Monday, March 21, 2011

lambing is in full swing

It was a quiet afternoon here at the farm. A late snowfall came and covered the just-budding trees and grass with two inches of wet slush. It was a long day for me already at noon. I had been up since 2AM and was at my desk by 8AM in the office. My boss was kind enough to let me take the afternoon off, which I not hesitate to oblige. I came home and took care of everyone who chirps, honks, baas, and barks and then three dogs and one woman slept. It was the perfect way to spend the calm between the storms. Another lamb (or twins) are possibly due on the 24th out of 06-07. She could drop anytime. (No rest from the 2AM rounds for me.) Then both the yearling and the ketotic Liset are due on the 27th! The last one is due April Fools (15-06). She's the last to go is so swollen, and has such a bag on her; she'd looks like Veruca Salt if she was blue.

Still such a wild ride to go, but I am grateful this first experience was so by-the-book. It was exactly what I read about, and I feel like I knew what I was doing. But even in that systematic understanding of "what happens next", honestly, much of last night was a blur.

I thought I'd be an emotional mess and cry out of joy, but all I felt as I walked in on that lamb was pure excitement. Like, rollercoaster-about-to-dive excitement. I felt my heart pound as I ran down the hillside to get my supplies. All weariness was replaced by adrenaline. It was a blessing and an honor to sit in that tiny sheep shed built in Vermont for Sal, Maude, and Marvin and watch mother and son bond. I like how the farm's natural evolution turned it into a maternity ward. I tagged the ear, banded the tail, and he seems to be doing really well. I was just up there checking in on the pair and for less than 24-hours old he is alert, eating, and talkative. I picked him up and held him close to my face. Smelled that baby smell. Touched little hooves. He is more than the fruit of a ram and a ewe. He's my first lamb. The outcome of so much work, daydreaming, and luck...

Knox is staying on this farm. My first lamb will be neither chops or sold. He'll grow fleeces and live with the others. I'll allow myself the sentimentality. If you're ever going to succumb to it, a first lamb on your first year on your farm is when to do it.

I emailed the breeder to let her know, and she asked if any of the others took? Geez, did that ever stop me in my tracks. I had assumed they were locked and loaded, the idea they could just be wooly and fat never even crossed my mind. She asked me how many had bags on them, and with certainty I can saw Split Ear and Liset are pregnant and ready, but the other two (the yearling and 06-07 don't seem to have any bags on them at all. I can't honestly tell with all that fleece. I curse not having them crotched. I just didn't realize I should do it until it was too late in their pregnancy. A lesson for next year.

So I can say at least two more sheep will give birth on this farm, maybe more. If it is less than five, all will be staying here for wool production for the CSA, and I pray one will be a ewe lamb.

So banjo updates and workshop announcements to come. Expect a summer of fiddles, campfires, chickens, sheep, goslings, rabbits, knitting, markets, books and more ahead. This farm is barely at its beginning, folks. Barely.

P.S. Thanks to a reader email, I called the vet tonight about an anti-toxin for tetanus. I do not want this little guy falling due to an ear tag!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yay, and congrats!
Spring gets busy - fast(!) on farms I've learned over the years. We went from 2 calves to 6 in one day and still waitin' on that dern goat to kid. . .
Have fun with your new baby and yes - the first one is always a keeper. ;}

March 21, 2011 at 6:33 PM  
Blogger kippy said...

Congratulations Jenn and Mama! Following this whole adventure is a thrill for this city girl.

March 21, 2011 at 6:37 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I am so happy that everything is going so well for you. I sure didn't expect to find out that you had more snow. Thought that was in the past. Thanks for keeping us posted on the happy arrivals.

March 21, 2011 at 6:40 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

I think it's perfectly appropriate to keep the first lamb, and I'm glad it's Knox. I hope he's as swell a guy as Sal.

March 21, 2011 at 6:41 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I have to wait until September-October before my alpaca gives birth. Seeing all these babies being born sure is getting me excited (and impatient). I just can't wait till I too can have a little fury thing on the ground. Looking forward to seeing the rest of your lambs and hoping that all their deliveries go just as smoothly.

March 21, 2011 at 7:03 PM  
Blogger Floridagirl said...

Hooray! Love the mama sounds and baby bleatings.

March 21, 2011 at 7:15 PM  
Blogger ThiftedBliss said...

I couldn't wait to get home tonight and check to see what was happening at CAF today. I am happy to hear you will be keeping the first-such a wise choice. Happy times!!!! Karen in CT

March 21, 2011 at 7:32 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Welcome to the world, Knox! So many dreams realized in a tiny, fuzzy package. Thanks for sharing this miracle with us, Jenna! Hope you get some sleep soon.

March 21, 2011 at 7:56 PM  
Blogger Janet said...

Great that you are going to keep the first one. Hope all goes well for the rest of the flock. I'll be checking in each morning even before the coffee is brewed - go go go!

March 21, 2011 at 8:10 PM  
Blogger windhaven farm said...

Are you going to keep him as the sire of future Cold Antler herds? That would be kinda cool... (Well maybe not with his mom... but the other ladies might not be so related...) Just wondering! Congrats!!!

March 21, 2011 at 9:08 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

Congratulations! It must be a very rewarding feeling. It's been a long time since anything has been born on this farm, right now it just doesn't pay to keep the breeding stock but I do have some memories from old days of pig raising.

March 21, 2011 at 9:17 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Just back in from a run to the vet's house down the road. Picked up some anti-toxin for the little ram lamb (who had it's ear tagged and needed it to save it from tetanus!). Wish us luck folks. Seems like as hardy as sheep are, they aren't hard for a new shepherd to kill off!

March 21, 2011 at 9:18 PM  
Blogger Jill said...

Man, you read everything under the sun about lambs and lambing. I'm amazed no one mentioned the tetanus ear tag thing. Yikes.

March 21, 2011 at 9:51 PM  
Blogger Thinkin' Out Loud said...

Yay! My kid and I have been waiting together to see the babies. She was so excited for you.

March 21, 2011 at 11:10 PM  
Blogger Kathleen Stoltzfus said...

I do the tetanus anti-toxin for banding tails on the babydolls, but shetlands have short tails and so don't need them done. I would have thought that scotties have short tails too... are they long?

March 22, 2011 at 12:23 AM  
Blogger And This Little Pig said...

Hi Jenna I meant to leave you a congrats last night, but was distract by my puppies. Sorry. So a big congrats on Knox, and yes you are allowed to be sentimental at least once.

What I was going to say last night was it was good to see the molasses water for your ewe, it definitely gives them a boost after lambing/kidding (goat talk here) I wanted to know if you added Epsom salt, not a lot, a desertspoon or two, it helps the ewe/doe get rid of her afterbirth. Don't ask me how it works, it just does :D

Good luck with the rest of your lambing.

LiBBiE in Oz

March 22, 2011 at 12:32 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

In Canada we have a vaccine called 8way that we give our ewes when pregnant and they transfer it all to the babes. Tetanus is in it.
Also, yearlings seldom show much of a bag at all. Even at 2yrs, their bags can be pretty small. If you can get your hand on them, you can 'copafeel' to see if they've got a bag, and with the young ewes I often check their vulvas (you don't have to feel them, lol, just look - they get loose and sloppy when the time is close. You're doing great. I remember my first lambing with fondness.

March 22, 2011 at 1:08 AM  
Blogger Reason's Whore said...

We ate our first lamb. So much for sentimentality here.

Hope they're all, as you say, loaded. You can always flip over the ones in doubt and take a look.

March 22, 2011 at 2:07 AM  
Blogger Reason's Whore said...

I definitely second the molasses water thing here. We just went through hell thinking we were going to lose a doe who had triplets and went into toxemia/milk fever after kidding. (Treatment is propylene glycol and calcium drench.) Cost us $250+ to have the vet come out and give her an IV and he only gave her a 50/50 chance at that. Prevention is best - keep your sheep in good shape, neither thin nor too fat. Easier said than done, huh?

Sheep and goats are hardy until they aren't. When they get sick, it seems like they can go downhill fast, which is why vigilance and quick response are crucial.

I'm sure Knox will be fine. Enjoy him now - they grow so fast! Just like children.

March 22, 2011 at 2:15 AM  
Blogger Shmoopywood said...

This is exciting to me, someday when the house is done and everything is in place, we hope to have goats and sheep. Please keep us posted!

March 22, 2011 at 8:59 AM  
Blogger katiegirl said...

I'd be more worried about getting the antitoxin for the banded tail, not so much the ear tag. Ear tag holes are quickly healed, not so much the tail that takes weeks to fall off. Some skip it altogether though, but it's pretty cheap insurance.

And it's not too late to crutch. Just halter and tie them next to a wall, and use your body to keep them from moving around. Then you can bend over them and use hand shears or even scissors to clear enough wool so you can see what you need to see.

March 22, 2011 at 9:25 AM  
Blogger hlbrack said...

Hooray Knox! Hooray Jenna! SO excited for you. Thanks for keeping all of us posted. We're rooting for you.

March 22, 2011 at 11:39 AM  
Blogger Donna said...

Well yeah you gotta keep the first one, it's like a talisman of sorts. You're doing a great job.

March 24, 2011 at 11:00 PM  

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