2010 lambing is finished here at Stonehaven Farm….all the lambs were born in 5 days! The whole time was intense, but Thursday night was amazing (6 ewes lambed between 8:00 PM and 8:00 Friday morning). I can’t imagine how those who lamb out hundreds or even dozens of sheep manage to survive. We had no sleep and were running on empty.
But Friday morning brought a crisis (the only lambing problem this year, but it was a big one)…so sleep was not an option.
Solveig, a 2 year-old in her first pregnancy looked as though she would single and it didn’t seem as though the birth of her lamb was imminent. But early Friday morning, she lambed silently and without any real preliminaries. It was very cold and windy, and even though Brook had wrapped the barn in tarps, Solveig had chosen a cold spot against the outside barn wall, in the least protected place.
When we found her in labor, Solveig had just birthed a second lamb. These two seemed premature and were very weak and chilled. We moved them to a jug and although we gave them colostrum, gave them sub-Q CMPK and all the usual support, and warmed them, the first-born didn’t survive.
To our amazement, a third lamb was born in the jug; this little ewe was the largest of the three, and seemed very strong. The little ram (second born) was unable to suckle, and so was tube fed for the first 24 hours of his life. Each time he was taken out of the jug, we rubbed him all over with the placental membranes and Solveig seemed to accept him back. But ultimately the lamb’s being taken out and put back so many times was too much for this first-time mom to accept…and she became very protective of her third lamb.
So the little ram came to the house where we could nurse him in the warmth. The next 48 hours were intense for him: still unable to suckle, he was fed with a syringe fitted out with a Pritchard nipple on the end every two hours. This went on for two more days; he didn’t learned to suck properly until he was 5 days old!
But now our little one is a going concern, and runs and leaps and bounces after humans and dogs….the cats draw the line though and stay clear of him.
His name is Jiggs….the first really truly bottle lamb that we have had in 12 years of lambing:
Jiggs gets stronger every day and more charming! Although he finds rugs the easiest to manage, today he learned to negotiate the bare floors….expanding his universe by at least 3 times.
He wears two diapers strategically placed…arrangements for rams are more difficult than for ewes!
Over the days since his birth, Jiggs has become friends with all three of the Border Collies…but it was our Toby (the middle BC) who adopted Jiggs, He licked and nuzzled the little lamb from the beginning, and I think that Jiggs was comforted by it. Soon he was running through the house with the dogs…I began to wonder if he would be able to figure out his identity someday when he went back to live with the sheep.
We didn’t want to put it off too long and so on Thursday, Jiggs made his first trip outside, a short supervised visit in which he was investigated by a barnyard delegation:
He is used to creatures that are taller and larger than he is, but the llamas were a bit overwhelming:
He quickly became frightened and Minden picked Jiggs up to comfort him….llamas weren’t so scary from this vantage point!
“Hmmm, maybe you aren’t SO dangerous after all.”
Yesterday Jiggs made two short trips to the barnyard, one with us there for comfort and another in which we left him for a little while on his own. He seemed to noodle around nibbling on this and chewing on that, and kept his distance from anything that moved….we hoped that he hadn’t been in the house for too long.
Today, after his late morning bottle, JIggs went out in the sunshine to be with the mamas and lambs. Mostly he hung out on his own, but when Brook went out to bring him in, he found Jiggs jumping and playing with some other lambs! What a relief…he WILL be a sheep after all!
More lambing posts to come…stay tuned.