Thursday, January 2, 2014

Burt and Ernie Enjoy their First Blizzard!

Our two Old English Babydoll Southdown sheep, Burt (brown) and Ernie (white, although now a slightly grubby grey) are enjoying their first big snow... 12+ inches predicted overnight with winds at 50 mph.  The low temp for tomorrow night will be about -9.  I'm glad these guys have nice thick wool coats and a cozy stall with lots of hay to sleep in, or else they may have been sleeping in the house with us!
They put on quite a show for me this afternoon, racing around their barnyard and butting heads.  Ernie, although smaller than Burt, runs the barnyard like he owns the place.  They are surprisingly fast runners... well, it's more like a flying bounce than running.
Last year we decided to get two lambs to help keep the weeds down in the two small pastures that are difficult to mow, due to the rocks and incline.  In the smaller barnyard, the weeds were well over 5 feet tall and it was almost impossible to walk through it.  You can see the great landscaping job Burt and Ernie did in the photo!
During the summer, I also learned the art of installing electric fencing and fenced in the "night pasture", which is a pretty little hill lined with shady maples and a stone wall at the top and a small barn (originally the sugar shack for boiling maple syrup) at the base.  We decided on electric polywire, instead of traditional electric wire, which was easy to work with.  The hill is very rocky and uneven, but the sheep had a great time roaming around under the maples, eating weeds and orchard grass all day.  And what could be a more bucolic scene out my window?
Ernie started off with some "bloat" issues, where his stomach filled with excess gas.  Our vet tested him and it showed he had some severe internal parasites.  We put him on a different wormer, limited his fresh pasture time, and the vet recommended Therabloat to treat bloat immediately.  I also read that giving sheep hay before grazing can help, so we did that too.  He recovered quickly and can be on pasture all day now.  (** I couldn't find Therabloat in stores, so I ordered a case from PBS Animal Health at‎.  They had the best price and I think it's important for sheep owners to keep on hand since bloat can be fatal.)
I wonder what the boys will think of snow up past their stomachs... we will see in the morning!

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