It’s hard to write up a summary of this year’s lambing because I am still not certain our last lamb, Rita’s boy, is going to make it. He’s three weeks old and still all skin and bones, but the good news is that he seems to finally be munching on grass. He was born a full two weeks behind the others and although Rita looked like she was carrying triplets, had trips last year, she only had the one. Maybe she isn’t producing enough milk, maybe the boy isn’t sucking properly. Twice we started the morning trying to bottle feed him and he’d have none of it.
And so, I’ll assume we’re done regardless. We started lambing with a bang on April 8th. Snow on the ground, cold days and nights, and five ewes in 24 hours giving us nine lambs. The pace dropped off after that. All good moms. Only two were born too cold to survive without help. We tubed warm milk replacer laced with artificial colostrum into their stomachs and warmed them up on a heating pad wrapped in warm towels set on the kitchen table. Our basic goal each time was to bring their temperatures from the very low 90’s to a healthy 102 and ensure they were able to stand on their own and each time it took about 90 minutes. Both moms welcomed their babies back and took good care. Today they are thriving right along with the rest of the lambs. Nine boys and six girls in total.
Friday we moved the flock from the back yard where the grass seems to green up first and where they have literally pooped up a storm. I’ll have to pick it all up with rubber gloves unless we like making guests play hopscotch around dumpings. They now chow down on the grass to the East side of the house where we have a ring of temporary fencing. The grass is long, vibrant green and it’s a complete pleasure to seem them pace through the large paddock, adults side by side with the lambs. This year we’re trying something a little new. From the temporary paddock, Todd has set up panels across the drive to the barn yard so that when they’re done with breakfast, the flock can find shade, minerals and water, back up on the barn yard. The down side of course is that cars can’t drive up to the house. Saturday the UPS truck left a package leaning on one of the panels! (And had to back down the driveway, about 800 feet)
Despite a light rain we had work to do Sunday morning, but it turned out to be relatively easy. We moved the moms and their lambs into the barn, shaking grain to get them to follow us and boarded up the door ways and pinned them into a tighter space with the long hay feeders. As Todd held the boys up, I put a small, strong rubber band around the base of each boy’s scrotum. I had no luck keeping the testicles from ascending into the body’s’ cavity. While the rubber band will, over time, ensure that the scrotum falls away, the testicles will continue to produce testosterone, so I fear we may have some rowdy sheep this summer. We’ll see. All the lambs, boys and girls, got their CDT vaccine as well. The final chore was to check each of the adults to see how they were handling their worm load. All sheep have some, but if there are too many parasites in their gut, we’ll know by checking the color of the inside of their lower eye lid. If it’s too pale. It means the sheep is anemic and gets an oral dose of medicine to kill the parasites. Almost all were just fine, but it’s good we checked as about five needed dosing.
A good steady downpour of rain in the afternoon will help further jump start the grass to grow. Memorial Day weekend is around the corner. Winter conditions in April are a fading memory. Let’s hope summer unspools slowly.