Lamb Deluge

At last, the expected flood of lambs is beginning. After being stalled for several days with just four, we had six more lambs born yesterday alone. Two sets of twins, and two singletons. What’s interesting is that the gender split is now a perfect five-and-five.

Before introducing the new arrivals, I want to give a quick update regarding Runty. She’s the tiny lamb which has been teetering on the brink. In the last couple of days, she’s begun improving significantly. It helped that we gave her an injection of 5cc of Bovi Sera (goat serum, essentially). I also noticed that she was having trouble getting enough milk out of the bottle, and I started to wonder if the hole in the nipple was too small. After carefully enlarging that hole, the lamb’s feedings improved dramatically. She’s now sucking down more milk, more quickly, than she had before. As a result, she has more energy and is getting around better. She’s still going to be living in my office for a while, but I feel much better now about her survival.

IMG_20160407_135458468

Note the way her right front leg angles outward at the knee — so far this has not impeded her mobility, but it definitely marks her as a cull if she can survive to the fall. Is it a little sad, knowing the ultimate fate of the lamb we’re now working so hard to bottle feed? Of course. But that’s life on the farm. If we weren’t able to deal with it, we wouldn’t be raising livestock.

The New Arrivals

First up, the singletons. Paint Bucket (so named because her black head and neck contrasts so sharply with the rest of her white body, it looks like she got her head stuck in a bucket of black paint) had a horned male. He’s virtually all black, with just a few little white fringes around the head and ears.

PaintBucket 2016

Licorice also gave us a male, but it appears he will be polled. Like Licorice herself, he’s virtually all black. On the top of his head, however, he has a small tuft of white. This interesting little color pattern surfaces from time to time, and we call it “The Mark of Buddy.” Buddy was one of our first two rams, is the sire of Licorice, and he had this color pattern. Anyway, Licorice is our second-oldest ewe; she’s one of the few remaining who came with us from Illinois eight years ago. She’s usually had twins or triplets, so I wonder if the singleton is a sign she’s slowing down in her old age.

Licorice 2016

Now, the twins. First to deliver was CleoBelle; we named her that because the dark markings around her eyes remind us of Cleopatra, and because she’s descended from a line of ewes that all get the -belle suffix. The larger of the two is a male, and it appears he will be horned. His sister is a bit smaller, and she will be polled.

CleoBelle Twins 2016b

Late last night, the other set of twins arrived. If I hadn’t checked the barn one last time before going to bed, I would’ve missed them. Both are male, both are horned, and both are virtually all black (with a few white streaks, and possibly the makings of a white or gray undercoat). The mother is a sheep we named FletcherBelle. Yes, she also descends from the -belle line. And as for “Fletcher”? It’s an amusing story. (Short version: it’s because she’d fallen … and she couldn’t get up.)

FletcherBelle Twins 2016c

Bottom line: We’re now up to ten lambs! With the notable exception of the pet lamb in my office, all appear to be doing well, and are nursing well. Nice to see the lambing season getting off to such a great start.

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