We’re on the verge of lambing season around here. Any day now my highly tuned ears could catch the disturbingly human-sounding baby cries of a newborn out in the field. I’m a little surprised that we don’t feel quite so rushed and anxious this year. A little anxious, yes. I mean, we’re expecting 10-25 newborns over the next two months or so. But definitely not so flustered.
I guess we’re getting the hang of this. Last year, though not without it’s hiccups, was definitely our best year yet.
We’re gearing up by feeding up. The ladies get extra corn twice a day to help them keep their calories up. And this year we’re also adding a special mineral boost to our regular salt to try and overcome some Vitamin E and Selenium deficiencies we’ve been fighting the last couple years.
I thought giving an adult an injection was unpleasant–I hate needles! But giving lambs Vitamin E injections is right up there as my least favorite job as a shepherd–and that’s saying something. I can’t stand having to stick them, even if it’s vital for their health and well being. I do it. Oh yes, I do it. But I usually shed a few tears each time. Or con Mr. Fix-It into it if at all possible. And if they need it, it’s usually 2 injections a day for 3-4 days. Ugh!
This weekend I’ve got to run everyone through the chute and double check ear tags and separate out our ram lambs that we’re going to sell so the ladies don’t have to push so much at the feed trough with those youngsters. Besides, they don’t really need the extra corn, they’re fine on hay. They’re not growing lambs.
These Clun Forest sheep are amazing mothers. In 3 years now we haven’t had a single bottle baby from rejection with them. We did have one who’s mother died in a freak accident. (Seriously freak. Some sheep broke into the feed shed and were rummaging around and a big piece of wood fell on her head. She was never quite right again and we walked out a few days later and she was gone.)
We were working with Hog Island sheep before (and still have some crosses) and we were at 50-60% chance that the mama would just walk away and never come back. Ugh! Bottle babies can seem fun, but when you work full time away from the farm it’s a bit more like an on-going nightmare.
For now, we’re waiting. We’re prepping the newborn kit for emergencies and praying we don’t have any. And sharing a sympathetic smile when I see them waddling to and from the water bucket or panting as they loooower themselves down or grunting as they heeeeeave themselves up…I know how you feel, ladies.