First snowfall and orphan lambs

The meteorologists were calling for several inches of snow throughout the day, with the majority falling in the afternoon.  Since we do not live on the farm, I typically plan the time of day I go to the  around the weather. Typically,  I am there first thing in the morning and that way I can take care of any emergencies that might have occurred overnight.  Today, was not different as the later the day progressed, the worse the roads would be. 

I immediately went to check on the twins that were born on Monday to see how the they were doing since I moved them inside.  Upon opening the barn door, I could immediately hear the screams of panicked lambs. The mother had jumped out of her pen and left the two babies inside, which means, they couldn't nurse, thus the screams.  She took it upon herself to jump back in the pen again before I could catch her and force her back in.  Well, that was awfully generous of her.  Maybe she recalls how much she and I struggled, fighting each other to get her in the pen in the first place.  Not a battle she wanted to lose again.  Once she got back in the pen, she started head butting one of the boys away from her and kept doing it each time he nursed.  Now, if you haven't seen a mother reject her young before, it can be pretty aggressive and troubling to watch.  They can literally head butt, kick away, and ram the tiny lamb away from them and into a gate.  Well, clearly she wasn't even considering him anymore so I had to figure out what to do. I did not want another bottle lamb, and there were two mothers who lost lambs that I had been milking that could be potentially his new mama. Option one was a ewe that seemed calm at first, but as soon as you got close to her she would runaway and freak out. Scratch option 1.  Option 2 is ewe "2474", a sweet and very calm mama, that comes up to you and lets you pet her.  She isn't at all frightened by me, or anyone for that matter. She had triplets and all three died. I took one of them home and named him Rudy, and this sweet little guy didn't make it. I took that loss very hard.  He was the tiniest sheep I had ever seen, and I slept with him all night trying to keep him warm.  He had difficulty nursing and swallowing and I was not optimistic that he would make it, but I was hopeful.  He passed away curled up in a blanket where I left him.  The next day,  I found that his two sisters had also died.  They were doing much better than he was, so I thought they had a fighting chance, but sadly they didn't survive.  That is the thing when you get sheep that are already pregnant.  You don't know what their nutrition/condition was during the entire pregnancy. 2474 looked healthy, and acted alert and ate well, but she delivered triplets, which isn't all that common in the Katahdin breed.  I try not to blame myself, as I most often do, because I can't take responsibility for every death as if it is my fault when I have a newly acquired flock.   There are too many variables at play that were and are out of my control.  That being said, 2474 lost all her babies and I felt that she and this newly orphaned lamb might make a good pair. (fingers crossed)  I put them in the pen together and she seemed disinterested in his presence, and he confused by hers.  He kept searching for his birth mama who was out roaming with his twin brother and the other young lambs.  After a while, he tried nursing on her and she did step away a few times, but with me holding her head to calm her down, she stood and allowed him to nurse.  He is a big and strong for only a few days old, so I am certain he will do well with her. Not all ewes are created equal and most farmers will tell you that.  But, there are always a select few that you get close to because of their personalities.  2474, is one of those ewes and I need to come up with a name for her, because just having a number doesn't suit a sweet gal like her.  

-B 

   

 

 

The snow was slowly beginning to fall at the farm when I arrived this morning.  

The snow was slowly beginning to fall at the farm when I arrived this morning.  

Tiny baby Rudy taking a nap on Rae's bed, while Wilson towers over him.  

Tiny baby Rudy taking a nap on Rae's bed, while Wilson towers over him.  

The orphaned lamb and his new mama, 2474.  

The orphaned lamb and his new mama, 2474.