Wednesday, 7 January 2015

A First Lamb

Totally taking us by surprise this morning, welcome to the world a little ram lamb born to Lily overnight out in the windy, rainy open in the East Field. The lambing gods were obviously smiling upon us - it could have gone so wrong. You'll have read that we were not, for a start, expecting anything till March 25th at the earliest, so this guy is 2 and a half months early. Mayo-Liz had had this ewe still running with her own lambs till well into October (29th), when we decided to buy her and her chum, Polly. At that point the lambs were separated so that the ewes would come on heat and be put to the tup. 5 months of gestation would then bring us round to late March or into April, with a closing date of late April/Early May. Those, we'd have been ready for, with our 'maternity unit' set up and me on nervous but high-alert vigilance. This birth date says that Lily was already 'with child' when we were choosing her, possibly by one of her own ram lambs, possibly by the intended father, the purebred Hampshire Down tup.

Last night was a filthy night, windy and raining big splattery drops but the sheep were out loose in the East Field as they are every night. I'd left some washing flapping on the line (oops) and 2 pillow cases had blown down into the wet by the time I did my breakfast round and the dogs' 'comfort stop' at 0830. I could see that the 2 ewes were not together, and could see Lily way out in the field with what appeared to be something white on the grass near her - a blown pillowcase maybe? Better go check and see why she was over there and not at the gate begging for breakfast.

Obviously, a major excitement when I saw that it was in fact a lamb, on its feet and bleating. What happened to 25th March? I picked up the lamb and led Mum, with it, to the rain shelter in the field, so it would at least be out of the rain, then rousted Liz out of bed (no cup of tea? A rude awakening!). Together we swung into action, clearing some space in the goose house, moving feed bins and laying hay down, making a pen with pallets etc. Mum and baby were shepherded in to the warm dry house. 'Aunt Polly' was abandoned for the moment in the field while we phoned Mayo Liz for some advice. She (Polly) was not happy to be split from her chum, but we didn't know if it was OK to have both ewes in the pen.

Mayo-Liz, Bless her (Thanks Liz) was on the phone within seconds of me sending the text, asked loads of questions and gave me loads of advice and reassurance - check Mum is milking OK, check sex of baby, check baby has an anal opening, get some Iodine spray for the umbilical cord end etc but yes, you can let Aunt Polly in there. So we now have Mum, Aunt and the little fella in the pen, happily warm and dry and getting used to their surroundings. Baby is suckling well and dividing his time between feeding, sleeping and exploring the pen. He is Iodined up. Lily seems to us, now, to have gone off the boil and relaxed so, we are fairly sure, this singleton may be our lot for the moment - no twins this time round.

Oh and the rest of the stock, missed in the excitement, did eventually get released and fed - poultry, geese, rabbits and Pirate the Cat. And the washing got picked up from the grass and re-washed. We are all calm again if a little "bounced into spring". Oh and Liz caught one of our Buff Orpington youngsters bullying one of our adult 'mini-buffs' this morning, so they are growing up too.


Anne Wilson said...

Will you be ringing him Matt? Best done within 48hours and will stop tainting of the meat. We always found that Jan. lambs did far better than later ones, as the grass is not yet growing far less chance of bloat.

Matt Care said...

Ringing as in castration? No, we aren't. Our supplier doesn't and neither did our sheep man, Kenny. We have reared and eaten several boys now in their 'entire' state, killing at about 6 months and 50-55 kg and never detected any taint. The only difference we have found was that the butcher mutters under his breath while sawing as the boys' bones are allegedly tougher(!). Good news on the grass, though.

Miranda Hodgson said...

Lovely! I do like to see new lambs. Hope this one does well!

Mr Silverwood said...

Yay, lambs (or Lamb), bit of a shock but all good so far I take it.

Matt Care said...

Yes, Mr S. Still just the one and him presumably conceived in Aug/Sept so his Father may well have been one of the 2014 lamb crop still running with the group of Mums. So, no twins at least till Polly decided to take her turn at the motherhood. We're guessing (still) March 25th but on current experience....... who knows?