A Watched Pot Won’t Boil

… and most people will tell you that a watched ewe won’t lamb either.  Our first 4 lambs were born pretty close together.  Saturday (3/2) through Monday (3/4).  You can read their story here.  Twins, Beatrice and Bertha were the next 2 ewes to lamb, and they did so within 18 hours of each other!

Beatrice had her single ewe lamb close to midnight, Tuesday night (3/5).  Everything went well.  We woke up to baby-lamb baas over the baby monitor sometime before 1am and I went out to the barn.  The lamb was already standing and nursing so I decided it could stay with Beatrice in the big stall until the morning when I was more awake.  I dipped the lambs navel and weighed her (9.25 lbs), then went back to bed.

Beatrice lamb

Wednesday afternoon (3/6), we had a pediatrician appointment after school and got home around 4:30 to Bertha cleaning off twin ram lambs!  I got out to the barn quickly to make sure both were nursing, and to weigh them.  The older one was 8.75 lbs and was lighter in color; his darker twin was 9.5 lbs.  Since I still had to get ready to leave for work, I hurried back to the house and Dave took care of moving Bertha and the twins to the lambing jug.

bertha lambs

The first 5 ewes to lamb were 4 sisters and 1 daughter.  I’ve heard that related ewes go into heat around the same time … I wonder if that is true.

Thursday and Friday didn’t bring any lambs, but Esme had a single ram lamb (10.75 lbs) early Saturday morning (3/9).  We got out to the barn around 1:50am and got her and her lamb to the jug.  This is her first lambing and she did very well.  Esme seemed a little nervous about her lamb nursing but quickly settled down and we were back in the house in just a half-hour.

Esme lamb

We’ve past the last possible lambing date from the ewes being exposed to the ram lambs and Camille is still definitely pregnant.  We’ve estimated that she will probably not have her lamb(s) until at least 3/30 since after being exposed to the ram lambs, she was exposed to our ram, Ezra beginning on 11/1/12.

Stay tuned!

Oops… or, Another Lesson Learned

We have bred our sheep and had successful lambing seasons for 6 years. This fall breeding season, however, turned out to be a learning experience for us.

Usually at 3 months our lambs are separated from their dams for weaning. After 2-3 weeks we move the ewe lambs back to the pasture with the adult ewes. The ram lambs go in the pasture with our adult rams and wethers. For some reason (I can’t remember why right now), we let ALL the lambs go back to the pasture with their dams for the summer.

On October 13th, we took all the ram lambs away from the ewes because we saw some *frisky* behavior going on.  We had decided to put our rams in with the ewes in early November so that we wouldn’t have lambs until April.  We separated our rams so that Ezra and Camille we together in one field (Camille is our only ewe that Ezra is not related to), and Raulie was with Annie, Abigail, Bertha, Beatrice, Erin and Esme.  We put all the lambs in a 3rd field with our wether BFL and goat.

{Some background info on sheep breeding… We put breeding harnesses that hold crayons on our rams each breeding season.  When the ram mounts the ewe the crayon on the harness rubs on her rump.  We then have  visual evidence of breeding and can mark our calendar accordingly so we can calculate when any lambs will be born.  Sheep cycle ever 14-18 days, therefore, you should change the color crayon in your ram’s breeding harness every 14-15 days.  If a ewe is marked with the second color, this means she did not conceive during the 1st cycle.  Any ewe that did conceive in the 1st cycle will not cycle again and the ram will not have any interest in mounting her.}

After 2 weeks of rams and ewes together, not one of the ewes was marked with color on their rump.  We usually breed in October, I started to wonder if we missed our window of opportunity, but I didn’t really think that was the case because we have had rams breed ewes though December.  Since none of the girls were marked, I didn’t bother changing crayon colors for their next cycle.  Two more weeks with nothing, and during that time I started thinking that we left the ram lambs in with their dams too long because the adult rams were not mounting the ewes at all.  You’ll remember that we did see some frisky behavior earlier in the fall, but we didn’t witness any actual breeding.

Now that we’re in the New Year, we are anticipating a surprising lambing season because we think our ewes are pregnant, but we don’t have any idea when they are due.  We guess that any lambs will be born BEFORE mid-March since we took the ram lambs away from the ewes in mid-October.  Unfortunately this lamb crop will not be able to be registered, but we will look forward to the lambs anyway!!

Right Now?!

I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks everything always happens at once.  Does the phrase, “Never a dull moment” describe anyone elses’ life perfectly?

Today I had an appointment with the state veterinarian at 11 am to complete our annual inspection for the USDA Scrapie Eradication Program.  Hannah and I had been outside feeding the critters earlier and then came in for a break for a while.  We bundled up (it was 20 degrees colder today than it was yesterday!) and ventured back outside at 10:30.  While I brought fresh swimming water to the ducks I saw the vet’s SUV coming up the drive.  OK… I had wanted to get the ewes into the barn before he got here … luckily he had some paperwork to finish so I had time to persuade my girls to come to the barn.

I got as far as the gate when I heard it.  Little, tiny, adorable lambie baa’s.  I was expecting our ewes, Beatrice and Camille, to lamb at any time but I had let them out of the barn for some exercise and fresh grass.  Beatrice was on the other side of my garden with 2 still wet lambs!  One was standing; the other hadn’t been cleaned off yet.  I quickly fetched 2 towels, helped dry off the 2nd lamb and brought mama and babies into the barn.  Once I had them together in a lambing jug (or pen), I went to gather the other ewes into the barn.

Our inspection went well and once I had made Hannah lunch I went to check on Beatrice and her twins.  The ewe lamb weighed 9.5 lbs and the ram lamb weighed 8.75 lbs.  I made sure the both knew where to nurse and headed back to Hannah in the house.

Our newest lambs

Last Wednesday our shearer came out and sheared the sheep… Well, everyone except Beatrice and Bertha because they were due to lamb any day.

Bertha ended up going into labor a couple hours after our shearer left, and gave us a beautiful, 11-3/4 lb ewe lamb.  I only helped when she looked like she was getting tired.  It was her 1st lamb so the shoulders were difficult to pass.

Bertha and ewe lamb

Beatrice lambed the next night and also gave us a ewe lamb.  She was a petite 11 lbs!

Beatrice and ewe lamb

Beatrice’s lamb scared Dave Friday morning when he checked on the girls.  She had slipped through the  slats in the lambing stall and was in with Bertha and her lamb!  Beatrice was very happy to get her baby back.  Bertha has proved to be a very attentive and protective mother…she tried to hide her lamb from us when they were in the barn by standing in front of her!

Now we have 4 ewe lambs and 2 ram lambs with 2 more girls due next month!