Lambing always starts out slow. Usually a couple of ewes will drop lambs within two days of each other. (Julia's bottle lamb Cora is always one of the first. She is a fabulous mama and this year we got a ewe lamb out of her - yippee!) These are Cora's new twins - haven't they grown?
Then a few days later - another and another ewe will deliver. After the first initial slow batch, about two to three weeks after the first, the ewes begin lambing in droves. This has to do with how the sheep "cycle." Sheep come into estrus (meaning they become fertile) in mid to late summer when the days are starting to get noticably shorter. They cycle every 16 or 17 days meaning that if they don't get pregnant with the first breeding, they have a second chance in another 16 or 17 days from the first cycle - and then again. This year our first lamb arrived December 27. That is 13 days ago from today.
Now for all you women out there and I am assuming most of you are women reading this, remember how you and your sisters all got your period at the same time? Or all your girlfriends on your college dorm floor all were synchronized. That is the power of nature, even though humans kind of forget that we humans are nature too. Our ewes synchronize themselves and the boys get busy.
Sheep are pregnant for 5 months. The only way we can tell if a ewe is fertile is if the ram is following around a ewe and then mounting her. That's it - the only outward sign of fertility. This year we used four different rams. I'll try to catch photos of each of the boys over the next couple of days. The rams are still in with the ewes now. They walk around like most men do at a party or after a family holiday dinner - wandering around, not knowing exactly what to do because their job is done - they can't care for the young - they don't have the equipment. They just lie around, take naps, and snack on hay. Sound familiar? Sorry - couldn't resist. I must say, as I have spent time with sheep over the years, I constantly find similarities to humans. It's kind of funny and not - all at the same time.
On Sunday, we began experiencing the results of the synchronized estrus I just wrote about. Lambs, lambs, lambs. I think we have already lost count. Not good - oh well. Maybe we can catch up.
|A new set of twins born outside|
|The Farmer bringing a set of twins and mama into the barn|
We are trying to get them all to survive but it just isn't possible. Some are not viable, some mamas can't deliver. Stuff happens. We do our best but we do not call the vet in. There is not enough money in this sheep business to pay a vet. If a sheep can't do her job, we have a 22. It's always a bit sad but I have gotten over it. Stuff happens. Life goes on. Lambs will be born and lambs and ewes will not make it. Life on a farm is not pretty a vast majority of the time. It is just the way it is. We do our best.
Off to the barn to feed the bottle lambs and see what else awaits.