One of our old original ewes lambed yesterday, she has had a lot of quality offspring since she was born in 2004. Due to her age we kept her close to the house and fed her what was obviously a too rich diet of nuts and grains. As a result she had a difficult birth, and with the night temperature at -6, the lamb was nearly dead the next morning, and had not had a drink. I brought it into the laundry, and immersed her in a bath of quite warm water for over half an hour. The lamb responded and we fed it with a tube directly into the stomach. We then needed to prop the lambs head so the milk could not flow back to the wind pipe. I was sure she was a goner, but amazingly she has survived. She also received a B vitamin shot which seems to help things along. And her mother has taken her back!
We have an alpaca Sol, who does a great job at protecting our flock and the lambs. He has bonded very strongly with the sheep, and is very vigilant whenever the ewes are lambing.
In our experience, the best kind of alpaca herd guardian is a wether who is 18 months or older, at which age they have developed the guarding instinct. Intact males are not suitable, as they are often inappropriate with their approaches to other species, (sadly often resulting in the loss of nuts). Two Alpacas per mob seems to work well as any more can form their own group. They do a good job in reducing lamb losses, but you need to be realistic about the size of the paddock and the visibility over the terrain. They can't patrol what they can't see. We have also found that our alpaca is used to our dogs but doesn't like them in his paddock. I think any alpaca that is too laid back about dogs might be suspect as a guardian generally. The husbandry rerequirements are similar to sheep and goats, but don't forget about them a good guardian is worth extra effort.
The big family history road trip is over. Broken Hill was the highlight, where we were looking back in time to 1888 - 1912. My Great Grandfather was the Mayor of Broken Hill in 1901 and the Architect of the iconic Trades Hall.
The road from Menindee to Ivanhoe. There had been a shower of rain and dad said it will just lay the dust. It took 4 hours to travel 200 km. Horrible trip kept slipping off the road into the table drain and every variation in between. Fortunately, we didn't get bogged. Very happy when we got to Ivanhoe, and the local policeman said the road was now closed.
Laura and I leave in the morning for a road trip with my parents. A round trip to Broken Hill and back. Should be interesting seeing the places my Grandparents and Great Grandparents lived and worked. We will be away a week and travel a couple of thousand kms. From the high country where is snowing again, to the outback. Martin is looking forward to some peace and quiet.
We have had the rabbits a couple of months now, and today we have had our first litter that looks like it will survive. The big plan is that we will initially keep them in the cages with their mother. Then when it is time to wean, they will go into a moving ark. This will give them access to clean grass as well as pellets, and hopefully grow them to a size with a flavour that is somewhere between wild rabbit, and farmed rabbit. The books say they will scour on the grass, but we want to try anyway. Joel Saladin's "Polyface Farms" have selected their rabbits, to suit this system, and we intend to try to do the same. The big thing in their favour from my point of view, is that they will not need drenching, and they don't nag to be fed.
Sick of drenching sheep, it seems to be like painting the Sydney Harbour Bridge, you just get to the end and need to start again. It would be great if someone would invent "Worm Away", it would be an organic product that could be used to drench the sheep, then it could be sprayed on the paddocks to kill all the worms - ending the problem.
We really struggle here to provide clean pastures for lambing and weaning. It is hard to rest the paddock long enough. The other problem is the wet climate, fog and misty rain in the summer, as well as the winter, perfect for worm survival on pasture. We never get the long hot days that kill the larva in the summer,and we don't plough our paddocks. So until the farmers friend invents "Worm Away" ,I had better go and give the drench gun a wash in preparation for drenching on Thursday.
There was a weather alert this morning saying there would be snow above 900 meters, we are 1000 meters. However, this morning the sun was shinning and it looked beautiful so we brought a mob of ewes in to drench.