Monday, March 5, 2012

Rejected lambs and Seedy Sunday

After an easy winter we've been lulled into believing spring is just around the corner. "Seedy Sunday" on March 4 is always a busy day with all the gardeners and food growers enthusiastically sharing and swapping and buying stuff for the upcoming season. Last year we had a huge blizzard. This year we had a cold snap! Minus 25 overnight. The chickens water line froze. The lambs are huddled to keep warm.

I went to the barn Sunday morning at 6:15 and all is calm and quiet. When I returned at 8 a.m all was mayhem. A ewe was lambing in a corner and angrily butting away other lambs who were curious to see what was going on. (she had chosen the corner with the heat lamp which is where the lambs usually gather overnight.) Then is see a tiny newborn lamb staggering around way out in the middle of the barn. Aha, here's her first lamb which has wandered off while she has her second. I catch the lamb and take it over to her, but she's doesn't greet it with any enthusiasm and the lamb immediately scrambles away. Two or three more times I return it, I put up a couple of temporary panels around her, but no luck with mom and lamb bonding.

Then suddenly it dawns on me. Maybe not her lamb. So I make the round of the barn in the dim morning light, examining tails for signs of recent parturition and yes, here is a young miss
who was round as a cotton puff yesterday and looks substantially thinner this morning. But she shows no interest in the lamb either. But I KNOW this is her child.

Fortunately Tom has just arrived in the barn as I have my hands full with tiny lamb, am busy fending off the bottle babies who are dancing around me, the cat who is twining herself around my ankles and the cacophony of bleating, clucking, meowing is deafening as I realize I have a headache from a too enthusiastic celebration of the successful completion of our first Writer's Workshop at Collaborations Retreat the previous evening.

Tom helps move a ewe out of a lambing pen and we catch young miss and install her with tiny lamb but she wants nothing to do with it. Then we find ANOTHER tiny lamb wandering around in the feed room. "Not my kids" young missy says. And backs it up by fervently bunting them out of the way. So I spend the next hour down on my knees, pinning missy in the corner and trying to get both both tiny lambs to nurse.

Repeated attempts eventually work and I know that if I can get them sucking, mom's oxytocin will kick in and she'll feel maternal. So with some trepidation, I leave the little family
alone while I go to seedy Sunday and to deliver eggs and when I return two hours later, all is domestic harmony. Just another Sunday on the farm!