It has been busy the first 3 weeks in March as we added over 500 new lambs to the farm. We are thankful that we are done with this group by Easter Sunday. We made it to church this morning, did chores and had some time to rest. Larry is back in the barn trying to reassemble the Massey 1135 tractor that is in pieces after a PTO shaft break this winter. It’s tough being the CEO of this operation. The 1 and 2 year old ewes are due to lamb in May. We continue to push hard to move GM1 into clinical trials. The Shepherd’s Gift is fundraising and we are getting packets out for the Brookings GM1 for HD Golf Classic this July. It seems we go from busy to extremely busy then back to very busy.
The older ewes lambed in March while the one and two year olds, as well as some that lambed last fall, lambed mid April to Mid May. This added almost 800 lambs to the farm. We finished lambing just in time to enjoy High School Graduation for our older son, Paul. He will be attending Lake Area Tech this fall for Ag Diesel Technology. As fast as stuff breaks around here we are looking forward to the skill set he will add to the farm. He’s working full time at Farmers Implement getting on the job experience but that means we see a lot less of him these days.
The summer DLGC meeting is coming up this weekend. It’s shaping up to be another inspirational meeting as we continue to move the project forward. GM1 for HD!
Merry Christmas 2014
We are enjoying some quality off farm time with Larry’s family in KC. It’s a nice break from the farm especially since it has more mud than we’ve seen in the last 2 decades. Usually everything is frozen this time of year. It’s not supposed to rain in Dec. in SD. On Tues we ultrasounded the group of ewes due to lamb in March (and got covered in mud which was almost as fun as mud wrestling just smellier). Larry was pleased with the appearance of the pregnancies and 96% of the group is confirmed pregnant so you can start planning your lambing time visit. The next group will be ultrasounded in early Feb and is due to lamb Mid-April to Mid-May.
Fall lambing in mid-Sept. went well. It was a small group (37 ewes). Since they were synchronized they all lambed in a week, it just happened to overlap with putting up corn silage. The weather was good and the turn around time on genetic test results was only 5 days, thus affected lambs and their mothers could be segregated. We added 8 more GM1 affected lambs to the HD treatment effort and they are some of the best looking lambs we’ve produced thus far! I had trouble picking them out of the whole group without looking at the test result data.
May 14, 2014
Our new barn was truly a lamb life saver as March temps reached record lows. When you weigh 10 lbs and arrive soaking wet in nearly zero degree temps a warm insulted room is a God send. We have about 400 new lambs in our March group. As of the middle of May we are starting to lamb out the next group of yearling ewes along with a few older ewes that waited for warmer weather. Genetic results are pending to determine the number of affected lambs able to produce GM1 for potential HD treatment. We continue on our path of raising these lambs in the hopes that we can improve the quality and dignity of life for HD families. Unfortunately the news from NIH – NCATS/TRND http://www.ncats.nih.gov/research/rare-diseases/trnd/trnd.html was not what we were hoping and praying for so the clinical trials we thought we imminent are now delayed.
January 14, 2014 –Happy New Year!
As we start the new year we have several updates to be thankful for. We are closer than ever to clinical trials. The exterior of our new lambing barn is complete and we are hoping to have the interior finished by shearing time (Feb. 7th and 8th) so the freshly shorn ewes can move in. Fortunately Electrician is one of Larry’s many talents. There will be about 300 ewes due to lamb in March with the remainder in May. The May group will be mostly carrier ewe lambs. Thankfully a local visionary stepped forward to purchase these females and keep them in the flock. We have bred the ewes to produce the maximum number of affected (homozygous recessive) lambs to produce GM1 to facilitate pending clinical trials. We are anticipating a busy yet exciting year as we move closer to impacting HD patient lives with GM1 treatment.
May 22, 2013
We started lambing the new crop of GM1 lambs on Feb. 26th, 2013, due to facility constraints we divided the ewes into 2 groups. The second group started April 7th and the last ewe lambed on May 21st. It has been a long lambing season with especially challenging weather. Most years by April the reality of spring is appearing. This “spring” we had record snowfall. Lambing is always a lot of physical work entailing long hours, as we haven’t figured out a way to insure lambs are born only during the day. This year the weather made it much harder. After raising these lambs for 20 years, I have a suspicion of which lambs are the homozygous recessive lambs that could potentially save lives. At this stage their behavioral differences are subtle. I can only hope that these lambs will provide the GM1 to treat a Huntington’s or Parkinson’s patient to improve their quality of life. Currently we have all the costs of raising these lambs and no return, only the hope that we can make a difference for someone. Unfortunately, this is not sustainable, we need to generate some revenue to continue feeding these extraordinary sheep. The Feb/March born lambs are growing well and I will soon need to make the decision as to whether these new carrier (heterozygous) ewe lambs return to the flock as breeding females to produce more GM1 lambs or whether they end up on a dinner plate as a lamb chop. For this year if there is still no clinical trial started for which the GM1 is needed, they will become the later in an effort to sustain the rest of the flock, as we currently have about 1000 mouths to feed.
I certainly understand the urgency of a clinical trial for HD/PD patients but there also is an urgency on the farm as we try to maintain the flock that could save lives. Keeping in mind that sheep have a 5 month gestation. It takes a year to produce a lamb that can be a source of GM1. These lambs are extraordinary in that each lamb could produce an estimated 5 gm of GM1, theoretically enough to treat an HD patient for a year. Although we have raw material stockpiled (enough for a clinical trial), more lambs are needed. Since GM1 has not been able to be synthesized in large enough quantities to treat patients, these sheep are the only source that can give hope to HD patients.
In summary, there is a very urgent need for a treatment. GM1 has been to shown to have remarkable effects in reversing HD symptoms. We have a source of GM1. So the resulting question is why isn’t there a clinical trial in progress????