Even though my allergies are kicking me hard. It’s so amazing to be able to take time outside in the afternoon doing chores and spending time with the ewes, lambs and goats, getting some yarn dyeing done, and just enjoying the light, the buds on the trees, the sky, and thankfully a bit of a breeze. I have, however, already had enough of the blackflies!
The lambs are growing like weeds. I gave our first buster his 3.5 week CD&T shot over last weekend, but I was alone out there and couldn’t get a weight on him. I am hoping to give the other five their shots this weekend and maybe I will be able to get them all weighed. I think they are coming up on the one month old mark! Time is flying.
In the meantime, in spite of the dry weather which I know is not good, I am loving the outdoors and all the daylight after work that we have to enjoy!
After the great lambie freedom move yesterday, they have sorted themselves and seem to be finding their way in the big paddock on the hill. Last night when I went out to check on them it had been raining, so everyone was in the greenhouse. But they were not organized the way I expected to find them: only one of Fern’s babies was actually sleeping with her, and most of the lambs were scattered around, cuddled up to whomever. It was definitely a hoot! 2 lambs were cuddled with one of our yearling ewes, 2 were snuggled with Zorro the llama, and the others were just here and there. I have not seen that happen a lot, but everything was good and no one had a meltdown in the night. The rain must have stopped a little after midnight, and by the morning they were all sleeping out on the paddock hill. A little more organized by family, too.
Two nights ago we began hearing the spring peepers. It wasn’t very strong then, but tonight it’s almost deafening! I love it :*) Maybe spring is really almost upon us. Here’s hoping! (Although it appears as though we need to get through another snowfall tomorrow first…)
And it’s raining again! First we don’t get any rain, and now we have a week of it. But on the positive side, our most recent lambs are doing very well. I was worried about our newbies. But we kept them together for a few extra days and let them out yesterday morning. They seem to be doing well, and tonight they were doing the lamb dance with the older guys. But they still look like midgets compared to the other lambs!
We are cruising into the weekend and I am hoping that it’s a restful one.
Esther finally got around to going into labor. Not that it was obvious to me at all on the 11 PM check! All was peaceful and everyone was lying down and cudding about then and by 2 AM we had a problem. John came in from a middle of the night check and let me know that Esther had a head and ears hanging out and no front legs to be seen. A big white head with bulgy eyes and the tongue sticking out. It’s a shocking sight and always gives me a fright.
We got our gear together and of course I couldn’t push the head back in to get both legs out, but I was able to get one of the front legs extended and we pulled the large, white ram. Poor guy, he had had hypoxia (lack of oxygen) and he really took a long time to get up and active. (All of his mucous membranes are bloodred because of that). In the meantime his sister was all ready to go, but her elbows were locked around Esther’s pelvis, and none of the ewe’s pushing was getting anywhere, so we needed to help her out a little bit. She is a beautiful black ewe with wonderful white lightning markings on her face.
Needless to say that we are totally exhausted and ready for many nights of uninterrupted sleep! The fun doesn’t end there, however, as we were not sure that the ram lamb was actually getting much milk. His temperature was a little down, and Esther kept pushing him off her teat, so I finally remembered to check his teeth, and two of them were very sharp. I filed them down with a nail file and I think that it actually helped. They seem to be coming along, but every time I go in there Esther gives me the wild-eyed look and although she doesn’t stamp at me, I get the message. Esther just doesn’t want to let me in on what she has for those babes! She is a chip off the old Norma block in that way and I think I am just going to have to trust that she has enough milk to feed those lambies. We will weigh them tomorrow and keep our fingers crossed. The wind is really blowing today and the temperature has dropped so we want the lambs to get enough milk to stay warm.
It was an amazingly refreshing day. It gave me the opportunity to do a little relaxing. I have had a few things hanging, waiting to get accomplished and I was able to take care of one or two, which was very satisfying. Washing up Etti’s hoggett fleece took a few hours while I got about half of a baby sack knit up as well.
As for the rest of the weekend, yesterday a friend and I went to a weaving workshop down at Halcyon Yarn for the afternoon. It was a very interesting and helpful workshop on how to plan weaving projects when not using a “recipe.” It was also a really nice way to get out of Dodge and meet with some fellow fiberholics, as well as a golden opportunity to see my friend and spend some time with her, while picking up some great weaving insights.
The weather has turned colder again and Esther the ewe is still holding out on us. But the lambs are really getting into the rhythm of things and getting to know each other. This evening even the oldest, largest lamb joined in the Twilight Run!
It’s been that, but also a fun week of watching the lambs investigate their new surroundings. We got some nasty weather in the past few days, so we didn’t let the newest 4 out of their pens until midday today. I didn’t want to keep them in there any longer, so even though it was grey and misty we sent them out.
Fuzzy and Fern seemed to appreciate the freedom and the 4 new lambs went nuts with the three that were already out there. When I got home they were doing the lamb dance around the paddock while their mothers set to seriously eating their late afternoon meal. It’s something that I never get tired of watching! And we are still waiting for Esther to present her lambs :*)
We have been very sleep deprived for the last 3 weeks. But the homestretch is now in sight. Sunday morning’s activities with Fuzzy and her breech boys put a dent in my stamina and we really had no idea when Fern would go into labor, but she and her mother Fuzzy were initially bred the same day (the first day in with the ram) and were very probably bred again on the same day a cycle later. So when I caught her scoping out the joint about dinnertime last night, I figured things were coming along. I went out every hour or so and nothing was going on, and then when I went out at 10 pm to give our bottle baby her last bottle of the day, Fern was pawing the ground with little hooves and a nose showing themselves. It looked like a pretty big lamb, but she took her time and did her stuff. I was cheering her on when John joined me and we were very pleased to have witnessed our requisite “normal” births for the first time this year. Our other ewes have lambed in private so far this year, and then of course there was Fuzzy and her breech boys. So this was a delight, although the hour was decidedly not. Fern’s ewe and ram are white… what a surprise! They are both active and beautiful babies.
We got to bed around 1:30 this morning and it took me awhile to get my engine running today, but we survived. Our Esther doesn’t look like she is ready to lamb anytime soon, but you never know. And I am hoping she waits awhile as the beautifully warm weather has given way to blustery and cold conditions. We can definitely hang on a little longer!
The week is over and waiting is still the name of the lamb game. Yesterday morning we let Beezus and her twins out into the paddock. It’s always a real pleasure to see the babies as they explore their new world. By yesterday afternoon they had engaged BabyBea and were doing the twilight romp around the paddock: up the hill, over the big rock, and back down again and around the hay feeders. It’s one of my most favorite things to watch. The only thing that makes it any more dramatic is if there are goat kids in the mix… then it’s a scream! Sharing the pure joy of being alive with them is such a precious gift.
The weather has turned a little cooler today and the wind has really come up. I hope that Fuzzy and Fern have their lambs this weekend. It’s really time!
Not to be maudlin, but we have another obituary for the record. This time for one of our all-time favorite ewes, Lupine. (She is in the header photo above, the white one with her eyes closed). She and Fuzzy Lumpkin were born the same year, both daughters of our Border Leicester ram Mr. Big. We never intended to keep two such white ewes as we really breed more for color. But they ended up being such spectacular girls, and BFFs, that we just kept them. They have given us some of the most beautiful lambs here.
Unfortunately, in the past few years, Lupine has begun to give us giant single lambs. Very difficult at lambing time. This past year she hit her high note: ewe lamb, 18 lbs. that was definitely not having an easy time coming into this world. I can’t imagine that Lupine appreciated the whole thing, either. So as we are downsizing, we made the decision to let go of her as well. As she is getting up there in age, if she goes on having humongous singles, it could end up killing her, especially if no one is around when she is lambing. So the decision was made and she went with the others. We have her last ewe lamb here, Etti, and hopefully she will keep her mother’s legacy going – without the giant single lambs. She is the last of Lupine’s and the only black ewe lamb that she ever had. Thank you Lupine, we will miss you!
Today we had a very lovely send-off for two of our 2011 lambs. They are going up state toward Greenville to live on another farm. I am so very pleased to have been able to sell a few lambs this year for breeding stock. Most of our lambs go to meat, which is good also, but it’s nice to think that some of our babies will be leading good lives elsewhere, as we can’t keep them all (unfortunately!).
We had separated out some of the ewe lambs and one ram lamb for inspection. Our visitor was looking for the brownest or blackest lambs available. So we pulled Fuzzy Lumpkin’s, Lupine’s and HoneyBea’s ewe lambs as well as one of Mae’s ram lambs. I chose the longest and the darkest boy with a beautiful face and nice hams. Gorgeous fleece as well. She chose Fuzzy Lumpkin’s ewe and liked the ram lamb as well. I hope that they do well for her. One of her friends had driven down with her and they had a very large dog crate for the lambs to travel in. They seemed happy enough once they were both in there together and off they went! A new adventure for numbers 106 and 112.
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!