Tag: ewes bonding with lambs

Mass Confusion! or What a Day! or Modern Family.

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When I got to the barn this morning I found Martha and Peppa already in labor. Martha was very close to birth. Her water had broken and she was nosing around, looking for a lamb to clean off. She happened upon Farah, the twin Frannie had rejected yesterday. Farah was bleating, looking for a mother who did not want her. She was hungry and desolate. Martha, looking for a lamb to mother, started sniffing, licking, and chuckling over her. I knew from past years that Martha is an excellent mother. So, I made an executive decision. Rather than wrestling with Frannie on a daily basis, forcing her to suckle a lamb she didn’t want, I decided to not separate Farah from Martha. It seemed like an ideal solution. I allowed Martha to continue bonding with Farah and adopt her.

I opened the door and let the rest of the sheep out. Martha was too busy to care about going out, but Peppa took off with the rest. No biggie. I would just have to keep going out to check on her. She was only out there about 10 minutes when she was at the gate, asking to be allowed back in. Great. It’s much easier to watch them when they are in the barn.SDC11874

Not long after Peppa came in Martha gave birth to a little ewe lamb. As soon as I saw the size of the lamb I had a strong suspicion Martha was going to have twins. I felt a twinge of concern. I had no doubts at all that Martha could feed two lambs. She could probably handle three, but I was thinking that maybe I shouldn’t have allowed her to adopt Farah. But then again, it would probably be fine. My suspicion about twins was verified when Martha gave birth to a second lamb, a tiny ram lamb this time. SDC11882

While all this was happening, a few yards away Peppa was straining for all she was worth. I was just about to get a closer look to see if she needed help when I realized that Martha had just dropped a THIRD lamb! Holy Crap! Triplets! Two girls and a boy. Martha was a busy girl, cleaning off all those lambs. All FOUR lambs because she had already decided that Farah was hers. This is a first for us. We’ve had triplets born a few rare times in the past, but never had all three survive the birth. And Martha had 3 live-born lambs plus a 4th adopted one. There’s no way she can feed four…is there?SDC11883

By now Peppa had finally given birth to her lamb, a nice big ram lamb. I was checking the sex of Peppa’s lamb when I realized Martha was helping Peppa to clean him off. Come on, Martha, you really want to claim 5 lambs? Oh, no. I moved Peppa with her lamb and Martha with her lambs farther away from each other and got back to doing chores.

I noticed Peppa kept looking over at Martha and the 4 lambs scrabbling at her feet with envy. Next thing I know, Peppa had crossed the barn and was licking Martha’s lambs and Martha was over by Peppa’s lamb, mothering him. Are ya kidding me? SDC11877

But wait, what is this brilliant notion growing in my mind? Peppa has supported twins before and only had one lamb this year. Martha is a great mama, but 4 lambs? What if I just let them both bond with all the lambs? I made my second executive decision of the day and just let it happen. It’s what both ewes wanted. Two mothers between five lambs should have enough milk for everyone. But will it work? I don’t know. It seemed to be working today. The lambs were suckling whichever ewe was handy and both mamas were standing for whoever was hungry. Two mothers with five lambs. If it works I won’t worry so much about ewes in labor at the same time interfering with bonding.SDC11879

I have named the lambs in order of their birth; Eeny, Meeny, Miney, and Moe (plus Farah). Today I also got to see one of Shylo’s kittens. I know she had them weeks ago, but I have no idea where. I still don’t know where she has them stashed or even how many she had. Up until today I wasn’t even positive they were still alive. At least now I know there is one alive, not to mention friggin’ adorable.

Twelve lambs on 3 days. I. AM. EXHAUSTED. Please girls, nobody give birth tomorrow. I need a break!

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4 New Babies Today

Today’s first baby was born this afternoon to Chevelle. Chevelle chose to give birth in the middle of the flock as they gathered at the barn door, demanding to be let back inside. Within a few minutes of exiting the birth canal, little boy Chevron (10 lb) was in the ditch, getting covered with dirt. Chevelle was cleaning him off and bonding with him among everyone else’s feet. Things probably still would have been fine if Frannie, who was also in labor, hadn’t decided to claim Chevron as her own. I had a hell of a time getting her away from the lamb. Finally had to move Chevelle and Chevron to the other side of the gate.SDC11862

Frannie was desolate that she could not reach “her” lamb.

In the mean time, Minnie was busy giving birth to her lamb under the apple tree on the other side of the barn.

Minnie, a first-timer, had the good sense to have her lamb in the shade and away from the others. Her boy, Mickey, weighed in at 10 lb as well. Minnie took to motherhood like she had been doing it all her life.

While I was getting Mickey and Minnie and Chevelle and Chevron into the barn, Frannie dropped her first lamb in the barnyard.

Luckily Frannie no longer had any interest in Chevron. She was happily cleaning off her little girl, Farah, when I left to get some lunch. Checked in when I finished eating to find that Frannie’s second girl, Fawcet, had safely arrived.

Frannie was busy cleaning off Fawcet and all seemed well. I left to do some brush-hogging. Decided to do a last check before I headed up to the house for the night. That is when I discovered that Frannie had decided to reject Farah. She still wanted Fawcet, but wanted nothing to do with Farah. STUPID SHEEP! First she tries to claim another ewe’s lamb, then she rejects one of her own.

I tried the old trick of rubbing Farah with Fawcet’s placenta to make her smell like the accepted lamb. Frannie wasn’t having any of it. Maybe because the placenta was now cold? I also tried rubbing the lamb and Frannie’s nose with some of Frannie’s discharge. She still wasn’t going for it. In the end I tied Frannie (after a brief, back-wrenching wrestling match) and held her still so Farah could nurse. Laid her down next to Fawcet whose belly was already full. I am hoping morning will show a wiser Frannie, but am not counting on it.

Three new babies yesterday, 4 new babies today. That means some 5 months ago Spaulding bred 6 ewes in 2 days. I gotta tell you, I am impressed. No wonder he lost so much weight when he first arrived. (He has gained it back since.) Sissy and I were a bit concerned that, being a baby doll sheep, Spaulding would sire smaller lambs than we usually get. However, at the time we were desperate. We just needed any sperm donor for the girls, quick. And we didn’t need to worry. We have 20 lambs so far (not even halfway through yet) and they have all been between 8 and 14 pounds. And they are growing very well. They are all nice and solid. Way to go Spaulding! And he has a great personality to boot. I can walk through the barn and the pasture and never have to worry about being attacked. IT IS AWESOME! I’m pretty sure we will be using him for next year’s breeding season, too. Thank you so much Mary and Robbie Spaulding!

Welcome To The World, Little Edith!

Our newest baby, Edith, was born this afternoon. The girls were out in the pasture when I noticed that Eve was in labor. Eve is another first time mama and it was raining out. I thought she would feel more secure giving birth in the barn. I started heading her toward the barn, got as far as the first gate when she turned around and ran back to the spot where her water broke. We repeated this 3 times. She just wasn’t having it. She was determined to stay in that spot. She kept nosing around in the grass, looking for a lamb. This is common of so many sheep in labor. They have a little contraction and have to examine the ground behind themselves, hoping that’s all there is to it, there MUST be a lamb back here somewhere. So, Eve gave birth for the very first time out in the rain. I gave them about 20 minutes to bond then went out to bring them inside. Little Edith is a healthy, floofy 9 lb. girl. Eve is taking to motherhood like she has done it all her life.

Happy Birthday X 4 = Mayhem in the Barn (Sheep Are Sooo Stupid!)

As soon as I entered the barn this morning I could hear the “chuckling” of a new mama. Looked around to locate the new lamb and saw TWO new lambs. Here’s the problem: there were two ewes circling, chuckling, and licking both lambs. Say whaaat? In the meantime the rest of the flock is milling around, looking for scratches and yelling at me to let them out to pasture. OK, first thing is to open the door and get the rest of these fools out of the way.

Now how in the heck do I figure out who belongs to whom? The lambs are mostly dry and are fairly small. If not for the two ewes I would have said they are twins. They are both responding to both ewes. On closer inspection of the ewes I can see that Cora has both mucus and blood discharging from her back end, while Lily has only mucus but no blood. Hmmm… I think what happened is Cora gave birth to twins while Lily began labor and Lily got confused. That is what I thought, but I wasn’t sure.

I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want the lambs to bond with the wrong mama and then get rejected by the right one. Called Sissy in on the case. She also was “pretty sure” the lambs both belonged to Cora and that Lily had not lambed yet. While Sissy and I were assessing the situation, Levi was helping to come up with names for the new lambs. So there we were; two insistent ewes, two confused ram lambs, two adult humans, and one little boy, grouped in the corner of the barn. It was too much for Lily. She felt threatened and knocked Levi down. Then she backed up and knocked him down again before Sissy and I could even react.

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Levi was crying because he was taken by surprise and his hand had hit the wall when Lily butted him. Sissy and I felt bad because Levi was hurt and because we hadn’t been quick enough see it coming and prevent it. Plus we still weren’t sure what to do with the sheep. Every one is feeling pretty low at this point. Along comes Ruby to dispel the blues. She flaps up onto Lily’s back as if she wants to play mid-wife. Levi stopped crying and we all got a good laugh.

Sissy decided we should pen Cora and the lambs in the creep for now and wait for Lily to lamb. It wasn’t too long after this that Lily started getting into serious labor. She was still calling to Cora’s lambs, but was too busy to hover outside the pen. Every time she finished straining she would whip around to examine the floor behind her, expecting to see a lamb there. Maybe she thought if she stole two babies that were already born she would not have to go through labor?

Anywho, it was not long before Lily had a lamb of her own to clean off. And a short time after that she had ANOTHER lamb to clean. Two little girls this time. And about 30 seconds after number 2 was born, Ruby started her egg-laying cackle from the wall ledge she jumped to from Lily’s back.

I texted Sissy and she and Levi came back to the barn so Levi could name the babies. He had already named Cora’s boys Spot and Dot. Now he named Lily’s girls Ginny and Hermione. (He loves Harry Potter.) Sissy and Levi left and things were quiet in the barn. Cora and her lambs were calm, Lilly was busy taking care of her lambs. I decided it should be safe to let Cora, Spot and Dot out of the creep. Yeah, not so much. As soon as Lily noticed them out of the pen she tried to steal Spot and Dot again. She started calling to them and running back and forth between them and her own lambs. She wanted to keep ALL FOUR lambs! And Spot and Dot were so confused. Lily’s smell told them she was the mama they belonged with, but Lily’s voice told them they should go with her.

To sum things up, all lambs are with their correct mamas now. Cora, Spot and Dot are spending the night in the creep. Hopefully by morning everyone will be bonded with who they should be bonded with. Apparently Spaulding had a busy day some 5 months ago!