Tag Archives: homesteading

Zombie babies

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Zombie baby feeding frenzy!

So the triplets made it through the first few days of life, which is saying something about the superhuman efforts Papa Chivo put into them. Bottle feeding didn’t seem to give them enough nutrients, so my husband borrowed a wet-nurse goat.  Unfortunately, the zombies had voracious appetites and the wet-nurse goat could not keep up with the demand.

Big Mama was forced to supplement a bit but didn’t have so much milk since Fuzzy was quite a big girl.  Our 3 goats were pregnant but not lactating.  Caramela the sheep was also pregnant but she’s been pregnant since we bought her.  I wonder if she’ll ever give birth.

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Brown Mama and her lambs, Oreo and Cookie.

Drastic times call for drastic measures. In hopes of getting more milk, my husband traded Cottonball, the zombies’ mother, and Baby’s Mama for this big brown ball of fur which promptly spewed out Oreo and Cookie, the lastest sheep to grace our pastures.  Although delighted with these little black boys, the arrival of twins didn’t help the zombie feeding situation.

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Oreo on the left, Cookie on the right.

But with a little bit of milk here, and a little bit of milk there, and some 2 am bottle feedings, they made it to their second week birthday.  They followed my husband hither and yon, bleating like, well, like little lambs do.

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Skunkette next to Skunk, the macho sheep, and in from of Mary with fleece not quite as white as snow. Brown Mama is lying down with Cookie in the back.

Then in the blink of an eye, my husband traded the zombie babies for this striped skunk sheep.  The zombies went to live with a guy with grandkids to bottle feed them and a milk cow to provide milk.  So it seems we have again averted the apocalypse in La Yacata.

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Papa Chivo saves the day

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Even after Baby the Sheep’s untimely death, my husband carried on with his idea of switching from goats to sheep.  He came home one day with Big Mama, an enormous black-faced furry sheep which cost a pretty penny.  So now our herd was made up of 3 pregnant goats (Jirafe’s twin daughters and La Blanca), Baby’s mama, Big Mama, Caramela the sheep, and Skunk, the sheep macho.  

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Big Mama didn’t waste any time and within days gave birth to Fuzzy.  Fuzzy is a huge baby and naturally enough, very fuzzy.  I started to like the idea of sheep if it meant in May we could shear them and I’d have a bit of wool to make stuff with.  

Not satisfied with Fuzzy and Big Mama, my husband traded Buttercup for an even bigger sheep, Cottonball, and a smaller sheep, Mary, both of the woolly species. Cottonball also didn’t waste any time and that very evening went into labor.  

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Things didn’t go as smoothly for Cottonball.  After hours of labor, she was no closer to giving birth.  The Borrega guy (one of our neighbors) suggested an injection to help speed things along.  That helped, but the baby just couldn’t get out.  It was presenting rump-first.  So my husband became the midwife and inserted his hand to grab hold of the lamb.  Its neck was bent around, which was causing the hold-up.  After some more tugging, Peep came free, however, her neck was bent at an odd angle.  My husband thought maybe her neck was broken.  She was also very weak.  

But the proceedings weren’t finished yet.  A hand went in again and there was another baby presenting rump-first.  This one was smaller than Peep and seemed to have less of an issue with the neck.  Thus arrived Bo.  Bo and Peep were both girls.

Only things weren’t done yet.  Another rump-first lamb was having difficulty getting out.  So some more mid-wife intervention on the part of my husband and the Borrega guy and FINALLY Wuzzy was born.  Wuzzy was a boy and of the three the first one to stand and make his presence known.

By that time Cottonball was exhausted.  We weren’t sure Bo and Peep would make it through the night and there was still the risk of infection because of the assisted birth.  The next day we bought some penicillin for Cottonball and some dried milk for the babies.  Cottonball wasn’t interested in nursing any of the babies.  We considered trying to have Big Mama adopt at least Wuzzy, but he was a third of Fuzzy even though they were only 6 days apart in age.  

So bottle-feeding began while we waited to see if Cottonball would come around.  Wuzzy was the first in line at feeding time and would not be set aside until he was satisfied.  Peep was the loudest baa-er when hungry.  Her neck was still twisted but she could walk and carry on so, which made us think maybe her neck muscles were sprained and not broken and hope for recovery. She looked like the Hunchback of Notre Dame.  Bo wasn’t able to walk until the second day.  She didn’t carry on like Peep.  She didn’t insert herself for feedings like Wuzzy, but she was able to eat and walk.  We were hopeful.  

We also bought some selenium vitamins to give the lambs once they were 15 days old. Since we weren’t sure that Cottonball would feed them regularly, we wanted to give them at least a fighting chance.  Cottonball did improve the third day after birth, but she was very lax when responding to Peep’s hunger cries.  She seemed to allow Wuzzy to feed occasionally, but then he just wouldn’t take no for an answer.

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The third night, there was a gathering of coyotes outside our front door.  We think that there might have been a dead cow in the area that they had been feasting on.  Their howling woke my husband.  He sprung up and ran to the window to scare off the coyotes because “they were going to wake the babies.”  Papa Chivo in full form!

Cottonball made a slow recovery but never did get into the swing of motherhood when it came to the triplets.  My son took one look at them and said we needed to rename them Troll 1, Troll 2, and Troll 3.  They are not cute little sheep.  They are not glorious like Wuzzy.  They remind me of what zombie sheep might look like, gray and mottled.  Well, maybe they will spruce up after a while?  What do you think?

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Baby the Sheep

So my husband got it in his head that borregos (sheep) are more profitable than goats.  It is true that borregos sold by the kilo are more expensive BUT they are a smaller animal, so overall there are fewer kilos to be had.  Disregarding my logic, he went ahead and traded our macho goat for a young borrega and her borregita.

I continued my naysaying despite the now physical presence of more borregos.  Borregos carry on something awful whether or not they are hungry. (See Separating the Sheep from the Goats They are more delicate healthwise.  (See Birth and Death)  They need more care than goats.  They don’t eat as varied a diet as goats so food during the dry season will be harder to find.  All to no avail.

The young borrega managed to come down with a BAD case of chorro (diarrhea) probably from the change of diet from her previous home to ours.  This affected little borregita because the mama’s milk all but dried up during her illness.  So three days after purchase, it was looking like borregita wasn’t going to make it.  She was listless.  She became weaker and weaker until she could no longer stand.  It was pitiful.  My husband debated whether it would be kinder to just kill her.

I objected.  Surely there was another option.  We’ve had orphaned babies before on our mini-rancho.  I convinced him to try and nurse her back to health.  We bought a bottle and some milk, mixed with suero (electrolytes) to feed her.

The difference was marked almost immediately.  The second day of bottle feeding she could lift her head and bleated to let my husband (now named Papa Chivo–yes she’s a borrego but Papa Borrego doesn’t roll off the tongue as well) she was ready for more milk.

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My husband and son alternated bottle feedings and the borreguita was christened Baby so that when she hollered in the middle of the night I could shake my husband awake and say “Go feed Baby.”  After about a week of milk, she started to show an interest in the paca (alfalfa bales).  So feedings were supplemented with a bit of alfalfa and some ground maiz sorgo mixed with milk like a cereal.

It took about a week for her to try and stand but as soon as she could wobble about she demanded to be taken out with the rest of the herd.  She couldn’t keep up, so my husband had to carry her.  She was content as could be munching on the grass she could reach while resting and watching the gang graze.  Mama borrega was happy as well.  She was a nervous Nelly when she had to leave Baby behind.  Maybe that’s what we’ll call her–Nelly.

We had every hope that Baby would make a full recovery.  However, one morning she was again laying on the ground bleating piteously.  She didn’t suffer long.  She died just a few hours later.

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Sewing and sewing

So now that I had a little more time with my new, improved non-school dependant schedule, I thought I’d finally get around to doing something with all those scraps I made from cutting up our school uniforms in July.  (See Transition Year)

I decided on a pattern for the latest patchwork pillow creation, sat down to sew at my treadle sewing machine (See Seamstress) and BING…BONG.  The teeth that move the fabric no longer moved the fabric.  Well, this was something beyond my abilities to repair, so I asked my husband to look at it.  He did, after a few weeks of nagging.  It took him 20 minutes to fix.

So then I sit back down ready to roll, and CRUNCH.  The wheel that turns the band that makes the whole rigmarole go was bent. Frustrated, I piled up my patchwork pieces and started in about getting a new sewing machine base.

My husband knew a guy whose mother had an old machine.  But the mom didn’t want to sell. She had another older base she’d be willing to part with but it was crooked.  One of the legs had been damaged over the years.  And she wanted $500 pesos for it.  

Then I remembered when we went to get a piano in Morelia (See Piano shopping) we had stopped at a roadside flea market and they had the most beautiful Singer sewing machine and base I had ever seen. After having bought our lovely piano earlier that day, I didn’t have any money on me for the sewing machine besides which it was a bit pricey. The guy wanted $2,000 pesos for the set (machine and base). Now that my own sewing machine was kaput, maybe we could see if he’d lower the price any. Consequently, my husband and I spent 3 weeks trying different random days and times to see if the place was open.  No luck.

On the way back from one of these fruitless trips, we drove past another junk shop in Moroleon.  The owner was just setting out a wrought iron sewing machine base.  We immediately stopped and asked the price.  $250 pesos and he’d throw in the curvy part that covered the wheel so that the ladies skirts didn’t get tangled in it.  I whipped out my wallet.

It was quite a trip home with this HEAVY iron between us on the motorcycle, but I was determined and hung on off the back of the motorcycle rack hoping that I wouldn’t fall off at every tope (speed bump). Me, the iron, the motorcycle and my husband arrived home safely.  My husband spent the afternoon fiddling with it.  The bolts were stripped and needed to be replaced. $20 pesos for a bag of bolts.  Then it was rather rusty, so we picked up a can of paint ($50 pesos). It ended up that my husband didn’t put that wheel guard on.  I mean I typically don’t sew with a full skirt on, so no worries about getting tangled.  All in all, I’m delighted with the new improved sewing machine.  It runs as smooth as a baby’s bottom (whatever that’s supposed to mean).

So then the question was what to do with the old base.  As the wheel was bent, it really wasn’t going to be good to anyone as a serviceable item.  Well, waste not, want not.  My son varnished a piece of scrap wood and my husband mounted it to the base and voila, a new, vintage table.  Everybody around here has at least one of these sewing machine base tables. And now I do too.

So now that the pillows are piling up, it’s time to head to the tianguis (flea market) and see if we can convert those old uniforms into a few pesos.  My next project will be curtains for the upstairs windows.  Stay tuned for details on that remodeling project.

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