It all kicked off on Monday. The first lamb, a ram lamb arrived. That was early in the morning, and the second, a ewe lamb, was born in the evening. So good to have it all underway. Then on Wednesday three more arrived. The first two deliveries were straightforward, mother nature in charge. I took charge for the third, as head and one leg foot presented. The ewe was reasonably cooperative and I was able to slip my hand in and retrieve and position the other leg.
I am fortunate enough to have a shed where my sheep stay until they lamb, and for a few days after, together with their lamb in a bonding pen. Some farmers lamb outdoors, and are very successful. But it is nicer for the shepherd to be under a roof.
I check the sheep several times a day, then get up about 1 to 2 am, then up at 5. I now have two cameras installed that connect to my iPhone, set up yesterday by Archie. The picture is pretty good, even in the dark, and it may save me a late night wander down to the shed.
Last night Archie looked in about midnight, no activity, then I checked the iPhone at 2.30. Yikes, I jumped out of bed and hustled down. My ewe, Satsuma, was lambing but only the head was presenting. Normally there should be two feet and a head. The ewe was not happy. I tackled her, got her down and managed to get a leg out. She pushed and we delivered, with the other leg pointed back but okay. There is a lovely happy feeling when it all works out…but then mum decided she didn’t want that lamb to suck. She was probably a bit uncomfortable after my intervention. (I do have small hands)!
After lambs are born mother gets busy licking and licking, mewing and baaing. Lambs mew back. The the little lambs rock and struggle and work so hard to stand up. Mother Nature kicks in and the lamb staggers and trips and finally gets all the legs going the right way, back to the underbelly of mum. Then they bump up on the udders and finally, whew, find the teat. I love to hear that quiet sucky noise when the milk starts to flow.
But after all that effort, my last tired fed up ewe started butting her lamb away every time she tried to stagger back toward the teats. I had to intervene, held Satsuma quite firmly and the little one was able to latch on. She got a good tummy full of the colostrum so I knew she was okay. But mum continued to try to butt her.
I then held the lamb and squirted her from the teats. Not easy at 3.30 am, feeling slightly desperate. Ewe then licked her lamb and I hoped she’d respond with a bit more care. She didn’t until she finally cleansed about 6 am and then completely relaxed when the afterbirth was out. The lamb was always safe as I stayed nearby and she is having a wonderful first day with her loving mum.
Fifteen more to lamb…
Jo Stover has daily adventures on her small farm, together with her Highland cattle and Portland sheep, bees, a few hens, dogs, and some two-legged family and friends.