It was a cold crisp morning this am at a balmy 21 degrees. I headed off to do chores as my husband was already down bright and early at the fenceline to ‘fix fence’ with our neighbor. When your next door horse neighbor is a farrier, you know you’re lucky. That’s someone who shoes horses for folks who don’t know.
Maggie (our Great Pyrenees livestock guardian dog (LGD)) was patrolling the perimeter so clearly something was up. Was it the smell of blood? Just the keen knowing that babies had arrived? Who knows.
I entered the barn and with great anticipation I skipped the doe goat pen and went directly to the ewe’s pen. I had a sense last night that the babies would be born today due to the fact Mary’s udder was huge and her vulva was completely distended, swollen and red. For new homesteaders, I think the vulva is the best indicator as Mary’s udder was huge for nearly a full month. Due to what I suspected was impending labor, I locked the ewes in together in their pen so they couldn’t go outside, nor have other ram or goat visitors. The hunch was correct.
Low and behold, upon peeking in the pen, there were twin lambs, one black with amazingly cool markings, and one that is solid white with curly little wool. The boy, our daughter Chloe quickly named “lightning”, as you can see from the markings it looks like a lightning strike runs down the middle of his face. We are naming the little girl “Snowflake”. as this was a crazy cold morning and it even snowed a tad yesterday.
Typically for first time mothers (which Mary is (the white ewe)), we let them birth on their own but stay very attentive to the process. If ewes are natural mothers, as in, they do this without a fuss, it’s good to know that. Conversely, if the ewe is not a naturally good mother, you want to know that too. I had our other ewe Patches, who has already been a mother, with Mary, to assist. Yes, they do indeed learn from each other. You can actually see in the photos above that Patches is also cleaning, nudging and prodding the little lambs. She is also continually checking on Mary, as well. It is so fascinating how, when you raise animals together as babies, they grow to instinctively know and understand each other. In fact, the babies go to either Mary or Patches udder for milk. Patches’ udder is coming in now as she is also due very soon. When the babies come to her she sniffs them, checks on them and then nudges them toward Mary. It truly is amazing to watch.
I did not dip the umbilical cord in iodine which you can do. The reason I didn’t was that I wanted the babies and mama to bond as the twins were clearly healthy and already nursing. As a first time mother, I didn’t want to disrupt the bonding moment that Mary was having with her twins. Tomorrow I will go in the pens with them, check the umbilical cord to assess the need to further clean and do that if necessary. I will also give them both .5cc BOSE. We run an organic farm operation here. BOSE is a combination of Vitamin E and Selenium which is necessary based on trace mineral deficits in the soil. If your animals are too short of these key minerals they will have difficulties giving birth and have still born among many other health issues. You can identify babies with the shortage of these minerals by their inability to walk well on their hind legs after they are born.
Along with the wonderful new lambs we had today, I also stopped by to check on our two new litters of baby rabbits. The pictures show the older litter, about three weeks old and the new litter, just a week old and their eyes just opening.
We love life here on the farm and today was yet another great reminder of how special this life is when new babies arrive at the farm. We’ll keep you posted on the new lambs as they progress and also the lambing soon to take place with Patches.
God Bless ! L. Davis