checking to see if I could tempt the old girl to drink. Lack of sleep can make even the most indulgent of Meemaws into grouchy old bears. Luckily SwampMan took them out into the barn and encouraged them to play with power tools and shoot BB guns. Meemaw grouched that they better be VERY careful where those BBs were going because MeeMaw unaccountably did not want a BB in the butt. Or anyplace else. We ate a lot of junk food.

The little boys are home with their Daddy and Mommy tonight, and the house feels so empty without little boys wrestling and laughing and drawing blood and crying, as little boys are wont to do. Mommy got out of the hospital today. Jacob has to be in school tomorrow. I wanted to keep Dylan through the night but Mommy and Daddy missed him soooooo much and were afraid that he would think that it was because he had done something wrong that Mommy and Daddy let Jacob stay and not him. He promised Papa before we left to take Jacob home and let Dylan visit that he would come back home with us so that Papa would have somebody to play with tomorrow. Oh, well. Papa will just have to play in class tomorrow.

I’ve done my midnight lambing check and sternly told everybody that they’re not allowed to go into labor or lose track of any lambs before dawn. I gave old girl a few swallows of water, picked some rosemary sprigs from the only remaining rosemary bush that the sheep had not been able to destroy (yet), left it on her hay along with a few young leaves from some leafing out trees along with some of her favorite feed, and shifted her into a more comfortable position.

That will have to do. I need to get up early, do my rounds, and head into Jacksonville because Daddy will be gone tomorrow, and I need to be there in case Mommy needs any help looking after Dylan and Zoe.

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Ewe #4 Lambed Today

Papa had taken the two boys with him so I could stop by the feed store and then into town to try to buy some fabric in peace which means that I wouldn’t have two little voices asking me for different things on each side of me and forget completely what it was that I was shopping for.

I was about to leave when I decided to check the ewes. Uh oh. One ewe wasn’t out in the horse pasture grazing like the others. She was in a sheep “holding area”. I can’t dignify it with the word “pasture” because the freezes of November, December and January killed the pasture back entirely, and just a shadow of green is on the ground as the sheep eagerly crop every bit of emerging grass back to ground level. Two ewes were in the vicinity of the sheep barn. I thought it might be the ewe who lost her lamb last night but then a little head poked up off the ground and ewe was vigorously washing it.

She was another “wild” ewe, which just means that with my work schedule over the past couple years I haven’t had enough time to get the lambs growing into ewes accustomed to being handled. She backed off when I examined the lamb, a healthy but smallish ewe lamb. Hmmmmm. Better stick around for awhile. So I waited….and waited…..and finally left to feed the chickens.

I was about to grab an armload of hay for the ewes that weren’t out grazing when I happened to glance out in the pasture. The ewe was lying down, resting. How odd. Then I noticed that her lamb was across the pasture. D’OH! I started running toward the pasture. Before I arrived, the ewe had gotten up and walked across the pasture to her lamb. I could see a lamb completely encased in the placenta kicking and struggling as it took its first breaths. SHIT! I jumped the fence, ducked through another, jumped over a little creek, and started cleaning the thick, mucusy layers clogging the lamb’s nose from the head of the now quiet lamb. The heart was still beating, so I hung it upside down, furiously trying to drain the mucus out of the nose and mouth, cursing because I didn’t have anything at all that I could use for suctioning out the airways. My clean go-to-town clothes had mucus and blood deposited all over them. Then the lamb sneezed and made a gargling “baaaaaaaaaaaaa”. More mucus draining and wiping. Finally it let out a loud, VERY indignant and strong “BAAAAAAAAAAAA”. I put it down and backed away. Mom was completely indifferent. She had her lamb and could care less about this one. Dang. I took her favorite and put it next to the other one, then backed off. She started cleaning it, so I went into the house to look for something with which to do some additional airway suctioning.

I never really used that turkey baster anyway.

I walked toward the house as SwampMan drove up with the two boys. The horse started licking the mucus and placenta off of me. She actually did a very good job. I’ll check to see if everybody is doing okay and then maybe I’ll head for town in these clothes anyway. It isn’t like anybody would be surprised if I showed up at the grocery store covered in any manner of barnyard substance.

Back out the pasture with camera to take a picture of the rapidly drying lamb (that double coat that Tunis lambs have is a nice feature. The hair dries off quickly and helps keep the lamb warm until the wool dries). Then back to the house to get ready to go, got sidetracked by relating the events, and just realized that I never got the hay out to the ewes. Sigh. Back out to the pasture….

Eeesh. I’m gonna have a lot of first time mothers this year and two less than yearling ewes who will not have bred (I hope). Probably gonna have a lot of lamb mortalities in a year when I really need the income from every one of their sales and a few to keep for replacements.

Mom, make it go away!!!!

Two-day-old lamb.

As usual, click on the pictures to enlarge.

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