Saturday, February 11, 2012

Lambs! And more sheep thoughts....

A few posts back I wrote about our sweet and gentle Bree, who I was pretty sure would be our first ewe to lamb.  Here she is sunning herself last Thursday, when the temps in mid-Michigan were close to 50! The next morning when I did chores she was preparing - she had "her" spot picked out (a quiet corner of the barn); she wasn't eating and was circling in the straw, pawing it occasionally.  I told my husband that today was the day!

When I checked a while later, she was hanging out with her mother (Violet) at the feeders but still not eating.  To make a long story short, I checked on her on and off throughout the day and sometime between the 2 o'clock and the 4 o'clock check in that dark shadowy corner she delivered her twins, both ewes (girls)!  They were mostly cleaned off and were already up and working on that all important first meal.  One is black with white face markings and the other is colored nearly identical to her mama.

This is Bree's sixth lambing and I've never yet seen her give birth.  It's the same with her mother and sister, Colette.  These ewes are from the line of VerLee family Corriedales we have, I've written about them before.  They are the most efficient brood ewes!  If I were to fault them anywhere, it would be in milk production.  They are not heavy milkers.  But they grow tons of fleece; breed and settle early; lamb with ease and are fierce mamas so I am not complaining!

Saturday, Evelyn (another VerLee line) was a little off feed and hanging back from the others.  She wasn't very big and I managed to sneak up on her and check her udder to see if it was full.  It wasn't.  In fact, I had to search around to find it, LOL!  And yet, Sunday morning the minute I opened the barn door I heard a lamb baaaaing and there she was with a little ram lamb, completely dry and popping around with a full tummy.  He seemed so frail and small, but he nurses with gusto and is very active.  My daughter came and helped me move them to a lambing jug.  Evelyn is very, very wild - here's a picture of her "sniffing the wind" earlier this winter -

Here's a tough one, though.  This is Evelyn's third lambing.  And her third single.  Not just all singles, but all very small singles.  So while she has beautiful fleece, she is not very productive in the lambing department as well as being difficult to manage in the flock - thank goodness she's very hardy and doesn't need much care, but you always have the things like shearing and vaccinations, plus she's one of those sheep where you can have everyone penned up and just when you are ready to shut the door or gate, out she bolts.  Can you see where a decision has to be made?  She has breeding that I hate to part with and again, that fleece!  This is something I have to think hard about....

Not all lambings go so well, as anyone can expect.  After these wonderfully easy births we had one sad thing happen.  A first timer lost her lamb, probably a month or more early.  We'll watch her carefully to make sure that she is okay.  She's eating well now and moving around with the flock.  It happens, but it's never easy.

We're supposed to clean barn today and the wind is bitterly cold.  The sheep are still in full fleece (that job comes next, I'm a little behind on getting it done before lambing started) so they'll be comfortable, but the humans are going to have to work hard to stay warm!

I'll end this post with another sheep picture, this one of a home bred ram lamb we kept over from last year as a potential flock sire.  He's the father of the three lambs born so far.  His face is a bit woolier than I would like, we'll see if he keeps that or not.  But his conformation is pretty good and his fleece, well you can see just a bit of it in the photo, but I can't wait to get my hands on it in a few weeks!!! 

I'm sending this post out to my friend, Carole, who faithfully reads this blog and who also has VerLee Corriedales.  She sent me the sweetest note this past week, so this if for you, Carole ;)  I appreciate all of your kind words!  Do any of your sheep look like ours?


Renee said...

How fun! Stay warm today! The sheep are just beautiful!

Lona said...

Love to hear the lambing news. Good luck staying warm!

Jody said...

I love to see and hear about your sheep Cary...they are so gorgeous and of course such amazing fleeces too!
I hope our lambing goes well...two mature Finn ewes plus 5 GotlandX yearlings. I always worry that we might lose someone.
Take care and keep warm (it's freezing cold here today too) :-)

June said...

I just love to read about lambing season (and shearing, too). I hope that you can show some photos of the babies soon! God Bless!

Kate said...

Glad to hear for the most part that things are going well. We had to make a decision about two of our ewes two years ago. It is not easy but you need to do what is best for the whole flock.