Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hurry Up and Weight

There is no doubt now as to the effectiveness of our ram lambs' masculine endeavors. The seven ewes milling about in the pen beside the barn are, without doubt, in a serious family way. According our calculations, the lambs will be coming fast and furious any time from Wednesday on. I've got butterflies in my stomach just thinking about it! And yes, I know Icelandic sheep are terrific lambers, competent mothers, all that stuff. But there are exceptions to every rule, glitches that all the careful planning in the world can't account for.

Having been left high and dry by "Storey's Guide to Sheep" last season, we've got Laura Lawson's excellent "Managing your Ewe and her Newborn Lambs" and "Easy Detecting, Diagnosing, Treating Lamb Problems". We are already obsessively checking on the ewes, waking up extra early, going out at all hours. But, you know, glitch happens...

One already apparent glitch involves our shearer Andy. Andy is awesome and excellent and very, VERY busy. So busy in fact that he has yet to make it down for our flocks' semi-annual "haircut". The boys have taken matters into their own hooves and begun rooing. But the girls, having put all their energy into growing lambs rather than new fleece, are hot, dirty and matted. It is very likely, they will have lambs by their sides by the time Andy makes it down our way. Of course, I'm worried the lambs will have trouble finding the udders, that they'll suck on all those gross matted chunks hanging off the back ends of the girls (This is the stuff we skirt immediately) and that the girls will overheat in their extra layers. I've contemplated sudsing those burgeoning udders down, but stress is bad, very bad, for pregnant ewes. (My new books tell me so.)

Most likely, things will work out all right. And if dirty fleece is our one and only lambing glitch, Maggie's Farm will be a happy as well as happenin' place this spring.


Leigh said...

What great photos. I love this time of year when all the shepherds blog about lambing. May yours go well and without problems!

rooster said...

I delved into the world of 'crotching' this year. I must say, it made all the difference. The udder was exposed nicely for the lambs and the back end didn't have a lot of wool dangling so i could see clearly what was happening minute by minute!

i was a bit nervous wielding those shears around a very full udder, though! yikes.

good luck lambing!!

Christy said...

At this point in their pregnancies it is probably best the shearer can't come. My friend crotches her sheep about a month before lambing. And then shears them after lambing is over. She had one that hadn't delivered yet when the shearer came and that one died in delivery. She said next year she won't shear any that are still pregnant.