Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Surprise Arrivals

If you read my last post, you might remember I said the lambs were staying snug and warm in their mamas and we were not expecting any babies until the first part of February?
Apparently, Salty had a secret and somebody was sneaking around on the wrong side of the fence last summer! She had two nice, healthy, full-term ram lambs this afternoon. Come to think of it, Salty seems to be the early lamber every year . . .
Salty is the sweetest ewe in the flock. She was raised on a bottle as a bummer lamb, and, like many of our animals, spent her first summer providing therapy to special needs kids at Western Trails Therapeutic Riding Center. Last Christmas, she performed at our church's Living Nativity, only to pop out a nice set of twins about 2 weeks later. Again, with no warning and unexpectedly early. Many of the ewes grunt and groan and look as if they are going to pop for weeks ahead of time, but Salty has always just snuck her birthing time in when we aren't looking. By the time we have found she has lambed, she has them cleaned and dried off and they have been up and had a bit of rich, nourishing milk. She has never needed any help with her babies, always knowing exactly what to do. Tonight I was watching her for a few minutes after I put her in the barn. The white lamb appears to have been born first and is figuring out the dinner thing pretty well, while the black lamb hasn't quite gotten it down yet. Salty kept talking to him and nudging him in the right direction until he found the dinner table. Oh, did his little tail wag in satisfaction as the rich, creamy milk warmed and strengthened his little body!
I remember my father-in-law routinely tipping over every ewe and squirting a few drops of the rich colostrum into the baby lambs as that swallow or two would often make all the difference and determine if the baby would live or not in the harsh Wyoming cold. I am glad Salty is a good mama and I don't have to take her on in a wrestling match! Even though Salty takes great care of her babies, even wrapping them in a sheep hug by snuggling her large, wooly body as close as possible if it is cold out, all ewes should be penned up to bond with their little ones for a few days to eliminate any confusion as other lambs are born. Sheep are notorious for stealing other ewes' lambs, then forgetting their own. They also need a bit of molasses shortly after the birth to ensure their calorie count stays high enough to keep them healthy as they produce the extremely rich milk the newborns need to build their fat reserves.

Hey, you don't suppose Salty got word of my last post and wanted to get in a good practical joke, do you? Or maybe she was just jealous of the cows with all of their new little bundles of joy?

Regardless of the reason, somebody was still doing a little bit of slipping around last summer, and sneaking in the dark will always catch up with you eventually!

Until next time, I hope your sneaking always turns out as a nice surprise!!


LEArning4Him: Lea Family Homeschool said...

Wow! It is interesting how there is always one that is earlier than the rest. We had that with our cows. So nice to hear of your updates. Makes me homesick.

Hope you had a wonderful Christmas.

Melissa Lea

Melissa said...

Jake just came in here and I showed him the lambs... he grinned and grinned! We miss you guys!!!

Paula said...

Ah! Sweet babies. I can almost smell the warmth of the barn and hay with the cold knocking on the door outside. Good post, I enjoyed the the image of Ken wrestling the ewe's for the babies first sweet taste of milk.

Stacey's Treasures said...

Looks like Salty & her family are doing well. I'm glad they didn't get to cold out there.