Tuesday, February 10, 2009

New Mama Stories

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.


Anonymous said...

That is soooo sad, but it is also
life! I am happy that you are there
to save them! This is such a cute
but very little guy/gal?! I love
that its adoptive mamma is a work
boot! So cute! But with little
but of kitty nose love it will grow
so fast! Kids now days do!
Your kitties are very cute too!
Ack all this cute just knocks me
off my feet!

Anonymous said...

bit of kitty nose....
can't spell today!

Mare said...

oh..poor little muffin...It is lucky for her she has you to take her in and feed her. I bet she will grow up to be something special!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing such a "warms the cockles of my heart" story. I hope the little lamb makes it.

Amy R Singer said...

The people in Kleinburg, ON, agree with you. Look:


Maybe one year you guys will come up for this! (It's just north of Toronto.)

Renna said...

I am just loving your daily pictures. :-)

Anonymous said...

Such a sweet photo of the baby lamb, its skin all loose around it. I'm glad you guys saved it.

Anonymous said...

Aww. I always look forward to the baby lamb photos. On one hand, it's so sad that the mom doesn't want the baby, but on the other, you get to have a baby lamb in the kitchen. haha

penny said...

i just want to snuggle for a while. so small! (compared to the boot).

kittens do grow. that must be wonderful seeing everyone just getting along ....

Turtle said...

so sad about the non-bonding, but i am sure your household does not complain too much about having the babes in the house!

Angela said...

I can't tell you how much I have enjoyed sharing your lambing season via the blog. The info, both of the sweet and of the "Nature, a cruel mistress" variety has been great. Makes me want to foster a lamb here at home, but the city of Chicago has livestock regulations preventing that. :(

Deborah said...

Such a sweet little lamb. It looks content and is lucky to have all of you to care for it.

Kathleen C. said...

I was looking at the cute lamb photo (such a sweet face) and then I noticed the boots...
That lamb is tiny!!! I had no idea it was so small. I hope it makes it and it's mother was wrong.

Lyn said...

Oh the lamb is so cute, I adore sheep and cats so your blog was lovely to read. I have a cat but no sheep!
Lovely blog, i will follow.
Love Lyn

Cecie said...

it is so sad but so beautiful the same time... cant wait to see a picture from a lamb close to a kitty's nose ;o)

your life is so far, far away from mine - and probably thats one reason why i am so fascinated this and your knitting and your whole world. thanks a lot for letting me be kind of part of it!

hugs, Cecie

Anonymous said...

I hope you are able to read all your post with so many and all. I love your blogs. We too raise sheep but live in the Pasific North West. And like you we had a ewe that rejected one of her lamb. So it came to the house to be saved. Success! She made it. Her name is Bee Sweet. This is the first time we have had to raise a bottle lamb and would like your's & the farmer's advice. How do we go about weaning her off the bottle? Do we just stop once she is 8wks and on feed or do we reduce over time?

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