In my last post, I talked about feeding Shirley’s ram and ewe some supplementary milk replacer.
Trying to supplement these lambs over the course of the last week has been less fun and tender than I thought!
Shirley’s lambs just don’t believe that they need the extra milk. I watch other lambs bouncing and playing while Shirley’s lambs follow their mother urgently, trying again and again to nurse. “Meadowlark, aren’t you….hungry?” I try to reason with her. When I put the bottle nipple in her mouth, even after careful temperature-checking , she just doesn’t drink with any gusto. She chews it and gums it and tries to escape. Feeding can take 30 or 45 minutes, which is just exhausting as a twice-a-day bookend to work. The bottle-feeding feels like force-feeding, but I have to believe that it’s worthwhile because they’re somewhat behind the other lambs in growth and health. Trying to feed Shirley some corn hasn’t really helped her milk to come in. To top it off, Bonnie’s lambs had a slow start, so I had four weak lambs and three strong ones.
Quite literally, the birds are singing and the sun is shining outside right now. The sheep are outside for the first time in a while and the lambs are exploring the snow and turf. This morning, Shirley’s lambs refused the bottle once and for all. I will feed Shirley extra corn by hand as best I can, and I think they are stronger for my efforts and on the right track. Bonnie’s sad-sack lambs have blossomed in the sunshine and look vigorous and lively. Peggy’s lambs are looking FAT, just like last year’s. Despite her inexperience, Ida is a fabulous mother whose little ram is brave, rambunctious and hilarious.
I am constantly amazed by these sheep. Despite our initial setbacks, they are so vigorous, so naturally motherly and conscientious, so capable. I feel like I’m hardly doing anything.but feeding them. Even the feed ,which we thought we’d run out of, may just hold out until the grass starts. Here’s hoping!