Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Lambing is over

A spring blizzard swept in last night and dropped an amazing amount of snow on our farm. Dave and I waded through knee high drifts to feed the sheep. I expected them to stay in the barn, but they must have been hungry, because the ewes plowed through the snow to meet us. Their lambs followed, scrambling through head high snow banks.

Lambing is done for the year. We are grateful to no longer waken at 3 am to check for new lambs. We are relieved to be done battling an elusive metabolic killer which stole both moms and babies. We are pleased to be able to work on anything other than lambing.

And yet, we miss the absolute wonder of each new birth. Our adrenalin levels will drop back to normal, and contrarily, we’ll long for those moments of heightened senses when we battle to save a ewe or a lamb. Our sleep cycles will be uninterrupted and when people ask “what have you been doing?” we’ll say, “oh nothing,” and wish we could complain again about lambing because it impresses people so.

We have 50 healthy babies in the barn. Eight of them use the sucker bucket. A dozen have found the creep feed and luxuriate in relaxing with full bellies under the warm glow of a heat lamp. Tomorrow, we’ll vaccinate the non-bottle lambs and introduce them all to the creep feed. They’ll grow even faster than they are now.

Puzzle never had any babies. About half way through lambing, she gave up trying to adopt every baby. We were relieved and I think she was too.

Available’s triplets bounce around the group pen. After the blizzard, we will let them out into the vast world of the barn yard. I look forward to watching them race around the barn in great circles with all the other lambs.

Avi (daughter of Available) and Gigi (daughter of Apple Blossom) are the only lambs we are adding to the flock this year. I worry that whatever metabolic problems the ewes had might have affected their lambs and I don’t want to add sheep to the flock with weak bones or insufficient thyroid glands or messed up immune systems.

Maybe still spends a lot of time lying on her side. Her babies use her body as a warm, soft perch, and watch the world from their position curled up on top of her.

The ice crystals melted rapidly from Rooster’s baby’s tightly curled wool; his ears thawed. He has disappeared into the rest of the flock, completely recovered and unrecognizable.

Zaida had a single big white lamb who keeps her busy enough so that she doesn’t have time to lie on her side with her feet out.

Christmas has two lambs just as petite as she is. They follow her through the deepest snow and stickiest mud. They are curious and afraid of nothing – just like their mother.

The Horned Ones babies are doing well. Her second lamb born never learned to nurse on his mom, but took to a bottle well. He has grown from a scrawny little black lamb who always looked fragile and cold, to a rambunctious little hellion who eats everything – milk, hay, creep feed, gloves. When he went to visit a school, the children named him Chewie because he ate their shoelaces.

Lambing is over, but the lambs will be with us for at least three more months, embellishing our pastures and our lives with their presence.

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