Friday morning, two yearling ewes lambed. One I showed you a photo of yesterday with her new baby. The second yearling didn’t quite know what to do with two foreign things that had popped on out of her body. The Farmer, and a very good farmer at that, knows what to look for everyday. He knows that most of his experienced ewes have finished lambing so now it’s time to look for trouble.
We have hog panels set up along the side of the greenhouse just for such an occasion. Hog panels are very useful things that are handy for other things besides hogs. They are made of thick aluminum wire and come in sections about 12 feet long. They come either 3 or 4 foot tall. They are pliable and can be dragged anywhere to reinforce a fence or make a temporary fence. I can lift them (I’m not the strongest farm woman, I must admit – these things are very light.) Add a little baling twine to a hog panel and you have an instant sheep pen. Baling twine is one thing any farmer can't live without. It's made out of sisal and comes in giant rolls. I could write a whole post about baling twine. Whenever I wash The Farmer's jeans, there are always some scraps in his pockets.
Getting a new mama, especially an uncooperative mama into an enclosed area isn’t always so easy. Good mamas will follow their newborn lamb if you pick it up and walk it ever so slowly to the pen. The maternal instinct is amazing with sheep. And then there are the teenage mamas. They can’t be coerced for any reason whatsoever. That’s when The Farmer pulls out the stops and dives - flying into sheep poop or haylage - doing whatever it takes to catch that mama so she can bond with her baby. He always succeeds. Then she can be wrangled into the pen and her baby is placed with her. In a day or two, they will bond. The mama will figure out what needs to be done – stand still while this foreign thing is nosing around her backside. After a few days, the new lamb and the new mama get to leave the hog panel pen and re-join the flock.
Occassionally, this forced bonding doesn’t work. We usually don’t know why and it usually happens with twins. The other day, a two year old had a set of twin lambs. Into the hog panel pen they went. They were little things, very sweet looking to me but to the mama, one in particular wasn’t up to snuff. Sometimes it’s because there is something physically wrong with the lamb that we can’t see and only the mother knows. Sometimes the mama knows she doesn't have enough milk for twins and sometimes, we never figure it out.
All day long, the mama pushed the little lamb away until it got too much to bear. The other lamb was thriving - sucking away while the other lamb slept along the wall. The neglected lamb hadn’t gotten any colostrum (the mother’s first milk) and it was clear that this mama wouldn’t accept the baby. The Farmer "tubed" the lamb so it got some nourishment and then into the truck she went. She is residing in the kitchen. Aren’t those floppy little ears the best?
Here's someone else in the kitchen. Tommie the kitten - boy has he grown.
Our kittens are loving life. They think having lambs in the kitchen is normal life. I have yet to catch a photo of them bonding but every once in a while, there will be a lamb nose to kitten nose moment. Precious.