No matter what, it always seems that lambing catches me by surprise, a week before I’m ready. This year was the same! We expected first lambs around February 16. On February 11 Melinda, Lolo and I got the lambing barn all set up, and I set out all the supplies in the tack room, so we would be ready at the start of the next week. I still had a mountain of office work to finish before lambing and thought I had the weekend to do it. But there was a storm coming, one of our Corriedale ewes, Soot, was looking huge and very uncomfortable, and we debated mightily whether to bring the ewes in that night. We don’t like to start doing that too soon—it is a long night in the barn for them and they are happier out on pasture. But we didn’t want any lambs born in the cold storm in the pasture. We decided to leave them out—they do have Orbit protecting them, and have a shelter to get away from the storm.
My premonition turned out to be right. Friday morning at 7:00 I got a call from Lolo, announcing, “We have a new family!” But it wasn’t Soot; it was Pearl, one of our white Romney ewes, who we hadn’t even realized was close. A first-time mother, Pearl had delivered twins in the shelter during the night and Melinda found them when she went out to feed on Friday morning. Pearl had done a great job, and they were already up and nursing. Pearl is a “b-factor” ewe, meaning that she carries one copy of the dominant white gene, and one copy of the recessive color gene. We had bred her to Mitt, who is a recessive-colored ram, so we had a chance of either white or colored lambs. She gave us two beautiful colored girls. Lisa named the first one “Lincoln,” since it was Lincoln’s birthday.
I decided to gamble that Pearl’s lambing was a fluke, and still leave the ewes out over the weekend. Then later Friday afternoon, Melinda found Scout, one of our recessive-colored Romneys, in the shelter with twin boys!
So….we started bringing the ewes in at night.
Our lamb-cam wasn’t working yet, so there was no easy way to monitor the barn, and I made a lot of evening trips to be sure all was fine. Saturday after dinner I went up to the barn to check the ewes, feeling dead-tired. I opened the door to the sound of newborn baas, and just had to laugh. Soot, one of our Corriedale ewes, had had a huge bag and had been really slowing down. I was a bit worried she was going into pregnancy toxemia like our East Friesians used to do, and really wanted her to lamb. Now, here she was with triplets, all slimy and just-born. I weighed them, dipped their navels, made sure they all had a drink, and put the new family in one of our triplet-suites, all in less than an hour!