Tuesday, March 13th: Today was quiet and peaceful…both inside and outside the barn. Currently the only ewe we are waiting for is Varissa. She is giving no signs that any lambing activity is anticipated (unless one counts the fact that she is huge!). All of the other lambs are all growing well.
We have been encouraged by Zita’s behavior. She seems to be settling down and shows a good bit of interest in her lamb, Benita. Benita continues to grow well, which is also a very positive sign for their relationship. This evening I found them snuggled together head to head. I think there is hope for their relationship!
We hit our first health crisis this evening. Walnut, (who lambed yesterday morning), was very depressed at chore time and was not eating. She is a sick mom; her temperature was 106.3° F, which is not good. We suspect a case of mastitis and the CMT (California Mastitis Test) seems to confirm it. We began her on a course of antibiotics along with medication to reduce the temperature and possible swelling.
Wednesday, March 14th: A beautiful, quiet morning today. The quiet in the barn at 6:00 AM was an indication that no lambs had arrived without us and that the flock is probably a bit tired from my earlier morning “bed checks”. In addition to waiting for Varissa’s lambs we are now watching for Willetta. However, the morning brought good news. Walnut was alert. She had eaten hay overnight and this morning was allowing both her lambs to nurse. At evening chore time she still had a good appetite. We are hoping that we caught her “bug” early enough that it will not be a problem for her.
The lambs in the mixing pen have begun the annual “Lamb Races”. Every year, without fail, during feeding time for the ewes, the lambs in the mixing pends begin racing around the feeders and their moms. It seems to be a expression of pure joy and enthusiasm. Also, in the first mixing pen we currently have an extra feeder turned upside down. (We do this to keep the lambs from using the feeder as a combined bed and bathroom.) The inverted feeder is in a corner and it seems to be an ideal hide-out for the lambs. It is not uncommon to find it full of lambs. The photo below is of Bianca and a few of her buddies inside or next to the “Fort”, with Bunny guarding the entrance.
Thursday, March 15: We went another night without any lambs. At 6 AM Varissa seemed very smug when she presented us with two strapping ram lambs. They had been well cleaned off and had their first drinks. Everyone was just waiting for us to move them into a clean jug and provide mom with a big drink of water and fresh hay.
Walnut continues to look and behave healthy. The best part of the post-chore morning was moving Zita and Benita into the mixing pen. Zita seems to have gotten “religion”. She and Benita seem well bonded. They spent their first hour in the mixing pen with Benita exploring or calling for mom, and Zita eating or checking up on her girl.
It is still a bit strange for the two of us, in terms of the reduced lambing schedule. Including Varissa’s twins this morning, we have had 10 ewes give birth to 15 lambs in 11 days. Last year was intentionally a slightly reduced lambing. But by comparison, in the first 11 days of lambing in 2011 we had already had 35 ewes deliver 60 lambs. The number of lambs will increase in the next few days; by next Sunday we should have another 11 ewes deliver. Nonetheless it is still a leisurely pace this year!
It proved to be another sunny, and unseasonably warm (and dry) day today. Migratory birds are arriving with frequency. We have heard Sandhill Cranes for a number of days. Today, as I was heading to the equipment barn, a single, bugling Crane flew very low, right over the barn. Turkey Vultures arrived yesterday. Today we saw our first Chipping Sparrow. Our life in and around the sheep prevents us from being able to appreciate the early spring, but it certainly is not slowing it down. Today we also managed to get the two tractors and the skidloader tuned up for the upcoming season. That is another event out of the way early. By bed time tonight (at an earlier than usual hour) there were still no more lambs in sight.