Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Lamb Report

Let me see....since Sunday I've had four births.  Monday morning early - white ewe twins to a lovely white mother who I put in with Saturday's twins.  Took a bit of doing to get their babies sorted out.  My pens are huge as lamb jugs go and I'm running out of them.  Yesterday, Tuesday, I found black twins around 6 am.  Mom was wonderful.and followed me right into the maternity ward.  Her space is smaller but typical for many jugs I've seen in the past.  She gave me a scare when I heard thumping and discovered she was butting one of her little black ram twins.  I had nursed her out and given him lots of colostrum.  Luckily, lambs are tough and can take a beating, but when a 200 mom throws a lamb around repeatedly, that's not good.  I picked him up and carried him around for a while. Gave him a warm bottle which he latched on to immediately.  I really wanted to keep him with his mother.  Bottle lambs are expensive and time consuming.  Think newborn human baby.  It's a big responsibility.  Many shepherds pass their bottle babies, or "bummer lambs" on to friends or sell them.  I gave mom a bucket of cracked corn and put him back in with her.  Guess what - she likes him now.  Very lucky.  I have a set of big black twins being supplemented on bottles, but still with mom who I think is slowly coming back from what was probably a difficult birth.  It is very important to keep lambs with their mothers.  The moms teach them how to be sheep and how to relate to the flock.  Sheep raised by humans are neither here nor there.  I came home from work yesterday in the most awful weather - sleet and snow.   I creeped along and finally made it home, profoundly grateful for not sliding off the road or into something.  I passed my Amish neighbors a ways down my road with their buggy stuck in a bank.  Yes, they have traffic accidents in bad weather, too.  I stopped to offer assistance, however meager it may be, and they were very appreciative.   I backed in my driveway, just off the road, and hiked up the lane.  My lower drive resembles a bobsled chute, with high walls on each side.  In my desperation to get home to my animals I didn't stop to get milk or cat food.  Am milking out sheep for my coffee milk, just like my shepherd friend, Mother Katherine, and giving the cats dog kibble with pork gravy ground up in the blender.  Yes, I roasted a ham for the kitties.  The dogs are happy, too.  This morning I woke to lamb sounds and mommy talk on the intercom.  I was hoping school was cancelled but no luck.  I saved up a couple of months worth of sick days for lambing time and I find myself needing them now.  Luckily I have two very capable aides taking care of my classes.  I called in "sheep" and went out to look.  A white Bluefaced Leicester ewe, at least ten years old if not more, was standing next to a white ewe lamb, looking like she had everything under control.  She followed me into the maternity ward (thank you, no chasing) and I noticed a quiet and shy black ewe, first time mom, standing over a tiny dead lamb with a larger one nearby.  The tiny ewe was not fully formed to my eye.  I had a bit more trouble getting her inside.  The older ewe must have remembered that lambing gets you special treatment in the form of molasses water and cracked corn.   I still have sweaters, thank you friends, and plenty of hay and grain.  I opened up the second cut bales I paid good money for just for lambing season and they are moldy.  Rotten luck.  We tried to pick around the mold but the sheep are leaving it in the feeders.   I've gone back to my lovely fragrant first cut hay and everybody is much happier.  They grew ten pound singles and eight pound twins on this first cut hay with negligible grain.  Why in the world would someone bale wet hay?????  And then sell it????  Dairy people that's who.  Cows can eat hay that would make you gag.  Not sheep or horses.  Luckily I have a few more first cut bales.  Spouse is away on a business trip, teaching  Ten Hour OSHA.  I'm happy for him.  I almost heard him yelling YIPPEE as he drove away.  Now he can sleep from 6 pm to 6 am which is what he needs, on clean sheets with no chores.  He will pretend that it was so hard and tiring but I know better.  He loves what he is doing and that's fine.  I have to remind him, once in a while, that it was my purchase of a sheep farm in upstate New York that enabled him to find his dream job.  I think he is finally starting to admit that's true.  It only took ten years...

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