Saturday 9 April 2016


Twenty-four; thirty-seven; two; one...  I've been crunching some numbers now that we are almost through with lambing.  It's been a whirlwind event.  It is so good to know that there is an end in sight....  I will sleep again.

I actually began to draft a posting at the halfway mark.  I never got back to it.  And, I found a draft for "Calm" from before lambing that I did not publish.  It's a crazy time!

The Stats

2 rams put to 24 ewes:  Abe was put to Birch's daughters and Birch got the rest.  My neighbour warned me that I could have double trouble using two rams at the same time, that there would be a double tide of lambs born at the same time.  It wasn't too bad.

14 of 17 days:  The lambing period - thus far, without the 3 stragglers that remain - was 17 days long and lambs were born on 14 of those days.

21 ewes have produced 37 lambs for an average of 1.8 each:  Excellent outcome since one would like a 150% lamb crop and we have 176% - yes I rounded up to 1.8 each.

  • 1 set of quadruplets
  • 2 sets of triplets
  • 18 sets of twins
  • 9 singles
This is great as last year there were many more singles.  The high majority of the singles this year are large and long legged, looking for a hamburger at birth.  The twins are pretty evenly sized, as are the multiples.  There is one set of twins for which there is concern that the younger one is much smaller.  I'm keeping an eye on him and keeping them in longer before they meet up with the entire flock.

8 lambs receiving supplemental bottle:  No "bottle babies" or "orphans", just supplemental bottles.  Each receives about 8 ounces three times a day.  They have mothers that feed them and mother them and teach them how to be sheep.  The supplemental bottle is to ensure they get a good kick start in life.  Still, I am popular and as they get older they get better at mobbing me.

A re-purposed bag for toting baby bottles to the barn.

I am supplementing all four quads.  Three assault me when I walk in the door of the pen.  The fourth, Floppy, needs to be caught and once perched on my lap gobbles down her share.  All four are looking pudgy and more like piglets.  Floppy keeps up with the rest, whereas there were concerns for her at birth.  She is pretty laid back and very happy.

I have been offering a bottle to Spot's largest triplet.  He needs to be caught and sometimes he'll take a few ounces and sometimes not.

MayBell has only half an udder that is working.  Her female comes running for a bottle now.  The male will sometimes take some and does best if held.

Olive's male triplet often gets left out and he now runs to me for his bottle.  His belly is rounded so he is getting enough.

Oh, and one more interesting stat:  one black and white set of twins, care of Lucy!

Lucy birthed them in the field on a nice sunny day.  Thankfully it was not too cold.  The startling white female was followed by the more startling black male.  What better way to carry them in from the field than in a milk crate.  Here I'm having a rest - me, not her - and hubby has met us with the camera.

The black male is a bit smaller and less active so I watched him closely to ensure he was managing.

Thank you EA for this lovely photo!  Blackie has turned out to be more like an appaloosa.  As the two became stronger it was time to put them in a mixing pen with another ewe.  I try to match the ewes, and put singles with singles and twins with twins - when possible.  It depends how fast I need which pens.  And numerous days all my pens were full.

At first I put Lucy and twins with Bella and twins.  On the second day when hubby commented that the little guy is always in the corner, a change was necessary.  I put Lucy back into a lambing pen for a few more days.  Then I put Lucy in with a younger ewe and her single.  This has worked well.  What we observed is that the sheep are racist and bashed the black lamb!

At this point Lucy and twins are in a mixing pen with two other ewes and their lambs and has access to outside.  They are ready now to go out to the flock.  The Appy guy is stronger and quicker in getting out of the way.  He bounces and plays with everyone, so he should be just fine now.  The lambs do not display the same racist behaviours as their mothers.



The Calm, that is.  The one before the storm.  It starts soon, the lambing storm.

At night, all is calm.  Just like the Christmas song, Away In A Manger.  It's very true.  A barn at night is a lovely and calm place.  Even the nocturnal creatures know to be quiet in a barn.  Mind you that is their way anyhow as they try to not disturb as they find their own food in their own way.

It is a lovely day, with crisp cool air and brilliant sunshine.  Excellent conditions to go outside for the first time.

I'm a triplet.  My Mom is Olive.  This is my first day outside - ever!

Earlier in the week I had set up some electric netting in such a way as to create a small outside enclosure at the front of the barn.  This area gets sunshine all day and I knew that I could easily create a small pen or nursery at that end of the barn.  This area does receive the weather as it faces West but I can monitor that.  Besides these babies are now two weeks old and strong.  It was time to see sunshine!

I put Olive and her triplets out first.

Olive and her triplets

 It is their pen I have opened up to create a larger pen.  A short time later I put Chloe and her big boy out there.

Chloe and her boy

Last year Olive did not like to share her space and that was how Cookie's leg got broken.  I watched carefully.  And this time they are all outside.  Chloe's lamb is big and quick and the space is larger.  Whereas Cookie was her mother's first lamb, this is Chloe's third.  Chloe is pushing back and they are working it out.

The photo waiting to happen however is Ruby.  Hubby helped me to tag the lambs after I put the four babies and two mommies in the larger pen.  I managed to catch the babies and Hubby inserted the appropriate tag in each ear.  We can now tell them apart; that is, Olive's two females have specific numbers with which to identify them since otherwise they are alike.  And so it is with all lambs, they get their ears pierced with a plastic tag that has their own number on it.  This year we are continuing with red tags for girls and white tags for boys.

I wandered off topic.  While Hubby and I were working on this, Ruby jumped into the pen with me.  She scrounged around sniffing at things.  Before I left the barn Ruby was lying in the big doorway in the sunshine while lambs were coming up to check her out.  Unlike last year when Ruby would bound up and lick them, she is remaining calm.  As the lamb comes close to her she might sniff it or not.  I did see her half lick one that was very close to her.  I expect we may find Ruby keeping them warm on a cool night, with the calm of her mature, almost two years.


We've come a long way since surgery in early December.  Millie is now back on duty, 24/7.  She usually stays in with the flock, taking off much less frequently.  At first she kept taking off and she'd be gone for hours.  Sometimes Ruby would return long before Millie.  Interestingly, Ruby rarely went off for any longer than twenty minutes while Millie was penned up for her recovery.

One morning I gave the dogs very large bones to chaw on and they stayed put.  All day.  At evening I decided to leave Millie out and not put her into the barn for the night.  In the morning she was with the flock where she'd been left.

A few nights she has gotten out.  We've heard the dogs barking at something, mostly behind the house, rather than across the road.  They come back.  Millie cannot get back in with the flock when she gets herself out.  Ruby can soar over a fence and return to the flock.  This morning, both dogs were "out".  We'd heard them barking madly probably around 5:30.  They showed up for breakfast while I was feeding the hens.  They followed me - okay, they followed the food - back into the flock, had breakfast and began to nap.

Millie wearing her new pink collar

Millie is calm with the sheep.  Everyone is wary of her but it is becoming less so.  Millie is happy.  She was even wearing a bit of a snarly smile the other morning, something we frequently see on Ruby.

I have noted to a few people as of late how the sheep are all calm.  We have more sheep in the flock now that were born here, than were purchased elsewhere.  Many sheep allow me to touch them at random.  Few of them move away from me and none scamper away from me.  They are very comfortable in their surroundings, with their people and their dogs and - heaven forgive me should I forget - even their llama.

I will enjoy the calm for as long as possible - all of it!