My former cheesemaker, Taryn, was visiting yesterday and she and I walked up to check on the pregnant ewes in the middle pasture. There were several ewes grazing and I proceeded to tell Taryn that if a ewe is grazing, she probably isn’t in labor, but you need to look closely and make sure she is really grazing and not licking the grass, because if she is licking the grass, she may be in labor and be licking some birth fluids that landed there. Ewes are drawn to lick the birth fluids, and this is what induces them to lick their lambs after they are born, which is vital to the lambs’ survival. After giving Taryn this little lecture, I turned around and looked in the shelter, and there, right behind us, was Hillary, one of our “Romnesian” ewes, with a huge lamb protruding from her behind, half born! We had come up unprepared, with no towels or nasal syringe and without a radio to call Linda. “Umm, go get Linda,” I said, and Taryn bolted back to the barn.
Linda came with towels and the nasal syringe and by the time she and Taryn returned, Hillary had a huge girl. The lamb, which is 3/4 Romney, had the most ridiculous wet wooly face, and Linda couldn’t look at her without laughing. “That’s the worst morning-face ever!” Linda declared. The lamb weighed 14.9 pounds. The biggest lamb of the season so far.
Today is Melinda’s sister Heather’s birthday, and Melinda asked for a photo of the lamb to send to her sister. We decided to name her Heather for Melinda’s sister.
Meanwhile, Emylou’s quads are growing well. We are housing them with their mother in the box stall so they have more room and can take more time to bond as a family. They are a very tight little group, all 4 lambs always together. Emylou loves them all equally and is feeding them all very well. But even a dairy ewe who loves all of her lambs may come up short of milk as the lambs grow and start to need larger volumes of milk. We have had plenty of dairy ewes raise quads, but we also had a triplet lamb starve many years ago because its more aggressive siblings were outcompeting it for their mother’s milk, but the lamb was several weeks old at that point and could not be trained to suck from a bottle. So with triplets and especially quads, we try to train some of the lambs to drink from a bottle. Emylou is so good at feeding her lambs we can never find one of them hungry, so we built a pen inside the box stall and isolate two of them for a few hours every evening. Then, when they are hungry, Lisa feeds them with a bottle before returning them to their mother. It was the only way to get them to learn. We hope we will never need to bottle feed them, but it is better to be safe than sorry.
Yesterday evening after dinner, Lisa called from the barn and asked if Linda and I could help her get Good Daughter up. So we headed up to the barn. As we walked in, Lisa called out joyously, “It’s a girl!” Between when she called us and we got up there, she had realized Flake was in labor, and Flake had popped out a girl.
Flake is a big 4-year-old East Friesian ewe. She had been painfully bagged-up for days and we had been hoping she would lamb. Linda and I stayed with Lisa while Flake delivered triplets, a big white boy and two black girls. The father is Dale the Corriedale, so we have some more Friedales!