Tag: ewes trying to steal other ewe’s 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!