I didn’t get as much accomplished as I should have this weekend, but that’s par for the course. I could easily sit and watch the critters all day long, instead of just a few hours as I do now. As mentioned in my previous post, there are new additions in the way of lambs on the farm. They’re already a month old now, and watching my little flock – now nine! – roam the property gives me a deep satisfaction that I’m unable to describe fully. It reminds me of when I first got chickens, a lifetime ago it seems, when watching them was soul satisfying (it still is, but it’s not the wonderment it was for those first dozen years). Now I have the sheep, and my bees, and the chickens too, and the soul-deep rightness of it all feeds something within me.
I came home one rainy Wednesday afternoon in late April to the sight of two chocolate brown lambs in the pen. They were Cinnamon’s babies, and she stood there, head low and attentive to them, looking pleased. They were still damp from birth, but it had obviously been a few hours. I could see I had nothing to worry about – she is an excellent mother, and looked well physically. I had been expecting something for days; she had all the classic signs that it was getting close, so it wasn’t a complete surprise, but still completely exciting. I stepped into the pen to look at them and Cinnamon, still charged up on whatever hormones had been making her hair-trigger skittish for the previous week (just filling the hay feeder had her panicking), trampled the little things in her freak-out response to my presence. You’d think I went in there with a hood and scythe every time, for her reaction was always that of an animal being stalked and hunted for food. Thankfully the babies weren’t hurt. I caught each and checked them – both ewes! – and sprayed their umbilicals with iodine. I checked several times that evening, taking many bad pictures and glad for my little shed – there was a torrential downpour at one point, a real gully washer, and the new family stayed safe and dry.
The next morning as I left for work Pebbles had a funny look. Not her bright self, though I thought maybe she was subdued the night before because of the babies, and witnessing the birth. She didn’t seem interested in them, nor distressed, just distant somehow. Hmm. I didn’t see anything imminent, and since she’s as round as a barrel you couldn’t see the same changes in her as you could with Cinnamon. I left for work reluctantly and decided to come home early. I got home at about 3:30 and sure enough, Pebbles was licking a brand new baby. Another ewe! She was fresh out, probably born no more than 10 minutes earlier, and still quite wet. She was all black with some white on her head and down her cheeks like chin straps. Pebbles seemed fine, and when I looked at her rear I could see that she would be having twins too. Within 10 more minutes the next lamb slipped out of her with what looked like mild straining as she stood there licking the first one. She turned around and began licking the newest…a ram lamb! He was absolutely tiny, no bigger than a bunny, and mottled black and white. Pebbles licked and licked, and soon the two newest arrivals were up and searching for their first meal. It was amazing, as it always is with all new babies.
So my little flock has almost doubled, going from five to nine. The boys seemed nonplussed by the new arrivals, showing no interest whatsoever. Still, the girls and the babies were penned up safely. After a week or so, I allowed everyone out to graze on the new grass. The pasture still wasn’t quite ready for full time grazing, but with just the three boys I pushed it early. The shed and pen area is not set up for keeping two groups separated, and it was easier than trying to get them all back in the pen and separated with the panels up.
In the month since their birth the babies have grown tremendously. The little boy is still the smallest, (and he’s no longer a ram lamb, but a wether) but all are hale and hearty. They had their first vaccinations this weekend. Cinnamon continues to be a model parent, and though her girls are as skittish as their mama, they’re strong and healthy. She’s only just relaxed on her vigilance in making sure they are always within sight. The grass is just too good. Pebbles is a little more lackadaisical, and while a good mama, isn’t as attentive as Cinnamon, and figures the lambs will find her when they need her. Their cries of distress when they become “lost” barely trigger an answering baa, usually muted from her mouthful of grass as she stuffs herself. Fortunately they’re both a lot like her, and while cautious, take things in stride.
This weekend was fairly mild and I let them stay out on the pasture overnight Saturday and Sunday night. The lamb races are adorable, as the four of them race around their mamas, and watching them roam the property, chasing a hen or two, or sniffing noses with the cat (who’s as big as they are) and nibbling the new grass and green shoots as they grow, is entrancing.