Have I ever mentioned how much I love lambs? Well, I love them a lot!
I was on the road at 8 am today and made it to my friend Trudy’s farm around 9 am. I saw lambs before I even got my car parked!
Does this face look happy to you?
After oohing and awing at lambs for a minute we started our day with feeding the sheep. We fed the ewes who have had their lambs over the last week and are in paddocks near the barn first. Then we grabbed a couple buckets of grain and some hay, hopped in the four wheeler and headed out to a back pasture where the pregnant ewes are held… and most likely some lambs that were born overnight.
There must have been at least 20 pregnant ewes in this pasture. But I was pretty sure I could see some tiny little legs among all the ewe legs. And sure enough, there were two brand new lambs in with the flock.
OMG! They are so tiny and so beautiful! And it’s amazing how well they get around. Here’s a little video of these fresh babies. I love how their mother is so attentive to them.
After getting this group fed we headed back down to take care of some of the lambs that were born yesterday and their moms.
The ewes are wormed after lambing and they get their feet trimmed. And the ram lambs get their little testicles banded (a thick rubber band is placed around the base, and then they will fall off in a week or so). The female lambs have their tails banded. Each lamb gets an ear tag with a number that is used to identify them. Here’s all the tools and supplies that are used.
I actually got to band one of the tails and banded two ram lambs’ private bits. I put ear tags on three lambs.
There are special tools for each of these tasks. For banding, you slip a small yet thick rubber band onto special pliers and open it up, pull the lamb’s scrotum through the open band, making sure the testicles are actually in there, and then you close the pliers which closes the band around the base, and then slip the pliers off. Putting the ear bands on is very similar to getting your ears pierced.
Here’s a video of Trudy putting iodine on a lamb’s umbilical cord, banding him, and giving him an ear tag.
At the time she does all of this with the new lambs, she also worms the ewes and trims their feet. It can be tricky to catch a sheep so it’s handy to have a dog who can help out. Here’s Alice holding everyone in place while Trudy gets ready to move in.
Trudy’s dogs Alice and Wyatt were with us all day and helped out a lot! It would be so hard to do all this work without these working dogs.
There’s a lot of physical work involved in owning animals. Trudy caught this ewe with a leg crook (the blue hook in the photo) then flipped her onto her butt where she sat calmly while she was wormed and had her feet trimmed.
Here’s another ewe getting the same treatment.
Once you get the ewes into this position they are amazingly cooperative. But even then, Trudy says she’s usually sore and tired at the end of the day.
Another task that needed to be done today was to “tube” a couple of triplet lambs who were competing with their larger triplet for milk. Trudy fed a rubber tube down their throat and used a syringe to feed some colostrum to them.
You have to have a lot of different skills when you have a sheep ranch!
Trudy has three guard dogs that keep her sheep and lambs safe from predators — a great Pyrenees, a Maremma, and an Akbash. This is Isaac. He is an Akbash. He is very young, very large and very sweet. I think his head is about the size of a basketball!
Have I mentioned that I like dogs?
At around noon we took a break and I got Rico out of the car so we could do a little herding… this picture shows what a gorgeous day it was! It was cool enough that I wore a light fleece all day. Perfect weather for being outside all day. And look at that incredible sky! It was like that all day long.
And for the first time in his life, Rico got to herd GOATS!!! I was afraid that there would be goats flying all over the place, but he was such a good boy! He had them all nicely organized and did amazing work!
Apparently, goats can be more difficult to herd than sheep. But Rico was cool as a cucumber.
After a quick lunch and giving Trudy a chance to train some client dogs, we headed back out to the back pasture to bring those new lambs and their mom down to join the other moms and babies.
The first thing we had to do was separate the new mom and her babies from the rest of the ewes. That part went really well and we had the lambs loaded in the trailer and were ready to go in no time.
What usually happens is that you drive the four wheeler slowly and the ewe follows behind because she wants to stay with her lambs. But some times it can be more challenging. This one started out pretty well, but the mom got nervous and jumped the fence and went back and joined all the pregnant ewes.
So that meant we had to go back and separate that ewe from all the pregnant ewes and bring her back to her babies. We ended up bringing her back with some of her preggo friends and were able to make the trek back to the other lambs successfully… we even picked up some goats along the way!
And Wyatt helped make it all run smoothly!
After taking care of those brand new lambs and their mom, we hopped in the four wheeler and headed into another pasture to check on a fence that had been smashed by an oak tree that fell in last year’s ice storm. After pulling some branches off the fence and making sure it was secure, we were done for the day.
I got home at around 4:00. After our evening walk, Trudy messaged me a photo of a yearling and her lambs that were born after I left.
And then she sent me this video of moving this mom and her new babies down to join the other ewes and lambs. I love how Alice is helping move them along and how the mother is so protective of her babies.
I am so excited to go back tomorrow! I’m keeping my fingers crossed for lots of new lambs born over night and waiting for me when I get there.