News Letter: Winter 2003 - 2004
New Puppies & Lambs

Many of you have written wanting to know the outcome of the cougar hunting. The short answer is, no luck at all. There have been three different groups of hunters at half a dozen different times out hunting with no success. The hunter that uses hounds for tracking needs fresh tracks in the snow, and we have had very little snow (the drought goes on into the fifth year) nor rain. The hunting season is from mid-November to the end of March. We had no precipitation the whole month of March. March is usually our snowiest month, but that whole month was lost for hunting. Now, the DOW wants a new kill before any other action can be taken.

I have continued on in my search for Maremma guardian dogs to add to Marley and Badger as backup. After months and months of just missing dogs that came into rescue, I gave up and bought two puppies born on December 1, 2003. The puppies arrived in Colorado (from Herb Grier, a breeder in North Carolina) on February 3, 2004. They weighed just 15 and 17 pounds! not much bigger than newborn lambs.

new puppies

Cracker & Jack at 9 weeks old.

Their names are Cracker, a female, and Jack, her brother. Now in April they are four months old and growing big very fast. Probably around 50 to 60 pounds, and chewing on everything. It will take a number of months before they are able to act as guardians. For now they go on excursions to chase coyotes and bobcats with the big dogs, and do their share of barking. Being so small, they have been able to slip through the field fencing squares and do so all too often. Joggers with dogs on the road are just to tempting, as are the neighbor's kids with their new puppy. So many distractions ... everything is just too exciting and has to be investigated.

They have been wearing slip chains with a PVC pipe as a "dangle". The idea is that the 20 inch long pipe will keep them from going through the fence. HAH! So far they have lost five chains and three pieces of pipe. I think they take it off of each other and then hide it. I can't find them anywhere. Of course, on 80 acres of rocks there are a lot of places to hide things.

We began lambing on March 8 and finished on April 2. The thing you can say about the lambs this year is, if its white, its a ewe lamb and if its coloured, its a ram lamb. All of the white lambs carry moorit genes as well as black coloured genes, but the results just went to that one set of white genes this year.

And the "biggest lambing surprise" of the year goes to Molly, a ten year old dark grey Corriedale who produced three lovely grey Bond X Corriedale lambs inspite of severe pregnancy toxemia the last two weeks of her pregnancy. At the vet's advice we induced her labor, and even though she was quite weak, she was able to deliver her lambs with only some bit of assistance for one of the lambs being backwards. Two are rams and the one with the lighter silver ears is a ewe lamb. The three together weighed 26 pounds ... a lot of lamb to have carried and delivered. Molly has a good deal of milk, but as her condition has become so thin, we are supplementing two of her lambs with the milk replacer bucket. They are quite the "gang of three" and go everywhere together.

Molly and her lambs

Molly and her lambs

A few months ago I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and it has been difficult to adjust to the pain medication. It seems to be a case of, if I take enough medication to walk, then I can't think straight. Some of you that I have written to have no doubt gotten nonsense. My apologies all around, but then, I wasn't always the brightest bulb in the pack anyway.

While we are getting some rain at last this early part of April, it remains to be seen if it will turn the drought around. There has already been a 9000 acre fire to the north of us in March. The second driest March on record, and also one of the warmest on record, it doesn't look very good at the moment. Its hard to remember the wet years and grasses chest high on the sheep. I know we had some of those years ... I have photographs.
Our best wishes to you all! Come and see us at the farm if you have the time.
Joanna & Keith [an error occurred while processing this directive]