Monthly Archives: March 2010


I’m seriously starting to wonder if we should just cull our entire flock of sheep and start fresh.  I may be only half serious but it’s not the first time I’ve had this thought.  The footrot was not a big deal and has completely resolved as far as I can see.  The lamb losses this year and the ensueing chaos stretched my patience.  Now, we’re dealing with what may very well be a few innocent abscesses.  Or, it could be caseous lymphadenitis aka “CL”.  Google it.  Reeeadd about it.  Pray for us.  ARRRGGG!

Sheep Doctorin’: Lamb Aural Hematoma

Aural Hematoma in Newborn Lamb

When we finally had a set a twins thrive and stay alive this spring we were thrilled.  We checked them over for all the basic problems: no umbilical hernia, no cleft palates, no parrot mouth, no inverted eyelashes.  I thought we were good to go.  After a day or two I noticed a problem with one ear on the lighter colored twin.  The lambs’ ears are naturally droopy when they’re born.  Within a few days they begin to straighten up and move about like the adults’ ears.  On this particular lamb one ear remained droopy while the other stood up as expected.

The affected ear felt thickened and warm to the touch.  The lamb’s rectal temperature was normal.  She was nursing and acting normal otherwise.  A talk with our vet confirmed what I suspected: an aural hematoma.  It is a condition wherein blood fills the space between the two sides of the ear flap.  Usually, it occurs when the animal’s ears are irritated and they are shaking their head a lot.  The shaking causes small blood vessels to rupture.  In the lamb’s case I suspect the ear was traumatized during delivery.  The hematoma was probably present at or soon after delivery but I didn’t notice it until the other ear stood up.

After consulting with our vet I went ahead and treated the lamb.  I inserted a new 20 gauge needle in to the ear and applied some suction.  I did not get any fluid back.  Then I removed the needle from the syringe and used the needle to pierce a couple more holes in the ear.  You don’t want to go straight through the ear like when we have ours’ pierced.  Instead, go in with the needle almost parallel to the ear and only pierce through the skin on one side.  Going into the skin on the underside of the ear allows you to see the large blood vessels and avoid them.

In this case, a few drops of blood dripped from the holes.  I never saw a lot of drainage but I suspect it continued to seep out.  I did go ahead and give an injection of penicillin intramuscularly to this lamb as an extra precaution.  We don’t routinely use antibiotics but don’t hesitate to grab them when an animal is sick and needs treatment.  If you’re uncomfortable with the dosing or the injecting of medications you will need to consult your veterinarian.

I had planned to repeat the antibiotic injection for 2-3 days, on our vet’s recommendation.  I ended up not doing that.  The ear was significantly less swollen the next day and recovered completely within a week.  What a relief!

These posts are in no way meant to substitute the care of a professional veterinarian.  I only share my experiences with the hope of helping you become a better shephard.  If at any time you think you might be doing more harm than good STOP and call your vet instead.

Sheep Doctorin’: Suspected Footrot

In the nearly two years that we’ve had sheep we’ve had a few issues arise.  This year a few things came up that I called the vet about.  By calling the vet I expected to bite the bullet and have a big farm call to pay.  Instead, he told me what he would try if he came out and told me to do it.  Ahh, the joys (and overestimations) that coming with being a vet tech!

To start this series off I’ll share how we handled it when 2 of our ewes came home limping.


I never actually confirmed that this was footrot but I suspect so.  Footrot is caused by two different bacteria mixing.  It generally occurs in wet or damp conditions.  The only reason I’m not completely sure our ewes had footrot was because it didn’t spread to the other ewes.  Otherwise, it fit the bill, and the treatment for footrot fixed the problem.

When we sent our ewes off on their date with the rams two of them came home limping.  I suspect they were in a pasture that was too muddy for too long.  The best way to treat footrot is to prevent it by offering dry bedding or relatively dry ground for the sheep most of the time.

First, I trimmed the hooves back.  I didn’t find anything obvious and hoped a trim would fix the lameness.  It didn’t.  A few days later I soaked the affected feet in a bucket of warm water and epsom salts.  The soak removed any stuck on dirt and debris and allowed me to get a better look.  I found an oozing, bloody sore between the toes of one ewe.  One toe had a large pocket of dead space when I poked around with my trimmers.  The other ewe wasn’t as bad but did have a small area of damaged/dying hoof tissue on one foot.  I squirted a generous amount (2-3 ccs) of penicillin directly on to the affected area, wrapped it with paper towel, and finished it off with some vet wrap.

Before retreating I picked up a bottle of LA-200.  It is another injectable antibiotic that works better on the kind of bacteria that causes footrot.  I repeated the same process every few days: soak, trim back dead material, squirt on LA-200, and bandage.  The first ewe healed quickly.  As soon as her lameness resolved I stopped treatment.  The second ewe stopped limping almost immediately but her hoof continued to slough off for about 2 weeks.  At one point the entire horny shell of one toe came right off.  For several days I could hold up the shell and squirt the LA right under it.  I left it in place until the new growth underneat had a chance to toughen up, then I trimmed it off to reveal a whole new hoof underneath.

Both of the ewes have completely recovered.  There fit look healthy and they have had no further lameness.  If you had a large number of sheep afflicted you would want to look in to soaks and other less labor intensive treatments.  In our case this type of individual treatment worked great.

These posts are in no way meant to substitute the care of a professional veterinarian.  I only share my experiences with the hope of helping you become a better shephard.  If at any time you think you might be doing more harm than good STOP and call your vet instead.

Menu Plan Monday (2 week)

Today: Shredded BBQ Chicken sandwiches (for Brian)

T: Mama’s Supper Club tilapia parmesan w/ homemade creamy garlic shells
W: Grillin’ Beans (for Brian), veggies (for me), and homemade cornbread
R: Homemade chicken strips w/ salvaged hashbrowns
F: Homemade pizza & breadsticks (Loved that last recipe, using it again)
S: Eating at my Mom’s for Easter?
S: Going out after church or having a turkey here?
M: Meatloaf
T: Cheesy Chicken Bundles w/ buttered noodles
W: Breakfast for supper
R: Marinated chicken on the grill w/ fried rice
F: Steak on the grill w/ chips
S: Parmesan crusted tilapia w/ garlic pasta
S: Leftovers

Head on over to I’m An Organizing Junkie to see what’s cooking for everyone else this week.  Are you trying anything new?

Gardening Questions

As I start making plans for this year’s garden I need a little help.  In an effort to be all naturale I have pretty much done nothing to help my plants grow beside plant them and mulch them to control weeds.  We do spread compost on the garden but I have never used any supplements or solutions.  This year I need to run some soil tests and do some amending.  So…

  • Do you supplement your seedlings?  With what?  Seaweed solution, compost tea?
  • Do you run soil tests?  Do you add amendments throughout or just in certain areas?
  • How do you prep your soil for planting?  No till?  Shovel?  Walk behind rototiller?  Tractor mounted tiller?

Those are the three big areas I could use some help in.  What we’ve been doing just isn’t cutting it.  Thanks in advance for your feedback!

Doing Instead of Planning

Ahh, and so we shift gears.  Up until today it has been plan, prepare, design, print, mail, pour over catalogs, etc., etc.  Today the real work began.  We’ve now entered the time of year where we get busy doing all the things we’ve been talking about.  Why did things change today?  Because the first 100 meat chicks arrived!

The post office called at 6 AM.  I was back home with the chicks by 7AM.  They are Colored Rangers from JM Hatchery.  The lovely folks at JM were kind enough to send a few extras.  All 102 chicks arrived healthy and lively.  I’m still amazed at how well they ship!  Right now they are in a temporary brooder in our basement.

The latest batch of Heritage breed chicks are down there too, under their own light.

The next step is to prepare a bigger brooding area in the barn.  This weekend is going to be colder than the last few so we didn’t want to take any chances but putting them out there right away.  The chicks will be in a brooder for 3-4 weeks and then move to their pastured area.  In 10 weeks we’ll take the first group for processing.

We’re keeping better records this year (of feed, etc.) so I’ll share more as we go.  If you have any specific questions please ask!  If you’d like to place an order for chicken head over to our website and sign up for e-mail updates.  The newsletter/order form will be up at the site soon; probably today.

P.S. Unfortunately I can’t post videos here on WordPress so you can’t get the full effect of how fun these chicks are to watch.  If you’d like to see a video clip of last year’s chicks you can find it in last year’s post on my old blog.  Luckily, I’m used to having chicks peeping in the basement now so I think I’ll sleep better this year! 😉

Thrift Store Finds and New Do

So I got my hair cut.  A LOT.  It was down to my lower back.  I donated it to Locks for Love.  I also had it colored to cover up my old highlights.  Turns out my roots are a lot darker then I thought but I really like it!  Brian likes it too because I’ve atually been styling it.  It’s fun.  There was really no point in having it so long since I almost never wore it down.  Plus, it was giving me headaches it was so heavy!

I treated myself to a shopping trip to Goodwill on Friday.  Here’s what I got:

  • Set of scrubs (pants and top)
  • Cute thermal top for under scrubs
  • Little black dress (brand new Target leftover for $2.50!!!)
  • 1 Pair of Jeans (Angels brand – one of my favorites!)
  • Blue and grey comfy top (needs some easy mending)
  • Grey sweater

Total spent: $23.  I ❤ Goodwill! 🙂

^ Jeans & sweater, cute enough for church this morning! 🙂

What kind of deals have you found lately?  Where do you get your clothes?