Thursday, March 5, 2009

10 down, 2 to go!!

A shot of last year's lambs enjoying the warm spring sunshine,
of which this year's lambs are yet to experience.

As of last night, after another set of twins, there are only two ewes left to lamb and Mark and I couldn't be more pumped. While we've cut down the night-time checks (from two to one), it still seems to take a lot out of a person to get up, get bundled, walk or drive over to the barn to make sure all is well, which it almost always is. For the first little while Mark was 'letting' me do all the night time checking, but then I think maybe other people's comments/criticisms got the best of him and now he insists on doing it himself. And at first, I actually wanted to do them myself, since I figured if there was something wrong, I'd have to get up anyway. Plus, being my control freak-self, I liked having the reassurance that I'd looked myself, so that if something happened after I left, I'd have no one to blame but myself.
Anyway, I have to say, that not having to get up twice in the night, by myself, has been a real treat and I really appreciate that Mark has stepped up to take that responsibility over when I need him to. I'm sure it's just my big pregnant self feeling extra tired these days, but Lucy seems to have found new energy reserves that the gov't might be interested in. She's non-stop, full tilt all the time, and while I'm so lucky to be able to be at home with her right now and we get to play and read pretty much anytime she wants, this baby is going to put a serious cramp in her style. I guess they call that, 'adjustment'?

Back to the sheep however, things have gone really well. We lost one beautiful ram lamb to something or other. My wise mom says to tell yourself that it was dead when it was born, but when I found the ewe licking off her other twin, it looked like maybe he had been laid on in the process of her having her second one. Not overly common in a large barn, with a ewe who has had two previous lambings, but not unheard of. Anyway, I can live with losing only one out of 15 so far! While I was a bit concerned about having so many singles at first, the twins have really kicked it into gear with these last batch of ewes. I think I've had 5 sets now, and all well except that one! I learned my lesson on the importance of lambing pens however.

Lambing pens, or jugs, as a lot of my books call them, are small pens (ours are 4x6) built inside the barn where we put the ewes and lamb(s) after they are born, to spend a couple days, "bonding". Dorsets, my breed of sheep, are really maternal so I'm never too concerned with how long they spend in the pens, but some books suggest up to two or three weeks! Since I only had three pens set up, I was pretty much just cycling them out of the pens as I needed new ones, so some of the first ewes only spent a day or two in the pens, and seemed fine with it. They still knew their lambs in the big barn and the lambs had no trouble finding thier moms, so all was well. Then I started having twins and more first-time lambers, but they were all lambing within a few hours of each other and I had to cycle them out of the pens faster than I probably should have. I released one new mom with her twins after a day and a half and later that day noticed that she only paid attention to one twin. The other one was always over in a corner, shivering away, looking pathetic. So I got Mark to fashion me a fancy new pen out of a pallet and some plywood and put her back in. Right away she took her other twin back and got it back up to strength and it looks great, but I guess it was just too much, too fast. It's been about four days now and I think we're going to start taking down a couple of the pens soon (to give the rest of them more room in the barn), and I think she's more than ready to face the bigger world with two in tow.

I think having been a first time mom myself, not all that long ago, gave me a new perspective on some of the first timer problems with the sheep (that sounds a little hocky, but it's true!). One newbie had a big beautiful single and wouldn't let it drink. They just kept circling around the pen, with the lamb trying to get to the udder and the ewe doing everything to keep her from getting there. After checking her for mastitis or other problems I decided she was just nervous or unsure what to do, so after holding her a couple times and letting the lamb get a good drink, she figured it out and is now one of the best moms out there. Having had breastfeeding problems myself, I know it doesn't always come as naturally as we're told it's supposed to, so I'm glad she was able to figure it out!!

Well, since I'm pretty sure that I'm the only one interested in these lambing details I'll cut this off now. Otherwise, I could probably go on and on about it, like a new mother unable to talk about anything else.
The ACORN conference was ok. I was pretty dissapointed in the two sessions that I had gone for, but Mark said that overall it was a really good conference. (He also came home completely exhausted on the verge of liver failure, so I'm pretty sure he may have been talking about the extracurricular aspect of the conference.hahah) The conference is here on PEI next year and I've been asked to be on the planning committee, which might be a good opportunity, so am tossing that around.
Attended a chef/farmer trade show sort of thing called Culinary Connections on Tuesday which I'll tell you more about later. I even got an interview on the radio, which for now, can be heard here; about half way down the page called, "Growing local". It'll probably be moved to 'archives' later. Wheehoo.


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