Today, the 18th of March, marks the eighth day that the ewes at Whitefish Bay Farm have been lambing. So far life has been going very well for all concerned: sheep, lambs and shepherds. Appropriately, our first lamb, Winter, was delivered by Spring a day ahead of schedule while the weather was still unseasonably cold and wintry. The remaining ewes decided to wait a couple of days and begin in earnest on Friday. It was as if the ewes knew that spring weather was on its way.
On Friday, when the next six lambs arrived, the temperatures moderated. Warmer winds out of the south pushed the first Eastern Bluebirds back to the farm just after sunrise. What a joyful sound their calls were to start the day. By the beginning of the new week temperatures continued to climb. Yesterday afternoon it climbed above 60° F (15°C). With each surge of warmer air came new bird arrivals. An Eastern Phoebe greeted us outside the barn on Saturday morning, along with the first two Eastern Meadowlarks singing from the top of the large ash tree just south of the barn. Waves of Robins, Redwings and Common Grackles have since filled the air. Later, we heard our first Sandhill Cranes bugling overhead. By Sunday evening the winds had calmed completely. On the way to the barn for evening chores we heard a mature Bald Eagle flying directly above us before we saw it. It was so close that we could hear the soft beat of its wings as it flew over. It was warm enough last night that we almost felt that we might hear the first Spring Peepers. Wishful thinking on our part, but it will come soon….
To date, twenty ewes have delivered thirty one lambs. Overall there have been more ewe than ram lambs. We have been a little disappointed that the number of white ewe lambs has been low, as we are hoping to increase the number of new white ewes in the flock this year as we have some vacancies to fill. We are still in the early stages of lambing however, and there is a good chance that the percentages will even out. The two of us are holding up well. The lambing pace has been steady, but there have yet to be times where new arrivals threaten to overwhelm us. It has also helped that we have had all normal deliveries, none of which have required assistance on our part. Add to that the fact that every lamb so far has been healthy and robust. Only one ewe, Tiara, has been slow to come into milk and we have as a result had to supplement here twins, Winn and Wynne, for a couple of days. Now, four days after lambing she seems to be taking over the full support of her lambs. Another sign that things are going well for us is that so far we have managed to name all but the last three lambs. It is a sure indication that we are starting to tire when we get behind on names.
We have not been able to stray away from the farm as the snow melts and signs of spring are everywhere. Our “outdoor” experience currently consists of the 50 paces between the house and barn and back. So far it is a pleasant walk. So it is down to another three weeks, if the last ewe scheduled is pregnant and if she delivers when scheduled. That’s it for now from Wingding, Winkie, Wilfred and Wilfreda, Whitney and Whoopie, Whiskey and all the rest.
Sounds like a nice change to have warm weather for lambing!! Sorry that I’m not there to do your grocery shopping this year. R. (P.S. what about Wellington and Waterloo???)
Just a quick bird up-date; on a pond in Middleton (just outside the WI capital city of Madison) this morning, the loons are here!!! What a wonderful surprise to see open water and that wonderful black and white shape diving and then waiting. . . waiting. . . waiting to see where it would resurface. The “season” for loons is so fleeting here.
Gretchen and Dick,
glad to hear you are holding your own as you are truly out numbered now!
thank you for the updates on the birds and the babes! nice to know things are going pretty smooth for everyone so far.
staying warm wrapped in my beautiful wool blanket from the farm….
I really enjoy your farm blog! I’m curious– do you find that interest in white fleeces is as strong as it is for colored? I went to a single-fleece wool auction recently and was surprised at the brisk bidding for colored fleeces (and lack of interest in whites).
Excited to read more when yall have time to catch a breath again 🙂
I am glad that you are enjoying the blogging efforts. It has been fun so far (and sometimes a bit difficult to keep up!)
Over the years we have not seen a stronger or lesser interest (at least based on sales) in our white fleeces compared to our coloreds. Once we seemed to establish a good sales base, both types sell out in almost the same time. We do notice that there are fads over the years, probably based on articles in such places as Spin-Off or active internet groups. When dyeing is “hot”, white and lighter gray fleeces sell faster. Other years the demand for pure black is insatiable. I also think that their are more quality white fleeces available compared to quality colored fleeces. Therefore the market for white may be a bit more saturated. In my humble opinion, quality sells and lack of quality quickly shrivels up a fleece producer’s return customer base.
Back to the barn for a baby check!
Just pulled your card from a stack of mail and was thinking about our impromptu visit about a month ago. My husband and I stopped in after seeing Cave Point and Whitefish Bay beach(we were on our way back to Green Bay when we discovered you)He mostly took pictures of your sheep and I watched you spinning and talked about my moving to Wis 2 years ago from Ca. Also enjoyed going upstairs and seeing all the art. Just read your blog and looked at and read all the various sites. So interesting. I am in awe of how you manage at lambing time. I remember my aunt near Eugene, Wash. telling me how she got up every 2 hours during lambing season to check on hers. I think I told you she had 100 sheep????kind.
Anyway I am impressed and applaud you for what you are doing. Am going to see about spending a night with you at your Bed and Breakfast. You told me about your good breakfast meals and had my mouth watering. Such a great menu. Have a great rest of the summer season.