We sold the sheep. It was not an easy decision. To put it mildly, it was difficult, and one that we have gone back and forth on for many months. The reasons are not that important, but mostly have to do with infrastructure, priorities and time. We worked hard for three years to build a healthy happy little herd, and in many ways they brought us joy, so it will take some getting used to. I am comforted knowing they went to a good home not far away, to a large farm to be cared for by a young man who knows and loves sheep.
I should have known it was too good to be true. Every year, lambing brings a new set of challenges. Last year it was ring womb and pulling breech births, and this year its mysteries, cold temperatures and triplets. On Thursday, the second day of lambing, Connor and I found 1302 standing in the shed beside the lambing pen bawling. She had obviously given birth, but there was no lamb to be found. We searched the area for at least an hour in the dark with our flashlights. Jako came inside to use his tracking skills, and sniffed circles in front of the shed door and inside the shed until he found the placenta. I've never heard of a sheep delivering a placenta without a lamb, but I suppose anything is possible. The only plausible explanation we have is that it was taken by a predator, most likely from the air by a large bird. It's very unlikely that it was a four legged type because of the type of fencing we have, 2 large dogs in the perimeter and a donkey inside, and no blood nor signs of destruction. This is a mystery never to be solved, unless the dogs or they donkey decide to start talking.
The night time temperatures were in the teens Wednesday and Thursday night. It is always a question and a risk whether to put heat lamps in the barn. A barn fire is a scary prospect and something I hope to never experience. We hoped the temps were not unbearable for 1203's lambs and they seemed to do fine the first night. Much to my surprise and disappointment, Thursday night's temperatures were too cold for them. Friday morning we found the ewe lamb already gone, and the ram lamb barely alive. We rushed him to the house to warm him under a lamp, and put warm milk in his tummy. He revived and is doing fine so far.
The next 9 came in a 24 hour period, during the coldest temperatures of the season. Saturday afternoon, 1208, AKA Baby Mama, one of our very best ewes gave birth to triplets. Two ram's and one little ewe. Shortly before midnight, 1406 delivered a single ewe. Temperatures were now moving to the single digits. The generator is running full blast with as many heat lamps as it can handle. Sunday morning, the little white yearling 15112 surprised us with tiny twins, a ram and a ewe. I have never seen lambs so small, and she was not expected to be bred. She was surprised as well and had no idea what to do with them. Her udder is very small, so feeding them is going to be a problem. 1302, still looking sad and having a very large udder and no lamb to feed was put in a lambing pen with her. She happily allowed these tiny babies to nurse on her. Shew, she may have saved the day. By Sunday afternoon, 1214 delivered another set of triplets, two ewe lambs and one ram lamb. Having triplets and very cold temperatures present two separate management intensive problems. The lambs need energy and food to stay warm, and three lambs on one ewe, having only two teats, must compete for food. Frequently, someone gets left out. Besides filling the generator with fuel every 6 hours, we are supplementing and warming lambs to help get them through this critical period. As of this moment, 10 lambs alive and on the ground - 5 ewes and 5 rams - and at least three more ewes to go. Sleep for the weary farmers is temporarily on hold.
Exactly 150 days from the day the Ram was introduced to the ewes, 1203 gave us the gift of two healthy little lambs. She had a white faced ewe, and a red ram. When we found them this evening, both were dry, standing, eating well and noisy. This morning I rode up to break the ice before work and there were no signs of babies, so it happened sometime during the day. Its great when they don't need help and things go smoothly. I hope the next 7 are this easy. Judging from their bellies and udders, its going to happen quickly.
My name is Christy Franklin.