Levi has 1/2 days at schools all this week, so when he gets off the bus he heads down to the barn to help me do chores.
After Martha’s triplets and Peppa’s single lamb on Monday I was hoping for a break. After I left for work that afternoon Sissy texted that Hazel had twins. Six lambs in one day, bringing our total to 27 so far. We are at the halfway mark. Hazels’s babies are a boy and a girl, Henry and Hillary.
My vision of a giant co-family with Martha and Peppa mothering the 6 lambs together did not materialize. Once the lambs started to get dry Martha went one way with her three and Peppa went another way with her single. And poor Farah was left out in the cold again. So we have a bottle lamb. Sissy holds Frannie so Farah can get some real mother’s milk twice a day, but my back issues will not allow me to do that. So I feed her a bottle 3 times a day. And Hazel’s girl, Hillary, has been falling behind her brother in gaining weight, so we are supplementing her with a bottle, too.
The sheep have given me a break, no births for two days. Whew! I needed the rest! I wonder what tomorrow will bring.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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!