Sunday, May 13, 2007

Broken Leg update and What's Next

Several weeks ago, Butch, one of our Scottish Blackface ram lambs broke his leg. He was only 4 days old, and a result of insemination using (real) Scottish semen. As a potentially valuable breeding ram, we chose to have the vet set his leg. He then spent the next 4 weeks in an enlarged jug and creep with his two sisters and his mom. Last Monday, at long last, the splint was removed!!! His leg has a pretty good callus forming, even if it's not quite straight. Being immobilized at such a young age, though, his leg hasn't developed a lot of calcification, and the joints are fairly stiff.
Butch is shown below in my arms on his arrival home after the splint was removed.

A close up shows the difference between the newly released, injured right leg and the good left leg.

We put him back in the pen with Mom and sisters to stay confined while he learns to use it again and it regains some strength. He's shown below with mom "EweOne".

He's started out putting only a little weight on his leg when he was standing, and dragging it along when he was moving. Now, almost a week later, he's using it to walk with more and putting his toes out front more often when he's standing. Progress is slow and steady. I've been cutting grass every morning to feed Ewe One and her triplets in the hope that they'll be somewhat accustomed to eating grass by the time they get to go OUT.

Butch is shown above just 6 days after his splint was removed. It's amazing the difference a week makes. Notice how his hock and ankle are bent to a more normal position and his foot even looks more substantial. We're keeping our fingers crossed that he recovers plenty of function in that leg so he's able to easily breed ewes and pass on his superior genetics!


A while back, Kathy L. asked what we had in mind "next"... after winning Best Shetland Ram Fleece, Best Shetland Lamb Fleece and Champion Shetland Fleece at the Shepherds' Extravaganza. Kathy, I've thought a lot about your question.

What's next? Isn't that always a good question to ask yourself? There are lots of categories to think about. Some years ago, I decided to go back to school to serve as an example to my daughter and to keep my mind busy. "What's next?" in that vein became a Masters Degree in Engineering in 2000, then a PhD in Mechanical Engineering in 2005.

When we bought our current 5 acres for the primary purpose of having space to practice dog agility "what's next?" became the sheep farm. "What's next?" for the sheep farm is to move to our 20 acres on Whidbey Island. That should come to pass by 2010, hopefully, even sooner! In agility "what's next?" became the impetus for both Dave and I to pass the test and become agility judges. Now both of us judge AKC agility trials several weekends per year. "What's next" for the sheep is to continue to breed for fine - mid 20's micron - fleeces in the Shetlands, increasingly pure bloodlines for the Gotlands, and improve the gene pool in Scottish Blackface sheep with imported genetics from Scotland.

This year's "what's next" for the farm is to exhibit the sheep and their fleeces at three or more competitions. The first was Shepherds' Extravaganza. We just evaluated our time commitments and maturity of the lambs and decided that Black Sheep Gathering just isn't one for us this year, disappointing but realistic. The Skagit County Fair will be our next sheep competition. I'll be sending fleeces to Fibre Week at Olds College in Alberta before then. After that, we'll exhibit at our "local" fair - the mega-sheep show at the Puyallup Fair. The up and coming Gotland Association is planning to exhibit at the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival in late September. We're tentatively planning to take some of our 50% Gotland sheep there.

Probably the very most exciting "what's next" for me in 2007 is my impending RETIREMENT!!! After 40 years in the work force, most of it in full time employment, I'll be retiring on my 55th birthday - June 30th. I'm so excited that it's hard to concentrate on my last few weeks at work. :-) :-) :-) After July 1st, all those things I talked about above, will be so much more do-able. Plus I'll see my Mom more often, visit my daughter and husband in their new home, go to Albuquerque to visit my son along with about a thousand other things that are "next".

Kathy, thanks for asking. :-)



Michelle said...

Wow, that's a very impressive read, especially when I feel like I'm just barely managing to keep my nostrils above water -- forget about thinking up a cohesive history or long-term planning! (I think I'm jealous... :-)

Franna said...

Ahhhh, Michelle. I used to scoff at people who had 5 year and 10 year plans. I enjoyed living from day to day, week to week, season to season. One day it seemed to make sense, and I made my first "5 year plan". I built a house! It was a great challenge and a wonderful house. (and eventually selling it financed EverRanch!) Now we make "near term" plans and "long range" plans and reevaluate a couple times a year. It works!

Kathy said...

No problem, Franna - we 55 year olds have to stick together! :) Some years it it a bit hard to top yourself, isn't it? ;-)
I think you've got some great goals there, Kiddo! (And I can call you Kiddo 'cause I'm one month older than you! So there!)

I, for one, am a great believer in you, Franna...and I'm sure you can do ANYTHING you put your mind to.