Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy

Ah summertime on the many beaches, so many parties. At least I've heard there are beaches and parties around here.  The Farmer's Markets on Wednesdays and Saturdays, farm tours on Tuesdays and Thursdays, yarn dyeing and sheep and goat care are keeping me busy, busy, busy. 

We have also had more than our share of visits from the vet in the last couple of weeks. First with Rosemary's broken leg (her cast has to be changed once a week), the Cini was diagnosed with Lyme disease and another tick born illness last week and has to take five antibiotic pills a day, and the Salina, one of our Cormo ewes, seemed, well, a little off.

[Yes, Cini and Biscotti get the Lyme Disease vaccination. It is only 70% effective. And they both get Frontline every three weeks. And we check them for ticks regularly. Thank you for asking.]

Salina suddenly began looking really, really thin and she had no spark. I don't know how else to describe it- she just Most telling of all, she let me walk  right up to her and stood still while I checked her over for any obvious clues as to what was going on with her. Dr. Tuminaro came to check her out and, after taking a fecal sample, figured out that Salina and the rest of the flock, were infected with the dreaded Haemonchus contortis parasite.

Haemonchus, also known as barber pole worm, is a nasty parasite that has been developing resistance to many commonly used wormers on the East Coast for the past five years. This worm is the worst nightmare of anyone who runs sheep and goats. 

Patrick and I got busy worming the entire flock (and delousing the goats and trimming hooves at the same time) and I am happy to report that Salina is 100% again. My mom had come up to the Vineyard from Texas to try to help me dig my way out of all of the work I need to do (she is the best mom EVER! I almost hid her plane ticket to keep her here) and she took all these pictures of the Patrick and I doing the glamourous work that is shepherding.
Our arsenal of weapons.

As you can see, the sheep and goats LOVE getting wormed and deloused and are ever so grateful to us! (Yes, that is sarcasm.) It took us about five hours to get both flocks done and we will follow up with round two in three weeks.
[We mark each of the animals with a livestock marking crayon when we're done to avoid confusion. Don't worry, it wears off.]
Rosemary is healing beautifully according to Dr. Atwood. She is one her third cast and the vet thinks that when he removes the current one she won't need another. 

Cast Number One just before it was removed.

Cast Number Two

Cast Number Three

Rosemary lost about three pounds since the night we brought her into Dr. Atwood's office the night she broke her leg which is vexing. She is still nursing on her mom a bit and her appetite is good. I'm really hoping getting the cast off turns this around but we will have to carefully watch her in the coming weeks.

I have been really lucky to have some really great shareholder visits in the pas few weeks. Shareholder Stephanie and her family tied with Maggie (last week's guest blogger) for the "Traveled Furthest" Award. Both of them came all the way from San Diego. Which just goes to show you that no matter how far away you live you should get your butt on a plane and come see your flock. And that could be you holding Ike in that picture.

If you are planning to be on the Vineyard anytime soon you might be interested in taking one of our yarn dyeing workshops, especially those of you with Spring 08 shares that will be coming undyed. Shareholders Jane and Rebecca came were my guinea pigs this week while I worked out exactly how to teach the workshop and we had an amazing time. We are going to be holding the workshops on Tuesdays through the summer and on weekends in the Fall, so if you're thinking of making a day trip and you'd like more details, let me know.

****In Spring 2008 Shareholder news, the latest update from the mill in Canada is that the fleeces have been washed and blended and are in line for spinning. I limit myself to calling to get status updates once a week (I don't want to be annoying and slow things down) and I try to call on Wednesdays but today I got their voice mail. I left a message and didn't hear back, so I will give another call tomorrow. I think we are about a month away from getting our yarn back but don't quote me.****

This whole mill experience has been such a nightmare that we are seriously looking into investing in our own mill, either on the Vineyard or on our farm in New York. When we go up to Prince Edward Island to pick up the Spring 09 yarn we will be visiting Belfast Mini Mills, manufacturers of the mini mills equipment that several of the mills we've used in the past use. 

Some of you have asked about the status of the MVFF Calendar. We got a sample back from the printer that was going to do it and it was just ...terrible. The printing was just appallingly bad- clearly no one checked the colors before it was printed. And that was on the proof! 

I really don't want to put the MVFF logo on a product that sucks, so the calendar is on hold until things settle down a little bit. 

This weekend is going to be hugely, insanely busy- even by our standards. Patrick's BIG fundraiser of the year is Friday- Sunday. It includes a three-day telethon on Plum TV and a big party Saturday night. And, in addition to the Farmer's Market, I have two shareholders coming for a visit on Saturday. 

I feel like there is more to tell you but- YOWZA- I just realized it's midnight! More soon.



Maggie said...

I'm sorry your week has been so ridiculous! Wish I could be there to help out (even with worming or paperwork), and I hope the crazy critters behave themselves for a bit. Best of luck and charm to Patrick on his fundraiser!

Susan said...

Maggie, COME BACK!

Diane said...

Thanks for working so hard, Susan! Wish I could come back to help and sign Rosemary's cast!


Tamsie said...

I am picturing you as a juggler, tossing and catching sheep, worming tools, mill equipment, visitors, and blog-postings with aplomb!

--Deb said...

Oh, no, the worms! The worms!!

Rosemary looks awfully cute in her bright casts, though.

You know, I'm almost afraid to ask this, considering the nightmare you've had with yarn mills, but ... what if you asked for a spinning share?

SeDress said...

so, the herd was infected with blood sucking parasites disguised as barber poles, that have developed resistance to known anti-wormers: sounds like the start of a really bad horror movie.
Sounds as if you and Patrick are handling it with your usual determination and perseverance, so I'm sure things will turn out OK in the end.
Long term though, will you consider moving the flock more often? or hoping for some really hot, dry weather to kill off the larvae?
And what keeps you and Patrick from coming down with Lyme disease? Is there a human vaccination available?
The mill operation sounds promising: but will you be able to do that yourself, along with all the other work at hand? Or would you have to add staff to your operation, someone to run the mill and process the yarn?
Keep it up: when you get to be a large enough operation that you need a full time bookkeeper, I'll put in an ap.

WriterBug said...

OMG. When I think of the life of a shepardess on MV, I always idealize soooo much. I love this blog because I get to see that while it does look insanely fun, it's also insanely hard work....

I would love to come in the fall for a dying workshop! Please add me to the email list: christinejunge [at] hotmail [dot] com. Thank you!

Oh, and if you need a referral for a printer, email me, too. I work in publishing and we work with a good one.

Jenny said...

I am AMAZED at the work you two do. Amazed. If I had a healthy back I'd come out and help do heavy, physical things and if I had any more money I'd donate it to you guys to help cover med costs. As it is all I can really do is come out and LOVE. I'll just stand there and give out LOVE to you. Well, actually, I can definitely help with the farmer's market and all that, so as long as I'm not lifting heavy things, you feel free to put me to work on Saturday, however I can!

Can we bring anything from the mainland for you guys?

sarah said...

Is "busy, busy, busy" a Vonnegut quote, or are you just lining up perfectly with my reading? :)

Poor sweet Rosemary. Glad to hear she's doing well.

"Mandy!" said...

Hi Susan!

Good morning from downtown VH! Hopefully the sun will be out tomorrow and we'll have a busy day at the farmers market.

See ya there!

Barbra said...

You do need more hours in your day!

Beverly Kaye Gallery said...

We are looking forward to visiting your kids with ours this summer! We had no idea how tough it could be doing your job, but those are lucky little lambs to have such dedicated caretakers.