Thursday, April 5, 2012

Lambing Week

I've been caught up in the life of a shepherdess in spring.  Since Monday, we've had one more lamb and we are still awaiting the arrival of at least two more.

Two lambs and their Mamas this morning, exploring life outside the barn

On Tuesday afternoon, Dorothy had a ram lamb (a boy).  Joey found him after work, on his feet and trying to head-butt Molly.  Only an hour into the world and he's already taking after his father, Dodge, the head-butt king.  I call him Dodge Jr., Junior for short.  Joey thought we should name him ToTo, as in Dorothy and Toto from the Wizard of Oz.

Because we don't have a lot of use for boys since Dodge seems to get the job done pretty well, we're not too sure what we are going to do with any boys that we get this year.  Last year, we tried to list our two merino boys on Craigslist in the fall hoping someone would want to add them to their flock or a kid would like to raise one of them for 4-H.  I posted signs around town, but no one was interested and we couldn't have them in the same pasture when we put Dodge in with the girls.  So we had to make the decision to send them to the livestock auction.  Our neighbor took them with some of his sheep.  A few weeks later we got a check in the mail.

The two merino boys last fall, before going to market

I hated doing it.  Not knowing where they'd end up.  Knowing they would probably go to a feed lot to get fattened up to be eaten.  A sad day for a vegetarian shepherdess.

So this year, I am trying not to get too attached.  But it's very hard when they are born looking like this:

Junior, about an hour after birth on Tuesday

And yet, even though we are only on our second year of lambing, I can't imagine a spring without lambs on our farm.  The anticipation of waiting for the arrival of lambs, the miracle of their births, and the joy they bring with their little wooly faces and gangly legs.  I have yet to see more than the last few minutes of a lamb's birth, but the moments after are beautiful.  The instinct between the ewe and her lamb is so powerful.  The fact that the ewe can labor by herself, on the ground, and deliver a lamb without help and then immediately start to clean it off and protect it from danger is absolutely amazing.  Fortunately so far we have been lucky in that none of the ewes have needed help with delivering their lambs.  Ideally, one of us would be home all day so we could watch and make sure, but neither of us can leave our jobs right now to wait on lambs.  And so they bring them into the world on their own.  We trim their umbilical cords and give them a dose of liquid nutrients, and their mothers do the rest. 

April, sticking close to mom, Margaret

Who can resist that wrinkly, pink lambie?  

I'm off work tomorrow for Good Friday, so I will be home with the sheep in case any are born tomorrow.  Although, who knows?  I've thought Susan was going to pop every day for the last week and she's still hanging in there.  Maybe today's her day.  We'll see when I get home.

1 comment:

  1. Love it! I'm getting three chicks on Saturday from the urban farm store, which will be nowhere where as complex as lambs, but still exciting, particularly in the city.