The first day of Spring brought us a 4th Nor’easter in 3 weeks. We avoided much of the heavy snow for the first 3 storms, but this last storm delivered a foot of snow. The big, fluffy flakes were beautiful falling from the sky.
And the trees remind you of Narnia, with their branches covered in snow.
But where was this all winter? I love snowstorms and have waiting for this kind of snow every time the forecast hinted at snow. It is quiet during a snowstorm and everything is blanketed in white, clean and sparkling.
It is nearly April, though, and this snow will not be here long. Soon we will be tucking seeds into the gradually warming soil of our gardens and waiting for tiny plants to emerge from the ground. Birds will hunt for insects and bees will search for nectar and pollen.
Our Black Spanish turkey poults (chicks) are a week old now and a couple of the tiny Toms are displaying already. At only 1 week old, all they have to display is fluff so it’s extra cute!
Here are some photos of them, too!
This is Duffy’s story:
Duffy was born to Rosy in 2010, our only triplet birth on the farm so far (you can read about it here). She was due to lamb for the 1st time in early March, 2012. About ten days before she was due she went into labor – on February 25th – and I was the only one home because I was sick. I went to feed hay in the late afternoon/early evening and found Duffy in the back of the pasture by herself.
I got her into the barn but her labor did not progress so I tried to assist. She was hardly dilated and I couldn’t get to the lambs. Plus there was an odor… a bad odor. I called our vet, Dale (who is now retired and missed dearly), and he and his wife got to our place about 45 minutes later. He pulled twin lambs with a lot of difficulty and gave Duffy antibiotics and other medications. He estimated that the lambs had died a day or so prior to her aborting them.
He told me to call him if any other ewes aborted because if the cause of Duffy’s abortion was infectious, it could go through the flock. Over the next days and weeks I watched the other pregnant ewes closely and researched causes for abortion in sheep. I learned that a large percentage of sheep abortion is caused by non-infections diseases – read: injury, rough handling, poisonous plants and inadequate feeding.
During this time I began to consider that Duffy had been injured prior to aborting her lambs and tried to remember any incidence of injury.
Two days before Duffy aborted her lambs we vaccinated the pregnant ewes. I remembered that Duffy had gotten pushed by another sheep into the stall doorway on her way out of the barn when we led the sheep back to their pasture. The doorways had O-rings on them from when the barn housed horses and I believe that is what caused her abortion. I immediately took the O-rings off the doorways of any stall that the sheep would enter.
Our other 5 ewes lambed normally in March and produced a total of 9 lambs (4 sets of twins and a singleton).
Please look all around your sheep handling areas to be sure there are no potential hazards. We used this stall without any trouble for 6 years, BUT it only takes 1 second for a freak accident to happen. This time it cost us 2 lambs.
More and more people are meeting one of our most recent invasive pests, the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB). It had spread to at least 29 states since it was introduced in a shipment to eastern PA sometime during the 1990s. They were first collected in Allentown, PA, in 1998.
BMSBs are a major agricultural pest in Asia, feeding on fruit crops and their population in the US has reached numbers to make it a real problem to American orchardists, too. They don’t eat entire fruits or even make them inedible. They disfigure hundreds of individual fruits – like apples – so that they cannot be marketed for fresh fruit sale. Instead these apples and other fruits can only be used for cider or juice.
- Adult BMSB
Now that spring has arrived (in most of the country, anyway) we will be seeing more adult stink bugs waking up from hibernation in our homes. Our family flushes all that we find so they don’t stink up our vacuum cleaner! I have been wondering, lately, if they could be used for anything else…say a food source for something. I happened upon a forum today with some interesting ideas for “disposing” of BMSBs. Here’s the link: http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/pagard/msg101628188305.html
; the discussion thread is called “Fun Organic way to Deal with Pesky Brown Stink Bugs.” I particularly like that one person’s pet turtle loves them! I’m considering catching some in a jar, freezing them and feeding them to our chickens. I’ll let you know if they eat them!
In addition to waking up from hibernation, BMSBs will also be reproducing soon. Here’s a photo from the Penn State Cooperative Extension, York County of stink bug eggs and the hatched larvae:
- BMSB eggs and larvae
The Penn State department of Entomology describes the eggs as, “elliptical (1.6 x 1.3 mm), light yellow to yellow-red with minute spines forming fine lines. They are attached, side-by-side, to the underside of leaves in masses of 20 to 30 eggs.” The adults reproduce from May to August and produce one generation per year in Pennsylvania , depending on the temperatures. Here is an image of BMSB nymphs
- BMSB Nymphs
If we educate ourselves to the different stage of the BMSB, we can work at reducing their numbers – from egg stage to adult!
I wanted to share this video of our calves running around and having a good time outside on Sunday.