Friday, February 27, 2009

Lambing Season

In past years I would do a post for each new lamb born. Last year I did a post for the first half dozen and then just a more general post for all the rest.

The operation is big enough now that lambing is a season rather than an event or even a series of events.

We moved up the date we expected lambs this year by two months.

This was because we wanted a bit more age on the lambs when the stress of the hot summer weather set in. Last year most of the lambs were quite small when tropical storm fay hit us. The adult sheep and even the oldest lambs seemed to do OK, but the young ones suffered. We lost some and some of the others were slower growing out than they normally are.

The down side of lambing now is that the grass is dormant, feed is all hay we put up or bought, plus what ever supplements we provide. We give a small amount of soy meal to the ewes to help them with the nutritional requirements of lactation. That and free choice hay cost money.

Still, lambing has been going well and the whole flock seem to be in good condition even if our bank account is getting a bit thin.

We have 70 some lambs so far and expect to wind up with somewhere around 100.

Our ewes tend to be younger than is typical, we have been keeping ewe lambs for breeding stock for the most part to build up the size of the flock. Several of the first timers don't quite seem to have a handle on the motherhood thing. We have three young ewes penned up with their twin lambs to prevent them from totally rejecting one of them.

There are only two bottle bummers so far, one is being looked after by it's mama, who has some mastitis and and just does not have enough milk to feed it. The other is just a lamb that is not claimed by anyone that we put in with one or our reluctant mothers.

We had one ewe who had trouble with a very large single lamb. We tried to help, to pull the lamb, but only wound up chasing the ewe around the pasture while the poor lamb rode around with its head out the window, so to speak. After the ewe struggled with this for several hours my brothers family arrived for a visit from their home up north. My two nieces, 16 and 11, helped me catch her. I had warned the girls that the lamb may well be dead, but when we caught the now exhausted ewe, I pulled the lamb. It was alive and before long stumbled to its feet. The ewe was tired but otherwise fine.

My nieces, city kids, have told the story to everyone since and seem to think this whole farm thing is pretty cool.