Lambs Day 2 — Lambstravaganza!

I arrived at Trudy’s a little before 9 am this morning and was greeted by this. “Oh, hello! It’s you again!”

By the time I got my rubber boots on, Trudy had arrived at the barn and we got moving.

Oh, and did I mention how necessary it is to HAVE rubber boots during lambing season in Northwest Oregon?

First thing we did was get busy feeding the ewes around the barn. I dug in and gave everyone in the barn a nice helping of grain — a mix of different grains with a little molasses mixed in. It looks and smells like granola and the sheep love it.

When the ewes see you walk through the gate with the grain they come running. They have their noses in the grain the minute it’s in the bucket.

Then everyone gets some nice leafy alfalfa. Trudy portioned it out for me and I fed the ewes in the barn.Mmmmm.

I was worried that she wasn’t coming up for air!

Then we both headed out to give some hay to the ewes in the paddocks around the barn. Everyone agrees that a little hay after your grain is a great way to start your morning.

Once everyone was fed we got started on the lambs that were born after I left yesterday. Trudy saved those two little ones for me to give ear tags, tail bands, and one needed to be castrated.

I felt much more adept at these tasks today. The ear tags go in pretty smoothly. You need to get the place correctly so you allow some room for growth, but in the right place so they don’t get torn off on gates and brambles.

It’s a lot like getting your ears pierced. The tag has a number on it that Trudy records with information about the lamb, if it’s a boy or girl, if it has any health issues, etc… and the mom’s number from her ear tag.

Trudy held the male while I tried to band his testicles, but I could not get the right one to fall into the scrotum. I tried several times before I handed him off to Trudy who was also not successful. She said the testicle hadn’t completely descended. She’ll give it another try tomorrow.

I have to say that castrating isn’t my favorite thing to do with lambs. I don’t hate it and it doesn’t make me squeamish. I’m just not very good at it. I’m getting better but I think I’m making it more difficult for the lamb than it needs to be. Trudy did give me lots of tips that makes it easier. But I found myself wishing each lamb was a female so I could skip this part.

But there’s an unintended benefit: I’m getting really good at spotting lamb testicles from a distance!

My last morning task was to give a ewe a shot of penicillin all by myself! It’s amazing how comfortable you get doing these things when you get a little experience under your belt.

When we finished these morning chores we packed up some hay and grain and headed out to the back pasture to feed the pregnant ewes and see if any lambs had been born overnight. When we got to the gate there was no Regina — one of the guard dogs. We took this as a good sign that she was out in the trees keeping a watchful eye on lambs.

And bam! We spotted this little ewe with one lamb. And there’s Regina!

We kept driving around near the trees and spotted another ewe with two lambs… one of them was pretty tiny. Both ewes had moved away from the rest of the flock and were in the trees on their own with their lambs.

We hadn’t taken the lamb wagon with us so we headed back to pick it up so we could go back and get those lambs transported to the barn. By the time we got back to the pasture, the two ewes with the lambs had moved out into the center of the pasture and were almost intermingled with the rest of the pregnant ewes. This near intermingling makes it more challenging to get the lambs and ewes out of the field in one, easy group.

Since this was a more challenging situation, I stayed in the four wheeler while Trudy caught the lambs and dealt with the ewes. This whole thing proved to be more challenging because the ewe with the single lamb is a cheviot cross. Cheviot is a breed of sheep that can be a little more nervous and difficult to deal with. The other ewe is a clun. They tend to be more easy going and not as bothered by things humans do.

In this next photo, the cheviot cross is closest to Trudy with the white lamb. The clun is further off to the left of the photo.

Trudy was able to catch all three lambs pretty easily and get them into the lamb wagon. The clun ewe was calm and just stood next to the wagon with her lambs in it.

The cheviot cross ewe was having none of it, and in spite of Trudy’s and Wyatt’s (her little black sheep dog) efforts, she was able to break and rejoin the other ewes. This meant that Trudy would have the tricky task of separating that ewe out from all the other ewes.

So we drove the lamb wagon and parked it outside the gate. The clun ewe followed along nicely. Then Trudy and Wyatt headed down to the bottom of the pasture to bring all those ewes up to the gate where Trudy would sort out the cheviot cross mom.

In sorting out the one ewe, Trudy had Wyatt hold the sheep close to the gate while she moved back and forth to spread the sheep out so they’re not in a big clump right at the gate.

Then a lot of magic appears to happen and the ewe in question slips through the gate all by herself, leaving the rest of the flock behind. And we were on our way back to the barn with three new lambs in the wagon and two ewes in tow… all making colossal amounts of noise the entire time!

Success!

Then it was time to get busy with these lambs. We got all three’s ears tagged, tails banded, and one lamb castrated. The teeny tiny lamb laying down in that crate is a male, but his private parts were so small they were hard to find to get banded. Trudy will try again tomorrow.

Since that male was so tiny, Trudy decided we should tube feed him to make sure he gets a good start. So Trudy held him while I put the tube into his mouth and kept feeding it in. In no time he had a full stomach!

Here’s a look at that tube so you can see how far into the lamb it goes.

He had no idea what was about to happen to him. But he put on his big boy pants and handled it like a champ!

Next, we got these new moms and their lambs all settled in their pens in the barn.

Then I grabbed Rico and moved that same group of sheep to that same pasture as yesterday. Rico was so happy to get to do his part!

Those sheep are crafty and knew exactly where they were going and were already at the gate by the time Rico and I had walked a few yards. Once we got closer to the sheep, I sent Rico on a come-by flank (clockwise from my side), had him lie down and stay so he could hold the sheep while I walked toward them to open the gate. He did his job beautifully and the sheep were trotting into the tall, delicious grass in no time.

Then rico got a quick dip in the pond before lunch.

And a quick swim after his work.

It was now time for lunch and after a quick bite, Rico got to go out into the big field and work the sheep again. And he was brilliant again!

Then we went and grabbed Bender out of the car so we could get a nice field run before we went back to work.

I told Trudy that I was pretty sure that what I had done the most over the last two days was open and close gates! Every paddock and pen and pasture has a gate. And when you go through or open a gate, you close it. That’s good farm practice. I think I must have opened and closed at least 50 gates today!

When I got back to the barn Trudy was busy moving sheep and lambs and freeing up space in the barn for the brand new lambs. She got the lambs in the paddocks near the barn moved into a pasture that has good shelter since a storm was roaring in this afternoon.

After getting the dogs back in the car I helped make sure the pens in the barn all had fresh water and then I was done. Trudy offered to let me work Rico on the sheep one more time, but I was pretty tired by this time and decided to get cleaned up a little and hit the road for home right at 3:00.

I’ve been looking forward to these two days for months and they didn’t disappoint. I had better luck with new lambs every day… just enough to keep us busy but not overwhelm us. What a great two days with great weather in beautiful countryside. Plus good company and lots of lambs and work to do.

I’m so lucky! Thanks to Trudy for letting me come again and for taking the time to teach me so much and let me learn by doing. What a great experience!

I just took some Advil PM and when it takes effect I’m going to go to bed and I’m not going to set an alarm.

36 Replies to “Lambs Day 2 — Lambstravaganza!”

  1. What a great day you guys had! And the pictures really bring the story to life. I LOVE sheep, they seem like such peaceful creatures. I have relatives who farm and keep sheep in New South Wales (Merino) and it’s always nice to visit them. Rico is a good boy. I hope poor Bender doesn’t feel left out.
    Thanks for sharing your wonderful experience 💕🐑🐑

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bender is pretty easy going. He doesn’t get upset the way Rico does. He has no idea what Rico is doing while he’s out there. And he’s just happy to get out and run in the field. that totally floats his boat!

      Anne

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  2. Lovely post and fab pictures. You must have such an endorphin buzz right now. Well done on all that hard work.
    Meanwhile, I’m on tenterhooks waiting for news as my daughter, Ruby, is in labour about to deliver her second daughter. All going well at the hospital. We’re looking after our granddaughter , aged 2 1/2. Exhausting as the lambs I’d say but maybe less messy!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well, good thing your daughter isn’t doing it all alone in the middle of a field!!! Congrats on the new baby!

      Those two days with lambs keep me pretty happy for a while!

      Anne

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  3. Good job Anne. You’re becoming a regular farmer. Such an experience most of us will never have (well maybe the banding the testicle part doesn’t sound like fun). Do Rico and Bender just stay in the car most of the time? How far is the farm from you? Wondering if you ever see the lambs as that grow?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bender and Rico spend most of the day in their crates in the car. But they do get out a couple of times.

      It takes me about an hour to drive from my house to Trudy’s.

      I might drive down in a couple of weeks just to see the lambs again!!!

      Anne

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  4. Simply said, “Wow!” Thank you so much for sharing the photos and story of 2 lambing days. Most of us might not know how much work and dedication is involved in sheep care. I sure didn’t. The dogs do such a great job. I learned about a whole new facet of animal farming. Awesome!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s a ton of work involved with lambing. I don’t know how Trudy does it all by herself!

      I can’t imaging doing all of that work without a good dog to help.

      Anne

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    1. She had 50 or 60 pregnant ewes this year. Plus around 80 lambs. Plus another 30 or 40 sheep.

      She doesn’t raise them for wool. There’s not much of a market for wool any more with all the great synthetic fibers –unless it’s a really special wool that people want for yarn. She uses a lot of them for training dogs. She sells some for meat.

      Anne

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  5. What a lovely description of your experiences. And how proud you must be of Rico for performing so helpfully. Does he get other chances to herd sheep? It must really be gratifying to see him in action after all the training you have done. What about Bender? Does he ever get to play in the same way?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. this is the only place Rico has really had the chance to use his training in a practical way. He does do a lesson every week and a seminar every once in a while. It’s really fun to see his training shine!

      Bender doesn’t get to herd sheep. he just wants to chase them and bite them!

      Anne

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  6. So glad you had another great lambing day 🐑😻! Does Trudy usually do all this by herself? I can’t imagine. The sheep are all so beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They are really accustomed to having the guard dogs around. Plus, the guard dogs behave very differently than other dogs. They are not threatening to the sheep. they just sort of blend in with their behavior.

      Anne

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  7. I just love reading about your days with the lambs and your dogs. What a great experience. I don’t have any of your surrounding since I live in south Florida. I deal with the egrets, herons, and baby alligators in the lake. In between I am still quilting. My sewing room is always in a chaotic state.

    Liked by 1 person

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