Monday, April 19, 2010

Lambing Update – April 14, 2010 (Jen)

Our lambing season is just about over. It started tragically and has had a few bumps in the road but overall, its been a pretty good lamb crop and I’m pleased with what we’ve gotten from our girls!

On Wednesday (03/24/2010), Aliza lambed while I was at work. She had triplets and it was a cold rainy day and I had yet to remove Bella (the new guardian pup) from the lambing shed. I got home to find one already dead, another struggling and one doing ok. I got Aliza in a jug with her healthy ewe lamb, removed the dead ewe lamb and took the struggling ram lamb into the house to warm him and tube him. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it. Not a good start to the lambing season. Thankfully her remaining lamb, Emma, is a ewe and has very nice blue markings. Only thing I can gather that happenend is Aliza was so worried about Bella, who was obviously very stimulated by the lambing fluids and newborn lambs, that she didn't get 2 of the lambs properly cleaned off. The one I tried to save was very chilled and I couldn't seem to warm him no matter what I did. I'll never know exactly what happened but all the lambs appeared healthy and there were no marks on them.

Second to lamb was Amy. She lambed Saturday morning (03/27/2010) and gave us twins; one white ewe Sarah and one natural colored ram Samuel. Both very healthy and rambunctious and still are to this day. They are always the first to start lamb races around the pond! I am totally in love with Samuel, his temperament is just too cool. He is much more friendly and curious than the other lambs and of course he is very pretty and will have georgeous natural colored fleece.

Third up to bat was Lemara…I think. This is where my memory might fail me on sequence but I’ll do my best. Lemara graced us with another big beautiful boy, a white one this time. We named this one Theodore, Teddy for short. He too has nice blue markings and will be a very handsome ram.

Next I believe was Goldie, again she gave us twins, both white, one ram Julian, one ewe Jillian. Both healthy, beautiful lambs with no issues. These 2 should also have amazing fleeces, Goldie was my best fleece last year and Olivia and Tobias (09 lambs) also had very nice fleeces.

Lets see…I think Daisy might have been next, she had a single this year, a little black ram lamb, no name for him because he will be a meat lamb. Pam was close behind with a tiny little black ewe lamb, Stella! (when I say that name I have to yell it and hold out my arm, can’t help myself). Both lambs are on the small side but healthy and doing well and both appear to have a healthy set of vocal cords....ouy vey! Remember April from 09? Yeah, Stella! is her sister :).

Oh and Cybil, how could I forget Cybil. She lambed at 2:30 on Wednesday (04/07/2010) and I got to watch the whole thing. Man is she a drama queen. You’dve thought she was giving birth to 15 lb lambs the way she was carrying on. Neither weighed more than 6 or 7 lbs! Again she gave us twin girls, one white one black, exactly the same as last year. I was very careful to make sure she saw and accepted both lambs (she rejected one lamb last year because it got out of the jug during the night). She seemed ok with both lambs and eagerly cleaned them off. Problem was, she had no milk. Not a big deal, I went and mixed up some of the powdered colostrum and gave them both a bottle which they happily took. Cybil was late to drop her milk last year too so I was anticipating this. However, the hours went by and still no milk. I gave her penicillin, shot after shot of oxytocin and a week later, still no milk. So I’m going to start drying Cyb up and she won’t be lambing again next year. That’s ok, we have 5 beautiful lambs out of Cyb, 4 of those being ewe lambs. I want to be sure they don’t have the same issues as Cybil does though so they will stay at DreamCatcher Farm at least thru their first lambing. So regardless of making sure she accepted both lambs, we still ended up with not one but TWO bottle lambs out of Miss Cybil. ARGH! In keeping with our “diner waitress names” theme for the Cybil line (girls anyway), we went with Flo and Alice.

"Need a refill on that coffee?"

I think next up would be the Dot/Daylight fiasco. I’ve been watching Daylight very closely with much anticipation. This is her first lambing and my first experience with a first timer, Rosie was our other first timer but I had a good feeling about her and wasn’t too worried (she’s half Shetland, nuff said).

So ok, Saturday the 10th I had planned to run some fleeces to a new fiber mill in Lone Jack which is about 2 hrs away. Then I had intended to spend the rest of the day with my mother doing some spring garden shopping. Bridget was on farm watch while I was away and would be in charge of feeding the 2 little bottle babies.

Well, she calls just after I’d dropped my mother off about 3pm and was headed back home. Bridget is frantic (not a good sign) and I gathered from the “conversation” that Daylight and Dot had both lambed yet only Dot had lambs and Daylight was going a little nutso looking for lambs. ‘WHAT DO I DO???” Bridget asked. She had taken one of the lambs that was laying by Dot and gave it to Daylight to calm her and it seemed to work. On top of that, the hawks must’ve smelled blood because they were circling the pasture which was freaking Bridget out. She’d be talking to me telling me what was going on and then I’d hear “GET AWAY YOU BAD HAWKS!!! SHOOO SHOOO!!!!! GET AWAY!!!”. You can imagine the picture I had formed in my head. Sheep running around hollering for babies, hawks diving down trying to steal them and here I am, an hour drive and stuck in construction traffic.

I told her that she did right by giving Daylight a lamb. Until I could get there to look at them, I couldn’t know who they belonged to. See Dot is a Cheviot and Daylight is a BFL. They have similar appearance especially to a non sheep person. Cheviot afterall, has some Leicester in them. To a shepherd however, their shepherd, they look totally different and the lambs are quite easy to tell apart. In the meantime, I told Bridget to go shoo away the hawks and look for lost lambs in the pasture just incase one of them dropped a lamb there.

I race home and run out to the lambing shed. One look and it was obvious that both lambs were Daylight’s, classic blue coloring and very bunny like ears. A look at Dot tells me that she hasn’t actually lambed yet but it does look like her water has burst. So I grabbed the lamb that was left with Dot, give it to the very confused Daylight and get Dot in a jug. Now Dot is very confused and distressed and doesn’t appear to be pushing at all, she's too busy freaking out because I took "her" (stolen) lambs away. Not knowing how long its been since her water burst but knowing it was at least an hour, I decided to go in and see what I can feel. Sure enough, the lamb is right there but the head seems to be too big to make it thru the cervix. So I had to help Dot by dilating her cervix as much as I could. Bridget also had to help widen the opening while I pulled the lamb during contractions while our friend Caryn (Dot's original owner) stood at her head holding her.

We finally got him out but it didn’t look good. He had some birth defects, herniated umbilical cord, his ribs were funky, he couldn't stand and his breathing was labored. We ended up having him euthanized on Monday. Had I been thinking clearly, I probably would have given Dot one of Daylights lambs to raise. I was a bit concerned about them fighting over the lambs and/or the lambs getting so confused and not knowing which ewe to go to. Hindsight tells me that it would have worked out ok though. In the end, I put Dot out with the 09 ewe lambs to dry up and she is now happily lounging around with them. We did have to keep Daylight and her 2, Leah and Liam, in the jug for an extra day or so to get them to bond properly. First few days out of the jug was a bit iffy, lambs weren’t staying together and Daylight would forget she had 2. Now they’re doing well though.

After Dot lambed, Nan decided it was her turn. I was bringing the ewes in to feed and I see hooves sticking out of Nan’s backside. I hollered at Bridget who was bottle feeding Flo and Alice and we got Nan into a jug. I went back to finish getting the sheep in to feed and when I went back into the shed, Bridget was gloved up and already assisting. Nan needed a little help, she also didn’t appear to have much desire to push but we got her monster ram lamb out and he looked to be almost as big as Sarah and Sam who were nearly 2 weeks old at this point. I’d guess he weighed around 14-15 lbs.

Finally on Sunday, Rosie, our first DCSFF Shetland Mule, decided it was her turn. Bridget and I were terribly excited about this lambing because she is our first “baby” even though she doesn’t appear to care for us all that much lol. She wasn’t one we ever got around to halter training or taming and boy does it show. She is a WILD child! We were able to get her into a jug, I don’t remember if she went in on her own and we slammed the gate shut or if we maneuvered her in there, its all a blurr. She did need a little assistance as her first lamb was a bit large and she was really laboring to get his head out. He wasn’t huge but it was her first. She had twins and the second lamb plopped out unassisted. As expected she is a good mom if not just a tad over protective (she’s nailed both Nora and Bella already). Seems as though the biggest challenge for our 2 new moms is keeping their lambs together. I often see them running back and forth between lambs, begging them to come closer together!

Well, Bridget just called to tell me that our old girl, Ruthie, just had the elusive ewe lamb and she’s black to boot! Ruthie has always had ram lambs and never a black one. So now I can retire Ruthie and give her old bones a rest. This darling tiny little lamb is named Gemma and has the cutest tornado shaped white spot on her head!

That leaves us with the one remaining ewe, Pewter, our beloved grey Shetland. She doesn’t appear to be in any hurry so we’ll just have to be patient!

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