Monday, June 18, 2012

Neutering goats and sheep (aka how to make a sheep faint)

We have been putting it off and putting it off....neutering our bucklings and ram lamb. The most common method is to use a tool to put a super tight and thick rubber band around the top of the scrotum which then causes it to rot and fall off. Not real pleasant for the kid. Takes quite a while. The new "humane method" is to use a tool often called the Emasculatome or Burdizzo or Ritchey Nipper:
This wicked looking tool crushes the spermatic cord without any incisions, bloodshed or rotting.

So last night P and I took away from the bucklings and the ram lamb the ability to be fathers. Yes, I realize how ironic it is that it was Father's Day. And poor P had to be a part of it. He had a great day otherwise so hopefully he won't hold it against me.

First thing we learned, it is very hard to hold onto a 2 month old buckling. They are very strong. And you have to hold them so the scrotum is at just the right angle. Think of being at the gynecologists office and it will give you an idea. Since P said there was NO WAY IN HELL he was going to take away their manhood, he got the job of holding them in position, which was fine because they were too strong for me.

So I get the tool in place and clamp it down and it locks in place so there is no way that buckling can get out of its grip. I count to 15 and release. He was pissed, as well he should be. Wasn't too happy when I repeated it on the other side. I took a look ad my work and it seemed to be successful. Think of crimping a pretty much left a neat and tidy depression. No blood, no bruising, no cuts. I did the second buckling but he only had one testicle so he got lucky and only had one side done. Poor guys were walking pretty gingerly and didn't want to come near me but they will get over it. I'd rather have them suffer for a few hours than have them suffer for weeks with the banding system.

P was looking a little pale and he closed his eyes during the process. I tried to be understanding and laughed in my head and not out loud since I could not have done it without his help.

So I said to P "while we are at it, should we do the ram lamb so he doesn't knock up his sister or mother?" He went in and wrestled the ram lamb out. This guy is 3 months old and MUCH stronger than the bucklings (well I guess they are wethers now). We ended up having to tie his feet together. It turns out that sheep have wooly scrotums, so I had to search through the wool to find the right spot. Meanwhile he is trying to get away and I am trying to be fast because I don't want P to get stabbed in the back with his horns. I finally find what I am looking for and the damn spermatic cord keeps slipping out and I cannot get it in the right position to clamp. I am starting to get sweaty now and the lamb's kicking has flung mud onto my face and hair (and I know that said mud is mostly poop but I am trying not to think about that). I manage to get it in position and warn P that I'm going to clamp. I clamp and the lamb struggles as I start my countdown. And then he is still.  Oh crap, did I kill him? I look down and see his head flopped back. I say to P "I think he passed out!"  And sure enough, that lamb was out cold. I removed the clamp. He didn't wake up. P and I are laughing so hard that I can barely catch my breath. All I can think is that the shock of being held down and the pain of the clamping made him just need to escape from reality. He is pretty wild and does not get (or want) to be petted so being handled by people was probably just more than he could deal with.  I finally stop laughing long enough that I can get the clamp in place to do the other side (and yes it was as much of a challenge as the other side was). Well doing the other side woke that lamb right up and he was not a happy camper. But the hard part was done. All I had to do was release the clamp and untie him and let him go. Seemed no worse for the wear after passing out, although he did yell at us for a while.

In all, I think the first attempt at neuteringmale goats/sheep was a success. Now I just have to observe them to make sure the testicles start shrinking. If not, we have to do it again and that will be another story since they will be bigger and stronger. Keeping my fingers crossed that I did it right the first time.

And every time I think of how that lamb passed out, it will make me giggle. The joys of farm life....


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

"Juneuary" redux???

I am going to complain about the weather. It's not even breaking 60 degrees this week. The veggie garden does not like this!!!!! The garden was thirsty, yes, but enough already. My peas finally have blooms on them but they need sun desperately to GROW.
That being said, there are a couple of roma tomatoes already on one of the plants. So once that sun gets here I expect to be eating tomatoes out of the garden by 4th of July. Ok, maybe that's too ambitious. I'd actually just be happy if the tomato plants don't succumb to late blight this year. I chose to buy locally this year and found a bunch of  good sized heirloom tomato plants for only $1. So if it is a bad tomato year and my 15 or so plants don't do well, I am only out $20 (before I scored on the cheap ones I bought a few more expensive ones).

I am focusing on being a glass half full kind of person so the positives of the rain are....Hmmm. I can't really think of any. At least it is LESS rain that it was a few months ago so my fields have dried out, meaning I don't have to wear boots to go put the chickens away and risk breaking my leg in the mud (the neighbor across the street did just that earlier this year when she was slogging through mud to put her ducks away).
Oh wait! I thought of a positive! My duck pond is full of water again making the ducks really happy. And ducks swimming and preening on a pond make me happy. As do ducks that come running to me when I call them. And ducks that eat bread out of my hand. But I digress....

They say this flashback to the "Juneuarys" of years past will be shorter lived and we should start pulling out of it soon. My patience is wearing thin because I really don't need a reminder of how terrible spring/summer was the last two years.