Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A bit of mad, a bit of glad, and another egg in a pan picture.

Yesterday, we found our first double-yolked egg.

Funny, these were so very common at the university poultry set-up that I worked at in college. One out of every ten eggs was a double yolk. This is our first double-yolk in two years. They had about one-hundred chickens, ours have fluctuated between nine and seventeen. Proportionally, that still doesn't make sense. I wonder what else affects double-yolk production.

You want the glad or the mad first? I'll do mad. Let's end the post glad.

We live about 3/4 of a mile from the desert. Just past the farms, with their rock piles, is the desert that has defied farming so far. Out on this desert, sheep ranchers bring thousands of sheep and dump them there for the winter and early spring. These sheep don't get the kind of care that sheep do when moved to summer camps. After all, there are not a lot of predators out there (and losing a few out of a thousand doesn't seem to bother them) and where are they going to go?

Looking for water, that's where. It can be a pain in the butt to go out and check the water tanks as often as is needed, I guess, and what's a day or two without water going to do to them? Send them out across the desert in a desperate search. And they're pregnant. I have very strong feelings about their owners. Those feelings got much stronger yesterday.

Yesterday, Matt saw three ewes staggering off the desert and onto the road, barely standing. One had just given birth to triplets about 100 yards into the desert and none of them had made it. Another had twins. The last had triplets who were no more than an hour old and very weak, forced to stumble along after their mother as she looked for water.

Matt came to get us to help him and we went to get them. The momma with the twins was gone. Matt searched for her for two hours that afternoon and never found her again. The other two were panting and staggering. I caught the three lambs and we took them down the road really slowly until we got to our goat pasture. We led them to the watering trough and then backed off until a few hours later when I went out to get these pictures.

The three babies belong to the big ewe. The little ewe - who we haven't mouthed yet, so we don't know for sure, doesn't look more than a year old.

The bigger ewe looked strange to me, and I finally figured out what it was. This is her left profile.

This is her right profile.

No eye. Just a red, raw hole.

Watch. In a few weeks, when coming to pick up their ewes, the owners will drive by our property, see those sheep and come with a trailer.

Now on to the glad.

I experienced something that was very similar to deja vu. I was walking Physion from the milking stand back to the pasture and it hit me. The earthy, rainy smell, the heavy air pressure, my neighbor's rock wall,

the cool temperature, my wellies, the rock driveway, the green pastures...

If I had been leading a horse instead of a goat, I could have been back in Ireland, working at the stable. It was a good, good feeling. I just closed my eyes and let it soak in for a minute. Then Physion got impatient and pulled me on.

It's a steady, soft rain that's been going since late last night. My plants are loving it.

The combination of the cooler temperatures and the steady moisture is making them perk up more than my hose watering was accomplishing.

This is rhubarb that I transplanted from our other property.

And I have some hope that finally, after three years of trying, I might - just might - have fresh, home-grown strawberries to eat this year.

That makes me very glad indeed.


Sue, Joe and Michael Webber said...

It makes me so mad seeing animals treated so badly. It's all too common in farming sadly, can be the same here too. It's high time something was done about it.
Everywhere is looking very spring like!

Goodwife said...

UGH! People are soooo stupid!!!! God bless you for helping them! I've said it before and I'll say it again, there are so many worse fates for animals than death, as this case points out!

How exciting that you lived in Ireland!! Have you blogged about it before? I'd love to know more!

Cindy's Custom Creations said...

Wow. That is unbelievable about those ewes. So sad!

Glad about your plants though! Strawberries! Mmmmm!

Sarah said...

You know, Sue, I agree. What's frustrating is that it's only the stupid farmers and ranchers who treat their animals badly. Even if they don't care for them as living creatures, they'd care for them better if they looked at their bottom line. Animals that are healthy and happy produce more. While I was busy grumbling about 'some people' my husband was shaking his head and counting up how much money the rancher had lost in dead or lost lambs and ewes that day from just the ones we saw. Almost $1000.

Goodwife, that's the truth. And animals just live through it, no other choice.

I lived in Ireland before I got married. I went through a work program that used to be called Communicating for Agriculture. It was fantastic. I was there for seven months, working at a horse stable. Part of my wages was lessons, so I got to learn to ride English style and to jump. Amazing.

Cindy, I really hope the strawberries produce. If they do, they'll be coming by the time you guys get here!

Jess said...

I've been following for awhile quietly, but felt I should finally say "Hi!". We had a very strange egg (on Easter, imagine that) which was very small (only 9 grams, I actually weighed it) and contained only a bit of white plus an embryo. I was sure it would contain only a yolk, but I was wrong. Haven't had a double yolk since my girls started laying last fall. That just boggles my mind that animals can be abused like that and nothing can be done about it? I would like to think that karma will come back around to the owners. Blessings upon you for helping the ones that you could.

Sarah said...

Jess, so nice to meet you! I love it when lurkers say hi! You were a microbiologist? Before my husband got this job, he was doing research into contagious diseases (Avian Flu, Pichinde, Banzi, stuff like that). Do you ever miss it?

We've not had a yolkless egg yet. That would be added to my list of 'things that make you go hmmm'. lol

For owners of livestock in this state, karma's the only thing I can count on.

Maria said...

Ugh - I hate people!

So lovely all the green though!

I can't wait until we get our own chicks and eggs.

healinggreen said...

So sad about the ewes -- sigh -- that is what happens in big ag when they begin calling the animals "crops" instead of live beings...

My grandma had a banty hen that laid double yolks every day for 18 years... I think its just genetics whether they do or not. The folks at probably know -- love that site!!