Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Early Mornings & Late Nights

The icy January & February middle-of-the-night labor checks are over. The early morning scramble for warm, ragged lambing towels from the dryer are done. All our lambs are on the ground and doing very well. We have 14 little ones romping around, eight ewes & six little rams. Helena outdid herself with quadruplets this year – all black, two boys & two girls. All together, that's 10 lambs in three years for her. It's no wonder her fleece is turning gray, poor dear. She is such a trouper. I am doing my best to keep poking food into her. She's making a lot of milk for those babies.

There's nothing quite like the exuberance of these little guys. Why stand still, when one can jump straight up in the air? (I don't recall putting Mexican jumping beans in their feed.) Why lie down on the ground when it's much warmer on top of mommy? What does grass taste like? Who is that lady that keeps bringing hay? If I run really fast can I get to the far end of the field before my siblings? Where's my mommy? Their curiosity is unending. Some are more friendly than others, and I'm finding that their dispositions are often a reflection of their mommies'.

We have lots more color variation this year, clearly the result of choosing a different ram for the girls. Last year, we had Brutus from Colorado, a stunning black stud muffin, who gave us stunning black sheep. Lots of them. This year, Elmer (our champion moorit - brown) and Eugene from Oregon, a black & white badger-faced CVM, did their work and produced a great variety of colors. And the markings – OMG. Such cuteness!

Two of the little lambs are bottle babies – one of Helena's, and one of Amity's. Sometimes a third will join in. That means mixing jugs of lamb milk replacer & taking warm bottles out to feed several times a day. Those frosty early morning & late night feedings are most wonderful beginnings & ends to the day. I can't imagine a more peaceful place to be. Late at night when most everybody is sleeping, the little ones determinedly climb up to the hay feeder for their bottles, which are emptied within a few minutes. Then they tuck back in with their flock. I top off the hay feeders, just in case somebody needs a midnight snack, and head back to the house & a warm bed. What a perfect place to be!