Friends of ours keep a chalkboard at the end of the driveway each spring for cars to see. It’s a tally of how many lambs have been born so far. Unlike us, they are actual farmers, so their tally goes on for a few weeks and reaches 600 plus sometimes. We like our lamb count around 9 or 10. That’s enough excitement for us.
This year, the skinniest ewe (who we suspected would be late – if she was even pregnant) was the first to deliver. She must have been keeping one in her leg, as she birthed not one but three healthy lambs. Saturday morning, her lambs will be a week old. They look great. Very spunky. Two boys and a girl. They’re the snowy white lambs in the pictures. Lambs are born with a yellow coating gooped all over them. Their cute because they’re little and new to the world, but they look very dirty. After a few days, the yellow is licked and rubbed off, and then they are downright gorgeous.
The mid sized ewe was second to deliver. She had four. This is one too many for perfection. Our sheep breed, the Rideau Arcott, was developed in the 1970’s in Canada (Animal Research Centre Ottawa . . . ARC OTT). They’re a great sheep for a couple of reasons; they tend to have multiple births for one. Many other breeds typically have one lamb per birth. Rideau Arcott typically have 2 or 3, and 4 is not uncommon. The problem is that for milk supply, a ewe can really only handle 3. The extra are usually separated and bottle fed. We did this for a few years. It works, but the bottle fed lambs never thrive the same as the lambs with the mother. Based on our friend’s experiments and some ideas of our own, we currently have all the lambs with the mom, but are also bottle feeding every few hours during the day to supplement. So far, everyone looks good.
Our large, bursting any minute ewe, Lily (our original ewe, and herself a bottle fed, “extra,” from a multiple birth) is still waddling around giving us fits wondering what exactly is going on inside her. Her biggest year she delivered a group of 5. Last year, she was bigger than ever before and we thought another basketball team was en route. Instead, she birthed two lambs bigger than the two week old lambs. We called them the football players.
This year’s group of four is interesting. They’re only three days old, so they’re still pretty yellow. Unlike most of our lambs, they have quite a few markings of black and brown patches. A few more pictures will come next week. Currently, the camera has no zoom, and lambs were not in the mood to sit still while I shoved a camera in their faces for a close up.