Monday, March 26, 2012

CoCo's Triple Play - Clarinet, Castanet and Cornet

Sunday, March 18
It's a week after their births and I still haven't shared this tale with you. Last Sunday morning when I went to the barn, not only was Mesa's Marimba there to greet me but CoCo was in labor. Since she had triplets last year and since she was so big, I felt certain she was carrying triplets again.
Dear friend Dixie was invited Thursday for Bella's lambing. That call went out late as I was hurrying to get everything set up. Dixie arrived 5 minutes after Calliope was born. We waited another 2 hours but no second lamb arrived. Sunday morning I called Dixie just after 7 AM to let her know another ewe was in labor. She showed up quickly and we WAITED.
Finally, a tiny white ewe lamb arrived. Upon seeing her size I felt quite sure there would be 3 lambs. CoCo cleaned her very well and made all the right mothering noises. Her name is Clarinet, Clara for short. She's a dear little girl. Clara was not in any hurry to nurse. CoCo wasn't too interested in getting her to nurse either. Multiple moms often are more interested in delivering the next lamb than in seeing the present lamb nurses.
CoCo with triplets L to R  Castanet (Nettie), Clarinet (Clara) and Cornet (Cory)
CoCo caused me a problem last year when she wouldn't allow one of her triplets to nurse. Bottle babies, while fun, are work, worry and expense. Baby lambs NEED mama's colostrum or first milk for their survival. It is laden with antibodies to protect the newborn lamb from illness. If she won't allow the lamb to nurse you have milk mama and get the colostrum into the lamb within its first couple hours of life. The lamb's ability to absorb the antibodies drops rapidly. At the same time, the lamb's need for sustenance increases rapidly. After a day or two of mama's milk you can purchase commercially prepared lamb re-placer. Cows' milk doesn't contain enough fat to sustain a lamb. Baby lambs nurse many times a day, just like human babies. They don't wait for you to get up in the morning or wait for you to come home from work. To my thinking, asking someone to come here and bottle feed a lamb once or twice a day for a month is asking a lot. The past 2 years, I've needed my sister-in-law to fill in while I'm at work. She graciously accommodated my request but I still didn't want to ask.
It must have been an hour and a half before CoCo decided it was time to deliver ewe #2. A larger spotted cocoa colored ewe was delivered this time, Castanet. Her nickname is Nettie. Nettie was more eager to nurse than Clara. Good for her. It didn't diminish my worries about Clara getting a drink.
Now Coco was impatient to get the next lamb out.When she began laboring, I went in the stable to check her. Much to my disappointment the lamb's hind feet were showing.
Lambs, like humans, don't always present like they are supposed to do. Multiple births can complicate birthing positions, too. My "Go To"book is Storey's Guide to Raising Sheep. It says when you are pulling a breech lamb, don't stop pulling until the head is delivered. As soon as the umbilical cord is disturbed, the lamb takes a breath. When it's breech, its head is still inside mama, allowing the lamb to breath birthing fluids into its lungs. 
I told Dixie what I was going to do and then I did it. I pulled him out and suctioned his mouth and nose. He was a big white ram lamb, sturdy and hungry. Cornet (Cory) was on his feet very quickly (less than 10 minutes) and eager for a drink. I was glad Dixie was there for the moral support. I hate to pull lambs.
Seeing Tiny Clara get a drink from CoCo gives a shepherd a happy heart.


It was about 24 hours before I felt confident that little Clara was getting milk from CoCo without me intervening. Numerous times through the first day, I held CoCo so Clara could get a drink. She'll never be as big has her siblings but she's a happy lamb. I'm glad to report all three are doing well. 
No lambs have been born here in the past week. 
The tally is 2 single lambs, a ram and a ewe and 2 sets of triplets. One set has 2 rams and one set has 2 ewes. That gives us 4 ewe lambs, 4 ram lambs and 2 big mamas ready to burst.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mesa's Fine Marimba

Sunday, March 18

One clean, dry lamb was awaiting me when I went to the barn Sunday morning. Mesa is my oldest ewe. She's tricked me time and again with how many lambs she's carrying. This year is one fine ram lamb, Marimba. Like Calliope, he'll grow quickly.

Tiny Tresor's Lovely Lively Triplets

Here's a short video of the babies for your viewing pleasure. Third time mom Tresor handles her triplets with ease.

Tresor's Triplet Story (Lambing Keeps Me Humble)

Friday, March 16 and Saturday, March 17

Since the first lamb was born here in spring 1995, each year has it's surprises. Mostly, I've learned I don't know much. I'm wrong about how many lambs a ewe is carrying. I'm wrong about what colors they will be. I'm wrong about who will deliver in what order. I've even been wrong about who was getting lambs. (That's a story in itself.) It keeps a shepherd humble.
Tresor comes from a long line of wonderful ewes. Her many great-grandmother Laurel came here in 1994 from the Navajo Sheep Project when it was still at USU. Tresor was a tiny triplet with 2 bigger brothers. This is her third lambing. After 2 years of twinning, this year she produced 3 lovely healthy lambs.
Left to Right - Ram Trumpet, Ewe Tympani, Ram Trombone
 First born ram lamb, Trumpet arrived about 10:30 PM Friday evening. Slightly larger ram, Trombone was second and arrived about 12:30 AM Saturday morning. Then I went to the house and to bed. I was quite surprised when I went to the barn Saturday  at daylight to find a third lamb, a ewe, Tympani. She's every bit as nice as her brothers. The boys have white on their faces. Tympani has just a few white hairs on top of her head.  They're such a lively bunch. I hope to add a video of them for you to watch.

Bella and Calliope (Lambing Started a Bit Early)

Thursday, March 15 
Fiona gets to watch over the yearlings, until birthing is over.
 I came home from work to discover Bella in labor. I wasn't quite prepared, so I had to hustle. The donkey and yearlings were sent to the lower pasture for the present. 
Bella kindly held off till I got things squared away.

A rare photo of this pair looking at the camera. They're very shy.
The barn is for expectant and new moms right now. Bella doesn't take kindly to me. Most photos of her with pretty daughter, Calliope, will likely be taken with them on the run.
Take note of the bellies of the ewes yet to deliver. Poor things!

Calliope's a nice sturdy lamb. She's black with a bit of white on her head, ears and under her tail. Without a sibling to share Mama's milk, she'll grow quickly.
March has been most pleasant. Both of them went to pasture for a few hours on Saturday.

P.S. Our name theme this year is musical instruments.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Lambing ETA - 74 hours (I hope)

Six expectant Navajo-Churro ewes, 3 yearling ewes and guard donkey, Fiona, enjoying the warm March temperatures.
My lambing vacation is 74 hours out. I have asked the sheep to wait until I can be here with them. Sometimes they co-operate with me, sometimes they don't. This is for sure, spring has arrived early here in south central PA.
I hope winter doesn't return now that lambing is this close. We had very little winter. Robins, bluebirds and red-wing blackbirds all made early appearances. Spring peepers have been singing their songs here for a couple weeks now. Crocuses, daffodils and forsythia are all bursting forth early.
The six expectant ewes have rounded nicely. The lack of snow has allowed them daily exercise to pasture. As I was cleaning the donkey's stable the other day, our new pup, Hayley, ran toward the sheep. Fiona, our guard donkey, wouldn't allow her access to the sheep. YAY! Fiona put herself between Hayley and the ewes! How did she know to do that? She never guarded before coming here but she knows what to do.
Hayley enjoying her morning romp in the pasture.
Hayley is now eight months old and fifty pounds. She was spayed last month. She can stop growing anytime now. We thought a girl dog may be easier to raise than a boy but that certainly hasn't proven out. She's boxer through and through. Gotta love her but she can surely test my patience.
Gus and Woodrow watch birds from the front door.
Gus and Woodrow are wanting to be outside in the nice spring weather. Guard the doors.
I planted onions this morning and ought to go get peas for planting quick before it rains.

P.S. Open Barn is Saturday, April 7 (the day before Easter) 10 AM till 3 PM  Hope to see you.