Lambing Season is Over!
With uncertainty, worry and a bit of lost sleep giving way to happiness and relief, our first lambing season is finally over. The lost sleep was directly related to being novices at lambing, imagining all of the things that could go wrong while hoping desperately that nothing does.
The first delivery was the easiest with the lambs coming in the evening before it got really dark and cold. The score on that delivery was rams 2, ewes 0. The second batch came on St. Patrick’s Day in the wee hours of the morning. I didn’t discover them until about 6am and was concerned because it was windy that morning with the temperature in the low 20’s. We didn’t know how long they had been out in the cold wind but it was quite apparent that they been there for some time. We scooped them both up and warmed them for a bit then put them and their momma into the jug. We kept watch on them and noticed that they had not nursed and one was staying very quiet and still in the corner of the jug. Momma didn’t seem to care about either one of them and moved every time one would try to nurse.
|The one and only ewe lamb out of 6|
We were prepared for this and because of the cold weather, we decided to supplement with a bottle to get them some nourishment and warm them up. We checked the ewe and noticed her milk hadn’t come in so we gave her a shot of oxytocin, after which she started feeding them. The score on that delivery was rams 1, ewes 1, and a big sigh of relief from us! As it turns out, she is the most devoted of the ewes to her lambs.
|Ewes and lambs sharing with the hens.|
The final delivery was the following Sunday. The ewe had seemingly gone into labor on Saturday, but after a few contractions, labor stopped so we put her in the jug and waited. She delivered two very large lambs the following afternoon without any problems. The final score: rams 5, ewes 1, all of them healthy, active and growing quickly. Obviously we would have preferred the mix to be at least a bit more even since we really wanted to grow the herd from our own stock over the next couple of years.
|19 month old Mila loves the sheep!|
Our first year of having sheep wasn’t without some issues. The loss of two ewes to coyotes, the loss of our ram to disease and a couple of escapes made for an interesting and challenging experience. We learned a lot and are looking forward to this year with a bit more confidence and knowledge of what we are doing. Right now, watching the lambs running, bouncing and playing with each other is a delight! Giving our grand kids the experience of seeing and caring for the sheep is priceless. And for us, the real payoff comes a bit later when we will be watching with great satisfaction, 10 sheep eating our grass.