Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Spring Lambs!

This has been the winter that just won't let go. The April snows have been frequent and heavy. I am stiff and sore from shoveling all the time and very anxious for the grass to start growing.
I shoveled out that service door 5 times in 24 hours when we got 11" of snow last week.

Hay is VERY expensive due to last summer's drought and this never-ending winter.  I saw some nice small square grass/clover bales sell for $8.10 this morning. Wow, over $200 for a small stack of 25 bales! 

But the good news is that lambs have started to arrive --

Rita had a set of triplets in the wee hours of April 20.  Two ewe lambs and a ram lamb.  I knew she was going into labor and I was watching her like a hawk. But I finally went to bed at midnight to get some rest because I had a class to teach the next day.  I woke up at 4 a.m. and checked the barn cam. I could see there were two big lambs with her. So I went out to jug them and found a very small wet ewe off to the side all by herself.  She had been licked off, but she hadn't been up yet.  It was very cold out that night.  She was about half the size of the other two. I scooped her up in a towel and brought her in the house for Matt to hold while I found the heat lamb and got everyone settled in the lambing jug. (Fortunately, Matt had just come home - perfect timing!)

Once she was warmed up, she was hungry. I gave her a bottle and brought her right back out to mom and the heat lamp.

This is the first set of triplets ever born here at River Oaks. So I am quite excited and maybe a bit overprotective of them and Rita. She lost a lot of condition during the pregnancy. I started feeding her extra rations a couple weeks before she delivered. And now I've upped her rations and am supplementing all the lambs with 2 oz. bottles of milk replacer  three times a day.

I love these little preemie bottles.  I saved them from when Matt was born at just 3.5 pounds -- 24 years ago. They work great for newborn lambs. You can see that Corningware we got as a wedding gift in 1975 too.  I guess I need to go shopping!
The two bigger triplets are starting to refuse their bottles, but the little girl gulps hers down and finishes off what the others refuse. They are all so cute!

Leta had a big single ram lamb in the early hours of April 22.  I found her and the lamb out in the Megahut when I went out in the morning. He was already well fed and followed her back to the barn and into the jug.  He was bouncing and kicking up his heels within hours of his birth.

I am so happy with my homegrown Bluefaced Leicester ewes for being such great mothers right from the start. The Bluefaced Leicester ewes I started out with back in 2008 were good enough moms, but they were not attentive to their newborn lambs and they were reluctant to let the lambs nurse in the first 12 hours. We had to hold them so the lambs could nurse, which was very frustrating. But in March of 2011 things turned around. They all had twins (Rita, Leta, and Luna were born then) and were great moms. So I'm glad I hung in there with the BFLs. I love their fleece and their personalities. 

I've been doing a lot of felting and am currently working on some river themed pieces. Will post felt photos next time. And of course there will be more lamb photos as they arrive!  Six more ewes to go. :-)

Spring and Summer Classes 2024

  Well, it's April and the sheep have been sheared.  The chicks have arrived in the mail and Easter is behind us already.  Time to start...