This blog is for Abigail, who wanted to know more about having lambs. I said I’d blog about it when our next lamb arrived, and he’s here!
This is Carrot. He’s the tiniest healthy lamb ever born on our farm. Mom weighed him after he sipped his first meal, and he weighed just 2 pounds 6 ounces. Most of our newborn lambs are at least twice that big!
Carrot is a good example of how mama sheep can surprise you, even when you’ve had sheep for years and years. In the books Mom writes about sheep, she always says it’s really, really important to be there when ewes gives birth; she usually is, but sometimes ewes have other ideas. Go back and read some of my previous blogs and you’ll see. You’ll also learn a lot about making and birthing lambs: “Making Lambies,” “Mama Black Sheep Blues” parts one and two, “No Lamb,” and “A Lamb is Born.”
Miss Maple, Carrot’s mom, is named for a character in Mom’s favorite book. She wanted to surprise Mom, too. She and her friend, Jacy, lived in a paddock with young Arthur the ram for almost four weeks. Mom never saw Arthur breed either ewe. Then on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Miss Maple and Arthur both had a sparkle in their eyes. Mom wrote it on the calendar and figured up when Miss Maple would lamb if she got bred. It was May 20.
Six weeks ago Miss Maple started getting fat. Really fat. Mom penned her and her friend Jacy with the other pregnant ewes, just in case. Two and a half weeks ago Miss Maple began making an udder and her vulva got saggy. Mom moved her and her friend, Wren, to the birthing area. When Miss Maple started looking fit to pop, Wren went back to the preggo paddock. That was OK because Arthur is recuperating from a broken leg in the adjoining stall (that’s another story), so she still had company nearby.
Mom has been checking Miss Maple every hour throughout the day and several times throughout the night. Wednesday was Mom’s 65th birthday, and she was hoping for birthday lambs. It wasn’t to be, but it was close. Mom checked her at midnight and again at 3 a.m. Thursday. When she got up at 4:30 a.m., there was Carrot, standing up and nearly dry! Ewes almost always act restless while they’re in labor, baahing, getting up, turning around, and lying down and digging the ground with their feet. Not Miss Maple—and Carrot is her very first lamb!
Mom ran in and got the lambing kit, sure there were more lambs on the way. But then Miss Maple started passing her afterbirth. So Mom dipped Carrot’s navel in iodine and checked to make sure Miss Maple had milk and her teats weren’t plugged. Then she set Carrot near his mom’s udder. Miss Maple stood very still and Carrot started nursing. Hooray!