Orf? To me, it sounds like I am asking a question in sea lion language. But actually, Orf, also called sore mouth, is a virus that can be found in sheep and goats, and is transmittable to humans too. We got a call this week that our new ram was potentially exposed to it for a day during his travels from Iowa to us. The downfall of having such a small farm is that it is pretty much impossible for us to quarantine new animals coming to our farm. Thus, we run the risk of dealing with contagious diseases. Supposedly, orf is only spread when the animal has active sores, which the other ram did NOT have when MacDougal was with him. MacDougal doesn’t have any active sores right now either. The gestation of the virus is usually 7-10 days, but can be as long as 3 weeks. We are currently 2 weeks out from the potential exposure. So there is a very high likelihood our flock will not get it – and that is what we are desperately hoping for. But until next week, we wont know for sure. We are doing what we can to limit contact as much as possible between the rams and the rest of the flock, just in case, while we wait.
The mice are eating our gardens like crazy. As are the robins. The robins have eaten all the bean and pea seeds we planted. And the mice are eating pretty much every small seedling we put out, and every little sprout that tries to pop up. This is despite all the traps set around the seedlings and sprouts…which are catching mice each night. So the garden is a couple of weeks behind where it normally is. Being behind might not matter a whole lot in a regular gardening situation, but when you only have a 10-week growing season frost-to-frost, being behind by a couple weeks is a problem. We also have a frost coming this week, so we are planning out blanketing and will do what we can to not let it kill anything. Welcome to gardening in the Rockies.
We have put up some bird netting to deal with the robin issue and re-planted the beans and peas. We re-planted lettuce, spinach, beets, radishes, and kale and put clear plastic cups over each one to hopefully let the seedling pop up and grow without getting eaten. Obviously, they will outgrow the cups quickly, but this will hopefully give them a good start while we continue to battle the mouse wars. No idea if it will work. At this point, we are grasping to just try to get the seedlings going.
To continue our battle, we built a log-roll bucket trap to see if we could gain some ground on the mouse situation by catching more than just what our single use traps can handle. But the bucket trap has yet to catch anything. We are having a lot of sprung traps, and catching less mice each night lately. We are hoping that doesn’t mean that our trapping has caused a natural selection and only the trap-smart mice are left and breeding. LOL.
In addition to the mouse issue, as well as the lice issue I talked about last week (see below for an update), we found a very concerning critter in the barn – an ermine. Thanks to the cats, it was dead, and it is a very good thing because it could have killed all 14 of our chicks in one night, or potentially a full grown chicken or two. Yes, they look tiny and cute, but they are savage predators and can kill a full-sized chicken! And they definitely would enjoy dining on my little 4-week-old chicks. Thank you barn kitties! I am sure this guy put up quite a battle, and I am so glad the cats got him.
Our broody hen, Eve, is hatching her eggs today. We put 5 eggs under her, as well as 5 in the incubator to make up for loss. Out of 10 eggs, 9 were fertile. All were alive at lock-down on Thursday. So it is looking to be a good hatch. As the chicks in the incubator hatch out and strengthen, I will take them up and put them under Eve. She can easily raise 9 chicks, even though she is too small to set on 9 full-sized eggs.
Goats & Sheep
We have continued with our natural oil herbal treatments on the goats for lice. We are barely seeing any live lice anymore, maybe just one or two each day when we treat them. We are continuing to treat them until we are past 22 days – the life cycle of the lice.
Marigold is supposedly due to lamb this week, but she is not showing any symptoms at all. So we have decided that she didn’t take. This means lambing season is officially over (and was over a month ago).
All the lambs (and the goat kid) are all doing very well; growing and playing like crazy. The LGD is doing very well with them now, after our extra training sessions last week, and knows not to play with them. We are getting plenty of milk each day from the sheep and goats and are really enjoying having it and making all our dairy products with it.
We found out this week that our 4-year-old son, who has had 14 surgeries in his short life and faced many medical challenges, is yet again having liver issues. After multiple smaller surgeries that were unsuccessful, he had a big surgery last fall that we were all very hopeful would fix his liver issues long-term. At first it seemed like it had, but he is struggling again. After an 8-month-long break (which we are so grateful to have experienced), we are back to the world of doctor’s appointments and testing while we figure out what is going on and plan the next steps.
Disease…pests, pests, and more pests…late frosts…it has been a challenging season so far. But there is always something good to be found as well, as long as one is willing to look. We are.