More than a week has passed since the last set of lambs were born (Shirley had a son and daughter on Valentines Day.) The excitement of birthing may be over, but now that my lambs are old enough to wander, I am discovering their personalities and individual characteristics.
I am spending about 45 minutes every day socializing my lambs, and by extension, my ewes. Agnes, my bottle ewe lamb, views me as her mother and eagerly desires my presence in her life. I pick her up from Jake’s sheep enclosure and bring her to my sheep’s enclosure. She sniffs and nibbles me while I sit in the barn floor. Her eager interest in me encourages the other lambs to explore and sniff my clothes and hands. They must figure “Well, she hasn’t been eaten yet, so I’ll probably survive approaching this weird being.” Sometimes, I’m even able to convince Agnes to relax on my lap.
Wooing the lambs in this way seems to have made the ewes calmer, too. Before they had lambs, the ewes eyed me with great suspicion at all times. They would not eat or chew their cuds in my presence (both signs of relaxation and comfort) but would stare me down until I left. Now, all ewes but Janet accept my presence and even approach for a sniff or two. I’m very pleased by their growing trust.
A brief rundown on each of the lambs:
- Dot’s surviving son is big and beautiful. He will lose the tips of his ears to frostbite- that’s a clear lesson from my first experiences lambing in January! Wipe all ears! I’ve left him intact (instead of making him into a wether) and will try to sell him, or retain him as a backup ram.
- My bottle lambs, Janet’s ram and ewe, are the exceptions to the “generally healthy” rule. The ewe lamb had constipation the other day, which I successfully treated. Now the ram lamb is not doing as well as hoped. He’s always been a little dopey, so I’m hoping he’ll recover in due course. These two lambs are really big and good looking, though the ram is not as nice as Dot’s son. I’m not as good of a sheep mother as a real sheep, and we recently backed the feeding schedule down from three huge feedings to five smaller feedings per day.
- I am excited about Peggy’s amazing ewes. Ida, the white lamb, is friendly and has hilarious big ears. Esther, the black lamb, is more cautious. Both are growing at an amazing pace – a testament to Peggy’s milking ability. I’m going to wait until I evaluate their wool, but I’m prepared to tentatively name Peggy my best ewe.
- Bonnie’s ram is growing well, but her tiny ewe lags behind and has already been surpassed by younger lambs. Hopefully, she’ll start a growth spurt soon- otherwise, I worry she won’t breed this fall. She does, however, win the adorable prize with her incredibly cute face and perky little ears.
- Shirley’s daughter is doing very well and seems to be a close second on the cuteness scale to the aforementioned Bonnie daughter. Her son seems to have a sore rear leg. Sometimes the ewes run around a little bit, so it’s not surprising to imagine he may have been trampled or pushed at some point.