Jacob

After moving the sheep to the far pasture Friday, I rushed to my nephew’s birthday dinner. I was late, gulped down some hors d’ oeuvres and ham, and then had to leave early, because then it was time to feed the sheep! It was still bitterly cold and rainy when I belatedly gave them their grain and got everything settled down for the night. And then I noticed the Jacob sheep was going into labor. <sigh> So I walked back up to the house, got my lambing bucket and lights, and committed to a chilly evening in the storm. What a night to pick to give birth. At least this was the last one…

She lambed easily, with two seven pounders, both rams, black with white heads. This is much better than when she was underweight last year, and had weakling twins of four and five pounds. What a difference nutrition makes during pregnancy! Maybe the Katahdin sire helped too, but whatever, these babies were nice and healthy this time. They still didn’t find milk as quick as the Katahdin lambs do, and I had visions of struggling to get those Jacob lambs to nurse last year. So I spent quite a bit of time down there, including an extra stint at midnight, to make sure they were nursing.

And oh! it was cold. The wind was absolutely howling through the valley corridor. There was a metal-poled yellow “curve” sign across the street that started oscillating violently in the wind, and eventually the whole thing fell over. I had on my favorite cold weather gear: a hoodie sweatshirt, my tall Muck Boots, and over that, what Kirk calls my “bulky”- this awesome hoodie sweatshirt/flannel combo that his mom got each of us for Christmas (Connie, if Kirk didn’t say thank you like he was supposed to, thank you! We wear them all the time!). Here I am, headlamp on, double-hooded, and I think I have dried milk on my face, I squirted myself when stripping the Jacob’s teats. Don’t I look like I’m having a grand time? 😛

Headlamp The bigger lambs were all doing fine despite the miserable wind- many of them were running and playing in the moonlight. Other lambs had figured out to sleep on the lee side of their bedded-down mamas, who themselves had their backs to the wind. So most of the sheep were fine.

But I worried about #33’s littlest ram lamb. His two big brothers had stuffed-full bellies of milk, and he did not, so I suspected they were shoving him out of the milk bar and hogging it all. He was weak, but I got him to nurse a little, with help. The cold was so miserable, I wondered how the tinier lambs would fare through the worst of the storm.

And then I remembered, the coats! I have four fleece lamb “capes” on hand, to help keep warm little ones who are struggling. I trudged back up to the house, again, and got them. I gave three jackets to the tiniest/weakest lambs, to boost their heat retention and allow them to divert more resources to growing during this cold spell.

And I gave one to #33’s littlest lamb. But, #33 didn’t recognize him then, and butted him away! I’ve not seen that happen before, usually ewes still know it’s their baby by the smell of the nose and tail ends, and they ignore the jacket. I took the coat off, and she was fine. So, poor guy, no cape for him. I gave him some Nutri-Drench, helped him nurse one more time, snuggled him up against his largest, sleeping brother, and covered them both with a dry towel, to at least conserve heat until they woke up and left it behind. Then I went to get some sleep.